Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Detroiters leave $80 million unclaimed for tax credit, By Susan Tompor, January 29, 2017, Detroit Free Press: “The Earned Income Tax Credit is one big bonus check for Michigan’s struggling workforce. The credit is a one-time shot of potentially thousands of dollars that can be used to pay bills, put money down on a used car or even, maybe, save a little something for a rainy day or retirement.  It’s sort of like those big profit-sharing checks for many autoworkers that are ranging from $5,000 at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to $9,000 on average at Ford.  But you must file a tax return to get that tax-credit cash. And plenty of people don’t file for one reason or another…”
  • Gov. Scott Walker to expand low-income tax credit he once cut, By Jason Stein and Patrick Marley, February 1, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker is reversing course on a key tax credit for the working poor, proposing to raise incomes for more than 130,000 state families by returning the more than $20 million a year he cut from the program in 2011.  The Republican governor will unveil the proposal at the Wauwatosa Rotary Club Wednesday as part of a broader package in his budget bill that aims to strengthen families and marriage. The measure marks the changing priorities for Walker as he shifts from the budget cuts of his first term to his current goal of trying to draw Wisconsinites into the work force…”

Internet Access and Unemployment – Detroit, MI

Unemployed Detroit residents are trapped by a digital divide, By Cecilia Kang, May 22, 2016, New York Times: “In downtown Detroit, start-ups and luxury retailers are opening up and new office buildings are being built as the city works to recover from its deep economic problems. Six miles to the north, in the neighborhood of Hope Village, residents like Eric Hill are trying to participate in that progress but are running into hurdles. His difficulties were apparent on a recent Tuesday when he entered a crowded public library to use the computers to look for a new job. With no Internet service at home or on his mobile phone, Mr. Hill had few options to search work listings or file online job applications after losing his stocking job at a pharmacy five months ago…”

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…”

Childhood Asthma -Detroit, MI

  • Hardships boost asthma rate for Detroit kids, By Karen Bouffard, December 9, 2015, Detroit News: “Detroit has the highest rate of asthma in young children among America’s 18 largest cities, a problem that experts link to urban ills that could affect their health and learning for the rest of their lives.  In a study done for The Detroit News and PBS NewsHour, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found about two of every three Motor City children face ‘adverse childhood experiences.’ Those include household substance abuse, exposure to violence and extreme economic hardship that can trigger asthma…”
  • Experts: More solutions needed to address urban asthma, By Karen Bouffard, December 9, 2015, Detroit News: “Although steps are being taken to help Detroit kids affected by asthma, experts say much more needs to be done to treat the disease and reduce the highly stressful childhood experiences that exacerbate it.  Short- and long-term strategies to reduce Detroit’s number of asthmatic children will need to address kids’ circumstances and emotional needs in addition to their medical requirements, experts said…”

Detroit Water Crisis

In Detroit, water crisis symbolizes decline, and hope, By Bill Mitchell, August 22, 2014, National Geographic: Rochelle McCaskill was in her bathroom about to rinse the soap off her hands when the water stopped. Slowed by lupus and other ailments, she made her way to a bedroom window, peered out, and spotted a guy fiddling with her water valve. ‘There must be a mistake,’ she yelled down. McCaskill explained that she had just paid $80 on her $540.41 overdue bill, enough, she thought, to avoid a shutoff. The man wasn’t interested in the details…”

Foreclosures and Tax Sales – Detroit

Detroit needs residents, but sends some packing: By Monica Davey, June 26, 2014, New York Times: “Ronald Ford Jr. has watched neighbors move away and brick houses on his family’s block crumble to nothing, but he says he wants to stay put and give a chance to city leaders who now promise a renaissance. ‘I’d like to try to go with the new Detroit if that’s really coming,’ Mr. Ford, 49, said, standing outside the house on the city’s east side that he describes as precious, ‘like a family heirloom.’ Yet as Mike Duggan, the mayor of the nation’s largest bankrupt city, pledges to stem the flood of departures that have crippled Detroit and to begin increasing the city’s population for the first time in decades, Mr. Ford is on the verge of losing his family’s house. So are tens of thousands of others here who failed to pay their property taxes. In a city that desperately needs to hold onto residents, there is a virtual pipeline out. At least 70,000 foreclosures have taken place since 2009 because of delinquent property taxes. . .”

