Tuesday, March 30, 2010
As long as there have been homeless people sleeping in Times Square, there have been social workers and city officials trying to persuade them to leave.In the past, the homeless were offered a free ride to one of the city’s warehouselike shelters. These days, workers for nonprofit groups help people move into apartments, keeping track as thenumber of the chronically homeless in Times Square goes down. According to their records, by 2005, there were only 55.Last summer, it was down to 7.Now there is one.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
The Bloomberg administration said Friday that the number of people living on New York’s streets and subways soared 34 percent in a year, signaling a setback in one of the city’s most intractable problems.Appearing both startled and dismayed by the sharp increase, a year after a significant drop, administration officials attributed it to the recession, noting that city shelters for families and single adults had been inundated.Robert V. Hess, the commissioner of homeless services, said in a subdued news conference that the city began feeling the increase in its vast shelter system more than two years ago. “And now we’re seeing the devastating effect of this unprecedented poor economy on our streets as well,” Mr. Hess said.The city’s annual tally indicated an additional 783 homeless people on the streets and in the subway system, for a total of 3,111, up from 2,328 last year. That is in addition to almost 38,000 people living in shelters, which is near the city’s high. . . . . . . . . .Last year, city officials said that the count revealed a 30 percent drop in the street homeless population since 2008, an announcement that was made at an elaborate news conference attended by volunteers, formerly homeless people and Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, who spoke briefly.This year’s event was quiet and spare by comparison. Ms. Gibbs’s commissioner, Mr. Hess, made the announcement in a conference room, seated at a long table.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Cuts Affect Wide Range of Services
States began cutting their budgets last spring, as the recession brought sharply weakened revenues. The cuts have intensified as the economy has worsened. Even as the need for state-funded services rose, states cut funding for services by 4 percent for fiscal year 2009 and an additional 4.8 percent for 2010, according to preliminary estimates by the National Association of State Budget Officers. These cuts are affecting important services. At least 45 states plus the District of Columbia have reduced services since the recession began. Service cuts with particular ramifications for vulnerable populations have occurred in the following areas:
- Public health programs: At least 29 states have implemented cuts that will restrict low-income children’s or families’ eligibility for health insurance or reduce their access to health care services. For example, Rhode Island eliminated health coverage for 1,000 low-income parents; Minnesota is cancelling a health insurance program for 29,500 low-income adults; Tennessee has frozen enrollment in its state children’s health insurance program (CHIP); and California is increasing the costs borne by families of nearly 1 million children that participate in its CHIP program.Washington is increasing premiums by an average of 70 percent for a health plan serving low-income residents.
- Programs for the elderly and disabled: At least 24 states plus the District of Columbia are cutting medical, rehabilitative, home care, or other services needed by low-income people who are elderly or have disabilities, or are significantly increasing the cost of these services. For example,Ohio made deep cuts to community mental health services and Arizona eliminated temporary health insurance for people with serious medical problems.
- K-12 education: At least 29 states and the District of Columbia are cutting aid to K-12 schools and various education programs. California, Michigan, and Mississippi have made significant cuts to school aid. Hawaii is furloughing teachers for 17 days this year. A cut in funding means that as many as 10,000 children in Illinois may lose eligibility for early childhood education, and Massachusetts is reducing funding for a number of early care programs.
- Higher education: At least 39 states have cut assistance to public colleges and universities, resulting in reductions in faculty and staff in addition to tuition increases. The University of California is increasing tuition by 32 percent. Tuition at all 11 public universities in Florida increased by 15 percent for the 2009-2010 school year. Students in Washington and other states face significant tuition increases as well, costing families hundreds of dollars per year. Michigan and New Mexico have made deep cuts to need-based financial aid programs.
- State workforces: At least 42 states and the District of Columbia have made cuts affecting state government employees. At least 26 states have instituted hiring freezes, 14 states and the District of Columbia have announced layoffs, 26 have reduced state worker wages, and several have delayed scheduled pay increases (including cost of living adjustments). In total, state and local governments have eliminated a total of 151,000 jobs since August 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additional workers have lost pay and benefits.
Friday, February 19, 2010
From Colorlines (h/t Poverty Law)
Since she was 16, Eva Hernández has worked a string of low-wage jobs. She’s prepared chicken at KFC, run the register at Dunkin Donuts, packed and sealed boxes at a produce company, and held other similar jobs in Hartford, Connecticut, where she was born and raised. These jobs haven’t paid enough for Eva, now 28, to support herself and her two young daughters. So for almost three years in the last decade, she’s relied on welfare to supplement her income. Most of the time, though, she’s simply found another low-wage job, a task that in this economy is proving almost impossible.
In March 2009, in the midst of the worst job crisis in at least a generation, Eva opened the last welfare check she will ever receive. She is one of a growing number of people in the United States who can’t find work in this recession but don’t qualify for government cash assistance, no matter how poor they are or how bad the economy gets.
Without the help of welfare, Eva doesn’t have enough money left at the end of each month to feed her daughters full meals. It is the first time in her life, she said, that she hasn’t had enough money for food.
