tv Real Money With Ali Velshi Al Jazeera May 26, 2014 1:30am-2:01am EDT
criminal alien fault lines al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> they're locking the doors... >> ground breaking... >> we have to get out of here... >> truth seeking... award winning investigative documentary series fault lines the deported only on al jazeera america >> well, tonight we're going to philadelphia, we'll devote ourselves to a city so hardworking, the face of the middle class in the city has changed. we'll look at the sensitive subject of race. why more than half of the city's black middle class fear slipping out of it. but philadelphia is still full of tight knit neighborhoods and the people there are not giving up on the dream. i'm ali velshi and this is "real money."
can this is "real money." you are the most important part of the show. tell me what's on your mind, by treating me @ali velshi. philadelphia has seen a shocking decline in its middle class in the last four decades dropping morning 22 percentage points. the city lost more than four in ten of its middle class adults. loss of the city's manufacturing base and the decline of the city itself. high crime and a poor public school system. but there's good news. a recent pew report shows philadelphia's middle class has started to stabilize. but it's a different middle class than it was in the 1970s. few blue collar folks, more professionals today. this is a special episode on philly's rocky middle class and how the middle class has changed
over the last four decades and what it's going to take for the middle class to get back to good. we begin our story in south philadelphia, a traditiona traditional blue collar italian neighborhood. >> philadelphia is for reasons as diverse as the people who live here celebrated in equal parts for its cheese stakes, rich history and many, many a rocky movie. here in south philadelphia lies a gem of a restaurant called victor caf eight. cafe. it's as rich in history as the city itself. established in 19 alien by greg de steph ano's grandfather. it's as philly as it gets.
part of the last rocky movie was filmed here. >> tell me what you like about it? >> you don't get lost, if one of our sporting teams wins an event, it's such a celebration. it's such an underdol do underd. we're fighting for a lot of things here. >> describe what somebody from philly who's middle class feels like to you? >> what is middle class? families who are struggling to make payments, getting their kids into some kind of a school. >> it's common throughout the u.s. but philadelphia's story has a unique twist. in the last 40 years the city has lost a quowrlt quarter of its population, and 40% of that population los loss was the mide class. the middle class has shrunk since 1970 from 60% of the population to 51.
but philadelphia's middle class has shrink considerably -- shrunk more than 50%. leark eich -- larry eichel wrote a report on the decline of the middle class. >> from 2000 on it's pretty flat. it seems to have stabilized. >> the middle class is a reflection of the city's mental health. like philadelphia's italian market for the last 100 years. the middle class uses and pays for a city's services and it serves as a stepping-stone for those who want to climb the economic ladder. but philadelphia's middle class carries a much larger burden than other cities do. for one, its taxes support one of the largest groups ever middle class in the country second only to detroit. only that, philadelphia that is fewer rich residents just 9% to
offsettle that burden much lower than most other cities. this is stretching philly's middle class, higher taxes, and limiting what philadelphia can spend on police, fire and updating its infrastructure. philadelphia's middle class may have hollowed dramatically since the 1570 -- the 1970s. the corner of passiunk avenue is one of those neighborhoods. traditional blue color italian-american, the new middle class of young professionals move in. they could be the foundation of a new middle class here. philadelphia magazine news editor brian howe bought a house here in 2009. you could call him the face of a
middle class. >> how does that feel, as a face of a city that has seen the hollowing out of the middle class, this seems like a good middle class neighborhood. >> i like it. there are newer faces on my block but there are also faces that have been there for decades. people who were born on the block and still live there. >> but it's a t tentative piece. people have been buying property in the neighborhood for the fast few years. byob restaurants hipsters and higher prices. >> what do they think about you? >> they get along. there was a feeling-each-other-out period, the first winter we were here i didn't shovel my block right away and i got side long looks. >> the side long looks that brian gets is from a middle
class that has been historically blue collar. but that's changed now. in the 1970s philadelphia's middle class was equally blue cross. but manufacturing jobs plummeted to 10% of the city's workforce, while white collar jocks have doubled. brian took me on a walk of his neighborhood to show me how much it's changed. old school barber shop over there, mexican, and then what else have we got? >> fountain porter here, which is a craft beer bar. and this is cigar shop which has the -- >> the oldest cigar shop in south philly. >> yes. >> so does this work? >> make sure you got that one. >> we got it. >> all right. >> clearly he doesn't mind the new philly. >> the guy yelling is a regular in anthony re
eguly's cigar shop, like he likes to the called, antny. >> does that keep the neighborhood solid? >> yes, they have kept our neighborhood solid. it's changed because i. they're a little differently than hours. >> because they're a little bit different age or not italian? >> because of -- both. both. >> we continue our special coverage of philadelphia's middle class. what's race got to do with it? black middle class, fears they are slipping down the ladder. >> when you look at the median income it's such a wide gap from blacks to whites, that you never catch up to what whites are making. because you don't have those opportunities. >> i'm going ogive you a firsthand -- to give you a firsthand look as philadelphia's rocky middle class continues.
