Survey of Consumer Finances

  • Minorities and Americans without college degrees showed greatest gains in wealth since 2013, new data shows, By Heather Long and Tracy Jan, September 27, 2017, Washington Post: “Americans who were left behind as the country pulled out of the Great Recession — African Americans, Hispanics and people without college degrees — saw large gains in net worth over the past three years, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. But the improvements didn’t narrow the inequality gap: The share of U.S. income held by the top 1 percent of households reached 24 percent in 2016, a record high, and the median net worth of white households, at $171,000, was nearly 10 times larger than for black households…”
  • US middle class gets richer, but wealthy do even better, Associated Press, September 27, 2017, New York Times: “Most American families grew richer between 2013 and 2016, but the wealthiest households pulled even further ahead, worsening the nation’s massive disparities in wealth and income. The median net worth of all American families rose 16 percent last year from 2013 to $97,300, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday. The median is the point where half of families fall below and half above. That’s the first gain for middle class households since the recession upended the economy nearly a decade ago…”

Public Housing – Phoenix, AZ

‘It just has to go’: Plans for crumbling Phoenix housing projects threatened by new HUD cuts, By Alden Woods, September 28, 2017, Arizona Republic: “She moved into the projects 32 years ago, eyes wide at everything that had become hers. ‘This is mine,’ Yvonne Bridges remembers whispering back then, as a caseworker wheeled her through the door. ‘Mine,’ she repeated, running a hand over the sweating concrete walls and the vents that blew sticky air. Three decades later, the same concrete walls still surround 88-year-old Bridges. The Edison-Eastlake neighborhood has fallen into disrepair. Thick concrete walls trap in heat that aging swamp coolers can’t dispel, and maintenance teams improvise fixes on 75-year-old parts. For 32 years, Edison-Eastlake crumbled along with so many of America’s public housing projects. Federal money meant to maintain the country’s 1.2 million public housing units was never enough, and a backlog built up. The National Housing Preservation Database now counts more than 84,000 units in need of immediate investment…”

Child Poverty – Dallas, TX

Dallas’ child poverty rate drops, but still high compared to other major U.S. cities, By Tristan Hallman, September 26, 2017, Dallas News:”Dallas is no longer home to highest percentage of children living in poverty in major U.S. cities, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Mayor’s Poverty Task Force on Tuesday announced that the rate has fallen over the last three years. From 2014 to 2016, the American Community Survey’s estimates showed that 26,000 fewer Dallas children are living in poverty — dropping the rate to 30.6 percent from 37.8 percent. The overall poverty rate also fell, and the city has a relatively low rate among residents 65 and older…”

Child Poverty – Staten Island, NY

Census data shows rise in child poverty on Staten Island, By Thomas Erik Bascome, September 27, 2017, silive.com: “Recent data shows Staten Island was the lone borough to report an increase in child poverty rates from 2015 to 2016. At 19.1 percent, the child poverty rate in the borough is up from 2015, and still 4.3 percent higher than it was before the 2008 recession, according to Census Bureau data…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

  • UC Irvine opens expansive food pantry as more college students struggle with hunger, By Teresa Watanabe, September 27, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “UC Irvine student Ernest Devin Rankin grew up in Anaheim on one meal a day as his disabled parents, who had six children, struggled to stretch food stamps and disability payments. When he got to college, he could only afford the cheapest dining plan, offering 100 meals a quarter. When those meals ran out, he asked friends for help or survived on $1 fast-food burgers, tacos and burritos…”
  • As many students nationwide grapple with hunger, California offers food assistance, By Hannah Harris Green, September 29, 2017, Marketplace: “Students all over the country are back on campus, which means anxiety about new roommates and classes. But new research tells us that a lot of those students also worry about getting enough to eat.  Emaline Friedman is one such student. She shops at the Pavilions grocery store at Melrose and Vine in Los Angeles, because it’s located close to where she lives, and offers a lot of fresh produce and organic food. She’s in Los Angeles taking care of an elderly relative while she writes her psychology dissertation at the University of West Georgia. She relies on California’s food assistance program, called CalFresh…”

Finances in Retirement

The new reality of old age in America, By Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, September 30, 2017, Washington Post: “Richard Dever had swabbed the campground shower stalls and emptied 20 garbage cans, and now he climbed slowly onto a John Deere mower to cut a couple acres of grass.  ‘I’m going to work until I die, if I can, because I need the money,’ said Dever, 74, who drove 1,400 miles to this Maine campground from his home in Indiana to take a temporary job that pays $10 an hour.  Dever shifted gently in the tractor seat, a rubber cushion carefully positioned to ease the bursitis in his hip — a snapshot of the new reality of old age in America.  People are living longer, more expensive lives, often without much of a safety net. As a result, record numbers of Americans older than 65 are working — now nearly 1 in 5. That proportion has risen steadily over the past decade, and at a far faster rate than any other age group. Today, 9 million senior citizens work, compared with 4 million in 2000…”

