poverty

Government aid doesn’t always go where it’s supposed to. Foster care agencies team up with companies to take disability and survivor benefits from abused and neglected children. States and their revenue consultants use illusory schemes to siphon Medicaid funds intended for children and the poor into general state coffers. Child support payments for foster children and families on public assistance are converted into government revenue. And the poverty industry keeps expanding, leaving us with nursing homes and juvenile detention centers that sedate residents to reduce costs and maximize profit, local governments buying nursing homes to take the facilities’ federal aid while the elderly languish with poor care, and counties hiring companies to mine the poor for additional funds in modern day debtor’s prisons.

In The Poverty Industry, Daniel L. Hatcher shows us how state governments and their private industry partners are profiting from the social safety net, turning America’s most vulnerable populations into sources of revenue.

  For decades, conversations about poverty have focused on jobs, public assistance, parenting, and mass incarceration. After years of intense fieldwork and study, Harvard sociologist and 2015 MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Matthew Desmond has come to believe that something fundamental is missing from that picture: how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty.

Desmond says, “Not everyone living in a distressed neighborhood is associated with gang members, parole officers, employers, social workers, or pastors, but nearly all of them have a landlord.” The result of his research is the new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

  Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s first main stage Powerhouse production this season is Lucy Thurber’s Transfers.

As two young men from the Bronx vie for acceptance to an elite college, their shared past threatens to overshadow their bright futures. Class, ambition, and expectations are called into question when higher education – and its life-changing potential – is just within reach.

Thurber is a Lilly Award winner and won a 2014 OBIE Award for her theatrical cycle, The Hill Town Plays. She was also a member of the influential Obie-winning playwrights’ collective, 13P.

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The food service program operated by the public school system in Springfield, Massachusetts, which has been lauded for its high participation rates, does not take the summer off.  A free summer meals program for school-age children began today.

The Springfield Public Schools’ summer food service program operates at more than 2 dozen locations including schools, parks, and public housing complexes.  Most locations serve both breakfast and lunch.

Because of Springfield’s high poverty rate, all of the city’s roughly 30,000 school-age children are eligible for free meals.

  Jim Shepard’s new book, The Book of Aron, tells the story of a Jewish boy growing up in poverty and desperation. It begins before the Germans invaded Poland and, through Aron’s eyes, takes us from the Polish countryside into the depths of the Warsaw Ghetto and then into a famous orphanage for destitute children.

In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today, we will learn about the Clemente Course in the Humanities, which is a program that offers free, college-level seminars in literature, US history, moral philosophy, art history, and writing to adults living in poverty.  The Clemente Course has been offered in ten states - including Massachusetts and New York, as well as in Canada, and Mexico.

We are joined today by Ousmane Power-Greene, Associate Professor of History at Clark University and Instructor of US History at the Clemente Course in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Worcester, Massachusetts, and David Tebaldi, Executive Director of Mass Humanities. 

Six year in the making, The Reproach Of Hunger: Food, Justice, And Money In The Twenty-First Century is a book that looks to answer the simple question is ending extreme poverty and hunger finally with humanity's grasp; or to put the question concretely can provide enough food for the nine billion people that will be alive in 2050, two billion more than today, especially bottom poorest in the global south. 

  Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 50  books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays including Cat's Eye, Alias Grace, and A Handmaid’s Tale. Her latest, The Heart Goes Last, is a funny disturbing tale about a new future in which the lawful are locked up and the lawless roam free.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

If you’re poor and live in the Capital Region, it’s better to be in Rensselaer County than in Schenectady County or Columbia County. Not only that, the younger you are when you move to Rensselaer, the better you will do on average. Analysts have found children who move at earlier ages are less likely to become single parents, and more likely to go to college and earn more.

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A national non-profit announced plans today to repair and spruce up 20 homes on one street in Springfield, Massachusetts.  It is the third year of a 10-year plan designed to revive the housing stock in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States.

