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

Category: Race and Immigration

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…”

Food Deserts and Food Swamps – Dallas, TX

On top of food deserts, Dallas’ Hispanic and black populations also flooded with food swamps, By Obed Manuel, August 16, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “Maria Amaya gazes at the Texas wildflowers growing in the butterfly-shaped garden at Edwin J. Kiest Elementary, fearless of the hefty mason bees buzzing by her. The scorching Texas sun shines down on her this morning. Beads of sweat roll down her forehead. Even when school’s out, Amaya and her six-year-old daughter, Sophia, work this community garden three to four days a week, tending to the herbs, Texas wildflowers and vegetables the school grows. When it’s time to harvest, Amaya takes home a small share to prepare healthy meals for her husband and three kids, something that helps her stretch the family’s single-income budget. But Amaya said she knows that she’s one of the lucky parents with the time to do this at the predominantly Hispanic school in east Dallas, an area that, on top of being identified as a food desert, is littered with what researchers have recently coined food swamps — areas where fast food options and convenience stores outnumber healthy food options…”

Immigrants and Public Benefit Programs

  • How Trump’s plan for immigrants on welfare could hurt a million New Yorkers, By Liz Robbins, August 13, 2018, New York Times: “Buying fresh vegetables for children, heating an apartment, using Medicaid to manage diabetes. Those are all legal means of support provided by the government for low-income residents of the United States. But a new rule in the works from the Trump administration would make it difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants who use those benefits to obtain green cards…”
  • As Trump considers penalties, Seattle-area immigrants turn down public benefits they’re entitled to claim, By Nina Shapiro, August 12, 2018, Seattle Times: “A hotel housekeeper with a working adult son, Hudith received food stamps that weren’t worth a lot — about $50 a month. But she was nervous. Though she was entitled to food stamps as a legal permanent resident from Mexico, and her three children were all born in the U.S., she heard from a friend that getting the benefit could be counted against her if she applied for citizenship. And she was planning to do just that. So she disenrolled…”

Public Assistance Programs

  • The outsize hold of the word ‘welfare’ on the public imagination, By Emily Badger, August 6, 2018, New York Times: “The federal program known as welfare delivers cash assistance to less than 1 percent of the United States population. This is far smaller than the share of those aided by food stamps, or by other government support like disability benefits, unemployment insurance, college grants and medical benefits. But none of those other social programs have captured the public imagination or pervaded American politics as thoroughly as welfare, a piece of the safety net that helps about 2.5 million people. Its outsize influence has remained — and could soon become larger — even as the program itself has shrunk to its smallest size…”
  • What we know about Trump’s proposal to punish immigrants who receive public benefits, By Nora Gámez Torres and Brenda Medina, August 9, 2018, Miami Herald: “Reports that the Trump administration is preparing to deny U.S. citizenship to immigrants who receive any sort of income-based public assistance have unleashed a wave of concern in South Florida. But the plan has not been approved yet, the published reports are confusing and it could be months before any change related to public benefits and immigration could be approved and take effect…”
  • Plan to punish immigrants for using welfare could boost G.O.P. candidates, By Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon, August 7, 2018, New York Times: “The Trump administration is advancing a plan to punish legal immigrants for accepting food stamps, public housing and other government benefits they are entitled to — a strategy that appeals to conservatives and could help to galvanize Republican voters before the midterm elections…”
  • Sacramento welfare investigators track drivers to find fraud. Privacy group raises red flags, By Kellen Browning, August 10, 2018, Sacramento Bee: “Police in recent years have tapped into a vast database of license plate images to track drivers and solve crimes. Few people know, however, that Sacramento County welfare fraud investigators have been using that same data since 2016…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Changes to food stamps could deny benefits to thousands, By Alfred Lubrano, July 23,2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “For Ceyeissha McKim, it’s all pretty simple: ‘If I lose food stamps, I don’t survive,’ said McKim, 26, a mother of three and a professional caregiver who works 25 to 30 hours a week in West Grove, Chester County. Her eligibility for food stamps could one day disappear, thanks to proposed changes in the benefits program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP…”
  • Food-stamp use is still at recession-era levels despite job gains, By Reade Pickert and Alan Bjerga, July 19. 2018, Chicago Tribune: “Judging by the number of Americans on food stamps, it doesn’t feel like one of the best job markets in almost a half century and the second-longest economic expansion on record. Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, fell to 39.6 million in April, the most recent government data show. That’s down from a record 47.8 million in 2012, but as a share of the population it’s just back to where it was as the economy emerged from the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression…”
  • Why crackdown fears may keep legal immigrants from food stamps, By Teresa Wiltz, July 24, 2018, Stateline: “It’s that time of the week — food pantry day — and before the doors even open at the Spanish Catholic Center, the patrons begin queueing up, lugging roller carts and empty grocery bags, the line stretching out onto the hot sidewalk. Immigrants all, they hail from the Congo and Costa Rica, from Nicaragua and El Salvador, from Togo and Vietnam. Most are seniors. And all of them, they say, are afraid…”

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…”

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…”

Fair Housing

  • Pursuing desegregation in the Trump era, By Teresa Wiltz, April 11, 2018, Stateline: “Fifty years ago, just a week after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and cities went up in flames — President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act. For the first time, housing discrimination was illegal. The law also did something else: It required cities to ‘affirmatively further fair housing’ — that is, to actively eliminate segregation in their communities. Civil rights advocates hoped the law would be the key to finally ending the extreme racial segregation around the country. But enforcement of the law was sporadic at best, and a half-century later, segregation remains deeply entrenched in the United States. In fact, some of the nation’s most diverse cities — those with large non-white populations — are among the most segregated…”
  • A house you can buy, but never own, By Alana Semuels, April 10, 2018, The Atlantic: “It was not until a few years after he moved in that Zachary Anderson realized that he was not, in fact, the owner of the house he thought he’d purchased. Anderson had already spent tens of thousands of dollars repairing a hole in the roof, replacing a cracked sidewalk, and fixing the ceilings of the small two-bedroom home where he lives in southwest Atlanta. He was trying to get a reduction in his property taxes when his brother, who was helping him with his taxes, looked up the property in public records and found that the owner of the home was actually listed as Harbour Portfolio VII LP…”

