Darius Brown Takes Fighting Poverty Personally
The working poor are often overlooked in American society. With the infrastructure to allocate resources and the authority to pen legislation, government is our best hope of lifting more people up into a sustainable and comfortable life. This month, we applaud a DMO who takes true leadership in countering poverty and inequality. Meet Darius Brown, council member from Wilmington, Delaware and DMO of the Month for July.
Wilmington’s overall poverty rates are roughly double the state average, with the hardest hit including African Americans, single mothers, and children. Darius Brown takes the responsibility of alleviating these conditions very personally. To bring attention to the difficulty of surviving on food stamps, he participated in the SNAP Challenge, living off only $21.50 in groceries during the week of his inauguration. He is also active with Half in Ten, a national campaign dedicated to reducing poverty by 50% in the next decade. The council member connects residents with sites run by the Delaware Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign. This volunteer program guides residents through their taxes, and helps them identify other financial services they qualify for. Brown also hosted an enrollment event to sign his constituents up for the Affordable Care Act, and appeared on local television to better inform the public about the new healthcare law. These efforts reduce the probability that a medical emergency drags an entire family into poverty. Through a variety of initiatives,Darius Brown turns the public eye to the working poor, and provides a ladder up into financial security.
Compounding the problem of poverty, persistent income inequality keeps parents and children from crossing the threshold into the middle class.Brown’s own initiative is The Campaign for Access and Opportunity, a program that connects neighborhoods in the 3rd District through affordable housing, healthcare access, and local infrastructure investments. The council member supports reentry services, offering felons the economic and social footholds necessary to prevent recidivism. Even simple programs like Career Heroes, where professionals visit local schools, introduce children to the idea that they can grow up to succeed in a fulfilling career. Council member Brown employs multiple programs to empower a new generation to escape the cycle of poverty.
The council member works to build better neighborhoods, targeting the conditions that perpetuate low incomes and high inequality. Since no single factor is directly responsible for economic disparity, broader improvement efforts can better address the wide array of causes. Council member Brownhelped the Urban Bike Project relocate to Wilmington, working together to bring low cost transportation and safer streets to the city. He sponsors walking groups that introduce residents to community services and creates a public presence that helps reclaim neighborhood spaces. He has also penned recommendations for Safe Neighborhoods, outlining how to leverage community assets and target the problem areas that foster crime and disparity. These initiatives develop stronger communities where prosperity can take hold.
Darius Brown takes a direct approach to raising the financial tide of his city. He engages in programs that target poverty, and encourages the public to confront the reality that their neighbors don’t have enough money to survive. These first steps are followed by initiatives to build pathways out of poverty, ensuring that economic mobility is an avenue open to all community members. Recognizing that many factors lead to inequality, Brownfocuses on developing his district in its entirety, creating a community atmosphere that helps success to take root. With the recent economic downturn, financial hardship has touched families in every city. Darius Brown understands that those struggling to get by are neighbors in our own wards and districts. DMO applauds his work, and wishes him the best of luck in his efforts to make sure that every Wilmingtonian has enough to thrive.
Darius Brown was first elected to the Wilmington City Council in 2012. His previous work displays the same commitment to public service and activism, serving as a Leadership Fellow with the Center for American Progress and as an Aide for both the Senate and Delaware General Assembly. He sits on NLC’s Finance, Administration, and Intergovernmental Relations steering committee, and provides training and information to over 19,000 communities nationwide through NLC University.