It’s the holiday season, and Philly is the 8th neediest city in the U.S., new report finds | Tuesday Morning Coffee

December 17, 2019 7:17 am

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It’s the holiday season: A time to be grateful for the gifts that we have — and a time to remember those among us who, as Hubert Humphrey noted, also live in the shadows of life. And more often than not, those who need a hand the most are in your backyard.

A new WalletHub report on America’s neediest cities finds Pennsylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia, is the 8th neediest city in the United States. That’s based on a comparison of 180 U.S. cities, taking into account 28 key indicators, including child poverty, food insecurity and uninsured rates. The only other Pennsylvania city on the list, Pittsburgh, finished at 135 out of 182 in the WalletHub ranking.

“According to Feeding America, food insecurity plagues every U.S. county, with 37 million individuals lacking access to adequate food. 11.8 percent of the U.S. population lives in poverty,” the financial literacy site’s analysis reads. “And in the absence of more affordable housing or accommodations provided by relatives or friends, many must take to the streets or shelters. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, nearly 553,000 people — many of them children — had been homeless at one point in January 2018.”

Read on for WalletHub’s list of the Top 5 neediest cities — and the five that are more fortunate than most.

Source: WalletHub


The Top 5 Neediest Cities, based on WalletHub’s analysis:
 Detroit, Mich.
2. Cleveland, Ohio
3. New Orleans, La.
4. Brownsville, Texas
5. Jackson, Miss.

The Top 5 Least Needy Cities, based on WalletHub’s analysis:
 Columbia, Md.
2. Plano, Texas
3. Fremont, Calif.
4. Pearl City, Hawaii
5. Overland Park, Kans.

(Image via

For some outside perspective, WalletHub turned to a panel of academics, including SUNY Stony Brook University social welfare professor Zachary A. Morris, who shared his view on the policy interventions that have proven successful in lifting families out of poverty:

“Our safety net programs, including disability benefits, food stamps, and our other housing and cash assistance programs, lift millions of low-income families out of poverty each year. And we too rarely appreciate the vital work that these programs provide,” he told WalletHub. “That said, the Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the most successful anti-poverty policies as it provides an earnings supplement to low-income families and helps to reduce the hardships experienced by those navigating the low wage labor market.

“Policies that have been the least successful are what we sometimes call “active labor market policies” or those policies that aim to help benefit recipients leave benefits and return to work. Despite substantial policy attention to the issue, there is little evidence of success,” Morris continued. “Policy attention appears better directed towards enhancing supports for those who remain in the labor market. One policy idea worth greater consideration is expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit to workers not raising children (who currently receive a much smaller benefit than families) and to those workers with disabilities.

“More than 20 million adults in the US have a disability, which can require additional expenses for items such as medical care, transportation, and caregiving. Introducing a Disabled Workers Tax Credit could help to offset these extra costs of living and enable millions of low-income families to achieve greater economic independence,” he concluded.

Our Stuff.
Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender 
leads our coverage this morning with a new Center for American Progress report concluding that partisan gerrymandering has gotten in the way of sensible gun-law reform.

Facing backlash from the Wolf administration and reform advocates, a Montgomery County lawmaker abruptly withdrew his amendments to a criminal justice reform package. One of them would have created new mandatory minimum sentences for certain gun offensesElizabeth Hardison reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf and allies in the General Assembly announced a new panel charged with studying juvenile justice reformHardison also reports.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro rolled out a legal opinion that he says will help police fight a phenomenon known as “ghost guns,” that are difficult to trace and often end up in the hands of those who should not have weapons.

Under pressure from lawmakers, the state will put off privatizing a program that provides free rides to doctor visits for Medicaid recipients, Stephen Caruso reports.

State House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Alleghenyhas set a Feb. 25 special election date for the 190th House District seat recently vacated by Democrat Movita Johnson-Harrell, who’s been charged with embezzling more than $500,000 from a nonprofit she ran. Stephen Caruso also has the story.

Gov. Tom Wolf provided an update Monday on the progress of two state panels, created through executive order, that have been charged with assisting the state’s most vulnerable residentsAssociate Editor Cassie Miller has the story.

From our partners at the Philadelphia TribuneWells Fargo has paid $10 million to settle litigation related to discriminatory lending practices in Philadelphia.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz says we’re not powerless to confront hate speech in our midst — and the power lies in the Constitution. And Jasmine Rivera, of the activist group ShutDown Berks, says the Wolf administration needs to close the ICE detention center in Berks County before migrant families spend another Christmas in custody.

Y lea esta columna en Español en la Estrella-Capital aqui.

The Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa. (Image via Flickr Commons)

The Milton Hershey School, a charitable school for poor children, is looking to exempt itself from Pennsylvania’s discrimination laws, even as it defends itself against millions of dollars in discrimination claims, the Inquirer reports.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and city school Superintendent Anthony Hamlet have held a peace-making summit, the Post-Gazette reports.
The Trump impeachment has divided PennLive’s reader panel – but a majority expects he’ll be re-elected.
Police at Lehigh University and the city of Bethlehem police “treat minor marijuana offenses so differently it ‘constricts my ability to dispense equitable justice,’” a district judge has told the Morning Call.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

This is what U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s, D-N.J.constituents think of him switching parties (via WHYY-FM).
Recent arrests near the Mariner East pipeline in Chester County have people complaining of intimidation, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.
A third Republican, this one a decorated veteran, has jumped into the GOP primary for NePa’s 8th Congressional District, PoliticsPA reports.
HUD is spending millions of dollars on lead abatement efforts — but public housing authorities are still struggling with the issue, reports.
More walking and chewing gum? Appropriators on Capitol Hill have rolled out huge spending packages after agreeing on fine point details over the weekend, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
The House gavels in at 11 a.m.
1 p.m., Main Rotunda: State lawmakers solicit donations of professional clothing so that people who are reentering the workforce have clothes to wear on interviews and to work.
5:30 p.m., Capitol Steps: Impeachment rally

Gov. Tom Wolf 
has no public schedule today.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
7:30 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Rep. Mike Jones
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Ben Sanchez
8 a.m: Breakfast for Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Ed Gainey
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Todd Stephens
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out $4,750 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to Alexandra D’Angola Fetzko, of the Pa. Association for Justice, who celebrated on Monday.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s the great Tony Bennett, and his version of ‘Winter Wonderland,’ which nonetheless sounds like it should come with a glass of red wine.

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
 trounced Ottawa 6-1 on Monday night. The Panthers’ Noel Acciari notched his first hat trick on the way to the win.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.