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decline has been stunning middle class decline has been stunning. grown since the 1970s that's a good thing. don't feel like they're on equal financial footing with their white counterparts. forced some black communities in philadelphia to get resourceful. you'll find this best in 1field, west philadelphia, kept its community together in the last 40 years even as nearby middle class communities hollowed out. ♪ ♪ [ gospel ] ♪ ♪ >> it's sunday morning at pin memorial church in the winfield neighborhood of west philadelphia. ♪ hope for tomorrow
♪ i love to pray your name ♪ >> francis alston has been going to this church for decades. she moved here when the neighborhood was primarily jewish. this used to be a synagogue. >> in the '60s the african american communities which is now 90% of african american, i'm the second black family to move on diamond street. >> winfield is one of philadelphia's few predominantly black middle class areas. what you don't see is many of these blocks have block captains who keep an eye on what's going on. whether it's garbage collection or snow removal or crime. or maybe it's just deciding who is holding the block party this year. winfield is a tight knit community. beautiful old stone homes. it's not unusual to see scenes like this in winfield.
someone actually sweeping the street. but just a mile away, blighted home and abandoned businesses make that up landscape. >> tell me why this -- make up that landscape. >> tell me why this is maintained and others haven't in philadelphia? >> you have for instance the winfield residents association and one of the oldest residential institutions in the city, maybe in the country. and they have marched and walked and had block captains staying up all night. with candles. candlelight marches, individual block clubs that are formed because of crime. >> more diverse than in the '70s. then it was 70% was middle class. now blacks make you up 42% of the middle class. but alston feels there's a difference between black and philadelphia. >> when you look at the median
income it's such a wide gap from blacks to whites you never catch up to what whites are making because you don't have those opportunities. >> income varies from white middle class and black middle class by neighborhood. the median income for winfield is about $40,000 a year. in nearby rox bro, the median income is over $60,000. a report on the middle class on a report on the pew research. they don't have the same kind of jobs as the white middle class. >> what some people in the black middle class will tell you is that a lot of that is generated by public sector jobs, and related jobs. and some african american analysts and scholars will tell you they haven't made as much progress in the private sector.
and they would like to see that. >> some economists believe it will make it harder for black middle class citizens to send their children to the better schools. and some communities where middle class are living is not gentrified. organizations like the winfield residents association. >> do you think that's the answer to success in predominantly white neighborhoods, too? >> well, when you look at white neighborhoods, it may not be publicized as much. some of them work quietly together to solve their problems. they have the resources that often african american communities don't have. and they have to work harder to get to that level. they may have a network of relatives who are judges and lawyers and indian chiefs. so they can get things done. whereas african americans may not have access to that community. >> the majority
of black philadelphians, 52% fear they will slip out of the middle class. mayor michael nutter is keenly aware of the problem. >> so african american community, wealth i think over the last few years generally has gone up. not as much as some communities. and we're also seeing immigrant wealth going up as well. the biggest challenge the city faces across the races in most instances is actually poverty. we're not only seeing that in the city, but even poverty rising in our suburbs around the city of philadelphia. so that has been an intergenerational challenge for this city and this region. >> philadelphia is poorer than it was in the 1970s when 50% of the nation lived below the poverty line. that is
27% more than half of the nation. but alston said many who left winfield in the past are starting to return and reinvest in their neighborhood. >> you see them moving back because of the taxes and blatant racism, these are middle class people who decided it's much better to come back here. and they're working to fight to make the school system better, you know, to make changes. because they have that courage and that passion. ♪ i love to praise your name >> now francis alston say people are returning to winfield to reinvest. but many who left for the suburbs have no plan to returning to the city. in a pew research study, 35% said they would leave the city in the future because of crime, poor public schools and that brings us to this crucial question: how account middle
class grow in philadelphia when there are so many problems that still need to be solved? so many things like crime, but taxes, really high taxes. >> this particular area, we're actually tripled that's 300% increase. >> al jazeera's investigative unit has tonight's exclusive report. >> stories that have impact... that make a difference... that open your world... >> this is what we do... >> america tonight next only on al jazeera america
>> i'm joie chen, i'm the host of america tonight, we're revolutionary because we're going back to doing best of storytelling. we have an ouportunity to really reach out and really talk to voices that we haven't heard before... i think al jazeera america is a watershed moment for american journalism >> the new face of philadelphia's middle class was smaller than it was four decades ago but more educated and more diverse. most importantly, the middle class in philadelphia has finally stabilized. but it faces obstacles, high crime, and relatively high taxes. these factors cause others from moving into the city. how do you expand a core group of the city's residents when the city itself is struggling on so many fronts? for a city so celebrated it's
got many hurdles. ask the average middle class resident living in the suburbs of philadelphia and they say you're crazy to live downtown. bad schools, high taxes. too much congestion. ranks at the worst, lingering at the bottom of the list with cities like detroit and baltimore. drive through parts of philadelphia and you might think you're in detroit. vast blight. the hollowing of philadelphia's middle class is no more evident than in middle of the city. once bustling communities. they didn't go far. >> cheshire county, being montgomery county. those economies have grown significantly over the past years and their success has come philadelphia. >> there are vibrant parts of the city. now comes the task of luring
those middle class people back to a city that is starting to stabilize. gentrification and a flush of jobs from universities like penn, temple and drexel are showing the beginnings of a new middle class. >> my house is the house on the corner. >> greg de stephano is the owner of a cafe. he says gentrification is happening quickly and there's money to be made. >> so this doesn't match the story we have of a hollowed-out philadelphia? >> anything but. i guarantee you they are being gentrified as we speak, people are buying them up. >> as home values, rise, the city has decided to reassess its property taxes, which could be a real problem.
