Identification Cards and the Homeless

Without ID, homeless trapped in vicious cycle, By Teresa Wiltz, May 15, 2017, Stateline: “Nearly three years ago, when his fiancee died, Robert Giddings was abruptly evicted from their Flint, Michigan, home. His name wasn’t on the lease, so he had no recourse — and his landlord threw out all his things, including his ID. Terrified, he stumbled through the wintry streets for a day, until police picked him up for public intoxication. Giddings says he wasn’t drunk, but blind from untreated cataracts. Giddings was placed in a shelter, but without ID, he couldn’t get the medical care he needed — or even gain entrance to government buildings so he could apply for a replacement ID…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

New St. Louis minimum wage goes into effect Friday, By Kevin McDermott, May 4, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The city’s new minimum wage of $10 per hour for most jobs will take effect Friday, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office announced today. The ordinance for the new wage — which is well above the minimum of $7.70 in the rest of Missouri and $8.25 in neighboring downstate Illinois — was passed in 2015 but held up in court until now. Under the ordinance, the wage will rise again on Jan. 1, 2018, to $11 an hour…”

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…”

Nuisance Policies and Eviction

ACLU sues city over nuisance policy, alleges it punishes domestic violence victims, By Mary Emily O’Hara, April 7, 2017, NBC News: “The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of Maplewood, Missouri, over a policy that allegedly evicts domestic violence victims and banishes them from the St. Louis suburb if they call police for help more than twice in six months…”

Suburban Poverty – Boston, MA

More families are struggling with poverty in Boston’s affluent suburbs, By Katie Johnson, February 18, 2017, Boston Globe: “Many suburbs around Boston are known for their good schools, picturesque downtowns, and steady stream of residents commuting to well-paid jobs in the city. But interspersed in this idyllic landscape is a growing number of families struggling to get by.  The number of low-income children in many affluent communities is rising at a much faster rate than it is statewide, in some cases doubling over the past decade. Wealthy communities such as Sudbury, Winchester, Hopkinton, Hingham, and Littleton have at least twice as many needy students in their schools as they did 10 years ago, according to an analysis of state data by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council done for the Globe…”

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…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles

Homeless people face L.A. crackdown on living in cars, By Gale Holland, January 24, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Los Angeles’ new ordinance on living in cars was billed as a boon to homeless people, making it legal for the first time to park and sleep in half the city’s streets.  But with the measure set to kick in Feb. 6, a new map suggests the law could trigger a crackdown on some of the city’s 28,000 homeless people…”

Homelessness in New York City

Mayor de Blasio scrambles to curb homelessness after years of not keeping pace, By J. David Goodman and Nikita Stewart, January 13, 2017, New York Times: “During Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first year in office, the Department of Homeless Services created 16 new shelters across New York City to house more than a thousand families and hundreds of single adults.  Then, for eight months, the city stopped opening shelters. With the number of people falling into homelessness still rising and with shelter beds running short, the city instead turned to what was supposed to be a stopgap: hotels…”

Criminalization of Homelessness

Rights battles emerge in cities where homelessness can be a crime, By Jack Healy, January 9, 2017, New York Times: “Condos and townhouses are rising beside the weedy lots here where Randy Russell once pitched a tent and unrolled a sleeping bag, clustering with other homeless people in camps that were a small haven to him, but an illegal danger in the eyes of city officials.  Living on the streets throws a million problems your way, but finding a place to sleep tops the list. About 32 percent of homeless people have no shelter, according to the federal government, and on Nov. 28, Mr. Russell, 56, was among them. He was sitting in an encampment just north of downtown when the police and city workers arrived to clear it away. A police officer handed Mr. Russell a citation…”

Minimum Wage Increases

Minimum wage going up in 21 states, 22 cities, By Jeanne Sahadi, December 19, 2016, CNNMoney: “Come the new year, millions of the lowest-wage workers across the country will get a raise.  Some of those raises will be very minor — a cost of living adjustment amounting to an extra nickel or dime an hour. But in several places the jump will be between $1 and $2 an hour…”

