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

Tag: Wisconsin

Working Poor Families – Wisconsin

  • United Way report finds poverty rise even among people with jobs, By Mike Tighe, August 28, 2018, La Crosse Tribune: “If you ask ALICE whether La Crosse County households can meet their basic needs, the answer is mixed: Increasing poverty is erasing gains, according to a United Way analysis. Half of the households in La Crosse County are struggling to make ends meet. The statistics are in the second United Way ALICE Report, which United Way of Wisconsin will release today in conjunction with chapters across the state, including Great Rivers United Way based in La Crosse…”
  • Report: Rock County’s ‘working poor’ population is growing, By Neil Johnson, August 28, 2018, Janesville Gazette: “The number of families considered to be among the ‘working poor’ in Rock County has continued to march upward, according to a new United Way report on poverty. In Rock County, 42 percent of all households were either in poverty or at risk of not being able to meet financial burdens despite having people in those households who are working…”

Prison Education Programs

Throw the books at them: How more training for Wisconsin’s prisoners could help companies, By David D. Haynes, July 26, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Mike Williams finished high school at age 15, and by the time his classmates got around to receiving their own diplomas, he had another one: an associate’s degree in computer electronics at Milwaukee Area Technical College. He was judged as a bright young man by his instructors, someone who learned quickly. But Williams also ran with the wrong crowd in those days and made a series of poor decisions as a young man that would upend his promising life for many years. He sold marijuana and was imprisoned for the crime, then was sent back to prison on probation violations…”

Teen Birth Rate – Wisconsin

Teen births decline in Wisconsin, By Shamane Mills, July 25, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Fewer Wisconsin teens are having babies. The latest data from state health officials shows the birth rate to mothers age 15-19 has dropped dramatically. Teen births have been on a downward trend across the United States. And in Wisconsin they’ve dropped by half over a span of eight years…”

Incarceration and Childhood Trauma – Wisconsin

Cycles of incarceration hit African Americans, children especially hard, By Dean Mosiman, July 14, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “When people commit certain crimes or pose an extreme danger to others, most agree, they need to be locked up. Incarceration can also concentrate the mind, forcing offenders to confront the alcohol and drug dependencies that often led to their crimes, allow them to address anger problems and further their education. But it’s also true that incarceration can compound the effect of childhood trauma, make some problems worse, separate families, and renew cycles of trauma, making everyone less safe…”

Youth Unemployment – Milwaukee

Aldermen unveil new app to help combat unemployment in Milwaukee, By Ahmed Elbenni, July 12, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “For young people searching for employment, the job hunt just got a little easier. DirectConnectMKE, a workforce development social media platform that went online Thursday morning, aims to facilitate the job search by connecting potential employees with employers and with each other…”

Welfare Reform

  • Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work rules grow, family faces the hard reality, By Robert Samuels, April 23, 2018, Northwest Herald: “The shock absorbers in James Howlett’s Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare. The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee’s north side. That’s when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance…”
  • Farm bill creates latest push for ‘welfare reform’, By Jessica Wehrman, April 22, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “Republicans’ next big push for ‘welfare reform’ comes courtesy of a bill designed to pay for the nation’s farm programs. The federal farm bill, which expires on Oct. 1, is aimed at providing federal support to farmers who may need it during tough times. But roughly 80 percent of the bill goes to federal food assistance, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That typically makes the bill’s passage a bipartisan affair, with urban and rural lawmakers joining forces to both help feed the poor and to keep farmers facing financial difficulty from being driven out of business entirely. But this year’s bill has been different. Instead, to Democrats’ fury, House Republicans see the farm bill as an opportunity to take a crack at revamping SNAP, formerly known as food stamps…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump executive order strengthens work requirements for neediest Americans, By Tracy Jan, April 10, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law, By Jason Stein, April 10, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Proposed work requirements could add uncertainties to Wisconsin’s Medicaid system, By Guy Boulton, March 28, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin is among the 10 states that want to impose work requirements on some healthy adults who get health insurance through their Medicaid programs. However, unlike Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas, which have received federal approval for work requirements that they plan to implement immediately, Wisconsin’s requirement wouldn’t kick in until a healthy adult hasn’t worked for four straight years…”
  • Republicans’ new welfare reform focus: Low-income men, By Tami Luhby, March 28, 2018, CNN Money: “A generation ago, Republicans focused on reforming the nation’s safety net by requiring poor mothers to work. These days, the Trump administration and Republican leaders are once again looking to overhaul government assistance programs. But now they are zeroing in on a new group: low-income men.  Much of the focus this time centers on requiring able-bodied, working age recipients to get jobs or participate in other community activities if they want to receive Medicaid or food stamps — two of the largest public aid programs in the US with tens of millions of enrollees each…”
  • WV Gov. Justice quietly signs SNAP work requirement bill, By Jake Zuckerman, March 27, 2018, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill into law Tuesday that will impose work requirements on certain adults receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…”

