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University of Wisconsin–Madison

IRP Poverty Dispatch

Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

September 17-21, 2018

The global population living in extreme poverty has fallen below 750 million for the first time since the World Bank began collecting global statistics in 1990, a decline of more than 1 billion people in the past 25 years.

 

Enrollment in Michigan’s expanded Medicaid program boosted the finances of many low-income residents as well as their health care status

 

An estimated 85,000 low-income Hoosiers who receive Medicaid benefits will soon need to find a job, volunteer, get job training, or go to school—or risk losing health care for a few months.

 

Three parties argue in letters that the U.S. government should allow 70,000 more Mainers to get health coverage as state law dictates, despite the governor’s opposition.

 

 

Reducing its inventory is going to take changes in state law, additional staff.

 

One goal is to cut down on emergency room visits.

 

Many residents abandoned Nichols, S.C., after it was inundated during Hurricane Matthew. The few who stayed now wonder whether they should do the same.

 

Residents of a North Carolina housing complex have found themselves at the center of a redevelopment drama, even as they wonder what will become of their Florence-hit homes.

 

Americans spend tens of billions of dollars on government-run lotteries each year.

 

Food insecurity on a college campus can be anything from missing a few meals to forgoing meals several dozen times in a semester.

 

Gleaners, Ivy Tech and Goodwill partnering to operate the facility, which will be open to all Hamilton County residents in need

 

In a major victory for civil rights groups, a federal judge has banned Dallas County from using a predetermined schedule to set bail without considering other amounts or alternatives that would allow the suspects’ release from jail.

 

September 10-14, 2018

Economists say the relatively modest gains over the last few years are endangered by the administration’s policies and vulnerable to a long overdue economic downturn.

 

U.S. Household Income Rises to Pre-Recession Levels, Prompting Cheers and Questions
The median income rose in 2017 for the third straight year, the Census Bureau reported. But the details of the report raised concerns about whether middle-class households will simply tread water.

 

Survey: 13 big cities where poverty is declining in the USA
Poverty rates in some of the nation’s most populous metropolitan areas dropped in recent survey, a trend expected to continue, experts say.

 

Median household income rises 1.8 percent to record $61,400 in 2017. Income increased 3.2 percent in 2016.

 

Census-compiled income and poverty rates are used to gauge the economic well-being of the nation and remain tools for lawmakers in deciding policy.

 

A new report from the Census Bureau indicates the problem could be getting worse.

 

U.S. unemployment is down and jobs are going unfilled. But for people without much education, the real question is: Do those jobs pay enough to live on?

 

People with criminal records are often denied public housing, but few use their right to contest their denial in an informal hearing.

 

 

The Trump administration is letting states require Medicaid beneficiaries to work.

 

– For the first time in almost a decade, Oklahoma will pay medical professionals who treat Medicaid patients more.

 

The state has now conformed with the federal tax code, providing $76 million in tax relief for individuals and businesses and making filing easier.

 

 

August 2018 US Unemployment Rate

State Medicaid Programs

  • Thousands in Arkansas lose Medicaid because of new work requirements, By Tami Luhby, September 6, 2018, CNN: “As many as 4,600 Medicaid recipients in Arkansas have lost their benefits for the rest of this year after failing to meet the state’s new work requirements. Arkansas became the first state ever to implement work requirements, after gaining approval from the Trump administration earlier this year. Under the new rules, which took effect in June, recipients must work, go to school, volunteer or search for jobs for at least 80 hours a month or be stripped of their coverage until the following year…”
  • Medicaid expansion would impact wide range of Nebraska workers, study finds, By Don Walton, September 7, 2018, Lincoln Journal Star: “Voter approval of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would have the greatest impact on food service workers, as expected, but also cover a wide range of working Nebraskans engaged in other job activities…”
  • One-third of New Yorkers are on Medicaid, similar programs, By Joseph Spector, September 5, 2018, Democrat and Chronicle: “More than one-third of New Yorkers are now on Medicaid or other publicly funded health-care plans, a spike of 57 percent over the past decade, a new report found. The findings from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoliin a report Wednesday highlighted New Yorkers’ growing dependency on health-insurance programs run by the state and federal government amid uncertainty over the programs’ future in Washington…”

