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 . 

Chris Bolt/WAER News

More than 95% of those who go into jail or prison after being convicted and sentenced for a crime come out.  Ex inmates find barriers to work, affordable and safe housing, and dealing with mental health and possible addiction problems.   They’ve served their sentence, paid their debt to society.  Yet the prospect of poverty is all too real for those coming out.  Is this due to lack of community resources? … a built-in continued punishment even after serving their sentence?  … other personal challenges that need to be managed in order to avoid poverty, or a return to crime and more incarceration? 

Chris Bolt reports that help exists, such as a Re-entry Program through the Center for Community Alternatives in Syracuse, but it’s still a tricky road to navigate to beat poverty and the possibility of more crime and incarceration. 


Brian Moore

Getting and keeping a job is one of the best proven ways out of poverty. WAER's Brian Moore explores workforce development programs in Syracuse that are helping people gain skills and lasting employment. In the first episode of his series, he goes to the Catholic Charities culinary school program and learns how cooking is a step for many into a better life. 


Amaus Dental Services

For many in poverty, healthcare can be a difficult to attain. It is even more difficult to get proper dental care. At Amaus Dental Clinic, an all volunteer staff is working to provide oral healthcare for those who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it. Their clinic is part of a study that is hoping to bring more attention to the inequality of dental care. 

As a part of our series On The Front Lines, Katie Zilcosky talked with staff and researchers at Amaus Dental to find out how they're trying to make dental care more accessible for those struggling with poverty. 


Health care isn't always a priority if you're homeless or in poverty.  Many don't have access to care or can't afford it.  But there's a collaborative effort to help some organizations fill gaps in care by offering medical and mental health services in locations you might not expect.  In this episode of City Limits, Scott Willis profiles two programs that aim to put people on a path to recovery...and perhaps out of poverty.  


Katie Zilcosky

On Syracuse's Southside, a 3 acre urban farm is growing fresh produce on the former site of nearly abandoned apartments. While Brady Farm sits in an area of high concentrated poverty, it's working towards change in more ways than just supplying accessible and affordable food. As a part of City Limits' series "On the Front Lines," Katie Zilcosky spent the day at Brady Farm learning about its larger goal.

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


Scott Willis/WAER News

Syracuse’s high poverty rate means many households don’t own or have access to a car.  That can limit job searches to areas reached by foot, bike, bus, or a combination of the three, making it difficult for someone in poverty to find work.  

In this episode of City Limits Scott Willis explores how the area’s transit system and infrastructure works for those trying to get around without a car, and ways they might be improved.


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? 

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