By Robert L. Fischer, Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, Case Western Reserve University and first published on theconversation.com.On July 12, President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers concluded that America’s long-running war on poverty “is largely over and a success.”I am a researcher who has studied poverty for nearly 20 years in Cleveland, a city with one of the country’s highest rates of poverty. While the council’s conclusion makes for a dramatic headline, it simply does not align with the reality of poverty in the U.S. today.What is poverty?The U.S. federal poverty line is set annually by the federal government, based on algorithms developed in the 1960s and adjusted for inflation.In 2018, the federal poverty line for a family of four in the contiguous U.S. is $25,100. It’s somewhat higher in Hawaii ($28,870) and Alaska ($31,380).However, the technical weaknesses of the federal poverty line are well known to researchers and those who work with populations in poverty. This measure considers only earned income, ignoring the costs of living for different family types, receipt of public benefits, as well as the value of assets, such as a home or car, held by families.Most references to poverty refer to either the poverty rate or the number of people in poverty. The poverty rate is essentially the percentage of all people or a subcategory who have income below the poverty line. This allows researchers to compare over time even as the U.S. population increases. For example, 12.7 percent of the U.S. population was in poverty in 2016. The rate has hovered around 12 to 15 percent since 1980.Other discussions reference the raw number of people in poverty. In 2016, 40.6 million people lived in poverty, up from approximately 25 million in 1980. The number of people in poverty gives a sense of the scale of the concern and helps to inform the design of relevant policies.Both of these indicators fluctuate with the economy. For example, the poverty population grew by 10 million during the 2007 to 2009 recession, equating to an increase of approximately 4 percent in the rate.The rates of poverty over time by age show that, while poverty among seniors has declined, child poverty and poverty among adults have changed little over the last 40 years. Today, the poverty rate among children is nearly double the rate experienced by seniors.The July report by the Council of Economic Advisers uses an alternate way of measuring poverty, based on households’ consumption of goods, to conclude that poverty has dramatically declined. Though this method may be useful for underpinning an argument for broader work requirements for the poor, the much more favorable picture it paints simply does not reconcile with the observed reality in the U.S. today.Deserving versus undeserving poorPolitical discussions about poverty often include underlying assumptions about whether those living in poverty are responsible for their own circumstances.One perspective identifies certain categories of poor as more deserving of assistance because they are victims of circumstance. These include children, widows, the disabled and workers who have lost a job. Other individuals who are perceived to have made bad choices – such as school dropouts, people with criminal backgrounds or drug users – may be less likely to receive sympathetic treatment in these discussions. The path to poverty is important, but likely shows that most individuals suffered earlier circumstances that contributed to the outcome.Among the working-age poor in the U.S. (ages 18 to 64), approximately 35 percent are not eligible to work, meaning they are disabled, a student or retired. Among the poor who are eligible to work, fully 63 percent do so.Earlier this year, lawmakers in the House proposed new work requirements for recipients of SNAP and Medicaid. But this ignores the reality that a large number of the poor who are eligible for benefits are children and would not be expected to work. Sixty-three percent of adults who are eligible for benefits can work and already do. The issue here is more so that these individuals cannot secure and retain full-time employment of a wage sufficient to lift their family from poverty.A culture of poverty?The circumstances of poverty limit the odds that someone can escape poverty. Individuals living in poverty or belonging to families in poverty often work but still have limited resources – in regard to employment, housing, health care, education and child care, just to name a few domains.If a family is surrounded by other households also struggling with poverty, this further exacerbates their circumstances. It’s akin to being a weak swimmer in a pool surrounded by other weak swimmers. The potential for assistance and benefit from those around you further limits your chances of success.Even the basic reality of family structure feeds into the consideration of poverty. Twenty-seven percent of female-headed households with no other adult live in poverty, dramatically higher than the 5 percent poverty rate of married couple families.Poverty exists in all areas of the country, but the population living in high-poverty neighborhoods has increased over time. Following the Great Recession, some 14 million people lived in extremely poor neighborhoods, more than twice as many as had done so in 2000. Some areas saw some dramatic growth in their poor populations living in high-poverty areas.Given the complexity of poverty as a civic issue, decision makers should understand the full range of evidence about the circumstances of the poor. This is especially important before undertaking a major change to the social safety net such as broad-based work requirements for those receiving non-cash assistance. Please enter your comment! Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development’s Robert L. Fischer refutes claim about poverty The Anatomy of Fear Free webinar for job seekers on best interview answers, hosted by Goodwill June 11 Support conservation and fish with NEW Florida specialty license plate Please enter your name here TAGStheconversation.comWar on poverty Previous articleCookies and Milk with a Cop tomorrow morningNext articleUber announces Phase II results of Central Florida mobility pilot program Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Reply You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here 1 COMMENT LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply […] against the claim that the “war on poverty” is over. Republished by Raw Story, Garn Press, Apopka Voice, Sojourners Magazine and […] Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter August 1, 2018 at 12:47 pm Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Thomas Newman Dear Editor: I was saddened to read in last week’s Reporter that Mike Coleman had passed away. Old time Hoboken residents will remember him as the city’s Model Cities director in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Those were the days when it wasn’t clear if the country’s urban areas, racked with crime and decay, were going to survive as livable places.Mike was one those idealistic young people who answered JFK’s call to ask what you could do for your country, not what it could do for you. It was 1968, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, riots ripped the ghettos of our major cities, and the Vietnam War threatened to tear apart our national political culture.There was no “brownstone revolution” in Hoboken. It was, in fact, the city’s nadir from a long economic slide that began after World War 1. Mike was Lyndon Johnson’s man from Washington to see if some federal dollars could be wisely spent to set us on the road to a Great Society.One of the most successful projects was the Home Improvement Loan Program which gave low interest loans to little owner-occupants to fix up their homes. But if I were to pick his greatest achievement it was that he kept the program free and independent from the local political patronage system for which federal money was traditionally a kind of honey pot. And much credit here goes to then-mayor Louis DePascal as well. The short story is that Hoboken did become a model city for the Model Cities program.In the ‘70s Hoboken was a national role model as a successful low-income housing provider. At the end of the decade roughly 20 percent of all housing units in the city were subsidized in one way or another. All through this transition period Mike Coleman was the Community Development director and the city’s man who steered these programs. It was his mission to see that the renaissance of Hoboken benefited the city’s long term, diverse residents.Mike was one of the good guys, a moral force in turbulent times, and for me an inspirational leader.
(Photo supplied/Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians) Indiana’s pledging not to add any casinos in 16 northern Indiana counties, as part of a deal with the Native American-run casino in South Bend.The Pokagon Band’s Four Winds Casino is adding table games. It doesn’t need state approval to do that, but federal law calls for it to pursue a compact with the state to agree on terms for the operation.Gaming Commission executive director Sara Tait says the deal gives Indiana an eight-percent cut of the casino’s income, and South Bend a two-percent cut. In exchange, the state promises a 50-mile buffer zone with no new competing casinos.The existing casinos in Hammond and Michigan City can still expand on their existing property, but would be barred from relocating inland, as Gary’s casino is. The legislature has already authorized the Gary move, so it would be unaffected by the compact.Tait estimates the deal would bring Indiana 12-million dollars a year, but says about half of that is expected to be offset by decreased business at other casinos. The deal also calls for Indiana to set aside a million dollars of its share in a job training fund for Pokagon Band members.The state could still authorize a new northern Indiana casino or a Hammond or Michigan City expansion, but that would void the revenue-sharing agreement and restart negotiations. Tait notes without an agreement, the tribe can turn to the federal government for approval, which would give the state the same amount it currently gets from Four Winds’ slot machine operation: nothing.And Tait says the money is only part of the benefit to the state. The Pokagon Band would also agree to follow other state gambling regulations, such as banning chronic gamblers and not serving free drinks.The Senate has already voted to ratify the agreement. The House could vote this week. WhatsApp By Jon Zimney – March 23, 2021 0 356 Facebook Google+ Indiana has deal with Pokagon Band not to add casinos in 16 northern counties Previous articleBoulder Colorado officer killed in supermarket shooting was a Ball State graduateNext articleFree FAFSA completion event set for Ivy Tech on March 29 Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. Pinterest Pinterest WhatsApp Twitter Facebook Twitter IndianaLocalNews Google+