Category Archives: Poverty

Training the Personal and Home Care Aide Workforce – Challenges and Solutions

Source: Clare Luz, Katherine Hanson, Home Health Care Management & Practice, Published online before print January 1, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Personal care aides (PCAs) are critical to meeting the need for low-cost, high-quality care for frail older adults at home. Developing this workforce entails not only increasing its size but also ensuring that PCAs possess the skills necessary to deliver competent, safe, and respectful care. Yet, no federal PCA competencies or training requirements exist, and state requirements vary widely. In 2010, a 77-hour PCA model training program was developed as part of a national demonstration. However, a key finding of this study was that many enrollees faced serious socio-economic challenges that prevented them from graduating. This report details findings from a survey sent to all non-completers to ascertain reasons for attrition and improve program success. It offers recommendations for future program planners.

The ‘G’ Word: A Special Series on Gentrification

Source: Governing, Vol. 28 no. 5, February 2015

Gentrification has accelerated in recent years, creating challenges for local leaders for years to come. …. What follows is stories that have appeared both on the web and in the print magazine exploring this issue as well as interactive maps and data tracking gentrification.

Read Governing’s national report examining gentrification in the 50 largest cities. ….

Article include:
What, Exactly, Is Gentrification?
It’s hard to define, but it’s dramatically changing the urban landscape and bringing a host of new challenges to local leaders.

Gentrification’s Not So Black and White After All
Despite complaints about well-educated white people buying up houses in low-income minority neighborhoods, recent studies show that gentrification often helps the original residents.

How D.C.’s Affordable Housing Protections Are Losing a War with Economics
In the fastest-gentrifying neighborhood in the country, some of the nation’s strongest affordable housing protections haven’t been enough to keep lower-income residents from being priced out of their homes.

The Downsides of a Neighborhood ‘Turnaround’
A former D.C. housing official gives a hard look at what worked, and what didn’t, in an award-winning redevelopment project.

Suburbs Struggle to Aid the Sprawling Poor
Poverty in suburbs now outnumbers poverty in cities, a shift that’s put a major strain on public services and is easily visible in Austin, Texas.

Some Cities Are Spurring the End of Sprawl
A new report claims there’s an historic shift in suburbs from being car-dependent to walkable places, blurring the lines between “urban” and “suburban.”

Do Cities Need Kids?
Seattle is one place trying to figure that out.

Keeping Cities from Becoming “Child-Free Zones”
With kids on the decline in urban areas, cities can make themselves more attractive to young families by building more playgrounds.

The Neighborhood Has Gentrified, But Where’s the Grocery Store?
In many gentrifying neighborhoods, attracting new residents and restaurants is the easy part. Finding the right mix of retail is much harder.

From Vacant to Vibrant: Cincinnati’s Urban Transformation
How a lot of money and a little luck brought one of the nation’s most dangerous neighborhoods back to life.

Just Green Enough
Sprucing up a park can spur unintended gentrification. Is there a way to green a neighborhood without displacing its residents?

Can Cities Change the Face of Biking?
There’s a growing trend of teaching young people (especially those from demographic groups that historically haven’t embraced biking) how to repair and ride bikes.

The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms

Source: C. Kirabo Jackson, Rucker Johnson, Claudia Persico, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20847, January 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Since Coleman (1966), many have questioned whether school spending affects student outcomes. The school finance reforms that began in the early 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s caused some of the most dramatic changes in the structure of K–12 education spending in US history. To study the effect of these school-finance-reform-induced changes in school spending on long-run adult outcomes, we link school spending and school finance reform data to detailed, nationally-representative data on children born between 1955 and 1985 and followed through 2011. We use the timing of the passage of court-mandated reforms, and their associated type of funding formula change, as an exogenous shifter of school spending and we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts that were differentially exposed to school finance reforms, depending on place and year of birth. Event-study and instrumental variable models reveal that a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all twelve years of public school leads to 0.27 more completed years of education, 7.25 percent higher wages, and a 3.67 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; effects are much more pronounced for children from low-income families. Exogenous spending increases were associated with sizable improvements in measured school quality, including reductions in student-to-teacher ratios, increases in teacher salaries, and longer school years.

