Research Paper (1)

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Joseph Holcomb
Professor Fish-Kalland
ENG 104
13 November 2018
“Inner City Poverty”
When most people think of poverty their minds usually go to those who live in third
world countries, not those who live next door. What most people fail to recognize is that poverty
does not know the difference between those who live in third world countries and those who
reside in first world countries. In the United States, poverty can affect anyone no matter their
location, but it is most prevalent in inner cities. Although in recent years poverty has been felt in
all areas of the country, suburbs, rural areas etc., the poverty levels among those who reside in
inner cities has remained consistent in the ways in which they are affected.
Poverty has many sides that can include economic, social, and political elements. In most
cases people suffer from absolute poverty. Absolute poverty is when one does not make enough
financially to afford them their basic needs such as shelter, food, or clothing, putting them below
the national poverty line. The federal government considers a family of four to be living below
the poverty line with an annual salary of around $24,944. In 2017, the United States Census
Bureau had an official poverty rate of 12.3 percent. This equates down to around 39.7 million
Americans out of the roughly 325.7 million people who were documented to be living in the U.S.
Locally one of the highest poverty rates can be seen in Syracuse N.Y. According to, in 2017 Syracuse was ranked in the top ten for one of the poorest cities in
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America.Tying in ninth place with Bloomington, Indiana and Dearborn, Michigan. It had a
poverty rate of 32.4 percent of its population living on or below the national poverty line.
Like many inner cities across the country, the majority of those who reside in them are
people who identify outside of the caucasian population. In Syracuse, 41 percent of the black
community lives in poverty compared to 25 percent of white residents. The Hispanic population
in Syracuse grew from around 11,800 people in 2016, to 12,800 people in 2017, drastically
raising the poverty rate among them from 40.5 percent to 58 percent. From these statics alone,
one can see that there is a major racial divide when it comes to those who are impacted by
Although poverty impacts many adults nationwide, it silently impacts the children living
in that world daily. In Syracuse, fifty percent of children ages five and under lived below the
poverty line in 2017. In the grand scheme of things, this statistic is just one raindrop in the ocean
that is childhood poverty. According to National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), there is
around 15 million - 21 percent - of children living in families who are considered to live beneath
the national poverty line in the United States. NCCP estimates the percentage of children living
in poverty is more around 43 percent, by taking into consideration that the poverty standards set
in place by the government underestimate the needs of these families. Albeit many of these
children have parents who work, most work low wage jobs and have unstable employment
leaving many of these families unable to make ends meet.
Poverty impacts children on a much deeper level than just the inability of their families
making ends meet. Children who are poor during their younger years of life, or those who
experience deep and/or persistent poverty, have a greater chance of a multitude of risk factors.
Poverty amongst young children can impede their ability to learn. It also can contribute to social,
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emotional, and behavior problems throughout their lifespan. Those who experience poverty at a
young age can also experience poor physical, as well as, mental health issues. Many of these
problems can affect the way a child learns, along with their overall outcome of finishing school.
Education can play a huge role in many people’s lives. It can literally make or break one's
future. With that being said, why are the most underfunded schools the ones in poor minority
communities? One answer lies within property taxes. Many inner city homes are rentals in which
landlords, more often times than not, pay little taxes due to the standing of these homes. The
same homes that poverty stricken people are forced to live in due to affordable prices.
It also comes down to the way the school districts distribute their moneys. Many times
money is given to those schools that have a higher population of white students. According the
one article published on, “School districts with the highest rates of poverty receive
about $1,000 less per student in state and local funding than those with the lowest rates of
poverty.” (Camera, 2018)
With lack of education comes the lack of good paying jobs. Many poverty stricken
household incomes can be traced back to jobs that only provide a minimum wage. Which until
recently was well below the amount one would have to make in order to make ends meet. With
lack of opportunities in the job market for undereducated individuals, many parents are forced to
be out of their homes during curtial time frames. Thus leaving children with inadequate
supervision, as well as, a unhealthy family scenario. This can lead children to seek out a family
structure, or a means of bringing in a form of income to help their families financially, and could
lead to said children to seek solace amongst a local gang in their neighborhoods.
