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

Tag: Texas

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…”

Hurricane Recovery – Houston, TX

Year after Harvey, poor having toughest time recovering, By Juan A. Lozano (AP), August 23, 2018, Houston Chronicle: “Shirley Paley’s life before Hurricane Harvey was already a struggle: The 61-year-old former postal worker was raising her 17-year-old autistic grandson while dealing with a workplace injury that left her legally blind, on disability and in need of three cornea transplants. Harvey’s torrential rainfall flooded Paley’s modest home near Kashmere Gardens, one of Houston’s historically African-American neighborhoods, forcing her to live out of her SUV for more than a month and triggering severe depression and anxiety in her 12-year-old granddaughter that led to several suicide attempts. Still unable to move back home and desperate to speed up the repair process, Paley has accumulated thousands of dollars in debt from high-interest payday and car title loans…”

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…”

Foster Care System

  • This new federal law will change foster care as we know it, By Teresa Wiltz, May 2, 2018, Stateline: “A new federal law, propelled by the belief that children in difficult homes nearly always fare best with their parents, effectively blows up the nation’s troubled foster care system. Few outside child welfare circles paid any mind to the law, which was tucked inside a massive spending bill President Donald Trump signed in February. But it will force states to overhaul their foster care systems by changing the rules for how they can spend their annual $8 billion in federal funds for child abuse prevention…”
  • Judges wrestle over whether Texas mistreats foster kids so badly, it tramples their rights, By Robert T. Garrett, April 30, 2018, Dallas News: “A panel of three judges appeared divided Monday on whether Texas has breached the U.S. Constitution in how it treats foster children — and if so, what should be done about it. A top assistant to Attorney General Ken Paxton and a Houston lawyer who’s the lead counsel in a class action suit on behalf of nearly 11,000 children in long-term foster care clashed for an hour at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Their argument was over whether judges should embrace or reject U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack’s 2015 ruling that the state’s system is ‘broken’ because it subjects already vulnerable youths to mayhem and harm and that remedial orders must be implemented…”

Low-Income Women’s Health Program – Texas

Texas health program served more low-income women, but improvement since funding cuts is unclear, By Jackie Wang, April 27, 2018, Dallas News: “A new report shows more people enrolled in a health program for low-income women in 2017, but it doesn’t show if the numbers are an improvement over the years before funding was cut. According to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission report published Thursday, Healthy Texas Women increased its total number of clients served from 70,336 in 2016 to 122,406 in 2017. The Family Planning Program increased its clients from 38,404 in 2016 to 96,990 in 2017. Overall, Texas served 29 percent more women in one year…”

Pregnancy Rate of Foster Youth – Texas

Teens in foster care more likely to become pregnant than other Texas youths, report finds, By Jackie Wang, April 16, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “The pregnancy rate for teens in foster care is almost five times as high as the rate for other Texas girls ages 13 to 17, according to a report from an advocacy group. The analysis, which Texans Care for Children released Monday, also found that more than half of teens who age out of foster care at 18 or extend their time until 21 will become pregnant before they turn 20. That’s double the 1 in 4 American teens who will be pregnant before turning 20, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy…”

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…”

Bail Reform

  • New Jersey claims bail-reform a success, cites huge drop in jail population, By Peter Krouse, February 13, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “One year after sweeping criminal-justice reforms became law in New Jersey, the state has “successfully transformed an antiquated money bail system into a modern risk-based system,” the state’s courts reported Tuesday…”
  • Could Dallas’ bail system be deemed an ‘instrument of oppression’ after Houston ruling?, By Naomi Martin, February 16, 2018, Dallas News: “On the one hand, it was a kick in the gut.  But it was also a roadmap. That’s how Dallas County officials see a much-anticipated ruling by a federal appeals court on bail reform. For years, county leaders and judges have been in talks to overhaul the criminal bail system to make it easier for poor arrestees who aren’t dangerous to be released from jail while they await trial…”

Cash Bail System – Dallas, TX

Poor people locked up longer than the rich, violating Constitution in Dallas, lawsuit alleges, By Cary Aspinwall and Naomi Martin, January 21, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “The day that Dallas County leaders have been dreading for years finally arrived on Sunday: four nonprofits filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the jail’s cash bail system unfairly harms poor people and violates the Texas and U.S. constitutions. The lawsuit, which officials feared due to its potentially hefty price tag, alleges Dallas County’s cash bail system fails to consider a jailed defendant’s ability to pay to post bond, resulting in disparate treatment in the criminal justice system…”

