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

Tag: California

Eviction

  • The money owed in eviction cases is often small, but the consequences can be huge, By Christopher Huffaker and Kate Giammarise, September 6, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “In District Judge Robert Ravenstahl’s North Side courtroom, stacks of manila folders are piled beside the judge. An American flag stands in the corner. There are several water stains on the ceiling. On this Friday afternoon, he will hear nearly 30 eviction cases in about 90 minutes. Many of the cases this afternoon are tenants from nearby Northview Heights, a large public housing complex on Pittsburgh’s North Side…”
  • New law gives California tenants more time to fight evictions, By Aurora Percannella, September 7, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Tenants in California will get more time to fight evictions under a new law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week…”

Bail Reform – California

California Gov. Jerry Brown signs overhaul of bail system, saying now ‘rich and poor alike are treated fairly’, By Jazmine Ulloa, August 28, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “California Gov. Jerry Brown has championed legislation and ballot measures downgrading drug crimes, expanding chances of early release for prisoners and easing punishment for juvenile offenders. On Tuesday, he ushered in one of the most sweeping criminal justice reforms of his administration, signing a bill abolishing the state’s current money bail system, and replacing it with one that grants judges greater power to decide who should remain incarcerated ahead of trial…”

Bail Reform – California

Proposal to radically overhaul California’s bail system advances in Legislature, By Jazmine Ulloa, August 16, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “California could soon end money bail, but some of the criminal justice groups who worked toward that goal aren’t celebrating. A closely-watched bill to overhaul the state’s bail system advanced out of a key fiscal committee on Thursday with broad changes that would virtually eliminate the payment of money as a condition for release from jail. That should have been a roaring victory for legislators and supporters who have long decried a system that they say unfairly punishes the poor. But the amendments also hand over more control to local courts and probation offices to decide who should remain incarcerated, a move former sponsors of the legislation contend could lead to indefinite detention…”

Criminal Justice Reform

  • ‘I’m somewhere bettering myself’: prison reform unlike any other in America, By David Kidd, August 2018, Governing: “Terry Pullins is on his second tour in the North Dakota prison system. He’s also done time in California. Since he never got farther than the fifth grade, the 40-year-old Pullins has spent nearly as much time behind bars as he did in school. But last December brought the most acute punishment he has ever suffered: Pullins lost his daughter in a car accident. Most inmates in most prisons endure that sort of grief alone. But Pullins is at the Missouri River Correctional Center near Bismarck, N.D. This is a prison designed as much as possible to imitate life on the outside…”
  • Phone calls from New York City jails will soon be free, By Zoe Greenberg, August 6, 2018, New York Times: “People who end up in jail in New York City will now be able to use the phones there for free, after Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill into law on Monday that will eliminate the charge. The city had been collecting about $5 million per year from calls made by incarcerated people and their families…”
  • Bail reform bill considered by California legislature, By Marissa Gerchick, Fiona Kelliher and Emily Lemmerman, August 8, 2018, Napa Valley Register: “In late 1987, Sheri Costa drove her three young children from Alameda County to Fresno County to see her husband in jail. He had been arrested more than 30 days earlier in Fresno on charges of drug possession with intent to sell and distribute, and the price of his freedom was set: $100,000…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

Homelessness and Housing – California

California housing crisis: Working but on the brink of homelessness, By Kirk Siegler and Linda Wang, April 16, 2018, National Public Radio: “Family photos, Bible verse decals and wedding mementos adorn Jimmy Mejia and Patty Garrido’s living room walls in South Los Angeles. Despite their efforts, the decorations can’t mask the unpatched holes in the ceiling and the roaches that crawl around their kitchen. In one corner, there’s a hole where the drywall caved in after a recent storm…”

Child Care Subsidies – California

Thousands of families are eligible for child care subsidies. Actually getting them? Good luck., By Priska Neely, March 27, 2018, Southern California Public Radio: “When her son Jeremiah was born, Bertha Terrones spent weeks calling centers to find care. Eventually, after months passed, she went to visit in person. ‘You feel helpless, like, you’re watching and can’t do anything about it because there’s no progress,’ said Terrones, in Spanish. ‘The programs aren’t reaching the cities where these services are needed most.’  Terrones, who lives in Cudahy, in southeast L.A. County, spent more than a year on a waitlist. Tens of thousands of families across L.A. County face similar experiences. While 51 percent of babies and toddlers in the county are eligible for state-subsidized child care programs, only 6 percent of these children are served, according to new analysis by Advancement Project California, released on Tuesday…”

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…”

Los Angeles Times Series on Homelessness

Without a Home, series homepage, Los Angeles Times: “They’re part of the Los Angeles streetscape, as familiar as the swaying palm trees and idling traffic, living under freeways, alongside riverbeds and on canyon hillsides. The mentally ill, the drug addicts, the economically disadvantaged, many with their life belongings in a backpack or shopping cart. In this ongoing series, Without a Home, The Times is examining the crisis of homelessness in our region…”

Homelessness and Affordable Housing Shortages

  • Into the trees: Rural housing shortages push some into forests, parking lots, By Alden Woods, December 3, 2017, Arizona Republic: “This place provided nothing, so Doug Stewart tried to prepare for everything. He filled his Jeep with blankets for the cold and tents for the rain, ham-and-cheese sandwiches for the hungry and a full tank of gas to take people out of Gila County. Then he drove to Walmart. He rolled into the parking lot, past the people who held cardboard signs at each entrance, past a dozen people who slept in their cars every night. Even more people camped in the woods behind the store, and into the trees walked Stewart, 46, to find Theresa…”
  • Homeless population rises, driven by West Coast affordable-housing crisis, By Pam Fessler, December 6, 2017, National Public Radio: “Homelessness in the United States went up slightly this year for the first time since 2010. During a one-night count in January, 553,742 people were found living outside or in shelters across the country, a 0.7 percent increase from the year before, according to new data released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday…”
  • America’s homeless population rises for first time in years, By Christopher Weber and Geoff Mulvihill (AP), December 6, 2017, US News & World Report: “The nation’s homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities…”

