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…”

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..?”

Housing Subsidies – Baltimore, MD

Housing program used to break up high-poverty areas in Baltimore to stop taking applicants, By Yvonne Wenger, January 12, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “The officials who run a court-ordered program that helps families move from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods to areas with low crime and high-performing schools are planning to stop taking new applicants.  Hundreds of people sign up each month for the rental subsidies and counseling, which are offered as a condition of a landmark federal fair-housing lawsuit in Baltimore…”

Star Tribune Series on Poverty

  • Taking risks to pursue the American dream, By Adam Belz, December 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “Ethrophic Burnett escaped the South Side of Chicago, moved to Minneapolis ‘to have a life for my kids’ — and wound up in a social experiment.  In the late 1990s, when the oldest of her children were just in elementary school, her family was one of hundreds that was moved to the Twin Cities suburbs as the result of a federal fair housing lawsuit. Her children thrived, she said. They developed new ambitions that otherwise might have seemed distant.  Then, three years ago, as her oldest daughter entered college, Burnett lost eligibility for the home she was living in and moved the family back to the poorest area of Minneapolis…”
  • Prosperity grows out of small-town America, By Adam Belz, December 29, 2016, Star Tribune: “Sylvia Hilgeman grew up no-frills on a farm in Red Lake County in northwest Minnesota, where flat fields are broken by steel grain bins, stands of aspen and abandoned farmhouses.  Her dad cultivated rented land and her mom raised cattle and milked cows at a neighboring farm to help pay the bills. They raised their children in a double-wide mobile home across a gravel driveway from her great-uncle’s homestead. ‘My parents, they worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met,’ Hilgeman said. The work paid off for their children. Sylvia went to college, got a job in accounting and later joined the FBI. Today, she investigates white collar crime in New York City…”
  • Poor forced to make extreme choices as affordable homes erode, By Adam Belz, December 30, 2016, Star Tribune: “Kendrick Bates fought his way out of poverty to within two semesters of a bachelor’s degree. Now he needs an apartment. He’s been accepted at a college in suburban Roseville, but he hasn’t been able to find a home in a good neighborhood that he can afford. Bates, who now lives near the southern Minnesota town of New Ulm with his two daughters, grew up in poverty in Mississippi and is wary of the trade-offs of urban life. He is looking beyond the metro area and likes Stillwater, Hudson and New Richmond in Wisconsin…”

Affordable Housing – Minneapolis, MN

As Minneapolis gentrifies, some of the last neighborhoods for the poor are now getting squeezed, By Adam Belz, November 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A light snow fell outside a brown apartment building on Pleasant Avenue, where tenants gathered to protest something that’s become inevitable in Minneapolis: rising rent.  The company that manages seven buildings just south of Lake Street told residents in a letter that their rent will rise by as much as $125 per month, to $775.  For many of the families there, that will be too much, and nearby options are limited. Only a handful of apartments in the area rent for less than $900 per month…”

Neighborhood Economics and Health

How economics, demographics affect a community’s health concerns, By Donna Vickroy, November 11, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “One county; very different health concerns across it.  The myriad communities that make up Cook County tell a story of affluence and poverty and points in between. And, depending on a community’s economic standing, its biggest health concerns can be very different.  For example, Cook County Public Health officials are concerned about the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases in Chicago’s economically struggling North Lawndale community. But in economically affluent south suburban Orland Park, where incidents of STDs are vastly lower, there is uneasiness over mental health issues and suicide rates.  A new study put together by county public health officials and local university professors examines quality of life issues across specific Cook County communities and asks a number of questions, including why do some communities thrive while others are in decline…”

Suburban Poverty

For many, the suburbs provide no escape from poverty, By Ed Leefeldt, October 6, 2016, CBS News: “For America’s minorities – African Americans, Latinos and others – statistics show that there’s been much more integration in the last 50 years. Once the refuge of white flight, but considered unreachable by many inner-city residents, suburbia is no longer an exclusively white domain. ‘Segregation (of blacks and whites) has decreased steadily since 1970,’ said Alan Berube, a deputy director at the Brookings Institute in a report for the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University…”

Low-Income Housing in Ohio

Not enough low-income housing is being built in better neighborhoods, report finds, By Rachel Dissell, August 18, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Not enough is being done to help build low-income housing in neighborhoods with betters schools and safer streets, according to a report commissioned on behalf of state legal aid programs.  The report found that Ohio gives most of its federal tax credits to developers who pitch projects in distressed neighborhoods that are deeply racially segregated and impoverished…”