One’s neighborhood can play a significant role in shaping the well-being of families and
their children. Especially those who come from a poor background. Where one grows up dictates
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one’s societal norms and values that can influence their behavior. It also can teach the children of
these areas what is expected of them as they age. If one lives in an area exposed to crime,
disorder, and violence, it can affect their physical and emotional well-being in the long-term. It
can also negatively impact their judgement as to what is right or wrong. This type of behavior
could leave these children subject to a life of crime or death.
For those lucky few, the use of lucky is used loosely, who avoid death while being a
member of a gang, the outcome is prison. In one journal article “It Was Basically College to
Us”: Poverty, Prison, and Emerging Adulthood by Megan Comfort, she states that “With the
tremendous rise in the United States’ incarceration rates over the last four decades, historically
high numbers of young African Americans are spending their “emerging adulthood” (as
theorized by Arnett) in close contact with the penitentiary.” (Comfort, 2012). When these young
men emerge from prison, many of which are into their late twenties early thirties by time of
release, have a lower chance of finding jobs within their communities, again due to lack of
education and also their newly found titles of felons, and a higher chance of landing back into
old behaviors.
These types of scenarios can be seen throughout the book The Hate U Give by Angie
Thomas. In this story, one is shown the reality of many black and/or hispanic families. Our main
character Starr Carter is one of the lucky ones. Her family is that of a middle class family, but
with deep roots in a poor community. Through her story we are able to see how the lack of
proper education due to inadequate school funding, looked over black communities, and the life
and promise of a gang can change the outcome of so many people's lives.
With all the research done on poverty, one would begin to think that it is all talk but no
action. Those naysayers would be wrong though. Locally, in Syracuse, in 2017 the Central New
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York Community Foundation provided $169,999 in grants to eight local outreach programs. Six
of which strive to help people of poverty out of the cycle. These six organizations meet monthly
to discuss what has worked and what has not worked within the communities of Syracuse. There
is also numerous programs scattered across the country that focus on the education and values of
inner city kids that are affected by poverty. These programs provide food, a family environment,
and local role models who made it out poverty with hard work and dedication.
There are also some steps being taken amongst state and local governments to help close
the money gap that exists with funding in lower income school districts. “Since 2015, when The
Education Trust previously examined this funding gap, the difference in resources allocated to
school districts with high poverty versus low poverty has closed by about 3 percentage points.”
(Camera, 2018). Although 3 percent does not seem like a lot, it is a huge step in the right
direction. Also for the 2018-2019 school year , NYS has awarded two low income communities,
Fulton N.Y. and Syracuse N.Y. with a free breakfast/lunch program that benefits all students by
being free of charge no matter a families income.
There has also been a boom in programs that are meant for those who teach in poor
school districts. Programs such as World Visions U.S. Programs and DonorsChoose, just to
name a few. These programs helps schools and teachers by providing much needed classroom
supplies, new books, and programs to help teachers learn new and innovative ways to make an
impact in their classrooms and students.
The public can help these districts and communities as well by reaching out. Not just to
organizations that help the poor, but to their local government as well. They can also call a local
school district that may be in need and ask if there is anything they can do to be of service. This
can be anything from running a food drive, clothing drive, holiday drive, school supply drive etc.
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By more people reaching out and showing these communities that there is hope and people who
believe in their dreams, change can happen.
. Although poverty is felt the world over, even among our own nation, those who live in
predominantly minority communities feel it on a much deeper level. They are lead to believe that
their struggle does not matter. That they are alone in this battle. As one can see through the
research provided, poverty is a cycle that cannot be defeated by words alone. It takes action from
within the broken communities, along with those communities outside of these areas to bring
about change. “A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
Works Cited
Aacap. Frequently Asked Questions. “Gangs and Children” N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2018.
Breidenbach, Michelle. "Syracuse Makes List No One Wants to Be On: Top 10 U.S. Cities with
Highest Poverty.", 13 Sept. 2018. Web. 11 Nov. 2018.
Camera, Lauren. "In Most States, Poorest School Districts Get Less Funding." U.S. News &
World Report. U.S. News & World Report, 27 Feb. 2018. Web. 08 Nov. 2018.
"Child Poverty." NCCP | Child Poverty. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2018.
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Comfort, Megan1,2, [email protected] EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10875549.2012.695923.
Accessed 30 Oct. 2018.
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