Natural Disaster Recovery

  • ‘Nowhere else to go’: Small Texas towns decimated by hurricane struggle to rebuild amid poverty, By Mary Lee Grant, September 10, 2017, Washington Post: “At a small rural hospital in this shrimping and tourist town of about 3,000, some patients visited the emergency room twice a day, obtaining insulin and other medications they could not afford to buy themselves. Nurses sometimes pooled their money to pay for patients’ cab fare home…”
  • Irma pushes Florida’s poor closer to the edge of ruin, By Jay Reeves (AP), September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Larry and Elida Dimas didn’t have much to begin with, and Hurricane Irma left them with even less. The storm peeled open the roof of the old mobile home where they live with their 18-year-old twins, and it destroyed another one they rented to migrant workers in Immokalee, one of Florida’s poorest communities. Someone from the government already has promised aid, but Dimas’ chin quivers at the thought of accepting it…”
  • Homeless and in college. Then Harvey struck, By Anya Kamenetz, September 15, 2017, National Public Radio: “Christina Broussard was trapped in her grandmother’s living room for three days during Hurricane Harvey. Rain poured through the ceiling in the bathrooms and bedrooms. Broussard’s a student at Houston Community College. Her grandmother is 74 and uses a wheelchair…”
  • Texas CPS, foster-care providers go all out to protect vulnerable children from Hurricane Harvey, By Robert T. Garrett, September 11, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “Texas Child Protective Services and its contractors had to evacuate more than 400 foster kids in institutions because of Hurricane Harvey and, probably, hundreds more who lived in foster homes along the Gulf coast, protective services officials said Monday…”

Climate Change and Economic Inequality

Climate change in the U.S. could help the rich and hurt the poor, By Brady Dennis, June 29, 2017, Washington Post: “Researchers have long warned that unmitigated climate change could cause severe financial hardship to the United States in coming decades. But a new study published Thursday in the journal Science details how global warming could disproportionately affect poor areas of the country, contributing to widening economic inequality among Americans…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Los Angeles, CA

Lead poisons children in L.A. neighborhoods rich and poor, By Joshua Schneyer, April 21, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “With its century-old Spanish-style homes tucked behind immaculately trimmed hedges, San Marino, California, is among the most coveted spots to live in the Los Angeles area. Its public schools rank top in the state, attracting families affiliated with CalTech, the elite university blocks away. The city’s zoning rules promote a healthy lifestyle, barring fast food chains. Home values in L.A. County census tract 4641, in the heart of San Marino and 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, can rival those in Beverly Hills. The current average listing price: $2.9 million. But the area has another, unsettling distinction, unknown to residents and city leaders until now: More than 17 percent of small children tested here have shown elevated levels of lead in their blood, according to previously undisclosed L.A. County health data…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Indiana

Indiana bill aims to increase lead testing for children in low-income families, By Ted Booker, February 9, 2017, South Bend Tribune: “Only a small fraction of Indiana’s children in low-income families are tested for lead poisoning, but a proposed state bill aims to change that.  Senate Bill 491 — co-authored by Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, and Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend — calls for doubling the number of Medicaid-eligible children tested statewide for the toxic metal, which can cause permanent damage to kids’ developing brains and organs…”

Housing Conditions and Health

  • Philly study finds house calls could help asthma patients living in poverty, By Stacey Burling, January 3, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Tyra Bryant-Stephens, a doctor who is medical director of the Community Asthma Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, thinks doctors and researchers need to think more about an often unseen factor in patients’ asthma: their housing.  When doctors see poor patients in clinics, she said, they may not have time to ask about their living conditions.  Even if they did, patients might be too embarrassed to tell them…”
  • Seller-financed deals are putting poor people in lead-tainted homes, By Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein, December 26, 2016, New York Times: “A year after Tiffany Bennett moved into a two-story red brick house at 524 Loudon Avenue here, she received alarming news.  Two children, both younger than 6, for whom Ms. Bennett was guardian, were found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. Lead paint throughout the nearly 100-year-old home had poisoned them.  Who was responsible for the dangerous conditions in the home?  Baltimore health officials say it was an out-of-state investment company that entered into a rent-to-own lease with the unemployed Ms. Bennett to take the home in 2014 ‘as is’ — chipping, peeling lead paint and all.  Ms. Bennett, 46, and the children moved out, but they should never have been in the house at all. City officials had declared the house ‘unfit for human habitation’ in 2013…”