Homelessness on the West Coast

Homelessness soars on West Coast as cities struggle to cope, Associated Press, November 6, 2017, CNBC: “In a park in the middle of a leafy, bohemian neighborhood where homes list for close to $1 million, a tractor’s massive claw scooped up the refuse of the homeless — mattresses, tents, wooden frames, a wicker chair, an outdoor propane heater. Workers in masks and steel-shanked boots plucked used needles and mounds of waste from the underbrush. Just a day before, this corner of Ravenna Park was an illegal home for the down and out, one of 400 such encampments that have popped up in Seattle’s parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. Now, as police and social workers approached, some of the dispossessed scurried away, vanishing into a metropolis that is struggling to cope with an enormous wave of homelessness. That struggle is not Seattle’s alone…”

Bail System – California

California’s bail system is ‘unsafe and unfair,’ study finds, By Eric Westervelt, October 25, 2017, National Public Radio: “The national effort to get states to move away from a bail system based on money — something detractors call unjust and antiquated — got a big boost this week: A yearlong study backed by California’s chief justice recommended money bail be abolished and replaced with a system that includes robust safety assessments and expanded pretrial services. Calling the state’s commercial bail system ‘unsafe and unfair,’ a working group created by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye argues that the state’s bail system bases a defendant’s liberty too much on his or her finances, rather than an assessment of whether the defendant is a flight or safety risk…”

Section 8 Housing – Los Angeles, CA

Up to 600,000 expected to apply when L.A. reopens Section 8 housing list this month after 13 years, By Doug Smith, October 1, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Lately, home for Tamara Meeks has been the screened-in back porch of a tiny house behind an apartment building near 66th Street and Compton Avenue. At night she slips into the kitchen to sleep on a mover’s blanket while her two dogs sleep under a car seat on the porch. Her arrangement, with the parents of a friend’s friend, is the latest of a string of temporary arrangements Meeks has made during the 13 years she’s been waiting for a Section 8 housing voucher…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

  • UC Irvine opens expansive food pantry as more college students struggle with hunger, By Teresa Watanabe, September 27, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “UC Irvine student Ernest Devin Rankin grew up in Anaheim on one meal a day as his disabled parents, who had six children, struggled to stretch food stamps and disability payments. When he got to college, he could only afford the cheapest dining plan, offering 100 meals a quarter. When those meals ran out, he asked friends for help or survived on $1 fast-food burgers, tacos and burritos…”
  • As many students nationwide grapple with hunger, California offers food assistance, By Hannah Harris Green, September 29, 2017, Marketplace: “Students all over the country are back on campus, which means anxiety about new roommates and classes. But new research tells us that a lot of those students also worry about getting enough to eat.  Emaline Friedman is one such student. She shops at the Pavilions grocery store at Melrose and Vine in Los Angeles, because it’s located close to where she lives, and offers a lot of fresh produce and organic food. She’s in Los Angeles taking care of an elderly relative while she writes her psychology dissertation at the University of West Georgia. She relies on California’s food assistance program, called CalFresh…”

Rural Homelessness – California

California’s homelessness crisis moves to the country, By Kevin Fagan and Alison Graham, September 8, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “California housing costs are spiraling so high that they are pushing the state’s homelessness crisis into places it’s never been before — sparsely populated rural counties. A Chronicle analysis of biennial homeless counts taken early this year across California shows that the sharpest increases occurred not in San Francisco and other urban centers but in out-of-the-way places such as the thickly forested Sierra Nevada and the dusty flatlands and low hills of the northern Sacramento Valley…”

Poverty Measurement – California

Why does California have nation’s highest poverty level?, By Dan Walters, August 17, 2017, Modesto Bee: “With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state. So says the U.S. Census Bureau in its ‘supplemental measure’ of poverty, which is more accurate than the traditional measure because it takes into account not only income, but living costs…”

Extended Foster Care – California

Youths in foster system get care until age 21, but struggles persist, By Nina Agrawal, August 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Eric Usher dreams of working as an audio producer, driving his friends around in a Maserati and living by the beach. But most importantly, Usher says, he looks forward to being independent. ‘I won’t have any system support, and I’ll be living on my own,’ is how he describes it. For now, Usher must content himself with a spare ground-floor apartment a few miles from downtown L.A…”

SNAP – California, Pennsylvania

  • As economy improves, fewer Californians use food stamps, By Phillip Reese, August 2, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “For 10 years, the number of California residents on food stamps increased, ultimately doubling to more than 4.4 million by late 2015. That trend has reversed in the last year, thanks largely to an improving economy and low unemployment. About 400,000 fewer Californians take food stamps today than during late 2015, according to the latest state and federal data…”
  • About 30,000 fewer Pa. residents get food stamps after work requirement waiver lifted, By Heather Stauffer, August 1, 2017, LancasterOnline: “A year after federal work requirements went into effect for a small portion of Pennsylvania food stamp recipients, about a quarter of them are no longer covered by the program. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation among able-bodied adults without dependents dropped from 120,783 statewide in March 2016 to 90,661 in March 2017, according to state records…”