Nearly 27 percent of the people in Memphis live on $15,000 a year or less. That rate has not changed in the last 5 years.
When nearly a third of the city is poor, do we all suffer? We went inside one man’s North Memphis house.
The rotting Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer is a reminder there's not been electricity for months. Yet, it's home to a 36-year-old single dad raising three kids.
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“I’m not out here selling drugs. I'm not out here causing problems for nobody,” said Nazim Houston.
In November of last year, others caused problems for Houston. “Somebody replied, 'Nazim they hit, Jr. He’s been hit.'” said Houston.
A bullet got lodged in his 12-year-old son's leg. He was shot while walking to the store to get a snack. Houston had to take time off work during his son's recovery.
Because of that, his employer let him go. “My last check was $450,” Houston said.
Houston doesn't know how much longer the landlord will let him go without paying. He owes about $3,000.
Finding work is now his full-time job adding, “If you don't know someone here in Memphis, nine times out of 10, you're not gonna get a job.”
Houston lives in one of the 59,000 households in Memphis making $15,000 a year or less.
“How can any city say that we are free when there are so many people who are trapped by the chains of poverty?” asked University of Memphis Social Work Professor Elana Delavega.
Delavega has studied the effects of poverty on Memphis for years. She puts out a poverty report every year.
On Tuesday, she shared years worth of data with city council members showing poverty is getting worse in Memphis while at the same time it's getting better in many other cities.
“In terms of our economy, we're not thriving. We're not doing as well as we could do,” Delavega added.
The price of poverty is felt by everyone Delavega said adding, “Poverty does play a role in it and are companies discriminating against us? Perhaps.”
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