Homelessness on the West Coast

Homelessness soars on West Coast as cities struggle to cope, Associated Press, November 6, 2017, CNBC: “In a park in the middle of a leafy, bohemian neighborhood where homes list for close to $1 million, a tractor’s massive claw scooped up the refuse of the homeless — mattresses, tents, wooden frames, a wicker chair, an outdoor propane heater. Workers in masks and steel-shanked boots plucked used needles and mounds of waste from the underbrush. Just a day before, this corner of Ravenna Park was an illegal home for the down and out, one of 400 such encampments that have popped up in Seattle’s parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. Now, as police and social workers approached, some of the dispossessed scurried away, vanishing into a metropolis that is struggling to cope with an enormous wave of homelessness. That struggle is not Seattle’s alone…”

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…”

Section 8 Housing – Los Angeles, CA

Up to 600,000 expected to apply when L.A. reopens Section 8 housing list this month after 13 years, By Doug Smith, October 1, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Lately, home for Tamara Meeks has been the screened-in back porch of a tiny house behind an apartment building near 66th Street and Compton Avenue. At night she slips into the kitchen to sleep on a mover’s blanket while her two dogs sleep under a car seat on the porch. Her arrangement, with the parents of a friend’s friend, is the latest of a string of temporary arrangements Meeks has made during the 13 years she’s been waiting for a Section 8 housing voucher…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

  • UC Irvine opens expansive food pantry as more college students struggle with hunger, By Teresa Watanabe, September 27, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “UC Irvine student Ernest Devin Rankin grew up in Anaheim on one meal a day as his disabled parents, who had six children, struggled to stretch food stamps and disability payments. When he got to college, he could only afford the cheapest dining plan, offering 100 meals a quarter. When those meals ran out, he asked friends for help or survived on $1 fast-food burgers, tacos and burritos…”
  • As many students nationwide grapple with hunger, California offers food assistance, By Hannah Harris Green, September 29, 2017, Marketplace: “Students all over the country are back on campus, which means anxiety about new roommates and classes. But new research tells us that a lot of those students also worry about getting enough to eat.  Emaline Friedman is one such student. She shops at the Pavilions grocery store at Melrose and Vine in Los Angeles, because it’s located close to where she lives, and offers a lot of fresh produce and organic food. She’s in Los Angeles taking care of an elderly relative while she writes her psychology dissertation at the University of West Georgia. She relies on California’s food assistance program, called CalFresh…”

Rural Homelessness – California

California’s homelessness crisis moves to the country, By Kevin Fagan and Alison Graham, September 8, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “California housing costs are spiraling so high that they are pushing the state’s homelessness crisis into places it’s never been before — sparsely populated rural counties. A Chronicle analysis of biennial homeless counts taken early this year across California shows that the sharpest increases occurred not in San Francisco and other urban centers but in out-of-the-way places such as the thickly forested Sierra Nevada and the dusty flatlands and low hills of the northern Sacramento Valley…”

Poverty Measurement – California

Why does California have nation’s highest poverty level?, By Dan Walters, August 17, 2017, Modesto Bee: “With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state. So says the U.S. Census Bureau in its ‘supplemental measure’ of poverty, which is more accurate than the traditional measure because it takes into account not only income, but living costs…”

Extended Foster Care – California

Youths in foster system get care until age 21, but struggles persist, By Nina Agrawal, August 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Eric Usher dreams of working as an audio producer, driving his friends around in a Maserati and living by the beach. But most importantly, Usher says, he looks forward to being independent. ‘I won’t have any system support, and I’ll be living on my own,’ is how he describes it. For now, Usher must content himself with a spare ground-floor apartment a few miles from downtown L.A…”

SNAP – California, Pennsylvania

  • As economy improves, fewer Californians use food stamps, By Phillip Reese, August 2, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “For 10 years, the number of California residents on food stamps increased, ultimately doubling to more than 4.4 million by late 2015. That trend has reversed in the last year, thanks largely to an improving economy and low unemployment. About 400,000 fewer Californians take food stamps today than during late 2015, according to the latest state and federal data…”
  • About 30,000 fewer Pa. residents get food stamps after work requirement waiver lifted, By Heather Stauffer, August 1, 2017, LancasterOnline: “A year after federal work requirements went into effect for a small portion of Pennsylvania food stamp recipients, about a quarter of them are no longer covered by the program. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation among able-bodied adults without dependents dropped from 120,783 statewide in March 2016 to 90,661 in March 2017, according to state records…”

Minimum Wage

  • Here’s why you can expect a higher minimum wage in January, By Jim Miller, July 20, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “Barring a surprise sag in the state’s employment picture, California’s hourly minimum wage will increase as scheduled on Jan. 1. The hourly wage is scheduled to go from $10.50 to $11 at workplaces with 26 or more employees and from $10 to $10.50 at smaller workplaces…”
  • Report shows who was affected by St. Louis minimum wage change, By Uliana Pavlova, July 20, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “St. Louis’ minimum wage will soon to drop to $7.70, but who benefited from the short-lived increase to $10 an hour? Economist Charles Gascon and Senior Research Associate Daniel Eubanks looked into the issue and their findings were released in May by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis…”

