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

Tag: Cities

Low-Income Households and Transportation

  • Transit as a lifeline: Low-income metro Atlantans eager for expansion, By Tyler Estep, May 3, 2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The good news: Lauren Dixon had a job interview. The tricky part: It was at the Cobb Galleria, some 25 miles from the single mother’s current home at Rainbow Village, a Gwinnett County nonprofit that provides housing and other assistance to families in need. Thankfully, Dixon was able to find a babysitter and a ride to the closest MARTA station in Doraville that morning. From there, she took a train to the Arts Center station in Atlanta, then caught a CobbLinc bus to take her where she needed to go…”
  • More poorer residents are driving cars, presenting new issues for transit agencies, By Daniel C. Vock, April 9, 2018, Governing: “The good news is that more low-income Americans report they have access to vehicles than they did a decade ago, before the Great Recession. Only 20 percent of adults living in poverty in 2016 reported that they had no access to a vehicle. That’s down from 22 percent in 2006, according to a Governing analysis of U.S. Census data. Meanwhile, the access rates among all Americans was virtually the same (6.6 percent) between those two years…”

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…”

Eviction in US Cities

In 83 million eviction records, a sweeping and intimate new look at housing in America, By Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui, April 7, 2018, New York Times: “Before the first hearings on the morning docket, the line starts to clog the lobby of the John Marshall Courthouse. No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. “Put it in your car,” the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby.  This courthouse handles every eviction in Richmond, a city with one of the highest eviction rates in the country, according to new data covering dozens of states and compiled by a team led by the Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond…”

Public Transit System and the Homeless – Los Angeles

As waves of homeless descend onto trains, L.A. tries a new strategy: social workers on the subway, By Laura J. Nelson, April 6, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “The early morning commuters stepping off the Metro escalator paid little attention to the 10 people huddled under blankets and curled up in corners at the Hollywood and Vine station. John Gant, 60, lay sprawled on the tile floor, his hoodie drawn over his face. When three social workers stopped to ask if he wanted help, he nodded.  Over hot coffee and pages of paperwork, Gant, who had been homeless for years, called his mother to share the news. He cracked a rare smile, saying: ‘They’re trying to find me a place to sleep.’  The Metro system has been a refuge for homeless people for decades. But as Los Angeles County’s homeless population has surged, reaching more than 58,000 people last year, the sanitation and safety problems on trains and buses are approaching what officials and riders say are crisis levels…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • How many homeless live on streets? The number jumped 23% this year, By Tasha Tsiaperas, March 21, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “The number of homeless people in Dallas and Collin counties has increased again, up 9 percent from last year, according to data released Wednesday from the annual homeless census.  There were 4,140 homeless people counted in the two counties on one night in January, up from 3,789 counted last year. There was also a 23 percent increase in the unsheltered, those who don’t seek housing in shelters and live on the streets…”
  • Denver sold bonds to reduce the human and financial costs of homelessness. The results so far are promising., By Jennifer Brown, March 19, 2018, Denver Post: “They found Robert Bischoff by sharing his photo with a Sinclair gas station clerk who often sold him cigarettes. They met Alexander Jacob after sending his mom a letter, even though he almost didn’t respond because he figured it was ‘trash mail.’ The two men and more than 250 more people — all homeless and high-frequency users of jail, detox and emergency departments at taxpayer expense — have been tracked down by Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Mental Health Center of Denver outreach workers and given apartments through Denver’s social-impact bond program. About two years into the five-year program, researchers have noted a dramatic drop in jail days…”

Affordable Housing

  • Need a basic 1 BR apartment on minimum wage? You’ll have to work — and work — to afford it, By Linda Robertson, March 15, 2018, Miami Herald: “For renters who need it the most, affordable housing is as scarce as ever in Miami. A person earning minimum wage would have to work 94.5 hours per week to make enough money to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report on the shortage of affordable housing for the quarter of U.S. renters classified as low income…”
  • Las Vegas worst area for affordable housing for poor, report says, By Michael Scott Davidson, March 13, 2018, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “For the second year in a row, Las Vegas was named the worst U.S. metropolitan area for providing affordable rental housing for its poorest families. Also, for at least the fourth year in a row, Nevada ranked last among the states, according to an annual report published Tuesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition…”

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…”

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 in Los Angeles, CA

L.A.’s homelessness surged 75% in six years. Here’s why the crisis has been decades in the making, By Gale Holland, February 1, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Some of the poorest people in the city spend their days in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall, napping on flattened cardboard boxes. On any given day, as many as 20 people take to the City Hall lawn, across the street from LAPD headquarters. They’re there to ‘escape the madness’ in downtown streets, a 53-year-old homeless man named Lazarus said last week. At night, they fan out to doorways or deserted plazas to wait for daybreak. The growth of a homeless day camp at the halls of civic power speaks to the breadth of Los Angeles’ burgeoning homelessness problem…”

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…”

