School Breakfast Programs

Schools use creative measures to serve breakfast to more students, By Yvonne Wenger, August 27, 2015, Baltimore Sun: “Waving her hands above her head, Kelly Leschefsky shouted over the morning rush at Perry Hall High School: ‘Come and grab your breakfast and take it to your classroom!’ A steady stream of students picked up cereal, cartons of orange juice, cinnamon rolls, bottles of milk and Pop-Tarts before the morning bell, entered their ID numbers on a keypad and headed to class. Some won’t actually pay, but that’s not apparent at the checkout line. The ‘Grab n’ Go’ carts at Perry Hall and elsewhere — at which the ID payment system keeps students from seeing whether their peers are buying the food or getting it free — are among several efforts statewide to ensure that more low-income children eat breakfast…”

Homeless Military Veterans

Service members discharged for misconduct have much higher rates of homelessness, study says, By Alan Zarembo, August 26, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “Veterans whose behavior got them kicked out of the military have dramatically higher rates of homelessness than those who left under normal circumstances, according to a new study by researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Among VA patients who served in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011, 5.6% were discharged for misconduct. Yet these patients accounted for 28.1% of veterans who had been homeless within their first year out of the military, the analysis found. The type of misconduct that resulted in discharge typically involved drug or alcohol use…”

Auto Insurance Premiums and Low-income Drivers

Some states take aim at ‘discriminatory’ auto insurance pricing, By Sarah Breitenbach, August 28, 2015, Stateline: “Be a safe driver. Don’t buy a flashy sports car. Pay the insurance premium on time. These are maxims many drivers follow to keep their auto insurance costs in check. But they may not be enough for many low-income drivers, who consumer advocates say are routinely priced out of insurance coverage because they are judged not just by their driving records, but by their credit scores, occupation, education level or other factors. It’s a discriminatory practice by insurance companies that disproportionately increases premium payments for low-income drivers, said J. Robert Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner and director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). And some states are trying to stop it…”

Emergency Responders and the Homeless

San Francisco firefighters become unintended safety net for the homeless, By Sarah Maslin Nir, August 26, 2015, New York Times: “When the emergency bell sounds at Fire Station 1 here, firefighters pull on boots and backpacks, swing into Engine 1 and hurtle out the door in almost a single motion, a blast of red lights and caterwauling sirens. More often than not, there is no fire. Instead, the calls that ring in this and nearby fire stations tend to go like this: Male, apparently homeless, sprawled unconscious on a train platform. Male, prone on a street corner pushing a needle into his arm. In a measure of just how much homelessness has become an all-encompassing problem here, this city has the busiest fire engine in America — yet just over 1.5 percent of its runs last year involved fires…”

Court Fines and Debt

After Ferguson, states struggle to crack down on court debt, By Sophie Quinton, August 26, 2015, Stateline: “Say you’re caught driving 10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit in California. The state’s base fine for that offense is $35. But then the state adds an additional $40. The county adds $28. There’s an $8 fee to fund emergency medical services, a $20 fee to fund DNA testing, a $40 court operations fee and more. In total, that relatively minor moving violation just cost you $238.00. For years, state and local governments have attached additional fees and costs to everything from speeding tickets to parole supervision. The extra assessments are supposed to pay for court operations and associated justice system programs, such as DNA testing. According to a growing body of research, however, they also can trap poor people in debt, and corrupt law enforcement and the courts…”

Lead Poisoning Settlements

How companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks, By Terrence McCoy, August 25, 2015, Washington Post: “The letter arrived in April, a mishmash of strange numbers and words. This at first did not alarm Rose. Most letters are that way for her — frustrating puzzles she can’t solve. Rose, who can scarcely read or write, calls herself a ‘lead kid.’ Her childhood home, where lead paint chips blanketed her bedsheets like snowflakes, ‘affected me really bad,’ she says. ‘In everything I do.’  She says she can’t work a professional job. She can’t live alone. And, she says, she surely couldn’t understand this letter. So on that April day, the 20-year-old says, she asked her mom to give it a look. Her mother glanced at the words, then back at her daughter. ‘What does this mean all of your payments were sold to a third party?’ her mother recalls saying…”

