The Philadelphia Platform: An Historic First

A bold plan to fight poverty in Philadelphia.

Photo credit: Flickr user Tony Fischer Follow, used under a Creative Commons license

The members of the Philadelphia Delegation (members of the PA House representing the City of Philadelphia) have adopted a platform that we believe will aid many of the citizens of the city to thrive; not just survive.  This effort is significant in many ways particularly because it represents the delegation functioning with a unity that I have not experienced in my previous four terms in office.

My Philadelphia colleagues are serious about helping the city’s citizens and we recognize that we must be strategic and thoughtful. A working group of eight of the delegation met over a 12 month period to identify the best way forward.  One persistent variable that we decided to focus on was the issue of poverty in Philadelphia. Poverty, statistically, has been stubbornly persistent.

Poverty has been part of the city’s landscape too long.  Poverty and in many instances, deep poverty, keeps citizens from flourishing.

The Philadelphia Platform is the result of the work group’s effort and was adopted by the entire delegation last session. The Platform represents our legislative agenda for this session and beyond. The goal is to ‘move the needle’ on poverty in Philadelphia.

It is understood that when we say we want to eradicate poverty in Philadelphia it is certainly noble, but we know we need to be practical and pragmatic in how we go about it.  There is no quick fix.

Our platform provides a multi-faceted approach to lift the 26 percent of our citizens and to provide them with an opportunity to thrive.

The platform is comprised of four planks addressing the challenge of poverty from four different angles. No one plank is ‘magic’ nor are the planks combined ‘magic’.  The planks represent what we believe are a consensus to support state policy initiatives that can diminish the poverty rate in the city.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. ©2017 Pew Charitable Trusts.

These planks are: Workforce Development and Education, Commercial Corridors, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Reform and Infrastructure and Exports.

Investment in education, including the infrastructure of our schools for our youth beginning with preschool, is the first measure we can work on to ensure a break in the cycle of poverty.

For people to pull themselves out of poverty, they must not only have access to good-paying jobs, they must have the skills to fill those jobs.

Additionally, our neighborhoods must foster entrepreneurship and support the development of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Click on the chart to view the full Pew Charitable Trust report “Philadelphia: Experiences Below the Poverty Line”

Families must not be ripped apart by crime or an unfair justice system that keeps too many behind bars and unable to contribute to their economy. The Philadelphia Platform intends to address criminal justice and public safety reform to assist in safeguarding our neighborhoods and ensuring positive development out of poverty.

And finally, government must make forward-thinking investments in infrastructure that ensure Philadelphia competes nationally and globally, thus providing a foundation for both our existing companies to grow, and also to attract new businesses and new jobs.

Click on the chart to view the full Pew Charitable Trust report “Philadelphia: Experiences Below the Poverty Line”

Please note that the platform is a living document and is meant to be updated and revised as variables change and new information is available.

This platform is predicated on ensuring that to meaningfully reduce poverty in Philadelphia, it is imperative that Philadelphia and Harrisburg be aligned in the approach to this persistent problem.

It was encouraging to hear Governor Wolf, during his budget address on February 5th, reference the four planks that are the foundation of this platform.

Information about each plank and the vision and goals for achievement can be found at www.pahouse.com/PCD.

 

Representative Pamela A. DeLissio serves the 194th Legislative District, which includes East Falls.

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