September 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • The monthly jobs numbers haven’t gone down in 7 years. Until now., By Paul Davidson, October 6, 2017, USA Today: “The U.S. lost jobs for the first time in seven years last month after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey drove down employment. But wages grew, unemployment fell to a new 16-year low and there were other reassuring signs that September’s weak showing was a blip…”
  • U.S. lost 33,000 jobs amid last month’s hurricanes, By Patricia Cohen, October 6, 2017, New York Times: “The Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for September on Friday morning, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Tennessee to reinstate work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients, By Anita Wadhwani, September 18, 2017, The Tennessean: “Tennessee will reinstate work requirements for food stamp recipients a decade after they were eased during the height of the economic recession, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday…”
  • No power means no food stamps for Miami’s neediest in Hurricane Irma’s wake, By Alex Harris, September 15, 2017, Miami Herald: “Friday morning, Michael Mighty took a bus to 58th Street for a free plate of Curry Gold and peas and rice at one of his favorite Jamaican restaurants. ‘I told them to make it as hot as possible,’ he said. ‘I’m tired of eating sandwiches.’ It might be his only meal for the day. Mighty, 58, still doesn’t have power in his Overtown apartment, and for most of this week, neither did the grocery stores he relied on. Without power, he couldn’t use his food stamps, which come on a debit card-style system these days…”
  • Walmart to allow food stamp users to buy groceries online, By Leada Gore, September 20, 2017, AL.com: “Walmart is rolling out a pilot program that will allow food stamp recipients to order groceries online and pick them up at stores. The nation’s largest retailer is currently offering online ordering for food stamp and other EBT users at one store in the Houston market and four more in Boise, Idaho. More markets will be added throughout 2017, Walmart said in a statement…”

Natural Disaster Recovery

  • ‘Nowhere else to go’: Small Texas towns decimated by hurricane struggle to rebuild amid poverty, By Mary Lee Grant, September 10, 2017, Washington Post: “At a small rural hospital in this shrimping and tourist town of about 3,000, some patients visited the emergency room twice a day, obtaining insulin and other medications they could not afford to buy themselves. Nurses sometimes pooled their money to pay for patients’ cab fare home…”
  • Irma pushes Florida’s poor closer to the edge of ruin, By Jay Reeves (AP), September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Larry and Elida Dimas didn’t have much to begin with, and Hurricane Irma left them with even less. The storm peeled open the roof of the old mobile home where they live with their 18-year-old twins, and it destroyed another one they rented to migrant workers in Immokalee, one of Florida’s poorest communities. Someone from the government already has promised aid, but Dimas’ chin quivers at the thought of accepting it…”
  • Homeless and in college. Then Harvey struck, By Anya Kamenetz, September 15, 2017, National Public Radio: “Christina Broussard was trapped in her grandmother’s living room for three days during Hurricane Harvey. Rain poured through the ceiling in the bathrooms and bedrooms. Broussard’s a student at Houston Community College. Her grandmother is 74 and uses a wheelchair…”
  • Texas CPS, foster-care providers go all out to protect vulnerable children from Hurricane Harvey, By Robert T. Garrett, September 11, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “Texas Child Protective Services and its contractors had to evacuate more than 400 foster kids in institutions because of Hurricane Harvey and, probably, hundreds more who lived in foster homes along the Gulf coast, protective services officials said Monday…”

Natural Disasters and Poverty

Natural disasters push 26m into poverty each year, says World Bank, By Larry Elliott, November 14, 2016, The Guardian: “Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption, the World Bank has said.  A bank study of 117 countries concluded that the full cost of natural disasters was $520bn (£416bn) a year – 60% higher than any previous estimate – once the impact on poor people was taken into account…”

Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Poverty worsens for African-Americans since Hurricane Katrina, Data Center reports, By Richard A. Webster, August 1, 2015, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Despite many of the positive economic gains New Orleans made in the 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, black families continue to struggle while the gap between the rich and poor grows wider, casting a pall over the recovery. In addition, poverty is increasing in the surrounding parishes ‘undermining social cohesion and resilience capacity across the region,’ according to the Data Center. The nonprofit research organization examined income trends as part of ‘The New Orleans Index at 10,’ its report analyzing the region’s recovery since the storm…”