State Jobless Benefit Requirements

  • N.C. House OKs tougher requirement for jobless benefits, By Richard Craver, August 19, 2015, Winston-Salem Journal: “The N.C. House approved changes Thursday to the state’s unemployment insurance benefits law that raise the number of required weekly job search contacts from two to five. Senate Bill 15, approved 83-27 on third vote, goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature. The changes would take effect Jan. 1.  The bill requires that people who receive unemployment benefits keep a record of their contacts, which can include online applications, and provide it to N.C. Division of Employment Security officials upon request…”
  • Worker advocates: New rule is Scott Walker’s latest effort to make unemployment benefits harder to collect, By Pat Schneider, August 21, 2015, Capital Times: “Patrick Hickey says that an additional filing requirement to collect unemployment compensation will lead to late checks and lost benefits, and that imposing it is part of how Gov. Scott Walker is curtailing assistance to state residents. ‘This is part and parcel of the administration’s goal to stigmatize poverty and shame poor people by making the system so cumbersome and humiliating that people give up,’ said Hickey, a member of the Workers’ Rights Center in Madison. The new rule will require workers making weekly unemployment benefits claims by phone to begin faxing or mailing in a log of their weekly job search efforts, according to a notice on the state Department of Workforce Development web site…”

Homeless College Students

How to help the students with no homes?, By Kelly Field, August 24, 2015, Chronicle of Higher Education: “The scars on Christine Banjo’s arms are still there — faint marks from the bed bugs that bit her when her family was living in a motel room during her high-school years. ‘Battle wounds,’ she calls them: a faded but constant reminder that the college junior has been chronically homeless since she was 7. During the school year, Ms. Banjo, who is 20, lives in the dorms at Norfolk State University. But on summer vacation and during other breaks, she has no set place to go. There’s no room for her in the rooming house where her parents live, so she crashes with friends or sublets space in a cramped apartment. Most days, her only meal is the sandwich and fries she gets during her shift at McDonald’s. She returns there on her days off just to have something to eat…”

Child Poverty and Opportunity – Buffalo, NY

Escaping poverty easier for children in Erie County than elsewhere, but girls face ‘opportunity gap’, By Charity Vogel, August 8, 2015, Buffalo News: “Children growing up poor in Erie County have a better chance to earn a higher income as adults than those in most other urban counties across the nation, according to a Harvard University study. In addition, children who move to Erie County improve their chances of escaping poverty, and they might someday earn paychecks that are thousands of dollars higher than those who remain in places like Baltimore, Chicago and Charlotte, N.C., the researchers found. In essence, the longer a child lives in Erie County, the better the odds the child will earn more as a young adult…”

Community Scholarship – Michigan

Report: How one poor, rural Michigan town is sending ‘all its kids to college’, By Brian McVicar, August 19, 2015, Grand Rapids Press: “Baldwin, a small community in rural Lake County, is making national headlines after The Atlantic took an in-depth look at a community scholarship that aims to send every high school graduate, many of whom are low-income, to college. The piece tells the story of the Baldwin Promise, which provides up to $5,000 per-year for students to attend college, and the big impact the fund is having not only on college access, but on changing the community’s perception of higher education…”

Medicaid Expansion – Arkansas, Pennsylvania

  • Arkansas governor wants to keep Medicaid expansion, but with changes, By Abby Goodnough, August 19, 2015, New York Times: “Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Wednesday told an advisory group weighing the future of the state’s alternative Medicaid expansion that he favored keeping it — but only if the federal government allowed changes that seemed intended to appeal to conservative legislators who continue to oppose the program. Mr. Hutchinson, a Republican who took office in January, created the advisory group to recommend whether to change or replace the state’s ‘private option’ version of Medicaid expansion. The program’s fate will ultimately be decided by the Republican-controlled legislature, which is likely to meet in a special session this year to vote on it…”
  • Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion simplifies enrollment, By Adam Smeltz, August 20, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Low-income families who might have waited months for medical assistance last winter are enrolling within weeks under Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion, sailing through simplified applications that help them see doctors faster. ‘People are able to get the care and treatment they need much sooner. Folks are able to get preventive care much sooner,’ said Antoinette Kraus, state director at the nonprofit Pennsylvania Health Access Network, which urged policymakers to broaden traditional Medicaid. Still, critics remain cautious whether the expanded program could overburden the state budget…”

Poor Neighborhoods and Sanitation Service – Los Angeles, CA

Many poorer areas of L.A. get less trash service, analysis shows, By Ben Poston and Peter Jamison, August 14, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “On an overcast May morning, city workers picked up abandoned tires, charred furniture and soiled clothes from an alley in South Los Angeles. Neighbors said it was the first time they had seen a city sanitation crew visit the alley off East 108th Street in more than a year. One resident said nails punctured all four tires on her sedan after she drove through. Another paid a contractor to clear the entrance of a blocked driveway. Their complaints point to a broader problem with what many consider to be a basic government service. Since 2010, sanitation crews failed to respond to more than 20% of Los Angeles residents’ requests to remove illegal refuse from sidewalks and alleyways, a Times analysis has found…”