Maternal Mortality – Texas

Dangerous deliveries, By Marissa Evans and Chris Essig, January 16, 2018, Texas Tribune: “In the photos flashing on the projector screen, Michelle Zavala had a look of serenity. In one, her eyes were closed as she smiled with her newborn daughter Clara nestled under her chin. Another showed her kissing her husband Chris on vacation. Another captured her laughing while stomping grapes at a vineyard, radiating the positivity that people loved about her. Below the screen, Michelle lay in a casket, surrounded by bouquets of flowers. The Pflugerville woman died in July — just nine days after giving birth to Clara — from a blood clot in her heart. She was 35. Across the United States, maternal mortality — when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth — jumped by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology…”

Child Poverty – Dallas, TX

One in five Dallas-area children lives in poverty, report finds, By Corbett Smith, November 14, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “One in five children in North Texas lives in poverty, with more than 260,000 kids in the area considered food insecure, according to a biennial study released Tuesday from Children’s Health and the University of Texas at Dallas…”

Child Poverty – Dallas, TX

Dallas’ child poverty rate drops, but still high compared to other major U.S. cities, By Tristan Hallman, September 26, 2017, Dallas News:”Dallas is no longer home to highest percentage of children living in poverty in major U.S. cities, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Mayor’s Poverty Task Force on Tuesday announced that the rate has fallen over the last three years. From 2014 to 2016, the American Community Survey’s estimates showed that 26,000 fewer Dallas children are living in poverty — dropping the rate to 30.6 percent from 37.8 percent. The overall poverty rate also fell, and the city has a relatively low rate among residents 65 and older…”

Natural Disaster Recovery

  • ‘Nowhere else to go’: Small Texas towns decimated by hurricane struggle to rebuild amid poverty, By Mary Lee Grant, September 10, 2017, Washington Post: “At a small rural hospital in this shrimping and tourist town of about 3,000, some patients visited the emergency room twice a day, obtaining insulin and other medications they could not afford to buy themselves. Nurses sometimes pooled their money to pay for patients’ cab fare home…”
  • Irma pushes Florida’s poor closer to the edge of ruin, By Jay Reeves (AP), September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Larry and Elida Dimas didn’t have much to begin with, and Hurricane Irma left them with even less. The storm peeled open the roof of the old mobile home where they live with their 18-year-old twins, and it destroyed another one they rented to migrant workers in Immokalee, one of Florida’s poorest communities. Someone from the government already has promised aid, but Dimas’ chin quivers at the thought of accepting it…”
  • Homeless and in college. Then Harvey struck, By Anya Kamenetz, September 15, 2017, National Public Radio: “Christina Broussard was trapped in her grandmother’s living room for three days during Hurricane Harvey. Rain poured through the ceiling in the bathrooms and bedrooms. Broussard’s a student at Houston Community College. Her grandmother is 74 and uses a wheelchair…”
  • Texas CPS, foster-care providers go all out to protect vulnerable children from Hurricane Harvey, By Robert T. Garrett, September 11, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “Texas Child Protective Services and its contractors had to evacuate more than 400 foster kids in institutions because of Hurricane Harvey and, probably, hundreds more who lived in foster homes along the Gulf coast, protective services officials said Monday…”

State Medicaid Programs – Texas, Maine

  • How Medicaid expansion could help Texas mothers, By Behrouz Zand, August 3, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Between 2010 and 2012, the rate doubled. And the rate in Texas between 2012 and 2014 remained high, with approximately 35 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Texas’ rates are about seven times greater than in Canada and European countries. As a result, the Texas Legislature established the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force in 2013. This 15-member task force of mostly physicians and healthcare experts set out to find out why pregnancy-related deaths have skyrocketed and what can be done to decrease them…”
  • Maine moves ahead with plan to charge Medicaid recipients, make them work, By Patty Wight, August 3, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “People who receive MaineCare — the state’s version of Medicaid — may soon have to work and pay monthly premiums in order to get benefits. Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services officially filed an application this week to the federal government to make those changes. Critics say Maine’s plan would erect barriers to health care that will drive up costs for everyone…”

