This past week the Philadelphia Daily News published a four part series on poverty in Philadelphia: “Tapped Out: A Special Report on Poverty in the City.” The newspaper takes an in-depth look at poverty – who experiences it, how we got here and what we as society can do about it. Also, it reports on how Philadelphia became the poorest big city in America.
This special report is an attempt to capture a picture of poverty In Philadelphia today. This series features the voices of people we rarely hear from: those who are experiencing poverty first hand. Just as poverty is particular to the times, the stories of those who are struggling are unique; there is no simple monolithic profile of “the poor.”
One thing that was reported in this excellent series was the results of a city-wide survey. Nearly 350 randomly selected people from across the city were phoned. The results of this survey demonstrate that an economically, racially and educationally diverse cross-section of Philadelphians see poverty as one of the most important issues that the city must address to move forward. More than 70 percent of respondents rated the related issues of crime, poverty and the public schools as “very important” for Philadelphia. The surveyed people see the role of government and society as key causes and solutions for poverty. More than 50 percent of the respondents strongly agreed that a lack of well-paying jobs and a failure of society to provide quality schools are the most important causes of poverty. Nearly 70 percent strongly agreed that a solution to poverty is increasing the minimum wage, while nearly 60 percent strongly agreed that a solution is to increase the number of government-sponsored job-training programs.