Infant Mortality – Detroit

Babies pay for Detroit’s 60-year slide with mortality above Mexico’s, By Esmé E. Deprez and Chris Christoff, June 10, 2014, Bloomberg: “Detroit’s 60-year deterioration has taken a toll not just on business owners, investors and taxpayers. It’s meant misery for its most vulnerable: children and the women who bear them. While infant mortality fell for decades across the U.S., progress bypassed Detroit, which in 2012 saw a greater proportion of babies die before their first birthdays than any American city, a rate higher than in China, Mexico and Thailand. Pregnancy-related deaths helped put Michigan’s maternal mortality rate in the bottom fifth among states. One in three pregnancies in the city is terminated. Women are integral to the city’s recovery. While officials have drawn up plans to eliminate blight. . .”

Budget Cuts – Michigan

State’s health budget trims funding for infant mortality, public aid, By Kathleen Gray and Robin Erb, June 11, 2014, Detroit Free Press: “Harper and Hutzel hospitals lost out on $6.5 million in state money to help fund their infant mortality and high-risk pregnancy programs in Detroit, when the Department of Community Health budget was approved by a conference committee Tuesday without the funding. In addition, the Department of Human Services saw $287.6 million in cuts to the money it’s spending on public assistance for poor Michiganders as the economy recovers and more people reach the 48-month limit for benefits and are kicked off welfare rolls. These are the cuts that hurt the most vulnerable people, said social service advocates at a time when the state’s unemployment rate still remains among the nation’s highest at 7.4% and poverty rates are increasing, especially among children. . .”

NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment

  • Big city schools making progress but still have far to go, report says, By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo and Amanda Paulson, December 18, 2013, Christian Science Monitor: “Public school students in some of America’s biggest cities have made significant long-term gains, according to the latest data released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often known as the Nation’s Report Card. Despite that progress, some subsets of students are still languishing at very low achievement levels. Wednesday’s report on the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) gives snapshots of reading and math achievement for fourth- and eighth-graders in 21 districts and comes 10 years after the first TUDA…”
  • Detroit Public Schools’ scores improve, but still at bottom on Nation’s Report Card; poverty a factor, By Chastity Pratt Dawsey, December 18, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “For the third time in a row, Detroit Public Schools scored the worst among urban school districts that participated in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), which released fourth- and eighth-graders’ reading and math scores today from the rigorous test known as the Nation’s Report Card. DPS posted the lowest scores among the 21 cities that voluntarily took part in the TUDA. DPS has participated since 2009, allowing its scores to be publicized. Other district scores are not made public…”
  • MPS shows slight gain in reading, math scores on national exam, By Erin Richards, December 18, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Milwaukee Public Schools students’ average reading and math scores on a national exam ticked up slightly in fourth and eighth grade between 2009 and 2013, according to a new report released Wednesday. But — and there always seems to be a ‘but’ — only the score change in eighth-grade math was statistically significant over those years. And compared with the performance of 20 other urban districts in 2013, MPS ranked in the bottom four for math and the bottom six for reading…”
  • Test-score gap widens between white, black students in Chicago, By Becky Schlikerman, December 18, 2013, Chicago Sun-Times: “The performance gap between Chicago’s black and white students — and between its poorest students and their wealthier classmates — continues to widen, newly released data show. Black Chicago Public Schools students fell further behind whites in three of four key measures, according to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation’s Report Card…”

Child Poverty – Detroit, MI

  • Report: 3 in 5 Detroit kids live in poverty, but teen births drop, By Robin Erb, January 24, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “Detroit has fewer children these days — a result of families moving to the suburbs and a drop in birth rates. Those who are left are living in poverty in greater numbers — about 3 in 5 of Detroit’s children. That number is one among a large set of data — some new, some old — from a variety of sources that has been collected in a single report, ‘State of the Detroit Child’ by Data Driven Detroit (D3). And while the data paint a grim picture of the challenges faced by Detroit’s children, it also brings into better focus the solutions, enabling funders and policy-makers to work more strategically, said Tonya Allen, chief operating officer and incoming president of the Skillman Foundation, which funded the project…”
  • Study: 60 percent of Detroit kids live in poverty, By Serena Maria Daniels, January 25, 2013, Detroit News: “Close to six in 10 children in Detroit live in poverty, a 65 percent increase in just over a decade, findings released by Data Driven Detroit found. An exodus of families with children that led to the city’s 25 percent population loss between 2000 and 2010 resulted in Detroit’s most vulnerable being left behind, the 2012 State of Detroit’s Child report published this week said. The study, in its second year, was designed to shed light on issues affecting Detroit children to help government leaders steer policy…”

