Hunger in the First
Offering employment where legitimate industry collapsed years ago, the hugely profitable narcotics trade endlessly engages police, dealers, and drug abusers in Kensington. The area is part of the First Congressional District, one of the poorest places in America.
A rallying cry
that people heard
Last in an occasional series
By Alfred Lubrano
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Imani Sullivan’s friends threw her a housewarming party a couple of weeks ago in her new one-bedroom apartment in Feltonville. Months earlier, Sullivan had spoken in despair about the shame she felt not having enough food to feed her two young boys. She even contemplated suicide.
Yet here she was, approaching New Year’s, in a place of her own, paying rent.
She had a job as a janitor cleaning offices that pays $14,600 a year, including vacation, insurance, and a 401(k) plan.Her apartment has hardwood floors and clean, white walls. It’s only two miles from her mother’s apartment in North Philadelphia, where she used to live. But it feels like 1,000 miles and a lifetime away.
“I love it here so much,” said Sullivan, 31. “On our first night here, my son De-Mire said, ‘Everything looks fresh.’Continue to read the story here.
Mold grows thick and black on the walls of Celeata Bailey's Norris Square bedroom.
Because most of the ceiling is missing, Bailey, 21, gets soaked in bed when it rains.
There's not enough food in Imani Sullivan's life.
At home, Sullivan, 31, often doesn't set a fork for herself at the table so that her sons, ages 3 and 10, can eat.
Naturally diminutive, Sullivan looks frail these days. She has dropped 15 pounds since losing her part-time janitor job during the summer.Each family meal feels like an obligation she cannot meet, a daily burden multiplied by three.
The grinding recession is taking its toll in neighborhoods across America as a record number of people plunge into poverty. A national poll reveals that Philadelphia’s First Congressional District is the second-hungriest in the country.
In an occasional series, The Inquirer goes behind the scenes in the district to chronicle the struggles, hopes and challenges of the people who live hidden in plain sight in the heart of the country’s sixth-largest city.
Find the entire series here.