ABILENE, TX — “79603 in that zip code which is Northwest Abilene which is where I am from the medium income is $18,000 a year that’s living below the poverty line," says Mayor Anthony Williams.
That's roughly 8.65/hour which is only $1.40 above the minimum wage. A family of four, for example, who makes less than $24,600 a year in this country is considered to be living in poverty and Mayor Williams says that needs to change.
Williams said, "I can list a number of things that are important but for me at the top of the list has to be economic development."
According to Data-USA, Abilene's poverty rate sits at 19.4%. Which is 5% higher than the national average. Mayor Williams says we have made progress, but more needs to be done.
"It’s not good enough…until it's good enough for everyone,” says Williams.
So, what does the Mayor plan to do differently? He says the game plan is to tackle this issue head-on. He says that it will take more than just non-profits to pull Abileniens out of poverty.
"What if we? Team Abilene? All decided to be a part of this initiative collectively. A collective impact that will produce better results and quicker results. And results that will sustain themselves" says Williams.
Mayor Williams also told me that 61% of students are on free or reduced lunch prices.
He calls that a red flag for poverty in Abilene.