Federal Funding for Housing Aid and Homelessness Prevention

  • Feds offer aid to renters as well as homeowners, By Kathleen Pender, August 15, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle: “Congress and the Obama administration have committed tens of billions of dollars to keep homeowners in their homes. Renters, who make up about one-third of households nationwide – and close to two-thirds in San Francisco and other large cities – wish the government would do a little more for them. For homeowners, Obama’s Making Home Affordable program obtained $50 billion from the Troubled Assets Relief Program plus $25 billion, mainly from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Originally this money was supposed to help homeowners refinance or modify subprime mortgages (which qualified as troubled assets). More recently it has been used to help those who can’t pay their mortgage because they are unemployed. Last week, the Treasury said it is using $2 billion to help unemployed homeowners in 17 states, including California…”
  • Habitat for Humanity uses federal funds to rehab metro Detroit homes, By Tammy Stables Battaglia, August 16, 2010, Detroit Free Press: “Habitat for Humanity, an agency known for building new houses, is using funds from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program to rehab old ones. The program, created in 2008 under President George W. Bush, provides communities and organizations funding to redevelop residential properties. That money must be allocated to projects by Sept. 19. In 2006, seven of 52 Habitat homes in Michigan were rehabs. The organization rehabbed 104 of its 221 homes during the first three months of this year, and there are dozens more projects to be completed, Habitat officials said…”
  • Red tape slows North Texas agencies in disseminating federal funds to fight homelessness, By Neena Satija, August 15, 2010, Dallas Morning News: “Getting federal stimulus money to those in need had a slow start in North Texas, with understaffed agencies bogged down in paperwork. Now that the initiative is in full swing – the job has only gotten harder. North Texas received $25 million for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing program in September. As of March, it had only spent $2 million. Now, it has spent $7 million and helped 7,800 households. But a faster flow of dollars means a bigger maze of red tape…”

Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program

Fed housing assistance stalled in Detroit, By Catherine Jun, June 21, 2010, Detroit News: “Eight months after desperate crowds elbowed each other at Cobo Center for federal emergency housing money, less than 8 percent of Detroit’s $15.2 million has been spent, according to federal reports. That amounts to help for just 330 households, far less than the 3,400 Detroit families targeted through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. It also means Detroit is lagging in the national program designed to get money to homeless or nearly homeless families, falling behind Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. The federal stimulus dollars help with utility bills and up to 18 months of rental assistance. But observers worry that for some, delays mean the help is coming too late…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Detroit, MI

High lead levels hurt learning for DPS kids, By Tina Lam and Kristi Tanner-White, May 16, 2010, Detroit Free Press: “More than half of the students tested in Detroit Public Schools have a history of lead poisoning, which affects brain function for life, according to data compiled by city health and education officials. The data also show, for the first time in Detroit, a link between higher lead levels and poor academic performance. About 60% of DPS students who performed below their grade level on 2008 standardized tests had elevated lead levels. The higher the lead levels, the lower the MEAP scores, though other factors also may play a role. The research — the result of an unusual collaboration between the city’s Department of Health & Wellness Promotion and DPS — also reveals that children receiving special education were more likely to have lead poisoning…”

Detroit Free Press Series on Education

Fixing our schools, series homepage, Detroit Free Press:

