Section 8 Housing – Fresno, CA

Fresno again issues Section 8 housing vouchers, By BoNhia Lee, August 28, 2010, Fresno Bee: “For the first time in more than a year, the Fresno housing authority is handing out Section 8 rental vouchers — giving hundreds of families a long-awaited opportunity to afford a place to live. About 500 families are expected to receive the vouchers in coming months, the authority says. All of those families have been on a waiting list since 2008. That’s a small percentage of those who need a voucher: 22,220 families are on the waiting list. But it represents an unexpected bit of good news for a program that has faced overwhelming demand and funding shortfalls. In other cities, the wait for vouchers is even longer, said Donna White, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban and Development…”

Low-Wage Job Growth

New job means lower wages for many, By Michael Luo, August 31, 2010, New York Times: “After being out of work for more than a year, Donna Ings, 47, finally landed a job in February as a home health aide with a company in Lexington, Mass., earning about $10 an hour. Chelsea Nelson, 21, started two weeks ago as a waitress at a truck stop in Mountainburg, Ark., making around $7 or $8 an hour, depending on tips, ending a lengthy job search that took her young family to California and back. Both are ostensibly economic success stories, people who were able to find work in a difficult labor market. Ms. Ings’s employer, Home Instead Senior Care, a company with franchises across the country, has been expanding assertively. Ms. Nelson’s restaurant, Silver Bridge Truck Stop, recently reopened and hired about 20 people last month in an area thirsty for jobs. Both women, however, took large pay cuts from their old jobs – Ms. Ings worked for a wholesale tuxedo distributor, Ms. Nelson was a secretary. And both remain worried about how they will make ends meet in the long run. With the country focused on job growth and with unemployment continuing to hover above 9 percent, comparatively little attention has been paid to the quality of the jobs being created and what that might say about the opportunities available to workers when the recession finally settles. There are reasons for concern, however, even in the early stages of a tentative recovery that now appears to be barely wheezing along…”

Joblessness and Health Insurance Coverage – California

California’s safety-net health insurance premiums rise, By Duke Helfand, September 1, 2010, Los Angeles Times: “As state leaders blast giant health insurers for raising rates, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration has quietly allowed hefty increases for thousands of sick or jobless Californians who must rely on expensive safety-net coverage — if they want insurance at all. To the frustration of policyholders, state regulators have given insurance companies permission to raise maximum premiums for most of the 20,000 Californians who depend on the coverage of last resort. Some who buy the insurance will have to pay an extra $7,500 annually, pushing their bills to nearly $25,000. Healthcare advocates say that continued high unemployment in California could drive up the ranks of people in this high-risk pool who have no other options for protecting themselves against catastrophic medical expenses. These vulnerable consumers could face higher-than-anticipated costs until at least 2014, when the nation’s new healthcare law will require private insurers to cover all comers regardless of their health histories…”