Health Safety Net Programs

  • Clock ticking on federal funding for CHIP, other health safety net programs, By Kate Giammarise and Sean D. Hamill, September 26, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Federal funding for several health care safety-net programs is set to expire at the end of the week unless Congress takes action — a prospect that is looking increasingly less likely, advocates say, as the clock ticks and congressional energy is consumed by an 11th-hour attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act…”
  • Medicaid covers all that? It’s more than just health care for the poor, By Phil Galewitz, September 27, 2017, Governing: “When high levels of lead were discovered in the public water system in Flint, Mich., in 2015, Medicaid stepped in to help thousands of children get tested for poisoning and receive care. When disabled children need to get to doctors’ appointments — either across town or hundreds of miles away — Medicaid pays for their transportation.  When middle-class older Americans deplete their savings to pay for costly nursing home care, Medicaid offers coverage.  The United States has become a Medicaid nation…”

Affordable Housing – Milwaukee, WI

Low-income households in Milwaukee squeezed by rents, By Kevin Crowe and Ashley Luthern, September 22, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Cheryl Williams-Adams moved to Milwaukee with her teenage daughter four years ago, she landed on her feet. She worked as a substance abuse counselor for two organizations, and her monthly income was enough to cover the rent for their one-bedroom apartment, as well as to have some savings. ‘I was trying to build up enough money to get a house,’ Williams-Adams said.  Like many people, she was one emergency away from financial hardship.  In 2015, Williams-Adams, 63, had a heart attack. She hasn’t been able to work since.  Now, the mix of short-term benefits and Social Security payments she receives add up to about $1,000 per month. Her rent is $590. In the City of Milwaukee, 50% of all renters spent more than 30% of their monthly income on housing in 2016, compared to 46% of renters nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau…”

Kids Count Report – Alabama

  • Kids Count: Poverty rates are up; hunger stats have stabilized, By Lisa Singleton-Rickman, September 25, 2017, Times Daily: “The recently released Kids Count 2017 data didn’t come as a shock to Sarah Jennifer Thompson, especially in the area of childhood poverty. The founder of Sydney’s Safe Foundation has been fighting child hunger for a decade, the past seven years of which has included sending weekend food home with qualifying low-income students…”
  • Alabama teen pregnancy rate is at historic low, while poverty remains high, By Kym Klass, September 18, 2017, Montgomery Advertiser: “The number of children living in poverty continues to be high in Alabama, while the state’s teen pregnancy rate is at a historic low, according to the just-released Alabama Kids Count Data Book, produced by VOICES for Alabama’s Children…”

Poverty Rate – Flint, MI

  • Flint is nation’s poorest city, based on latest Census data, By Julie Mack, September 19, 2017, mlive.com: “Flint has the nation’s highest poverty rate among U.S. cities with at least 65,000 residents, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Detroit was No. 4 on the list, after Bloomington, Ind., and Reading, Pa. The Census released its estimate of 2016 poverty rates last week for 599 municipalities with a population of at least 65,000…”
  • Here’s how Flint went from boom town to nation’s highest poverty rate, By Dominic Adams, September 21, 2017, mlive.com: “Almost half of the people in the city of Flint are living in poverty. In a city that once boasted the highest median income in the state thanks to General Motors, new U.S. Census data shows today there are nearly 43,000 people living under the poverty level, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists as $11,880 for a single individual…”

Digital Divide – Minnesota

Digital divide lingers in Minnesota, nationally, By Jeff Hargarten, September 20, 2017, Star Tribune: “Digital gaps still divide Minnesota and the nation along racial, economic and geographic lines, even as high-speed Internet becomes more widespread and indispensible to people’s lives. Nationally, about 77 percent of Americans have a high-speed internet connection, served up via broadband networks either on their home computers, tablets, phones or other devices, according to 2015 data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey…”

High School Graduation Rate – Indiana

Indiana graduation rates would plummet under new federal guidelines; state wants reprieve, By Arika Herron, September 21, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “Indiana’s congressional delegation is seeking a moratorium on federal guidelines that would drastically lower Indiana’s high school graduation rate. Thousands of Indiana diplomas would not count toward Indiana’s graduation rate under new rules put in place by the U.S. Department of Education and the Every Student Succeeds Act, a new federal education law…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Tennessee to reinstate work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients, By Anita Wadhwani, September 18, 2017, The Tennessean: “Tennessee will reinstate work requirements for food stamp recipients a decade after they were eased during the height of the economic recession, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday…”
  • No power means no food stamps for Miami’s neediest in Hurricane Irma’s wake, By Alex Harris, September 15, 2017, Miami Herald: “Friday morning, Michael Mighty took a bus to 58th Street for a free plate of Curry Gold and peas and rice at one of his favorite Jamaican restaurants. ‘I told them to make it as hot as possible,’ he said. ‘I’m tired of eating sandwiches.’ It might be his only meal for the day. Mighty, 58, still doesn’t have power in his Overtown apartment, and for most of this week, neither did the grocery stores he relied on. Without power, he couldn’t use his food stamps, which come on a debit card-style system these days…”
  • Walmart to allow food stamp users to buy groceries online, By Leada Gore, September 20, 2017, AL.com: “Walmart is rolling out a pilot program that will allow food stamp recipients to order groceries online and pick them up at stores. The nation’s largest retailer is currently offering online ordering for food stamp and other EBT users at one store in the Houston market and four more in Boise, Idaho. More markets will be added throughout 2017, Walmart said in a statement…”