Natural Disasters and Poverty

Natural disasters push 26m into poverty each year, says World Bank, By Larry Elliott, November 14, 2016, The Guardian: “Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption, the World Bank has said.  A bank study of 117 countries concluded that the full cost of natural disasters was $520bn (£416bn) a year – 60% higher than any previous estimate – once the impact on poor people was taken into account…”

Air Pollution in Developing Nations

How the world’s poorer countries breathe worse air, in charts and maps, By Max Bearak, October 3, 2016, Washington Post: “On Sunday, India ratified its accession to the Paris climate accords on the 147th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. President Obama congratulated India in a tweet, saying that ‘Gandhiji believed in a world worthy of our children. In joining the Paris Agreement, @narendramodi & the Indian people carry on that legacy,’ using a Hindi honorific for the man who championed Indian self-rule and stewardship of its land. The Paris agreement is the international community’s biggest push yet to limit carbon emissions and other forms of pollution.  Unfortunately, if worthiness is measured by being able to live in a world where the air one breathes does not spread disease and blacken one’s lungs, then we are far from it…”

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…”

Environmental Hazards and Poor Minority Communities

  • Low-income, minority areas seen as lead poisoning hot spots, By Matt Rocheleau, April 11, 2016, Boston Globe: “Thousands of Massachusetts children are found to have potentially harmful levels of lead in their blood each year, with cases tending to be concentrated in communities with more low-income and minority residents, state officials say.  The Central Massachusetts town of Warren had the highest rate of lead poisoning, with excessive levels found in 7.1 percent of children tested. The next highest rate was 6.7 percent in the neighboring town of Ware…”
  • Threat of environmental injustice extends beyond Flint water crisis, By Ted Roelofs, April 15, 2016, MLive.com: “About a year ago Grand Rapids resident Myichelle Mays, 25, picked up her young son, De’Mari, now 4, from a sitter, and immediately knew something was wrong. De’Mari, who had been diagnosed with asthma just before his first birthday, ‘was gasping for air,’ she recalled. ‘He couldn’t breathe. You could hold him and hear the wheezing. I freaked out.’ Mays rushed the boy to the hospital, the latest of five or six trips to the emergency room since he was infant. Now it is a fear she lives with each day. ‘It’s stressful, not knowing what is going to happen.’  It was a frightening episode, but one familiar to thousands of low-income minority families in Michigan. And it might be one more reason to view Flint’s water crisis as merely the latest chapter in a long narrative in which impoverished residents of color are more likely to bear the brunt of environmental hazards…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

Flint is in the news, but lead poisoning is even worse in Cleveland, By Michael Wines, March 3, 2016, New York Times: “One hundred fifty miles northwest of here, the residents of Flint, Mich., are still reeling from the drinking water debacle that more than doubled the share of children with elevated levels of lead in their blood — to a peak, in mid-2014, of 7 percent of all children tested.  Clevelanders can only sympathize. The comparable number here is 14.2 percent.  The poisoning of Flint’s children outraged the nation. But too much lead in children’s blood has long been an everyday fact in Cleveland and scores of other cities — not because of bungled decisions about drinking water, but largely because a decades-long attack on lead in household paint has faltered. It is a tragic reminder that one of the great public health crusades of the 20th century remains unfinished…”

