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

Tag: Neighborhoods

Hurricane Recovery – Houston, TX

A year after Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s poorest neighborhoods are slowest to recover, By Manny Fernandez, September 3, 2018, New York Times: “Hurricane Harvey ruined the little house on Lufkin Street. And ruined it remains, one year later. Vertical wooden beams for walls. Hard concrete for floors. Lawn mowers where furniture used to be. Holes where the ceiling used to be. Light from a lamp on a stool, and a barricaded window to keep out thieves. Even the twig-and-string angel decoration on the front door — ‘Home is where you rest your wings’ — was askew…”

Housing Choice Voucher Program

  • Getting a Section 8 voucher is hard. Finding a landlord willing to accept it is harder., By Teresa Wiltz, August 31, 2018, Stateline: “As a prospective tenant, B.R. Williams learned early on she needed a script to woo potential landlords: Mention her stellar rental history. Emphasize that Section 8 housing vouchers are ‘pro-landlord,’ with most of the rent direct deposited each month. Always utter the magic words, ‘This is a no-fail system.’ Sometimes the pitch worked. But even then, Williams often would show up to look at an apartment, only to be told that it was no longer available…”
  • ‘Section 8 need not apply’: states and cities outlaw housing discrimination, By Mattie Quinn, August 29, 2018, Governing: “Washington state is the latest jurisdiction to pass a law to protect low-income renters from housing discrimination. House Bill 2578, which will go into effect at the end of September, makes it illegal for landlords to reject applicants based on their use of public assistance, including Section 8, Social Security or veterans benefits…”
  • Affordable housing program in Oakland helps keep Section 8 renters in place, By Kimberly Veklerov, August 15, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: “As luxury high-rise condos replace Oakland’s once-affordable housing stock, city officials said Wednesday a first-of-its-kind program that gives financial incentives to landlords renting to low-income families is off to a strong start. In recent years, hundreds of housing units available for impoverished families have disappeared from the market. To recover some of the loss, Oakland officials are touting the new program that gives monetary benefits to property owners to remain or become Section 8 landlords…”
  • In Philly, two-thirds of the landlords won’t take affordable housing vouchers — even when the renter can afford the place, By Julia Terruso, August 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “When Paul Woods got a housing voucher three years ago, he thought that he’d been given a fresh start after a series of setbacks. Woods, who served in the Marines and is now on disability, had been living with family and friends, bouncing from place to place. But his voucher came with an expiration date: 60 days to find an apartment. Many landlords rejected Woods, 61, because of his voucher, he said. He found some who accepted vouchers but would show him only certain units — typically, less attractive ones. In Philadelphia, where rental rates are rising and affordable housing options are shrinking, his options were scarce…”

Environmental Hazards and Poor Communities

A leader in the war on poverty opens a new front: pollution, By Kendra Pierre-Louis, August 24, 2018, New York Times: “The air in the Shiloh Baptist Church was thick with the heat of human bodies. The crowd, a mix of black and white faces, filled the pews in what was ostensibly the black side of town, straining the capacity of this good-sized church. On the dais stood the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, draped in a black robe, a black vest and a cream stole emblazoned with the credo ‘Jesus was a poor man.’ Al Gore, the former vice president, sat behind him. Dr. Barber’s message to the community members in the church last week would have been largely recognizable to civil rights leaders of generations past, addressing issues of poverty and racism. But he and Mr. Gore were here in Greensboro to focus on another concern that many in the audience believed was just as insidious: pollution from North Carolina’s coal-powered electrical plants…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

