“Making the Safety Net More Visible in Philadelphia,” by Jon Hurdel. New York Times, Aug. 30, 2013. Photo by Mark Makela/New York Times.

Cola Dockery, 34,  was released from prison in February after serving six months for burglary and armed robbery, and has since been living in a Philadelphia homeless shelter. Through the federal Community Services Block Grant program, he got Internet access that allowed him to apply for jobs, qualified for food stamps and received mentoring by city staff members. He also learned for the first time about how to set up a bank account, how to qualify for assistance from a food bank, and how to obtain free bus tokens so he could travel to job interviews. Recently he landed a job as a kitchen worker at a local college, for which he is paid about $250 a week. It is not enough to allow him to move into his own place anytime soon, he said, but he is grateful for the work, and credits the city’s poverty services for helping him get it. Read more…

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