City Limits

City Limits a Poverty Project started as a special year-long audio reporting project that examined the living and socio-economic conditions behind the rising poverty rates in Syracuse, NY.  There are over 40 stories and conversations here to explore that focus on the many aspects and impacts of poverty on our community.  From transportation and mobility to food insecurity and education, City Limits features the voices of the people who are on the frontline of the war on poverty.

Following City Limits, a Poverty Project; the next installment, City Limits: Winds of Change will explore unconscious bias, police reform and what is being done to combat racism in Syracuse. City Limits features the voices of the people who are working to hold organizations accountable for change. Taking a broader approach, City Limits strives to bring shared community issues, concerns, and impacts into greater focus by taking the necessary time to fully explore topics for deeper understanding.

If you like what you hear find more content from the project at . 

Historically, black artists have long played an integral role in social justice movements by using their art and their voice to amplify anger and frustrations.  This City Limits episode examines how artists and arts organizations in Syracuse are working to support and sustain the racial justice movement.  This story features the voices of the Black Artist Collective, 100 Black Men of Syracuse, the Community Folk Art Center, Syracuse Stage and listeners like you.

Hemp growers are deciding right now how much hemp crops to plant with the unknowns of when they will be able to farm and when processors will be able to start, again.  As part of City Limits Food For Thought podcast series, John Smith reports the industry appeared to be gaining state support before the COVID-19 virus hit but, was also dealing with unknowns at the federal level.  

Katie Zilcosky / WAER News

By 2050, we’ll have to feed 9 billion people globally, but our current food system is already experiencing strains. And in order to feed the world, agricultural innovation will be necessary over the next few decades. 


Katie Zilcosky / WAER News

Food for Thought is the newest project from 88.3 WAER Syracuse, focusing on the state’s largest economic sector: agriculture. In the past decade, employment in New York’s agricultural economy has grown by 25.4%, and our community is centrally located in this growth. The state has designated Central New York, along with the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier, as the Grow-NY region, an area rich in resources.

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Nojaim Market closing on Syracuse’s Near Westside renewed a conversation about food access in some of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Local officials and nonprofit leaders worried the closure would severely affect the lives of those who lived around it.

But research done by Syracuse University Master’s Student Katie Mott revealed that people living in extreme poverty didn’t view the closure of Nojaim’s as their most pressing concern. For City Limits, Katie Zilcosky talked with Katie Mott about urban poverty and food access.


In his state of the city address this year, Mayor Ben Walsh said Syracuse's best days aren't just around the corner, but they are in reach. The future of interstate 81, the creation of Syracuse Surge and new leadership has positioned 2019 to be a year of big changes for the Syracuse area.

On this episode of City Limits Talk, Chris Bolt and Katie Zilcosky sit down with Mayor Ben Walsh and his team to discuss how they plan to achieve their goals.

It might seem like one of the quickest ways out of poverty is a steady job.  But despite low unemployment and government-funded job training, those who need jobs the most find obstacles to getting them.  Some built-in factors get in the way but there are policies and practices that could hold promise.  In this episode of City Limits, Chris Bolt examines the role local businesses play in reducing poverty in Syracuse.

Katie Zilcosky

The Greater Syracuse HOPE Initiative has been working to make a difference in Syracuse’s poverty problem. Last year, the organization asked the community what programs they think would make an impact. From that community input, HOPE chose eleven proposals and has spent the last year developing them.

City Limits’ Katie Zilcosky sat down with Greater Syracuse HOPE’s Executive Director to talk about what changes 2018 brought to Syracuse and what is still to come.

Scott Willis/WAER News

It’s been almost a year since City Limits introduced listeners to Providence Services and some of the people who use the shuttle-to-work service.  At the time, the fledgling non-profit was  making the most of small grants and donations to take people to work who didn't have access to a car.  The goal was to help lift people out of poverty by providing transportation to better paying jobs.  In this episode of City Limits, Scott Willis checks back with Providence Services to see where things stand a year later.

There’s a demographic that might be forgotten or dismissed as part of the overall employment picture in Syracuse and Central New York, even if they make up about 20 percent of the population.  Only about three in ten people with disabilities has a job, a stark contrast to the record high levels of employment in recent months. 

That means many are living solely on government assistance, just at or below the poverty level.  In this episode of City Limits, Scott Willis explores the complicated employment puzzle for people with disabilities.