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

Category: Poverty

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…”

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…”

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..?'”

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…”

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…”

Criminal Justice System

  • Justice reforms take hold, the inmate population plummets, and Philadelphia closes a notorious jail, By Tom Jackman, April 23, 2018, Washington Post: “The American criminal justice system’s gradual realization that too many people are in jail needlessly just got a large, visible boost from the city of Philadelphia. The city announced last week that it would close its notorious 91-year-old House of Correction jail because reforms begun two years ago have dropped the city’s jail population by 33 percent, without causing any increase in crime or chaos…”
  • Efforts to regulate bail companies have some unlikely allies: bail agents, By Jazmine Ulloa, April 24, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “In recent years, the seriousness and number of official complaints related to the bail industry in California have significantly increased while bail agents and bounty hunters face limited oversight, putting vulnerable communities at risk of fraud, embezzlement and other forms of victimization. This year, as Gov. Jerry Brown has pledged to work with lawmakers in a push to overhaul how courts assign defendants bail and to better regulate bail agencies, even some who profit from the court practice admit it’s time for regulation. These bail and bail-recovery agents could become unlikely allies, saying they advocate for change because they’ve seen the system abuse the poor…”
  • Mississippi defendants spend months in jail awaiting trial, By Jeff Amy (AP), April 24, 2018, Houston Chronicle: “Jerry Sanders has been sitting in a jail cell on a relatively minor charge of methamphetamine possession for more than a year — longer than the sentence he could get if he’s convicted. And with no money to post bail or hire his own lawyer, he may be sitting there for weeks or months more…”

Ohio Poverty Report

  • Medicaid expansion has helped, but poverty persists in Ohio, By Bill Bush, April 13, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “The rising cost of child care and college, combined with the raging opioid crisis, continue to have a major impact on poverty in Ohio, a new report says. ‘These problems travel through society like a cancer,’ said Philip Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, which publishes the annual State of Poverty in Ohio…”
  • Ohio poverty report suggests federal data is outdated, By Kayla Beard, April 25, 2018, Athens News: “How many more days until your next paycheck? How many more minutes until your next meal? For many in Athens County, as residents of one of the most poverty-stricken regions in the state, the answers to these questions are heavy with fear and uncertainty…”

Concentrated Poverty in US Cities

  • Metro Detroit’s poverty gets worse despite city’s comeback, By Frank Witsil, April 26, 2018, Detroit Free Press: “A new look at the poorest urban areas in America, despite economic growth and prosperity, puts metro Detroit near the top of the list. The report — from 24/7 Wall St., a New York-based financial news organization — ranks the Detroit area at No. 5 in a list of impoverished communities. It also raises the question: During such good economic times, why are so many getting left behind..?”
  • Despite overall sustained GDP growth in US, some cities still hit hard by extreme poverty, By Samuel Stebbins, April 23, 2018, USA Today: “By several measures, the United States is in a period of historic economic growth and prosperity. Major stock market indices have hit record highs, unemployment is at a near two-decade low, and we are in the midst of what may prove to be the longest period of sustained GDP growth in U.S. history. However, amid all the good news, the poverty rate is on the rise, and several U.S. cities are becoming increasingly geographically and socially segregated by income…”

Welfare Reform

  • Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work rules grow, family faces the hard reality, By Robert Samuels, April 23, 2018, Northwest Herald: “The shock absorbers in James Howlett’s Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare. The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee’s north side. That’s when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance…”
  • Farm bill creates latest push for ‘welfare reform’, By Jessica Wehrman, April 22, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “Republicans’ next big push for ‘welfare reform’ comes courtesy of a bill designed to pay for the nation’s farm programs. The federal farm bill, which expires on Oct. 1, is aimed at providing federal support to farmers who may need it during tough times. But roughly 80 percent of the bill goes to federal food assistance, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That typically makes the bill’s passage a bipartisan affair, with urban and rural lawmakers joining forces to both help feed the poor and to keep farmers facing financial difficulty from being driven out of business entirely. But this year’s bill has been different. Instead, to Democrats’ fury, House Republicans see the farm bill as an opportunity to take a crack at revamping SNAP, formerly known as food stamps…”

Rural Poverty – Michigan

Poverty’s grip chokes rural Michigan, By John Counts and Paula Gardner, April 20, 2018, MLive: “Northern Michigan may boast multi-million-dollar beachside mansions and upscale second homes, but hiding in the cracks of that image are residents who are struggling to get food on the table. As the Great Recession fades in Michigan’s largest cities, its hold on small towns and villages remains stronger than statewide data suggests…”

