WUOMFM

poverty

Kids at a public school in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fewer children in Michigan lived in poverty in 2016, but the numbers are still grim.

The latest Kids Count Data Book says between 2010 and 2016, the state's child poverty rate dropped from 23 percent to 21 percent. However, that still means nearly half a million children lived below the poverty line in 2016.

Rates also remain particularly high for children of color. The report says in 2016, 42 percent of African American children and 30 percent of Latino children lived in poverty.

The city of Kalamazoo
Mxobe

The city of Kalamazoo has made headlines with its unique Kalamazoo Promise: anonymous donors pledging to pay up to 100 percent of college tuition for the kids who graduate from the city's public schools.

Here comes another effort: Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo. The vision? Turn Kalamazoo into a community where no adult or child is left behind because of poverty or inequality of opportunity.

Lucas Fare / Unsplash

The University of Michigan is teaming up with the city of Detroit to fight poverty and promote economic mobility.

The university’s Poverty Solutions program announced it will put up to $2 million into an effort to understand and promote the sources of upward mobility in the city.

WikiCommons

Poverty is an issue that dates back to ancient times. In the Christian gospel of John, Jesus says to his disciple Judas: “You will always have the poor among you.”

So what can society do about it?

Homeless
SamPac / creative commons

Fifty-four years ago, kids were bused from my suburban Detroit high school to Ann Arbor for a special event. The president was coming to the University of Michigan to give a historic commencement addresses. Lyndon Baines Johnson, in office exactly six months following the assassination of President Kennedy, announced his plans to build what he called the Great Society by launching a massive war on poverty.

When Democrats won massive majorities in both houses of Congress that fall, he was able to do just that. These days, popular legend sees the War on Poverty as a failure. In reality, statistics tell a different tale. Some of the programs were clearly poorly thought out, and funding for and interest in poverty waned as the Vietnam War heated up.

A Detroit street with trash on the side
Mike / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are a lot of facts and figures to consider when it comes to poverty and well-being in Michigan. A new map makes that data much easier to track down.

The online map was developed by the University of Michigan's Poverty Solutions initiative. It's meant to help policymakers, community organizations, and the public better understand poverty in their communities.

Detroit skyline with GM building
Pixabay.com

The city of Detroit is offering $1 million in grants to help lift residents out of poverty and into jobs. The initiative is a partnership between the city and the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation.

Grants are available to community organizations offering services like literacy education, vocational training, and support services to Detroit residents enrolled in SNAP -- the federal food assistance program.

Jeff Donofrio is executive director of workforce development for the city of Detroit. He says low-income job seekers in the city often face many challenges.

a group of people involved in Circles Grand Rapids
Courtesy of Circles Grand Rapids / Facebook

The Next Idea

Building community to end poverty.

That's the mission of Circles USA. It's a long-term effort that's all about empowering people of low-income to move out of poverty.

Low-income participants are the program's leaders. They pair up with an middle-to-high-income ally. The idea is to gain resources and fight poverty by building circles of influence.

Tinker A.F. base

A civil rights group says it's unconstitutional for the Michigan Secretary of State to suspend the drivers licenses of people who are too poor to pay their fines. 

Downtown Kalamazoo.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Kalamazoo will present design concepts and a strategy for the future of its downtown at a community open house tonight. The city is setting aside $10 million to spend on community-building projects over the next ten years.

The plan, called Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, started last year. The Kalamazoo City Council held a planning session Monday night to hear ideas for how to spend the money, which will be funded through a non-profit foundation.

Except for a few brief years in the 1960’s, it has never been fashionable to care about the desperately poor in this country. John F. Kennedy did challenge us to do something about poverty in his inaugural address:

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

But today, we have a President-elect who said:

“Benefits should have strings attached to them."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Marc Lamont Hill says we're in the midst of a war in America -- a war being waged on the vulnerable, the destitute, the struggling. Hill is a journalist and a political contributor to CNN.

Most often, he says, those vulnerable people are black, immigrant, LGBT and poor. Easily overlooked. Nobody. 

Marc Lamont Hill explores what life is like in 21st century America if you're nobody. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Politicians and media reports indicate Detroit is in the middle of an economic resurgence. That’s true for the central business districts. That’s not the case for many residents in the poorest neighborhoods.

“Some people just don’t have the hope. And, especially living in an environment like this, it’s kind of hard. It’s kind of hard. It’s very stressful,” said Alita Burton.

7,100 bodies are buried at the former Eloise mental hospital in Westland, near Detroit. But you'd never guess that from walking around the property.

That’s because the cemetery, which was never meant to be a traditional cemetery, looks more like an empty field. But look down, and you'll discover rows and rows of cement markers the size of large bricks with numbers stamped into them.

“This person buried here is number 5,632,” says Felicia Sills, as she gets on her knees and gently traces her finger over each number.

Public Domain / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

What defines affordable housing?

According to the federal government, affordable housing means not spending more than 30% of your income on housing. In a more colloquial context, however, affordable housing means more than just a percentage of your income. For many Michigan citizens, affordable housing means stability. For so many, affordable housing can change one’s life.

Homeless
SamPac / creative commons

By official economic measures, this country has emerged from the Great Recession.

