Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Arizona

Locked out: Section 8 housing vouchers fail to open doors for low-income renters, By Alden Woods, December 14, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Marcella Landson set aside her Section 8 voucher and stared at the shaded map of Tempe, searching for the right neighborhood. They all seemed the same. She had come to find a home, but couldn’t even figure out where to look.  At the head of a wide conference table in the city library, Tempe Housing Services supervisor Theresa James held up her own copy of the map. About half of the city was shaded in, marking what was described as prosperity and potential. The rest was left empty, filled only by high poverty and unemployment rates. In those areas, schools performed worse. Houses and apartments sagged with age. Rents were low, but opportunities were few…”

Child Poverty – Oregon

Report: Child poverty in Oregon, Marion County on the rise, By Whitney Woodworth, December 12, 2017, Statesman Journal: “Almost half of Oregon children are being raised in low-income households and their likelihood of escaping poverty as adults is poor. In 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties, less than half of children born into low-income families will reach the middle class or beyond as adults, according to the newest annual report by the Oregon Community Foundation…”

American Community Survey

  • Poverty rates up in about half of Michigan’s communities, By Brian McVicar, December 7, 2017, “Michigan’s economic picture has brightened in recent years, as the unemployment rate dropped and fewer residents found themselves living under the poverty line. But census data released today show residents throughout the state are still struggling…”
  • Three things the latest census data tells us about the upper Midwest, By MaryJo  Webster, December 7, 2017, Star Tribune: “Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released data from five years’ worth of American Community Survey responses, shedding fresh light on demographic, economic and housing-related trends in counties and other small geographic areas…”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Series on Childhood Trauma

  • Impact of childhood trauma reaches rural Wisconsin, By John Schmid and Andrew Mollica, November 30, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Jodi Williams has just returned from the Marquette County jail, where she met an unemployed 27-year-old man who had been busted after jumping bail on charges of battery, property damage and disorderly conduct. He and his girlfriend used heroin until two years ago when their child was born. Instead of cleaning up, he switched to alcohol, which angered his girlfriend, who left with their child. Now, he’s dangerously depressed, locked up and dealing with his first sustained sobriety since he was 13.  ‘These people are in constant survival mode,’ Williams says of the distressed couple and so many others like them in the vast impoverished regions of the nation’s rural heartland. Williams is one of Marquette County’s few mental health and substance abuse case workers…”
  • Wisconsin childhood trauma data explodes myth of ‘not in my small town’, By John Schmid, December 4, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Traffic on Main St. is lazy as Kyle Pucek strolls past tidy homes with wide front porches. ‘I lost a lot of friends in the last couple years,’ Pucek, 41, says matter of factly. He counts 10.  A car rolls past and a woman waves at Pucek. The two shout greetings.  ‘That’s Kirsten,’ Pucek volunteers almost offhandedly, ‘an ex-heroin addict who’s also in recovery.’ Pucek grew up with her, and with her fiance, who died of a heroin overdose in 2009. Contacted later, Kirsten Moore added that her teenage son became attached to her late fiance’s brother — and then the brother died from a heroin overdose, too, less than two years later. Of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, Rock County falls into the highest tier of overdose deaths, hospitalizations and emergency room visits linked to opioids and heroin, as ranked by state health authorities…”

Basic Income Program – Ontario, CA

Canadian province experiments with ‘basic income’ payments to low-income people, By Rob Gillies (AP), November 29, 2017, Portland Press Herald: “Former security guard Tim Button considers how a sudden increase in his income from an unusual social experiment has changed his life in this Canadian industrial city along the shore of Lake Ontario. Sipping coffee in a Tim Horton’s doughnut shop, Button says he has been unable to work because of a fall from a roof, and the financial boost from Ontario Province’s new ‘basic income’ program has enabled him to make plans to visit distant family for Christmas for the first time in years. It has also prompted him to eat healthier, schedule a long-postponed trip to the dentist and mull taking a course to help him get back to work…”

Public Defense System

Public defenders fight back against budget cuts, growing caseloads, By Teresa Wiltz, November 21, 2017, Stateline: “Public defenders have complained for decades they’ve got too many cases and not enough money — or time — to do their clients justice. Now, more public defense advocates are suing states for more funding. Overwhelmed public defenders also are increasingly trying other tactics: refusing to take on new cases, raising money through crowdfunding, even trying to assign a case to a sitting governor…”

