Poverty in Chicago

Poverty in Chicago

Ratings: 8.09/10 from 57 users.

Poverty in ChicagoDirected and Produced by Brian Schodorf this film is an exploration of how the drug afflicted homeless population affects society as a whole with exclusive interviews with Chicago's top social and political leaders.

Schodorf's relationship with the men allows the viewer to get a true inside look at what life is like as a permanent resident of the streets.

Poverty in Chicago, also, investigates the devastating loss of over 150 lives in the winter of 2006 at the hand of a deadly heroin epidemic.

"Ive told you. Now, I'm going to show you," says one homeless man who leads the crew through the most crime infested areas of Chicago's south and west sides, inside the drug trade itself.

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37 Comments / User Reviews


    Sad to see what is happening with the homeless. This make me see it in a different light. Thank you for sharing this with the world maybe we can make a change.

  2. Tara

    Generally speaking, we live in a narcissistic society which has little if no empathy for the poor and suffering. Of course some do, however most people don't care or they would actively be doing more to help. The issues of homelessness have become so massive that its difficult to know where to start. A common theme throughout is ADDICTION and drugs and until we start seriously funding and come up with a plan to treat addiction as the disease it is, the bigger this sad subculture is going to grow. Why is mental health and addiction so grossly underfunded in the US? The brain is a major organ in the body and its a pretty MAJOR one because like the heart we can't live without it. Brain diseases need all the funding that heart diseases get and the research, care, and insurance coverage. The brain has always been treated unfairly and neglected. We need to make it a top priority.

  3. Black Scholar

    The Macro-community around these blighted people are WHITE. These drug addicts are in the micro community. It is the MACRO community (translation white community) that allows in the drugs and guns. It is the White political community that is causing this biopolitical degeneration. They did this with Heroin in Vietnam and now again with Afganistan's poppys. Everywhere Our military goes, men come back maimed and Heroin easily gets smuggled in. These people are unemployed because America wants it that way. To elite white people: it is Necessary for black people to 'busted and disgusting.' Why? It allows them a reprieve from their savage history. And it allows the penny-less white folks to feel psychologically good about ...Nothing.

    The human species, led by white Europeans and Euro-Americans, has been on
    a 500-year-long planetwide rampage of conquering, plundering, looting,
    exploiting and polluting the earth—as well as killing the indigenous
    communities that stood in the way. But the game is up. The technical and
    scientific forces that created a life of unparalleled luxury—as well as
    unrivaled military and economic power for a small, global elite—are the
    forces that now doom us.
    chris hedges.


    I used to work as a health insurance agent and I visited Chicago's south side and west side frequently. What I can tell you for sure is that the underprivileged people that live there are as sincere and hardworking as any average middle class American, and probably more so than the rich elite. However, no matter how sincere and hardworking, when your conditions are so dire because of an inherently unequal system of capitalism that creates these vast slums on one side of town and million-dollar mansions on another and a government that is completely controlled by profit-over-people corporations, you will suffer. To pay for even the minimal health coverage, they had to give up their cell phones, have less food, and so on while still working over 60 hours a week earning minimum wages. It is sickening that the American government hands out $700 billion to irresponsible big corporations while these good citizens have to pay thousands of dollars they don't have for suffering an accident that might not even be their fault. We have t do something about this. Start organizing people -- join protests on social media and get out on the streets with your friends. If the only parties you can vote for are both corrupt and do not stand for the people, then this undemocratic system has to be overthrown and replaced by true democracy.

  5. Jabranpin

    Many people in far off places such as India, Kenya and Rwanda only see the good side of the US. The empire state building, the statue of liberty and goldengate bridge. They never get to see this and the school shootings.

  6. seamus watson

    Why would anybody have kids in these conditions. They can hardly feed themselves.