Environmental Hazards and Poor Minority Communities

Beyond Flint: Poor blacks, Latinos endure oversized burden of America’s industrial waste and hazards, By Aaron Morrison, January 25, 2016, International Business Times: “Elizer Lee Cruz will occasionally look out at English Station — the shuttered and corroding coal power plant sitting on an eight-acre island in the middle of Mill River — and marvel at its architecture. From Fair Haven, a neighborhood just east of the river comprising largely minority and working-poor people, Cruz and his neighbors can see the tops of four of the facility’s smokestacks that stopped billowing in 1992. ‘The way the bricks are laid — little blocks of cement with a circle and a lightning bolt — it was a power plant that was built to the glory of God,’ he says, describing what he can see from the riverbanks. But that awe is fleeting for Cruz, an environmental activist who last year fought a plan that would have reopened the plant…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

  • Lead paint: Despite progress, hundreds of Maryland children still poisoned, By Timothy B. Wheeler and Luke Broadwater, December 5, 2015, Baltimore Sun: “There’s a huge hole in the kitchen ceiling of the rowhouse Olivia Griffin rents in West Baltimore. Rain leaks in through the roof, the lights in a bedroom don’t work, and standing water fills one end of the basement.  The 27-year-old mother’s biggest worry, though, is the flaking, peeling paint inside and out — and the dangerously high level of lead in the blood of her 1-year-old daughter, Lyric. Two of her other three children have lower but still potentially harmful levels in their blood as well.  Lead poisoning, once epidemic among Baltimore’s poor, is much less common than it used to be, with the number of new city cases dropping by 86 percent since 2002. But it is still claiming young victims years after authorities vowed to eradicate it. At least 4,900 Maryland children have been poisoned by lead in the past decade, their brains exposed to a contaminant that causes lasting learning and behavioral problems. There are likely more victims, because not all children are tested…”
  • In Flint and beyond, lead remains irreversible scourge among Michigan’s children, By Mike Wilkinson, December 13, 2015, MLive.com: “Across Michigan, in cities large and small, lead poisoning continues to plague children, limiting them in school and on the playground.  Although much of the state’s focus has been on lead-poisoned water in Flint, the metal continues to turn up annually in the bodies of thousands of children across the state, at percentages well above the numbers that raised red flags in Flint…”

Global Poverty

UN states set goal to end poverty, hunger in next 15 years, By Edith M. Lederer (AP), August 3, 2015, ABC News: “The 193 member states of the United Nations have reached agreement on a new development agenda for the next 15 years that calls for eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, improving living standards and taking urgent action to combat climate change. The draft agreement reached Sunday evening outlines 17 goals with 169 specific targets on issues ranging from ending poverty ‘in all its forms everywhere’ to ensuring quality education and affordable and reliable energy, and protecting the environment…”

Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Poverty worsens for African-Americans since Hurricane Katrina, Data Center reports, By Richard A. Webster, August 1, 2015, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Despite many of the positive economic gains New Orleans made in the 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, black families continue to struggle while the gap between the rich and poor grows wider, casting a pall over the recovery. In addition, poverty is increasing in the surrounding parishes ‘undermining social cohesion and resilience capacity across the region,’ according to the Data Center. The nonprofit research organization examined income trends as part of ‘The New Orleans Index at 10,’ its report analyzing the region’s recovery since the storm…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

  • Lead paint is poisoning poor Chicago kids as city cuts millions for cleanup, By Michael Hawthorne, May 1, 2015, Chicago Tribune: “Alarming levels of brain-damaging lead are poisoning more than a fifth of the children tested from some of the poorest parts of Chicago, even as the hazard has been largely eliminated in more prosperous neighborhoods, a Tribune investigation has found.  The toxic legacy of lead — added to paint and gasoline for nearly a century — once threatened kids throughout the nation’s third largest city. As Chicago’s overall rate of lead poisoning steadily dropped during the past two decades, the disparities between rich and poor grew wider…”
  • Freddie Gray’s life a study on the effects of lead paint on poor blacks, By Terrence McCoy, April 29, 2015, Washington Post: “The house where Freddie Gray’s life changed forever sits at the end of a long line of abandoned rowhouses in one of this city’s poorest neighborhoods. The interior of that North Carey Street house, cluttered with couches and potted plants, is lacquered in a fresh coat of paint that makes the living room glow.  But it wasn’t always this way. When Gray lived here between 1992 and 1996, paint chips flaked off the walls and littered the hardwood floor, according to a 2008 lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court. The front window­sills shed white strips of paint.  It was worst in the front room, where Gray bedded down most nights with his mother, he recalled years later in a deposition…”

