J.D. Vance, the best-selling author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” is starting to appear in the spotlight more and more with his thoughts on how the government should take on issues that affect the working poor, suggesting an interest in public service. Vance discussed his ideas on how Ohio should tackle poverty during a forum in Columbus.
Vance’s book chronicles his life experiences in the holler of Jackson, Kentucky and the rust belt of Middletown, Ohio.
He acknowledges that poverty is an extensive challenge with many aspects that need to be addressed. However, if he had to pick one issue, he’d start with affordable housing projects that don’t put everyone in one location.
“It’s telling poor people, you’re going to live in an island by yourself only with other poor people,” Vance says, “and I think if you can break up that island just a little bit and get some poor folks living with middle-income folks, start to spread some of the problems out a little bit, and create a more solid social foundation.”
When asked if he planned to run for office, Vance – who identifies as a moderate Republican – said public service is meaningful and valuable but he is more interested in finding ways other ways of helping his community right now.
Cynthia Dungey, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said the state’s big focus to fight poverty is to start with job creation and work from there, forming more opportunities for upward mobility.