Pop music blares from loud speakers overhead to brighten the mood, though it seems to have the opposite effect for some of the people waiting in line for a free meal at the Poverello House, a non-profit organization that has been serving the hungry and homeless since 1973. Billions of dollars cut from the state’s health and social services budget are expected to have drastic effects on fragile groups like the elderly and the disabled, who are increasingly living on the streets and relying on food pantries. “You can go to Salvation Army, Catholic Charities…You’ve got a whole rotation; that’s what the seniors in this town are doing right now,” said a 61-year-old veteran who lives in a van next to Poverello.

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"What matters, then, given the current rules if the game, is what kind of opportunity the labor market offers to poor workers, and who among them is positioned to seize it."

- Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low-Wage Labor Market, by Katherine Newman

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