New City Council committee has plan for drastic reduction in poverty

Pat Loeb
October 13, 2019 - 4:30 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council is taking a new approach to poverty reduction with a specific, ambitious goal.

"We're being rather aggressive and bold in what we're trying to do," said Councilmember Maria Quinones-Sanchez, co-chair of the Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention. It held its first hearing last week, with a breakdown of poverty data among three subcommittees: housing, employment and education, and the social safety net. 

Related: Report exposes personal experiences of those below Philly's poverty line

Octavia Howell of the Pew Trusts told the committee that poverty tracks quality of life, with low-income residents more likely to be in low-achieving schools and high-crime neighborhoods, with worse health.

"Philadelphians in poverty had higher levels of stress and have higher levels of chronic illness than other residents," Howell said.

Philadelphia's poverty rate decreased last year but at 24 ½ percent, it remains the poorest big city in America. Council has set a goal to reduce the number of people living in poverty by 100,000 by 2024. Council President Darrell Clarke calls it a "moonshot."

More hearings are planned next month with a final report expected in December.