Advocates for the poor gathered in the Statehouse rotunda Wednesday to appeal to lawmakers to address poverty as they begin a new legislative session. The coalition of faith leaders in attendance hope lawmakers will adopt several policy initiatives to fight homelessness and increase assistance for the poor.
The light-filled center of the Statehouse was packed with leaders from a range of religious communities, lawmakers, and community advocates. It’s the seventh annual such interfaith vigil to raise awareness about poverty. Senate president Teresa Paiva Weed told the gathering that lawmakers could help by increasing opportunities for people to get better jobs.
“We cannot move Rhode Island’s economy forward without addressing the issues that underlie poverty," said Paiva Weed. "And that’s why so much our effort in the Senate has focused on helping workforce gain the skills they need in this modern economy.”
On her first full day in office, Gov. Gina Raimondo spoke to the crowd as well, telling them that while the state faces serious financial challenges ahead, that’s no excuse for not fighting poverty.