Prisoner Reentry – Los Angeles, CA

“I tried to assimilate. And I couldn’t:’ Ex-cons struggle to re-enter the workplace. Now L.A. County trying to help, By Nina Agrawal, July 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When Lily Gonzalez was released from Valley State Prison in Chowchilla in 2012, all she wanted to do was put incarceration behind her. She hoped to go back to work, continue her education at Cal State Northridge and reconnect with her 11-year-old daughter. ‘I tried to assimilate,’ she said. ‘And I couldn’t.’  Gonzalez had been convicted of multiple felonies for falsifying signatures on documents — ‘something stupid I did when I was 18 years old,’ she said. Instead of returning to her old life, including a job with the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Gonzalez found herself stuck…”

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • The minimum wage is going up in D.C., two states. How California’s compares, By Nick Perez, June 28, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “On July 1, the minimum wage will increase in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. – but California will still have fourth-highest minimum wage in the country. The District of Columbia pays minimum wage workers the most – $12.50 per hour, as of July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states increased their minimum wages at the beginning of 2017…”
  • A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 26, 2017, Washington Post: “When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect. The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found…”

Eviction in Southern California

Eviction decline is no solace for thousands of renters losing their homes, By Jeff Collins, May 28, 2017, Orange County Register: “Joann Nieves spent the first week after her eviction sleeping in her Chevy pickup with her three young sons. ‘It was kind of uncomfortable,’ said Jacob, 11, her oldest. To her youngest, 6-year-old Anthony, ‘it was scary.’ Things have improved since then. Nieves, 36, now sleeps on an air mattress on the living room floor of her boyfriend’s mom’s house in Santa Ana, while her sons share a bed in one of the bedrooms…”

Food Insecurity and Assistance – California

  • How L.A. County is trying to sign more people up for food stamps — and why it’s not easy, By Nina Agrawal, May 29, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Vickie Williams’ favorite meal is baked chicken, string beans and corn on the cob. She often makes it for Sunday dinner for her 81-year-old mother, five grown children and four grandchildren. Williams, a 58-year-old Gardena resident and former school cafeteria worker, estimates she spends at least $30 of the $194 in food stamps she receives each month on the meal. She doesn’t know how she’d get by without the help…”
  • Nearly 1 in 4 San Franciscans struggle with hunger, By Tara Duggan, May 24, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “According to the SF-Marin Food Bank, 23 percent of San Francisco residents struggle with hunger. The number is a striking amount, and much higher than the city’s homeless population, which the city said was 6,686 in 2015 (though others estimate it to be much higher), making it less than 1 percent of the population. Food insecurity is an often-misunderstood topic that has been thrust into the national conversation, given the White House’s federal budget proposal that aims to cut the food stamp program by $193 billion over 10 years, a reduction of 25 percent…”

Foster Care Shelters – California

Chronicle investigation spurs calls to close foster care shelters, By Karen de Sá, Joaquin Palomino, and Cynthia Dizikes, May 22, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “The state attorney general’s office is looking into hundreds of dubious arrests at California’s shelters for abused and neglected children that were detailed last week in a San Francisco Chronicle investigative report. The attorney general’s response comes amid calls from judges, state lawmakers and youth lawyers to consider shutting down shelters where children as young as 8 have been funneled into the criminal justice system for minor incidents…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – California

Despite Section 8, affordable housing’s doors still slamming shut, By David Downey, March 31, 2017, Press-Enterprise: “After reopening last summer following a 13-year absence, Long Beach’s Section 8 housing program is finding plenty of takers. But more than 1,000 voucher holders can’t find a place to live, a report says. And 17,000 others are on a waiting list, said Alison Whyte King, Long Beach Housing Authority bureau manager…”

Bail System – California

Here’s how state lawmakers plan to reform the bail system in CaliforniaBy Jazmine Ulloa, March 26, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “State lawmakers have unveiled an ambitious plan to reform how counties in California set bail for defendants while they wait for their cases to be resolved or go to trial.  New language added Friday to bills by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) would prevent criminal defendants from having to post money as a condition of release from jail and would shift some power from judges to pretrial services agencies to assess the risks they would pose if allowed out in the community…”

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…”

Child Poverty – California

  • More than a quarter of Orange County’s youngest kids lives in poverty, By Margot Roosevelt, February 23, 2017, Orange County Register: “A quarter of California’s children under age six were living in poverty, more than 750,000, as the state emerged from the Great Recession, according to new data from nine local regions on income, demographics, cost of living, social safety programs and other factors…”
  • The Bay Area cities and neighborhoods with the most and least child poverty, By Alix Martichoux, February 23, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “The Bay Area is well-known as one of the most expensive places to live in the country. And while the Bay Area is home to quite a few millionaires, a large segment of the population is living in poverty. Many of those people are young children.  The Public Policy Institute of California released a report Wednesday that shows nearly 25 percent of children in California live in poverty…”

Retirement Savings for Low-Income Workers – California

Congress targets a California law that aims to give low-income workers retirement security, By Evan Halper, February 9, 2017, Los Angeles Times: ” An ambitious California law intended to help create retirement security for low-income workers is in the crosshairs of the Trump-era Congress, which is moving to block the state and others from launching programs to automatically enroll millions of people in IRA-type savings plans…”

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…”