The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience

WHYY: Working and Poor: An Overlooked Constituency, Issue on Campaign Trail

October 12, 2016
Event Date: 
October 12, 2016

Imani Sullivan, a member of Witnesses to Hunger, was interviewed by WHYY for a series leading up to the election where they will examine how policies could affect the more than 800,000 people in the Philadelphia region living from paycheck-to-paycheck — if they get one at all. 

 

An excerpt of the interview is below.

Imani Sullivan waited patiently. From her seat near the back of a mostly empty Temple University auditorium, she listened to the handful of anti-poverty advocates on stage for a panel coinciding with July’s Democratic National Convention.

For nearly an hour, they discussed the impact of Philadelphia’s newly enacted sugary drinks tax, debated how much power Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would truly have to help the poor if elected, and offered some solutions to one of the most complex and persistent issues the city faces.

Imani Sullivan waited patiently. From her seat near the back of a mostly empty Temple University auditorium, she listened to the handful of anti-poverty advocates on stage for a panel coinciding with July’s Democratic National Convention.

For nearly an hour, they discussed the impact of Philadelphia’s newly enacted sugary drinks tax, debated how much power Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would truly have to help the poor if elected, and offered some solutions to one of the most complex and persistent issues the city faces.

Then, when it came time for questions, Sullivan seized her moment. She stood up, walked toward a microphone planted in an aisle and politely told the room the stage was missing something big — people like her who are living in poverty.

“How would I be part of this?” she asked inside Temple University’s Performing Arts Center.

The panelists didn’t offer her a firm answer, but not because Sullivan’s experience is unique. The single mother is one of roughly 800,000 people in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs who live below the federal poverty line. That means a family of four living on $24,300 a year and stretching those dollars to pay for food, clothing and housing.

Sullivan, who has three children, lives on roughly half that amount, plus whatever cash she earns from the occasional house-cleaning gig. She lives in what’s known as “deep poverty.”

 

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