Homelessness and Hunger in U.S. Cities

  • Homelessness declining in nation’s cities, but hunger is on the rise, By Octavio Blanco, December 14, 2016, CNN Money: “Even though homelessness in America’s cities continues to decline, food banks and pantries are still being stretched thin as the number of people seeking emergency food assistance climbs, according to a survey of mayors from 38 of the nation’s cities.  The number of people seeking emergency food assistance increased by an average of 2% in 2016, the United States Conference of Mayors said in its annual report Wednesday…”
  • Charleston’s homeless and hunger problems ranked against other cities, By Robert Behre, December 15, 2016, Post and Courier: “Charleston saw a 6 percent increase in requests for emergency food assistance last year — more than the national average — and local governments and nonprofits distributed almost 1,500 tons of food.  Those statistics are from the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Annual 2016 Hunger and Homelessness Report released Wednesday…”
  • D.C. has the highest homeless rate of 32 U.S. cities, a new survey finds, By Justin Wm. Moyer, December 14, 2016, Washington Post: “The District had the highest rate of homelessness in a new survey that looked at the problem in 32 U.S. cities. The ‘Hunger and Homelessness’ survey from the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that D.C. has 124.2 homeless people for every 10,000 residents in the general population. The city also had one of the fastest increases in homelessness between 2009 and 2016, with a 34.1 percent gain. By comparison, New York had the largest increase during that period, at 49 percent…”

Youth Homelessness

  • Youth homelessness in Baltimore higher than previously thought, By Colin Campbell, November 30, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “Homelessness among Baltimore youths is much higher than previously thought, according to an Abell Foundation report released Wednesday.  More than 1,400 young people under the age of 25 were unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, without a safe, stable, affordable place to live, according to data collected by homeless advocates, service providers, the University of Maryland, the city and other stakeholders…”
  • City adds beds, services for homeless youth, By Julia Terruso, November 30, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer: “In response to a rapid increase in youth homelessness, Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it will dedicate $700,000 to pay for additional beds, job training, and employment and counseling support targeting people 18 to 24…”
  • Against all odds — and with a little help — homeless students find a brighter future, By Kyra Gurney, December 2, 2016, Miami Herald: “One month into his senior year of high school, Terrence Nickerson found himself homeless and alone. He had been kicked out of his step-father’s house after an argument and had no money, no nearby family and nowhere to go. After crashing with friends for a month, Nickerson wound up at a homeless shelter in downtown Miami, in a large dormitory where 100 men slept in wall-to-wall bunk beds. For the first week he was there, Nickerson walked from the Chapman Partnership shelter on North Miami Avenue to Miami Jackson Senior High School in Allapattah — over an hour each way…”

Cost of Poverty – Toronto, CA

Cost of poverty in Toronto pegged at $5.5 billion a year, By Laurie Monsebraaten, November 28, 2016, Toronto Star: “Poverty in Toronto costs between $4.4 billion and $5.5 billion a year, according to a groundbreaking report on what we all pay in added health care, policing and depressed economic productivity for the city’s 265,000 families living on low incomes…”

Criminalization of Homelessness

Report: Cities passing more laws making homelessness a crime, By Cathy Bussewitz and Colleen Slevin (AP), November 15, 2016, Virginian-Pilot: “Cities across the country are enacting more bans on living in vehicles, camping in public and panhandling, despite federal efforts to discourage such laws amid a shortage of affordable housing, a new report said.  Denver, which ordered about 150 homeless people living on sidewalks to clear out their belongings Tuesday, was among four cities criticized for policies criminalizing homelessness in a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group aiming to prevent people from losing their homes. The other cities listed in its ‘hall of shame’ are in Hawaii, Texas and Washington state…”

Discounted Transit Fares

Advocates for New York’s working poor push for discounted transit fares, By Emma G. Fitzsimmons, November 11, 2016, New York Times: “At a time when New York City can seem unbearably expensive, advocates for the poor are targeting a rising cost that many people struggle to afford: a MetroCard.  And with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority poised to approve its latest fare increase in January, they are pressing Mayor Bill de Blasio to finance a program that would offer half-price subway and bus fares to New Yorkers living in poverty…”

