Minority Homeownership – Rock County, WI

Minorities are only a sliver of Rock County mortgage applicants, data shows, By Ashley McCallum, March 19, 2018, Janesville Gazette: “Wanda Sloan grew up in a family of five kids and two adults in apartment No. 21 of the Fairbanks Flats in Beloit. The flats were built by Fairbanks Morse in 1917 to house black individuals and families recruited from the south to work at the engine manufacturing firm, Sloan said. The firm planned to build the flats on the east side of the city, Sloan said, but built on the west side to keep black people segregated from the whites. Nearly 100 years after Fairbanks Flats were built and 50 years after the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Sloan says not much has changed for people of color in regards to housing. Data compiled by The Center of Investigative Journalism illustrate her concerns…”

Medicaid and Dental Care – Wisconsin

  • For those on Medicaid, it can be a struggle to find dental care in the Twin Ports, By Brady Slater, March 3, 2018, Duluth News Tribune: “Zymrie Bekteshi is doing the best she can in the world. She’s a single mother raising a boy and girl, both under the age of 10. She sews for a local company serving the aviation industry. Her employer lets her work from home. ‘Work from home is good,’ she said. ‘I have nobody to help me, no family if kids get sick. So they give me a machine to work with in my home.’ Even with the job she’s held for 11 years, she described herself as ‘low-income.’ Not long ago, Bekteshi, of Duluth, experienced one of the risks concomitant with living near the poverty line: trouble finding a dentist for her kids…”
  • Wisconsin pilot program aims to increase access to dental care for low-income children, By Shamane Mills, February 26, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Dental care for low-income children has been a problem in Wisconsin for years. One reason is that parents can’t find dentists who will accept Medicaid, known in Wisconsin as BadgerCare. To help address this gap, the state is paying some dentists who take Medicaid patients more to see if it will improve access to care. The Enhanced Dental Reimbursement Pilot Program began in October 2016 and includes Brown, Marathon, Racine and Polk counties…”
  • Dentists ask for more funding for treating patients with Medicaid, By Shamane Mills, February 27, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Medicaid is one of the biggest cost drivers in the state budget, but dentists say they’re getting less than 1 percent of that money. They’re asking the state to pay them more for taking on patients who get insurance through Medicaid. In an attempt to address the gap in dental care for low-income children across Wisconsin, the state began a pilot program that does just that…”
  • Dentists: Slights in funding, respect at the root of Wisconsin’s dental care disparity, By Shamane Mills, February 27, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Dentists will tell you they deal with a lot of neglect. They often see patients who put off flossing or brushing, or let cavities sit unfilled. And like a tooth problem that gets ignored for too long, some Wisconsin dentists say state officials neglect their sector of care, slighting the industry with what they consider inadequate state funding which ultimately makes it harder for their patients to get treatment…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s unprecedented welfare reform could inspire conservative changes elsewhere, By J. B. Wogan, February 27, 2018, Governing: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is poised to sign a sweeping package of bills aimed at reducing welfare rolls by expanding work requirements and adding other restrictions. The proposals include several changes that no other state has tried and would require approval from the federal government…”

Renters and Eviction

  • Landlord battles haunt Twin Cities low-income renters, By Max Nesterak, February 22, 2018, Minnesota Public Radio: “Lakesha Davis and her fiance Steven Perkins thought they’d finally landed a home, a house in St. Paul that offered a fresh start for them and four of their kids. Years earlier, they’d been forced from their north Minneapolis home after a grandson’s blood tests came back showing elevated lead levels. The landlord evicted them, Davis said, after the child’s pediatrician alerted a city housing inspector…”
  • When faced with eviction, African-American women in Madison struggle to find rent help, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, February 17, 2018, Cap Times: “Last December when Brandice Hatcher was eight months pregnant, she came home to an eviction notice…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Assembly Republicans pass full slate of Gov. Scott Walker’s welfare limits, By Jason Stein, February 15, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday approved Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed welfare limits and sought federal help to cover more of the nearly $90 million in costs from the proposals…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin, Maine

  • Scott Walker calls special session on bills making changes to welfare programs, By Molly Beck, January 18, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker called on lawmakers Thursday to take up a slate of bills that would make sweeping changes to the state’s welfare programs — including requiring parents to work in order to receive food stamps and requiring residents in subsidized housing to be screened for drug use…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pushes welfare overhaul to include work requirement for parents on food stamps, By Jason Stein, January 18, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With unemployment low and a tough election looming, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Thursday for a special legislative session to overhaul the state’s welfare programs. The GOP governor is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits and increasing the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30…”
  • LePage says Trump administration again blocks ban on food stamps for junk food, By Eric Russell, January 19, 2018, Portland Press Herald: “For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a request by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to ban food stamp recipients from using their benefits to buy sugary drinks and candy. His spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said Friday that the administration would ‘revise our waiver request and resubmit it,’ but she did not offer a timeline…”

