States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Medicaid report finds more recipient ease of use in expansion states, By Richard Craver, June 22, 2016, Winston-Salem Journal: “The latest in a series of federal reports on the benefits of Medicaid expansion determined that it can reduce third-party debt collections by $600 to $1,000 per individual.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, released Tuesday, also found that compared with 19 non-expansion states such as North Carolina, Medicaid enrollees in 31 expansion states saw an increase in preventive service visits and access to Medicaid prescription drug refills…”
  • Bevin unveils plan to reshape Medicaid in Ky., By Deborah Yetter, June 22, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Gov. Matt Bevin on Wednesday announced sweeping changes to the state’s $10 billion-a-year Medicaid program, saying he will seek permission from the federal government to reshape the federal-state health program that covers about 1.3 million Kentuckians.  Bevin, in a press conference at the Capitol Rotunda, hailed his proposal for a ‘waiver’ from the federal government to revise Kentucky’s Medicaid plan as an opportunity ‘to come up with what is going to be truly a transformative and sustainable and fantastic program…'”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • Cal State University looks to stem homelessness, hunger among students, By Josh Dulaney, June 21, 2016, Long Beach Press Telegram: “On the heels of a report showing close to one in 10 Cal State University students are homeless or face housing instability, officials met this week in Long Beach to come up with solutions to help students. ‘I think we’re going to start getting some greater awareness across this country because of Cal State — because of our size and importance — is raising this issue across the nation, and we’re not alone in doing so,’ Chancellor Timothy P. White said at the outset of the two-day meeting at the Chancellor’s Office…”
  • Food pantries address a growing hunger problem at colleges, By Stephanie Saul, June 22, 2016, New York Times: “Tucked away in a discreet office atBrooklyn College’s Student Center, beyond the pool tables and wide-screen TVs where her classmates congregate, Rebecca Harmata discovered a lifeline.  A psychology major who works in a doctor’s office to pay for her education, Ms. Harmata describes a break-even, paycheck-to-paycheck existence, with little left over for luxuries — or even for food.  So when she saw a sign last fall advertising the school’s new free food pantry, she decided to take advantage…”

Schools Districts and Students in Foster Care

How children in foster care could benefit from the new federal education law, By Emma Brown, June 23, 2016, Washington Post: “The Obama administration on Thursday released new guidance explaining what states and school districts must do to meet new legal obligations to students in foster care, who are often among the nation’s most vulnerable children. For the first time, schools, districts and states must publicly report on the performance of children in foster care, a requirement that advocates hope will help shine a light on the need for more attention and help…”

Affordable Housing

  • The financial pain of middle- and low-income renters, By Aimee Picchi, June 22, 2016, CBS News: “Even as home prices continue to recover from the last decade’s housing collapse, there’s another crisis developing: sky-high rent burdens. About 11.4 million American households are paying more than half of their incomes to afford their rent, a record high, according to a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies…”
  • 11 million Americans spend half their income on rent, By Kathryn Vasel, June 22, 2016, CNN Money: “More Americans are struggling to make rent.  The number of renters dedicating at least half of their income toward housing hit a record high of 11 million people in 2014, according to the annual State of the Nation’s Housing Report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.  A total of 21.3 million are spending 30% or more of their paycheck to cover the rent — also a record high…”