Low-Income Households and Hurricane Sandy Recovery

  • N.J.’s low-income households still reeling from Hurricane Sandy: Study, By Stephen Stirling, October 26, 2013, Star-Ledger: “New Jersey’s low income households were disproportionally affected by Hurricane Sandy and received a starkly small amount of federal assistance in the year following the storm, according to a new study released by Rutgers University. The study, released Friday by the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration, analyzes reams of state and federal data to paint a comprehensive picture of where New Jersey is one year after Sandy struck, and shows the state still needs tens of billions of dollars of work to truly recover from the storm…”
  • Public housing residents relying on agency still recovering from storm, By Mireya Navarro, October 29, 2013, New York Times: “The midday food giveaways at Gravesend Houses in Coney Island began soon after Hurricane Sandy, and are still going strong. A year after the storm, the food line is one of many reminders of the persistent vulnerability of New York City’s public housing and the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the projects…”

New Orleans Economic Report

New Orleans shows striking potential, persistent problems, 8 years after Hurricane Katrina, economic report says, by Mark Waller, August 14, 2013, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “With the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina impending, the New Orleans area is showing encouraging signs that it might be pulling off a rare reversal of a once-entrenched economic decline, but some weaknesses persist, concludes the latest check on the region’s economic health by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. The Data Center’s report, called the New Orleans Index at Eight and released Wednesday, compared the city to national averages, a group of growing cities that New Orleans might hope to emulate and a group of cities with moribund economic numbers from 1990 to 2000, more resembling New Orleans during the same period…”

Hurricane Sandy and Low-Income Residents – New York City

  • For some after the storm, no work means no pay, By Shaila Dewan and Andrew Martin, November 2, 2012, New York Times: “Chantal Sainvilus, a home health aide in Brooklyn who makes $10 an hour, does not get paid if she does not show up. So it is no wonder that she joined the thousands of people taking extreme measures to get to work this week, even, in her case, hiking over the Williamsburg Bridge. While salaried employees worked if they could, often from home after Hurricane Sandy, many of the poorest New Yorkers faced the prospect of losing days, even a crucial week, of pay on top of the economic ground they have lost since the recession…”
  • In New York’s public housing, fear creeps in with the dark, By Cara Buckley and Michael Wilson, November 2, 2012, New York Times: “It would be dark soon at the Coney Island Houses, the fourth night without power, elevators and water. Another night of trips up and down pitch-black staircases, lighted by shaky flashlights and candles. Another night of retreating from the dark. On the second floor of Building 4, an administrative assistant named Santiago, 43, who was sharing her apartment with five relatives, ran through a mental checklist. Turn the oven on for heat. Finish errands, like fetching water for the toilet, before the light fades…”

Mobile Banking – Haiti

How Haiti is fighting poverty by killing cash, By Margo Conner, January 27, 2012, Christian Science Monitor: “In Haiti, cash is escaping from wallets and savings accounts are breaking free from brick-and-mortar banks. Two years after 2010’s devastating earthquake, mobile money has taken off in the island nation. While the country has seen setbacks in many areas and continues to struggle, one bright spot is the transformation of the country’s traditional banking sector. Physical banks were wiped away by the quake and subsequent hurricane, and a mobile banking network that uses cell phones has grown up in their place…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Enrollment

Alabama helps push U.S. program to all-time high, By Lyneka Little, August 4, 2011, ABC News: “Alabama is responsible for much of the 1.1 million increase in food stamp recipients after horrific storms tore through the area and led some residents to seek disaster relief, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Some 45.8 million people collected food stamps in May, up from 44 million in April, according to the USDA. That’s an all-time high, up 12 percent from a year ago and an astonishing 34 percent from two years ago. Comparing May 2010 to May 2011, more than 20 states have seen double-digit percent growth in individuals seeking food assistance benefits…”

Natural Disaster Displacement

Millions displaced by natural disasters last year, Associated Press, June 6, 2011, Lincoln Journal Star: “About 42 million people were forced to flee their homes because of natural disasters around the world in 2010, more than double the number during the previous year, experts said Monday. One reason for the increase in the figure could be climate change, and the international community should be doing more to contain it, the experts said. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said the increase from 17 million displaced people in 2009 was mainly due to the impact of ‘mega-disasters’ such as the massive floods in China and Pakistan and the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti…”

Tornado Damage and Low-Income Homeowners

In Alabama, tornadoes wiped out uninsured homes, By Tanya Ott, May 5, 2011, National Public Radio: “Across the South, crews are clearing debris and starting the rebuilding process after last week’s deadly tornadoes. Early estimates put the amount of insured damage at up to $5 billion across the region, but that doesn’t include all of the uninsured damage, which could be extensive. Robert Jamison’s house in the Smithfield Estates neighborhood of North Birmingham has been wiped out. ‘It all the way demolished. The wind blowed everything out there,’ Jamison says as he and two friends pick through what’s left of his home. Furniture, clothing, appliances – all ruined. The roof is missing, as is one wall. The floor joists are bowed and the whole place looks like it could collapse at any minute. Jamison says it feels like his whole world is falling down around him. ‘I dropped the insurance on the house because I couldn’t pay it no more. The economy got me,’ he says…”

