Programs to Reduce Homelessness

  • Obama will seek $11 billion for homeless families, By Nikita Stewart, February 8, 2016, New York Times: “After making progress in reducing homelessness among veterans, the Obama administration is turning to the larger and more complicated challenge of homelessness among families with young children.  In his 2017 budget, to be presented on Tuesday, President Obama will propose spending $11 billion over the next 10 years to fight family homelessness, a phenomenon that is closely linked to the dearth of affordable housing in New York and other big cities. Of that amount, $8.8 billion would go to housing vouchers and $2.2 billion to more short-term assistance…”
  • L.A. city, county OK homeless plans, but where will the money come from?, By Abby Sewell and Emily Alpert Reyes, February 9, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “In a fresh bid to confront a problem that has confounded lawmakers for decades, Los Angeles city and county officials approved sweeping plans Tuesday aimed at getting thousands of homeless people off the streets.  But one crucial question remains unanswered: Where will most of the money come from…?”

US Life Expectancy

Disparity in life spans of the rich and the poor is growing, By Sabrina Tavernise, February 12, 2016, New York Times: “Experts have long known that rich people generally live longer than poor people. But a growing body of data shows a more disturbing pattern: Despite big advances in medicine, technology and education, the longevity gap between high-income and low-income Americans has been widening sharply. The poor are losing ground not only in income, but also in years of life, the most basic measure of well-being. In the early 1970s, a 60-year-old man in the top half of the earnings ladder could expect to live 1.2 years longer than a man of the same age in the bottom half, according to an analysis by theSocial Security Administration. Fast-forward to 2001, and he could expect to live 5.8 years longer than his poorer counterpart…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

  • Number of food stamp recipients skyrockets in the region, By Candy Woodall, February 8, 2016, PennLive.com: “The number of food stamp recipients exploded throughout the midstate during the last five years, according to state and federal data. All counties in the region had increases of about 50 percent or more, compared with data from 2005 to 2009. Some local counties reported gains of 80 percent or more, and Cumberland County’s numbers increased 138 percent. There are now 1.8 million Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps, compared to 1.1 million during fiscal year 2006-07, according to the state Department of Human Services…”
  • Pennsylvania nonprofits work to help those facing food stamp restrictions, By Adam Smeltz, February 8, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Western Pennsylvania nonprofits are hustling to blunt a clamp-down this spring on food stamp benefits, promoting volunteer work and other provisions that can keep low-income households eligible for the aid.  More than 9,500 residents of Allegheny County are among some 48,000 Pennsylvanians who could lose the help by June 1, according to state figures and Just Harvest, a South Side anti-hunger organization. Those beneficiaries fall under a renewed three-month limit for many unemployed or underemployed adults ages 18 to 50 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children…”

TANF Benefits – New Jersey

Should N.J. raise welfare grants to reduce child poverty?, By Susan K. Livio, February 12, 2016, Star-Ledger: “After decades of pleading with state leaders to raise the value of welfare benefits in New Jersey, anti-poverty groups joined with top lawmakers at the Statehouse Thursday who vowed to phase-in a 30-percent increase over the next three years…”

Infant Mortality – Butler County, OH

  • Why black babies die at twice the rate of whites in Butler County, By Wayne Baker, January 22, 2016, Hamilton Journal-News: “Black babies in Butler County are dying before the age of 1 at twice the rate of white babies. It’s a troubling and puzzling statistic that local and state health experts say contributes to Ohio’s high infant mortality rate, which is among the worst 10 percent in the nation. This medical and social issue is being addressed by several health agencies in the area and nationwide, but most of the data compiled so far has left the experts puzzled as to why this is happening…”
  • Ohio Medicaid to help Butler County combat infant mortality, By Wayne Butler, February 11, 2016, Hamilton Journal-News: “Local community and political leaders, along with representatives from the five Medicaid managed care plans, joined Ohio Medicaid Director John McCarthy Thursday afternoon to discuss ways to combat high infant mortality rates in Butler County and across the state. The Journal-News reported in a three-part series last month that black babies in Butler County are dying before the age of 1 at twice the rate of white babies…”

