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Poverty, Income, & Health Insurance Update: Illinois and Chicago Region (2022)

September 15, 2023

Poverty among children more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 (from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022), according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)1 released by the U.S. Census Bureau. This the largest year-over-year poverty rate increase on record among individuals aged 17 years and younger. Children were hardest hit due, in large part, to the lapse of the Child Tax Credit; however, across all ages gains made from COVID-related assistance in 2021 were lost in 2022. In Illinois, there are over 4 million Illinoisans experiencing poverty, with over 760,000 Illinoisans living in extreme poverty. In 2022 census results, poverty rates for children and communities of color - similar to national trends - remain dramatically higerh than the overall rate. 

The Why, the What, the How: Disney, the Population Council, and the Pre-Production of "Family Planning"

September 6, 2023

Family Planning, a short, animated film made by Walt Disney Productions in 1968, is a touchstone for historians of global population. Since Matthew Connelly's Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population (2008) re-energized the field, the film has become a fixture in histories of population control; an irresistible opportunity to namecheck Donald Duck and inject some levity into otherwise sober accounts. Analysis has concentrated on salient features of the film: its construction of an ethnically generic "everyman," its consumerist message, and its coyness about contraception. It typically figures as one of the most significant products of a sustained effort to mobilize mass media in the service of international family planning.Our research mobilizes previously neglected lines of evidence, especially unpublished documents held by the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), to shed new light on hidden negotiations and contestations. In drawing from the materials at the RAC — and beyond — we aim to contribute to an increasingly concerted effort to embed questions about media and communication more centrally in histories of reproductive politics.

The Criminalization of Poverty in Kentucky: How Economic Crises and Flawed Reforms Fueled an Incarceration Boom

August 1, 2023

In recent decades, Kentucky's carceral system has exploded in size, fueled by policies that criminalize poverty and substance use while prioritizing punishment over public safety. Amid significant economic restructuring due to the decline of manufacturing and coal extraction industries, local governments have attempted to turn their criminal legal systems into revenue generators. Entrenched financial incentives have served as powerful motivators for jailers, prosecutors, judges, and county commissioners to preserve the status quo of mass criminalization. During a time in which communities increasingly struggled with substance use disorders and needed real solutions to tackle this public health crisis, Kentucky's lawmakers continued to pass laws that allowed prosecutors and judges to impose harsh penalties for drug-related offenses. Through interviews, archival research, and data analysis, this report shows the consequences of this system on people's daily lives, in a state where criminalization has become the de facto response to poverty and substance use.

Sembrando Alianzas

July 25, 2023

Sembrando Alianzas digital is a collaborative and self-managed space to share learning, connect actors and encourage collaboration between organizations and institutions that work in the Mexican southeast alongside indigenous communities to improve the living conditions of their families.Sembrando Alianzas digital es un espacio colaborativo y autogestionado para compartir aprendizajes, conectar actores e incentivar la colaboración entre las organizaciones e instituciones que trabajan en el sureste mexicano de la mano de comunidades indígenas para mejorar las condiciones de vida de sus familias.

Understanding Migrant Destitution in the UK: Literature Review

June 30, 2023

In 2020, it was reported that a fifth of destitute households were migrants (JRF 2020). In many of these cases, the destitution arose primarily from the households' immigration status, specifically the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition, which restricts access to the welfare safety net (including most mainstream benefits such as Universal Credit). Attempts to tackle destitution in the UK, therefore, must consider the characteristics of the NRPF condition, its impacts and the characteristics of the parallel welfare safety net which is in place for (some) migrants and delivered by local authorities.This literature review is part of COMPAS' Understanding Migrant Destitution in the UK research project, a UK-wide study (2022-2023) focusing on local authority practice and provision for vulnerable people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) facing destitution. Building on COMPAS' (2015) research on Safeguarding Children From Destitution: Local Authority Responses To Families With 'No Recourse To Public Funds' (NRPF), we will be using a mixed methods approach exploring the following core research questions across all four nations of the UK:How has the cohort of people with NRPF and at risk of destitution changed since 2015?How has social care provision for people with NRPF at risk of destitution changed, including in relation to decisions made on who is eligible for services?How have outcomes for destitute people with NRPF changed since 2015?

The COVID-19 Aftermath: What the Unwinding of Federal Pandemic Emergency Declarations Can Mean for Illinoisans

June 27, 2023

On May 11, 2023, the Biden Administration ended the COVID-19 national emergency, marking a turning point for many extended and newly developed public benefits that occurred during, and in response to, the pandemic. Programs such as Medicaid, health insurance coverage for low-income individuals and families, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), were modified and/or expanded available benefits to meet the growing needs of the nation, particularly individuals living on the verge of poverty.In the midst of the pandemic, Heartland Alliance released a signature report on the domino effect caused by COVID-19, outlining how losing one support can cause others to crumble away for those already living on the edge when disaster strikes. While the pandemic-driven domino effect continues, we examine the additional repercussions caused by changes to public programs that were optimized during the pandemic, and that millions have become reliant upon.This report will explore the pandemic aftermath, with a specific focus on public benefit programs for individuals who are living in poverty or on the verge of poverty. We will examine how communities of color in Illinois have been particularly affected by the pandemic regarding health and economic well-being, and what implications changes to COVID-19 era benefits, specifically as it pertains to healthcare and food assistance, mean for Illinoisans.Findings from this report will expand on an overarching theme. Inequities, as it pertains to people of color, are pervasive, have worsened, and will likely continue to significantly increase post-pandemic.

