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…”

TANF Program Enrollment – Oregon

Cash assistance cases still above pre-recession levels, By Claire Withycombe, July 24, 2017, East Oregonian: “The number of Oregonians receiving federal cash assistance remains higher than it was at the start of the Great Recession, but state analysts expect the number to shrink to pre-recession levels by early 2019…”

Child Poverty – Oregon

Rising rents, slow-to-recover earnings trap many Oregon children in tough circumstances, By Betsy Hammond, November 16, 2016, The Oregonian: “The typical Oregon family saw its income rise about 6 percent faster than inflation, to $66,300, in 2015. Still, that remained $1,300 less than the inflation-adjusted typical family income in 2007, before the recession, even though the costs of rent and child care have surged 10 and 18 percent faster than inflation since then.  Those are among the findings of a new report by Children First for Oregon, looking at how the economy, race, education, health care and other factors are affecting the state’s youngest residents…”

Medicaid Coverage and ER Visits

Emergency room use stays high In Oregon Medicaid study, By Kristian Foden-Vencil, October 19, 2016, National Public Radio: “Will Medicaid expansion save the country money as people stop using expensive emergency rooms for primary care? Not yet, suggest the latest findings from a landmark study published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The study of Medicaid patients in Oregon who got Medicaid in 2008 found their ER use stayed high two years after they gained the health insurance coverage — even as they also increased their visits to doctors’ offices…”

Achievement Gap – Oregon

Oregon test scores Show persistent achievement gaps based on race, income, By Rob Manning, September 8, 2016, Oregon Public Broadcasting: “Standardized test scores released Thursday show Oregon students improved, but only by one percentage point, on average, compared to last year.  The Smarter Balanced exams continue to show enormous achievement gaps based on race…”

Foster Care Systems – Oregon, Arizona

  • New report on Oregon’s foster care system charts solutions, failures, By Hillary Borrud, August 25, 2016, The Oregonian: “An unsparing report spurred by Oregon’s latest foster care scandal identifies fairly obvious remedies for the state’s troubled child welfare system.  But those recommendations, released Thursday and first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, also highlight the Department of Human Services’ ongoing failure to adopt solutions identified year after year in previous reviews…”
  • Foster care children aging out of Arizona system need transitional help, By Selena Makrides, August 27, 2016, Arizona Republic: “Jasmine Flores entered the Arizona foster care system when she was 13 years old. She stayed in the system, moving from group home to group home to group home and changing schools along the way.  When she approached her 18th birthday, she began to think about life outside of the state care system. She’s now 19, the proud owner of a car and a thriving college student, after participating in the transitional programs for aging foster youth. Flores’s transition story, though, is not typical for the roughly 800 young adults expected to “age-out” of the foster care system in Arizona in 2016…”

State Safety Nets – Oregon

Welfare Utopia, By Alana Semuels, May 31, 2016, The Atlantic: “In much of the country, poor people are finding that there are fewer and fewer government benefits available to help them stay afloat. But here in this progressive corner of the Northwest, the poor can access an extensive system of state-sponsored supports and services.  In Oregon, a higher share of poor families is on welfare (now called TANF, or Temporary Aid to Needy Families) than in most states. The state has some of the highest food-stamp uptake in the country. It subsidizes childcare for working parents, asking the poorest of them to contribute as little as $27 a month. It helps people get off of welfare by linking them to employment and paying their wages for up to six months, and then allows them to continue to receive food stamps as they transition to higher wages. Families can be on welfare for up to 60 months, as opposed to 24 months in many other states, and once the parents are cut off due to time limits, their children can still continue to receive aid…”

Child Welfare System – Oregon

  • Foster care crisis: Oregon failing in every area possible in federal review, By Denis C. Theriault, April 20, 2016, The Oregonian: “A new federal study finds Oregon’s child welfare system is failing across the board when it comes to keeping thousands of children in state care safe and healthy.  According to the report, caseworkers are still taking too long to check on allegations of abuse and neglect, with just more than half of investigations completed on time. Even in the most serious cases, where check-ins are required within 24 hours, the state met that goal less than two-thirds of the time…”
  • Report: Ore. DHS fails all federal child care standards, By Gordon Friedman, April 21, 2016, Statesman Journal: “State officials knew eight years ago of deficiencies in their child welfare programs and failed to address any of the significant issues, according to a report sent to federal assessors last month. The 2008 review found the Oregon Department of Human Services below standard in 11 of 13 federal child care assessment categories…”