greg's property tax has gone through roof so to speak. >> this particular area, they were tripled. 300% increase. >> but it's not just property tax, that is wiping out the struggling middle class. philadelphia has the highest property tax in the country second to bridgeport connecticut. >> the tax are trurs has driven people from the city of philadelphia out to the suburbs because it is an enormous burden on many household. >> fiflt mayor michael nutter says the seed is this: revitalize and they will come. >> it's about supporting public safety initiatives but also about our waterfront. people will hear, that we have revitalized the waterfront. changing the culture and investing in areas where we need that support to create a
diverse, strong economy. jobs for people who want to be here. an environment that says this is an honest government. this is a qualities of life that i want to have for my children and my families. that i wants to move my business here. that we're lowering the tax burden for startups and existing businesses in philadelphia creating a better environmentalist. >> larry eichel studied this for the pew charitable trust. >> what is your study of philadelphia at this point? >> i think it remains to be scene. philadelphia story for 50 years or so was pretty much managing decline. now it looks like philadelphia is not doomed to be manage decline. we consider that a promising but fragile boom. >> revitalize and they will come. it sounds good in theory but what actually has to happen to attract more middle class to philadelphia?
i talked to breand book, i brandy brook. she says it all begins with affordable housing. >> one of the things that philadelphia has in great numbers is: vacant preworld war ii housing which needs new owners. and the reality is that what people are looking for is an affordable place to live. be able to send their kids to a public or charter school. and be able to get to work without dependent -- being dependent on a car. now philadelphia has spent a lot of money, federal money, in tearing down these neighborhoods with the mistaken idea in a lot of shrinking cities that demolishing blighted neighborhoods will help bring back a city. but it only helps the process of blight continue. it doesn't do anything positive.
and the important thing is to create programs that make these homes available. the kind of homes that were once occupied, the traditional turn of the century, preworld war ii housing, and there are ways to do this. there are ways of auctioning them off. selling them for a dollar a year, selling them -- >> on the condition that the occupants bring them up to code. >> absolutely. >> and have them occupied like detroit is doing. >> absolutely. and one of the things they all must do is pressure the federal deposit to let the moisten that is available to -- the money that is available to them for demolition be used instead for renovation. that money that they are all eager to have, because every city wants whatever federal money available, that money is only available for definition. this is nuts. it's tearing down viable structures that need to be
renovated, can be renovated at a better cost than building new, by people who are willing to do the hard work themselves if you give them the opportunity. >> so let me ask you this roberta. for those of my viewers who have read jane jacobs. this is the jane jacobs in you. this is not the best use of land to demolish something and put the most economically viable or most profitable thing on that land. philadelphia does bifurcate. there are areas of philadelphia that look like the finest area of america and then it's got areas where nothing happens. story. if you go back to the 1970s where i indicate in the books that i've written, that is when the turning point came, away from the robert moses demolition at all costs, clear the neighborhoods, build new public housing, new highways and basically hollowing out the city.
the turn around started when people organically started moving back to neighborhoods. rebuilding those neighborhoods. defying the expertise of all the people who said the other way was the better way. this was when the jane jacobs approach took hold in a new way. and today we hear too much of the kind of rhetoric and programming that we heard in an earlier time. the big projects, philadelphia's waterfront may be fine. but it's not going to bring back the middle class. and the big projects never live up to the expectations they set for us. and the smaller projects, the kind of jane jacobs approach, always lives beyond its expectation. and this is where the thinking at the top of our city governments, across the country, needs to change. >> roberta it breaks my heart that i'm not in new york because i would just continue this conversation after the show was
finished with you. what a pleasure having you. author of are are jane jacobs and many other great books. to understand urban development a little bit better. >> it's a short work week. thanks to the memorial day hollywood, not to us, we're going back to detroit, a city hit hard by economic decay. there's a plan to rehabilitate it. "real money" is on 7:00 p.m. eastern 4:00 p.m. pacific. that's it for us tonight, enjoy the rest of your weekend. >> every saturday join us for exclusive, revealing, and surprising talks with the most interesting people of our time. rosie perez >> i had to fight back, or else my ass was gonna get kicked... >> a tough childhood... >> there was a crying, there was a lot of laughter...
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