Voting Rights and Registration

  • Automatic voter registration goes beyond the DMV, By J.B. Wogan, April 17, 2018, Governing: “New Jersey on Tuesday became the 12th state, plus the District of Columbia, to enact an automatic voter registration law, which is intended to increase participation in elections. While automatic voter registration (AVR) is itself a new trend — first adopted in Oregon in 2015 — New Jersey’s law represents a new twist: It allows the practice to extend beyond the DMV…”
  • This New Jersey law is blocking African Americans from voting in shocking numbers, By Samantha Melamed, April 12, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Thirty years in prison can teach you patience. That’s a good thing for Ronald Pierce, who was paroled last year, as he’s likely in for a long fight.  Pierce, a 59-year-old North Jersey man, accepts that he’s on parole and will be for the rest of his life. But one thing he can’t accept: He’s also being denied the right to vote…”
  • New York Governor to restore voting rights to parolees, By Rebecca Beitsch, April 18, 2018, Stateline: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans Wednesday to restore voting rights to 35,000 people in his state on parole. State law currently prohibits people from voting if they are serving parole for a felony conviction…”

Kids Count Report – Michigan

  • Kids Count Report: Poverty down, health and education remain concerns, By Erin Dietzer, April 17, 2018, Holland Sentinel: “The good news in the 2018 Michigan Kids Count Report is that poverty is finally seeing a drop. The bad news is that a majority of child well-being indicators have stagnated or worsened statewide since 2010, with widening disparities by race, ethnicity and income…”
  • Report: Rate of black kids living in poverty dips, April 17, 2018, Detroit News: “While Michigan continues to recover from the Great Recession, one group has lagged behind. The number of black children living in poverty has dropped but still remains alarmingly high, according to the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book. It has fallen from 48 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2016…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump executive order strengthens work requirements for neediest Americans, By Tracy Jan, April 10, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law, By Jason Stein, April 10, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force…”

Kids Count Report – Florida

Fewer kids in Florida live in poverty but state ranks 40 overall for child well-being, By Liz Freeman, April 5, 2018, Naples Daily News: “Kids can’t get ahead when they are behind with learning and thriving. New Florida Kids Count data shows modest improvement statewide for children getting out of poverty and for students graduating on time, but more needs to be done to improve their future, according to program officials…”

Bail System

When bail feels less like freedom, more like extortion, By Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Shaila Dewan, March 31, 2018, New York Times: “Most bail bond agents make it their business to get their clients to court. But when Ronald Egana showed up at the criminal courthouse in New Orleans, he was surprised to find that his bondsman wanted to stop him. A bounty hunter was waiting at the courthouse metal detector to intercept Mr. Egana and haul him to the bond company office, he said. The reason: The bondsman wanted to get paid. Mr. Egana ended up in handcuffs, missing his court appearance while the agency got his mother on the phone and demanded more than $1,500 in overdue payments, according to a lawsuit. It was not the first time Mr. Egana had been held captive by the bond company, he said, nor would it be the last. Each time, his friends or family was forced to pay more to get him released, he said…”

Home Loan Discrimination

Redlining was banned 50 years ago. It’s still hurting minorities today., By Tracy Jan, March 28, 2018, Washington Post: “Racial discrimination in mortgage lending in the 1930s shaped the demographic and wealth patterns of American communities today, a new study shows, with 3 out of 4 neighborhoods ‘redlined’ on government maps 80 years ago continuing to struggle economically. The study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, released Wednesday, shows that the vast majority of neighborhoods marked ‘hazardous’ in red ink on maps drawn by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corp. from 1935 to 1939 are today much more likely than other areas to comprise lower-income, minority residents…”

Legal Aid Funding – Kentucky

Kentucky could become third state not to fund legal aid, By Adam Beam (AP), March 27, 2018, Ledger-Enquirer: “Edna Bland had just adopted a child, her father was dying and her husband was having risky heart surgery when a mortgage company tried to take her house in 2009. Because Bland had not been charged with a crime, she was not guaranteed the right to an attorney. A judge ruled against her, and the mortgage company tried to put a lock on her house…”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

Colorado kids doing better in many areas, but face problems with suicide, school funding, infant mortality, report says, By Monte Whaley, March 22, 2018, Denver Post: “Colorado kids are doing better on several fronts than they were 25 years ago, including in areas of public health, early development and education, according to a report released Thursday. In 2016, Colorado’s infant mortality rate was nearly half of what it was in 1991, the teen birth rate plummeted by nearly 70 percent and the uninsured rate for kids reached a record low…”