The Reality of the Retirement Crisis

Source: Keith Miller, David Madland, Christian E. Weller, Center for American Progress, January 26, 2015

From the summary:
When reviewing the data on how American workers are saving for retirement, two facts become abundantly clear:
∙ Millions of Americans are in danger of not having enough money to maintain their standard of living in retirement.
∙ The problem is getting worse over time.

The consequences of these growing savings shortfalls could be severe for both American families and the national economy, as a large share of households may be forced to significantly reduce consumption in retirement and will have to rely heavily on their families, charities, and the government for help to make ends meet. Rather than staying in control of their economic lives, millions of Americans may be forced to muddle through their final years partially dependent on others for financial support and to accept a standard of living significantly below that which they had envisioned.

This issue brief will illustrate the reality of this crisis by first looking at what the data have to say about how much money Americans are putting away for retirement. It will then evaluate the results of studies that use complex modeling to estimate what percentage of the population is at risk of falling short of achieving a financially stable retirement. What is made clear is that no matter how households’ needs in retirement are projected or how their incomes, assets, and debts are measured, an unacceptably large share of Americans appears at risk of being forced into a lower standard of living in retirement. The most convincing estimates of the share of households who will have insufficient assets stand at slightly more than 50 percent. But even more sobering is the fact that the most optimistic studies still find that nearly one-quarter of retirees are falling short.

Approximately 1 Million Unemployed Childless Adults Will Lose SNAP Benefits in 2016 as State Waivers Expire: Affected Individuals Are Very Poor; Few Qualify for Other Help

Source: Ed Bolen, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 5, 2015

From the summary:
Roughly 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-50 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children. These individuals will lose their food assistance benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work. ….

…..In the past few years, the three-month limit hasn’t been in effect in most states. The 1996 welfare law allows states to suspend the three-month limit in areas with high and sustained unemployment; many states qualified due to the Great Recession and its aftermath and waived the time limit throughout the state. But as unemployment rates fall, fewer and fewer areas will qualify for waivers. We estimate that the number of states qualifying for state-wide waivers will fall to just a few states by 2016 and that approximately 1 million SNAP recipients will have their benefits cut off due to the time limit in fiscal year 2016.

The loss of this food assistance, which averages approximately $150 to $200 per person per month for this group, will likely cause serious hardship among many. Agriculture Department (USDA) data show that the individuals subject to the three-month limit have average monthly income of approximately 19 percent of the poverty line, and they typically qualify for no other income support.

The indigent individuals at risk are diverse. About 40 percent are women. Close to one-third are over age 40. Among those who report their race, about half are white, a third are African American, and a tenth are Hispanic. Half have only a high school diploma or GED. They live in all areas of the country, and among those for whom data on metropolitan status are available, about 40 percent live in urban areas, 40 percent in suburban areas, and 20 percent in rural areas.

Many in this population, which generally has limited education and skills and limited job prospects, struggle to find employment even in normal economic times. And although the overall unemployment rate is slowly falling, other labor market data indicate that many people who want to work still cannot find jobs, while others who want to work full time can find only part-time employment. Cutting off food assistance to poor unemployed and underemployed workers doesn’t enable them to find employment or secure more hours of work…..

Are the World’s Poorest Being Left Behind?

Source: Martin Ravallion, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20791, December 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The traditional approach to poverty measurement puts no explicit weight on success at increasing the typical level of living of the poorest – raising the consumption floor. To address this deficiency, the paper defines and measures the expected value of the floor, allowing for transient effects and measurement errors in survey data. On using all suitable and available surveys for the developing world over 1981-2011, the expected value of the floor is about half the $1.25 a day poverty line. There has been only modest progress in raising the floor, despite much progress in reducing the number living near the floor.

Low Income Students Now a Majority In the Nation’s Public Schools

Source: Steve Suitts, Southern Education Foundation, New Majority Report Series, Research Bulletin, January 2015

From the summary:
Low income students are now a majority of the schoolchildren attending the nation’s public schools, according to this research bulletin. The latest data collected from the states by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), show that 51 percent of the students across the nation’s public schools were low income in 2013. In 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40 percent of all public schoolchildren. In 21 states, children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches were a majority of the students in 2013. Most of the states with a majority of low income students are found in the South and the West. Thirteen of the 21 states with a majority of low income students in 2013 were located in the South, and six of the other 21 states were in the West. Mississippi led the nation with the highest rate: ­71 percent, almost three out of every four public school children in Mississippi, were low-income. The nation’s second highest rate was found in New Mexico, where 68 percent of all public school students were low income in 2013….

