Broke in Philly

This map compares poverty rate with shooting rate across Philadelphia

The coronavirus pandemic is not helping.

Left: Shootings per 1,000 residents; Right: Percent households living below the federal poverty line

Left: Shootings per 1,000 residents; Right: Percent households living below the federal poverty line

Philadelphia District Attorney's Office

As the gun violence epidemic surges in Philadelphia, officials and community leaders are struggling to fight it in the face of the twin drags of the coronavirus and pervasive income inequality.

This is not just a Philly thing. Experts believe the pandemic is exacerbating gun violence around the nation — in part because community intervention efforts have to be completely redesigned to handle social distancing.

New York City and Chicago have both seen nearly 50% jumps in shootings compared to last year, and even smaller cities like Kansas City, Mo., are seeing homicides rise, according to NPR.

What does distinguish Philly among the biggest U.S. metro areas, however, is its poverty rate. As of last year, 24.5% of households lived below the federal poverty line, nearly 380,000 Philadelphians — and that’s before the pandemic’s economic effects drove many people into financial distress.

A new map from District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office puts the relationship between income inequality and gun violence in the city on stark display.

According to the DAO, here’s where the above data comes from:

Tracts, poverty, and population data were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2018 estimates. The shootings per 1,000 residents rate was calculated by taking the count of shootings (2015-2019) in each tract divided by the total tract population times 1,000. Tracts with less than 1,000 people were considered low population and excluded from analysis.

Many groups in Philadelphia are working on solutions.

City Council’s committee on gun violence prevention has been holding virtual hearings on the situation, where residents have offered ideas. Community groups and local celebs like rapper Beanie Sigel have been encouraging people to speak up about what’s going on in their neighborhoods, in line with the city’s new “Group Violence Intervention” plan.

The new Credible Messenger Reporting Project will recruit and train community members to produce stories about “about the experience of living with gun violence, as well as identifying its root causes and potential solutions.”

These efforts may offer hope, but they don’t make the grim stats any easier to look at.

More than 1,100 people had been reported shot in Philadelphia as of mid-August, a 36% increase over last year to date. Young people are increasingly affected, with an average of three minors shot each week. July’s total of 215 people shot is higher than any month in the past five years.

Rolling 365-day total shootings over the past five years in Philadelphia

Rolling 365-day total shootings over the past five years in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting

Killings are up too. Over 250 have died by gunshot this year, 30% more than last year to date. Related arrests have increased, though not at the same pace: homicide arrests are up 13% over last year while charges for aggravated assault with guns are up 1%.

Billy Penn publishes a weekly gun violence tracker with citywide stats every Tuesday in our newsletter, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting. (Subscribe for free here.)

Find our list of resources for those affected by gun violence here.

Want some more? Explore other Broke in Philly stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?