City Limits: A Poverty Project

In short, City Limits is a year-long multi-platform civic engagement project produced by WAER Public Media that examines and explores poverty in Syracuse.  It is a mix of journalism, storytelling and community convening designed to spark a community-wide dialogue between individuals, organizations, and community constituencies.  Each episode of this podcast project will challenge assumptions on poverty and highlight one of the many poverty related issues ranging from food insecurity, to economic development, to affordable housing and more.

If you like what you hear find more content from the project at CityLimitsProject.org . 

The USDA estimates that there are 45 million people in America using SNAP.  City Limits Katie Zilcosky examines how proposed changes to the food nutrition program will impact local families, food security, and agriculture in our region.

In 2017, there were some 798 homeless in the greater Syracuse area living in emergency shelters or transitional housing.  Many were unsheltered.  This episode of City Limits on the Front Lines, supported by the Central New York Community Foundation, is a story of personal redemption, shared responsibility, and the power of community. 

Joe Lee joined Al-Amin Muhammad, once a homeless statistic himself, and a dedicated core of volunteers one Saturday morning as they set out to change lives one sandwich at a time.

Increasingly public schools have to do far more for children than teach reading, math and other subjects.  They’ve become the first line of defense against poverty for the school kids and their families.  Services from nutrition and health, to housing, child care and mental health have become necessities for schools to handle – if they want the students to be in school and prepared to learn. 

WAER’s Chris Bolt spent some time in Franklin Elementary School and found out school social workers are an indispensable link between poverty and school success.

The numbers are staggering.  On any given day, about 25 Syracuse residents are forced to pack up their belongings and find another place to live.  They’re among the 8,000 to 11,000 renters who are evicted every year in Syracuse.  That’s the highest rate in upstate New York.  Why evictions are so prevalent?  Where can people turn for help? 

Throughout the early stages of City Limits, we have briefly discussed the concept of food insecurity. How do families living in poverty function day to day when they are unsure of how they will obtain their next meal?

For those struggling with poverty entering into a legal dispute is not only a challenge but it could also become nearly impossible. Ranging from evictions, divorce, and court hearings without the means to acquire legal assistance some are left to fend for themselves and they might not be equipped to do so adequately. 

Recently WAER held a City Limits Talk round table discussion centered around the topic of legal assistance and how it is impacting poverty in Syracuse. The discussion was moderated by WAER's News Director Chris Bolt.

The City Limits Talk panel included-

Those in our community who are unemployed or underemployed face a daily challenge of surviving from one day to the next and struggle to meet basic needs like food and shelter.  Who is there to catch them when they fall?  In this episode of City Limits, Brian Moore examines important safety net programs, challenges assumptions about who uses them, and the local impact from national policy-making.


Those battling poverty face many stresses, and their own health may not be a top priority. But at Step Up Moment, the volunteers push participants to realize it should be one. City Limits’ Katie Zilcosky tells us how they’re doing it. 

This episode is part of the City Limits sub series On The Front Lines, which examines individuals and agencies making a difference in Syracuse's poverty problem.

On The Front Lines is made possible by the Central New York Community Foundation.

Unpredictable life circumstances sometimes force people to seek shelter and special help.  Salvation Army specialized housing programs here in Syracuse are serving people who become homeless in our community and provide them an opportunity for a fresh start. 

City Limits' John Smith has the very personal stories of two women thrust into homelessness by bad circumstances … but found assistance to aid them as they work towards a brighter future. 

Struggling to find a good paying job and being able to pay your bills at times is a significant challenge. Now imagine that you do not speak the language native to your home. How would you find work? Where would you turn to for assistance? City Limits' Brian Moore attempts to answer these question in this latest report.

Catch up on previous reports and find out more information on the project by going to CityLimitsProject.org

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