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Bill Tibbitts directs the Anti-Hunger Action Committee, one of the advocacy projects at Crossroads Urban Center. Tibbitts’ organization will join the Utah Poverty Partnership in hosting the People’s Summit on Poverty Sept. 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Horizonte School, 1234 S. Main. The summit is free and open to the public.

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Have you ever been poor or homeless?

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I spent several years working low-wage jobs trying to pay my way through school without collecting excessive student-loan debt but that really does not compare to the situation of most AHAC members.

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What percentage of our local population lives in poverty?

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About 10 percent of the population'246,247 Utahns'are under the federal poverty level.

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What will the People’s Summit on Poverty focus on this year?

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One hundred thirty-two Utahns will die this year because they don’t have health insurance. Pushing our elected officials to find health-care solutions will be one big issue. Others include increasing the amount of affordable housing, reducing hunger and raising the minimum wage for the first time in nine years.

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Jesus said the poor are always be with us. Are there real solutions to poverty and homelessness?

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When Jesus said that, women, children and slaves were all property that could be abused in horrible ways. We have already eliminated some of the worst forms of inequality that existed then. The fact we cannot achieve perfection does not mean we lose our responsibility to do better.

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Is there any good news on the poverty advocacy front?

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This time last year, the Legislature was deciding which tax cuts to give to businesses and wealthy individuals. Thanks to groups involved with the poverty summit, lawmakers have since decided to reduce the sales tax on food. When people have a consistent message and work together, they make a difference.

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