Affordable Housing

Renting a Chicago apartment becoming less affordable, study says, By Gail MarksJarvis, May 25, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “The average renter in the Chicago area does not earn enough to comfortably afford a modest apartment, a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition reported Wednesday.  With rents climbing sharply since the housing bust, individuals — and especially families — are having to stretch further on rent. Consequently, higher housing costs are forcing people to skimp on other necessities such as food, child care and transportation, said Andrew Aurand, vice president of research for the coalition…”

Common Application for Benefits – Massachusetts

Senate considers merging applications for MassHealth, food stamps, By Shira Schoenberg, May 26, 2016, MassLive.com: “At Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, director of operations Jo-Ann Silva-Winbush employs 19 counselors trained to help people apply for publicly subsidized health insurance. She hired two other counselors to help people apply for food stamps. A patient might wait a half hour to fill out a health insurance application, then another half hour to see another counselor to fill out a food stamp application.  Most of the information on the two applications is identical…”

Teenage Pregnancy – England

England’s teenage pregnancy strategy to become global blueprint, By Sally Weale, May 23, 2016, The Guardian: “A teenage pregnancy prevention strategy that is credited for halving the rate of conceptions among teenagers in England is to be used as a blueprint in countries that want to emulate its success. Alison Hadley, who led the 10-year programme resulting in record lows in teenage pregnancies, has been asked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to share the lessons of the project so they can be applied globally…”

Internet Access and Unemployment – Detroit, MI

Unemployed Detroit residents are trapped by a digital divide, By Cecilia Kang, May 22, 2016, New York Times: “In downtown Detroit, start-ups and luxury retailers are opening up and new office buildings are being built as the city works to recover from its deep economic problems. Six miles to the north, in the neighborhood of Hope Village, residents like Eric Hill are trying to participate in that progress but are running into hurdles. His difficulties were apparent on a recent Tuesday when he entered a crowded public library to use the computers to look for a new job. With no Internet service at home or on his mobile phone, Mr. Hill had few options to search work listings or file online job applications after losing his stocking job at a pharmacy five months ago…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Michigan

About 1 in 7 Michigan residents get food stamps, and 6 other facts about SNAP, By Julie Mack, May 23, 2016, MLive.com: “Nearly one of every seven Michigan residents — including one in four Michigan children — currently receive food stamp benefits, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, saw usage spike during the recent recession but the numbers are now down steadily declining…”

Household Economic Security

Nearly half of U.S. households would struggle with an unexpected $400 expense, Fed study finds, By Don Lee, May 25, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “Shedding light on the precarious economic state of many American families, theFederal Reserve said Wednesday that nearly half of U.S. households reported they would have trouble meeting emergency expenses of just $400.  In addition, the Fed found that 22% of workers were juggling two or more jobs last year, higher than what government jobs data would suggest. And nearly one out of three Americans said that they have no retirement savings or pension…”

Baby Nurseries in Prisons

Babies behind bars: Should moms do time with their newborns?, By Colleen Long (AP), May 25, 2016, Arizona Daily Star: “Jennifer Dumas sits on a sofa, her smiling 6-month-old girl on her lap. The room is full of bright toys and children’s books. A rainbow-colored activity mat is on the floor, and Winnie the Pooh is painted on the walls. It looks like any other nursery, except that there are bars on the windows and barbed-wire fences outside the austere brick building. New York’s maximum-security Bedford Hills Correctional Facility is one of the very few prisons in the U.S. that allow inmates and their babies to live together, a century-old approach that not all corrections experts agree is the best way to deal with women locked up while pregnant. Mothers who get such a chance say it’s better than the alternative: In most prisons, babies born behind bars must be given up within a day to a relative or foster care…”

Racial Achievement Gap – Iowa, Kentucky

  • Preschool — The solution to black achievement gap?, By Mackenzie Ryan, May 23, 2016, Des Moines Register: “It’s mid-morning, and Evevett Fugate has been up all night. After clocking out of her overnight McDonald’s shift at 6 a.m. and returning home, she readies her four children for school, making sure the oldest three catch the bus in the morning. She takes her youngest, Ovalia, to preschool class for 4-year-olds, then picks her up at 11 a.m.  Although Fugate’s overnight work allows her to attend school activities, she has enrolled Ovalia in early childhood programs since age 2 because she knows how vital is it for children to get an early jump on kindergarten, whether it be learning letters or picking up social skills…”
  • Despite advances, racial achievement gap widens, By Luba Ostashevsky, May 23, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “The second-graders in Sarah Bowling’s class at Dunn Elementary were on a mathematical scavenger hunt. Students cradling clipboards moved around the room matching groupings of things and learning the concept that three groups of five things total the same as five groups of three things. In the middle of the room,  three students received individualized instruction because they had fallen short of academic expectations. While Dunn has students of all skill levels, there remains a gap in student achievement, particularly between the school’s African-American students and the rest of the students. Such gaps were a major consideration for state educational leaders more than five years ago, when Kentucky became the first state to adopt the Common Core…”

