Today, I drove through Philadelphia on my way somewhere else and what I saw was incredible. I couldn’t believe this kind of poverty existed in America. I had been through pretty bad neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, but those pale in comparison to the rows upon rows of blighted properties in Phillie. When I got home, I was not surprised to learn that Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty in the nation.
Already the poorest big city in America, Philadelphia also has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half of the poverty line – of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities.
Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.2 percent, or nearly 185,000 people, including about 60,000 children. That’s almost twice the U.S. deep-poverty rate of 6.3 percent.
Camden’s deep-poverty rate of 20 percent is more than three times the national mark, but its population is a fraction of Philadelphia’s.
Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate “is a tremendous alarm bell of dysfunction and dangerous conditions,” said Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, a Washington nonprofit.
People in deep poverty live with uncertainty about food, housing, and child care, experts say. Often, they can’t pay rent and move in with friends or relatives.
“When you’re in deep poverty, every day is going to be the same hard grind. After a while, you stop looking for a job and settle for what life is[.]”
No child should have to live like this, especially not in a country that touts itself as one of the richest in the world.
Meanwhile, if as a tourist you only visited the heart of Philadelphia you would never believe that this other part existed.