Suburban Poverty

Rising suburban poverty is a bipartisan problem, By Tanvi Misra, November 8, 2016, Citylab: “Donald Trump’s presidential campaign famously made much ado about ‘inner cities’—those hellish parts of U.S. metros where ‘the blacks’ live. As my colleague Brentin Mock recently pointed out, the phrase is decades-old innuendo for black crime. Outdated as it may be, there is a nugget of truth that can be extracted from it: Too many cities do have pockets of concentrated poverty—and Democrats as well as Republicans need to take responsibility for that. But the same is increasingly true of American suburbs.  A new analysis by Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, finds that poverty affects every single Congressional district in the U.S.—and suburban ones are not exceptions, but particular concerns…”

American Community Survey

  • Wisconsin incomes up, poverty down, By Kevin Crowe and Bill Glauber, September 14, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Mirroring national figures, median income in Wisconsin grew for the first time in eight years, while poverty declined slightly in 2015, according to data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau. Still, poverty kept a tight grip on the city of Milwaukee, which had the third-highest poverty rate among the 50 largest cities in the United States…”
  • Syracuse’s poverty rate remains among worst in nation, Census finds, By Mark Weiner, September 15, 2016, Syracuse Post-Standard: “One in two children in Syracuse lives in poverty in a city that now ranks as the 29th poorest in America, according to new data published today by the U.S. Census Bureau…”
  • Chicago area’s poverty rate declined in 2015 as incomes rose, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, September 15, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “The Chicago metro area had nearly 52,000 fewer people living in poverty in 2015 than it did the year before, following national trends as its poverty rate dropped and household incomes rose — though the economic improvements locally were not as vigorous as national averages…”
  • Ohio incomes increase, poverty decreases, Census Bureau reports, By Rich Exner, September 15, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Income is up in Ohio and poverty is down, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday, after reporting earlier this week the same trends nationally.  In Ohio, the median household income rose 3.5 percent to $51,075, a little below the national level for 2015. The change included an adjustment for inflation…”
  • Poverty falls as incomes rise in Colorado, but rent hikes outpace gains, By Aldo Svaldi, September 15, 2016, Denver Post: “Coloradans earned more money last year and continued to escape poverty in a significant way, but they also paid out much more in rent, according to an update Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau. ‘For the most part, these statistics tell a positive story about the Colorado economy,’ Broomfield economist Gary Horvath said…”
  • New Orleans poverty rates fall in 2015, still higher than state average, By Kevin Litten, September 15, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “The number of people living in poverty in New Orleans fell over the past year, according to U.S. Census data, although nearly a quarter of city residents are still poor.  The median income of families across the city grew, with a slight uptick in wage earnings occurring among black families. In 2015, they earned a median income of $26,819, up just over $1,000 from 2014, when it was $25,806…”
  • Florida incomes up a bit, poverty down a bit, but state lags country by a lot, By Andres Viglucci and Mary Ellen Klas, September 15, 2016, Miami Herald: “Floridians got a modest raise and poverty dropped slightly across the state last year, but Florida still lags the rest of the country in those key economic measures, new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show.  The figures paint a mixed picture for Florida and depict an uneven economic recovery across the nation…”

Connecting the Homeless to Services

This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working, By Colby Itkowitz, August 11, 2016, Washington Post: “Republican Mayor Richard Berry was driving around Albuquerque last year when he saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: ‘Want a Job. Anything Helps.’  Throughout his administration, as part of a push to connect the homeless population to services, Berry had taken to driving through the city to talk to panhandlers about their lives. His city’s poorest residents told him they didn’t want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didn’t know where else to go.  Seeing that sign gave Berry an idea. Instead of asking them, many of whom feel dispirited, to go out looking for work, the city could bring the work to them…”

Cost of Living for the Urban Poor

To cut down poverty, cut down the cost of living, By Laura Bliss, August 4, 2016, City Lab: “Proportionally speaking, Americans living in poverty pay more for basic necessities. On energy bills, the poorest 20 percent of Americans spend more than seven times the share of their income than do the wealthiest. Dividing American incomes into three, households in the bottom third spend twice the portion of their incomes on transportation than the top third. High housing costs are hurting everyone—but they’re hurting poor Americans the most…”

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…”