Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

IRP Poverty Dispatch

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

Rural Hospitals and Obstetric Care

It’s 4 A.M. The baby’s coming. But the hospital is 100 miles away., By Jack Healy, July 17, 2018, New York Times: “A few hours after the only hospital in town shut its doors forever, Kela Abernathy bolted awake at 4:30 a.m., screaming in pain. Oh God, she remembered thinking, it’s the twins. They were not due for another two months. But the contractions seizing Ms. Abernathy’s lower back early that June morning told her that her son and daughter were coming. Now. Ms. Abernathy, 21, staggered out of bed and yelled for her mother, Lynn, who had been lying awake on the living-room couch. They grabbed a few bags, scooped up Ms. Abernathy’s 2-year-old son and were soon hurtling across this poor patch of southeast Missouri in their Pontiac Bonneville, racing for help. The old hospital used to be around the corner. Now, her new doctor and hospital were nearly 100 miles away…”

Incarceration and Childhood Trauma – Wisconsin

Cycles of incarceration hit African Americans, children especially hard, By Dean Mosiman, July 14, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “When people commit certain crimes or pose an extreme danger to others, most agree, they need to be locked up. Incarceration can also concentrate the mind, forcing offenders to confront the alcohol and drug dependencies that often led to their crimes, allow them to address anger problems and further their education. But it’s also true that incarceration can compound the effect of childhood trauma, make some problems worse, separate families, and renew cycles of trauma, making everyone less safe…”

Juvenile Life Sentencing – Philadelphia, PA

Why are juvenile lifers from Philly getting radically different sentences from those in the rest of Pennsylvania?, By Samantha Melamed, July 10, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Judge Rea Boylan called a brief recess at her courtroom in the Bucks County Criminal Justice Center so the lawyers could consult actuarial tables on the current life expectancy of an American male: 76.1 years. Then, a lawyer for Richard Mazeffa, who has been locked up 32 years for shooting his grandparents when he was a teenager, urged Boylan to give him some chance at release from prison before he reaches that age…”

Bike-Share Program – New York City

Citi Bike expands discount memberships to reach more low-income New Yorkers, By Zoe Greenberg, July 17, 2018, New York Times: “Citi Bike has long struggled to expand its bike-share program to reach more low-income New Yorkers. On Tuesday, the city announced that residents who receive food stamps can purchase a Citi Bike membership for $5 a month, a third of the standard $14.95 monthly rate. That discount has been offered since 2013 to public housing residents who signed a yearlong commitment. An annual contract, however, is no longer required for the discounted rate…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

  • Mississippi Medicaid adds back beneficiary protections in work requirement proposal, By Anna Wolfe, July 6, 2018, Mississippi Clarion Ledger: “In an attempt to avoid pushback states have received on Medicaid work requirements, Mississippi reinstated beneficiary protections into its waiver proposal. A Medicaid waiver is a state request to the federal government to deviate from various program requirements. Mississippi is one of several states that has asked the Trump administration for permission to impose work requirements on low-income, able-bodied caretakers otherwise eligible for Medicaid…”
  • As Arkansas ushers in new Trump-era Medicaid rules, thousands fear losing benefits, Reuters, July 10, 2018, CNBC: “Gregory Tyrone Bryant left his last stable job at a meatpacking factory to fight a cocaine addiction eight years ago. When he returned to the workforce a year later, his options were limited: mostly temporary jobs without healthcare benefits. Since 2014, he’s relied on medical coverage offered under Arkansas’ expanded Medicaid program for low-income households…”
  • Food stamp work requirements would force states to provide job training. Many aren’t ready., By Teresa Wiltz, July 10, 2018, Stateline: “The House version of the food-stamp-to-work program Congress is considering this week would require recipients to enroll in job training programs if they can’t find work — but in many states, those programs won’t be fully available for at least another decade. This will have a big impact on the people who depend on food stamps, some 42 million in 2017. The average beneficiary receives about $125 a month, and a family of four must have an annual income of about $25,000 or less to qualify. Many are already working…”
  • Declaring war on poverty ‘largely over,’ White House urges work requirements for aid, By Jim Tankersley and Margot Sanger-Katz, July 12, 2018, New York Times: “President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers declared on Thursday that America’s long-running war on poverty ‘is largely over and a success,’ as it made the case for imposing new work requirements on Americans who benefit from federal safety net programs. The report contends that millions of Americans have become overly reliant on government help — and less self-sufficient — and provided data intended to support the administration’s goal of tying public benefit programs more closely to work…”

Youth Unemployment – Milwaukee

Aldermen unveil new app to help combat unemployment in Milwaukee, By Ahmed Elbenni, July 12, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “For young people searching for employment, the job hunt just got a little easier. DirectConnectMKE, a workforce development social media platform that went online Thursday morning, aims to facilitate the job search by connecting potential employees with employers and with each other…”

