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. . .”


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…”

Summer Meal Program – Philadelphia, PA

District cuts affect summer meals for children, By Alfred Lubrano, May 4, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Fewer students will be eating free breakfast and lunch in summer school this year because budget troubles are forcing the School District of Philadelphia to reduce the number of academic and enrichment programs it offers. This year, about 10,000 students will be enrolled in summer programs, nearly half of the 19,000 who attended in 2011, a district representative said. Summer school will be available only to high school seniors who need credits to graduate, special-education students, and students who qualify for education programs funded by federal grants. That means parents will have to scramble to feed children – many of them low-income – who are accustomed to free school meals but will not receive them…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • State Medicaid programs face $141 million shortfall, report says, By Jason Stein, January 31, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin’s health programs for the poor have a $141 million shortfall in state money over the next year and a half, new estimates show. So far, GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has saving plans that would more that cover that potential deficit in the state’s Medicaid health programs. But a new report by the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office questions whether all of the saving will materialize. With costs in the program still substantial and the saving uncertain, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau found in its new report that the finances of the health programs will need careful monitoring. The report comes ahead of new estimates expected next week that should shed more light on the overall condition of the state’s strained budget…”
  • Medicaid rolls rose even as Pa. disqualified many, new calculation shows, By Don Sapatkin, January 26, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s stepped-up efforts over the summer to target waste, fraud, and abuse quickly bore fruit in the fall. Adult Medicaid enrollment alone was down 109,000 through November. Cause and effect seemed clear. Advocates for the poor and disabled were outraged. Now, DPW has suddenly changed its reporting method. Revised calculations show a decline of just 6,000 participants for the same period. And when December is added in, enrollment is up by 23,000 since August – a time when officials agree that tens of thousands of people lost benefits after overdue reviews found they were ineligible. DPW says the new reporting method is just as accurate as the old one, merely different. But it will not disclose its new method or recalculate the latest Medicaid data using the old formula…”
  • Medicaid copays could increase in South Dakota, By Megan Luther, January 31, 2012, Sioux Falls Argus Leader: “Medicaid recipients in South Dakota will face larger copays for their medication if the federal government signs off on a state plan designed to drive down costs in the program that provides health care to poor people. Requiring the larger copays is one of 11 recommendations put forth by the Medicaid Solutions Work Group, an assembly of health care providers, lawmakers and state employees assigned with finding savings the the program. The group began work last year at the request of Gov. Dennis Daugaard…”
  • Medicaid change to cut pharmacy payments in Texas, By Jim Fuquay, January 28, 2012, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “When Marwan Hattab opened Wedgwood Pharmacy just over a year ago, he knew from his previous years in the business how much it costs to fill a prescription. And he knows it’s quite a bit more than he’ll be paid under a new reimbursement system for Texas’ Medicaid program. The state’s move to managed care for Medicaid prescriptions goes into effect March 1, and Hattab and other independent pharmacists say they stand to lose money on every prescription they write for the federal/state healthcare program for the poor. A coalition of Texas pharmacies said last week that the dispensing fee that pharmacists receive for filing a Texas Medicaid prescription will plunge from about $6.50 to as little as $1.35. The change is part of legislation passed last year that aims to save the state an estimated $100 million over the next two years…”

Half-Day Kindergarten – Philadelphia, PA

Experts: Half-day kindergarten a ‘disaster’, By Alfred Lubrano, May 1, 2011, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Philadelphia School District’s plan to cut full-day kindergarten to help balance its budget is being decried by national education experts as a ‘disaster’ and a ‘very bad decision’ that could harm the development of thousands of children – especially the poor. At the same time, many Philadelphia parents are angered and worried that half-day kindergarten would force them to choose between quitting work to be home for their children or placing them in questionable or costly day care. And local child advocates warn that community child-care centers could not handle the tidal wave of 12,700 kindergartners likely to need placement in some kind of program…”

Food Insecurity – Philadelphia, PA

Study quantifies food insecurity – hunger – in the suburbs, By Alfred Lubrano, April 21, 2011, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Hunger quiets people, and there was almost no conversation among the 145 who gathered in an Upper Darby church parking lot, awaiting a charitable distribution of produce, on a recent wet spring morning. Breaking the silence, Juliana Noble said, ‘A lot of changes in my life brought me here today.’ The 50-year-old mother of a high school senior from Yeadon, Noble was laid off from her job as a course adviser at a Main Line college two years ago. She now works part-time at a clothing store, struggling to pay the mortgage and utilities. Fresh produce doesn’t fit in her budget, so she shows up at Christ Lutheran Church for the bananas, potatoes, lettuce, and other food in the weekly Fresh for All distribution by Philabundance, the hunger-relief agency…”

Poverty and Hunger – Philadelphia, PA

  • Hunger in Philadelphia: The safety net is torn, By Alfred Lubrano, November 5, 2010, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Myra Young fits a nebulizer mask over her son Todd’s face to beat back his chronic asthma. Inhaling vaporized medicine that keeps him breathing, the 4-year-old with large eyes leafs through a children’s Bible to pass the time. Young, 41, is an unemployed nursing assistant who lost her job in 2007 caring for Todd during his two-month hospitalization. She watches nervously as the whirring machine eats electricity. The power to Young’s two-bedroom rental in Kensington will be cut in two weeks because the bill has climbed to $770. She lives in the poorest place in Pennsylvania – the First Congressional District. According to a national poll, the district is the second-hungriest in America. Young, who is separated, is not without help. She receives monthly welfare payments of $205, along with $362 in food stamps, and $674 in Supplemental Security Income for Todd’s illness – part of the safety net meant to aid the poor. Young’s husband, a hotel kitchen worker, chips in as well. But all that help still keeps mother and son stuck at the poverty level – not nearly enough to pay the $625 rent, and feed Young’s hungry child and his voracious breathing machine. Because Young hasn’t worked since Todd’s hospitalization, it’s harder for her to get jobs; employers are wary of her two years away from nursing…”
  • Inquirer Editorial: We are what we eat, Editorial, November 5, 2010, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Hunger isn’t confined to a single zip code. But there are few places where its impact is more evident than within this city’s First Congressional District, rated the second-hungriest in America. Inquirer reporter Alfred Lubrano recently detailed how that hunger, rooted in poverty, can paradoxically lead to obesity. Many among the poor are overweight not from eating too much, but because they eat the wrong foods…”