  7. Peter Jeremiah

    It's our own fault i am a poor man i am only 20 years old i was born in america foreign country think as a american we have more to look forward this is true but among our self's we do nothing to stop these government they cut of some people and area's to keep the budget good but in reality they pocket more then their suppose to get pay. We do many things like kill each other sell drugs and some what lack knowledge to move up in this world i learn web programming and many more other things i can make millions will i keep that money no i wont even give it to the government i will keep and help as much as i can to others we need to get out these religions believes and jealousy and strike forward become smarter and take down these evil people in charge

  8. Glen Hale

    USA need to stop big banks,the Federal Reserve Bank is NOT run by the Feds but big banks..Ron Paul was your only hope.

  9. Justin Lesniewski

    i cant agree with the way we run things, there has to be a better way...

  10. Bree

    I watched this movie and my heart just broke. I will not be someone who blames this predicament on any particular race or anything of that nature. I ultimately blame ourselves. A society is not built by an individual; it is us who validate what will become norms. We collectively are the force that shapes what is deemed acceptable through the people we elect and the choices we make individually. The power to create change is in all of us. While I can spend all day lamenting the problem I honestly wish to seek change. Please reply to me if you have any concrete/positive ideas. Do not let boundaries (state or national) stop you!

    1. FLIqSIDE

      Some things you can do relatively easily is to spread awareness by
      1) Sharing these kinds of documentaries on your social networking pages
      2) Joining organized protests (which you can find on social media by searching for keywords). Protests are very powerful -- think the civil rights movement and Arab Spring. Protests can spontaneously grow to millions and millions of people, especially when people are sick of the system like they are now. Most people think that protests are pointless but let's not forget that most of the civil liberties and right we enjoy now were brought about by protests such as the French Revolution, the civil rights protests and many more internationally.
      3) Supporting these kinds of documentaries so that more are made. Since this is a supply demand system we live in, when there is enough demand for these types of documentaries, they will spill into mainstream media, which will expand awareness of social issues and problems tremendously.

  11. Brian Geiger

    We have got to do something about this. The Government cares more about the rich instead of creating more homeless facilities, better healthcare, better education, more jobs, programs that will help those people develop the skills needed to get a job and cleaning up the public housing for the citizens that are in need. We need a new approach and the same old game of politics are not helping the need of the poverty Americans instead it is hurting every American hitting the poverty extremely hard

  12. Harlem125

    The documentary offers a pychology and sociology prespective on drugs and its association with poverty in United States of America. The documentary tells a story about a drug genocide that took the lives of 150 people in one of the most known cities in United States of America. The documentary tells a story how being a man in American society affects your chances of sucuring housing. Also as American man in society the men shelter system is most dangerous and most unethical place to stay as American man. A modern day example of how the American system fails the urban/inner city poor in the United States.

    ---- Post Graduate - Social Science Major!

  13. TonyIII

    Although the situation is horribly tragic for these people, there is an even worse tragedy and that is having misplaced sympathy for these people.Worthless; it's part of the problem. No mention of the role of Hollywood, rap, matriarchal homes, free fornication, mediocre schools or the self-esteem movement.. It may seen uncharitable, but the sympathy routine just encourages it.I was unemployed in Chicago for 2 stinkin years but luckily I had family.

    1. Jane Doe

      So you're saying that it's a bigger tragedy to feel bad for these people, than the tragedy itself.

      It's a good thing that your family had misplaced sympathy for you!



  15. Melissa Blackwell

    I grew up in Chicago and having walked by the homeless almost every day, I did grow "numb" to seeing them and their issues. This really is an interesting and well -thought out view of the problem.

  16. Violetta

    If anyone wants an inside look of how the projects are run, I reccommend the book Gang Leader for a Day.

  17. Adam J

    oh and i still give people a dollar for their alcohol or heroin or whatever because that gives them incentive not to steal my car stereo for their fix instead.

    Know what I mean?

  18. Adam J

    Homelessness is much more complex than just drug use.

    And drug use is much more complex than just homelessness.

    The whole system is screwed. It starts with school; its much worse for minorities, but any low income youth growing up has so fewer options compared to any other youth from an affluent suburb. Yeah we need jobs, but there will always be unemployed, homeless, and disabled people wandering the innercities. The begging does get obnoxious in away, and its hard to discern who is being somewhat honest and isn't scamming.