Schools and Child Poverty – Cincinnati, OH

  • ‘This is a crisis’: Suburban poverty growing, school lunch data shows, By Emilie Eaton, May 21, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “In 10 years, Chris Burkhardt has seen a dramatic spike in school lunch program participation. It’s a double-edged sword, he says. On one hand, the program guarantees kids are receiving nutritious meals that help them succeed in the classroom. On the other hand, many students aren’t receiving those same nutritious meals at home. ‘We’re happy folks are utilizing the program, but it’s difficult knowing families can’t provide fruits and vegetables at home,’ said Burkhardt, director of child nutrition at Lakota Local Schools.  In 2015, roughly 3,800 students in Lakota Local Schools received a meal through the school lunch program, a federal program that provides free or discounted lunch to students whose families live in or near poverty…”
  • What is CPS doing to combat poverty?, By Emilie Eaton, May 23, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “The kids steadily trickle into the lunch room here, grabbing a tray before picking out an entree, a vegetable, a fruit and a snack. BBQ beef on a bun? Peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Shredded chicken salad? Green beans? Celery? No complaints here. These kids want it all. ‘This is their opportunity to get five fruits and vegetables a day,’ said Principal Belinda Tubbs-Wallace. ‘Some of them don’t get that at home.’  This is Rockdale Academy, where all 402 students receive a free lunch under the school lunch program, a national program that provides a free or discounted lunch to students living below or near the federal poverty level…”

School Segregation in the US

  • On the anniversary of Brown v. Board, new evidence that U.S. schools are resegregating, By Emma Brown, May 17, 2016, Washington Post: “Poor, black and Hispanic children are becoming increasingly isolated from their white, affluent peers in the nation’s public schools, according to new federal data showing that the number of high-poverty schools serving primarily black and brown students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014. The data was released by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday, 62 years to the day after the Supreme Court decided that segregated schools are ‘inherently unequal’ and therefore unconstitutional…”
  • GAO study: Segregation worsening in U.S. schools, By Greg Toppo, May 17, 2016, USA Today: “America’s public schools – 62 years after the Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision – are increasingly segregated by race and class, according to new findings by Congress’ watchdog agency that echo what advocates for low-income and minority students have said for years.  U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators found that from the 2000-2001 to the 2013-2014 school year, both the percentage of K-12 public schools in high-poverty and the percentage comprised of mostly African-American or Hispanic students grew significantly, more than doubling, from 7,009 schools to 15,089 schools. The percentage of all schools with so-called racial or socio-economic isolation grew from 9% to 16%…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

  • New Kansas law revives debate over welfare restrictions, By Megan Hart, May 17, 2016, Salina Post: “The legislative battle may be over, but the war of words continues about a bill that imposes new restrictions on Kansas welfare recipients. Gov. Sam Brownback signed Senate Bill 402 on Monday at the Statehouse flanked by legislative supporters of the measure. The new law lowers the lifetime limit for those receiving cash assistance under the Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) program from three years to two years, with the possibility of a one-year hardship extension. It also tightens work requirements and penalties for not cooperating with fraud investigations…”
  • Gov. Brownback signs new limits on welfare, Associated Press, May 17, 2016, Kansas City Star: “Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback touted the welfare limits he signed into law Monday as a way to free recipients from the grip of poverty, but critics argued some families could be left without a safety net during financial difficulties. The changes in public assistance eligibility are a continuation of the 2015 HOPE Act, a law designed to move families off of welfare and into the workforce. The new law will reduce the lifetime limit on cash assistance from 36 to 24 months, although the state can grant an extension of up to 12 months…”

Pell Grants for High School Students in College Courses

Low-income high schoolers to get grants for college courses, By Jennifer C. Kerr (AP), May 17, 2016, San Jose Mercury News: “For the first time, thousands of low-income high-school students in nearly two dozen states will soon be able to get federal grants to take college courses for credit, part of a program the Obama administration plans to begin this summer.  The experimental program allows high school students to apply for federal Pell grant money to pay for college courses. The ‘dual enrollment’ program is designed to help students from lower-income backgrounds…”

State Community College Affordability

The student debt crisis at state community colleges, By Sophie Quinton, May 10, 2016, Stateline: “Community colleges charge lower tuition than just about anywhere else. They’re open to everyone. They offer the kind of technical training employers want. And they can serve as an affordable steppingstone to a four-year degree. As President Barack Obama said in the fall: ‘They’re at the heart of the American Dream.’  But while plenty of community college students graduate with a degree that leads to a better job, or to a four-year college, many community college students drop out. And a growing number of students are taking on debt they cannot repay…”

Low-Income Students at Elite Colleges

For the poor in the Ivy League, a full ride isn’t always what they imagined, By Nick Anderson, May 16, 2016, Washington Post: “To reach the Ivy League after growing up poor seems like hitting the jackpot. Students get a world-class education from schools that promise to meet full financial needs without making them take out loans. But the reality of a full ride isn’t always what they had dreamed it would be.  Here at Columbia University, money pressures lead many to cut corners on textbook purchases and skip city excursions routine for affluent classmates. Some borrow thousands of dollars a year to pay bills. Some feel obliged to send money home occasionally to help their families. Others spend less on university meal plans, slipping extra food into their backpacks when they leave a dining hall and hunting for free grub through a Facebook network called CU Meal Share…”