Minority Homeownership – Rock County, WI

Minorities are only a sliver of Rock County mortgage applicants, data shows, By Ashley McCallum, March 19, 2018, Janesville Gazette: “Wanda Sloan grew up in a family of five kids and two adults in apartment No. 21 of the Fairbanks Flats in Beloit. The flats were built by Fairbanks Morse in 1917 to house black individuals and families recruited from the south to work at the engine manufacturing firm, Sloan said. The firm planned to build the flats on the east side of the city, Sloan said, but built on the west side to keep black people segregated from the whites. Nearly 100 years after Fairbanks Flats were built and 50 years after the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Sloan says not much has changed for people of color in regards to housing. Data compiled by The Center of Investigative Journalism illustrate her concerns…”

Medicaid and Dental Care – Wisconsin

  • For those on Medicaid, it can be a struggle to find dental care in the Twin Ports, By Brady Slater, March 3, 2018, Duluth News Tribune: “Zymrie Bekteshi is doing the best she can in the world. She’s a single mother raising a boy and girl, both under the age of 10. She sews for a local company serving the aviation industry. Her employer lets her work from home. ‘Work from home is good,’ she said. ‘I have nobody to help me, no family if kids get sick. So they give me a machine to work with in my home.’ Even with the job she’s held for 11 years, she described herself as ‘low-income.’ Not long ago, Bekteshi, of Duluth, experienced one of the risks concomitant with living near the poverty line: trouble finding a dentist for her kids…”
  • Wisconsin pilot program aims to increase access to dental care for low-income children, By Shamane Mills, February 26, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Dental care for low-income children has been a problem in Wisconsin for years. One reason is that parents can’t find dentists who will accept Medicaid, known in Wisconsin as BadgerCare. To help address this gap, the state is paying some dentists who take Medicaid patients more to see if it will improve access to care. The Enhanced Dental Reimbursement Pilot Program began in October 2016 and includes Brown, Marathon, Racine and Polk counties…”
  • Dentists ask for more funding for treating patients with Medicaid, By Shamane Mills, February 27, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Medicaid is one of the biggest cost drivers in the state budget, but dentists say they’re getting less than 1 percent of that money. They’re asking the state to pay them more for taking on patients who get insurance through Medicaid. In an attempt to address the gap in dental care for low-income children across Wisconsin, the state began a pilot program that does just that…”
  • Dentists: Slights in funding, respect at the root of Wisconsin’s dental care disparity, By Shamane Mills, February 27, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Dentists will tell you they deal with a lot of neglect. They often see patients who put off flossing or brushing, or let cavities sit unfilled. And like a tooth problem that gets ignored for too long, some Wisconsin dentists say state officials neglect their sector of care, slighting the industry with what they consider inadequate state funding which ultimately makes it harder for their patients to get treatment…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s unprecedented welfare reform could inspire conservative changes elsewhere, By J. B. Wogan, February 27, 2018, Governing: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is poised to sign a sweeping package of bills aimed at reducing welfare rolls by expanding work requirements and adding other restrictions. The proposals include several changes that no other state has tried and would require approval from the federal government…”

Renters and Eviction

  • Landlord battles haunt Twin Cities low-income renters, By Max Nesterak, February 22, 2018, Minnesota Public Radio: “Lakesha Davis and her fiance Steven Perkins thought they’d finally landed a home, a house in St. Paul that offered a fresh start for them and four of their kids. Years earlier, they’d been forced from their north Minneapolis home after a grandson’s blood tests came back showing elevated lead levels. The landlord evicted them, Davis said, after the child’s pediatrician alerted a city housing inspector…”
  • When faced with eviction, African-American women in Madison struggle to find rent help, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, February 17, 2018, Cap Times: “Last December when Brandice Hatcher was eight months pregnant, she came home to an eviction notice…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Assembly Republicans pass full slate of Gov. Scott Walker’s welfare limits, By Jason Stein, February 15, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday approved Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed welfare limits and sought federal help to cover more of the nearly $90 million in costs from the proposals…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin, Maine

  • Scott Walker calls special session on bills making changes to welfare programs, By Molly Beck, January 18, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker called on lawmakers Thursday to take up a slate of bills that would make sweeping changes to the state’s welfare programs — including requiring parents to work in order to receive food stamps and requiring residents in subsidized housing to be screened for drug use…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pushes welfare overhaul to include work requirement for parents on food stamps, By Jason Stein, January 18, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With unemployment low and a tough election looming, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Thursday for a special legislative session to overhaul the state’s welfare programs. The GOP governor is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits and increasing the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30…”
  • LePage says Trump administration again blocks ban on food stamps for junk food, By Eric Russell, January 19, 2018, Portland Press Herald: “For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a request by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to ban food stamp recipients from using their benefits to buy sugary drinks and candy. His spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said Friday that the administration would ‘revise our waiver request and resubmit it,’ but she did not offer a timeline…”

