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"The ranks of the poor have risen, with almost half of New Yorkers living near or below the poverty line. Their traditional anchors—affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage—have weakened as the city reorders itself around the whims of the wealthy.... One in five American children is now living in poverty, giving the United States the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation except for Romania."

This is from a long series in the Times (http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/invisible-child/#/?chapt=1) about child poverty. The featured girl is Dasani, the oldest of 8 kids who live with their parents in a 520-square-foot room in Fort Greene, Brooklyn ... across the street from stores that sell $845 boots. Dasani is smart, tough, athletic, gorgeous, everything that should make people fall over themselves to help.

Many do, but a lot of the time, her challenges just escalate.

Dasani's story, her family's struggles, & how little help they get—the opposite of help, really, what with abuse, mice, and numerous other challenges, including their parents' lack of education and drug problems—yet how much love they have for each other, made me cry. There are 22,000 homeless children in this city. Doesn't each of them deserve better?

I don't know the solution, but I certainly hope that the tide is turning in this city, what with a new mayor and a new pope, & just maybe a new breath of compassion.

Enlightening as always to read the comments, which are split between finger-pointing at the parents for having "too many children" & criticism of our failure to help. This might be the most balanced one I read:

This story is heartbreaking, and is sadly all to commonplace in our country. In volunteer work that I do with inner city kids, I see so many intelligent, wonderful kids living in desperate situations through no fault of their own. Dasani, and others like her, have to have superhuman strength and determination to escape their situations. Apart from the inhumanity of looking the other way in the face of growing poverty, our nation is squandering the talents and intelligence of these children. While volunteerism and charity can help, nothing short of a Marshall Plan to address the growing poverty in our population of children is required. The causes are many and complex - too few jobs with living wages, parents' substance abuse and depression, lack of affordable housing, poor schools, etc. Nonetheless, we have no choice but to demand better for our children. Do we want more tax breaks for multi-millionaires or do we want a higher minimum wage, good schools, effective mental health and rehabilitation programs, and more resources for overwhelmed, underpaid social workers?
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