SNAP Work Requirements – Georgia

Able-bodied food stamp recipients could lose benefits, By Craig Schneider, March 27, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Days from now, thousands more Georgia food stamp recipients would lose their benefits if they fail to find a job. The April 1 deadline applies to nearly 12,000 adults – all deemed able-bodied and without children – in 21 counties, including many in North Georgia and several in the Atlanta area such as Forsyth, Bartow and Barrow. A wave of people is expected to lose benefits in Georgia because of the mandate. When work requirements have been introduced in other states, more than half the affected people often lose their food stamps. And three counties in Georgia that put the work mandate in place last year have seen their rolls significantly decline…”

Chronic Homelessness – Bergen County, NJ

Bergen County first in nation to end chronic homelessness, By Fausto Giovanny Pinto, March 28, 2017, Star-Ledger: “Bergen County has been certified as the first ‘community’ in the nation to end chronic homelessness.  The announcement was made by county and federal officials at the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center – which officials called integral in achieving the milestone…”

State and Local Minimum Wages – Iowa

GOP’s minimum wage rollback headed to Branstad’s desk, By William Petroski, March 27, 2017, Des Moines Register: “The Iowa Senate gave final approval Monday to a bill that freezes the state’s minimum wage at $7.25 an hour, although Democrats angrily denounced the bill, accusing Republicans of failing to support poor Iowans. House File 295 rolls back minimum wage increases already approved in four counties, including Polk, Johnson, Linn and Wapello. In addition, Lee County supervisors have been in the process of approving a minimum wage hike…”

Suburban Poverty – Richmond, VA

Poverty growth in Richmond suburbs continues to outpace city’s, By Debbie Truong, Vanessa Remmers, K. Burnell Evans and Katie Demeria, March 10, 2017, Richmond Times-Dispatch: “The growth of suburban poverty continues to outpace that of the city’s, radiating from Richmond into neighboring Chesterfield and Henrico counties, fresh U.S. Census data show.  From 2000 to 2015,the brunt of poverty in the region shifted from the city into the counties — mirroring a national trend…”

Rural Poverty and Crime

Report: Violent crime rate is higher for rural poor, By Sophia Tareen (AP), March 15, 2017, State Journal-Register: “People living in poverty are more likely to become victims of violent crime than higher income earners whether they live in cities, suburbs or rural areas, but the rural poor experience crime at higher rates, according to a Wednesday report by a Chicago research group…”

Public Defender System – Missouri

Missouri sued over low funding for public defender system, By Margaret Stafford (AP), March 9, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Missouri’s public defender system is so badly underfunded and understaffed its lawyers are unable to provide even rudimentary representation for indigent clients, who often languish in jail or appear in court without attorneys, according to a class-action lawsuit seeking to force the state to increase funding…”

Medicaid Privatization – Iowa

Medicaid firms spending less on care for Iowa’s poor, disabled, By Tony Leys, March 15, 2017, Des Moines Register: “The three private firms running Iowa’s Medicaid program have found ways to trim spending on care for the poor or disabled Iowans they cover, a new report suggests. But all three continue to lose tens of millions of dollars on the controversial project.  The companies’ per-member monthly spending on health care for adults fell by as much as 28 percent from the three months ending in September 2016 to the three months ending in December 2016, the new report shows…”

Access to Health Clinics and Medicaid Births

Cutting Planned Parenthood would increase Medicaid births, C.B.O. says, By Kate Zernike, March 14, 2017, New York Times: “Cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood — a longstanding conservative goal that is included in the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act — would reduce access to birth control for many women and result in thousands of additional Medicaid births, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  Because nearly half of all births nationwide are to Medicaid patients, and many of those babies are Medicaid patients themselves, the budget office estimated that defunding Planned Parenthood even for a year would increase Medicaid spending by $21 million in the first year, and $77 million by 2026…”

Ex-Offenders and Occupational Licenses

To help ex-offenders get jobs, some states reconsider licenses, By Sophie Quinton, March 8, 2017, Stateline: “Robert Lewis didn’t think it would be hard to get a job selling insurance. He was a car salesman for decades and sold insurance for a while after graduating from college. But in Lewis’ home state of Illinois, felons can’t get a license to sell insurance. And in 1985, Lewis was arrested for felony theft.  Lewis says he long ago kicked the drug habit that contributed to his arrest, and these days the 62-year-old can often be found running around after his grandkids.  ‘I was a whole other person back then,’ Lewis said of his Reagan-era brush with the law. But the criminal record derailed his recent job application…”

Foster Care System – Idaho

‘Every phone call is a trauma.’ Idaho’s foster care system to see a boost in support, By Bill Dentzer, March 10, 2017, Idaho Statesman: “Idaho’s child welfare system, the subject of a legislative performance review released in February, is getting some of the additional resources that state evaluators said were needed to address staff burnout, underserved foster families and other issues.  Safety of children is not an issue and the system is not in crisis, evaluators and foster care workers are quick to note. Caseloads are in fact lower now than they were in 2007, the last time the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluation took a look.  But caseload is different from workload…”

February 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent, By Ana Swanson, March 10, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added a healthy 235,000 jobs in February, according to government data released Friday morning, surpassing economists’ expectations and likely clearing the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.7 percent, compared with 4.8 percent in January, and wages rose by 6 cents to $26.09 in February, after a 5-cent increase the month before…”
  • U.S. gains a healthy 235,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate falls to 4.7%, By Don Lee, March 10, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Warm weather and rising business optimism helped the U.S. economy to create another burst of job growth last month, giving President Trump an early confidence boost and all but assuring that the Federal Reserve will nudge up interest rates next week.  Employers added 235,000 jobs in February, about as many as in January and well above analysts’ expectations and the average monthly payroll growth for all of last year, the Labor Department said Friday…”

