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

Tag: Illinois

Public Housing – East St. Louis, IL

Ben Carson declared mission accomplished in East St. Louis — where public housing is still a disaster., By Molly Parker, August 8, 2018, The Southern Illinoisan: “The city’s administrative building was decorated for a festive affair when U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson arrived here last September. An Americana themed banner draped the back of a raised stage. Red, white and blue balloons floated in the foreground. ‘This is really an exciting day,’ Carson told a crowd of a few dozen city and community leaders. ‘It is a day of transition and a day of progress.’ In October 1985, HUD officials arrived here unannounced and seized control of the East St. Louis Housing Authority, citing poor living conditions and fraud. Carson was in town to return it to local control…”

SNAP Eligibility System – Illinois

Food stamp benefits disrupted for thousands as state launches new eligibility system, By Greg Trotter, December 18, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Tens of thousands of Illinois households aren’t receiving federal food stamp benefits leading up to the holidays because of problems with a state computer system. In 2013, the state’s Department of Human Services began rolling out a new computer system to administer entitlement benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, more commonly known as SNAP or food stamps…”

Minimum Wage – Chicago, IL

Chicago raised its minimum wage two years ago, but some still earn less. Here’s why., By Nereida Moreno and Greg Trotter, December 1, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Maria Leon, a single mother of three and longtime Gage Park resident, says she worked for years in two Chicago restaurants for less than the city’s minimum wage. Last year, she sued the restaurants, which have the same owner, alleging they were violating city, state and federal wage laws. The two sides reached a settlement, but Leon believes it’s important to speak up on the matter…”

Kids Count Report – Illinois

Report: For Illinois youth, future success tied to education funding, By Maudlyne Ihejirika, October 13, 2017, Chicago Sun-Times: “An annual tracking of child well-being finds huge gaps statewide in educational access and achievement that spans birth through college, and disproportionally affects low-income and minority children…”

Rural Poverty – Illinois

Rural poverty in Illinois met with concern, community aid, By Nat Williams and Jeff DeYoung, August 11, 2017, Southern Illinoisan: “Poverty isn’t particular about geography; it affects people everywhere. But in Illinois, rural residents may have a more difficult path out of economic stagnation. Recovery from the Great Recession has been slower in rural communities compared to their urban counterparts…”

Bail System – Illinois

Rauner signs law to change rules for paying cash to get out of jail, By Kim Geiger, June 9, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Low-level offenders who have been arrested and can’t come up with enough money to get out of jail can get a rehearing of their bail amount, under a plan signed into law Friday by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner…”

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…”

Public Housing – Cairo, IL

Their public housing at the end of its life, residents ask: What now?, By Monica Davey, May 17, 2017, New York Times: “Residents hear mice rustling in the walls at night. Some occupants leave ovens on in the winter, their doors perched open, because furnaces fail. Ceilings droop from water damage, mold creeps across walls, and roaches scramble out of refrigerators. So when federal authorities finally deemed two public housing developments here in the southernmost tip of Illinois unacceptable and uninhabitable, it felt like vindication of what residents had been saying for ages. But then came the solution: an order that everyone must vacate…”

Job Searching and the Unemployed – Illinois

More jobless Illinoisans are giving up the job search, study finds, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, May 10, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Though people often focus on unemployment rates as a measure of economic health, another telling data point is how many people are so discouraged with the job search that they’re dropping out of the labor force altogether. A newly released survey found good news: Fewer unemployed Americans are giving up looking for work. But that’s not the case in Illinois, where more people seem to be throwing up their hands…”

Youth Unemployment – Chicago, IL

Chicago tackles youth unemployment as it wrestles with its consequences, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, September 1, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Margo Strotter, who runs a busy sandwich shop in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, makes it a point to hire people with ‘blemishes.’  But young people? She sighs and shakes her head.  They often lack ‘the fundamental stuff’ — arriving on time, ironing their shirts, communicating well, taking direction — she said. She doesn’t have time to train workers in the basics, and worries she’s not alone.  ‘We are going to wind up with a whole group of people in their 40s and 50s who can’t function,’ said Strotter, owner of Ain’t She Sweet Cafe.  As Chicago tackles what some have termed a crisis of youth joblessness, it must reckon with the consequences of a failure to invest in its low-income neighborhoods and the people who live there. There aren’t enough jobs, and the young people vying for them are frequently woefully unprepared because of gaps in their schooling and upbringing. The system has pushed them to the back of the hiring line…”