City Minimum Wages

  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce sues Minneapolis over $15 minimum wage, By Emma Nelson, November 10, 2017, Star Tribune: “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is taking the city of Minneapolis to court over the $15 minimum wage, saying the ordinance conflicts with existing state law…”
  • San Diego has fined businesses $60,000 over minimum wage violations, By David Garrick, November 10, 2017, San Diego Union-Tribune: “Investigators enforcing San Diego’s minimum wage law have handled more than 500 complaints against 70 businesses and levied nearly $60,000 in fines since the law took effect last year. City officials say those numbers will increase as outreach efforts make more people aware that San Diego’s hourly minimum wage of $11.50 is higher than the state minimum of $10 for small businesses and $10.50 for large ones…”

Seattle Times Series on Homelessness

Project Homeless, homepage, Seattle Times: “The Seattle Times is launching Project Homeless, a community-funded initiative to explore the causes of homelessness, explain what the region is doing about the crisis and spotlight potential solutions. Today, we examine one of the obstacles to moving people into stable housing…”

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…”

Legal Counsel for Eviction

How free legal help can prevent evictions, By Teresa Wiltz, October 27, 2017, Stateline: “In much of the country, more and more renters are devoting larger and larger portions of their income to rent. For low-income families, this can push them further into poverty and put them at risk for being evicted — and becoming homeless. Evictions destabilize families, forcing them into poorer neighborhoods with higher crime rates. And evictions cost cities money: After a family is evicted, a city can end up losing thousands of dollars in property taxes and unpaid utility bills, and may have to bear increased costs from homeless shelters and hospitals…”

Poverty Rate – Flint, MI

  • Flint is nation’s poorest city, based on latest Census data, By Julie Mack, September 19, 2017, mlive.com: “Flint has the nation’s highest poverty rate among U.S. cities with at least 65,000 residents, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Detroit was No. 4 on the list, after Bloomington, Ind., and Reading, Pa. The Census released its estimate of 2016 poverty rates last week for 599 municipalities with a population of at least 65,000…”
  • Here’s how Flint went from boom town to nation’s highest poverty rate, By Dominic Adams, September 21, 2017, mlive.com: “Almost half of the people in the city of Flint are living in poverty. In a city that once boasted the highest median income in the state thanks to General Motors, new U.S. Census data shows today there are nearly 43,000 people living under the poverty level, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists as $11,880 for a single individual…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

St. Louis gave minimum-wage workers a raise. On Monday, it was taken away, By Melissa Etehad, August 28, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Ontario Pope has long struggled to stretch his McDonald’s paycheck to cover the basics and provide for his four young children. But even after more than nine years with the fast-food chain, the 31-year-old St. Louis man said he still lived with relatives or in motels, the fear of becoming homeless never far from his thoughts.  Pope was hopeful when the city passed an ordinance in May that raised the minimum wage from the state’s $7.70 to $10…”

Housing and Eviction

  • ‘Here for the eviction’: More renters forced from homes as affordable-housing crisis deepens, By Alden Woods, July 16, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Ken Sumner stepped through the debris of another unexpected move. He weaved around the two men backing a truck through their friend’s barren yard, past a speaker system and stacks of framed photographs, moving toward the front door for his fifth eviction of the day. The evicted man waited alone…”
  • Councilman proposes legal aid for tenants in Baltimore facing evictions, By Doug Donovan, July 17, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “A Baltimore city councilman introduced legislation Monday aimed at establishing a fund that would help low-income tenants facing eviction and other housing problems to hire attorneys, an effort that cities across the nation are exploring or have implemented…”

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • In many states, a long-awaited raise for low-paid workers, By Tim Henderson, July 14, 2017, Stateline: “In 44 states, jobs paying roughly $30,000 were among those that got the largest salary bumps since 2010 — evidence that the steady but modest economic growth of the past half-decade may be reaching people at the bottom of the income ladder…”
  • St. Louis businesses pressured to keep $10 minimum wage, By Jim Salter (AP), July 13, 2017, Washington Post: “The $10 per hour minimum wage law in St. Louis will be short-lived, but an effort launching Friday will encourage and pressure businesses to honor the higher wage even if state law doesn’t require it…”

Income-Based Water Bills – Philadelphia, PA

For low-income residents, Philadelphia unveiling income-based water bills, By Tricia L. Nadolny, June 19, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Philadelphia Water Department next month will launch a low-income assistance program that offers payments starting at $12 per month and is open even to those who haven’t fallen behind on their bills. For those who have, that debt would be frozen indefinitely…”

Minimum Wage

  • New minimum wage study has fodder for both sides of debate, By David Nicklaus, June 2, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “From St. Louis to Jefferson City to Washington, debates over the minimum wage center on one question: Does it kill jobs? Proponents of a higher minimum paint a picture of workers happily spending their bigger paychecks, while opponents tell a tale about former workers joining the unemployment line. Dozens of studies have attempted to settle the question, but definitive answers don’t come easily…”
  • Passage of Illinois minimum wage bill generates worker optimism, employer anxiety, By Lauren Zumbach, Greg Trotter and Gail MarksJarvis, June 1, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Illinois moved a step closer to raising its minimum wage this week, a development that raised hope among some low-wage workers and concern from businesses worried about ballooning payrolls.  The Illinois Senate approved a bill late Wednesday — just a day after the House passed the same measure — that would gradually raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years. The measure now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who called the bill ‘extreme’ in a Thursday interview…”