Niagara’s collaborative approach to poverty reduction began in 2002 with the formation of Opportunities Niagara.
A report entitled A Legacy of Poverty: Addressing cycles of poverty and the impact on child health in Niagara was prepared for the Region by Arai (2007) and action was initially reccommended in 4 areas:
- Address poverty through advocacy
- Provide appropriate and flexible supports which address the broader determinants of health for adults living in poverty;
- Mitigate the negative effects of low income on children and youth through programs and services and;
- Monitor progress.
One of Niagara’s unique approaches was to initiate strategies and activities by neighbourhood – those identified as in need of attention through the Niagara Prosperity Initiative. The initiatives were built on generating community ideas and involvements.
In 2008, the Niagara Prosperity Initiatives were guided by 7 principles and investments were made in increased food, emergency and transportation supports and reduction of the cost of food, shelter and necessities
In 2009, an innovative Neighbourhood Mapping Tool was used to guide investments in neighbourhoods identified as in need of attention Neighbourhoods were described by their assets and needs in this unique approach to planning and monitoring poverty reduction. A report: The Goods in the Hoods: Poverty asset mapping in two Niagara neighbourhoods- Merritton and Cordage was produced in 2010 by Niagara Region and the Business Education Council (BEC) with the support of Venture Niagara.
In 2010, agencies were engaged in the process and they identified 7 Niagara neighbourhoods as priority areas for attention.
A number of projects have been initiated over the 4 years by the Niagara Prosperity Community Committee and they have been monitored the changes and any impact those changes may have had on s in Niagara over time. Many projects have been initiated:
- 48 projects in 2008/2009
- 36 projects in 2010
- 22 projects funded using 2010 allocations, but beginning in January, 2011
- 30 projects funded in 2011
The new goals for 2011 have been established as:
- Dispelling the myths about living in poverty.
- Improving collaboration and actions in poverty reduction efforts by all stakeholders; and
- Engage and include all individuals in the community.
Some of the gains in reducing poverty in areas in the region can be attributed to many of these community initiatives and the leadership of those involved.