Unemployment Benefits – Illinois

State: No unemployment benefits without posting resume, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, July 13, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “People filing for unemployment insurance in Illinois will no longer be able to receive benefits unless they post a resume to the state’s job search site.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced it is stepping up enforcement of an existing legal requirement that individuals actively seek employment to be eligible for unemployment benefits…”

Summer Meal Programs

Efforts to feed thousands of low-income children barely make a dent in child hunger, By Elisa Crouch, July 24, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “More than 1.1 million children in Missouri and Illinois qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. But when school’s out, the vast majority of them go hungry. It’s a problem that has prompted a number of school districts, public libraries and social service agencies to set up summer feeding sites so that children can be guaranteed at least one or two meals a day. Thousands of children have benefited…”

Medicaid Expansion – Illinois

In Illinois, Medicaid expansion sign-ups double predictions, By Carla K. Johnson (AP), July 20, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Illinois is among a dozen states where the number of new enrollees surpassed projections for the expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health law. While the surge in sign-ups lifts the number of insured people, it has also stoked worries about the future cost to taxpayers.  Illinois and Cook County eventually will have to bear 10 percent of the cost of expanding the safety-net insurance program for the poor. The federal government agreed to pay all costs for the expansion through 2016, but it will begin lowering its share in 2017.  More than twice as many Illinois residents have enrolled under the expansion than was projected by former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration. It expected 298,000 people to sign up in 2015, but 623,000 newly eligible Illinoisans enrolled by the end of June. Sign-ups have outstripped forecasts in at least a dozen states, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press…”

Kids Count Report – Illinois

  • Report: About 1 in 4 Rock Island County kids living in poverty, By Deirdre Baker, March 6, 2015, Quad-City Times: “An annual report that shows about 1 of every 4 Rock Island County children living in poverty stoked the ire of some area officials Thursday.  According to Illinois Kids Count 2015, child poverty rates in the state remain higher than levels measured before the Great Recession that began during the previous decade and are much higher than in 2000…”
  • Child poverty rising in DeKalb County, survey says, By Katie Dahlstrom, March 5, 2015, Daily Chronicle: “The number of DeKalb County children living in poverty nearly tripled from 1999 to 2012, child advocates said in a report released Thursday. Nearly 24 percent of DeKalb County children lived in poverty in 2012, the 2015 Illinois Kids Count Survey released by Voices for Illinois Children showed. The county is part of a growing trend in Illinois that is pushing poverty rates higher outside of the city of Chicago, said Director of Research Larry Joseph…”

Child Care Subsidies – Illinois

Money for Illinois child care subsidies is running dry, By Nancy Cambria, February 25, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “For more than two decades, the Leslie Bates Davis Neighborhood House’s early childhood center has beat back the effects of poverty on young children in this ailing city.  The center operates in a once abandoned grocery store amid boarded-up businesses and crumbling sidewalks with the promise of the Gateway Arch in view from its parking lot.  With the help of federal and state funds as well as fundraising, it has grown in size, quality and staffing to host a Head Start program and earn national accreditation.  It serves nearly 150 children from some of the nation’s poorest households — with parents who count on the center to provide more than mere baby-sitting.  ‘They know how important it is their children get early education so they are ready for school,’ said Stephanie Rhodes, a vice president with Leslie Bates Davis in charge of child care.  As of this month, however, all of the progress made by the center and many others in Illinois is at risk…”

State Minimum Wages

Small business in Illinois, four other states, divided over minimum wage votes, By Joyce M. Rosenberg (AP), October 29, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Workers in five states, including Illinois, could get a raise after Election Day. Some small business owners say raising the minimum wage will pressure their companies, forcing them to cut employees’ hours or jobs. Others say it’s the right thing to do for workers and the economy. In addition to Illinois, minimum wage referendums are on Tuesday’s ballots in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, where minimums range from $6.25 to $8.25 an hour. Some small business owners say raising the minimum wage will force them to cut employees’ hours or jobs. Higher minimums were already approved this year in 10 states, the District of Columbia and Seattle…”

Medicaid Enrollees

Cook County releases 1st snapshot of new Medicaid patients, By Peter Frost, June 2, 2014, Chicago Tribune: “New data released in May offer the first look at the health, habits and demographics of about 100,000 new enrollees in Cook County’s expanded Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The picture it paints is bleak. More than half the new patients covered by Cook County’s Medicaid expansion program haven’t seen a doctor in the past 12 months. Eighty-five percent of them are unable to obtain needed medications. Nearly one-fourth have spent time in a hospital in the past six months and an additional 1 in 5 are worried about finding a place to stay in the near future. They suffer from heart disease, high cholesterol. . .”