2016 Kids Count Data Book

  • The best and worst states to be a kid in America, June 21, 2016, USA Today: “Minnesota is the best state to be a kid, according to a new study of children’s overall well-being. The worst overall states? Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, and Alabama, according to rankings in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2016 ‘Kids Count Data Book…'”
  • NM again ranks 49th in child well-being, 50th in education, By Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News: “For the third consecutive year, New Mexico ranks 49th overall for child well-being, according to the 2016 Kids Count Data Book, released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Mississippi is the only state that fared worse…”
  • California No. 36 in child well-being: Where the state falls short, By Sharon Noguchi, June 20, 2016, San Jose Mercury News: “With more investments in health, the well-being of California’s children continued its three-year improvement, new data shows. At the same time, measurements in four broad categories of children’s welfare place the Golden State in the bottom third of the nation — 36th out of the 50 states, in an annual survey released Tuesday by the child-advocacy groups the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Children Now…”
  • Louisiana children continue to struggle, report says, By Danielle Dreilinger, June 20, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Life has gotten worse for Louisiana’s children since 2008, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The annual Kids Count report, released Tuesday (June 21), compared health, education, community and economic well-being benchmarks from recent years to the start of the recession…”
  • More kids living in poverty in Ohio, report says, By Catherine Candisky, June 21, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “More Ohio children are living in poverty, yet despite their struggles, many are making choices that could lead to brighter futures. A report on the well-being of children found more Ohio teens are graduating high school, fewer are getting pregnant and fewer are using drugs and alcohol. More have health insurance, and fewer are dying before their 18th birthdays…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Pittsburgh, PA

For those with Section 8 vouchers, finding suitable housing difficult, By Kate Giammarise, June 20, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “It can take years to get a Section 8 voucher in Pittsburgh. But it takes just four months to lose it. Pittsburgh’s voucher waiting list has about 5,000 families on it, but once a family gets one, the clock starts ticking. The recipient must find a qualified residence within 120 days and, because of a shortage of units and willing landlords, that’s often very difficult. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly referred to as Section 8, is the largest federal program for assisting low-income people to find affordable housing in the private rental market…”

Unemployment Insurance – North Carolina

North Carolina ranks among top-five worst states for the jobless, By Richard Craver, June 20, 2016, Winston Salem-Journal: “North Carolina’s inclusion among the five worst states for unemployment insurance beneficiaries may be a source of shame or pride, depending on the value placed upon the drastic cuts that went into effect in July 2013. The state was ranked 46th by research firm 24/7 Wall St. in a report released June 11. Louisiana is listed as the worst state, followed by Alabama, Mississippi and Alaska. In a report released Thursday, North Carolina ranked 49th in terms of what percentage of UI applicants receive benefits at 12.4 percent for 2015. That study comes from the Center for American Progress, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, and National Employment Law Project…”

Medicaid Expansion – Indiana

Indiana battling feds over Medicaid, By Maureen Groppe, June 20, 2016, Indianapolis Star: “Indiana remains at odds with the federal government over how to evaluate the state’s unique Medicaid program, a standoff that affects not only Indiana, but also other states looking to adopt Indiana’s model. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gave Indiana a deadline of June 17 to finalize a data-sharing agreement on the jointly funded health care program for the poor. Instead, Indiana responded in a letter Friday that the federal government hasn’t satisfied the state’s concerns about data safety…”

Jobs with Driver’s License Requirements

No driver’s license, no job, By Alana Semuels, June 15, 2016, The Atlantic: “Ask conservatives what the poor need to do to get out of poverty, and the answer usually involves something like, ‘Get a job.’ That was the crux of the anti-poverty plan Paul Ryan revealed last week to shrugs, and has been the gist of many anti-poverty efforts over the past two decades.  But for many people, there is one very specific—and often overlooked—reason why that’s not so easy: They don’t have a driver’s license.  Not all jobs require a driver’s license, particularly those that pay very low wages. But having one is a very common requirement for the sorts of job that can actually lift people out of poverty—those in construction, manufacturing, security, and unions jobs including electricians and plumbers, says Mark Kessenich, who runs WRTP Big Step, a Milwaukee center that trains low-income workers to enter jobs in construction and manufacturing that pay a starting wage of $15 and up…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

In some Zip codes, 1 in 7 children suffer from dangerously high blood lead levels, By Brady Dennis, June 15, 2016, Washington Post: “In one city after another, the tests showed startling numbers of children with unsafe blood lead levels: Poughkeepsie and Syracuse and Buffalo. Erie and Reading. Cleveland and Cincinnati.  In those cities and others around the country, 14 percent of kids — and in some cases more — have troubling amounts of the toxic metal in their blood, according to new research published Wednesday. The findings underscore how despite long-running public health efforts to reduce lead exposure, many U.S. children still live in environments where they’re likely to encounter a substance that can lead to lasting behavioral, mental and physical problems…”