Housing Choice Voucher Program – Pittsburgh, PA

  • New system aims to give Section 8 voucher holders access to more neighborhoods, By Kate Giammarise, March 12, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “A new payment system, set to start April 1, could allow Section 8 voucher holders to live in more parts of Pittsburgh — neighborhoods they might currently find themselves priced out of, ones with access to good schools, transportation and jobs…”
  • Pittsburgh Housing Authority will ask HUD to delay Section 8 changes, By Kate Giammarise, March 14, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Housing officials in Pittsburgh will ask the federal government to allow them to not implement a new payment system — that had been set to take effect April 1 — that aims to give greater neighborhood choice to Section 8 voucher holders. Following pushback at two public hearings Tuesday, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to give officials more time to develop a methodology to give voucher holders more choices about where to live…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Food boxes, not stamps? Idea in Trump budget worries grocers, By Kristen De Groot and Gene J. Puskar (AP), March 5, 2018, Denver Post: “Finding fresh food in this tiny riverside community that was hit hard by the steel industry’s decline has always been a challenge. Then, seven years ago, Carl’s Cafe opened. The grocery store, near new government housing, offers cooking classes and a source of fresh, healthy food. Proprietor Carl Lewis even has customers sign a pledge: If he provides fresh produce, they’ll buy it. Five such purchases, and they get their sixth free. About half his customers pay with benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, so the government’s proposal to replace the debit card-type program with a pre-assembled box of shelf-stable goods delivered to recipients worries him and other grocery operators in poor areas about their patrons’ nutrition, and their own bottom line…”

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…”

Food Insecurity – Columbus, OH

One-third of families experience food ‘insecurity,’ double previous estimates, By Rita Price, January 26, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “A study that looked at Columbus neighborhood ‘food environments’ found disparities in access, affordability and availability that could be much worse than previously understood. The results are yet another indication — one that isn’t always easy to see — of the city’s deep economic divides…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Arizona

Locked out: Section 8 housing vouchers fail to open doors for low-income renters, By Alden Woods, December 14, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Marcella Landson set aside her Section 8 voucher and stared at the shaded map of Tempe, searching for the right neighborhood. They all seemed the same. She had come to find a home, but couldn’t even figure out where to look.  At the head of a wide conference table in the city library, Tempe Housing Services supervisor Theresa James held up her own copy of the map. About half of the city was shaded in, marking what was described as prosperity and potential. The rest was left empty, filled only by high poverty and unemployment rates. In those areas, schools performed worse. Houses and apartments sagged with age. Rents were low, but opportunities were few…”

Mobile Health Clinics

Mobile clinics assume greater role in preventive care, By Scott Rodd, October 11, 2017, Stateline: “One afternoon last month, the Family Van stopped at the corner of Washington and Roxbury streets in Boston. The regulars had already formed a line, waiting in the lingering summer heat for the red and green RV to arrive. The Family Van, which is funded in part by Harvard Medical School, provides free blood pressure tests, HIV counseling and basic medical care to underserved neighborhoods across Boston. The van has been operating since 1992, and mobile health clinics like it have been around for decades, but they are assuming a more prominent role as the U.S. health care system places a greater emphasis on preventive care…”

Children in High-Poverty Neighborhoods

Study: With more U.S. children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, schools will see impact, By Maureen Downey, July 17, 2017, Atlanta Journal Constitution: “A new study by researchers at Rice University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin looks at the rise in U.S. children — including a spike in white kids — living in poor neighborhoods since the Great Recession. That increase affects education, say researchers, because children in neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty start school less ready to learn…”

Concentrated Poverty – Kalamazoo, MI

Study shows uneven economic growth, concentrated poverty in Kalamazoo, By Malachi Barrett, July 12, 2017, MLive.com: “Kalamazoo is changing, but the rising tide hasn’t lifted all areas of the city equally. A new study shows a concentration of the poorest, least educated and oldest residents live on Kalamazoo’s north and east side. Some of the poorest areas have continued a downward socioeconomic slide, but the fastest growth is occurring in another disadvantaged area of the city…”

