What would a Philadelphia without poverty look like? - Technical.ly Philly


Jan. 17, 2019 10:31 am

What would a Philadelphia without poverty look like?

It's Economic Mobility Action Month. Broke in Philly's heads want to know: What do you think we need to move toward that vision?
The Philly skyline.

The Philly skyline.

(Photo by J. Fusco, courtesy of Visit Philadelphia)

This is a guest post by Resolve Philadelphia Co-Executive Directors Cassie Haynes and Jean Friedman-Rudovsky.
What would your life look like if you didn’t have to worry about money?

Most Philadelphians — and let’s face it, basically everyone everywhere — rarely allow ourselves to answer that question.

Today, the two of us will.

If we didn’t have to worry about money, we would not lay awake at night worrying about whether our spouses can pursue their chosen careers, crunching numbers in spreadsheets to make sure that the salary is sufficient to cover childcare, food and monthly payments toward an astronomical mountain of student debt. If we didn’t have to worry about money, we wouldn’t be pegging a dream of having a second child to a bank account balance because of the high cost of fertility treatments.

Compared to some, though, we are both financially fortunate. We have structurally solid roofs over our heads and our kids receive high-quality daycare at a conveniently located place of our choosing. But that’s exactly the point: Philadelphia’s ghastly 25.7 percent poverty rate does not even come close to encompassing the extent of the city’s economic insecurity problem. Depending on the measure of financial self-sustainability, between 48 and 62 percent of residents can not make ends meet. And, even those of us who can, suffer the stress of economic uncertainty.

[Learn about Technical.ly’s involvement in the Broke in Philly collaborative reporting project here, and read our reporting from the series so far here.]

The need to reframe our city’s core challenge — and its potential solutions — prompted Philadelphia City Council to adopt a resolution making January 2019 Economic Mobility Action Month. Nationally, the first month of the year is Poverty Awareness Month, but you know the problem is bigger than “poverty,” and we need more than “awareness.”


(Image via Broke in Philly)

For the last eight months, Resolve Philadelphia, the nonprofit behind Broke in Philly, our collaborative reporting project, has facilitated solutions-oriented reporting on the economic realities facing our community. While we’re continuing coverage throughout the year on poverty alleviation, we’re also making a concerted effort to include a better understanding of economic mobility. We want to explore what it would take for all of us to be in a place of mobility, of security, of choice, while recognizing that these words don’t mean the same thing for all of us.

In January, we’re sharing a new fact each day about economic mobility in our community — some of which may surprise you. Later this month, alongside allies such as The Center for Returning Citizens, University of Pennsylvania, Frontline Dads, The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and others, we’ll facilitate discussions as we work together to better understand economic mobility and begin to paint a collective picture of what prosperity looks like in our community.

But Economic Mobility Action Month is just the beginning. We have more to do throughout 2019 — and we need your voices to do it.

(Image via Broke in Philly)

First, please ask yourself that question at the top of this piece: What what your life look like if you didn’t have to worry about money? Would you and your partner fight less? Would your living situation look different? What about your health?

Now ask yourself: What information do you need to move toward that vision? What questions do you have that local news media can work to answer?

This outlet, and more than 20 others, is dedicated to doing community-responsive reporting and finding those answers for you. You can text us at 215-774-3212 or fill out the contact form on brokeinphilly.org. Or, tweet or DM a video of your answers at @brokeinphilly.

In partnership with PhillyCAM, we’ve already started collecting thoughts, as you can see from the below video. The PhillyCAM team will also be at the Philly Town Hall on Student Debt on Wednesday, Jan. 17, and at the North Philly Community Reinvestment Town Hall on Thursday Jan. 18, with their cameras ready to amplify your stories and dreams for an economically mobile, just and secure future for all of our neighbors.

We hope to hear from you.

Projects: Broke in Philly

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