2023 Silicon Valley Pain Index: If Silicon Valley Was a Nation, It Would be Deemed Politically Unstable

June 13, 2023

The purposes of the Silicon Valley Pain Index [SVPI] report are to:  (1) Provide an efficient, easily digestible, statistical overview of structured inequalities to inform policy and practice in "Silicon Valley."(2) Serve to measure Santa Clara County's performance as a "human rights county," which it declared in 2018 in accordance with the International Bill of Human Rights and in accordance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW] in 2023.  (3) Spark collaborations between scholars, students, stakeholders, communities, and policy makers to address inequality and achieve greater human rights practice.Originally inspired by Professor Bill Quigley's Katrina Pain Index following the devastating 2005 hurricane and later by national protests in the wake of the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (2020), the 2020, 2021, and 2022 SVPIs illustrated the persistent racial discrimination in employment, education, and housing as well as the general income/wealth inequality that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to define our region.  In contrast, the 4th Annual (2023) SVPI features new data that highlights the region's persistent inequalities, and the astronomical concentration of wealth into the hands of an incredibly small number of households and companies. As Russel Hancock, President and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, asserted, "If Silicon Valley were a country, that kind of wealth disparity would be considered politically unstable."

ALICE in the Crosscurrents: COVID and Financial Hardship in Louisiana

May 25, 2023

This ALICE Report provides the first look at the extent of financial hardship in Louisiana using ALICE metrics since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The pandemic has disrupted longstanding patterns in how and where people live, work, study, save, and spend their time. And the story of ALICE and the pandemic is still unfolding as this Report is being written, amid an ongoing health crisis and an economic and public policy landscape that continues to shift. In a time of change, United For ALICE remains committed to providing the most up-to-date local data possible on financial hardship in Louisiana and across the U.S.

The Perfect Storm of Extraction, Poverty, and Climate Change: A Framework for Assessing Vulnerability, Resilience, Adaptation, and a Just Transition in Frontline Communities

May 24, 2023

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and frontline communities bear the  disproportionate burden of environmental and climate impacts. We know the communities that are at the greatest risk. We can identify factors that put them at risk. We are less successful in communicating causal relationships, proposing systemic, upstream policy solutions that act upon these causal relationships, and identifying ways to measure whether or not policy solutions result in improved outcomes. Using a case study approach that examines six communities, the Prioritizing Frontline Communities Framework assesses the "pre-existing" economic, health, and infrastructure conditions that put these communities at greater risk. The efectiveness of social and climate-related policymaking can be assessed based on the degree to which they result in improved outcomes on key indicators and thereby increase the capacity of these communities to cope with, prepare for, and respond to climate change and participate equitably in the transition to a clean energy economy.

Food Hardship & Opportunities for Change: Key Findings from Statewide Research Conducted in Fall 2022

March 28, 2023

On March 22, 2023, Nourish California shared key findings from a series of focus groups and recent statewide surveys that asked Californians about their experiences accessing the food they need and want. This research was conducted in partnership with Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3).

Supporting Chicagoans’ Basic Needs through Mutual Aid

March 9, 2023

Mutual aid networks are important expressions of solidarity and community building, offering an informal support system for marginalized communities. Examples of mutual aid range from simple acts like placing fresh or prepared food in a neighborhood pantry to more complex funding assistance programs hosted by community anchors. As early as the 19th century, mutual aid networks provided support in times of crisis through monetary and in-kind donations to help meet local community needs. In more recent decades, as economic inequality has increased and many people are not able to access the formal social safety net,1 mutual aid has played an important role in helping community members meet basic needs, particularly for people experiencing housing instability and food insecurity.2 To promote foundational stability during the pandemic, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) launched the Edrika Fulford Mutual Aid Fund (EFMAF), a grassroots initiative that provides a one-time, unrestricted direct cash transfer of $500 to Illinois residents experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The premise of the EFMAF was to use communal solidarity to overcome structural injustice through grassroots action and to increase access to financial support.3 CCH has hosted six rounds of funding since the start of the pandemic.

“If I Wasn’t Poor, I Wouldn’t Be Unfit”: The Family Separation Crisis in the US Child Welfare System

November 17, 2022

'If I Wasn't Poor, I Wouldn't Be Unfit': The Family Separation Crisis in the US Child Welfare System, an ACLU research report produced in collaboration with Human Rights Watch, documents the child welfare system's disproportionate impact on Black and Indigenous families and people living in poverty. Based on comprehensive research, including interviews with caregivers, staff, and experts; policy analysis; and new analysis of government data, this report details how conditions of poverty, such as a family's struggle to pay rent or maintain housing, are misconstrued as neglect, and interpreted as evidence of an inability and lack of fitness to parent. The research found that child welfare systems too often charge parents of neglect and take away their children instead of providing support to keep families together. In addition to socioeconomic disparities, the report documents racial and ethnic disparities in child welfare system involvement. Black and Indigenous families disproportionately face intrusive child welfare interventions, including investigations and unjust removal of their children. This research not only provides a national perspective, but also includes select data points for each state and a deep dive into California, New York, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. The report concludes with concrete recommendations for federal, state, and local policymakers and stakeholders to take immediate measures to reduce the harmful impact of child welfare interventions, and to strengthen and support families and communities to prevent child maltreatment, without subjecting them to surveillance and regulation.