September 27 — 1:09 pm, 2018

Pew report finds effects of being poor are wide-ranging

"No vacations from poverty," a Drexel professor points out.

Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC

A local church distributes food and clothes to residents in need in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Sherita Mouzon describes her younger self as suicidal, bitter, and angry.

Like thousands of other Philadelphians, Mouzon lived in poverty for most of her life and attributes much of the trauma she experienced to her circumstances while growing up. She can still remember the smell of mold and mildew in her mother’s house. She can still remember being molested as a child and her mother being physically abused. She still flinches when she hears loud noises or voices.

“It doesn’t go away,” Mouzon said during a Facebook Live interview with NBC10.

The trauma associated with poverty is not new. But a new report released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts shines a light on the experiences of Philadelphia’s lowest-income residents and shows how financial insecurity can affect everything from education to health.

Researchers have studied this link for decades, determining that exposure to violent crime, inadequate schools, and physical and emotional trauma make it difficult to climb the economic ladder.

In Philadelphia, that ladder is especially tall. Philly has long been ranked the poorest metropolitan area of the country’s biggest cities. The poverty rate hovers at a stubborn 26 percent. Pew’s latest study found that 41 percent of those living under the poverty line said their health was poor, compared to just 18 percent of wealthier residents. More than half of respondents interviewed for the study said they grew up poor or near poverty.

“With poverty, you can never unwind,” said Sandra L. Bloom, associate professor of health management and policy at Drexel University. “There are no days off. No weekends. No vacations from poverty.”

Read the rest of this story at WHYY News

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