Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Next Mayor: At Issue -- Poverty

Poverty's ruthless tentacles reach into every neighborhood in the city. Breaking its bond on one-fourth of the city's residents would create a healthier, more educated, more successful populace.

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Poverty

It's 2015:
What do you care about?

The race for who becomes mayor is always about the issues.

The Next Mayor will be providing background and updates on news and information on the biggest issues facing the city.

We want to hear from you about what you think is critical for the next mayor to handle.

The Big Picture

The facts are bleak: Philadelphia has the highest rate of people living in deep poverty than any other big city in the country.

What that means is that 200,000 people live at half the poverty line -- $5,700 in annual income or $9,700 for a family of four.

What that means for the city and its future is far more complicated. Poverty extracts human costs, of course, but also municipal ones—general revenues decline while demands on services increase. Children who live with scarcity can’t learn as well as others, so education and opportunities are compromised, establishing a hard-to-break cycle that solidifies poverty through generations.

Big Battles

Poverty as priority vs. public and political resistance: The appetite for supporting low income people with programs and policies, while rarely robust, is currently low, as the larger battle being played out across the country and in Congress attests.

On the other hand, increasing awareness that low wages can keep families reliant on benefits like food stamps and other social programs has driven a renewed call for increasing the minimum wage. 

What's at stake

Because the causes of poverty are complex and deep seated – globalization, stagnating wages, shifting workforce needs – poverty is hard for a single mayor to tackle. Mayor Nutter did create an Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity in 2013 to help foster more coordination among the many groups and offices that help low income people -- primarily to insure that the city will take advantage of as many federal and state dollars as possible. (www.shareprosperity.org)  

We asked Donna Cooper, currently executive director of PCCY, former fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Secretary of Policy for Governor Ed Rendell what a mayor can do to make a difference in the poverty rate:

“The Mayor does have tools to reduce the share of Philadelphians in poverty, including 1.) work with Council to pass a minimum wage increase sufficient to make full time work higher than a poverty wage, at least to $10.10 an hour. 2.) Use the city’s agencies and commissions to close the loop for thousands of families who eligible but not tapping critical family supports like the Earned Income Tax Credit, supplemental nutrition assistance, and LIHEAP. 3) Make sure that every student graduates high school with at least one summer or after school job experience so that they are ready to be a wage-earner after high school. 4) Establish a public employment program that permits the long-term unemployed to develop a positive job history and successfully transition into private sector employment. 5).Use city funds to expand access to high quality pre-k and to close the fourth grade reading gap. By graduation, these children can compete for jobs that pay a family sustaining wage.”

For more information about PCCY, go to their website here. For more information about the city's Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, go to its website here.

Below is the latest graphic from Pew Charitable Trusts on poverty in Philadelphia. Learn more about Pew’s ‘State of the City’ research here.

 

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#NextMayorPHL

It's 2015:
What do you care about?

The race for who becomes mayor is always about the issues.

The Next Mayor will be providing background and updates on news and information on the biggest issues facing the city.

We want to hear from you about what you think is critical for the next mayor to handle.

The Issues

Below are the top issues based on a survey conducted in 2014 by the Philadelphia Daily News and Temple University.

Email us your thoughts >>

Crime
76%
Education
76%
Poverty
72%
Jobs
68%
Political Corruption
57%
Housing
52%
How important is the issue of poverty to you?
Not important
Somewhat important
Very important
 Candidates' policy papers