Group visits area deemed poorest in Florida to discuss solutions to help

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 11, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A cross-section of community stakeholders are coming together to try to lift up one Tallahassee neighborhood after a recent report named it the poorest zip code in Florida.

The report named zip code 32304 the poorest in the state by the report and the group hit the ground Thursday morning to look at the factors behind the number.

The summit was held at New Mount Zion AME Church on Old Bainbridge Road, in the heart of the community.

"We cannot afford to ignore the indexes of sociological data that is telling us continuously that there are those who are in the valley and they need help," said Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor.

To see the need first hand, a school bus load of concerned community leaders and members toured parts of the zip code, including Frenchtown, on Thursday.

Renee Miller with the City Walk Urban Commission says seeing the signs of poverty was nothing new for her, as she walks those streets every day to serve and pray for people.

"I was like, 'Yes, finally, you know what I'm trying to explain to you,'" Miller said. "It was wonderful for other people who didn't see outside of Killearn or outside of their own community, there was definitely a paradigm shift and I loved it."

The group gathered after the tour to brainstorm how to improve the area.

"Early childhood education as a foundation for successful K-12, because if you come into kindergarten and you're not ready, you fall behind every other grade," said one woman.

"That should be our number one focus," added another.

"What are we going to do before kids get to school?" asked another participant. "You're saying how do we support the family? There you go. That's a better way to say it. How do we support families such that we get kids to school in a position to learn?"

"Often times, there are barriers for these individuals to gain employment and housing," said Beth Nichols, who also participated. "It's difficult for individuals to get identification and the documents needed for that."

More than 100 people were registered for the event, consisting of business and community leaders.

They say working together, they can make a change.

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