   The two story house at 124 King Street that was purchased by Curtis Vaughn’s grandparents in the 1920s  needs a lot of work.  But Vaughn, who lives in the house with a son and a daughter, said at age 82 he is unable to do the repairs himself and can’t afford to hire contractors.

On Sunday, faith leaders will gather in Albany to have an integrated "Call For Justice" around issues of poverty and inequality. The gathering is being billed as a "meeting addressing poverty from a truly interfaith perspective."

Mark Emanatian is the Capital District Organizer with Citizen Action of New York:  "Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups are coming together to an interfaith call for justice to work on the issues of poverty, what causes poverty, how we can solve poverty."

  Corporate attorney, Rich Honen, pays us a visit once a month with some thoughts on headlines from the business world. Today he is here to share to talk about the industry of poverty.

To help us sort this all out – we welcome Rich Honen - with Phillips Lytle LLP, where he is the partner in charge of the Albany office.

  Through the stories of prisoners and their families, including her own family’s experiences, Maya Schenwar shows in her book, Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn't Work and How We Can Do Better, how the institution that locks up 2.3 million Americans and decimates poor communities of color is shredding the ties that, if nurtured, could foster real collective safety.

    

  Between November 1963, when he became president, and November 1966, when his party was routed in the midterm elections, Lyndon Johnson spearheaded the most transformative agenda in American political history since the New Deal.

In just three years, Johnson drove the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts; the War on Poverty program; Medicare and Medicaid; the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities; Public Broadcasting; immigration liberalization; a raft of consumer and environmental protection acts; and major federal investments in public transportation.

Collectively, this group of achievements was labeled by Johnson and his team the “Great Society.” In his new book, The Fierce Urgency of Now, Princeton Professor of History Julian Zelizer looks at the full story.

Stephen Gottlieb: Tailspins For The Poor

Aug 5, 2014

George Gershwin wrote “I’ve got plenty of nothing, and nothing’s plenty for me.” But sometimes it seems like politics is about the art of squeezing or taking as much as possible from people who have nothing at all – the villainy of the Sheriff of Nottingham in the Robin Hood story but in modern dress.

Richard Iannuzzi: In The Grip Of Poverty, Inequality

Nov 22, 2013

In his new book, So Rich, So Poor, former Clinton and Kennedy policy advisor Peter Edelman writes that poverty and inequality stem from the same root causes.  They cannot be separated – certainly not in America today.

Blair Horner: Health Inequality Grows

Mar 18, 2013

It’s well established that the income gap between rich and poor in America has increased over the past few decades.  Income inequality among developed nations is highest in the United States.  Most of the growth in this inequality has been between the middle class and top earners, with the disparity becoming more extreme the further one goes up in income.

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The state aims to phase out the use of motel rooms as emergency shelters for homeless families over the next 18 months and halt the program completely by June 30, 2014.  Aaron Gornstein, the Undersecretary of  The Department of  Housing and Community Development  said eliminating the motel system is in the best interest of taxpayers and homeless families.

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A group of Massachusetts based foundations and corporations have announced millions in donations to help low income people survive the winter.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

   The statewide funding collaborative, MassNeeds, on Tuesday announced that $8.4 million has been raised  to help poor people with the basic needs of food, heat and shelter this winter. The money comes from 41 corporate, private and public foundations and will be shared by 150  charities .

National Book Award-winning author, Jonathan Kozol, has been working with children in inner-city schools for nearly fifty years and has been called “today’s most eloquent spokesman for America’s disenfranchised.”

His latest book is Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America.

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Food pantries are in dire straits this summer. Programs that feed the poor are seeing rising demand, less government help and higher prices for food.   WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

      An emergency food pantry in Springfield Massachusetts had to close temporarily for one day last week after its shelves went bare.

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Anti poverty activists want more housing for the poor in Springfield Massachusetts. The comprehensive master plan for rebuilding from the tornado does not call for more affordable housing to be built.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports..

 

  As the Massachusetts House is set to begin debate today on a proposed $32 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins in July, anti poverty activists are decrying proposals they claim will erode the social safety net.  WAMC'S Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.