Amid recession and state cuts, Nutter’s anti-poverty efforts find success

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    NewsWorks Tonight has been looking at Mayor Michael Nutter’s legacy in several key areas affecting Philadelphia.

    In the fifth installment of our seven-part series, we examine the efforts to ease poverty, with Judith Levine, associate professor of sociology at Temple University, and Laura Weinbaum, vice president for public affairs and strategic initiatives at Project HOME. She also serves on the board of the Homeless Advocacy Project.

    Though Philadelphia ranks as the most impoverished of the nation’s 10 largest cities and the one with the most deep poverty, Levine notes that, compared with other cities, it actually fared better during the recession.

    “Its spike in poverty was not as high, and it has recovered better. Some of the other big cities are way up in poverty, like Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles, whereas we’re back to almost where we were pre-recession,” she said.

    The Nutter administration’s efforts to stem poverty were outlined in a five-point plan called “Shared Prosperity.” Weinbaum cites one of those goals, increasing housing security and affordability, as a success story for Nutter.

    “The mayor created a remarkable partnership with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, specifically looking at people who are homeless, and trying to increase the flow of homeless people into the most permanent housing opportunities that they could find,” Weinbaum said.

    Levine points out that efforts to eliminate poverty need to come from federal or state policies.

    “We as a nation have resisted the well-funded, universal programs that have been successful in other countries. Mayors can’t do all that much, but with what room they have, Mayor Nutter has done some important things.”

    Judith Levine and Laura Weinbaum reviewed Nutter’s successes and limitations to reduce poverty with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller. Click on the link above to hear their conversation.

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