In Maine, there are more than 130,000 people categorized as low income. On Monday hundreds gathered at the capital to talk about poverty and plead for action.
The conference featured workshops on affordable housing, energy, health care, and hunger.
Jesse Leah Vear grew up in Brewer, and now represents a Portland-based organization pushing for economic rights. She says real people who are living in poverty like herself need to be heard.
":It’s crazy that you can be working really hard and you can’t even fill a gas tank on your wages.": Ms. Vear said on Monday.
":The second stimulus package has an opportunity to change that.": Nicole Witherbee is a federal budget analyst with the Maine Center for Economic Policy. She also spoke to us during Monday’s symposium. ":It adds an increase in food stamps, investments in infrastructure. So people can go to work and, most importantly, both unemployment and an increased match in federal Medicaid package.":
Witherbee says change needs to start from the bottom up. One key area that she thinks Maine should be reevaluating is the minimum wage: Witherbee says it’s not high enough.