Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Philadelphia

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

Is the war on poverty ‘a success,’ as the Trump administration proclaims?, By Alfred Lubrano, July 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Nearly 1 percent of all the people in poverty in the United States live in Philadelphia — one out of every 100 impoverished Americans. Simple math explains that stark story: Nationwide, around 40 million people are at or below the poverty line, $21,000 annual salary for a family of three. Here, in a city of 1.5 million people where the poverty rate is 26 percent, the highest among the country’s biggest cities, there are nearly 400,000 residents living in poverty. That’s why it surprised people in Philadelphia to hear the Trump administration declare this month: ‘Our War on Poverty is largely over and a success…’”

Juvenile Life Sentencing – Philadelphia, PA

Why are juvenile lifers from Philly getting radically different sentences from those in the rest of Pennsylvania?, By Samantha Melamed, July 10, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Judge Rea Boylan called a brief recess at her courtroom in the Bucks County Criminal Justice Center so the lawyers could consult actuarial tables on the current life expectancy of an American male: 76.1 years. Then, a lawyer for Richard Mazeffa, who has been locked up 32 years for shooting his grandparents when he was a teenager, urged Boylan to give him some chance at release from prison before he reaches that age…”

Poverty in Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphians feel squeezed as U.S. economy seems to hum. That’s a poverty problem, By Alfred Lubrano, July 9, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “You’ve got your wallet on your mind, and your mind on your wallet. At least, that’s what you told us when you voted on which story idea should launch Curious Philly, our new question-and-response forum that allows you to submit questions about your community and have our journalists seek the answers. This is what you asked us to look into first: ‘Despite seeing improvement in the national economy, what we hear about the average income for Philadelphians is that it’s still down. Why is that..?'”

Criminal Justice System

  • Justice reforms take hold, the inmate population plummets, and Philadelphia closes a notorious jail, By Tom Jackman, April 23, 2018, Washington Post: “The American criminal justice system’s gradual realization that too many people are in jail needlessly just got a large, visible boost from the city of Philadelphia. The city announced last week that it would close its notorious 91-year-old House of Correction jail because reforms begun two years ago have dropped the city’s jail population by 33 percent, without causing any increase in crime or chaos…”
  • Efforts to regulate bail companies have some unlikely allies: bail agents, By Jazmine Ulloa, April 24, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “In recent years, the seriousness and number of official complaints related to the bail industry in California have significantly increased while bail agents and bounty hunters face limited oversight, putting vulnerable communities at risk of fraud, embezzlement and other forms of victimization. This year, as Gov. Jerry Brown has pledged to work with lawmakers in a push to overhaul how courts assign defendants bail and to better regulate bail agencies, even some who profit from the court practice admit it’s time for regulation. These bail and bail-recovery agents could become unlikely allies, saying they advocate for change because they’ve seen the system abuse the poor…”
  • Mississippi defendants spend months in jail awaiting trial, By Jeff Amy (AP), April 24, 2018, Houston Chronicle: “Jerry Sanders has been sitting in a jail cell on a relatively minor charge of methamphetamine possession for more than a year — longer than the sentence he could get if he’s convicted. And with no money to post bail or hire his own lawyer, he may be sitting there for weeks or months more…”

Cash Bail System

  • What happened when New Jersey stopped relying on cash bail, By Maddie Hanna, February 16, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “One year into New Jersey’s nationally watched overhaul of its bail system, the state’s pretrial jail population has dropped 20 percent as courts have all but stopped setting cash bail…”
  • Philadelphia DA drops cash bail for ‘low-level’ crimes, By Anthony Izaguirre (AP), February 21, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philadelphia’s top prosecutor said Wednesday his office will stop jailing people who cannot afford to pay cash bail in minor criminal cases, affirming the commitment of the country’s fifth-largest city to a national movement that argues the practice targets poor Americans…”