Driver’s License Suspensions – Milwaukee, WI

Ticket to nowhere: The hidden cost of driver’s license suspensions, By Vivian Wang, August 15, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Just after midnight in May 2014, April Williams loaded groceries into her car at Woodman’s Food Market in Menomonee Falls and prepared to drive home. Before she even left the parking lot, a police officer pulled her over and wrote two tickets: one for a broken taillight, one for driving without insurance. She couldn’t pay the tickets — she had filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and was unemployed — but didn’t think much of it. In the weeks ahead, the single mother kept driving, keeping appointments for her children and meeting her case manager at a W-2 agency for help with her job search. In September she was pulled over again, this time for expired plates. She also got a ticket for a violation she never expected: operating while suspended…”

Rural Hospitals

To survive, rural hospitals join forces, By Michael Ollove, August 17, 2015, Stateline: “Ask Sam Lindsey about the importance of Northern Cochise Community Hospital and he’ll give you a wry grin. You might as well be asking the 77-year-old city councilman to choose between playing pickup basketball—as he still does most Fridays—and being planted six feet under the Arizona dust. Lindsey believes he’s above ground, and still playing point guard down at the Mormon church, because of Northern Cochise. Last Christmas, he suffered a severe stroke in his home. He survived, he said, because his wife, Zenita, got him to the hospital within minutes. If it hadn’t been there, she would have had to drive him 85 miles to Tucson Medical Center. There are approximately 2,300 rural hospitals in the U.S., most of them concentrated in the Midwest and the South. For a variety of reasons, many of them are struggling to survive…”

Hispanic Rural Poverty

Hispanic poverty in rural areas challenges states, By Teresa Wiltz, August 14, 2015, Stateline: “Today, one in four babies born in the U.S. is Hispanic. Increasingly they are being born into immigrant families who’ve bypassed the cities—the traditional pathway for immigrants—for rural America. Hispanic babies born in rural enclaves are more likely to be impoverished than those in the city. And it’s harder for them to receive help from federal and state programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Consistent health care also is hard to come by, particularly if their parents are undocumented and are fearful of being discovered and deported—even though the children are U.S. citizens. As a result, many researchers say, many of these children may never realize their full potential and escape poverty…”

Race and Concentrated Poverty

  • Black poverty differs from white poverty, By Emily Badger, August 12, 2015, Washington Post: “The poverty that poor African Americans experience is often different from the poverty of poor whites. It’s more isolating and concentrated. It extends out the door of a family’s home and occupies the entire neighborhood around it, touching the streets, the schools, the grocery stores. A poor black family, in short, is much more likely than a poor white one to live in a neighborhood where many other families are poor, too, creating what sociologists call the ‘double burden’ of poverty. The difference is stark in most major metropolitan areas, according to recent data analyzed by Rutgers University’s Paul Jargowsky in a new report for the Century Foundation…”
  • Louisville 10th worst for high black poverty areas, By Phillip M. Bailey, August 10, 2015, Louisville Courier-Journal: “As the Metro Council debates ways to encourage affordable housing in the East End, a New York-based think tank released a report showing Louisville is the 10th worst city for concentrated black poverty in the nation. About 43 percent of the poorest black residents in the Louisville metro area are housed in neighborhoods where the federal poverty rate was 40 percent or more, according to the report by the Century Foundation…”
  • Poverty has nearly doubled since 2000 in America, By Max Willens, August 9, 2015, International Business Times: “A year after Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, people are talking about a newly galvanized civil-rights movement in the U.S.  A new report, finding that the number of people living in high-poverty areas has almost doubled since 2000, suggests that its rebirth is sorely needed.  According to Century Foundation research, the number of Americans living in high-poverty areas rose to 13.8 million in 2013 from 7.2 million in 2000, with African-Americans and Latinos driving most of the gains. The report points to racially motivated policies such as exclusionary zoning and trends such as white flight as the primary culprits…”

School Gardens

School gardens help fruit, vegetables to flourish in low-income food deserts, By Sanya Mansoor, August 10, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: “Green classrooms, incorporated into high school curricula, have sprouted nationwide to educate teenagers about nutrition and include them in community gardening. Participating students invest their time and energy in providing their neighborhoods with ready access to healthy and affordable food. As a result, they may also improve academic performance and engagement at school and pass on their knowledge and habits to their families…”

AP Test Support for Low-Income Students

Education Department awards grants to defray costs of AP tests, By Lauren Camera, August 12, 2015, Education Week: “In a push to prepare more low-income students for college or a career, the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday awarded $28.4 million in grants to help defray the cost of taking advanced placement (AP) tests…”