“The Hustle: Poverty In Motion”


People who are poor move a lot – between homes, to get groceries and healthcare. It can be difficult to achieve upward mobility, leaving people feeling like they’re running in place. Start times for each segment are in parentheses.

Sarah Gager / WSKG Public Media

Rita sits on her scooter in her apartment on the north side of Binghamton.

The stops fruits and vegetables make to get to people, and the stops people without cars make to get to food (1:16)

“Everybody wants something better in life, but if you don’t know how to go about getting it, it’s going to take forever to get it,” said Rita Tolson-Jackson, a resident of Binghamton’s north side. She doesn’t own a car, so she relies on Catholic Charities to drive her to groceries (her neighborhood has lacked a grocery store for 20 years) and to get to the doctor.

Regional transit non-profits drive people to pick up prescriptions and food because Medicaid won’t cover it (14:16)

Taxis can be expensive and buses can take a long time. Some transit non-profits are forming regional partnerships to help transport people across county boundaries and advocate for changes in policy.

The Great Recession hit the Twin Tiers, especially hard, but that’s not the end of the story (19:27)

Experts say upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania shouldn’t expect to be the next Silicon Valley, but these areas can play to their strengths, like aerospace manufacturing.

Would you want an industrial waste dump near your house? Probably not. But toxic waste sites and dumps are concentrated near communities of color (23:55) 

Monica Sandreczki / WSKG Public Media

Christopher Smith, regional managing attorney with Legal Services of Central New York, represents two tenants at the Town of Union court.

As wages stagnate, rent increases, making tenants ripe for eviction (28:09)

Matthew Desmond, a sociology professor at Princeton, offers some solutions.

Plus, In the Town of Union, a group of lawyers set up shop at eviction court every Thursday to represent tenants who can’t afford one. For one man from Endicott whose landlord wanted him out in three days, they negotiated to three weeks. It was enough to for him, his wife and daughter to move to a double-wide trailer in Owego.

Is upward mobility the American Dream or a pipe dream? (40:19)

Experts say some social programs are moving people out of poverty and that the country has the resources to end it, but it’s a matter of priorities.

Monica Sandreczki / WSKG Public Media

Melissa Fay rallied at one of the Poor People’s Campaign stops in New York. She and her partner both work two jobs; there are days they don’t know if they will eat.

The resurgence of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign (44:33)

Activists in 30 states, including New York, are talking with people who are poor to set their policy agenda ahead of 40 days of civil disobedience this spring.