Transportation to Health Care Appointments

Lyft teams up with USC to give low-income seniors rides to the doctor, By Christina Farr, September 22, 2017, CNBC: “Lyft and the University of Southern California are getting $1 million from insurance giant UnitedHealth to help seniors more easily access the transportation they need. As part of the grant, USC’s researchers will study whether taking rides can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation in seniors and improve their health by helping them get to medical appointments on time…”

State Medicaid Programs – New Mexico, Colorado

Childhood Hunger – Philadelphia, PA

Childhood hunger in North Philadelphia more than triples, By Alfred Lubrano, September 18, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Stephanie Sakho believes that people who work should have fuller refrigerators than she does. The divorced, certified nursing assistant from Southwest Philadelphia puts in 40 hours a week. But even with her salary and a $300 monthly allotment of food stamps, there isn’t always enough to feed her 10-year-old daughter and year-old son. ‘I think people would be surprised that there are kids in the city not getting enough to eat,’ said Sakho, 28, who makes $13 an hour, near the poverty line for a family of three. ‘I’m working, but people who see me don’t know the refrigerator is empty.’  Sakho’s ‘deeply alarming’ plight is becoming more common, said Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and a professor of health management and policy at School of Public Health at Drexel University…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016

  • How health-care reform affected America, in 51 graphs, By Philip Bump, September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Last year, 8.6 percent of Americans lacked health insurance. Three years earlier, that figure was 14.5 percent, meaning that the rate dropped by 5.9 percentage points over the period that the Affordable Care Act went into effect, a 40 percent decline from the 2013 figure. In real terms, that’s about 19 million fewer people lacking health insurance, per estimates released Tuesday by the Census Bureau…”
  • States with the highest and lowest uninsured rates, By Mattie Quinn, September 13, 2017, Governing: “As discussions about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue on Capitol Hill, at least one thing is certain: The law has led to a record number of people having health insurance. According to data released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 8.8 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2016. That’s down from 13.3 percent in 2013, the year before much of the ACA took effect. Since then, every single state has seen their uninsured rate drop…”
  • Obamacare keeps shrinking the ranks of N.J.’s uninsured, Census data shows, By Disha Raychaudhuri, September 12, 2017, NJ.com: “About 66,000 more people in New Jersey had health insurance in 2016 than the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The latest data shows that the number of uninsured N.J residents has continued to drop, a trend that policy analysts attribute to the success of the Affordable Care Act…”
  • Uninsured rate continues to drop in Indiana under Obamacare, By Maureen Groppe, September 13, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “The number of Hoosiers without health insurance fell 41 percent after the coverage expansion elements of the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to new federal data. The 8.1 percent of residents who still lacked insurance last year is now lower than the national 8.6 percent rate, the Census Bureau reported. But Indiana still has a higher share of its population uninsured than do its neighboring states, which expanded their Medicaid programs before Indiana did…”
  • Young, low-income Kansans more likely to be uninsured than counterparts in other states, By Jim McLean, September 14, 2017, KCUR: “Low-income Kansans are less likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in other states, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The uninsured rate among Kansans living below the federal poverty level has been worse than the national rate for many years. But the gap has widened in recent years, mainly because of the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, said Robert St. Peter, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Kansas Health Institute…”

Prison Diversion Programs for Mothers

Breaking the  cycle of incarceration by keeping mothers and children together, By Rebecca Beitsch, September 13, 2017, Stateline: “When Stephanie Petitt was arrested for violating probation for prior drug and robbery convictions, she learned two things: She was 16 weeks pregnant, and she would probably deliver her baby while incarcerated at an Oklahoma prison. In most places, an incarcerated woman who gives birth almost immediately hands over her newborn to a social worker, who places the child with a relative or with foster parents. Petitt said she was told she would have an hour to hold her newborn. Just a few states offer alternatives that allow mother and child to stay together longer. At least eight states have so-called prison nurseries where nonviolent female offenders live with their children for a few months to several years…”

Legal Representation in Evictions

Denver landlords tried to evict nearly 8,000 households last year. The success rate largely depended on one factor: attorneys., By Jennifer Brown, September 13, 2017, Denver Post: “Denver landlords tried to evict nearly 8,000 households last year. Their success depended largely on one factor: whether their tenants hired an attorney. And they almost never did. In Denver County eviction court, landlords have an attorney about 90 percent of the time. Tenants, on the other hand, are represented by counsel about 1 percent of the time, according to new research by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, which reviewed 93,000 eviction filings from 2001 through last year…”