New Research on Poverty in Philadelphia by The Pew Charitable Trusts

New Research on Poverty in Philadelphia by The Pew Charitable Trusts

December 13, 2017

On the coldest morning of the season, attendees from diverse agencies, organizations, and professions gathered to discuss and engage with research on one of Philadelphia’s most pressing issues: poverty. Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate of the ten largest cities and ranks fifth among the poorest large cities in the nation. The poverty rate in the city has remained largely unchanged over the last decade: now at 25.7%. Director Larry Eichel and Officer Octavia Howell of The Pew Charitable Trust unpack these figures in their newest report, “Philadelphia’s Poor: Who they are, where they live, and how that has changed”. The Pew Report can be found here.

Their research found that children, Hispanic residents, and African-American residents disproportionately experience poverty, each group having a poverty rate well above the city-wide average. Households in poverty are distinct in that they are more often headed by women, and are more likely to include children. Additionally, while most cities across the nation have seen a “suburbanization” of poverty, Philadelphia is seeing a concentration of poverty within city limits. Eichel and Howell speculate that this difference is related to the relatively low costs of public transportation and housing within the city, and the higher land-use regulation of surrounding suburban counties.

During the Q&A that followed, attendees raised questions on the history and geography of poverty in the city. Others were more about the personal experiences of residents: What is life like for almost 400,000 persons experience poverty in our city? While Census data does not lend itself to an easy answer, attendees were eager to share their ideas and solutions to create change on the ground.

Mitch Little, Executive Director of the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, closed the event with a call to action: “We understand where it is and who it is. Do we have the gumption to have the conversation and dig deeper?”

Here’s what you said about the Roundtable:

What is one thing that you will take away from this Roundtable to enhance the work you do?

  • Talking about poverty without race is not meaningful.”
  • “New areas of poverty where we have low programming.”
  • “Child poverty rate is incredible – and we need to continue to work to improve their situation.”

How could future Roundtables be improved?

  • “Building on this one so that it is not a one and done. We now have the data, so what next?”
  • “Another session to discuss presentation in smaller groups then returning to the larger group with comments, questions, and application.”
  • “More opportunity for participants to speak to each other.”

Click here to access the Presentation from the Roundtable.