poverty

Upper Peninsula
Wikimedia Commons

 

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office says it will do whatever it can to block a proposed price increase on electricity in the Upper Peninsula.

The Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) hopes to raise their rates, which would bring in almost $10 million. If approved, it would mean customers' bills will increase by 10 percent.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Moody says the power company is asking for too much.

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?

Kids Count Data Center

More Michigan children are living in poverty. According to this year’s Kids Count data, more than one out of five children - or 22.6 percent - in Michigan lives in poverty. 

Every county in northwest lower Michigan has more poverty now than it did in 2007 before the recession.

 

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. 

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.

How do we break the cycle of poverty? What can we, as a state and a nation, do to help poor children escape poverty and move up and out?

Jamie Fogel is a pre-doctoral fellow with Harvard’s department of economics and a researcher on the Quality of Opportunity project that takes a close look at the effect of poverty and geography.

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.

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.

The child poverty rate is a critical indicator of our nation’s economic and social health. Child poverty costs the U.S. some $500 billion annually in health and crime costs, as well as in lost productivity and wages.

LIVE COVERAGE of the speech and the Democratic response begins tonight at 7:00 on IPR News Radio.

Gov. Rick Snyder will announce during his State of the State address tonight that two of the state’s largest departments will merge. Snyder will issue an executive order combining the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Community Health (DCH).

The move was first reported by the Associated Press.

Public employee unions worry the reorganization could lead to outsourcing.

A controversial plan to build a homeless shelter off Eighth Street, near the troubled Traverse City business corridor, faces a critical Tuesday night. The Planning Commission will take public comment and possibly vote to move the proposal to the city commission.

Christie Minervini, fundraising chair for Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse Inc., says she’s been rallying supporters ahead of the meeting. But she worries some will stay home because of a confusing headline on the front page of the Traverse City Record-Eagle Monday.

A coalition of churches now hopes to open a shelter in Traverse City with 90 beds sometime early in 2015. Safe Harbor submitted formal paperwork today.

City leaders recently approved new zoning rules that would allow a shelter of up to 100 beds. But some neighbors near this proposed shelter have complained that would be too large for the area.

Safe Harbor Chairman Peter Starkel says the group is responding to concerns.

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.

A state elections board has rejected a petition to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

A bipartisan majority of the Board of State Canvassers threw out dozens of signatures after a last-minute challenge from opponents. They say the signatures were from people who signed the petition more than once, which is illegal under Michigan election law.

“I’m 100% confident that what we’ve shown them in terms of duplication will be confirmed by any review of any of them,” said John Pirich with People Protecting Michigan Jobs, the group opposing the petition.

Tuesday night, new rules for homeless shelters in Traverse City moved a step closer to becoming law. Planning Commissioners voted five-to-three to send the zoning changes on for debate at the full city commission. The move to establish these rules comes as city residents debate a proposal from Safe Harbor to build the city’s first overnight shelter facility.


Michigan To Raise Minimum Wage

May 28, 2014
Paul Maritinez/Flickr

Michigan’s minimum wage will rise to at least $9.25 an hour by 2018. Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation Tuesday night just hours after it was approved by the state House and Senate. The new state law comes as a petition campaign is about to file signatures to force the wage floor even higher.

Traverse City expects a big turnout next month for a public hearing on emergency homeless shelters.

There are no specific zoning guidelines today.

Under the proposal, emergency shelters would be allowed in 10 city districts.

A section of Wellington Street where a consortium of churches would like to run a shelter does fall within one of those districts.

But City Planner Russ Soyring says there would be more hurdles for the group to cross, if these rules were adopted.

A Republican in the state Senate wants to boost Michigan’s minimum wage to $8.15 an hour.

Sen. Rick Jones’ introduced the legislation Thursday, which would be an alternative to a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage.

That ballot drive would boost the rate from $7.40 an hour to $10.10 an hour. It would also eventually raise the rate for tipped workers from $2.65 to $10.10 an hour.

Jones, R-Grand Ledge, thinks that kind of increase would put many Michigan restaurants out of business.

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.

The White House

President Obama was in Ann Arbor Wednesday to make the case for an increase in the minimum wage. The President told a crowd at the University of Michigan it’s a mistake to try to boost the economy with tax breaks for the wealthy.


President Barack Obama was in Ann Arbor today, pushing the Fair Minimum Wage Act.

That’s the bill that would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 by 2016. Senate Democrats are planning votes on a bill, but Republicans are working to block it.

Back here in Michigan, the minimum wage is $7.40 an hour – though groups are working to gather petition signatures to boost the state's minimum wage.

But can a state that is still recovering from a terrible recession weather a 36% hike in the minimum wage?

Paul Saginaw is co-founder of Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor. He has been pushing to increase the minimum wage and he is already committed to paying Zingerman's workers above the minimum wage.

We talk to Saginaw about the president's push for raising the minimum wage.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan Launches Expanded Medicaid Program

Apr 1, 2014
Emily Orpin/Flickr

Michigan’s Medicaid expansion is officially up and running. That means hundreds of thousands of low-income Michiganders are now eligible for government-sponsored health care.

People making 133 percent of the federal poverty level or less are now eligible for the program, which is part of the federal Affordable Care Act. That’s about $15,000 dollars or less a year for an individual and about $32,000 or less for a family of four.

Starting a business can be hard. How about starting a business with a mission to help end homelessness? Well, that’s even harder.

Stateside’s Mercedes Mejia tells us about the Empowerment Plan. It’s a business with a social mission.  The company makes coats that double as sleeping bags, and gives them away to homeless people.

After nearly two years, its mission is the same. But its business model is evolving.

Linda Stephan

Dramatic growth in the homeless population of Traverse City has brought more attention to the issue. But it’s not clear whether that will help efforts to build a new overnight shelter in the city.

Neighborhood Concerns

There’s been some bad press in recent years. In 2012, city leaders began banning alcohol in some parks as a way to curb problems caused by a certain segment of the homeless population. The problem has also grown more visible on the streets, something long-time resident Bryan Olshove has noticed.

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