Kids Count Report – Illinois

  • Group: Number of children in poverty up 43 percent in five years, By Debra Pressey, March 6, 2014, Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette: “The number of kids living in poverty in Champaign County grew by nearly 43 percent in five years, according to a new report released Thursday by the statewide organization Voices for Illinois Children. The annual Kids Count report, released Thursday, found 23.4 percent of Champaign County children were living at or below the poverty line in 2011, compared to 16.7 percent in 2006…”
  • Latest ‘Kids Count’ report a mixed bag, By Tobias Wall, March 6, 2014, State Journal-Register: “A report released Thursday shows Illinois has made some progress when it comes to its children’s health, but minority and low-income children are still at higher risk. According to the Illinois Kids Count 2014 report published by Voices for Illinois Children, fewer kids are uninsured, and overall infant mortality and teen death rates have continued trending downward. But the report also found that minority infants are more likely to be born at lower birth weights, infant mortality rates are higher among minorities, and overall child poverty rates in the state have risen…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Families feel the pangs of SNAP cuts, By Lolly Bowean, Juan Perez Jr. and Vikki Ortiz Healy, November 10, 2013, Chicago Tribune: “It wasn’t until years after Amy Jezler lost her job at the Salvation Army and her family lost their south suburban home to foreclosure that money got so tight she had to resort to signing up for food stamps. And even then, it was difficult to visit the Family Community Resource Center in Blue Island and ask for help, Jezler said. ‘I was always taught to do it on your own,’ the Park Forest resident said. ‘I was getting to the point where it was harder and harder. (I had) to make the decision: Do I pay bills this month, or do I eat?’ For a year and a half, Jezler has collected $193 a month from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to help feed her husband, who has been in and out of work, and her 10-year-old daughter, she said. But on Thursday, she learned her food stamp benefits had been slashed by $30…”
  • Should Oregon pay $1.5 million to put photos on food stamps, welfare cards? Lawmakers consider fraud reduction options, By Yuxing Zheng, November 14, 2013, The Oregonian: “It would cost Oregon at least $1.5 million in the first year and about $930,000 annually after that to put photographs of cardholders on the Oregon Trail cards used by food stamps and welfare recipients. That’s the estimate recently heard by lawmakers on an interim legislative work group considering methods of reducing public assistance fraud. A May audit from the Secretary of State’s office found that hundreds of Oregonians who were deceased, incarcerated, or won the lottery benefited from one of three public assistance programs intended for low-income individuals…”

Kids Count Report – Illinois

  • Group says child poverty on the rise, By Debra Pressey, February 14, 2013, Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette: “More than one in five Champaign County kids were living in poverty in 2011, according to the new Kids Count report released this morning. The county’s child poverty rate nearly doubled in 12 years, growing from 12 percent in 1999 to 23 percent in 2011. The child poverty rate in Vermilion County also grew in that same time span, from 19 percent to 35 percent. Done each year by the nonprofit, non-partisan Voices for Illinois Children, Kids Count takes a look at the health and well-being of children in the state…”
  • Kids Count: Economics at root of children’s issues in Illinois, By Deirdre Cox Baker, February 15, 2013, Quad-City Times: “The future of children in Illinois was a common worry Thursday as a group of professionals gathered in the Quad-Cities to announce the Illinois Kids Count 2013 findings…”
  • Kids Count report presents grim findings, By Pam Adams, February 14, 2013, Peoria Journal Star: “Illinois is a national leader in early childhood education, but state funding for pre-school programs has been cut substantially since 2010. The state has one of the lowest percentages of uninsured children in the nation, but childhood poverty rates keep increasing in the Tri-County Area…”