Low-Income Workers and Public Transportation

Lacking transport, low-wage workers take a hit, By Katie Johnson, February 12, 2015, Boston Globe: “The $30 cab ride that Chazmaine Carroll had to take to get home from her job as a security guard this week amounted to nearly half her take-home pay for the day. For Medina Ahmed, a fast-food worker who does not have the option of working from home, the MBTA shutdown cost her two days’ wages. Taking a taxi to work would have cost her more than she makes in a day. Isidro Melo, who’s part of the cleaning crew at Boston Medical Center, also was stranded, unable to get to work without the commuter rail or the Red Line. He and his wife live in Lowell because of the lower cost of housing there. These workers illustrate the disproportionate hardship the snow has imposed on the area’s lowest-paid workers. For them, it’s more than a temporary inconvenience. It’s a financial blow that can make all the difference in paying bills, making the rent, and putting food on the table…”

Concentrated Poverty

The 15 US cities where poor neighborhoods are expanding fastest, By Allan Smith and Erin Fuchs, August 4, 2014, Business Insider: “Poverty is stuck at record levels in America, and it’s spreading in neighborhoods that are already blighted and impoverished, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. So-called concentrated poverty spurs high crime rates and can worsen health, schools, and housing conditions, according to Brookings. While poverty was once viewed as an urban problem, more and more of America’s poor live in the suburbs…”

Global Food Production

How to feed 3 billion extra people — without trashing the planet, By Ezra Klein, July 18, 2014, Vox: One of the daunting challenges of the coming century will be figuring out how to grow enough food for everyone on the planet. And all without destroying the planet. That’s harder than it sounds. The global population is expected to swell from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050. On top of that, countries like China and India are getting richer and eating more meat — a particularly resource-intensive type of food. Then there’s the environment to consider. Farms have become a major source of nitrogen pollution. Around the world, freshwater aquifers are dwindling. And, perhaps most crucially, countries like Brazil are trying to cut back on deforestation — which in turn makes it harder to find new cropland. . .”

Concentrated Poverty

  • Where America’s poverty is getting more and more concentrated, By Danielle Kurtzleben, June 30, 2014, Vox: “Around 15 percent of Americans live in poverty, but a much bigger share live in areas where the concentration of poverty is particularly high. More than one-quarter of all Americans live in ‘poverty areas,’ places where more than 20 percent of the population lives under the poverty line, currently around $23,600 for a two-parent family of four, according to a new report from the Census Bureau. One striking finding is that Americans living in these poor neighborhoods are more heavily concentrated in the southern US than anywhere else. . .”
  • Maps: A fourth of Americans live in poor neighborhoods, By Niraj Chokshi, June 30, 2014, Washington Post: “A fourth of all Americans live in what the Census Bureau calls ‘poverty areas,’ neighborhoods where at least 1 in 5 have incomes below the poverty level, according to a new report. The share of people living in these poverty areas grew substantially fell during the 1990s but grew substantially over the first decade of the 2000s. As of 2010, it’s up to 25.7 percent, from 18.1 percent in 2000. (In 1990, it was 20 percent.) And while not all people living in such areas are themselves poor, they find themselves in areas associated with a slew of problems. . .”
  • Census outlines ‘poverty areas’: Which states hit hardest? By Daniel B. Wood, June 30, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “The number of US residents living in “poverty areas” has jumped significantly since 2000, according to a Census Bureau report released Monday. According the 2000 Census, less than 1 in 5 people lived in poverty areas. But more recently, 1 in 4 residents have lived in these areas, according to census data collected from 2008 to 2012. The Census Bureau defines a poverty area as any census tract with a poverty rate of 20 percent of more. Sociologists and other analysts point to the Great Recession, in particular housing and job challenges, as well as slow and uneven growth since the recession. . .”