Now, with no other source of income, Eva breaks the law, selling her food stamps to pay for the rent, phone bill, detergent and tampons.On the first day of each month, when her food stamps arrive, she walks to the convenience store up the street, buys food for her family with her food stamp card and uses it to pay off the debt she accumulated the previous month after she ran out of money. She then trades in the remaining balance for cash. Although the bodega is more expensive than larger chain grocery stores nearby, she’s locked into shopping here because places like Wal-Mart won’t let her keep a tab—or exchange her food stamps for desperately needed cash. . . . .
From the NYT:
Here and in swaths of many cities, evictions from rental properties are so common that they are part of the texture of life. New research is showing that eviction is a particular burden on low-income black women, often single mothers, who have an easier time renting apartments than their male counterparts, but are vulnerable to losing them because their wages or public benefits have not kept up with the cost of housing.And evictions, in turn, can easily throw families into cascades of turmoil and debt.“Just as incarceration has become typical in the lives of poor black men, eviction has become typical in the lives of poor black women,” said Matthew Desmond, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin whose research on trends in Milwaukee since 2002 provides a rare portrait of gender patterns in inner-city rentals.The study found that one of every 25 renter-occupied households in the city is evicted each year. In black neighborhoods, the rate is one in 14. These figures include only court-ordered evictions; the true toll, experts say, is greater because far more tenants, under threat of eviction, move in with relatives, into more run-down apartments or, sometimes, into homeless shelters.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Although the government distributed billions of these food coupons, or food stamps, over the last half-century, only a small number have survived since they were replaced by a debit-card-like system. Now this coupon — and the master dye used to make the plate that created it — will be enshrined in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which on Thursday announced that it has acquired a large trove of materials related to the food-stamp program.
The materials, long housed at the Agriculture Department, which runs the program, were headed for disposal until last summer, when two museum volunteers alerted curators and helped arrange for the most significant items — nearly 200 in all — to be transferred and preserved. The items include food coupons, booklets, proof sheets, early artists’ designs and printer’s plates.
“What we did, effectively, was go over and cherry-pick the collection,” Richard Doty, senior curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the museum, said on Thursday. “We wanted to tell a story with it.”
The museum’s director, Brent D. Glass, said the acquisition was “especially significant considering the current economic hardships facing Americans today.”
A record number of people — 38 million, or nearly one in eight Americans — are now using food stamps, and nearly half of food stamp users are children. Some six million people report that food stamps are their only form of income.
Michael B. Katz, a historian at the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on welfare and social policy, applauded the acquisition. “It shows an attention to the history of social policy, which is an important part of the history of this country that is relatively neglected by that museum,” he said.
Others took a dimmer view. “A roomful of material relating to food stamps is another example of why museums aren’t much fun anymore,” said Charles Murray, a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who believes that welfare programs promote dependency. “I get chills when I go to a great museum and see Jefferson’s writing desk or the coat Nelson was wearing at Trafalgar,” he added, whereas an acquisition like this amounts to little more than political correctness. (“It’s spinach, and it’s good for us,” Mr. Murray said. “I say to hell with it.”)
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The latest budget plan from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would force 200,000 children off low-cost medical insurance, end in-home care for 350,000 infirm and elderly citizens and slash income assistance to hundreds of thousands more.
And that's the best-case scenario under Schwarzenegger's prescription for filling the state's $19.9 billion deficit.
Refusing to consider broad tax hikes, he is relying mostly on $8.5 billion in reduced expenditures including drastic cuts to health and social spending that has long made California one of the leading U.S. states in providing help to the needy.
Schwarzenegger also is counting on the U.S. government contributing nearly $7 billion that he says is due California because of various federal mandates.
If federal money fails to materialize, the governor's plan would trigger deeper cuts that would dismantle entire programs, including the state's welfare-to-work system, CalWorks.
. . . .
"You're blowing entire holes in the safety net," said Kelly Brooks, an analyst for the California State Association of Counties, which lobbies on behalf of county governments that stand to bear much of the added burden from such cuts.
No one understands better than Anthony Arias, 25, who sought assistance from CalWorks in 2008 after he was laid off from his warehouse job in the midst of the recession.
Unable to find steady work, and sharing custody of his 3-year-old son, Arias had to drop out of community college east of Los Angeles as he slipped into a financial tailspin.
"It was getting bad to the point where there were days when I didn't have food," he recalled.
But with a monthly CalWorks check that helps pay his rent, and state-subsidized child support, Arias has since managed to complete training to become a barber -- a more gainful vocation with flexible hours that will enable him to return to school to earn a degree as a paralegal assistant.
"There's no way I would have been able to survive without the help of CalWorks," he said.
Arias is just one of 1.3 million CalWorks beneficiaries -- most of them children -- who will see their monthly assistance checks cut by 16 percent under Schwarzenegger's proposal, even if federal dollars sought by the governor arrive.
. . . .
Others programs on the chopping block include transitional housing for foster youth; low-cost Healthy Families medical insurance for needy children, the Medi-Cal healthcare plan for the poor, and a network of subsidized in-home care for the elderly and disabled.
At least 200,000 children are slated to lose eligibility for Healthy Families, with that number growing to 900,000 if the program is gutted entirely.
Nearly 90 percent of the 400,000 recipients of In-Home Support Services stand to lose care under Schwarzenegger's best-case scenario, and state reimbursements to providers of those who remain would be slashed to minimum-wage levels. Otherwise, the program would be abolished, throwing 350,000 caregivers out of work.
. . . . . .