PROPS: ‘Today I Saw’ Deeney In The Pennsylvanian

THE DAILY PENNSYLVANIAN: Jeff Deeney, a social worker and freelance writer who writes frequently about his work in Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods, also cited housing segregation as a concern. “The poorest parts [of the city] are very isolated socially — they don’t generally butt up against neighborhoods that are thriving.” Deeney also blames a lack of jobs, a broken housing system, and “schools that look and function a lot like correctional facilities” for much of the problem. “People don’t understand what life under the poverty line looks like,” he said. Deeney explained that many single-parent families live on less than $1,600 […]

PAPERBOY EXTRA! Today I Saw Jeff Deeney On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone Philadelphia Weekly

[Click image to activate Internet] RELATED: CLICK TO ENLARGE JEFF DEENEY SAYS: The two remaining legal graffiti spaces I know of are on Carpenter Street between 12th and 13th and at 49th and Westminster Street in West Philly. There are likely more than these; those with more knowledge of the city’s graffiti scene can feel free to chime in and school us. Please link more photos if you’ve got them. According to BESO the walls around 12th and Carpenter are open to anyone who wants to paint there but at 49th and Westminster, not so much. I think the quality […]

PAPERBOY EXTRA! Today I Saw Jeff Deeney On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone The Philadelphia Weekly

BY AMY Z. QUINN Today I saw Phawker’s own Jeff Deeney rockin’ the cover of this week’s Philadelphia Weekly! Of course we’re happy for him, but the story itself is sad and sickening — and I know Deeney will understand the compliment that’s in there — elaborating what happened on Hurley Street, said to be the city’s worst, before and after one of the city’s shootings this summer. It’s one of those stories about how people trying to live and raise children in Philadelphia live in a literal war zone, and how a block rots from the inside out while […]


[Illustration by Alex Fine] BY JEFF DEENEY “Today I saw…” is a series of nonfiction shorts based on my experiences as a caseworker serving formerly homeless families now living in North and West Philadelphia. I decided not long after starting the job that I was seeing so many fascinating and disturbing things in the city?s poorest neighborhoods that I needed to start cataloging them. I hope this bi-weekly column serves as a record of a side of the city that many Philadelphians don’t come in contact with on a daily basis. I want to capture moments not frequently covered by […]

DEENEY: Welcome To Coatesville Cokesville, USA

THE FIX: Coatesville has long been the primary coke supplier for Philly’s western suburbs. Local teens who move the crack bags and act as corner lookouts call their hometown “Cook Cokeville.” The town was once a major supplier of steel under the Lukens and later Bethlehem Steel banners; its mill even produced girders for the World Trade Center. The mill remains operational, owned now by Luxemburg conglomerate ArcelorMittal, and while its sprawling campus still dominates the landscape, it no longer drives the local economy as it once did. Crack cocaine replaced the steel. […] One benefit of the collapse of […]

GREATEST HITS: Today I Saw Revisited

[Artwork by ALEX FINE] BY JEFF DEENEY This installment of Today I Saw Revisited presents two scenes from African Methodist Episcopal churches in North Philadelphia. My experience with the black church community in Philly is that it is totally vital to the function of social services at the grassroots level, and forms the backbone of community support for thousands of families around the city. However, there is a strong conservative streak that runs through many of Philadelphia’s black churches that some white liberal social workers find vexing. The Biblical literalist positions of some churches put them at odds with progressives […]

GREATEST HITS: Today I Saw Revisited

BY JEFF DEENEY TODAY I SAW a monger scoop up a prostitute under the El at the corner of Monmouth Street, a block north of Cambria. It was 8 am on the dot; the rising sun in the east softly illuminated the transaction as a pale, freckled and deathly skinny white girl with waist length bright orange hair looked both ways for patrol cars before running out from the doorway where she waited for a John. Her faded jeans rode real low, revealing the red g-string panties she wore underneath. She ducked her head in the open passenger side window […]

GREATEST HITS: Today I Saw Revisited

BY JEFF DEENEY Today I saw a pile of teddy bears arranged like a pyramid around the thin trunk of a young tree planted in the sidewalk near the corner of 13th and Parrish Streets. The tree was on a block of two-story Section 8 homes that looked still new, almost like suburban tract plots complete with small squares of green front lawn, driveways and little back yards big enough to fit a kiddie pool and a wash line. I was walking down this same block about a week earlier on a warm afternoon thinking that it didn’t look like […]

DEENEY: Damning Facts Continue To Trickle Out

BY JEFF DEENEY The slow trickling out of information regarding the chain of events preceding the death of Charlenni Ferreira continues to reveal details that do not look good for DHS, or for the School District. New reports tell how the school nurse at Feltonville Intermediate urged Charlenni’s parents to take her to a doctor because she had a pronounced limp caused by the broken hip her abusive parents inflicted on her.  Today’s Inquirer report, titled just that, “School nurse urged exam of Charlenni’s limp,” seems to imply that there was an effective attempt at advocacy on the child’s behalf […]

GREATEST HITS: Today I Saw Revisited

BY JEFF DEENEY TODAY I SAW new black magic marker tags scrawled on the sidewalk outside Mantua Hall. “Tre Six Gangstas,” read one, “36th Street Mafia” read another. There’s a ledge outside the front doors to the housing project tall enough to sit on, and there were seven or eight Tre Six boys kicking back on the ledge and mobbed on the steps leading to the front door. It was early Friday evening, so I assumed they were getting ready to serve the payday party crowd that would start rolling through at any minute. One of the boys had shoulder […]

GREATEST HITS: Today I Saw Revisited

BY JEFF DEENEY  Today I saw a wino walking across a trash strewn lot on Ridge Avenue, down the street from the shelter. It was a classic image, a living stereotype stumbling with bagged bottle in one hand while the other waved in the air unsteadily, like he was struggling to get across the deck of ship in rough waters. He slowed and then stalled, as if he might change direction but had to think hard about the decision before continuing. Then he pitched forward, undulating towards the brick wall at the other end of the lot. When he reached […]

GREATEST HIT: ‘Today I Saw’ Revisited

BY JEFF DEENEY TODAY I SAW two fresh faced white kids in almost military looking black overcoats, starched slacks and gleaming patent leather shoes canvassing a bleak stretch of 19th Street near Wingohocking, an area of North Philly pocked with crack markets and tiny row houses covered in flaking paint. They were standing under an awning on one of the small front porches that lined the block. One of the kids banged repeatedly on the door while the other peered through the blinds, trying to see if  someone was home. After waiting a minute they moved on to the next […]