Child Poverty – Dallas, TX

One in five Dallas-area children lives in poverty, report finds, By Corbett Smith, November 14, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “One in five children in North Texas lives in poverty, with more than 260,000 kids in the area considered food insecure, according to a biennial study released Tuesday from Children’s Health and the University of Texas at Dallas…”

Medicaid and Retroactive Eligibility

  • Several states roll back ‘retroactive Medicaid,’ a buffer for the poor, By Michelle Andrews, November 14, 2017, National Public Radio: “If you’re poor, uninsured and have a bad car wreck or fall seriously ill, there’s a chance in most states to enroll for Medicaid after the fact. If you qualify for Medicaid, the program will pay your medical bills going back three months. This ‘retroactive eligibility’ provides financial protection as patients await approval of their Medicaid applications. It protects hospitals, too, from having to absorb the costs of caring for these patients. But a growing number of states are rescinding this benefit…”
  • Legislator: ‘We made a mistake’ on policy changing Medicaid benefits, By Brianne Pfannenstiel, November 14, 2017, Des Moines Register: “A bipartisan group of legislators expressed concern Tuesday over a new law that will reduce coverage for thousands of new Medicaid beneficiaries in Iowa…”

Kids Count Report – Kentucky

A quarter of Kentucky kids are living in poverty, survey shows, By Deborah Yetter, November 14, 2017, Louisville Courier Journal: “One-quarter of the state’s children are living below the federal poverty level, according to a report by Kentucky Youth Advocates. Twelve percent of Kentucky children live in extreme poverty, which is below 50 percent of the poverty level. And nearly half of Kentucky’s children live in homes considered low income, or 200 percent of the poverty level, the report found…”

High-Poverty Schools

  • Rich school districts will benefit more than poor ones from Washington’s budget, new analysis suggests, By Neal Morton, October 31, 2017, Seattle Times: “In the days after the Washington Legislature approved a new state budget in June, school-finance experts began reading the fine print. They soon started warning that while lawmakers may have increased state spending on schools, some richer districts would get a bigger boost than many poorer ones…”
  • Report: Virginia’s high-poverty schools don’t have same opportunities for students, By Justin Mattingly, October 30, 2017, Richmond Times-Dispatch: “There are ‘striking deficiencies’ in educational opportunities for students in high-poverty Virginia schools, a new report has found. Students in high-poverty schools, or schools where at least 75 percent receive free and reduced-price lunch, have less access to core subjects like math and science, lower levels of state and local funding for instructors, who are less experienced in these schools, according to a report from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, a research organization based in Richmond that focuses on economics and policy…”

Bail System – California

California’s bail system is ‘unsafe and unfair,’ study finds, By Eric Westervelt, October 25, 2017, National Public Radio: “The national effort to get states to move away from a bail system based on money — something detractors call unjust and antiquated — got a big boost this week: A yearlong study backed by California’s chief justice recommended money bail be abolished and replaced with a system that includes robust safety assessments and expanded pretrial services. Calling the state’s commercial bail system ‘unsafe and unfair,’ a working group created by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye argues that the state’s bail system bases a defendant’s liberty too much on his or her finances, rather than an assessment of whether the defendant is a flight or safety risk…”

Poverty Measurement

What’s the meaning of the World Bank’s new poverty lines?, By Marc Silver and Malaka Gharib, October 25, 2017, National Public Radio: “According to the World Bank, if you’re living on $1.90 a day or less, you’re living in extreme poverty. The 767 million people in that category have $1.90 a day or less in purchasing power to fulfill their daily needs…”

Welfare Reform – Ohio

20 years after welfare reform, are Ohio’s poor any better off?, By Catherine Candisky, October 15, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “It’s been seven years since Laura Staten hit rock bottom, but talking about it still makes her cry. With her 1 1/2-year-old son, their belongings stuffed into two trash bags, and less than $100 in her pocket, Staten fled an abusive marriage, unsure how to build a new life but determined to do it. ‘I had nothing,’ said the 33-year-old preschool teacher from Bremen, her voice quivering. With new restrictions on welfare, she learned that help from the government would be limited…”