SNAP and Farmers Markets

Some food stamp recipients may soon lose access to farmers market benefits, By Jane Black and Leah Douglas, July 9, 2018, Washington Post: “On Saturday morning, Ludy Arnold arrived at the H Street farmers market in Northeast Washington just minutes after it opened. Arnold is 70 and lives in nearby public housing for seniors. She comes every week, and has for the past four years, to buy fruit, greens and summer tomatoes with benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. That allowance is boosted by matching dollars, provided by a nonprofit group, so that Arnold has $20 to spend each week. ‘I only have my Social Security,’ she said. ‘So this is how I get my food. I depend on it.’ But technical difficulties may put an end to Arnold’s weekly shopping here…”

Poverty in Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphians feel squeezed as U.S. economy seems to hum. That’s a poverty problem, By Alfred Lubrano, July 9, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “You’ve got your wallet on your mind, and your mind on your wallet. At least, that’s what you told us when you voted on which story idea should launch Curious Philly, our new question-and-response forum that allows you to submit questions about your community and have our journalists seek the answers. This is what you asked us to look into first: ‘Despite seeing improvement in the national economy, what we hear about the average income for Philadelphians is that it’s still down. Why is that..?'”

Low-Wage Work

  • As economy hums, fewer workers make minimum wage, By Laurent Belsie, July 6, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “It’s ‘flip flop frenzy’ week at the Dollar Tree here on Valley Street, which is celebrating another milestone. Eight months after coming on board, the manager finally has a full complement of workers in place. He has been training the final two associates this week. Starting pay: $8 an hour – 75 cents above the federal minimum wage. It’s almost impossible to find anyone in Manchester, N.H., paying the $7.25 minimum…”
  • 7 fast-food chains to end ‘no poach’ deals that lock down low-wage workers, By Rachel Abrams, July 12, 2018, New York Times: “Seven major restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and Jimmy John’s, agreed to drop a hiring practice that critics say may be keeping tens of thousands of fast-food workers locked in low-wage jobs…”

Extreme Poverty

India is no longer home to the largest number of poor people in the world. Nigeria is., By Joanna Slater, July 10, 2018, Washington Post: “It is a distinction that no country wants: the place with the most people living in extreme poverty. For decades, India remained stubbornly in the top spot, a reflection of its huge population and its enduring struggle against poverty. Now, new estimates indicate that Nigeria has knocked India out of that position, part of a profound shift taking place in the geography of the world’s poorest people..”

Low-Income Households and Utility Costs

Energy drain: Low-income households typically pay a higher percentage of income for utilities, By Kate Giammarise, July 9, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Retiree William M. Williams lives on Susquehanna Street in Homewood, in a three-bedroom house. ‘This house gets real cold in the winter,’ said Mr. Williams, who retired after working as a maintenance man and ironworker. ‘You can feel the drafts coming through the doorways. … More than likely, I need some insulation’ in the attic, he said. On this recent June day, there are several people in his home — from the basement to the attic and everywhere in between — testing safety and energy efficiency measures…”

April 2018 US Unemployment Rate

  • Unemployment rate falls to 3.9 percent as U.S. economy adds 164,000 jobs, By Danielle Paquette, May 4, 2018, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added 164,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent — the lowest point since 2000, federal economists reported Friday…”
  • U.S. unemployment drops to 3.9 percent — lowest since 2000, By Bill Chappell, May 4, 2018, National Public Radio: “The U.S. economy had a net gain of 164,000 jobs last month. Unemployment — which had stood at 4.1 percent since October 2017 — fell to 3.9 percent, according to Friday’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The last time the U.S. jobless percentage sat below 4 percent was in 2000, when unemployment stayed at 3.9 percent for the final four months of the year…”

Foster Care System

  • This new federal law will change foster care as we know it, By Teresa Wiltz, May 2, 2018, Stateline: “A new federal law, propelled by the belief that children in difficult homes nearly always fare best with their parents, effectively blows up the nation’s troubled foster care system. Few outside child welfare circles paid any mind to the law, which was tucked inside a massive spending bill President Donald Trump signed in February. But it will force states to overhaul their foster care systems by changing the rules for how they can spend their annual $8 billion in federal funds for child abuse prevention…”
  • Judges wrestle over whether Texas mistreats foster kids so badly, it tramples their rights, By Robert T. Garrett, April 30, 2018, Dallas News: “A panel of three judges appeared divided Monday on whether Texas has breached the U.S. Constitution in how it treats foster children — and if so, what should be done about it. A top assistant to Attorney General Ken Paxton and a Houston lawyer who’s the lead counsel in a class action suit on behalf of nearly 11,000 children in long-term foster care clashed for an hour at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Their argument was over whether judges should embrace or reject U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack’s 2015 ruling that the state’s system is ‘broken’ because it subjects already vulnerable youths to mayhem and harm and that remedial orders must be implemented…”