Access to Health Care

  • Study of Philly neighborhoods finds big disparities in health-care access by race, By Don Sapatkin, August 9, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philadelphia has plenty of primary-care providers overall, but there is far less access to care in communities with the highest concentrations of African American residents, according to a new study.  While the general findings were not a surprise – highly segregated black (and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic) areas were known to have fewer medical practitioners – the difference was bigger than the researchers had expected…”
  • Obamacare is helping more poor patients get to the doctor even as political battles continue, By Noam N. Levey, August 8, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “Even as the Affordable Care Act remains a political flash point, new research shows it is dramatically improving poor patients’ access to medical care in states that have used the law to expand their Medicaid safety net. After just two years of expanded coverage, patients in expansion states are going to the doctor more frequently and having less trouble paying for it.  At the same time, the experience in those states suggests better access will ultimately improve patients’ health, as patients get more regular checkups and seek care for chronic illnesses such diabetes and heart disease…”
  • Obamacare appears to be making people healthier, By Margot Sanger-Katz, August 9, 2016, New York Times: “Obamacare has provided health insurance to some 20 million people. But are they any better off?  This has been the central question as we’ve been watching the complex and expensive health law unfurl. We knew the law was giving people coverage, but information about whether it’s protecting people from debt or helping them become more healthy has been slower to emerge…”

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…”

Childhood Literacy

Where books are all but nonexistent, By Alia Wong, July 14, 2016, The Atlantic: “Forty-five million. That’s how many words a typical child in a white-collar familywill hear before age 4. The number is striking, not because it’s a lot of words for such a small human—the vast majority of a person’s neural connections, after all,are formed by age 3—but because of how it stacks up against a poor kid’s exposure to vocabulary. By the time she’s 4, a child on welfare might only have heard 13 million words.  This disparity is well-documented. It’s the subject of myriad news stories and government programs, as well as the Clinton Foundation’s ‘Too Small to Fail’ initiative, all of which send the message that low-income parents should talk and read to their children more. But these efforts to close the ‘word gap’ often overlook a fundamental problem. In high-poverty neighborhoods, books—the very things that could supply so many of those 30 million-plus words—are hard to come by. In many poor homes, they’re nonexistent…”

Concentrated Poverty – Detroit, MI

Detroit has highest concentrated poverty rate among top 25 metro areas, By Niraj Warikoo, April 26, 2016, Detroit Free Press: “Two new reports show that the poor in metro Detroit face unique challenges compared to other parts of the U.S., making it more difficult for them to escape poverty. A study recently released by the Brookings Institution says that metro Detroit has the highest rate of concentrated poverty among the top 25 metro areas in the U.S. by population…”

Affordable Housing

  • In Baltimore, hopes of turning abandoned properties into affordable homes, By Pam Fessler, April 26, 2016, National Public Radio: “Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods have long struggled with a lack of decent housing and thousands of abandoned homes. Things recently took a turn for the worse: Five vacant houses in the city collapsed in high winds several weeks ago, in one case killing a 69-year-old man who was sitting in his car.  The city needs to do more about decaying properties if it wants to revitalize neighborhoods like those where Freddie Gray grew up, says Marvin Cheatham, president of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association in West Baltimore…”
  • In wealthy pocket of Connecticut, an innovative approach to affordable housing, By Matt A.V. Chaban, April 25, 2016, New York Times: “The offices of Hobbs Inc., a third-generation home builder here, are lined with awards and framed articles for the firm’s decades of work. “2008 Best Residential Remodel Over $3 Million.” “2010 Outstanding Home Over 12,000 Sq. Ft.” “Imus in the Afternoon.” “Living Very Large.” In his wood-paneled office on Thursday, Scott Hobbs was going over what may be his most challenging project yet: the Millport Apartments, a 73-unit affordable housing complex in the center of New Canaan. In addition to being president of the family business, Mr. Hobbs is chairman of the housing authority for this town of 20,000 — a place more often associated with Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Waveny, the 300-acre estate of a founder of Texaco, not to mention custom-built Hobbs homes on half- to four-acre lots…”

Multidimensional Poverty

Poverty, compounded, By Gillian B. White, April 16, 2016, The Atlantic: “It’s true that poverty affects people of all races, genders, and nationalities, but it’s also true that poverty—especially deep, persistent, intergenerational poverty—plagues some groups more than others. That’s because poverty isn’t just a matter of making too little money to pay the bills or living in a bad neighborhood—it’s about a series of circumstances and challenges that build upon each other, making it difficult to create stability and build wealth…”