Nongovernmental Organizations in Haiti

NGOs in Haiti face new questions about effectiveness, By William Booth, February 1, 2011, Washington Post: “In the days after the earth shook and the government collapsed, the municipal nursing home here became one of the most desperate sights in Haiti, as old people lay swaddled in dirty sheets, huddled in cramped tents, begging visitors for water. But little by little, order was restored. A humanitarian aid group called HelpAge International arrived at the nursing home. They paid salaries for security guards, health-care workers and cooks. The last building left standing was patched, and the elderly residents no longer were bathed with buckets in the yard. But six months later, HelpAge abandoned the project after it failed to negotiate a new agreement with city hall. The group Project Concern International, which was operating a clinic on the grounds of the nursing home, also closed down after the mayor asked for rent. The travails at the municipal nursing home illustrate both the promise and the perils of the unprecedented humanitarian aid response in Haiti…”

Post-Earthquake Haiti

After massive aid, Haitians feel stuck in poverty, By William Booth, January 11, 2011, Washington Post: “One of the largest and most costly humanitarian aid efforts in history saved many lives in the aftermath of last January’s earthquake but has done little to ease the suffering of ordinary Haitians since then. As U.S. officials, donor nations and international aid contractors applaud their efforts – all the latrines, tents and immunizations – the recipients of this unprecedented assistance are weary at the lack of visible progress and doubtful that the billions of dollars promised will make their lives better…”

Post-Earthquake Rebuilding – Haiti

Funding delays, housing complexities slow Haiti rebuilding effort, By William Booth and Mary Beth Sheridan, November 25, 2010, Washington Post: “Yolette Pierre says thank you, America. She points to the plastic over her head, to a gray sack on the dirt floor, to a bucket in the corner. Thank you for the tarp. Thank you for the rice. Thank you for the water, too. She is as sincere as she is poor. The $3.5 billion in international relief spent after the worst natural disaster in a generation succeeded in its main mission. ‘We kept Haitians alive,’ said Nigel Fisher, chief of the U.N. humanitarian mission. Now the really hard part begins. To weary Haitians such as Pierre, mired in a fetid camp, hoping to sweep away the tons of earthquake rubble and remake broken lives, the wait for $6 billion in rebuilding money promised in March by the United States and other donor nations is more than frustrating. It is almost cruel. Ten months after the earthquake left more than a million people homeless, only a small fraction of that recovery money has been put into projects that Haitians can see…”

Haiti Cholera Outbreak

  • Cholera reported in several areas in Haiti, By Donald G. McNeil Jr., October 22, 2010, New York Times: “A cholera outbreak in a rural area of northwestern Haiti has killed more than 150 people and overwhelmed local hospitals with thousands of the sick, the World Health Organization said Friday, increasing long-held fears of an epidemic that could spread to the encampments that shelter more than a million of Haitians displaced by the January earthquake. Even as relief organizations rushed doctors and clean-water equipment toward the epicenter – the Artibonite, a riverine rice-producing area about three hours north of the capital, Port-au-Prince – Haitian radio reported that cholera cases had surfaced in two other areas: the island of La Gonâve, and the town of Arcahaie, which lies closer to the capital. In addition, a California-based aid group, International Medical Corps, said they had confirmed cases in Croix-des-Bouquet…”
  • Haiti’s first cholera epidemic in a century kills scores, By Rory Carroll, October 22, 2010, The Guardian: “Haiti’s first cholera epidemic in a century has swept a region north of the capital Port-au-Prince, killing dozens and overwhelming health services. At least 142 people have died and more than 1,500 were stricken by diarrhoea, fever and vomiting in the worst public health crisis since the January earthquake. Authorities and aid agencies scrambled to contain the outbreak in the largely rural Artibonite region before it reached tent cities housing vulnerable quake survivors…”

US Rebuilding Aid for Haiti

Haiti still waiting for pledged US aid, By Jonathan M. Katz and Martha Mendoza (AP), September 29, 2010, National Public Radio: “Nearly nine months after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians still live on the streets between piles of rubble. One reason: Not a cent of the $1.15 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding has arrived. The money was pledged by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in March for use this year in rebuilding. The U.S. has already spent more than $1.1 billion on post-quake relief, but without long-term funds, the reconstruction of the wrecked capital cannot begin. With just a week to go before fiscal 2010 ends, the money is still tied up in Washington. At fault: bureaucracy, disorganization and a lack of urgency, The Associated Press learned in interviews with officials in the State Department, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the White House and the U.N. Office of the Special Envoy. One senator has held up a key authorization bill because of a $5 million provision he says will be wasteful. Meanwhile, deaths in Port-au-Prince are mounting, as quake survivors scramble to live without shelter or food…”