Low-Income Men in the Workforce

Fewer low-income men are working, By Tami Luhby, June 15, 2016, CNN Money: “Men have been disappearing from the workforce for decades.  But a closer look at the data reveals that lower-income men account for much of the change — and that reflects a big problem with the economy.  Only 69% of these men, ages 25 to 54, are employed, according to new research from the Brookings Institution. That figure was 80% in 1980…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Ohio

Kasich signs foster-care extension law, By Rita Price, June 14, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “Hundreds of Ohio’s most traumatized and vulnerable teens should soon have the chance to tap into a few more years of support before they have to make it on their own.  Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law Monday that extends foster-care eligibility to age 21, adding Ohio to the growing number of states that have decided teens shouldn’t automatically age out of the system when they turn 18…”

TANF programs – Missouri, California

  • Tougher rules shrink Missouri welfare rolls, advocates for the poor say, By Kurt Erickson, June 17, 2016, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “New figures show the number of poor people receiving temporary cash benefits in Missouri has plummeted in the past five years.  And, the number is expected to nosedive further in the coming months under a proposed new law that calls for the state to scrub the welfare rolls to eliminate people who aren’t eligible for the aid…”
  • California’s new budget repeals welfare rule denying extra aid for newborns, By Jessica Calefati, June 16, 2016, San Jose Mercury News: “Capping a month of remarkably productive talks between Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders, lawmakers on Wednesday adopted a new state budget that repeals a harsh welfare rule advocates for needy families had fought against for years.  Assembly members barely debated the $122.5 billion general fund budget, passing it 52-27. The Senate approved the spending plan 27-11 over the objections of most Republicans, who argued that the Legislature was a bit too generous this year and should have saved more of the tax revenue it collected…”

Minimum Wage – Des Moines, IA

Des Moines’ minimum wage is higher than you think, By Kevin Hardy, June 14, 2016, Des Moines Register: “S. Ahmed Merchant isn’t too worried about Polk County possibly raising the minimum wage above Iowa’s mandated $7.25 an hour.  By December, he plans to pay every employee at his 40 Iowa Jimmy John’s sandwich shops at least $10.50 per hour. Merchant started raising workers’ beginning pay after Johnson County supervisors decided last year to phase in a new minimum wage of $10.10 per hour…”

Infant Mortality – Milwaukee, WI

As racial gap widens, infant mortality rate goal virtually beyond reach, By Crocker Stephenson, June 14, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “African-American babies are dying in Milwaukee at a rate that is more than three times that of white babies, according to data released Tuesday by the Milwaukee Health Department. Approaching historic levels, it is the worst racial disparity in infant deaths that the city has seen in more than a decade.  And while the average infant mortality rate for both black and white babies decreased during the three-year period ending in 2015, it now appears all but impossible that the city will reach the goal it set in 2011 of reducing the black infant mortality rate 15% by 2017…”

Homelessness in Seattle, WA

  • Seattle may try San Francisco’s ‘radical hospitality’ for homeless, By Daniel Beekman, June 11, 2016, Seattle Times: “Denise and Michael were relaxing on a sunny Friday afternoon.  She sat on their bed in pajamas, folding laundry, while he roughhoused with their friend’s pit bull. Soul standards were blaring from a boombox.  There was something homey about the scene, even though the couple were homeless. Denise and Michael were inside San Francisco’s Navigation Center, an experimental shelter where guests come and go as they please and where pets, partners and possessions are welcome…”
  • Houston’s solution to the homeless crisis: Housing — and lots of it, By Daniel Beekman, June 13, 2016, Seattle Times: “Anthony Humphrey slept on the pavement outside a downtown Houston drop-in center. Except when a Gulf Coast rainstorm slammed the city — then he took cover under a storefront awning or below Interstate 45.  He had no driver’s license, no Social Security card, almost no hope. That was in 2014. This month, Humphrey will celebrate a year in his apartment…”