State Minimum Wage – Oregon

Oregon’s nearly $15 minimum wage law tests tiered raises, By Molly Jackson, March 3, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation Tuesday to make the state’s minimum wages the highest in the country, implementing a gradual, three-tier plan balancing the needs of Oregon’s sharply divided urban and rural areas, an unprecedented model that might address concerns from wage-raise skeptics in other states…”

State Minimum Wage – Oregon

Landmark minimum wage hike bill passes in Oregon, Associated Press, February 19, 2016, CBS News: “Oregon lawmakers have approved landmark legislation that propels the state’s minimum wage for all workers to the highest rank in the U.S., and does so through an unparalleled tiered system based on geography.  The state House of Representatives on Thursday passed Senate Bill 1532, which now heads to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who said in a statement she will sign it into law…”

Oregonian Series on Homelessness in Oregon

Our Homeless Crisis: A close look at homelessness in Oregon starts this weekend, By Anna Griffin, January 16, 2016, The Oregonian: “This weekend, we’ll publish the first story in a project that started last spring with a question, one readers ask anytime The Oregonian/OregonLive.com writes about poverty, panhandling or illegal camps: Is homelessness worse in Portland, or does it just feel that way? To find out, reporter Anna Griffin interviewed national experts, elected officials, nonprofit organizers, advocates for the poor, social workers, police officers, doctors, volunteers and dozens of men and women who are either homeless now or recently got indoors. She and visual journalists Thomas Boyd and Dave Killen visited shelters, soup kitchens, day centers and illegal homeless camps. In all, they interviewed more than 100 people. They’re still reporting – and want your input.   The answer about Portland is as complicated as the reasons people end up on the streets…”

Minimum Wage

  • $12 vs. $15 minimum-wage debate continues between economists, experts, politicians, By Olivera Perkins, January 7, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Go to any minimum wage rally in the past few years, and there is one number dominating the event: $15. It’s scrawled on the bouncing placards held by rally goers. Emblazoned on their banners. Laced through their chants.  But many economists and other think tank experts, even those supporting a substantial hike to the federal minimum wage, are questioning if $15 is too high. For many of them, $12 is more realistic or probable, especially if it is phased-in by 2020…”
  • Some businesses say Nebraska’s $9 minimum wage will be a burden, but others just shrug, By Janice Podsada, January 6, 2016, Omaha World-Herald: “The sometimes rough-and-tumble job of refereeing ’25 to 75 large dogs at serious play’ now pays $9 an hour at an Omaha doggie day care facility, but that’s just to start. If new employees work out, ‘they’ll see their pay raised to $10 an hour after a few weeks,’ said Renee Johnson, owner of ComeSitStay, a dog day care and overnight boarding facility at 180th and Harrison Streets. On Jan. 1, Nebraska’s minimum wage leapt to $9 an hour for nontipped workers from $8 in 2015, a 12.5 percent increase…”
  • Push begins to increase Oregon minimum wage, By Ed Russo, January 8, 2016, Register-Guard: “With the Legislature preparing to convene, activists say they are launching a signature-gathering drive to increase Oregon’s minimum wage within two years to $13.50 an hour.  The Portland-based Raise the Wage Coalition said Thursday that it will ‘hit the streets in communities across the state’ to collect the 89,000 signatures required to put Initiative Petition 58 on the November ballot.  If approved by voters, the measure would raise the statewide minimum hourly wage to $13.50 by 2018…”
  • Oregon, Washington slide as leaders in minimum wage, By Jeff Mapes, January 7, 2016, Oregon Public Broadcasting: “After a decade of mandating the highest minimum wages in the country, Washington and Oregon are now dropping back in the pack. Six other states jumped past Washington and Oregon – which had been ranked No. 1 and No. 2 since 2005 – at the start of the new year, thanks largely to efforts in several legislatures around the country to raise the wage floor for workers…”

Social Innovation Fund

Will private investors help pay for social services? Oregon projects seek to find out, By Amy Wang, March 12, 2015, The Oregonian: “Oregon Health & Science University, two counties and a Portland-based nonprofit will join a national initiative looking into whether it’s feasible to tap private investors to fund some social services.  The Oregon project, Pay for Prevention, will focus on preventing children and youth from entering the state’s child welfare and foster care systems…”

