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City Heights Photo Exhibition To Be Unveiled At USC Urban Poverty Conference

52nd Street and Orange Avenue in City Heights.

Credit: Matt Gainer

Above: 52nd Street and Orange Avenue in City Heights.

Images of poverty in City Heights will be a focal point of an urban poverty conference taking place this week at the University of Southern California.

The USC conference will bring in poverty experts from across the country to assess the impact of programs developed as part of America's 50-year-old "War on Poverty."

The discussion takes place while some members of Congress have declared U.S. anti-poverty programs a failure and are seeking deep cuts in those programs.

“At this critical juncture in our history, it’s time to really reassess and examine which poverty programs work and don’t work,” said Raphael Bostic, director of the USC Price Bedrosian Center and former assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “This conference is about helping inform the national debate on poverty, and providing insights regarding the most proven methods for eradicating poverty in communities across America.”

While City Heights has experienced significant improvements over the last 20 years, 27 percent of residents live in poverty, according to Price Charities.

Matt Gainer, the photographer behind the photo documentary "The Heights," hopes to give a glimpse of what everyday life is like for residents of the ethnically diverse City Heights area in San Diego. Gainer's photos will be unveiled at the start of the conference March 27.

“My project strives to subtly depict the range of people who live in City Heights, the community they nurture and the humanity they share,” said Gainer. “My hope is that these photographs will deepen the impact and broaden the conversations about work being done to improve lives not just in City Heights, but in struggling communities around the country.”

The two-day conference will be held at the USC Doheny Memorial Library in Los Angeles on March 27 and 28. The conference is by invitation only. Media must be registered prior to the event.

The Price Family Charitable Fund is a supporter of KPBS.

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