Category Archives: Human Services

What New Orleans Can Teach Other Cities About Reducing Homelessness

Source: Teresa Wiltz, Stateline, October 15, 2019

….After Katrina, homelessness skyrocketed, from about 2,000 people experiencing homelessness in 2005 to nearly 12,000 in 2007, according to Unity of Greater New Orleans (Unity GNO), a nonprofit designated by the federal government to lead the city’s efforts to provide housing and services to the homeless.

But in 2011, the city launched an all-out offensive on homelessness, slashing the number of homeless residents by more than 80%, from close to 6,700 in 2011 to fewer than 1,200 in 2018. Factoring in the city’s efforts to reduce homelessness since 2007, the overall number has been slashed 90%…..

….City officials did it by fighting homelessness on a variety of fronts: They adopted a “housing first” policy: providing homes and services to New Orleans’ neediest, without requiring that they resolve mental health or substance abuse issues first. They expanded a health care clinic for the homeless and started conducting weekly check-ins to connect more people to counseling and other services.

They designated 200 housing vouchers for veterans and set aside 55 units for them in a converted convent. They successfully lobbied Congress for 3,000 extra housing vouchers in 2008. And last year, the city opened a 100-bed, “low-barrier” shelter where people don’t have to be sober to be admitted.

In tackling the problem, the city relied almost exclusively on federal funds, according to Andreanecia Morris, executive director of HousingNOLA, a partnership of city officials, homeless advocates and dozens of nonprofits and public and private organizations…..

State of the Workforce Report 2019

Source: National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), September 2019

From the press release:
The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) released the first-ever, annual State of the Workforce Report, which includes national workforce data and a state profile of each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.

“There is now a place for you to easily find key labor market information for each state and how their workforce agency is structured,” said Jon Pierpont, NASWA Board President and Executive Director, Utah Department of Workforce Services. “Though every state is different, we all work towards supporting citizens with every opportunity to become self-sustaining. This report shows our uniqueness and amplifies the impact workforce agencies are having throughout the country.”

The 50 state profiles include labor market and unemployment insurance information, an overview of the state’s workforce structure, and individuals served. The report also highlights the uniqueness of every state by promoting the innovations taking place across the country in serving America’s workforce.

Lawmakers Target Anti-Poverty Programs After Paid Trips to Disney

Source: Jared Bennett, Center for Public Integrity, September 4, 2019  
This story was published in partnership with Vox.

A conservative think tank is pushing policies limiting food aid and other anti-poverty measures. After being wined and dined, Republican lawmakers are coming on board.

In December, the Foundation for Government Accountability hosted public officials from across the country in Orlando. The scene: Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort, an ocean-themed oasis with palatial fountains next to a lake lined with palm trees.

The FGA, a right-leaning think tank based in Naples, Florida, paid travel and lodging expenses for many of the conservative leaders in attendance, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and three White House aides.

Guests heard presentations such as “Stop the Scam: The Reality of Food Stamp Fraud.” Between sessions, the foundation treated attendees to catered desserts and a fireworks display from a terrace featuring a faux Eiffel Tower overlooking the Epcot World Showcase Lagoon, according to invitations obtained by the Center for Public Integrity through open-records requests.

The FGA aimed to send decision-makers back to their respective states, or the nation’s capital, with fresh zeal to restrict access to public assistance programs designed for low-income people, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. The association even provided road maps for achieving this goal in the form of model legislation — suggested wording for laws and regulations that could serve as a template for like-minded policymakers…..

….The FGA and its 501(c)(4) nonprofit lobbying wing, the Opportunity Solutions Project, advocate for a variety of policy proposals, from reforming licensing requirements for workers set by state and local governments, to installing work requirements for Medicaid and blocking that program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare…..

Stay or Exit: Why Do Nonprofits Maintain Collaborations With Government?

Source: Shuyang Peng, Yuguo Liao, Jiahuan Lu, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published August 13, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Although the public-management literature has demonstrated a growing interest in public–nonprofit collaborations, it pays little attention to the sustainability of collaborations. This study proposes that nonprofits’ intentions to maintain collaborations with government are influenced by both instrumental and relational factors. Using a national sample of human service nonprofits, this study demonstrates that both nonprofits’ continuance commitment and affective commitment play a role in shaping their intentions to maintain collaborative relationships with government. Specifically, continuance commitment is driven by the presence of a formal agreement and the dependence on government funding, and affective commitment is shaped by distributive and procedural justice. The findings have implications for public managers to effectively manage their collaborations with nonprofits.