    I shot up opiates like heroin and OxyContin for 3 years, among other things, and Delvin's description of the sickness is spot on. It's worse than the flu, or pneumonia, or anything you can think of. He didnt mention though that it lasts over TWO WEEKS. No sleep, cant eat, cant sit still, stomach turns upside down and empties itself, complete dysphoria, depression, the hour of sleep you do get some nights you dream about a fix. Its bad, very very bad. I lost a lot, and could have lost more.

    I lacked self control in that extent, and i could go into my family history and point out some interesting variables, and i think most homeless drug addicts have one or more of these 'variables' that make you a candidate to fall out of society, beside shelter and drugs.

    Good doc.A lot better than "Streets Of Plenty"

    (The best line when someone asks you for something and you need some space is, "Oh man I was gonna ask *you* for a dollar")

    1. knowledgeizpower

      yeah i agree with your first two statements...Just because a person is homeless does not mean that they are on drugs everyone's situation is different and vice versa...this was a good documentary it shows real life its happening all the time sad.... Peace

  19. Dodgy

    Drugs make a mess of people. Drinking is right up there. The bad part is that it's hard to know who actually needs money for decent things that beg. We have a group of guys that stand at our highways and trade out and I've seen them get into vehicles and leave. They hold cardboard signs and seem legit but are just scavengers. There is a guy at a gas station a few miles from me that I once gave money to with a dog and backpack that said he was just travelling and stuck. Months later he is still there... obviously that was false.

    I'm growing hardened about begging because of the shams and that's a shame because sometimes all people need is just enough to catch up and a stranger could help. When I lost my job because of that economic thing a year ago then my car was stolen I walked to the store in the winter and at one point cried on the way. I had applied everywhere, everyone for s@#$ jobs like burger king - as an adult just to get any form of cash flow - they told me that they couldn't hire me because with a college education I wouldn't stay once the economy righted itself, it was hopeless and worse I had to lie that I even had a car to get to the jobs planning on walking if I had to. Thinking about my disconnect bills and how I also needed to buy food plus I still had student loans that were banging on the door that I was doing so well on previously. I was easily two weeks away from homeless but a temporary job finally came through. I have no doubt that things like that could push a person to homelessness because I was there and just barely avoided it. When I lost my job I had around 5k saved because I had been paying more on my student loans to get them gone quicker. In that time my washer stopped working, my heater went out in the house and my lawnmower broke. So here I was hand washing clothes eating ramen and taking a bus to job interviews pretending I had a car to get there reliably with no heat in the house afraid the pipes would burst next but afraid to spend the savings on anything but living because I didn't know when I would actually get work!

    For that reason of course I have sympathy for those in that spot but am wary of the scammers and of course I have no intention of supporting an addict.

    1. Rose

      I so can relate to your story because it sounds a lot like mine. Thank you for posting it. I feel the same way you do about scammers and have been scammed. The person was still by the side of the road hours later. I confronted him for my last $20.00 back and threatened to call he police if he did not give it to me. He let the hood of his car down and pulled of with my money. I went to the police station to report him, but, they were already on to him and had dispatched officers to have him removed. He was working people getting onto the expressway as well as those getting off the expressway. What an a*shole. He was saying his car stopped on him and he was just trying to get home after working for many hours on his job. He was not dressed shabbily and I believed him or gave him the benefit of he doubt.

  20. yourboycal

    Good docu. We need increase of empthy and decrease of greed =*(... but for that we will need a revolution ...for that we need spark of passion ...for that we need more education ...for that we need... people who give a s@#$ ...for that we need a miracle or interdenominational intervention b@#$% slap.

  21. Kem

    Watching this, I kept trying to figure out what is really going on. Delvin kept saying it's the drugs, but it's deeper than that. What draws someone to the drugs in the first place? It's loss of hope. It's being stuck in an environment you can't escape (like prison). The one thing (drugs) that brings them "joy" is the same thing that is taking over their sanity and destroying their bodies...what a paradox.

  22. Don

    Come on Oprah! Pitch in!!! You can't take it with you!!!