SNAP and Drug Testing – Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker moving forward with drug testing some food stamp recipients, By Jason Stein, December 4, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker is moving forward with an effort to drug test some food stamp recipients, with testing expected to begin in as little as a year absent action from lawmakers or the federal government…”

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…”

Healthy Food Programs for SNAP Recipients

  • New program buoys purchases of fresh food with food stamps, By Rachel Alexander, November 9, 2017, Spokesman-Review: “Brandaleen Harper used to have trouble affording produce for herself and her son, Gabriel. Harper works part time in child care and said her food stamps often don’t stretch far enough to cover everything she’d like to buy. But a new program through the Spokane Regional Health District and the Washington State Department of Health is making it easier for people using food stamps to buy fruits and vegetables…”
  • Assembly approves giving Wisconsin food stamp users a discount on produce, healthy groceries, By Patrick Marley, November 7, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Some people who use food stamps would get a break on buying produce and other healthy groceries, under a bill the state Assembly overwhelmingly approved Tuesday…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

  • Two-thirds of Medicaid-covered children not getting required tests for lead poisoning in Wisconsin, By David Wahlberg, October 26, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Less than a third of Wisconsin children on Medicaid were tested for lead poisoning at ages 1 and 2 last year, despite a federal requirement that all such children get the testing, a new state report says. Children on Medicaid are three times as likely to have lead poisoning than other children, so many children who could face developmental problems from lead exposure are not being identified, a Madison pediatrician said…”
  • State gets OK to spend $15M to aid lead-poisoned children on Medicaid, By Lauren Cross, October 26, 2017, Northwest Indiana Times: “State health officials have been given the green light to spend up to $15 million over the next five years to bolster lead hazard testing and removal efforts in East Chicago, South Bend and other cities where low-income children are at risk for exposure. Much of the focus in East Chicago this past year has been on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation and cleanup of toxic soil left by past industry in the Calumet neighborhoods…”

Affordable Housing – Milwaukee, WI

Low-income households in Milwaukee squeezed by rents, By Kevin Crowe and Ashley Luthern, September 22, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Cheryl Williams-Adams moved to Milwaukee with her teenage daughter four years ago, she landed on her feet. She worked as a substance abuse counselor for two organizations, and her monthly income was enough to cover the rent for their one-bedroom apartment, as well as to have some savings. ‘I was trying to build up enough money to get a house,’ Williams-Adams said.  Like many people, she was one emergency away from financial hardship.  In 2015, Williams-Adams, 63, had a heart attack. She hasn’t been able to work since.  Now, the mix of short-term benefits and Social Security payments she receives add up to about $1,000 per month. Her rent is $590. In the City of Milwaukee, 50% of all renters spent more than 30% of their monthly income on housing in 2016, compared to 46% of renters nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee advances tiny homes plan for young adults leaving foster care, By Mary Spicuzza, September 11, 2017,  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Three dozen ‘tiny homes’ would be built for — and with the help of — teens aging out of foster care, under a plan that advanced Monday at City Hall. As many as 36 tiny homes would be built near E. Capitol Drive and N. Humboldt Blvd. through a partnership with developer Gorman & Co., Pathfinders Milwaukee Inc. and the Milwaukee County Housing Division…”

Poverty Measurement – Wisconsin

More Wisconsin families are pulling themselves out of poverty, but help still needed, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, August 5, 2017, Capital Times: “When school’s not in session, the River Food Pantry on the north side of Madison delivers lunch to eight nearby low-income neighborhoods.  The program, known as Madison Unites to Nourish Children at Home, gives out about 485 lunches to kids every day: a PB&J or meat and cheese sandwich, fresh fruit or applesauce, crackers or chips, and sometimes, chocolate pudding…”

