Philly makes strides to boost city’s poor, but 400,000 still below poverty line

 Kathryn Edin, co-author of

Kathryn Edin, co-author of "$2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America," addresses an anti-poverty summit at Arch Street Friends Meeting. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Shared Prosperity, Philadelphia’s anti-poverty initiative, released its third annual report Thursday. The multi-faceted effort has helped alleviate one of the city’s most persistent problems, leaders said. But a lot of work remains.

“We’ve made tremendous strides in financial empowerment, we’ve made tremendous strides in benefit access. Now [it’s] moving folks to work opportunities, quality early childhood education opportunities and also secure housing opportunities,” said Mitch Little, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, which runs the program.

Since launching in 2013, Shared Prosperity has helped add nearly 25,000 jobs and opened more than a handful of BenePhilly Centers, which work to connect residents with all of the public benefits they’re qualified to receive.

The initiative aims to help those living in poverty, but looks to make it an issue that everyone in the city unifies around. Little said that shift is already happening.

“There’s this galvanizing that’s happening both internally in city government and really sort of working to nurture and develop those relationships and that trust to really move forward,” Little said. “Change only happens at the speed of trust.”

Philadelphia has one of the highest poverty rates among major U.S. cities. Nearly 400,000 residents — about a quarter of the city’s population — live at or below the federal poverty line.

About 12 percent live in deep poverty, surviving on incomes that are less than half of the federal poverty line.

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Philadelphia’s Shared Prosperity Report 2016 (PDF)

Philadelphia’s Shared Prosperity Report 2016 (Text)

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