Gladstein to head Philly efforts on hunger, homelessness

Eva Gladstein will lead the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity.
Eva Gladstein will lead the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 16, 2013

In a new effort to battle poverty, Mayor Nutter is creating a cabinet-level office that will oversee city efforts to deal with hunger, homelessness, job development, and other issues.

Nutter was expected to announce the formation of the Mayor's Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity on Tuesday.

It will be headed by Eva Gladstein, 60, deputy executive director of the Planning Commission. Gladstein was executive director of the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone from 1998 to 2007. That federal program allotted $79 million to Philadelphia to revitalize low-income communities and attract businesses and jobs.

Gladstein, who will resign from her current job, spent years advocating for tenant rights. In 1973, she cofounded the nonprofit Tenants' Action Group and often found herself fighting City Hall; now, she'll be working there.

"I've got 35 years of work history, primarily in communities that people call poor," Gladstein said. "I've been lucky to have a career that meets my personal desire to create change."

Philadelphia has had the highest rate of poverty among the nation's 10 largest cities for the last 20 years. The poverty rate is 28.4 percent.

In his description of the new office, Nutter wrote that he planned to "ensure that we are maximizing the impact of every dollar spent in Philadelphia to reduce poverty and buffer its effects."

Part of Gladstein's job will be to help look at other agencies and how they serve low-income residents. She also will be asked to keep track of any public or private funding the city could use to help low-income residents.

The office will absorb and expand upon work carried out by the Mayor's Office of Community Service (MOCS). It will be funded by a $7.1 million federal community services block grant that previously underwrote MOCS. The new office will incorporate the 63 MOCS employees.

The married mother of a 17-year-old son, Gladstein, of Andorra, will be paid $135,000 annually.

Gladstein, who received a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Temple University in 1973, said she came from a family "where helping the poor was part of our religion."

She was raised in the Queens borough of New York City by a mother who taught social work at Hunter College. Her father was a computer systems analyst, and a grandfather was a labor organizer.

The choice was praised by several antipoverty experts.

"Eva did a lot of work on homelessness prevention," said advocate Sister Mary Scullion. "She mentored me, and has been committed to issues involving low-income people and social justice her whole life."

Scullion said Gladstein has little experience with hunger issues. Gladstein acknowledged that, but said she can learn.

Jonathan Stein, an attorney with Community Legal Services and a longtime poverty-fighter, called Gladstein "extraordinary."

"She's an outstanding choice," Stein said. "She knows the political world, the world of advocates, and community groups. We look forward to meeting with her."


Contact Alfred Lubrano at 215-854-4969 or alubrano@phillynews.com

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|