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Home to Highest Homeless Rate, Philly Lays Out Plan to Address it

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.

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. Further, black and Latino Philadelphians are twice as likely to be poor as whites. "Most distressing," the report continues, "39 percent of Philadelphia's children are poor."

Poverty is a "persistent and devastating problem" in Philadelphia, and holds back many residents, Mayor Nutter said at the event. "We may never benefit from their knowledge and abilities because they will never have the chance to develop their talent," he said.

The city's high poverty rate may also dissuade companies from locating here and is a burden on all taxpayers, antipoverty experts say. Eva Gladstein, executive director of the Office of Community

Empowerment and Opportunity, helped create the report by consulting with antipoverty experts in the city. The result is a plan to have organizations work together to focus on job creation, expand access to public benefits, increase housing security, and ensure that children enter school prepared to learn.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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