A new report claims Houston’s jobs program is needed to ease income inequality

In this Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, photo, dozens of homeless people live beneath an overpass for Interstate 59 in Houston. Many of the inhabitants of the tent camp braved Hurricane Harvey there and shrug off the severity of the storm, even as advocates for the homeless fear the aftermath could hit them hardest. (AP Photo/Matt Sedensky)

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A recent report from a Mayoral task force asserts a city-wide program could create 20,000 new jobs and help to close the income gap between the city’s highest-paid and lowest-paid workers in Houston.

Under the proposed program they presented, the city would create “family-sustaining jobs” and aim to provide training for those who seek to work their way out of poverty.

The Task Force on Equity issued its 114-page report this week, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reportedly gave the task force the mission of “developing actionable policy recommendations to make Houston a more equitable city.”

These policy recommendations would reportedly include ways to “improve economic outcomes and quality of life for traditionally marginalized populations.”

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As part of the changes, the new policies, including the jobs program, would seek to rectify the income disparities found among the city’s work force, based on the text of the report.

According to the Brookings Institution, Houston ranks near the bottom third of 100 major U.S. cities in terms of income equality, with households in the top five percent earning almost 10 times what those in the bottom 20 percent earn.

One of the proposed remedies is expanding the “Houston Works!” program, under which the program would call for all city departments, contractors and subcontractors to provide a “family-sustaining” minimum wage of $15 per hour, as well as benefit options for employees.

The program would also reportedly create incentives for business to hire local workers, as well as apprenticeship and on-the-job training for new workers.

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During an interview, Kyle Shelton, a member of the task force and a researcher at Rice University, told Houston Public Media the plan should answer some specific questions:

“How can it work with business partners to ensure things, like more family-sustaining wages, are put into place? How do we turn those in ways that doesn’t stop growth and doesn’t stop benefits for the groups helping to create it, but also helps to share that benefit and helps to bring more people into it?”

The goal of the program is reportedly to create 20,000 new jobs by 2022, where, based on the proposal, a combination of government agencies and business leaders would work together to reach the goal.

What do you think?

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