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

Category: Poverty

Racial Inequality

Extensive data shows punishing reach of racism for black boys, By Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce and Kevin Quealy, March 19, 2018, New York Times: “Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children. White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households…”

Welfare Reform

  • Would new limits on food stamps help or hurt children? Missouri lawmakers disagree, By Tessa Weinberg, March 14, 2018, Kansas City Star: “As Republican lawmakers push bills to tighten access to the state’s welfare programs, their critics worry one group of Missourians could be hurt the most: low-income children. A handful of bills would put greater restrictions on people receiving aid through federal welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, or food stamps…”
  • Missouri House supports bill adding welfare program restrictions, By Suman Naishadham, March 15, 2018, Columbia Missourian: “House members approved new restrictions and penalties for individuals who use two welfare programs on Thursday, despite impassioned arguments the move will create unfair financial hardships for those who rely on the funding…”
  • Trump’s vow on welfare faces an uncertain future, By Glenn Thrush, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “In his State of the Union speech two months ago, President Trump vowed to end welfare as he defined it, heralding a plan to force recipients off federal housing vouchers, food assistance and Medicaid if they were not willing to do ‘a hard day’s work.’ Days before the speech, as part of the plan, several federal departments took steps to impose the stricter work requirements on able-bodied adults receiving noncash aid. The move could result in the loss of subsistence benefits for as many as four million poor, single adults over the next few years, experts say. But Mr. Trump’s effort faces an uncertain future…”

Bail Reform – Ohio

Cuyahoga County task force seeks sweeping bail reforms, By Peter Krouse, March 16, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cuyahoga County should adopt sweeping judicial reforms that would dramatically change the way bail is set and give poor defendants a better shot at justice, according to a much-awaited report by a task force of local judges, lawyers and legal experts.  Today’s release of the report follows more than 18 months of reporting by cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer in Justice for All, a series examining how the region’s bail systems dispense unequal justice, needlessly and unfairly jailing some suspects simply because they can’t afford to pay for their freedom…”

Medicaid and Dental Care – Wisconsin

  • For those on Medicaid, it can be a struggle to find dental care in the Twin Ports, By Brady Slater, March 3, 2018, Duluth News Tribune: “Zymrie Bekteshi is doing the best she can in the world. She’s a single mother raising a boy and girl, both under the age of 10. She sews for a local company serving the aviation industry. Her employer lets her work from home. ‘Work from home is good,’ she said. ‘I have nobody to help me, no family if kids get sick. So they give me a machine to work with in my home.’ Even with the job she’s held for 11 years, she described herself as ‘low-income.’ Not long ago, Bekteshi, of Duluth, experienced one of the risks concomitant with living near the poverty line: trouble finding a dentist for her kids…”
  • Wisconsin pilot program aims to increase access to dental care for low-income children, By Shamane Mills, February 26, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Dental care for low-income children has been a problem in Wisconsin for years. One reason is that parents can’t find dentists who will accept Medicaid, known in Wisconsin as BadgerCare. To help address this gap, the state is paying some dentists who take Medicaid patients more to see if it will improve access to care. The Enhanced Dental Reimbursement Pilot Program began in October 2016 and includes Brown, Marathon, Racine and Polk counties…”
  • Dentists ask for more funding for treating patients with Medicaid, By Shamane Mills, February 27, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Medicaid is one of the biggest cost drivers in the state budget, but dentists say they’re getting less than 1 percent of that money. They’re asking the state to pay them more for taking on patients who get insurance through Medicaid. In an attempt to address the gap in dental care for low-income children across Wisconsin, the state began a pilot program that does just that…”
  • Dentists: Slights in funding, respect at the root of Wisconsin’s dental care disparity, By Shamane Mills, February 27, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Dentists will tell you they deal with a lot of neglect. They often see patients who put off flossing or brushing, or let cavities sit unfilled. And like a tooth problem that gets ignored for too long, some Wisconsin dentists say state officials neglect their sector of care, slighting the industry with what they consider inadequate state funding which ultimately makes it harder for their patients to get treatment…”

School Funding – Baltimore, MD

Free lunch program unintentionally cost some Baltimore schools thousands in federal funding, By Talia Richman, March 7, 2018, Baltimore Sun: “When Baltimore’s public school district joined a universal free lunch program three years ago, the city celebrated. Now every student in the district, regardless of income, could get healthy, wholesome food each day, courtesy of federal taxpayers. But in an unintended consequence, the move has cost some of the city’s high-poverty schools hundreds of thousands of dollars in other federal funding — losses that have led principals to cut staff and programs from some of the buildings that need them most…”

Debt Collection and the Poor

  • Debtors’ prison: ACLU report details ‘criminalization of private debt’, By Jon Schuppe, February 21, 2018, NBC News: “Americans’ reliance on household debt ─ and poor people’s struggles to pay it off ─ has fueled a collection industry that forces many of them into jail, a practice that critics call a misuse of the criminal justice system…”
  • How Chicago ticket debt sends black motorists into bankruptcy, By Melissa Sanchez and Sandhya Kambhampati, February 27, 2018, ProPublica: “By last summer, Laqueanda Reneau felt like she had finally gotten her life on track. A single mother who had gotten pregnant in high school, she supported her family with a series of jobs at coffee shops, restaurants and clothing stores until she landed a position she loved as a community organizer on Chicago’s West Side. At the same time, she was working her way toward a degree in public health at DePaul University. But one large barrier stood in her way: $6,700 in unpaid tickets, late fines and impound fees…”