Drug Testing and Public Assistance Programs

  • Drug testing for benefits in Tennessee yields only 65 positives, By Anita Wadhwani, February 7, 2016, The Tennessean: “A Tennessee law requiring drug screening and testing of public benefit seekers has yielded few positives for illicit drugs — and no one has been denied benefits for failing a drug test, though scores of people have walked away from the application process.  Just 65 of 39,121 people applying for a cash assistance program known as Families First in Tennessee tested positive for illegal substances or drugs for which they had no prescription since the law was implemented July 1, 2014, according to data provided by the Department of Human Services to The Tennessean…”
  • Alabama would be allowed to drug test food stamp recipients under proposal by Rep. Robert Aderholt, By Leada Gore, February 12, 2016, AL.com: “Food stamp recipients could be subject to drug testing under a plan unveiled Thursday by Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt. Rep. Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said his  proposal would allow states to opt into mandatory drug testing as a requirement for receiving food stamps…”

Health Insurance Coverage

Gov’t report: Illinois among 8 states with significant drop in uninsured, Associated Press, February 9, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Eight states saw a significant drop last year in the number of residents going without health insurance, according to a government report out Tuesday that has implications for the presidential campaign.  All but Florida had accepted a Medicaid expansion that is one of two major pathways to coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The law’s other coverage route is subsidized private insurance, available in all 50 states…”

Black Unemployment

Unemployment may be dropping, but it’s still twice as high for blacks, By Sonari Glinton, February 5, 2016, National Public Radio: “The jobs numbers are in: 150,000 jobs were added to the economy in January. That’s fewer than expected, though the unemployment rate fell to an eight-year low.  President Obama took the opportunity this morning to take a shot at some of his more vocal opponents…”

January 2016 Unemployment Rate

Wages rise as U.S. unemployment rate falls below 5%, By Nelson D. Schwartz, February 5, 2016, New York Times: “Is the American worker finally getting a raise?  After years of scant real gains despite steadily falling unemployment and healthy hiring, wages picked up significantly last month, a sign the job market could be tightening enough to force companies to pay more to attract and retain employees.  The half a percentage point increase in average hourly earnings in January was the brightest spot in a generally positive Labor Department report on Friday, which showed job creation slowing from the white-hot pace of late 2015 even as the unemployment rate fell to an eight-year low of 4.9 percent…”

Homeless Youth – New York City

Homeless young people of New York, overlooked and underserved, By Nikita Stewart, February 5, 2016, New York Times: “Hundreds of homeless young people are in plain sight every day in New York City.  They are sitting on the floor at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and charging their phones as if they were college students awaiting a bus home. They are huddled on the sidewalk, hanging out. They sleep on friends’ couches and in strangers’ beds. They stay with ‘Uncle A.C.E.,’ code for the long route of the A train, where they can spend hours unbothered and unnoticed. Mostly, they just blend in, people in their late teens or early 20s, navigating a treacherous path into adulthood…”

Jobless Benefits – Pennsylvania

Changed rules for jobless pay exclude some workers, By Daniel Moore, February 2, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Amid the sharp downturn in the steel industry and the closure of several power plants in southwestern Pennsylvania, work has been steadily disappearing for Keith Evans. The 53-year-old boilermaker from Brookline is called on intermittently for jobs related to maintenance at industrial facilities.  But the state won’t let him collect unemployment compensation as he scours for jobs. Thousands of seasonal workers were ruled ineligible to receive jobless pay under cost-cutting measures put into effect in January 2013 under former Gov. Tom Corbett.  Although the intention wasn’t to exclude such workers, efforts in Harrisburg to bring some of them back into the fold haven’t worked yet…”

SNAP Work Requirements

Over 1 million face loss of food stamps over work requirements, Associated Press, January 30, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “More than 1 million low-income residents in 21 states could soon lose their government food stamps if they fail to meet work requirements that began kicking in this month.  The rule change in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was triggered by the improving economy — specifically, falling unemployment. But it is raising concerns among the poor, social service providers and food pantry workers, who fear an influx of hungry people…”