Eviction

  • The money owed in eviction cases is often small, but the consequences can be huge, By Christopher Huffaker and Kate Giammarise, September 6, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “In District Judge Robert Ravenstahl’s North Side courtroom, stacks of manila folders are piled beside the judge. An American flag stands in the corner. There are several water stains on the ceiling. On this Friday afternoon, he will hear nearly 30 eviction cases in about 90 minutes. Many of the cases this afternoon are tenants from nearby Northview Heights, a large public housing complex on Pittsburgh’s North Side…”
  • New law gives California tenants more time to fight evictions, By Aurora Percannella, September 7, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Tenants in California will get more time to fight evictions under a new law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • San Francisco rolls out long-awaited system to track, help homeless, By Kevin Fagan, September 1, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s wonky. It’s a bunch of data and names. And it will most likely save a lot of homeless people’s lives. For the past two years, program managers in San Francisco have been quietly crafting a system to closely track every homeless man, woman and child. The purpose is two-fold: to tailor housing, rehab and other services to them, but also to eliminate wasteful — and costly — duplication of efforts…”
  • Homelessness ruling: sleeping on streets can’t be a crime when no shelters are available, By Bob Egelko and Kevin Fagan, September 5, 2018, Governing: “Cities can’t make it a crime to sleep on a public street or sidewalk when no homeless shelters are available, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a case that could affect so-called “sit/lie” ordinances in San Francisco and elsewhere…”

Minimum Wage Increases

Minimum wage increases in six cities working as intended, Berkeley study of food-service jobs finds, By Benjamin Romano, September 6, 2018, Seattle Times: “The minimum wage increases that started four years ago in SeaTac are spreading across the country, but economists continue to study – and disagree about – the impact of the new policies on pay and jobs. The latest look at increased wage floors in six U.S. cities, including Seattle, finds that food-service workers saw increases in pay and no widespread job losses. That reinforces the conclusions that the same group of University of California, Berkeley, researchers reached in 2017 after studying the impact just in Seattle…”

General Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

What happens when you reinstate an anti-poverty program and no one knows about it?, By Alfred Lubrano, August 28, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Hungry people, experts will tell you, are always silent. On Tuesday, they lined up in a quiet queue in the courtyard of St. Francis Inn Ministries in Kensington, awaiting breakfast under a sapping morning sun. Many of them were sharp and savvy from living on the street, but they nevertheless were unaware of some rare good news for people in poverty…”

Hurricane Recovery – Houston, TX

A year after Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s poorest neighborhoods are slowest to recover, By Manny Fernandez, September 3, 2018, New York Times: “Hurricane Harvey ruined the little house on Lufkin Street. And ruined it remains, one year later. Vertical wooden beams for walls. Hard concrete for floors. Lawn mowers where furniture used to be. Holes where the ceiling used to be. Light from a lamp on a stool, and a barricaded window to keep out thieves. Even the twig-and-string angel decoration on the front door — ‘Home is where you rest your wings’ — was askew…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • About 2 million low-income Americans would lose benefits under House farm bill, study says, By Glenn Thrush, September 6, 2018, New York Times: “Nearly two million low-income Americans, including 469,000 households with young children, would be stripped of benefits under the House version of the farm bill being considered this week by congressional negotiators, according to an analysis by a nonpartisan research firm…”
  • As Trump targets food stamps, hunger around the U.S. remains high, By Aimee Picchi, September 6, 2018, CBS News: “President Donald Trump is praising the ‘Trump Economy,’ touting how its ‘booming’ numbers are a reason to add work requirements for food stamps. But new government research shows that hunger remains higher than it was before the Great Recession…”
  • Trump weighs in on SNAP work requirements ahead of farm bill meeting, By Brakkton Booker, September 5, 2018, National Public Radio: “With a deadline looming and pressure on lawmakers escalating, a large bipartisan, bicameral conference committee gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the first formal negotiations of the Farm Bill…”