Low-Income Women’s Health Program – Texas

Texas health program served more low-income women, but improvement since funding cuts is unclear, By Jackie Wang, April 27, 2018, Dallas News: “A new report shows more people enrolled in a health program for low-income women in 2017, but it doesn’t show if the numbers are an improvement over the years before funding was cut. According to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission report published Thursday, Healthy Texas Women increased its total number of clients served from 70,336 in 2016 to 122,406 in 2017. The Family Planning Program increased its clients from 38,404 in 2016 to 96,990 in 2017. Overall, Texas served 29 percent more women in one year…”

Families and the Opioid Crisis

  • Keeley and the Vial, By Rich Lord, April 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Keeley Ashbaugh puts one hand on the arm of the couch, another on the electric fireplace, and pushes up with her thin arms so that her feet are inches off the floor. And then, because 8-year-olds don’t stay still, she swings her feet back, forward, back, forward, all the while babbling about a relative’s kitten, which is, oddly, named Puppy…”
  • Opioids swamping child welfare system, By Rich Lord, April 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “First came an anonymous tip that a young girl was living in a building with no utilities. When police arrived at the boarded-up apartment on East Warrington Avenue, in Allentown, they saw no sign that anyone was inside, and no clear way in. A half-hour later on that September morning last year, though, another call reported an overdose at that address. Medics busted in, and revived Connie Hartwick, 46, from a heroin overdose, according to a police affidavit…”
  • In rural areas hit hard by opioids, a new source of hope, By Jen Fifield, April 30, 2018, Stateline: “For people addicted to opioids, the first time in detox isn’t necessarily the last. For Brian Taylor, the second time wasn’t the last, either — nor was the third, fourth or fifth. The sixth time, though, was different. It has been nearly 17 months since Taylor, 33, walked out of his last treatment at the Withdrawal Management Center in Harrington, Delaware, and he hasn’t used drugs since. If the detox center hadn’t been so accessible — just 20 miles from where he was living, in the small town of Seaford — he said he may have lost his children, his family and even his life…”

Low-Income Households and Transportation

  • Transit as a lifeline: Low-income metro Atlantans eager for expansion, By Tyler Estep, May 3, 2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The good news: Lauren Dixon had a job interview. The tricky part: It was at the Cobb Galleria, some 25 miles from the single mother’s current home at Rainbow Village, a Gwinnett County nonprofit that provides housing and other assistance to families in need. Thankfully, Dixon was able to find a babysitter and a ride to the closest MARTA station in Doraville that morning. From there, she took a train to the Arts Center station in Atlanta, then caught a CobbLinc bus to take her where she needed to go…”
  • More poorer residents are driving cars, presenting new issues for transit agencies, By Daniel C. Vock, April 9, 2018, Governing: “The good news is that more low-income Americans report they have access to vehicles than they did a decade ago, before the Great Recession. Only 20 percent of adults living in poverty in 2016 reported that they had no access to a vehicle. That’s down from 22 percent in 2006, according to a Governing analysis of U.S. Census data. Meanwhile, the access rates among all Americans was virtually the same (6.6 percent) between those two years…”

Kids Count Report – Delaware

Study: Almost half of Delaware children experience trauma, stress, By Meredith Newman, May 1, 2018, News Journal: “Almost half of Delaware children experience some type of traumatic or stressful moment growing up that could influence a child’s overall health, according to a new study.  The annual Kids Count report, released Tuesday, found that 48 percent of kids in Delaware experience one or more adverse childhood experiences, slightly higher than that the national average of 46 percent…”

Medicaid Work Requirements – Ohio, Alaska

  • Ohio closer to work requirements for Medicaid: What’s really going on, By Kaitlin Schroeder, May 2, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Ohio is a step closer to forcing some Medicaid recipients to get jobs if they receive the government assistance. The Ohio Department of Medicaid on Monday said it had officially submitted its request to create the work requirements for those covered through the expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program that covers residents with low incomes or disabilities…”
  • State analysts say requiring Medicaid recipients to work won’t save money, By Andrew Kitchenman, May 2, 2018, Alaska Public Media: “An analysis by state officials finds that requiring people who receive Medicaid to work won’t save the state money. That’s because the state would have to pay people to help residents to find work, and to check that they’re complying with a requirement…”

SNAP Participation – California

Why millions of Californians eligible for food stamps don’t get them, By Anna Gorman and Harriet Rowan, May 1, 2018, National Public Radio: “Millions of low-income Californians eligible for food stamps are not receiving the benefit, earning the state one of the lowest rankings in the nation for its participation in the program. Just three states — Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming — have lower rates of participation, according to the latest available federal data released this year. Meanwhile, California is among the leaders on enrollment in Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, which also serves people living in low-income households…”