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.
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.
An interactive map showing median household incomes in neighborhoods across the U.S. shows that Connecticut is poorest in its urban centers, and wealthiest in Fairfield County. The numbers come from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates, assembled elegantly by the data news team at WNYC.
Connecticut’s food pantries and soup kitchens continue to see rising numbers of people in need of food assistance. Nancy Carrington is president of the Connecticut Food Bank. She said though there’s been slight improvement in job growth in the state, its not affecting people at the lower end of the pay scale.
Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 4:20 pm
When you think of Oregon and food, you probably think organic chicken, kale chips and other signs of a strong local food movement. What probably doesn't come to mind? Food stamps.
And yet, 21 percent of Oregon's population – that's one out of every five residents – relies on food stamps to get by. And like many people across the country, these Oregon families who have come to rely on federal food assistance program for meals are learning to make do with less as of this month.
The gap between fuel prices and what low-income people can afford to pay to heat their homes in Connecticut has more than tripled in recent years. Operation Fuel, the nonprofit which provides energy assistance to thousands of households in the state, said the number of residents in need is growing.
Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 1:17 pm
Worldwide, roughly 1 in 8 people suffered from chronic hunger from 2011 to 2013, according to a new report from three U.N. food agencies.
They concluded that 842 million people didn't get enough food to lead healthy lives in that period, a slight drop from the 868 million in the previous report.
The modest change was attributed to several factors, from economic growth in developing countries to investments in agriculture. And in some countries, people have benefited from money sent home by migrant workers. But the gains were unevenly distributed, the report's authors say.
According to the government, there are 46.5 million Americans who live below the poverty line. In other words, that's how many people are officially poor. But pretty much everyone who studies poverty agrees: The way we arrive at this figure is completely wrong.
On today's show, we figure out how we got here, why still measure poverty in a way that so many people agree is wrong, and how could we do it better.
Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 8:51 pm
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted Thursday to slash $40 billion from the federal food stamp program.
GOP lawmakers cited what they said was widespread abuse of the program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is intended to help poor individuals and families buy groceries.
The vote to cut food stamps came on a party line vote of 217-200.
"It's wrong for working, middle-class people to pay" for abuse of the program, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.
Congress is heading into a major fight over food stamps. The battle highlights sharp ideological differences over a program that helps to feed about 220,000 people in Connecticut.
Conservative House Republicans, especially members of the Tea Party, say the food stamp program has become bloated and discourages people from finding jobs. They propose cutting $40 billion over the next decade from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for food stamps.
Rico Saccoccio is a junior at Fordham University in the Bronx. He's from a middle-class family in Connecticut and he spent the summer living at home with his parents, who cover about $15,000 a year in his college costs.
According to the U.S. government, Saccoccio is living in poverty. The $8,000 he earns doing odd jobs puts him well below the $11,945 poverty threshold for an individual. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that more than half of all college students who are living off campus and not at home are poor.
Poverty is a problem you tend to think of affecting very urban and very rural areas of America. But a new Brookings study shows a shocking fact: that over the last decade, the poor population in the suburbs has grown by about 60 percent. That national trend follows the same path as local metro areas are seeing, and the numbers aren’t just due to the effects of the economic downturn.
We explore that subject and check in with Elaine Zimmerman from the Connecticut Commission on Children to see what the impact of all this is on Connecticut’s kids.
Thousands of children struggling against poverty find hope - and the path to a better life - through classical music.
Its not some pipedream...but a very real and inspiring story of El Sistema - The System: a music phenomenon in Venezuela that’s touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids and captured the attention of the world.
Today, we talk with the author of a book about El Sistema. We’ll also speak with educators who are using music to transform the lives of students right here in Connecticut.