Medicaid Expansion – Indiana, Ohio

  • Hospitals boosted by Medicaid expansion, By Maureen Groppe, February 1, 2016, Indianapolis Star: “The biggest obstacle a Richmond, Ind., hospital has had in signing up low-income Hoosiers for Indiana’s expanded Medicaid program is convincing them it’s real.  ‘These are people who have never had this type of coverage before,’ said Chris Knight, the chief financial officer and vice president of Reid Health. ‘We have had very touching stories where people just break down and cry when they’re given this coverage.’  As Indiana enters its second year of expanded Medicaid coverage created by the Affordable Care Act, hospitals around the state report it has helped patients gain needed coverage.  But it’s helping hospitals, too.  The amount of unpaid bills Reid Health can’t collect from patients has dropped about 40 percent…”
  • Do Indiana’s poor Medicaid recipients really have skin in the game?, By Maureen Groppe and Shari Rudavsky, February 1, 2016, Indianapolis Star: “When Gov. Mike Pence sought federal permission to run an alternative Medicaid program in Indiana, one aspect was non-negotiable: Participants in the joint federal and state health care program for the poor would have to have ‘skin in the game.’  Even those with no monthly income would have to pay a minimum $1 a month toward their care, if they wanted to stay in the part of the Healthy Indiana Program (HIP 2.0) that offered better benefits and no co-payments…”
  • Medicaid cuts number of uninsured Ohio workers, By Randy Tucker, February 3, 2016, Dayton Daily News: “The number of Ohio workers who were employed but uninsured fell sharply in the first full year of expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released Wednesday by Families USA. On average, the rate of uninsured, mostly low-wage workers, fell by 25 percent in the 26 states that expanded Medicaid in 2014, the non-profit health care advocacy group found. That was about twice the rate of decline in non-expansion states, where the share of uninsured workers was cut by an average of 13 percent, according to the report…”

Gender Pay Gap

Obama moves to close gender wage gap, By Jim Puzzanghera and Evan Halper, January 29, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “The first bill President Obama signed after taking office in 2009 was designed to help close the pay gap between men and women.  But saying progress has been slow, Obama announced a new plan Friday to try to ensure that women earn the same as men for doing the same job.  The proposal, which doesn’t need legislative approval, would require businesses with at least 100 employees to submit annual pay data by gender, race and ethnicity in an effort to find firms that the White House said are ‘unlawfully shortchanging workers…’”

Health Care and Social Services Screenings

Feds to study health benefits of screening and linking to social services, By Jayne O’Donnell, February 3, 2016, USA Today: “The Obama administration is working to build evidence supporting increased federal and state spending on anti-violence, social service and other programs to improve life in poor neighborhoods and limit the growth in health care costs.  The move comes despite more limited reports done by outside groups and is designed to create a paper trail that makes the need for and efficacy of the programs for Medicare and Medicaid recipients indisputable by showing the cost savings…”

Bail System – Connecticut

Gov. Malloy proposes elimination of bail for some offenders, By Daniela Altimari, January 28, 2016, Hartford Courant: “Standing in a church in the North End Thursday afternoon, Gov.Dannel P. Malloy outlined his plan to take on a bail system that dates from medieval England. The Democratic governor is proposing an end to bail for low-risk defendants charged with low-level crimes. In cases where bond is set as a condition of release, Malloy is calling for a new system that would permit defendants to sidestep bail bondsmen and put up a cash deposit directly with the court in order to secure their freedom…”

Employment Gender Gap in Poor Neighborhoods

The striking power of poverty to turn young boys into jobless men, By Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham, January 29, 2016, Washington Post: “Men are more likely to work than women. This has been true in the United States for generations and for entrenched reasons that have to do with ‘family values’ and workplace policies. It’s true because the culture says women should care for their children and because paying for child care is expensive. And it’s true because of discrimination.  The durability of that pattern makes a recent finding by economists at Harvard and Stanford universities all the more puzzling: Among the poor, the opposite is now true. Girls who grow up in poor families are more likely than the boys who grow up with them to work as adults…”

Stateline’s State of the States Report

State of the States 2016, January 25, 2016, Stateline: “Stateline’s annual State of the States series looks at some of the pressing issues state lawmakers are facing as they begin their work this month. The five-part series includes analytical articles, infographics and interactives…”

National School Lunch Program

Obama’s plan to give free lunches to millions more kids, By Roberto A. Ferdman, January 27, 2016, Washington Post: “The Obama administration will announce new plans Wednesday to launch a pilot program aimed at increasing poor children’s access to food through the National School Lunch Program. The pilot program will allow participating states to use Medicaid data to automatically certify students for free and reduced-price school lunches. Currently, families have to submit an application — a laborious process for parents and a costly one for schools — even when they have already proven that they are income-eligible through their participation in other government assistance programs…”

Homeless Youth – Los Angeles, CA

L.A. is working to count a hidden population — homeless young people, By Gale Holland, January 26, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “When Marlon Sibrian turned 18 and aged out of the Los Angeles County foster care system, he had nowhere to go. His social worker dropped him off at the door of a Boyle Heights youth shelter. Sibrian’s time there made it easy for him to recognize the homeless young men amid similarly hoodie-clad and beanie-topped individuals at Union Station…”