August 27: College students boost poverty rate | New women’s shelter planned | Unhealthy ads in low-income areas | Police to inspect motorcoaches | Awbury Arboretum gets $300K | Water Department Rain Check

Good morning Streeters! Here’s what’s making news this Tuesday.

College students not living with relatives are driving up urban poverty rates. Philadelphia’s official poverty rate is 1.4 percent higher than it would have been without the inclusion of student residents, City Paper reports. Since students typically record little to no income and frequently change residence, they often skew the statistics. 

Philadelphia nonprofit Women Against Abuse plans to open a second, 100-bed shelter this winter to house women in emergency situations. The shelter will double the number of people Women Against Abuse can house in emergencies. In 2012, the group had to turn down 8,400 requests for shelter from callers to its hotline. That is up from 1,700 denials in 2007. The group will also renovate and expand an existing facility to accommodate longer-term transitional housing.

A report released Monday found a disproportionate concentration of “unhealthy” advertisements in low-income neighborhoods and places that participate in the supplemental nutrition assistance program, NewsWorks reports. Tobacco and sugary drink ads cannot, by law, be posted on store windows. In 2012 Philadelphia passed a content-neutral zoning ban for glass windows and doors. The city has widely not enfaced the law, but proponents hopes this new report will push the city to do so. 

The Philadelphia Police Department has announced a bus inspection blitz. The Police Department will team up with the U.S. Department of Transportation to make sure motor-coaches are in proper working order. Police also recommend passengers riding these buses “look before the book” and check out the bus companies via the Safer Bus App, available at

Northwest Philadelphia’s Awbury Arboretum received a two-year, $300,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation, NewsWorks reported calling the grant an “unprecedented gift for the nonprofit public landscape.” The funds are intended to help Awbury become more sustainable.

This year the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is working with roughly 350 properties through the city’s Rain Check program. Through the initiative, residents in combined sewer areas sign up online. An appropriate storm water management approach is selected for the house. The city sends a contractor to price the job, and if the homeowner agrees to it, the city kicks in funding. So far the free rain barrels and the downspout planters have been most popular.

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