Summer Meal Programs

  • Texas has more kids eligible for free summer meals. Why is the state feeding fewer?, By Aliyya Swaby, August 2, 2017, Texas Tribune: “When Evelyn Delgado saw a banner outside her daughter’s Houston school advertising free breakfasts and lunches this June, she figured it was an opportunity to give her 7-year-old good food and a chance to get out of the house. Delgado used to work at a local Fiesta Mart and leave her two kids with a babysitter, before she realized that paying the sitter was eating up her paltry wages. Now a stay-at-home mom with a husband who works in maintenance, she said the summer program helps feed her kids, who are eligible for free meals during the school year…”
  • When school’s out, rural Texas towns struggle to feed their hungry kids, By Aliyya Swaby, August 3, 2017, Texas Tribune: “Clara Crawford tapped the horn three times. Seconds later, two young boys ran down the steps of their house, their mother waving goodbye from the porch. Each summer, most days of the week, the 86-year-old Crawford drives a 1995 Ford cargo van 35 miles to gather up about 20 hungry children in Fairview, an unincorporated community in Rusk County, and the neighboring city of Reklaw. She takes them to a program she runs at a local community center where they can play basketball in the hot sun and get a full lunch plus a snack…”
  • Children in low-income families suffer during the summer without subsidized school food programs, By Leslie Albrecht, August 1, 2017, MarketWatch: “Families who rely on government food programs to keep their fridges stocked don’t have the financial resources to feed themselves when those programs disappear, according to a new study circulated by the Cambridge, Mass.-based National Bureau of Economic Research. Researchers wanted to see how families changed their spending habits after losing government food assistance, so they analyzed what happened in the summer months when low-income children don’t have access to school breakfast and lunch programs…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

3-state study sizes up gains via Medicaid; coverage soars in Arkansas, Kentucky, less so in Texas, By Andy Davis, May 23, 2017, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Three years after their states expanded Medicaid, low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be more likely to have a doctor and less likely to have trouble paying medical bills or to delay seeking care because of the cost, a study has found. The study, conducted annually since 2013 by researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found those and other improvements in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be significant compared with smaller or nonexistent gains in Texas, which did not expand Medicaid…”

Low-Income Housing – Wisconsin, Texas

  • Scott Walker’s budget would limit low-income tax credits to those who work, By Jason Stein, February 13, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would require able-bodied adults to work to receive a low-income housing credit — part of broader proposals in the bill to move more people into jobs. Starting in 2018, able-bodied adults below the age of 62 will need to earn money to claim the state’s Homestead Credit. The disabled and seniors would be exempt from the requirement…”
  • State lawmakers take aim at low-income housing, By Lydia DePillis, February 15, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Two bills filed this month in the state legislature would make it harder to develop affordable housing in Texas, imposing onerous new requirements on the projects and giving neighbors broad powers to oppose them. Although the chances of passage are unclear — thousands of measures are filed during the four-month session and only a few become law — the bills would be consistent with many other restrictions the legislature has placed on affordable housing development. Meanwhile, helping low-income people access housing is a rising concern for Texas cities, as a flood of new residents has boosted the cost of both rental and for-sale units…”

Foster Care System – Texas

Sweeping reforms recommended for Texas foster care system, By Mike Ward, November 4, 2016, Houston Chronicle: “A pair of special masters on Friday recommended sweeping changes to Texas’ scandal-plagued foster care system, including a ban on housing children in state offices and new limits on group homes.  The numbers of cases assigned to Child Protective Services workers should be cut in half to curb skyrocketing turnover rates and improve supervision, the report states…”

Kids Count Report – Texas

  • Far more Dallas children have health insurance since Obamacare passed, study says, By Naomi Martin, April 13, 2016, Dallas Morning News: “The number of children with health insurance has spiked in Dallas County and in much of Texas since 2009, even as child poverty continues to be a major problem, according to a study released Wednesday.  About 1 in 3 children in Dallas County and the state lives in poverty, the Center for Public Policy Priorities has concluded. But about 87 percent of children in Dallas County have some form of health insurance, vs. 78 percent in 2009.  Despite that, Dallas County’s rate of uninsured children is among the highest in the state. And Texas has the worst uninsured rate in the country, according to the study…”
  • Study: Over 30% of black and Hispanic students in high-poverty schools, By Melissa B. Taboada, April 13, 2016, Austin American-Statesman: “Hispanic students in Texas are seven times more likely than white students to be enrolled in high-poverty schools, which often have fewer tenured and effective teachers, according to a new report being released Wednesday that examines the well-being of the state’s children.  Black students are over 5 times more likely than whites to be enrolled in those same schools, says the State of Texas Children annual report based on data for the 2014-15 school year. The report is being issued by the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank that lobbies for low- to moderate-income Texans…”