Kids Count Report – Illinois

Report: For Illinois youth, future success tied to education funding, By Maudlyne Ihejirika, October 13, 2017, Chicago Sun-Times: “An annual tracking of child well-being finds huge gaps statewide in educational access and achievement that spans birth through college, and disproportionally affects low-income and minority children…”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

Annual ‘Kids Count’ report reveals lower child poverty rates, racial disparity in Weld County, By Kelly Ragan, October 12, 2017, Greeley Tribune: “Fewer children in Weld County are living in poverty than have in many years, which is a sign of recovery from the Great Recession, according to the annual ‘Kids Count in Colorado!’ report…”

Bail Reform – Alabama

Too poor to make bail: Alabama forced to reform ‘two-tiered’ jail system, By Anna Claire Vollers, October 11, 2017, “In May, Kandace Edwards had hit rock bottom. She was 29 years old and homeless, the mother of two toddlers. They lived in rural Randolph County on the Alabama-Georgia line, staying with a variety of friends – some of whom did not have electricity or running water – since her eviction five months previously. Edwards was also 7 months pregnant and had just lost her waitressing job, she said, after the restaurant let her go because her high-risk pregnancy prevented her from working in certain conditions. She had no income, relying on food stamps and Medicaid for support. She’d granted temporary custody of her children to her mother-in-law. Then Edwards was arrested for forging a $75 check. It was a felony charge, and bail was set at $7,500…”

Public Defender System – Tennessee

TN high court urges change, better funding to protect legal rights of the poor, By Jamie Satterfield, October 9, 2017, Knoxville News Sentinel: “The Tennessee Supreme Court announced last week it is going to try to ratchet down the costs of providing attorneys for poor people, recommend a boost in pay for those lawyers, and lend its voice to a push for money to reform a broken system. The high court in a news release detailed changes it wants to see in ensuring poor people are afforded legal representation that pass constitutional muster. Nearly all require buy-in from Tennessee lawmakers, who hold the purse strings…”

Child Poverty

  • America’s child-poverty rate has hit a record low, By Annie Lowrey, October 5, 2017, The Atlantic: “The economy is nearing full employment. The stock market is at record highs. The expansion keeps continuing. Add to that one more very good piece of economic news: The child-poverty rate fell to a record low in 2016.  That finding comes from a new analysis of government and academic data by Isaac Shapiro and Danilo Trisi, both researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan, Washington-based think tank. The child-poverty rate declined to 15.6 percent in 2016, the researchers found, down from a post-recession high of 18.1 percent in 2012 and from 28.4 percent in 1967. That means that roughly 11.5 million kids were living in households below the poverty threshold last year…”
  • Brownback touts child poverty drop, but progress uneven, By Jonathan Shorman, October 2, 2017, Wichita Eagle: “The figure is eye-catching: The number of Kansas children in poverty dropped by 26 percent over the past five years. Gov. Sam Brownback touted that statistic and others this week, directly linking the decline to his welfare policies. ‘By encouraging work over reliance, we have broken the cycle of poverty for thousands of Kansans,’ Brownback said. ‘Our policies are good for Kansas families, the economy and taxpayers.’ But there’s more to the numbers than meets the eye…”

Intergenerational Poverty

  • Despite modest gains, ‘intergenerational poverty’ is still a challenge in Utah, report says, By Christopher Smart, October 2, 2017, Salt Lake Tribune: “Childhood poverty continues to decline modestly in Utah, according to a state evaluation, but intergenerational poverty, in which two or more generations remain at low-income levels, remains stagnant. In 2016, 39,376 adults and 59,579 children were in intergenerational poverty, according to the state’s sixth annual Intergenerational Poverty Report released Monday…”
  • Breaking the cycle of poverty, two generations at a time, By Dwyer Gunn, October 4, 2017, Pacific Standard: “On Wednesday afternoons, Toneshia Forshee picks up her son, a four-year-old who suffers from optic nerve hypoplasia and wears thick Coke-bottle glasses, from the early childhood education center he attends in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She brings him home to her immaculate two-bedroom apartment in a well-maintained complex down the street from a Sonic burger joint. She makes dinner for her son and her one-year-old daughter, and the threesome eats together at a table in the corner of the living room, under a painstakingly arranged gallery wall of family photographs interspersed with wooden signs reading ‘Hope,’ ‘Love,’ and ‘Life’ in decorative script. After dinner, Forshee tucks her kids into bed and, four nights a week, she heads to work…”