Maternal and Infant Mortality

  • Why America’s black mothers and babies are in a life-or-death crisis, By Linda Villarosa, April 11, 2018, New York Times Magazine: “When Simone Landrum felt tired and both nauseated and ravenous at the same time in the spring of 2016, she recognized the signs of pregnancy. Her beloved grandmother died earlier that year, and Landrum felt a sense of divine order when her doctor confirmed on Muma’s birthday that she was carrying a girl. She decided she would name her daughter Harmony. ‘I pictured myself teaching my daughter to sing,’ says Landrum, now 23, who lives in New Orleans. ‘It was something I thought we could do together.’  But Landrum, who was the mother of two young sons, noticed something different about this pregnancy as it progressed…”
  • Report: Texas’ maternal deaths were dramatically lower in 2012 under new methodology, By Marissa Evans, April 9, 2018, Texas Tribune: “The number of Texas women who died from pregnancy complications in 2012 is being cut by more than half through a new state method for counting and confirming maternal deaths — which made Texas the subject of national news coverage over its high death rate. Several of the state’s top health experts released a report in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Monday  showing that by using the new method, the number of women who died dropped from 147 to 56…”

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…”

Minority Homeownership – Rock County, WI

Minorities are only a sliver of Rock County mortgage applicants, data shows, By Ashley McCallum, March 19, 2018, Janesville Gazette: “Wanda Sloan grew up in a family of five kids and two adults in apartment No. 21 of the Fairbanks Flats in Beloit. The flats were built by Fairbanks Morse in 1917 to house black individuals and families recruited from the south to work at the engine manufacturing firm, Sloan said. The firm planned to build the flats on the east side of the city, Sloan said, but built on the west side to keep black people segregated from the whites. Nearly 100 years after Fairbanks Flats were built and 50 years after the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Sloan says not much has changed for people of color in regards to housing. Data compiled by The Center of Investigative Journalism illustrate her concerns…”

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…”

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…”

Disparities in School Suspensions

  • Minnesota students of color and those with disabilities disproportionately suspended, study finds, By Kelly Smith, March 2, 2018, Star Tribune: “Students of color and those with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from Minnesota schools than their white peers or students without disabilities, a new state study reveals. The analysis, released Friday by the state Department of Human Rights, showed that students of color made up 66 percent of all school suspensions and expulsions in the 2015-16 school year, even though students of color only make up 31 percent of the student population in Minnesota…”
  • Disparities continue in suspensions of black students in California, By Jill Tucker, February 20, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: “Each day, nearly 400 black students across California are suspended from school for a behavioral infraction, typically sent home to serve their sentence. That adds up to 68,000 days of school missed by African American students, most of them boys…”

Racial Inequality and Discrimination

  • Modern redlining: Racial disparities in lending persist in Dayton, By Katie Wedell, February 24, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Dayton is one of 61 metro areas in the U.S. where minorities are denied mortgage loans at higher rates than their white counterparts — a modern-day system of redlining that keeps minority neighborhoods from recovery, officials say…”
  • Report: No progress for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years, By Tracy Jan, February 26, 2018, Washington Post: “Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, ‘one black, one white — separate and unequal.’ Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified ‘white racism’ as the key cause of ‘pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,’ there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute…”

Black Unemployment

Lowest ever black jobless rate is still twice that of whites, By Natalie Kitroeff and Ben Casselman, February 23, 2018, New York Times: “President Trump celebrated the milestone on Twitter and in his State of the Union address. The unemployment rate for black Americans had hit its lowest point on record, a sign that the recovery was at last reaching groups that had been left behind. But the achievement was bittersweet: Black joblessness was still roughly twice the rate for whites…”

Racial Achievement Gap

How a popular college-prep program is narrowing achievement gap for black, Latino students, By Beau Yarbrough, February 2, 2018, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin: “Minority students lag behind white students in college graduation rates. But the AVID program, common in Southern California schools, helps narrow the achievement gap, according to a new report. The news comes even as schools are starting to expand who’s offered a spot in the program…”

Criminal Justice Reform – Georgia

Number of African-Americans sent to Georgia prisons hits historic lows, By Bill Rankin, January 25, 2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The number of African-Americans being locked up in Georgia’s prison system has dropped to historic lows, reflecting a monumental shift in the way Georgia is punishing nonviolent offenders. While prison admissions have dropped almost 19 percent in the past eight years, the incarceration of black inmates fell by 30 percent. And the number of black inmates entering the prison system last year was at its lowest level in decades, Department of Corrections records show…”

Child Welfare System – Arizona

Arizona’s foster care boards don’t look like their communities. Here’s why that matters, By Maria Polletta, November 12, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Experts have long recognized inequalities in America’s child-welfare system: When kids share identical circumstances except for race, black and Native American children enter foster care more often, spend more time in the system and wait longer to be adopted. In an attempt to ensure fair treatment for kids taken from their parents, Arizona lawmakers decades ago mandated that Foster Care Review Boards — which help decide the fates of children in foster care — mirror the races, ethnicities and income levels of the communities they serve.  They don’t…”