Hurricane Katrina Recovery at 5-Year Anniversary

  • A tale of two recoveries, By Michael A. Fletcher, August 27, 2010, Washington Post: “The massive government effort to repair the damage from Hurricane Katrina is fostering a stark divide as the state governments in Louisiana and Mississippi structured the rebuilding programs in ways that often offered the most help to the most affluent residents. The result, advocates say, has been an uneven recovery, with whites and middle-class people more likely than blacks and low-income people to have rebuilt their lives in the five years since the horrific storm…”
  • On Katrina anniversary, recovery takes hold, By Campbell Robertson, August 27, 2010, New York Times: “This city, not that long ago, appeared to be lost. Only five years have passed since corpses were floating through the streets, since hundreds of thousands of survivors sat in hotel rooms and shelters and the homes of relatives, learning from news footage that they were among the ranks of the homeless. For most of the last year, in many parts of the city, the waters finally seemed to be receding. In November, a federal judge ruled that much of the flooding after Hurricane Katrina was a result of the negligence of the Army Corps of Engineers, vindicating New Orleanians, who had hammered this gospel for four years. In January, the federal government cleared the way for nearly half a billion dollars in reimbursement for the city’s main public hospital, an acceleration of funds that led to the announcement this week that nearly two billion more would be coming in a lump-sum settlement for city schools…”
  • Billions in Katrina relief funds still unspent, By Geoff Pender, August 27, 2010, Miami Herald: “More than a quarter of the $20 billion in Housing and Urban Development relief funds earmarked for Gulf states after Katrina remains unspent five years after the storm, a fact noticed by at least one congressional leader eager to spend it elsewhere. In June, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, ordered data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development into how much remains unspent from the more than $20 billion in Community Development Block Grant hurricane relief funds earmarked for Gulf states after the 2005 storms. The answer: about $5.4 billion, including $3 billion of the $13 billion earmarked for Louisiana and $2 billion of the $5.5 billion for Mississippi…”
  • New Orleans five years after Katrina: Chins up, hopes high, August 26, 2010, The Economist: “It is still obvious to any visitor-especially one who ventures out of the French Quarter, with its restaurants and night clubs, into the unstarred districts of the city. Something awful happened here in the not-too-distant past. The signs are everywhere: empty lots overgrown by weeds, ramshackle, leaning houses, derelict public buildings still awaiting restoration. Some houses feature ‘Katrina tattoos’ sprayed by rescuers as they completed house-by-house searches in 2005. Nobody at home. And yet New Orleans has undoubtedly recovered its essence. The old neighbourhoods are almost intact, and the city’s irrepressible people have mostly returned. Experts estimate that perhaps 360,000 people now live in a city that was home to around 100,000 more on the day disaster struck. Those who left were probably disproportionately black and poor. Yet the city’s large black majority, still there and mostly still poor, has ensured that the extravagant culture of New Orleans has survived the flood unharmed…”
  • Disasters widen the rich-poor gap, By John Mutter, August 25, 2010, Nature.com: “As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, recovery in New Orleans is patchy. The hurricane flushed out many of the poorer people. For those who remained, almost without exception, the poorer neighbourhoods have experienced the slowest repopulation and recovery of basic amenities such as schools, shops and petrol stations. The poorest district of New Orleans – the Lower Ninth Ward – has about 24% of its former residents, whereas the wealthy Central Business District has seen 157% repopulation. Low-income black workers were seven times more likely to lose their pre-Katrina jobs than higher-income white workers. And low-income people have found it more difficult to attain basic living conditions, including good access to health care – in 2008 there were 38% fewer hospital beds available in New Orleans than before the storm…”

Flooding in Pakistan

Pakistan flood sets back infrastructure by years, By Carlotta Gall, August 26, 2010, New York Times: “Men waded waist deep all week wedging stones with their bare hands into an embankment to hold back Pakistan’s surging floodwaters. It was a rudimentary and ultimately vain effort to save their town. On Thursday, the waters breached the levee, a demoralizing show of how fragile Pakistan’s infrastructure remains, and how overwhelming the task is to save it. Even as Pakistani and international relief officials scrambled to save people and property, they despaired that the nation’s worst natural calamity had ruined just about every physical strand that knit this country together – roads, bridges, schools, health clinics, electricity and communications. The destruction could set Pakistan back many years, if not decades, further weaken its feeble civilian administration and add to the burdens on its military. It seems certain to distract from American requests for Pakistan to battle Taliban insurgents, who threatened foreign aid workers delivering flood relief on Thursday. It is already disrupting vital supply lines to American forces in Afghanistan…”