Childhood Hunger – Philadelphia, PA

Childhood hunger in North Philadelphia more than triples, By Alfred Lubrano, September 18, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Stephanie Sakho believes that people who work should have fuller refrigerators than she does. The divorced, certified nursing assistant from Southwest Philadelphia puts in 40 hours a week. But even with her salary and a $300 monthly allotment of food stamps, there isn’t always enough to feed her 10-year-old daughter and year-old son. ‘I think people would be surprised that there are kids in the city not getting enough to eat,’ said Sakho, 28, who makes $13 an hour, near the poverty line for a family of three. ‘I’m working, but people who see me don’t know the refrigerator is empty.’  Sakho’s ‘deeply alarming’ plight is becoming more common, said Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and a professor of health management and policy at School of Public Health at Drexel University…”

Income-Based Water Bills – Philadelphia, PA

For low-income residents, Philadelphia unveiling income-based water bills, By Tricia L. Nadolny, June 19, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Philadelphia Water Department next month will launch a low-income assistance program that offers payments starting at $12 per month and is open even to those who haven’t fallen behind on their bills. For those who have, that debt would be frozen indefinitely…”

Child Poverty – Philadelphia, PA

Report: More Philly children living in poverty, By Martha Woodall, November 1, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Although Philadelphia largely has rebounded from the Great Recession, the economic status of the city’s youngest residents has not kept pace.  A new report on child wellness by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) released Monday found the number of children living in poverty in the city has grown by 16 percent since 2008…”

Deep Poverty – Philadelphia, PA

Among the 10 largest cities, Philly has highest deep-poverty rate, By Alfred Lubrano, September 30, 2015, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty among America’s 10 biggest cities, an examination of federal data by The Inquirer shows. The city is already the poorest in that group. Deep poverty is measured as income of 50 percent or less of the poverty rate. A family of four living in deep poverty takes in $12,000 or less annually, half the poverty rate of $24,000 for a family that size…”

Deep Poverty – Philadelphia

Philadelphia rates highest among top 10 cities for deep poverty, By Alfred Lubrano, September 24, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Already the poorest big city in America, Philadelphia also has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half of the poverty line – of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.2 percent, or nearly 185,000 people, including about 60,000 children. That’s almost twice the U.S. deep-poverty rate of 6.3 percent. Camden’s deep-poverty rate of 20 percent is more than three times the national mark, but its population is a fraction of Philadelphia’s…”

Promise Zones

Programs target poverty in Obama’s 5 ‘Promise Zones’, By NPR Staff, July 6, 2014, NPR: Five areas across the country have been designated as ‘Promise Zones’ by the federal government. These zones, announced by President Obama in January, are intended to tackle poverty by focusing on individual urban neighborhoods and rural areas. In the five Promise Zones — located in Philadelphia, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Los Angeles — the idea is to basically carpet-bomb the neighborhoods with programs like after-school classes, GED courses and job training to turn those areas around. . .”

Promise Zones – Philadelphia

Obama’s Promise Zone both a boon and challenge for West Philly nonprofit, By Kate Kilpatrick, June 16, 2014, Al Jazeera America: “With only a week left in the school year, Annette John-Hall was having a tough time getting her third- and fourth-graders to focus on today’s lesson: imagery and metaphors. ‘My hair is like a woolly crown,’ the former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist gave as an example, and asked them to come up with more. ‘My baseball hits are better than Babe Ruth’s?’ asked Lawrence. The class was not quite getting it yet. ‘I’m funnier than [Marvel villain] Deadpool,’ Amir wrote on the paper in front of him. Then, at last, Robert called out: ‘My report card is as good as bacon!’Mighty Writers is wrapping up its first school year at its newest location in West Philadelphia on the corner of 39th Street and Lancaster Avenue, right in the heart of an area designated a Promise Zone by President Barack Obama earlier this year. . .”