SNAP and Drug Testing – Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker moving forward with drug testing some food stamp recipients, By Jason Stein, December 4, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker is moving forward with an effort to drug test some food stamp recipients, with testing expected to begin in as little as a year absent action from lawmakers or the federal government…”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Series on Childhood Trauma

  • Impact of childhood trauma reaches rural Wisconsin, By John Schmid and Andrew Mollica, November 30, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Jodi Williams has just returned from the Marquette County jail, where she met an unemployed 27-year-old man who had been busted after jumping bail on charges of battery, property damage and disorderly conduct. He and his girlfriend used heroin until two years ago when their child was born. Instead of cleaning up, he switched to alcohol, which angered his girlfriend, who left with their child. Now, he’s dangerously depressed, locked up and dealing with his first sustained sobriety since he was 13.  ‘These people are in constant survival mode,’ Williams says of the distressed couple and so many others like them in the vast impoverished regions of the nation’s rural heartland. Williams is one of Marquette County’s few mental health and substance abuse case workers…”
  • Wisconsin childhood trauma data explodes myth of ‘not in my small town’, By John Schmid, December 4, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Traffic on Main St. is lazy as Kyle Pucek strolls past tidy homes with wide front porches. ‘I lost a lot of friends in the last couple years,’ Pucek, 41, says matter of factly. He counts 10.  A car rolls past and a woman waves at Pucek. The two shout greetings.  ‘That’s Kirsten,’ Pucek volunteers almost offhandedly, ‘an ex-heroin addict who’s also in recovery.’ Pucek grew up with her, and with her fiance, who died of a heroin overdose in 2009. Contacted later, Kirsten Moore added that her teenage son became attached to her late fiance’s brother — and then the brother died from a heroin overdose, too, less than two years later. Of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, Rock County falls into the highest tier of overdose deaths, hospitalizations and emergency room visits linked to opioids and heroin, as ranked by state health authorities…”

Healthy Food Programs for SNAP Recipients

  • New program buoys purchases of fresh food with food stamps, By Rachel Alexander, November 9, 2017, Spokesman-Review: “Brandaleen Harper used to have trouble affording produce for herself and her son, Gabriel. Harper works part time in child care and said her food stamps often don’t stretch far enough to cover everything she’d like to buy. But a new program through the Spokane Regional Health District and the Washington State Department of Health is making it easier for people using food stamps to buy fruits and vegetables…”
  • Assembly approves giving Wisconsin food stamp users a discount on produce, healthy groceries, By Patrick Marley, November 7, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Some people who use food stamps would get a break on buying produce and other healthy groceries, under a bill the state Assembly overwhelmingly approved Tuesday…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

  • Two-thirds of Medicaid-covered children not getting required tests for lead poisoning in Wisconsin, By David Wahlberg, October 26, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Less than a third of Wisconsin children on Medicaid were tested for lead poisoning at ages 1 and 2 last year, despite a federal requirement that all such children get the testing, a new state report says. Children on Medicaid are three times as likely to have lead poisoning than other children, so many children who could face developmental problems from lead exposure are not being identified, a Madison pediatrician said…”
  • State gets OK to spend $15M to aid lead-poisoned children on Medicaid, By Lauren Cross, October 26, 2017, Northwest Indiana Times: “State health officials have been given the green light to spend up to $15 million over the next five years to bolster lead hazard testing and removal efforts in East Chicago, South Bend and other cities where low-income children are at risk for exposure. Much of the focus in East Chicago this past year has been on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation and cleanup of toxic soil left by past industry in the Calumet neighborhoods…”

Affordable Housing – Milwaukee, WI

Low-income households in Milwaukee squeezed by rents, By Kevin Crowe and Ashley Luthern, September 22, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Cheryl Williams-Adams moved to Milwaukee with her teenage daughter four years ago, she landed on her feet. She worked as a substance abuse counselor for two organizations, and her monthly income was enough to cover the rent for their one-bedroom apartment, as well as to have some savings. ‘I was trying to build up enough money to get a house,’ Williams-Adams said.  Like many people, she was one emergency away from financial hardship.  In 2015, Williams-Adams, 63, had a heart attack. She hasn’t been able to work since.  Now, the mix of short-term benefits and Social Security payments she receives add up to about $1,000 per month. Her rent is $590. In the City of Milwaukee, 50% of all renters spent more than 30% of their monthly income on housing in 2016, compared to 46% of renters nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee advances tiny homes plan for young adults leaving foster care, By Mary Spicuzza, September 11, 2017,  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Three dozen ‘tiny homes’ would be built for — and with the help of — teens aging out of foster care, under a plan that advanced Monday at City Hall. As many as 36 tiny homes would be built near E. Capitol Drive and N. Humboldt Blvd. through a partnership with developer Gorman & Co., Pathfinders Milwaukee Inc. and the Milwaukee County Housing Division…”