The CHIP Dip

Source: Federal Funds Information for States, Issue Brief 19-20, July 1, 2019
(subscription required)

From the summary:
Beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2020, states will face increased costs for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The 23-percentage point increase in the federal CHIP matching rate—included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—will be reduced in FY 2020 and fully phased out in FY 2021. FFIS estimates that state costs could increase by approximately $4.3 billion (302%) to maintain total spending, although several factors remain uncertain.

Evading the Catastrophic Costs of Nursing Home Care: A Theoretical Inquiry

Source: Gideon Yaniv, Public Finance Review, Volume: 47 issue: 4, July 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While many countries operate publicly funded programs to help care-needing elderly people finance the catastrophic costs of nursing home care, eligibility to public assistance may be means tested. To qualify for a means-tested program, applicants must first exhaust (spend down) their financial assets on privately paying for nursing home care, thereby wiping out their lifetime savings and children’s inheritance. They may naturally consider the possibility of hiding assets from the health agency, consequently shifting the financial burden to taxpayers. The present article adjusts two classical tax evasion models to capture the decision to evade the costs of nursing home care, focusing on the implications on the evaded costs and the program’s deficit of attempting to cope with the escalating costs of nursing home care by imposing a cost-sharing premium on the applicants’ adult children. Some insights on the socially optimal level of the cost-sharing premium are finally discussed.

Getting poorer while working harder: The ‘cliff effect’

Source: Susan R. Crandall, The Conversation, June 3, 2019

….Given the pressure to earn enough to make ends meet, you would think that low-paid workers would be clamoring for raises. But this is not always the case.

Because so many American jobs don’t earn enough to pay for food, housing and other basic needs, many low-wage workers rely on public benefits that are only available to people in need, such as housing vouchers and Medicaid, to pay their bills.

Earning a little more money may not automatically increase their standard of living if it boosts their income to the point where they lose access to some or all of those benefits. That’s because the value of those lost benefits may outweigh their income gains.

I have researched this dynamic, which experts often call the “cliff effect,” for years to learn why workers weren’t succeeding at retaining their jobs following job training programs. Chief among the one step forward, two steps back problems the cliff effect causes: Low-paid workers can become reluctant to earn more money due to a fear that they will get worse off instead of better…..

The Decline of Cash Assistance and the Well-Being of Poor Households with Children

Source: H Luke Shaefer, Kathryn Edin Vincent, Fusaro Pinghui Wu, Social Forces, Advance Articles, March 19, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Since the early 1990s, the social safety net for families with children in the United States has undergone an epochal transformation. Aid to poor working families has become more generous. In contrast, assistance to the deeply poor has become less generous, and what remains more often takes the form of in-kind aid. A historical view finds that this dramatic change parallels others. For centuries, the nature and form of poor relief has been driven in part by shifting cultural notions of which social groups are “deserving” and “undeserving.” This line was firmly redrawn in the 1990s. Did the re-institutionalization of these categorizations in policy have material consequences? This study examines the relationship between the decline of traditional cash welfare between 2001 and 2015 and two direct measures of wellbeing among households with children: household food insecurity and public school child homelessness. Using models that control for state and year trends, along with other factors, we find that the decline of cash assistance was associated with increases in both forms of hardship.

Pervasive Penality: How the Criminalization of Poverty Perpetuates Homelessness

Source: Chris Herring, Dilara Yarbrough, Lisa Marie Alatorre, Social Problems, Advance Article, March 29, 2019(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A growing literature examines the extent to which the criminal justice system perpetuates poverty and inequality. This research examines how anti-homeless laws produce various forms of police interactions that fall short of arrest, yet have wide-ranging impacts on the urban poor. Our analysis draws on a citywide survey of currently and recently homeless people, along with 43 in-depth interviews, to examine and reveal the mechanisms through which consistent punitive interactions, including move-along orders, citations, and destruction of property, systematically limit homeless people’s access to services, housing, and jobs, while damaging their health, safety, and well-being. Our findings also suggest that anti-homeless laws and enforcement fail to reduce urban disorder, but create instead a spatial churn in which homeless people circulate between neighborhoods and police jurisdictions rather than leaving public space. We argue that these laws and their enforcement, which affected the majority of study participants, constitute a larger process of pervasive penality—consistent punitive interactions with state officials that rarely result in arrest, but that do material and psychological harm. This process not only reproduces homelessness, but also deepens racial, gender, and health inequalities among the urban poor.