Oregonian Series on Homelessness in Oregon

Our Homeless Crisis: A close look at homelessness in Oregon starts this weekend, By Anna Griffin, January 16, 2014, The Oregonian: “This weekend, we’ll publish the first story in a project that started last spring with a question, one readers ask anytime The Oregonian/OregonLive.com writes about poverty, panhandling or illegal camps: Is homelessness worse in Portland, or does it just feel that way? To find out, reporter Anna Griffin interviewed national experts, elected officials, nonprofit organizers, advocates for the poor, social workers, police officers, doctors, volunteers and dozens of men and women who are either homeless now or recently got indoors…”

Child Care Subsidies – Oregon

New federal child care rules, meant to help families, could also harm them, says Oregon audit, By Amy Wang, January 5, 2014, The Oregonian: “As Oregon works to meet new federal rules meant to expand access to child care and improve its educational quality, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office and others are raising concerns that the families who most need stable and affordable child care could lose it as a result of those same rules. The rules are part of the recently reauthorized federal Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, which helps fund child care subsidies for lower-income families…”

Low-Wage Workers and Safety Net Programs – Oregon

Public assistance to low-wage workers costs $1.7 billion in Oregon, new report says, By Molly Young, January 8, 2015, The Oregonian: “Public assistance to working Oregonians costs an estimated $1.7 billion annually, according to a new report on the impact of low-paying jobs. Nearly 197,000 workers don’t earn enough to cover their basic needs and rely in some part on public support, shows the study released Thursday by the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center…”

Section 8 Housing – Oregon

Locked out: Some landlords still turn away Section 8 tenants despite a new anti-discrimination law, By Bennett Hall, October 12, 2014, Corvallis Gazette-Times: “Elizabeth Prevish knew it could be tough to find a house to rent in Corvallis, but she had no idea just how hard it would be when she decided to relocate from Redmond in May. A single mom, Prevish has two sons, ages 3 and 13. The older boy struggles with a serious emotional disorder, and Prevish was thrilled when she got him placed in the Children’s Farm Home for inpatient treatment in January. After months of making the three-hour drive across the mountains to visit her son, she got approval to transfer her federal housing benefits from Deschutes County to the mid-valley — but ran into a brick wall when she tried to use them in Corvallis. So far, she says, half a dozen local landlords have refused to accept her Section 8 voucher — even though such discrimination is illegal under Oregon fair housing laws…”

State Minimum Wage – Oregon

Oregon minimum wage will increase to $9.25 in 2015, By Molly Young, September 17, 2014, The Oregonian: “Oregon’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $9.25 an hour in 2015, state labor officials announced Wednesday. The change arrives amid a national debate over the minimum wage. Starting Jan. 1, Oregon employers must pay workers at least $2 an hour above the federal wage floor. Oregon has the nation’s second-highest minimum wage, behind only Washington. The rates in both states are tied to inflation, so they are adjusted every year in an attempt to keep pace with the cost of living…”

SNAP Enrollment – Oregon

Oregon’s economy would get $500 million infusion if everyone eligible for food stamps accepted them: report, By Bryan Denson, August 28, 2014, The Oregonian: “Oregon’s economy would get a nearly $500 million boost if every person in the state eligible for food stamps took part in the program, according to a study. An estimated 276,000 Oregonians qualify, but don’t participate, in the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to Katie Furia, who serves as SNAP outreach manager for the nonprofit Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon…”

State Medicaid Programs – Oregon, North Carolina

  • Medicaid enrollees strain Oregon, By Gosia Wozniacka (AP), July 23, 2014, ABC News: “Low-income Oregon residents were supposed to be big winners after the state expanded Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul and created a new system to improve the care they received. But an Associated Press review shows that an unexpected rush of enrollees has strained the capacity of the revamped network that was endorsed as a potential national model, locking out some patients, forcing others to wait months for medical appointments and prompting a spike in emergency room visits, which state officials had been actively seeking to avoid. The problems come amid nationwide growing pains associated with the unprecedented restructuring of the U.S. health care system, and they show the effects of a widespread physician shortage on a state that has embraced Medicaid expansion…”
  • Many low-income N.C. workers are locked out of Medicaid, By Karen Garloch, July 25, 2014, Charlotte News and Observer: “They’re construction workers, waitresses and cashiers. They care for our children and elderly parents, clean our offices and bathrooms. But they go without health insurance because their incomes aren’t high enough to qualify for federal subsidies and too high to qualify for North Carolina’s current Medicaid program for low-income and disabled citizens. More than half of the 689,000 uninsured adults North Carolinians who fall into this so-called “Medicaid gap” are employed in jobs that are critical to the state’s economy, according to a report released Thursday by the North Carolina Justice Center, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association and Families USA…”