Infant Mortality – North Carolina

As NC babies die at one of the fastest rates in the country, Cooper calls for action plan, By John Murawski, August 31, 2018, News & Observer: “North Carolina has struggled with some of the nation’s worst infant mortality rates for decades, and now it’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s turn to wrestle with the stubborn public health challenge. Thirty years ago the state had plummeted to the nation’s second-worst infant mortality rate, prompting the creation of Smart Startand other government programs to reverse the trend…”

Housing Choice Voucher Program

  • Getting a Section 8 voucher is hard. Finding a landlord willing to accept it is harder., By Teresa Wiltz, August 31, 2018, Stateline: “As a prospective tenant, B.R. Williams learned early on she needed a script to woo potential landlords: Mention her stellar rental history. Emphasize that Section 8 housing vouchers are ‘pro-landlord,’ with most of the rent direct deposited each month. Always utter the magic words, ‘This is a no-fail system.’ Sometimes the pitch worked. But even then, Williams often would show up to look at an apartment, only to be told that it was no longer available…”
  • ‘Section 8 need not apply’: states and cities outlaw housing discrimination, By Mattie Quinn, August 29, 2018, Governing: “Washington state is the latest jurisdiction to pass a law to protect low-income renters from housing discrimination. House Bill 2578, which will go into effect at the end of September, makes it illegal for landlords to reject applicants based on their use of public assistance, including Section 8, Social Security or veterans benefits…”
  • Affordable housing program in Oakland helps keep Section 8 renters in place, By Kimberly Veklerov, August 15, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: “As luxury high-rise condos replace Oakland’s once-affordable housing stock, city officials said Wednesday a first-of-its-kind program that gives financial incentives to landlords renting to low-income families is off to a strong start. In recent years, hundreds of housing units available for impoverished families have disappeared from the market. To recover some of the loss, Oakland officials are touting the new program that gives monetary benefits to property owners to remain or become Section 8 landlords…”
  • In Philly, two-thirds of the landlords won’t take affordable housing vouchers — even when the renter can afford the place, By Julia Terruso, August 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “When Paul Woods got a housing voucher three years ago, he thought that he’d been given a fresh start after a series of setbacks. Woods, who served in the Marines and is now on disability, had been living with family and friends, bouncing from place to place. But his voucher came with an expiration date: 60 days to find an apartment. Many landlords rejected Woods, 61, because of his voucher, he said. He found some who accepted vouchers but would show him only certain units — typically, less attractive ones. In Philadelphia, where rental rates are rising and affordable housing options are shrinking, his options were scarce…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Red-state voters look to expand Medicaid this fall, despite Trump’s enduring hostility to Obamacare, By Noam N. Levey, August 24, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Even as President Trump launches new attacks on the Affordable Care Act, voters in four deep red states are poised this fall to expand access to government Medicaid coverage through the 2010 law, often called Obamacare. Nebraska last week became the fourth state to qualify a Medicaid expansion initiative for the November ballot, giving voters there the chance to do an end-run around the state’s Republican political leaders who have fought the healthcare law for years…”
  • Thousands plead with the feds to stop Bevin’s Medicaid overhaul, By Deborah Yetter, August 28, 2018, Louisville Courier Journal: “Some people are profoundly grateful, including this Kentuckian with pancreatic disease. ‘I am so thankful for Medicaid expansion,’ the person said in comments posted on a  federal website. ‘Without it I would be dead.’ Others express anger and fear the potential loss of health coverage from Medicaid under changes proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin that include work requirements and monthly premiums for some Kentuckians…”

Cost of Living and Basic Needs

  • Many Americans struggling to get by despite strong economy, By Sarah Skidmore (AP), August 28, 2018, Chicago Sun-Times: “Despite a strong economy, about 40 percent of American families struggled to meet at least one of their basic needs last year, including paying for food, health care, housing or utilities. That’s according to an Urban Institute survey of nearly 7,600 adults that found that the difficulties were most prevalent among adults with lower incomes or health issues. But it also revealed that people from all walks of life were running into similar hardships…”
  • 40% of Americans struggle to pay for at least one basic need like food or rent, By Quentin Fottrell, August 31, 2018, MarketWatch: “Many people still struggle to pay bills — even for something as basic as food. That’s the difficult conclusion of a new report released this week by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy group based in Washington, D.C., which surveyed almost 7,600 adults last December…”
  • Cost of living increasing at fastest rate in 10 years, August 10, 2018, CBS News: “Consumer prices climbed 2.9 percent in July from a year earlier, a rate of inflation that suggests Americans are earning less than a year ago despite an otherwise solid economy. The Labor Department said Friday that the consumer price index ticked up 0.2 percent in July. Annual inflation matched the 2.9 percent pace from June, which had been the highest level since February 2012. Core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy categories, rose 0.2 percent in June and 2.4 percent from a year earlier…”