Home Energy Assistance Programs

Utility assistance falls short for those in poverty, By Dan Boyce and Jordan Wirfs-Brock, May 15, 2016, Glenwood Springs Post Independent: “Families at low income levels pay more than they can afford for their home utility bills, and energy assistance programs designed to help make up the difference struggle to meet demand. As Lea Anne Shellberg knows, spring can be the most difficult time. Spring is when those power bills from the winter start piling up. A broken back and a recurring battle with skin cancer ended her career as an interior designer. When we first tried setting up an interview with her in mid-March, she was in trouble…”

Poverty in the UK

A third of people in the UK have experienced poverty in recent years, By Katie Allen, May 16, 2016, The Guardian: “One in three people have experienced poverty in recent years, according to figures that underline the precarious nature of work in Britain. Anti-poverty campaigners welcomed news that the proportion of people experiencing long-term, or persistent, poverty had declined to one of the lowest rates in the EU. But they highlighted Britons’ relatively high chances of falling into poverty as the latest evidence that a preponderance of low-paying and low-skilled jobs left many families at risk of hardship…”

Children’s Health Insurance Coverage

More low-income kids now have health coverage, By Michelle Andrews, May 13, 2016, National Public Radio: “Bolstered by the federal health care law, the number of lower-income kids getting health coverage continues to rise.  During 2014, the first full year of the law’s implementation, 91 percent of children who were eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program were enrolled, according to a study by researchers at the Urban Institute. In 2013, that figure was 88.7 percent and only 81.7 percent in 2008. Medicaid and CHIP are both federal-state health coverage programs for lower-income residents, but CHIP provides coverage for kids whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid…”

Medicaid Expansion – Oklahoma

In surprising turnabout, Oklahoma eyes Medicaid expansion, By Sean Murray (AP), May 16, 2016, The Oklahoman: “Despite bitter resistance in Oklahoma for years to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, Republican leaders in this conservative state are now confronting something that alarms them even more: a huge $1.3 billion hole in the budget that threatens to do widespread damage to the state’s health care system.  So, in what would be the grandest about-face among rightward leaning states, Oklahoma is now moving toward a plan to expand its Medicaid program to bring in billions of federal dollars from Obama’s new health care system.  What’s more, GOP leaders are considering a tax hike to cover the state’s share of the costs…”

Low-Wage Manufacturing Work

  • A staggering number of people with factory jobs still need government help, By Jim Tankersley, May 10, 2016, Washington Post: “Philadonna Wade works the night shift at the Detroit Chassis plant in Avon, Ohio, finishing off truck axles before they ship off to one of the big Ford factories nearby. It is heavier work than her last job, which was stocking shelves at a Family Dollar store, and Wade says it’s helping her get in shape. ‘I enjoy the job, I enjoy the people I work with,’ she said in an interview recently. ‘But the thing is, when you go to a job, it’s not about enjoying the people you work with, it’s about earning more for your family.’  At the plant, Wade has the sort of job that Americans often associate with a blue-collar American Dream. But she’s paid more like a low-level service worker: $9.50 an hour, with no benefits. She is officially a temporary worker, sourced through a staffing agency, and she doesn’t earn nearly enough to feed, clothe and house her four children. Taxpayers help her make up the difference. ‘I get energy assistance, I get food stamps, I get Medicaid,’ she said. ‘Every bit of public assistance there is, I get it…'”
  • One in three US manufacturing workers are on welfare: Study, By Jeff Cox, May 12, 2016, CNBC: “Philadonna Wade’s story plays out across middle America on a daily basis but is seldom told. It’s the story of the working poor who labor in tough jobs — like Wade’s position as an assembler for a Ford Motor plant — that don’t pay enough to keep them off public assistance.  In fact, fully 1 in 3 Americans who work in the manufacturing sector are receiving some form of public assistance, according to a study released this week by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Of those who came to their positions through temp agencies, a category in which Wade falls, half are on some type of safety net program…”

Section 8 Housing – Minneapolis, MN

Proposal would open more Minneapolis apartments to Section 8 housing vouchers, By Eric Roper, May 11, 2016, Star Tribune: “Landlords can be picky about pets, credit scores and rental history, but Minneapolis officials are looking to bar another common stipulation of apartment listings: ‘No Section 8.’  A proposal by two City Council members would make Minneapolis the first city in the metro area to say landlords cannot turn away tenants solely for paying rent with government housing vouchers. A preliminary meeting with landlords about the idea is slated for Thursday, with a tenant-focused public meeting on Friday.  Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, a co-author of the ordinance, said rejecting applicants who are using vouchers makes unfair generalizations about the program and those who rely on it…”