Cash Bail System

  • What happened when New Jersey stopped relying on cash bail, By Maddie Hanna, February 16, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “One year into New Jersey’s nationally watched overhaul of its bail system, the state’s pretrial jail population has dropped 20 percent as courts have all but stopped setting cash bail…”
  • Philadelphia DA drops cash bail for ‘low-level’ crimes, By Anthony Izaguirre (AP), February 21, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philadelphia’s top prosecutor said Wednesday his office will stop jailing people who cannot afford to pay cash bail in minor criminal cases, affirming the commitment of the country’s fifth-largest city to a national movement that argues the practice targets poor Americans…”

Public Defender System – Missouri

Some Missouri lawmakers want to privatize the public defender system. For one county, it starts March 1., By Sky Chadde, February 20, 2018, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Next month, when poor people are charged with crimes in one southern Missouri county, a private attorney will represent them — even if they can’t afford it. That’s because the Missouri State Public Defender has decided to completely privatize Texas County. Starting March 1, if a defendant is deemed indigent, judges there will contract with private lawyers, with the state footing the bill, according to Michael Barrett, director for the public defender office…”

Bail Reform

  • New Jersey claims bail-reform a success, cites huge drop in jail population, By Peter Krouse, February 13, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “One year after sweeping criminal-justice reforms became law in New Jersey, the state has “successfully transformed an antiquated money bail system into a modern risk-based system,” the state’s courts reported Tuesday…”
  • Could Dallas’ bail system be deemed an ‘instrument of oppression’ after Houston ruling?, By Naomi Martin, February 16, 2018, Dallas News: “On the one hand, it was a kick in the gut.  But it was also a roadmap. That’s how Dallas County officials see a much-anticipated ruling by a federal appeals court on bail reform. For years, county leaders and judges have been in talks to overhaul the criminal bail system to make it easier for poor arrestees who aren’t dangerous to be released from jail while they await trial…”

Budget Proposal and Safety Net Programs

  • Trump’s budget hits poor Americans the hardest, By Tracy Jan, Caitlin Dewey and Jeff Stein, February 12, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump proposed a budget Monday that hits the poorest Americans the hardest, slashing billions of dollars in food stamps, health insurance and federal housing subsidies while pushing legislation to institute broad work requirements for families receiving housing vouchers, expanding on moves by some states to require recipients of Medicaid and food stamps to work…”
  • Trump wants to end states’ power to make food stamps more accessible during recessions, By J.B. Wogan, February 14, 2018, Governing: “The Trump administration, which often stresses the need for states to have more flexibility, wants to give them less when it comes to food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)…”
  • New study lauds food stamps’ anti-poverty impact as Trump weighs alternative, By Steve Goldstein, February 15, 2018, MarketWatch: “As the Trump administration weighs slashing and dramatically reshaping the food-stamp program, a new study finds the program dramatically cuts the poverty rate. The Urban Institute released a study on what’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is better known as food stamps…”
  • Trump’s proposal to end heating assistance called dangerous for rural Minnesotans, seniors, By Maya Rao and Jim Spencer, February 14, 2018, Star Tribune: “In northwestern Minnesota, Corann Fladhammer has relied on $1,400 in federal assistance to heat her home as temperatures plunged in recent months. Without it, she said, it would be difficult for seniors like her to stay in their homes…”

Housing Subsidies

Revised federal housing subsidies offer mobility to low-income residents, By Carey L.  Biron, February 13, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “Tiara Moore, a public school bus aide, has been living with her uncle and young daughter in a high-crime, high-poverty part of Chicago – and she’s wanted to move. Her top choice is DuPage County, just outside Chicago and closer to where her mother lives, but moving has not been easy because the size of the housing assistance she receives from the federal government has limited her choices…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In school funding fight, Connecticut weighs uncertain next steps, By J. Brian Charles, February 7, 2018, Governing: “Connecticut is the richest state in the country. And like all affluent states, Connecticut pours billions into education each year. Only the District of Columbia and two other states (Alaska and New York) spend more per student. But for all the money Connecticut spends, it can’t seem to close the gap between students in the richest districts in the state (places like Greenwich, Westport, Avon and Farmington) and the poorest districts in the largest cities like Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport…”

Suburban Poverty and Access to Health Care

Upsurge of suburban poor discover health care’s nowhere land, By Elaine Korry, February 9, 2018, Washington Post: “The promise of cheaper housing brought Shari Castaneda to Palmdale, Calif., in northern Los Angeles County, about nine years ago. The single mom with five kids had been struggling to pay the bills. ‘I kept hearing that the rent was a lot cheaper out here, so I moved,’ she said. But when she developed health problems — losing her balance and falling — Castaneda found fewer care options in her new town. Unable to find local specialty care, she traveled nearly 65 miles to a public hospital in Los Angeles, where doctors discovered a tumor on her spine…”