Homelessness

Survey finds rise in homeless population, By Angelo Fichera, June 10, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Not much has changed since Jan. 28 for Sarah Anderson. It was a cold winter, she said, and the bedside fire in a dilapidated shack in the woods in Pemberton Township where she had lived for months offered little respite. While she recently began staying in a friend’s pop-up camper, the 55-year-old still holds out hope for affordable housing. ‘What I really want is to have my own place,’ Anderson said Monday, ‘try to be normal like I used to be.’ Anderson, a former’s nurse’s aide who was evicted from her residence last May and who is now dealing with colon cancer . . .”

Alice Goffman’s “On the Run”

Financial Hazards of a Fugitive Life, By Tyler Cowen, June 1, 2014, New York Times: ” ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century,’ Thomas Piketty’s new book, has received a great deal of attention. But we shouldn’t neglect another important new book on income inequality, from a much different perspective. Titled “On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City,” and written by Alice Goffman, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, it offers a fascinating and disturbing portrait of the economic constraints and incentives faced by a large subset of Americans: those who are hiding from the law. You may think of being on the run as a quandary for only a small group of recalcitrant, hardened criminals. But in her study of one Philadelphia neighborhood, Professor Goffman shows that it is a common way of life for many nonviolent Americans. . .”

Child Poverty – Philadelphia, PA

  • Report shows child-poverty rate highest in Delaware County, By Alfred Lubrano, November 26, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The number of children living in poverty in Delaware County increased by 30 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to a new report. Around 21,000 children 17 and under were living in poverty in the county in 2012, according to the report by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), a youth advocacy and research nonprofit in Philadelphia. That’s a county child-poverty rate of 16.7 percent, PCCY reported…”
  • Childhood poverty up 55 percent in Chester County, By Kendal Gapinski, December 2, 2013, Daily Times: “Childhood poverty in Chester County has dramatically increased from 2008 to 2012, according to a new report released by the Public Citizens for Children and Youth. The report, which was released on Monday, says that child poverty has increased in the county by 55 percent since the start of the recession, the highest in the region. According to PCCY, Bucks County had an 18 percent increase in the number of children living in poverty from 2008 to 2012, while Delaware County saw an increase of 30 percent…”
  • Nearly 3,000 Bucks County kids in ‘deep poverty’, By James McGinnis, December 3, 2013, Bucks County Courier Times: “A ‘slow and uneven’ economic recovery has left nearly 3,000 Bucks County children in ‘deep poverty,’ with parents earning less than $12,000 per year, suggests a new analysis of state and federal records for Philadelphia suburbs. The nonprofit Public Citizens for Children and Youth reports a 43 percent increase in the number of Bucks County children enrolled in supplemental nutritional assistance program (SNAP) food benefits, formerly known as food stamps, and a 45 percent increase in the number of students who are eligible to receive free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches in school…”

NPR Report on Philadelphia Schools

  • Kids pay the price in fight over fixing Philadelphia schools, By Claudio Sanchez, November 21, 2013, National Public Radio: “Sharron Snyder and Othella Stanback, both seniors at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High, will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. This, their final year, was supposed to be memorable. Instead, these teenagers say they feel cheated. ‘We’re fed up with the budget cuts and everything. Like, this year, my school is like really overcrowded. We don’t even have lockers because it’s, like, too many students,’ Sharron says. Franklin High doubled in size because it absorbed hundreds of kids from two high schools the district could not afford to keep open this fall…”
  • Unrelenting poverty leads to ‘desperation’ in Philly schools, By Eric Westervelt, November 21, 2013, National Public Radio: “Philadelphia’s Center City area sparkles with new restaurants, jobs and money. After declining for half a century, the city’s population grew from 2006 to 2012. But for people living in concentrated poverty in large swaths of North and West Philadelphia, the Great Recession only made life harder. The overall poverty rate in the city dipped slightly in 2012 to 28 percent. But the number of Philadelphians needing food stamps rose last year, and the child poverty rate in the city still hovers near 40 percent. At Julia de Burgos Elementary School in North Philly, for example, almost every child lives at or below the federal poverty line…”
  • Charter schools in Philadelphia: Educating without a blueprint, By Eric Westervelt, November 22, 2013, National Public Radio: “Shayna Terrell is in a good mood: It’s report card night at the Simon Gratz Mastery Charter high school in North Philadelphia, and parents are showing up in good numbers. Terrell, Mastery’s outreach coordinator, welcomes parents. Her goal on this night is to get 40 percent of Gratz parents to come to the school, meet teachers face to face, and get their child’s report card. It’s part of the effort to make Gratz a positive hub for a community long challenged by high rates of poverty and crime…”