Drug Testing and Medicaid – Wisconsin

Wisconsin submits request to drug test Medicaid applicants, By Scott Bauer (AP), June 7, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Wisconsin submitted a federal request Wednesday to become the first state in the country to drug test applicants for Medicaid health benefits. Republican Gov. Scott Walker expects President Donald Trump’s administration to approve the waiver, which would also impose new requirements on able-bodied, childless adults receiving Medicaid in the state. The request comes as Walker, a one-time GOP presidential candidate, prepares for a likely re-election bid…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • At Trump’s urging, states try to tilt Medicaid in conservative directions, By Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin, May 25, 2017, Washington Post: “Wisconsin is preparing to recast its Medicaid program in ways that no state has ever done, requiring low-income adults to undergo drug screening to qualify for health coverage and setting time limits on assistance unless they work or train for a job. The approach places BadgerCare, as the Wisconsin version of Medicaid is known, at the forefront of a movement by Republican governors and legislatures that is injecting a brand of moralism and individual responsibility into the nation’s largest source of public health insurance. From Maine to Arizona, some states are seizing on an invitation by the Trump administration to redesign a program that was created as part of the 1960s Great Society and now covers 69 million Americans…”
  • Wisconsin GOP advances measure that would make state first to drug test for health benefits, By Jason Stein, May 25, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin could become the first state in the nation to require needy but able-bodied adults to work and submit to drug tests to qualify for public health coverage, under a proposal advanced by lawmakers Thursday. Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee outvoted Democrats 12-4 to approve these provisions in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget along with the bill’s requirement that some parents on food stamps work in order to receive benefits…”

Wisconsin Poverty Report

UW-Madison researchers find modest drop in Wisconsin poverty rates, By Bill Glauber, May 23, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Boosted by a growth in jobs, poverty in Wisconsin dropped from 10.8% in 2014 to 9.7% in 2015 according to the Wisconsin Poverty Measure. It is the lowest poverty rate recorded since the WPM was introduced nine years ago by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute of Research on Poverty…”

Drug Testing and Medicaid – Wisconsin

Wisconsin seeks to mandate drug tests for Medicaid recipients, By Astead W. Herndon, April 25, 2017, Boston Globe: “Low-income residents seeking government help in Wisconsin often slog through a frustrating, outdated bureaucracy at a run-down state building in Milwaukee, enduring a process that generates complaints about the difficulties of signing up for food assistance, unemployment benefits, and Medicaid. Now, in a first-in-the-nation experiment, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker plans to raise the bar higher for people seeking Medicaid, with an expansive program of mandatory drug screening, testing, and treatment as a condition of receiving benefits…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Advocates worry Medicaid patients may not be aware of changes to system, By Samantha Liss, April 16, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “On May 1, 250,000 additional Medicaid recipients in Missouri will be enrolled in a managed care system, and advocates and health policy experts say they are worried that not enough has been done to make them aware of the changes. Patients could fall through the cracks because of the confusion, say policy experts with the Missouri Foundation for Health…”
  • Wisconsin seeks to drug test some Medicaid enrollees, By David Wahlberg, April 18, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Childless adults who sign up for Wisconsin’s Medicaid program would be screened for drug use and required to pay premiums under a proposal Gov. Scott Walker’s administration plans to submit next month to the federal government. The state Department of Health Services released a summary of the proposal Monday…”
  • Gov. Matt Bevin’s likely Medicaid shake-up scares Kentucky patients, By Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Before he got dental coverage, David Thompson, who works at various construction jobs, said he suffered for years with untreated dental pain and decay. ‘I’d go to work and the pain would be so excruciating that I would literally at lunch go in the parking lot and pull my own teeth,’ said Thompson, 49, who lives in South Louisville. Now, having just gained health coverage through Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Thompson is hurrying to schedule dental and eye exams — care he said he urgently needs but realizes could be eliminated under major changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin…”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Series on Childhood Trauma

From generation to generation, By John Schmid, March 23, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Joseph and Eva Rogers moved to Milwaukee from Arkansas in 1969, there was no better city for African-American workers to find employment. Neither had made it past grade school, but Joe found a job on the bottle line at Graf Beverages, known for root beer, and Eva worked at a rag factory. They were part of what turned out to be the last chapter of the Great Migration, in which 6 million Southern laborers moved north for a better life, and reshaped the nation.  Their daughter Belinda remembers the city at its industrial zenith. For the first time, she says, ‘I saw African-Americans owning homes and businesses.’ She married at 18 and had three children by age 22. Her Louisiana-born husband worked at A.O. Smith, the biggest employer in the city, with 10,000 workers in cathedral-sized factories welding the undercarriage of just about every American-made car. Then a global economic upheaval hit Milwaukee’s industrial core, and engine-makers, machine shops, tanneries, even heralded breweries shut down in rapid-fire succession…”