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Thoughts

Why would a person so involved and experienced in education want to be on the City Council?

            I want to be involved in how any redevelopment plans are created and implemented by Ogden City. I want to protect the current residents’ rights to better affordable housing. I also want to help shape new plans for a healthier community where residents choose to live and stay once they have become more economically stable. This includes investing in green spaces, developing the creative district, and thinking about more community-focused multi-use spaces.  This all stems from the knowledge I can bring to the City Council from my background in education. Education can be a catalyst for changing a person’s trajectory in life no matter what their background, but it is usually not the only force to do so. It takes a community that cares to take on the responsibility as well. I know that from my own personal experience.

            In the education field many factors are considered when looking at the population of students who are served by the institutions in a particular area in order to find ways to support them.  One measure is mobility rates, which for the Ogden School District elementary schools in Municipal Ward 1 is around 30%[1]. This means that about three out of ten students leave a school each year by transferring or perhaps leaving the area entirely. To me, along with many educators and researchers, this is a symptom of other issues affecting the students and families, such as high levels of poverty whether it is intergenerational or situational. Moving schools so much makes it hard for students to continue learning. These families also often live in more unstable or shorter-term housing like rentals. Sometimes they live with other family members or friends temporarily.  Ogden City, especially in the East Central neighborhood, has a large portion of substandard low-income housing available, so people without means often have little choice but to live in this area.

            The data related to students and families living in poverty in Ogden might be surprising to some. For example, Ogden School District as a whole has pretty high rates of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, which is measured based on families who are living at or below the poverty level by 185% (reduced price) -130% (free). These amounts are calculated using the annual income of people including investments, assets, etc. and the number of people living in a household[2]. For a family of four in Utah, these amounts are $45,510 and $31,980 annually. There are five Ogden School District elementary schools in Municipal Ward 1, all with 100% Economically Disadvantaged populations[3].  There are also two charter schools, DaVinci Academy and Ogden Preparatory Academy with 42.2% and 61.5% respectfully.    

            This is one of many areas of interest I have that involve how Ogden’s Redevelopment Agency is approaching their work in my neighborhood.  I agree with the idea that we should focus on creating more affordable, safe, and secure housing options for our current residents who do not have the economic means needed to choose not to live here. But I do not want them to be forced out. There have been any number of stories about how renters can be evicted from their apartments because they refuse to pay rent when a landlord does not fix real problems in their homes. This can lead a person who is already facing economic hardships with a dilemma: Do they complain to a landlord and potentially become homeless with their credit rating affected from an eviction, or do they just remain in unstable and unsafe living quarters? This should not be a choice for a population who is already struggling.

[1] PACE Report Card https://datagateway.schools.utah.gov/

[2] https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/04/10/2017-07043/child-nutrition-programs-income-eligibility-guidelines

[3] USBE Data Gateway https://datagateway.schools.utah.gov/

Angela Choberka