  • How do we prepare our kids for jobs, future?, By Lori Higgins, February 7, 2010, Detroit Free Press: “Renee Boogren of Troy has two compelling reasons for wanting Michigan to make its schools more challenging. She’s a mother. She’s also a biology teacher at Wayne State University who sees the results of kids who come to college unprepared. It’s most notable in their writing skills…”
  • What it’s like inside the Detroit Public Schools, By Chastity Pratt Dawsey, February 8, 2010, Detroit Free Press: “On a recent Wednesday, only 11 of the 29 students enrolled in Karanji Kaduma’s second-hour environmental science class at Pershing High School in Detroit showed up. He didn’t know where the rest were, but he said some of the stories of their homelife could make a grown man cry. ‘When middle school hits, parents’ hands go off. These kids in my classroom — most have no curfews, go to bed when they want to go to bed; they don’t have any particular time to do homework. They’re raising themselves,’ said Kaduma, who has lost six former students to gun violence…”
  • Big ideas for Michigan schools, By Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Robin Erb, and Lori Higgins, February 9, 2010, Detroit Free Press: “In Charlotte, N.C., the best principals and teachers are handpicked to lead the worst schools. In Washington, D.C., the mayor appoints the schools chancellor. In New York, Wisconsin and Florida, parents on public assistance lose a chunk of their welfare benefits if their kids continually miss school. These are some of the drastic solutions for schools with low student performance, chronic truancy and other issues affecting achievement. But the innovative changes have made a difference: Students are showing up for class and doing better on tests, and teachers are being held accountable for making sure students succeed…”
  • How Marcus Garvey Academy rises above, By Chastity Pratt Dawsey, February 10, 2010, Detroit Free Press: “At Marcus Garvey Academy in Detroit, the week begins with the recitation of black history facts followed by the sounds of drummers summoning students to an assembly. Students sing the black national anthem and recite the school creed, which starts, ‘I will have faith in myself. … I can learn! I will learn! I must learn!’ This is before any reading, writing and arithmetic. Garvey is an African-centered educational environment, and in 2008, its students outperformed the state average in most categories on the MEAP. Three other African-centered schools in Detroit serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade fared better than the Detroit Public Schools average…”
  • About 1 in 5 students need remedial help in college, By Robin Erb, February 11, 2010, Detroit Free Press: “It should have been a simple math question. But it stumped more than half of Michigan’s fourth-graders last year. Many of them never catch on, even by high school. As a result, remedial education classes are flourishing at colleges and universities. Walk onto any of the state’s 28 community colleges, and one of every five students is enrolled in a remedial education course. National data suggests that one in five students at four-year colleges seek remedial coursework, too. And it’s a costly problem. In Michigan, more than $28 million is spent on remediation at the community college level alone…”

Measuring Unemployment – Detroit, MI

Nearly half of Detroit’s workers are unemployed, By Mike Wilkinson, December 16, 2009, Detroit News: “Despite an official unemployment rate of 27 percent, the real jobs problem in Detroit may be affecting half of the working-age population, thousands of whom either can’t find a job or are working fewer hours than they want. Using a broader definition of unemployment, as much as 45 percent of the labor force has been affected by the downturn. And that doesn’t include those who gave up the job search more than a year ago, a number that could exceed 100,000 potential workers alone…”

Youth Poverty and Unemployment – Detroit, MI

Youth face uphill struggle amid Detroit’s troubles, By Corey Williams (AP), October 17, 2009, Washington Post: “Like the rundown houses and shuttered storefronts in his Detroit neighborhood, bleakness abounds in LeRoy Taylor’s future. He is among tens of thousands reaching adulthood in a city where the American Dream appears just outside their reach. Taylor, 20, spends empty hours on basketball courts, zoned out in front of a television or aimlessly pedaling through streets he desperately wants to leave, but doesn’t have the work skills, education or money to do so. ‘I fill out applications. No one will call me back,’ said Taylor, stopping his bike long enough to hustle change for cigarettes near a west side bus stop. ‘It’s useless. It’s real scary.’ Too few jobs are only part of the problems facing youths in this troubled city. Its public high schools are considered among the nation’s worst. Planned budget cuts to the recreation department will reduce hours and slash into staffing. Then there’s crime…”

Access to Fresh Food and Produce – Detroit, MI

State seeds fresh food delivery in Detroit, By Kimberly Hayes Taylor, August 22, 2009, Detroit News: “Imani Abba got choked up Friday as she purchased fruits and vegetables from a delivery truck. ‘We don’t have to go to the liquor stores and get dried-up vegetables,’ said the 54-year-old Detroiter, while taking strawberries, bananas and grapes her excited daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughter handed off. ‘For a long time, people around here didn’t have fresh food, and there are children around here that just know food from cans.’ The MI (pronounced “my”) Neighborhood Food Movers, a fresh food delivery program that officially launches Tuesday, is designed to change that for some Detroit residents. Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s office has invested $75,000 in seed money for the pilot program, which they plan to develop into a larger initiative that will include urban gardens, more delivery services, cooking classes and other programs…”

Need for Food Assistance – Detroit, MI

Hunger hits Detroit’s middle class, By Steve Hargreaves, August 6, 2009, CNNMoney.com: “On a side street in an old industrial neighborhood, a delivery man stacks a dolly of goods outside a store. Ten feet away stands another man clad in military fatigues, combat boots and what appears to be a flak jacket. He looks straight out of Baghdad. But this isn’t Iraq. It’s southeast Detroit, and he’s there to guard the groceries. ‘No pictures, put the camera down,’ he yells. My companion and I, on a tour of how people in this city are using urban farms to grow their own food, speed off. In this recession-racked town, the lack of food is a serious problem. It’s a theme that comes up again and again in conversations in Detroit. There isn’t a single major chain supermarket in the city, forcing residents to buy food from corner stores. Often less healthy and more expensive food…”