Subprime Auto Lending

As subprime auto borrowers default, collection suits pile up in local courts, By Walker Moskop, June 6, 2016, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “In August 2008, William Lesinski walked into a Car Credit City in Bridgeton and made a decision that would be far more expensive than he ever imagined.  Wanting to buy his son a car as a high school graduation gift, Lesinski put $1,750 down and drove off the lot in a 2003 Ford Mustang. The loan for the car was $11,367, and it carried 29 percent annual interest over nearly four years. His son would make the payments, but the loan was in Lesinski’s name…”

Court Fines and the Poor

Debtors prison a thing of the past? Some places in America still lock up the poor, By Rick Anderson, June 8, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “Unemployed and fighting to stay clean, Jayne Fuentes had few options when a judge offered her a particularly unappealing choice – go to jail or spend her days on a work crew. Her crime? Being too poor to pay the fines and court costs that came with a drug conviction and several theft charges…”

Medicaid Expansion – Louisiana

Medicaid expands, ERs brace, Ernest Burrell prays, By Richard Rainey, June 10, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Ernest Burrell poured eight orange, translucent plastic bottles from a bag onto the floor of his Central City apartment. They clattered on the chipped, ruddy concrete. Unpronounceable labels — Spironolactone, Amlodipine, Indapamide and more — were typed in faint serif font above handwritten notes on which pills to take once a day, twice a day, three times a day. He fished a few more vials from a purple plaid knapsack with faded images of cartoon skulls etched in the fabric. In all, a dozen drugs and vitamins doctors say he needs to handle his high blood pressure, failing heart, depression, and Stage 3 kidney disease.  The drugs aren’t optional. Heart attacks killed his mother, his father and his brother in the middle of their lives. His older sister wears a pacemaker. At 52, Burrell has survived two attacks himself. He needs those drugs…”

Student Homelessness – New York, Minnesota

  • Where nearly half of pupils are homeless, school aims to be teacher, therapist, even Santa, By Elizabeth A. Harris, June 6, 2016, New York Times: “There are supposed to be 27 children in Harold Boyd IV’s second-grade classroom, but how many of them will be there on a given day is anyone’s guess.  Since school began in September, five new students have arrived and eight children have left. Two transferred out in November. One who started in January was gone in April. A boy showed up for a single day in March, and then never came back. Even now, in the twilight of the school year, new students are still arriving, one as recently as mid-May…”
  • Amid recovery, many families struggle with homelessness, By Kristi Marohn, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “In 2004, then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty set an ambitious goal for the state: End homelessness by 2010.  But 12 years later, despite the bold pronouncement, the problem of homelessness continues to plague the state, including the St. Cloud area.  Despite the economic recovery and lower unemployment, Central Minnesota families are still struggling with incomes that have stayed flat since the Great Recession. Meanwhile, a tight rental market has pushed the cost of housing beyond the reach of many…”
  • Child homelessness can have long-term consequences, By Stephanie Dickrell, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “There are strong moral reasons to end homelessness and its consequences. But there are economic incentives for society as well. Children who grow up in homelessness may experience long-term effects on behavior, employability, relationships and brain development. As those children grow into adulthood, society ends up paying for the consequences through law enforcement, the criminal justice system and social service programs…”
  • Facing summer on an empty stomach, By Vicki Ikeogu, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “June 2, 2016. The day area school-aged kids could not wait for.  Yearbook signings. No more homework. Freedom.  The last day of school can bring a whirlwind of emotions for students. But for thousands in the St. Cloud school district, summer vacation can mean anxiety. Worry. Hunger.  Because without the breakfast and lunch provided during the school day, many kids are facing a summer filled with limited access to nutritious and filling meals…”