National School Lunch Program: Trends and Factors Affecting Student Participation

Source: Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), January 2015

From the press release:
The number of children participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is changing in ways that reflect events other than changes in nutrition rules, finds a new analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The data analysis shows that lower family incomes and improvements to the eligibility process for school meals have led to a continuous increase in participation among low-income children; and rules on pricing of meals for other children have contributed to a multi-year decline in participation for those with higher family incomes. FRAC also noted these changes both are part of longer trends.

In the recent debate over new nutrition standards for school meals, some have claimed the nutrition rules are driving participation down. The new nutrition rules, however, were introduced in the 2012-2013 school year, in order to bring school meals in line with current dietary guidelines. FRAC’s analysis reveals that these participation changes have been percolating for a number of years with multiple factors at play. …..

State of the States Report 2014 – Local Momentum for National Change to Cut Poverty and Inequality

Source: Sarah Baron, Center for American Progress, December 2014

From the summary:
In 2013, the nation’s official poverty rate still remained unacceptably high at 14.5 percent. Some 45.3 million Americans were living in poverty—defined as $23,834 per year for a family of four. Each year, Half in Ten, a partnership campaign with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Coalition on Human Needs, publishes an annual report that examines 21 different indicators of economic security and opportunity to help better understand where the country is improving the situation for American’s struggling families and where the nation must do a better job.

While our annual report, ”Building Local Momentum for National Change,” focuses on how we are faring on the national level, the Center for American Progress Action Fund issues a companion report, which provides a comparative look at the states. For each of the 15 indicators examined in our national report, CAP ranks the states in comparison to one another and highlights policies to improve those indicators.

The good news is that our economy is growing again, but too many low-income families are not seeing any benefit. Instead, stagnant low-wages, unaffordable housing and child care, and a lack of health insurance coverage are only a few of the challenges that Americans face as they try to make ends meet in an economy that simply isn’t working for everyone. However, the conversation about income inequality, poverty, and opportunity has started to shift, and while Congress seems incapable of passing common-sense anti-poverty policies on the national level, cities and states are forging ahead and raising the minimum wage, breaking down barriers to employment, extending access to paid sick days, expanding Medicaid, and more….

Hunger and Homelessness Survey; A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities A 25-City Survey

Source: United States Conference of Mayors, December 2014

From the press release:
The 32nd annual assessment of hunger and homelessness, conducted by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and released today in Washington, found increased demand this year for emergency food and housing across 25 cities whose mayors are members of the Conference’s Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness. Low wages led the list of causes of hunger citied by officials in the cities surveyed, and lack of affordable housing was seen as the chief cause of homelessness for both families with children and unaccompanied individuals. ….

Findings on Hunger: Seventy-one percent of the cities in this year’s survey reported that requests for emergency food assistance increased over the past year. Across all the survey cities, the requests increased by an average of 7 percent. Of those requesting assistance, 56 percent were persons in families, 38 percent were employed, 20.5 percent were elderly, and 7 percent were homeless. Low wages led the list of causes cited by the survey cities, followed by poverty, unemployment, and high housing costs. ….

Findings on Homelessness: Overall, the total number of homeless persons increased across the survey cities by 1 percent. The number of families experiencing homelessness increased by an average of 3 percent, with 43 percent of the cities reporting an increase and 22 percent saying the number stayed the same as in the previous year. The number of unaccompanied individuals experiencing homelessness over the past year decreased by an average of just under 1 percent, with 35 percent of the cities reporting an increase, 26 percent saying the number stayed the same, and 39 percent reporting a decrease. Across the survey cities as a group, 28 percent of homeless adults were severely mentally ill, 22 percent were physically disabled, 15 percent were victims of domestic violence, and 3 percent were HIV Positive. Eighteen percent of homeless adults were employed and 13 percent were veterans. ….

The 25 survey cities, whose mayors are members of The U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, are:
Asheville, NC, Boston, MA, Charleston, SC; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Des Moines, IA; Los Angeles, CA; Louisville, KY; Memphis, TN; Nashville, TN; Norfolk, VA; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Plano, TX; Providence, RI; Saint Paul, MN; Salt Lake City, UT; San Antonio, TX; San Francisco, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Trenton, NJ; and Washington, DC….