Concentrated Poverty in the Twin Cities

Areas of poverty expanding in St. Paul, Met Council finds, By Frederick Melo, March 7, 2017, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “After plateauing following the recession, poverty rates have dipped slightly in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area but increased in St. Paul. In St. Paul, areas of concentrated poverty are expanding, especially around the East Side and North End.  Those are some of the findings in a recent Metropolitan Council analysis of data from the decennial U.S. Census and American Community Survey. The survey produces demographic estimates based on survey samples collected over one-year and five-year periods…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

Minimum wage hike in St. Louis would be blocked by bill passed by Missouri House, By Celeste Bott, March 9, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “When the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a minimum wage increase in St. Louis last week, Bettie Douglas thought she was getting a raise.  Douglas works at a McDonald’s in St. Louis, making $7.90 an hour — 20 cents above Missouri’s minimum wage of $7.70.  But citing concerns over an inconsistent patchwork of wage laws that could prove burdensome to businesses, Republican lawmakers promptly filed bills that would require all Missouri cities to stick to the statewide standard…”

Homelessness in Orange County, CA

Price tag of homelessness in Orange County is nearly $300 million, UCI study finds, By Theresa Walker, March 8, 2017, Orange County Register: “Orange County would save $42 million a year in health care, law enforcement and other expenses by placing people who chronically live on the streets into housing, according to a first-ever countywide study of the costs of homelessness.  The study, conducted by UC Irvine researchers and released in summary form Tuesday, aimed to pinpoint how much money was spent on services and other costs related to homelessness during a 12-month period in 2014-15 by local cities, the county and non-governmental agencies. Overall, the price tag came to about $299 million, with the lion’s share – roughly $120 million – borne by the 34 cities that comprise the county…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Study: Medicaid expansion made it easier to get a doctor’s appointment, By Michelle Andrews, March 6, 2017, Governing: “More than 14 million adults have enrolled in Medicaid since the health law passed, and that has caused some hand-wringing over whether there would be enough primary care providers to meet the demand. But a study out this week suggests that the newly insured people are generally able to get timely appointments for primary care…”
  • Stakes high in Illinois as Congress rethinks Medicaid, By Lisa Schencker, March 3, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Soccer coach Lesly Durand noticed last fall that he was running out of breath more easily on the field, and getting unusually tired carrying bags of equipment.  The 61-year-old Evanston man didn’t know why, so he called his doctor. That call led to tests, which led to the discovery of five blocked arteries and then, ultimately, bypass surgery.  ‘The doctors said, ‘I can’t believe you’re still alive,”said Durand, who gained insurance a couple of years ago under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid…”
  • U.S. House ACA reform may turn up heat on N.C. Medicaid expansion, By Richard Craver, March 8, 2017, Winston-Salem Journal: “North Carolina Republican legislative leaders may have more incentive — but likely no new motivation — to expand the state’s Medicaid program as part of a proposal in the U.S. House for repealing and replacing the federal Affordable Care Act…”

Drug Overdose Deaths and Indigent Burial

Drugs are killing so many people in West Virginia that the state can’t keep up with the funerals, By Christopher Ingraham, March 7, 2017, Washington Post: “Deaths in West Virginia have overwhelmed a state program providing burial assistance for needy families for at least the fifth year in a row, causing the program to be nearly out of money four months before the end of the fiscal year, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). Funeral directors in West Virginia say the state’s drug overdose epidemic, the worst in the nation, is partly to blame…”

States and College Financial Aid

These states give more grant aid to college students in need than the feds, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, March 3, 2017, Washington Post: “California, Wyoming and New Jersey provide more aid to low-income college students than the largest federal grant program does, new research shows, but most states give far less.  The study from the University of California at Berkeley documents major differences among states in how much they aid students in financial need.

Housing for Prison Parolees – New York

Parolees to go from big house to Syracuse public housing under new state pilot program, By John O’Brien, March 3, 2017, Syracuse Post-Standard: “Public housing in Syracuse will soon be home to certain newly paroled New York state prisoners under a new pilot program.  The state will allow carefully screened and monitored parolees to live in public housing with their families in Syracuse, White Plains and Schenectady, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.  The goal is to reduce the likelihood that the paroled prisoners will commit new crimes, Cuomo said in a news release…”

Milwaukee Public Radio Series on Segregation

Project Milwaukee: Segregation Matters, series homepage, Milwaukee Public Radio: “For years, the Milwaukee metro area has had a reputation as one of the most segregated in the United States.  How did this complex problem come about, and why does it endure? How does it contribute to persistent poverty? Are there ways to break through the boundaries..?”

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • Minimum wage increase clears Senate, By Dan Boyd, March 1, 2017, Albuquerque Journal: “A bill that would increase New Mexico’s minimum wage for the first time since 2009 is headed to the House after cruising through the Senate on Wednesday with bipartisan support.  The Senate voted 24-6 to pass the measure, which would – over the next year – increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 to $9 an hour…”
  • Businesses grapple with hike in St. Louis’ minimum wage, By Lisa Brown, March 2, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Usually the biggest worry Ed Brock has this time of year is making sure the Mardi Gras beads and accessories are replaced with St. Patrick’s Day items. Now, the owner of Johnnie Brock’s Dungeon, the city’s biggest costume and accessories shop, has a new headache: an unexpected increase in the city’s minimum wage is throwing his business into upheaval.  ‘I’m still digesting it,’ Brock said Wednesday, the day after the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the city of St. Louis’ minimum wage increase, leaving business owners such as he scrambling to figure out whether to make immediate changes or wait to implement a higher wage for employees…”