Working Poor Families – Wisconsin

  • United Way report finds poverty rise even among people with jobs, By Mike Tighe, August 28, 2018, La Crosse Tribune: “If you ask ALICE whether La Crosse County households can meet their basic needs, the answer is mixed: Increasing poverty is erasing gains, according to a United Way analysis. Half of the households in La Crosse County are struggling to make ends meet. The statistics are in the second United Way ALICE Report, which United Way of Wisconsin will release today in conjunction with chapters across the state, including Great Rivers United Way based in La Crosse…”
  • Report: Rock County’s ‘working poor’ population is growing, By Neil Johnson, August 28, 2018, Janesville Gazette: “The number of families considered to be among the ‘working poor’ in Rock County has continued to march upward, according to a new United Way report on poverty. In Rock County, 42 percent of all households were either in poverty or at risk of not being able to meet financial burdens despite having people in those households who are working…”

Environmental Hazards and Poor Communities

A leader in the war on poverty opens a new front: pollution, By Kendra Pierre-Louis, August 24, 2018, New York Times: “The air in the Shiloh Baptist Church was thick with the heat of human bodies. The crowd, a mix of black and white faces, filled the pews in what was ostensibly the black side of town, straining the capacity of this good-sized church. On the dais stood the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, draped in a black robe, a black vest and a cream stole emblazoned with the credo ‘Jesus was a poor man.’ Al Gore, the former vice president, sat behind him. Dr. Barber’s message to the community members in the church last week would have been largely recognizable to civil rights leaders of generations past, addressing issues of poverty and racism. But he and Mr. Gore were here in Greensboro to focus on another concern that many in the audience believed was just as insidious: pollution from North Carolina’s coal-powered electrical plants…”

Bail Reform – California

California Gov. Jerry Brown signs overhaul of bail system, saying now ‘rich and poor alike are treated fairly’, By Jazmine Ulloa, August 28, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “California Gov. Jerry Brown has championed legislation and ballot measures downgrading drug crimes, expanding chances of early release for prisoners and easing punishment for juvenile offenders. On Tuesday, he ushered in one of the most sweeping criminal justice reforms of his administration, signing a bill abolishing the state’s current money bail system, and replacing it with one that grants judges greater power to decide who should remain incarcerated ahead of trial…”

Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Southern US

In rural Africa, lessons for the U.S. South about eradicating poverty-related diseases, By Lyndsey Gilpin, August 30, 2018, Montgomery Advertiser: “It’s been a decade since Dr. Adamu Keana Sallau saw the last case of guinea worm in Nigeria. But he talks about the medical breakthrough as if it happened yesterday. In the early 1990s, Sallau began traveling to remote villages throughout his home country to research nearly 700,000 cases of guinea worm, a neglected tropical disease transmitted when villagers drank stagnant water contaminated with the worm’s larvae…”

Job Corps Program

$1.7 Billion federal job training program is ‘failing the students’, By Glenn Thrush, August 26, 2018, New York Times: “The North Texas Job Corps Center squats behind a chain-link fence here in a suburb north of Dallas, accessible only through a gate manned 24 hours a day by guards hired to keep out intruders — and to keep in the center’s 436 students. ‘It’s a little bit like prison,’ said Donnell Strange, 17, who joined the electrical apprenticeship program about six months ago after struggling in school back home in Mansfield, near Dallas. This is not what the founders of a flagship federal program with a $1.7 billion annual budget — an iconic Great Society program meant to prepare impoverished young people for the work force — had in mind…”