But recovery is not being felt in many neighborhoods in large and mid-sized cities.

Since 2000, the number of people living in high-poverty ghettos, barrios, and slums has nearly doubled from 7.2 million to nearly 14 million people.

That's the highest number of Americans living in high-poverty neighborhoods ever recorded. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan Politics, political analyst Jack Lessenberry talks about Wayne County’s financial crisis and the plans to fix it, children in poverty, the roads stalemate, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s trip to Japan. 

Money troubles for Wayne County

Wayne County, Michigan’s most populous county, is facing a financial crisis.

Young boy with stuffed animal
Guian Bolisay / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new report says more children in Michigan are growing up in low-income households now than during the Great Recession, even though the state's unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in a decade.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, nearly one in four Michigan children live in poverty, compared to one in five in 2008.

money
user penywise / morgueFile

How wide is the wage gap between men and women in Michigan?

It’s a question that needs to be explored in a state where the 2010 U.S. Census found 284,000 families are headed by a female parent. 

And 28% of those households are living in poverty in Michigan. That’s almost 80,000 families.

Are gang members using social media to plan violence, to incite violence?
Scott Breale / Flickr

Gang members across the country aren’t just carrying guns. They’re also armed with Twitter and Facebook.

That’s the focus of a study whose title really says it all: "Internet Banging: New trends in social media, gang violence, masculinity and hip hop."

It’s co-authored by Desmond Patton, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the School of Information.

Desmond Patton joins us today to talk about gangs and social networking. 

Viviana Pernot

You might have heard of Camp Take Notice, the tent city in Ann Arbor that was forced to close nearly three years ago.

Viviana Pernot has made a short documentary film about that homeless community and the non-profit group that helps them.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Giving women a stronger voice in Michigan is the goal of a new coalition.

MI-Lead is composed of more than 30 organizations, from civil liberties and reproductive rights to business associations and unions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report shows it’s getting harder for people in Michigan at the lower end of the pay scale.

Yannet Lathrop is a policy analyst for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Her study finds the bottom 20% of Michigan's male wage earners have seen their real income, adjusted for inflation, drop by nearly a third since 1979.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

When we think about poverty, we tend to picture cities.

But a recent series in Bridge Magazine brought attention to poverty in rural communities in Michigan. The poverty rate in rural areas is higher than the rate in urban areas.

The articles were written by Pat Shellenbarger for Bridge Magazine.

Shellenbarger joins Stateside today, along with Jane Zehnder-Merrell, the Kids Count project director of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

“Of the 13 counties in Michigan with poverty rates above 20%, 11 of those are rural counties,” said Shellenbarger.

Shellenbarger wrote that poverty is not exclusive to poor rural counties, such as Lake County. Poor people live in wealthy rural counties as well, like Livingston, and the poverty rate for children has increased.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

At the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, 11-year-old Brianna Allgood is being tested by a machine called a spirometer. It measures her breathing.

Brianna has asthma. Sometimes she has difficulty breathing. Most of us would have a hard time imagining what that’s like.

“It feels like your chest starts tightening and you’re like and you can’t really breathe much air,” Brianna said. 

Vickie Elliot is Brianna’s grandmother. She says she finds herself checking in on Brianna – a lot – just to make sure she’s breathing okay.

“Having a child like that in the home is scary because anything could happen,” Elliot said.

Brianna is luckier than some kids with asthma. Her family can get her to the clinic. They now know how to treat the asthma.

Elliott says it’s made a difference.

Brianna Allgood gets a checkup on her asthma.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Children growing up in poverty face huge challenges. One challenge that might not come to the top of the mind, though, is pollution.

As part of Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, reporter Lester Graham spent the past three months exploring the problem.

His documentary, "Growing up in Poverty and Pollution," will air tomorrow at 3 p.m. on Michigan Radio.

Lester joined us today to talk about his project.

*Listen to the audio above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In one month, more than 300,000 people are expected to begin signing up for expanded Medicaid coverage in Michigan. The Medicaid expansion is part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

"Healthy Michigan" would cover nearly everyone, under the age of 65, with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty limit. That translates to individuals making about $15,000 and families of four making less than $32,000.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

What discussions and conversations should we be having around Michigan that we are veering away from?

What's the price we're paying for not opening up and talking about hot-button issues like racism, poverty, food justice, LGBT rights, and so much more?

That's what our next guest asked herself, and that led her to co-found Deep Dive Detroit. Its mission is to "create a safe place for uncomfortable conversations between disparate groups."

Co-founder Lauren Hood joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Using the power of social media to do good – in this case, ordering a dessert or an appetizer and, in doing so, helping to feed a hungry child.

Our next guest has accomplished that with a mobile and Web app called FoodCircles currently up and running in Grand Rapids.

Jonathan Kumar is the managing director of FoodCircles and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Homeless
SamPac / creative commons

It has now been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty.

There is a popular perception that President Johnson's War on Poverty failed. Critics point to the official poverty rate and say it has scarcely budged from 1964 to 2014, despite the $15 trillion spent in those 50 years.

But a University of Michigan economist is challenging that view. She is co-author of a new paper that analyzes spending during the Johnson Administration, and she believes it is wrong to call the War on Poverty a failure.

Martha Bailey joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Pages