Bail Reform

  • Atlanta mayor signs new ordinance changing cash bail system in a nod to the needy, By Rhonda Cook, February 5, 2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed an ordinance Tuesday that eliminates the Municipal Court’s cash bond requirement for some low-level offenders who otherwise would sit in jail because they can’t afford bail…”
  • Delaware strengthens bail reform movement, By J. B. Wogan, January 29, 2018, Governing: “Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill late last week that places the state among a small group that has moved away from cash bail. ‘You have poor people who pose no risk of flight or no risk to the community incarcerated on a full-time basis before trial,’ says Delaware state Sen. Bryan Townsend, a co-sponsor of the bill. ‘That’s not at all what the criminal justice system is supposed to be about.’ On any given day, jails across the country house some 700,000 people — many of whom are there because they can’t afford to pay bail…”

Kids Count Report – Indiana

  • 2018 Kids Count: Ind. ranks 28th overall, 41st for infant deaths, By Jill Sheridan, February 5, 2018, Indiana Public Media: “The 24th annual Indiana Youth Institute’s Kids Count Data Book was released Monday. The data tool measures the well-being of Hoosier children. Overall Indiana ranks 28th nationally, but near the bottom in several categories…”
  • Achievement gap still present in Indiana schools, By Caele Pemberton, February 4, 2018, Kokomo Tribune: “There is still a wide achievement gap in Indiana schools. This is according to data compiled by the Indiana Youth Institute, which each year releases data on Hoosier children. The 2018 Kids Count Data Book, supported and coordinated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, looks at a range of factors affecting childhood well-being in Indiana, including economic, health, safety and education factors…”
  • Opioid use breaking up families, By Matthew LeBlanc, February 5, 2018, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: “The opioid epidemic is expanding to affect the children of people who use the drugs, according to the Indiana Youth Institute. The 2018 Kids Count Data Book released today by the Indianapolis nonprofit says more children are being removed from homes where parents are drug users…”

Access to Legal Aid

Justice Dept. office to make legal aid more accessible is quietly closed, By Katie Benner, February 1, 2018, New York Times: “The Justice Department has effectively shuttered an Obama-era office dedicated to making legal aid accessible to all citizens, according to two people familiar with the situation. The division, the Office for Access to Justice, began as an initiative in 2010 under former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to increase and improve legal resources for indigent litigants in civil, criminal and tribal courts. Though the head of the office reports directly to the associate attorney general, it never gained much visibility within the Justice Department because it did not oversee a large staff of prosecutors…”

School Funding – Baltimore, MD

How Baltimore schools determine what constitutes poverty among students, families, By Talia Richman, January 26, 2018, Baltimore Sun: “The Baltimore school board voted this week to revamp the district’s funding formula, choosing to provide extra dollars to schools on the basis of student poverty rather than standardized test scores. So how does Baltimore City Public Schools decide who qualifies as poor? Districts across the country have historically used the percentage of students who qualify for free-and-reduced priced meals, or FARMs, as a proxy for poverty. But given Baltimore’s large number of qualifying students — 86.5 percent received free or discounted meals in the 2014-15 school year — the district began offering free meals for all students through a federal program that eliminates the need for families to fill out the cumbersome FARMs application…”

Cash Bail System – Dallas, TX

Poor people locked up longer than the rich, violating Constitution in Dallas, lawsuit alleges, By Cary Aspinwall and Naomi Martin, January 21, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “The day that Dallas County leaders have been dreading for years finally arrived on Sunday: four nonprofits filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the jail’s cash bail system unfairly harms poor people and violates the Texas and U.S. constitutions. The lawsuit, which officials feared due to its potentially hefty price tag, alleges Dallas County’s cash bail system fails to consider a jailed defendant’s ability to pay to post bond, resulting in disparate treatment in the criminal justice system…”

Kids Count Report – New Mexico

  • NM ranked 49th in child well-being, By Rick Nathanson, January 15, 2018, Albuquerque Journal: “A persistently high child poverty rate in New Mexico continues to offset slight improvements in some indicators of child well-being, according to the 2017 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book, just released by New Mexico Voices for Children and timed for the opening day of the state Legislature.  The state rates 49th overall in child well-being, with only Mississippi faring worse…”
  • Quality of life for N.M. children, teens takes tumble, By Robert Nott, January 16, 2018, Santa Fe New Mexican: “Just days after a national study ranking New Mexico as the worst state to raise a family, a new report says that more of the state’s children are living in poverty, more children are going without health insurance and more teens and children are living in single-parent households than a year ago…”

Bail Reform – New York

Cuomo, in bid to help poor, proposes ending cash bail for minor crimes, By James C. McKinley Jr., January 2, 2018, New York Times: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to ask the New York State Legislature to eliminate cash bail for many crimes and to speed up the disclosure of evidence in trials as part of a package of proposals intended make the criminal justice system fairer for indigent defendants, his aides said…”