Income, Geography and Life Expectancy

  • Life expectancy study: It’s not just what you make, it’s where you live, By Jim Zarroli, April 11, 2016, National Public Radio: “Poor people who reside in expensive, well-educated cities such as San Francisco tend to live longer than low-income people in less affluent places, according to a study of more than a billion Social Security and tax records. The study, published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, bolsters what was already well known — the poor tend to have shorter lifespans than those with more money. But it also says that among low-income people, big disparities exist in life expectancy from place to place, said Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Stanford University…”
  • Why the poor die young, By Derek Thompson, April 12, 2016, The Atlantic: “‘Geography is destiny.’ Economists once used this theory to try to explain the difference between rich and poor countries. But in the last few years, something like it has become a grand theory for rich and poor within the United States. Researchers have shown that where a family lives dramatically shapes children’s education, income, and their potential to earn more than their parents.  Geography’s most consequential legacy might be life itself. In a new study released Monday morning and reported in The New York Times, the life expectancy of the poorest Americans can differ by many years in neighborhoods that are fewer than 100 miles apart…”
  • The rich live longer everywhere. For the poor, geography matters, By Neil Irwin and Quoctrung Bui, April 11, 2016, New York Times: “For poor Americans, the place they call home can be a matter of life or death. The poor in some cities — big ones like New York and Los Angeles, and also quite a few smaller ones like Birmingham, Ala. — live nearly as long as their middle-class neighbors or have seen rising life expectancy in the 21st century. But in some other parts of the country, adults with the lowest incomes die on average as young as people in much poorer nations like Rwanda, and their life spans are getting shorter. In those differences, documented in sweeping new research, lies an optimistic message: The right mix of steps to improve habits and public health could help people live longer, regardless of how much money they make…”
  • Where living poor means dying young, By Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham, April 11, 2016, Washington Post: “This city is full of parks that invite exercise and bike lanes that make commuting a workout. It’s home to social services that tend the poor, and taxpayers who willingly fund them. Smoking is banned at restaurants and bars — as well as in workplaces, at bus stops, throughout public housing, at charity bingo games and even inside stores that sell tobacco. These factors may help explain why the poor live longer in the San Francisco area than they do in much of the rest of the country…”
  • A new divide in American death, By Joel Achenbach, Dan Keating, April 10, 2016, Washington Post: “White women have been dying prematurely at higher rates since the turn of this century, passing away in their 30s, 40s and 50s in a slow-motion crisis driven by decaying health in small-town America, according to an analysis of national health and mortality statistics by The Washington Post.  Among African Americans, Hispanics and even the oldest white Americans, death rates have continued to fall. But for white women in what should be the prime of their lives, death rates have spiked upward. In one of the hardest-hit groups — rural white women in their late 40s — the death rate has risen by 30 percent…”

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…”

Concentrated Poverty in US Cities

Cleveland metro ranks in Top 10 in U.S. for concentrated poverty: Brookings, By Olivera Perkins, March 31, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The Cleveland metro area is in the Top 10 nationally for the percentage of residents living in concentrated poverty, according to an analysisreleased today by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.  The Cleveland-Elyria metro — which includes Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties — ranks ninth among the 100 largest metro areas in the nation. Toledo, the only other Ohio metro in the Top 10, ranks third.  Concentrated poverty differs from the overall poverty rate. It looks at whether poor people live in communities where there are high concentrations of people who are also poor. People in poverty have a better chance at upward mobility if they live in economically diverse neighborhoods because they potentially have access to more opportunities, said Natalie Holmes, a research analyst in Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program, who co-authored the report…”

Distressed Communities Index

  • Poorest areas have missed out on boons of recovery, study finds, By Nelson D. Schwartz, February 24, 2016, New York Times: “The gap between the richest and poorest American communities has widened since the Great Recession ended, and distressed areas are faring worse just as the recovery is gaining traction across much of the country. These findings, outlined in a study to be released on Thursday by the Economic Innovation Group, a new nonprofit research and advocacy organization, may help explain why the country’s economic and political situation has become so polarized in recent years. The results, broken down into areas as small as individual ZIP codes, provide one of the most detailed looks at the nation’s growing inequality…”
  • A look at the wealth and income gap, by ZIP code, By Jim Zarroli, February 25, 2016, National Public Radio: “The most prosperous parts of the U.S. have recovered nicely from the 2008 financial crisis, but many other places remain mired in high unemployment and poverty, according to a report measuring wealth levels by ZIP code…”

Health Care and Social Services Screenings

Feds to study health benefits of screening and linking to social services, By Jayne O’Donnell, February 3, 2016, USA Today: “The Obama administration is working to build evidence supporting increased federal and state spending on anti-violence, social service and other programs to improve life in poor neighborhoods and limit the growth in health care costs.  The move comes despite more limited reports done by outside groups and is designed to create a paper trail that makes the need for and efficacy of the programs for Medicare and Medicaid recipients indisputable by showing the cost savings…”

Employment Gender Gap in Poor Neighborhoods

The striking power of poverty to turn young boys into jobless men, By Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham, January 29, 2016, Washington Post: “Men are more likely to work than women. This has been true in the United States for generations and for entrenched reasons that have to do with ‘family values’ and workplace policies. It’s true because the culture says women should care for their children and because paying for child care is expensive. And it’s true because of discrimination.  The durability of that pattern makes a recent finding by economists at Harvard and Stanford universities all the more puzzling: Among the poor, the opposite is now true. Girls who grow up in poor families are more likely than the boys who grow up with them to work as adults…”