  23. Tom

    How these stupid and rich Hollywood stars can live in their luxuries knowing that this is happening in America? How is it possible? How these stupid people like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt spend millions on stupid wants while they could change all this? Just a thought.......

    1. Lynda C.

      These issues require more than just money. It is systemic.

  24. Ken R

    I sincerely believe that it is time for another New Deal in America, as was the case during the Great Depression. Maybe we could put many of these unemployed people to work in unskilled manual labor jobs similar to the way that it was done back then, like the WPA and the TVA. Clearly, people need jobs. Something else that America really needs is an improved public transportation system so that people without cars can get to those jobs reliably.

  25. TheSwede

    I'm from Sweden, I went to the US mid december 09 and I saw Chicago and few times and I loved it but this documentary really showed me another side to Chicago. I dont know how people can sleep at night knowing there is so much pain and suffering in your country. It makes me sad.

  26. Mary Edmonds

    Discovered this on DTV and living near Chicago, found it very interesting. It would take so very much money to help all that need to be helped. I also like Delvin and can't believe that there is no place for him to live and be encouraged. He has such a positive attitude, as have many of them on there. I wish that at the end, there could have been a bit added as to what happened to these people who were featured, especially Delvin who seemed to be trying to make it in Chicago even with his severe disabilities. Excellent documentary. I have little money but will pray for these people. The Bible says the poor you will have with you always. God bless those who are trying to help them.

  27. jack kallis

    where is libazoo Mississippi ??

    good but seems a bit to prejudice against the whole south side and area but oh well

  28. Linda McGuigan

    What a sad reflection on society as a whole, I am an A&E nurse with a special interest in addiction, I council addict's in my spare time so I see all side's of this from the death's due to overdose or complication's due to injection with dirty needle's. I live and work in Glasgow Scotland and this film was no differant to the city I live in. The poverty trap I would guess is world wide. When are our goverment's who make the rule's going to wake up and take notice of these people and thier problem's. In Glasgow if you are a heroin addict you wait up to 6 month's to be put on a methodone programe, you are not curing these people you are only giving them another addiction. I grew up in the Gorbal's area of Glasgow and have seen many of my brother's friend's die fromm drug abuse we lived on a council estate in a multi storey block of flats, which I call egg boxes in the sky, they build these houses to accomidate family's and dont supply playing area's for the children, so they hang out at the bottom of the flat's and start off drinking alchohol with the older one's then they move on to drug's. In my dealing's with addict's I have found many talented people wether it be art or creative writing if you look after these folk's when they are young and give them a youth club (I volenteered in one for 7 year's ) where they can go and chat and paint and put some of thier talent's to good use you have a chance to change someone's life. Our goverment's are to blame for this as they dont have a glue what poverty is like or what it lead's to. Sorry for the ramble but all the guy's in this film all had a sad story to tell some were war vertran's other's just down on thier luck with no job offering a proper living wage. I know if you are in that position (ie) homeless sleeping under a bridge and someone come's along with a little bag of powder that is going to make you feel better you are going to take it, I only wish I could help more people but we are all volenteer's with no goverment funding we use our own phone's to try and get people help and hire a church hall 4 night's a week but no preaching is allowed as that put's people comming for help and they know at the end of the day they have to want to help themself's, so the next time you pass someone with a paper cup dont look at them in disgust remeber they have feeling's and are just down on thier luck.
    Thank You for taking the time to read this.
    Linda ;-(

  29. Nielsch

    Heart-wrenching, to say the least...

    It's shocking for me to see how extensive the damage of the crack/heroine epidemic has become, and how government and law enforcement don't even give a s***. It's inexcusable!

    And to think that there 24 million Americans living like this (on the street or in the ghetto's), below the poverty line is mindbogglingly. S*** needs to change, the gorge between very rich and very poor is increasing at alarming rates in the last decades :(

  30. Dannkk

    Not much here I haven't seen, living on the south side of Chicago, but interesting to watch nonetheless.

  31. Will

    Powerful, truthful, eye-opening, heartbreaking, and inspiring in a strange way.

    Anyone from the great state of Illinois, and the city of Chicago needs to see this.

  32. jamie

    I liked Delvin.