Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.


Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Jun 18, 2012

Are Folks in the Far Northeast Too Proud to Admit They're Struggling?

How Negative Perceptions of the Poor Can Hurt You in These Economic Times

by Rosemary Reeves

The people of the far northeast are struggling, but they won’t admit it.  Instead, they complain about property taxes and demand school vouchers, like the students from St. Hubert’s.  It sure seems like they grumble a lot, but if you read between the lines you will realize the people of the far northeast are really just asking for help.  They don’t have enough money to pay the property taxes and they can no longer afford non-public school tuition.  Simply put, they are afraid they will lose their homes and all their hopes for their kids getting a good education will fall by the wayside.  The far northeast is as poor as the rest of America but don’t tell that to the proud folks who live there.  They just might run you out of town.

Since Liddonfield housing project was built, it not only forged the identity of its public housing tenants, but everyone in the neighborhoods beyond.  So deep was the wedge Liddonfield created that words like “poverty”, “low-income family” and “public assistance” arouse feelings of extreme negativity, even after the project was demolished.  No one in Upper Holmesburg or the rest of the far northeast wants to think of themselves as poor or even just struggling financially because people like that are associated with failure, laziness and shame.

So, what we are beginning to see now is an increase in hidden poverty in this part of Philadelphia.  There are people who have missed mortgage payments but hide it from their friends and neighbors.  There are people who turn down invitations to go to dinner with their co-workers or friends, making the excuse that they are busy that evening when in reality, they are broke.  There are people who can no longer take their pet to the veterinarian for yearly shots, who have cut off their cable to save money and who claim they are on a diet when really they just can’t afford their next meal.  They live in Upper Holmesburg, Bustleton, Torresdale and Mayfair.  On the outside, they look like they’re doing just fine, but at night they worry so much that they cannot sleep.  That is hidden poverty.   That is what my family experienced after being evicted from Liddonfield housing project once our household income made us ineligible for public housing.  How does it feel?

I don’t mean to be cruel, but you must feel it to understand it.  You can stop worrying, because I can help.  Low-income families have secrets of survival that the struggling middle-class can benefit from and no, it’s not food stamps or welfare.  These government programs don’t even fully provide for basic needs.  The fact is, poor people have their own alternative economy that most folks don’t know about.  But before you can learn from poor folks, you have to stop thinking of them as lazy deadbeats.  Why?  Because you are struggling financially now like they are and you are not a deadbeat, understand?

The first thing you have got to do is manage your pride.  I say “manage” because you get to keep it, own it and not define it by what others think.  You never have to feel ashamed.  Tell yourself that you are simply engaging in an alternative economy.  That is the absolute truth.  The economy you hear about on television is something over which you have no control, so take control in a different way.  People did it during the great depression.  They made their own economy.  Visit this website next Monday, June 25 for poor folks’ secrets of survival tips.

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