Philadelphia’s Poverty : Pitfalls and Possibilities since #Occupy

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As many of you know by now, that I challenged myself to be a better advocate & coordinator for the Philly TZM chapter. Part of that has been taking a Wesleyan University massive open online course(MOOC) on Coursera called How to Change the World by Michael S. Roth. The final choice i made for the assignment is as follows:  #4. Describe the persistence of poverty in your neighborhood or region. What is the most important thing you can do to alleviate the suffering caused by poverty? Find at least one other person with whom you can take an action that makes a positive difference. Describe what you’ve done and why it matters.

This blog post is meant to both, re-present that report, as well as act as my final extra credit assignment for that class, as well as being an look at some of the challenges & recent positive advancements which have been made in Philly, since #Occupy.

I am 40 years old & have lived in Philadelphia, most of my life until moving out to the suburbs of Philly, 5 years ago. While at #OccupyPhilly in 2011 I noticed a large banner posted in front of City Hall saying there are 4000 homeless people in Philadelphia. Indeed if that was true it would be pertaining towards similar numbers suggested in relationship too what ProjectHOME mentions  “Scope of Homelessness in Philadelphia

However, those numbers may represent some over lap considering the other statistics later mentioned from the same source; such as the 650 people estimated to be on the streets at any one time.

In a report on youth homelessness, it showed a doubling of incidents from 2009-2011. Mostly from being kicked out, abandoned, or running away. This same report included, another sad statistic about how as many as 8% of Philadelphia’s high school students had experienced homelessness.

The biggest issue to contend with, is getting people the help they need. This is a challenge because many are eligible for help, & do not receive it, because they are unaware they can receive it. “Julie Zaebst, interim director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, seized on the plan’s message that too many Philadelphians fail to take advantage of benefits that could help them.

Under-enrollment in programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, “is a huge problem for our city,” Zaebst said.”

However there have been great strides in this area. 6 BenePhilly Centers have been constructed recently to help engage the public who needs help the most & cut down on the complicate process of receiving federal benefits. This is very exciting news for those in poverty when coupled other with recent events which have also seen large endowments recently, such as John Middleton and his wife Leigh, making a $30 million donation to Project HOME.

” “The best philanthropy is clearheaded and hard-nosed,” Mr. Middleton, 59, said in an interview. “This is about results, not about good intentions.”

Mr. Middleton said that Project HOME, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has already shown results by helping some 8,500 people get off the streets in a city that has the highest poverty rate, 26 percent, among the 10 largest cities in the country.  “

I have been doing general advocacy for the Zeitgeist Movement Philadelphia Chapter since 2008 & recently stepped up as the Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Region. One of the many fallacies used to attack The Zeitgeist Movement(TZM) in general, is tu-quoque, suggesting “we don’t do anything for those in poverty today.” So I reached out to the other State Coordinators & suggested that when we do come across those in need, we use what resources we can to help, by helping direct those people to an appropriate agency.

This “Do you need help?” page will remain on our cities evolving website.  Jamison Small is another State Coordinator, from Arizona, who has also said they would be happy to “team up” & help provide knowledge of these resources, when applicable.

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