Racial Disparities in Subsidized Housing

  • The one area where racial disparities in housing have disappeared, By Tracy Jan, May 5, 2017, Washington Post: “Racial disparities in subsidized housing — which once saw poor black families overwhelmingly housed in large public developments — have essentially disappeared after decades of inequality, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University researchers. But low-income black families are still far more likely than poor whites to live in segregated, impoverished neighborhoods…”
  • Better housing as a path out of poverty: a tough test in Houston, By Simon Montlake, May 4, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “Iyoba Moshay had just started her shift when she got a text from Alvin, her 7th-grade son. His school was on lockdown after a shooting, he said. There was a body prone on the street outside, visible from his classroom window. Ms. Moshay gulped, and went back to her job tending bar downtown at the Houston Astros’ stadium. It was the second shooting that month near the school, which has an F grade from Texas regulators. For Moshay, a single mother, it was one more reason to wish she could move to a different part of town, far from the crime and poverty of her all-minority neighborhood…”

Concentrated Poverty in the Twin Cities

Areas of poverty expanding in St. Paul, Met Council finds, By Frederick Melo, March 7, 2017, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “After plateauing following the recession, poverty rates have dipped slightly in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area but increased in St. Paul. In St. Paul, areas of concentrated poverty are expanding, especially around the East Side and North End.  Those are some of the findings in a recent Metropolitan Council analysis of data from the decennial U.S. Census and American Community Survey. The survey produces demographic estimates based on survey samples collected over one-year and five-year periods…”

Milwaukee Public Radio Series on Segregation

Project Milwaukee: Segregation Matters, series homepage, Milwaukee Public Radio: “For years, the Milwaukee metro area has had a reputation as one of the most segregated in the United States.  How did this complex problem come about, and why does it endure? How does it contribute to persistent poverty? Are there ways to break through the boundaries..?”

Housing Subsidies – Baltimore, MD

Housing program used to break up high-poverty areas in Baltimore to stop taking applicants, By Yvonne Wenger, January 12, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “The officials who run a court-ordered program that helps families move from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods to areas with low crime and high-performing schools are planning to stop taking new applicants.  Hundreds of people sign up each month for the rental subsidies and counseling, which are offered as a condition of a landmark federal fair-housing lawsuit in Baltimore…”

Star Tribune Series on Poverty

  • Taking risks to pursue the American dream, By Adam Belz, December 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “Ethrophic Burnett escaped the South Side of Chicago, moved to Minneapolis ‘to have a life for my kids’ — and wound up in a social experiment.  In the late 1990s, when the oldest of her children were just in elementary school, her family was one of hundreds that was moved to the Twin Cities suburbs as the result of a federal fair housing lawsuit. Her children thrived, she said. They developed new ambitions that otherwise might have seemed distant.  Then, three years ago, as her oldest daughter entered college, Burnett lost eligibility for the home she was living in and moved the family back to the poorest area of Minneapolis…”
  • Prosperity grows out of small-town America, By Adam Belz, December 29, 2016, Star Tribune: “Sylvia Hilgeman grew up no-frills on a farm in Red Lake County in northwest Minnesota, where flat fields are broken by steel grain bins, stands of aspen and abandoned farmhouses.  Her dad cultivated rented land and her mom raised cattle and milked cows at a neighboring farm to help pay the bills. They raised their children in a double-wide mobile home across a gravel driveway from her great-uncle’s homestead. ‘My parents, they worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met,’ Hilgeman said. The work paid off for their children. Sylvia went to college, got a job in accounting and later joined the FBI. Today, she investigates white collar crime in New York City…”
  • Poor forced to make extreme choices as affordable homes erode, By Adam Belz, December 30, 2016, Star Tribune: “Kendrick Bates fought his way out of poverty to within two semesters of a bachelor’s degree. Now he needs an apartment. He’s been accepted at a college in suburban Roseville, but he hasn’t been able to find a home in a good neighborhood that he can afford. Bates, who now lives near the southern Minnesota town of New Ulm with his two daughters, grew up in poverty in Mississippi and is wary of the trade-offs of urban life. He is looking beyond the metro area and likes Stillwater, Hudson and New Richmond in Wisconsin…”