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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Category: Poverty

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…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

Dayton Daily News Series on the Achievement Gap

The Path Forward: Urgent turnaround needed as state takeover looms, By Josh Sweigart, August 26, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “The threat of a state takeover of Dayton Public Schools creates urgency to address long-unchecked problems in a district where race, poverty and a culture of failure have dragged like an anchor, erecting barriers children struggle to overcome. A Dayton Daily News investigation found a wide achievement gap between black and white students, racial disparities in discipline, chronic absenteeism, a large number of classes taught by substitutes and students who face staggering obstacles at home…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • New Jersey kids better off than most in U.S., but poverty rates vary widely by county, By Nina Feldman, August 22, 2018, WHYY: “Overall, children in New Jersey are better off than other kids around the country. About 15 percent of kids in the Garden State live in poverty, while the national average is 21 percent. That’s according to the annual Kids Count report released Tuesday that rates each county in the categories of family economics, health, education, and child safety…”
  • Percentage of uninsured kids in New Jersey reaches all-time low, By Stephanie Noda, August 22, 2018, North Jersey Record: “The rate of uninsured children in New Jersey is at an ‘all-time low,’ according a new report from a children’s advocacy group.  The 2018 New Jersey Kids Count County Rankings, which is produced by the Advocates for Children of New Jersey, reported a 32 percent drop in the number of children without health insurance between 2012 and 2016, from nearly 103,000 to just over 70,000…”

School Funding

Why school spending is so unequal, By Mike Maciag, August 2018, Governing: “The Hopatcong School District, serving a solidly middle-class borough of Sussex County, N.J., has a lot of money to work with. It spent approximately $40,000 per student in fiscal 2016 — more than any other school district in the country with at least 1,000 students. A few other New Jersey districts of similar size were spending less than a third of that. Such vast differences in education spending are common across districts, and come as debates over teacher pay and demands for more overall state support have garnered a lot of attention this year…”

Hurricane Recovery – Houston, TX

Year after Harvey, poor having toughest time recovering, By Juan A. Lozano (AP), August 23, 2018, Houston Chronicle: “Shirley Paley’s life before Hurricane Harvey was already a struggle: The 61-year-old former postal worker was raising her 17-year-old autistic grandson while dealing with a workplace injury that left her legally blind, on disability and in need of three cornea transplants. Harvey’s torrential rainfall flooded Paley’s modest home near Kashmere Gardens, one of Houston’s historically African-American neighborhoods, forcing her to live out of her SUV for more than a month and triggering severe depression and anxiety in her 12-year-old granddaughter that led to several suicide attempts. Still unable to move back home and desperate to speed up the repair process, Paley has accumulated thousands of dollars in debt from high-interest payday and car title loans…”

Low-Income Housing

  • For Americans who rely on public housing, HUD proposals strike fear, By Erika Beras, August 10, 2018, Marketplace: “Clara Malave, 50, works in the hot and loud laundry room at one of the bayfront hotels in Erie, Pennsylvania, loading linens into massive industrial washers and dryers. At $8.80 an hour, it’s grueling work. But it is work, and she’s grateful for it. Like most of the other workers here, she’s a part-timer whose hours change constantly. She only knows a week out what her schedule will be. She keeps a carefully balanced checkbook and a list of her impending expenses…”
  • As NYC public housing tenants suffer, a glimmer of hope emerges, By Henry Goldman, August 2, 2018, Bloomberg: “Lolita Miller had it all: mold, vermin, crime, stalled elevators, uncollected trash and winter days without heat or hot water. After almost half a century living in New York’s public housing, she’d come to expect the neglect and squalor in Far Rockaway’s Bayside homes. So did most of the 400,000 residents in projects owned by the money-starved New York City Housing Authority. Yet a federal program changing how rents get paid has allowed developers at Bayside to tap into $560 million in private and government funds…”
  • A nonprofit got special loans and tax breaks for low-income housing. Dealmakers collected millions in fees. And buildings deteriorated., By Joe Mahr, August 16, 2018, Chicago Tribune: “A newly formed charity came to Chicago pitching state officials on its “model” way to provide low-income housing. The Ohio-based Better Housing Foundation said it would provide safe apartments. It would help tenants get jobs and health care. And it wouldn’t evict ‘solely on the basis that the tenant is unable to pay their rent.’ Starting in early 2016, with little scrutiny, a pair of state agencies helped the nonprofit borrow tens of millions of dollars at lower interest rates and obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in property tax breaks that allowed it to rapidly buy dozens of buildings across the South Side. But a Tribune investigation has found that many residents have been left to live in deteriorating buildings…”

Low-Income Households and Utility Costs

High energy bills burden Atlanta’s low-income residents, By Anastaciah Ondieki, August 1, 2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Month after month, they come — dozens of families looking for financial assistance to keep their lights on, their air conditioning or heat running. These are the people who don’t qualify for government assistance or other local programs, said Kevin Murriel, the pastor at Cascade United Methodist Church in Fulton County. Yet, they still need help, he said, and will continue to — until some deep-seated societal and economic injustices are resolved…”

 

Child Poverty and Well-Being – New Jersey, Utah

  • NJ children face social, health barriers, report shows, by Nicole Leonard, July 31, 2018, Press of Atlantic City: “The early years of New Jersey’s youngest residents are crucial to childhood growth and development, yet some of the state’s 310,285 children under age 3 face challenges that threaten their potential to succeed and thrive, a new report has found. Advocates for Children of New Jersey’s new Babies Count report, which piggybacks on data from the organization’s Kids Count report, details health, financial, childcare, trauma and racial disparity issues that affect families and babies both in the short-term and long-term…”
  • Utah is reducing its child poverty rate, one piece of data at a time, By Renata Sago, July 30, 2018, Marketplace: “Shannon Starley and her team of case workers at Utah’s Division of Children and Family Services have a tough job. They help decide whether to remove kids from their parents’ custody. The agency investigated 21,093 cases last year. Many involved parents struggling with substance abuse. ‘A lot of mental health issues,’ Starley added. She said she has seen parents lose their kids, get them back, then lose them again…”