Senior Poverty – Philadelphia

Steep rise seen in deep poverty among elderly, By Alfred Lubrano, October 9, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “If Ivy Maude Jones could still work, life would be easier. Cleaning houses, caring for the sick, toiling in corporate cafeterias – Jones always had money coming in, right up until the North Philadelphia woman retired two years ago at age 74, when her heart and thyroid conspired to end her clock-punching days. But like many American elderly, Jones is now struggling without a paycheck. Her tiny pension and Social Security income can’t save her from a crushing poverty that could soon have her living on the streets…”

Anti-Poverty Plan – Philadelphia, PA

  • Philly unveils plan to reduce high poverty rate, By Kathy Matheson (AP), July 11, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Officials unveiled a comprehensive plan Thursday to reduce Philadelphia’s extremely high 28 percent poverty rate, which they depicted as a persistent and intergenerational problem with impacts far beyond the neighborhoods where it is most concentrated. The initiative, called Shared Prosperity Philadelphia, sets several goals for the city, such as increasing the number of jobs by 25,000 in the next two years; providing 25 percent more children with pre-literacy skills before kindergarten; and raising the number of residents with bank accounts…”
  • A plan to address city’s ‘staggering’ poverty, By Alfred Lubrano, July 11, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “In an unusually frank document, the city has laid out stark statistical descriptions of poverty in Philadelphia, accompanied by a plan to try to deal with the problem. The Shared Prosperity Philadelphia plan, presented Thursday at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia, states that at a ‘staggering 28 percent,’ the poverty rate here is the highest among the nation’s 10 largest cities. More than 430,000 of the city’s 1,547,600 residents live below the federal poverty line, the report points out. The poverty line ranges from $11,490 for a single person to $23,550 for a family of four…”

Deep Poverty in US Cities – Philadelphia, PA

Of big cities, Phila. worst for people in deep poverty, By Alfred Lubrano, March 19, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half of the poverty line – of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. The annual salary for a single person at half the poverty line is around $5,700; for a family of four, it’s around $11,700. Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.9 percent, or around 200,000 people. Phoenix, Chicago, and Dallas are the nearest to Philadelphia, with deep-poverty rates of more than 10 percent. The numbers come from an examination of the 2009 through 2011 three-year estimate of the U.S. Census American Community Survey by The Inquirer and Temple University sociologist David Elesh…”

Homeless Advocacy Project – Philadelphia, PA

Pa. cuts funding for Phila. program for the disabled homeless, By Alfred Lubrano, August 24, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Corbett administration has cut funding for a Philadelphia program nationally lauded as the ‘gold standard’ for helping disabled homeless people get federal benefits. On May 31, the state’s Department of Public Welfare gave Philadelphia’s Homeless Advocacy Project one month’s notice that it was eliminating $722,000 used to help obtain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) money for homeless or near-homeless people who had exceeded their five-year limit for welfare benefits. Many of the people don’t have the mental capacity to work. SSI provides disability income and benefits. The Department of Public Welfare made the cut because the state is ‘reprioritizing’ funding toward programs that emphasize work, DPW spokeswoman Carey Miller said. By taking money from the Homeless Advocacy Project, ‘we will be able to focus better on job placement and retention,’ Miller said…”