Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 2:11 pm
NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.
Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 4:15 pm
Asthma affects children regardless of where they live and whether they are rich or poor. But scientists have long thought that living in poor urban neighborhoods adds an extra risk for this troublesome lung inflammation. A new study suggests that's not necessarily the case.
Asthma is often triggered by something in the environment, so in the 1960s, scientists started looking for places where asthma was especially bad.
Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 2:01 pm
Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. The president wants every 4-year-old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill.
Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years.
Though all people and communities deserve equal opportunities to be healthy, there are many barriers to good health in communities across the U.S. Low-income communities, particularly those of color, face a disproportionate number of barriers.
Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 1:55 pm
Tomorrow in Central Park, Jay-Z will rap, Sting will sing and India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, will talk about the need to end open defecation — that's what they call it when people don't have access to toilets, and it's a huge global problem.
The rate of child poverty in Connecticut held steady in 2013, from the year before. But that stabilization follows a huge rise in the last decade. One in seven children in the state lives in a poor family.
Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 3:02 pm
It's not always easy to connect the dots between the food we consume and the people who grow it, or the impact of growing and processing that food on the health of our planet.
But a campaign called Behind the Brands, led by Oxfam International, an advocacy organization dedicated to fighting poverty, is trying to make the inner workings of the 10 biggest food companies in the world more visible.
Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 8:00 am
Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, used to have a habit of describing the American people in two categories. There were the "makers" — people paying taxes — and the "takers" — people getting government benefits.
Today, the Wisconsin Republican says he was wrong, and that the country needs to overhaul how it thinks about poverty. In his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, he offers ways to redirect federal spending to fighting poverty.
A recent poll from the the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that poverty leads to stress, affecting people’s ways of thinking and their overall health. In our region, researchers and doctors have found that living in poverty can actually hinder brain development.
This hour, we learn more about the psychology of poverty and find out what’s being done to combat some of the the stresses it brings on. We also talk to one researcher who has been looking at the impact of noise pollution on the brain development of children in low-income communities.
Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 10:47 am
Like it or not, television has the power to shape our perceptions of the world. So what do sitcoms, dramas and reality TV say about poor people?
In life and on TV, "poor" is relative. Take breakfast: For Honey Boo Boo's family, it's microwaved sausage and pancake sandwiches; for children in The Wire's Baltimore ghetto, it's a juice box and a bag of chips before school; and on Good Times, set in the Chicago projects back in the 1970s, it was a healthier choice: oatmeal.
After a half-century of the War on Poverty, an anti-poverty agency in Ohio has concluded that decades of assistance alone just hasn't changed lives. Instead, it says, the ongoing breakdown of the family is to blame.
"You're seeing the same people come year after year, and in some cases generation to generation. And so then you think, why is that happening?" says Jennifer Jennette, program manager of the Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron and Richland Counties in Ohio.
The Mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts has renewed a call for an end to new refugee resettlements in Springfield. Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal said the mayor has raised concerns that need to be addressed.
Mayor Domenic Sarno first called for a moratorium on refugee resettlements in Springfield 10 months ago, but then backed off amid criticism from social service providers and advocates for immigrants. Sarno said his office recently learned that up to 70 refugees will be settled in Springfield in the coming year.
President Obama announced a five-year, $200 million initiative to help young black men succeed. It's called "My Brother's Keeper," and aims to work with non-profits and foundations to search for solutions to the problems of young black men. Leaders cite school and job readiness, discipline, and parenting as a few of the problems they'll tackle, but it's mostly the bone-crushing poverty and low expectations that hold them back.
This well-intended initiative put forth to help young black men succeed will help a few beat the odds at the expense of the masses. The success feels good but may not change much.
Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 10:43 am
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Debtors prisons were outlawed in the United States nearly 200 years ago. And more than 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear: Judges cannot send people to jail just because they are too poor to pay their court fines.
That decision came in a 1983 case called Bearden v. Georgia, which held that a judge must first consider whether the defendant has the ability to pay but "willfully" refuses.
In Augusta, Ga., a judge sentenced Tom Barrett to 12 months after he stole a can of beer worth less than $2.
In Ionia, Mich., 19-year-old Kyle Dewitt caught a fish out of season; then a judge sentenced him to three days in jail.
In Grand Rapids, Mich., Stephen Papa, a homeless Iraq War veteran, spent 22 days in jail, not for what he calls his "embarrassing behavior" after he got drunk with friends and climbed into an abandoned building, but because he had only $25 the day he went to court.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. Courts have found a new source of funding. They charge user fees to defendants who use the criminal justice system.
These extra charges can add up to hundreds and even thousands of dollars per person on a felony or a simple misdemeanor like a driving offense. NPR has spent the last year looking at the growing practice. NPR investigative correspondent Joseph Shapiro is here to talk about the series. Joe, good to have you.
Minimum wage in Connecticut is higher than the federal minimum, $8.70 an hour instead of $7.25. In fact, the federal minimum is so ridiculously low that not many people are earning it. Maybe as few as 1.5 million, according to one study.
So, what happens if it goes up to $10.10 an hour here, or less likely, nationally. Some minimum wage workers will tell you that is still ridiculously low, $15 an hour is more like it. And, there are movements to help fast food workers bargain collectively for that kind of raise.
Somehow, kale has become trendy in the last few years, although its moment in the sun seems to be almost over. How did a thing like that happen? Would it be possible to infuse an old standby like broccoli with a similar hip panache? Broccoli is the warmest vegetable, and the coolest.
Fifty years ago in his state of the union address, President Lyndon Johnson declared "war on poverty." Today, there are still 50 million people in poverty in the U.S. But Yale Historian Jennifer Klein said that number doesn't mean Johnson's war was a failure.
Just over 50 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered his State of the Union address and made a pledge to the nation. "This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America," he said.
Johnson didn't live long enough to see the end of the War on Poverty...and neither have we. Poverty continues to be a big problem in the United States and right here in Connecticut.
Frequent WNPR guest and former Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell rode along with the Hartford Homeless Outreach Team early on Thursday morning. She works for Partnership for Strong Communities, which is working to end homelessness.