Low-Income Housing

  • As affordable housing crisis grows, HUD sits on the sidelines, By Glenn Thrush, July 27, 2018, New York Times: “The country is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis. Millions of low-income Americans are paying 70 percent or more of their incomes for shelter, while rents continue to rise and construction of affordable rental apartments lags far behind the need. The Trump administration’s main policy response, unveiled this spring by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development: a plan to triple rents for about 712,000 of the poorest tenants receiving federal housing aid and to loosen the cap on rents on 4.5 million households enrolled in federal voucher and public housing programs nationwide, with the goal of moving longtime tenants out of the system to make way for new ones…”
  • Afraid of “political repercussions,” HUD delayed action on crumbling public housing in Cairo, By Molly Parker, July 26, 2018, The Southern Illinoisan: “As public housing deteriorated in Illinois’ southernmost city, bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development delayed stepping in because they wanted to avoid ‘political repercussions’ and negative attention, according to a scathing audit released Thursday…”
  • Under city program, renters-turned-homeowners could become renters again, By Nikita Stewart, July 29, 2018, New York Times: “Robert Mattox was not in the position to own a home. He was raising seven children in 1980 when New York City turned his Harlem building into a cooperative. He was asked if he wanted to buy his three-bedroom apartment. The city began turning deteriorating buildings over to tenants to save their homes and to help the city in the 1970s. The effort was envisioned as a way to improve a neglected housing stock but also give New Yorkers with low and moderate incomes a financial stake in their homes…”

Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity Report

  • Ohio report ties poverty, race and geography to lifelong success, By Laura Hancock, July 25, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio children who are not ready for kindergarten have a hard time catching up over the years, with their scores in third grade reading and eighth grade math continuing to lag, according to a study released Wednesday. The report, by the education advocacy organization Groundwork Ohio, found poverty is often tied to insufficient kindergarten readiness. It also found children who are black or who live in the 32-county Appalachian region tend to more often be poor…”
  • Report: Minority, Appalachia kids at greater risk of remaining poor for life, By Catherine Candisky and Mary Beth Lane, July 26, 2018, Canton Repository: “Young children of color or who live in rural Appalachia are more at risk of starting behind — and staying behind, well into adulthood — than their more-affluent peers elsewhere in Ohio, a new report shows. Groundwork Ohio released the Ohio Early Childhood Race & Rural Equity Report 2018 on Wednesday. Shannon Jones, executive director of the nonpartisan child-advocacy organization, said it was the most-comprehensive early childhood report in the state’s history…”

Debt Collection and the Poor

  • Chicago hiked the cost of vehicle city sticker violations to boost revenue. But it’s driven more low-income, black motorists into debt., By Melissa Sanchez and Elliott Ramos, July 26, 2018, ProPublica Illinois: “During negotiations for Chicago’s 2012 budget, newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel and then-City Clerk Susana Mendoza agreed to hike the price of what was already one of the priciest tickets vehicle owners can get in the city. Citations for not having a required vehicle sticker rose from $120 to $200. The increase, approved unanimously by the City Council, was pitched by Mendoza as an alternative to raising the price of stickers as well as generating much-needed revenue from ‘scofflaws…'”
  • IRS outsources debt collection to private firms, and the poor feel the sting, watchdog charges, By Jeff Stein, July 23, 2018, Washington Post: “Private tax collectors acting on the Internal Revenue Service’s behalf have collected tax payments from more than 5,000 poor people in the past year, payments that an in-house IRS watchdog says should have been avoided. Nina E. Olson, head of the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, says a private debt collections program is not doing enough to spare people struggling to pay for food and shelter from additional drains on their income. She has also urged the IRS to stop referring to the private companies cases of individuals whose incomes put them below 250 percent of the poverty line…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

Is the war on poverty ‘a success,’ as the Trump administration proclaims?, By Alfred Lubrano, July 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Nearly 1 percent of all the people in poverty in the United States live in Philadelphia — one out of every 100 impoverished Americans. Simple math explains that stark story: Nationwide, around 40 million people are at or below the poverty line, $21,000 annual salary for a family of three. Here, in a city of 1.5 million people where the poverty rate is 26 percent, the highest among the country’s biggest cities, there are nearly 400,000 residents living in poverty. That’s why it surprised people in Philadelphia to hear the Trump administration declare this month: ‘Our War on Poverty is largely over and a success…’”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

  • The Trump administration has a new argument for dismantling the social safety net: It worked., By Jeff Stein and Tracy Jan, July 14, 2018, Washington Post: “Republicans for years have proclaimed the federal government’s decades-old War on Poverty a failure. ‘Americans are no better off today than they were before the War on Poverty began in 1964,’ House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote in his 2016 plan to dramatically scale back the federal safety net. Now the Trump administration is pitching a new message on anti-poverty programs, saying efforts that Republicans had long condemned as ineffective have already worked. The White House in a report this week declared the War on Poverty ‘largely over and a success,’ arguing that few Americans are truly poor — only about 3 percent of the population — and that the booming economy is the best path upward for those who remain in poverty…”
  • 7,000 people fail to meet Arkansas Medicaid work requirement, By Andrew DeMillo, July 13, 2018, Associated Press: “More than 7,000 people on Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion didn’t meet a requirement that they report at least 80 hours of work in June and face the threat of losing their coverage if they fail to comply sometime before the end of this year, state officials said Friday…”