Scott Church
Small-Area Income and Poverty Estimates: Priorities for 2000 and Beyond
NRC, 2000
These two books by the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences examine how poverty estimates are made and the U.S. Census Bureau's new method for estimating small area poverty, which replaced the methodology used in the decennial census. Recent trends in federal policies for social and economic programs have increased the demand for timely, accurate estimates of income and poverty for states, counties, and even smaller areas. Every year more than $130 billion in federal funds is allocated these regions through formulas that use such estimates. These funds support a wide range of programs that include child care, community development, education, job training, nutrition, and public health. With newer, updated programs, the U.S. Census Bureau is now providing more timely estimates for these programs than those from the decennial census which have been used for many years. These new estimates are being used to allocate more than $7 billion annually to school districts, through the Title I program that supports educationally disadvantaged children. These books examine how poverty estimates are made. The first, published in 1995, gives a detailed overview of how they have traditionally been done. The second provides guidance for how the newer programs can be improved, and how policy makers and the public can get the most benefit from them.
Urban Change and Poverty
NRC, 1988
Poverty in America affects a wide range of communities and all racial and ethnic backgrounds. But for a variety of reasons, it is more likely to be urban rather than rural, and urban poverty presents issues and challenges that differ in many respects from rural poverty. This book from the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences examined the nature of urban poverty in America and the critical issues it presents for cities and individuals affected by it. The book examines the policy implications of the difficult problems that will affect the future of urban America. Among the topics covered are the income, opportunities, and quality of life of urban residents; family structure, poverty, and the underclass; the redistribution of people and jobs in urban areas; urban economic growth patterns; fiscal conditions in large cities; and essays on governance and the deteriorating state of cities' aging infrastructures. Though the book dates from the late 80's, the issues and analysis it presents are as relevant today as they were when it was written.
Inner-City Poverty in the United States
NRC, 1988
This is a book from the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences which examines inner city poverty in America, what is known about it's causes and effects, and who the urban poor in America are. America's poor are largely urban, and on a per capita basis, more likely to be minorities and/or immigrants than not. These urban poor face a unique set of challenges compared to the many rural poor. This book published in 1990, documents the continuing growth of concentrated poverty in central cities of the United States and examines what is known about its causes and effects. With careful analyses of policy implications and alternative solutions to the problem, it presents the following: A statistical picture of people who live in areas of concentrated poverty; An analysis of 80 persistently poor inner-city neighborhoods over a 10-year period and the issues they have faced; Study results on the effects of growing up in a "bad" neighborhood and how these environments have affected poor children; An evaluation of how the suburbanization of jobs has affected opportunities for inner-city blacks; and, A detailed examination of federal policies and programs on poverty. Like the previous book, the analysis and commentary presented here are as relevant today as they were when it was first published.
America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume 1
NRC, 1990
This book by the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences examines racial trends in America as they are today, what is forecasted for them during the 21st century, and how they relate to poverty. Poverty is not a respecter of persons. Nor is it respectful of race or ethnicity. It can, and does, affect every demographic group—in America and throughout the world. But for a variety of historical, socioeconomic and institutional reasons, in America, on a per capita basis, it tends to be more prominent among minorities. This in turn feeds various stereotypes about it among middle and upper class communities which can impact society's responses to it. This volume, which presents various papers compiled and edited by leaders in the behavioral and social sciences fields, covers demographic trends, immigration, racial attitudes, and the geography of opportunity. How these things play out in society has much to do with poverty trends.
Nickel and Dimed - On (Not) Getting By in America
Barbara Ehrenreich
This is a book by political essayist and cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich describing her experiences in several American cities. It is commonplace for those who resent the poor to make a wide variety of claims regarding their life choices and situations. Amazingly few of these people have made any attempt whatsoever to learn about poverty first hand or even to get to know anyone who is poor by name. In this ground breaking book, Ehrenreich does something that few in our society, conservative, liberal, or otherwise, are willing to do - she takes a job as a fast-food waitress and tries to get by for an extended period on nothing more than the only resources available to America's working poor. Along the way she learns first hand of the degrading working conditions, the difficulty of making ends meet, and the logistic hardships the working poor face - hardships that unknown to the middle and upper classes for whom housing and transportation are not issues. Most of all, she experiences the condescension, the smugness, and the almost total lack of grace the poor must endure every day from those who are well off - even from the church. Naturally the book, and Ms. Ehrenreich personally have been the target of countless vicious attacks from ultra-conservative pundits, the Religious Right, and others who have grown comfortable in the belief that poverty is strictly a moral issue rather than one that might require compassion or social action from them. Few of these attacks are based on reliable data of any kind, and virtually none are based on direct personal experience.
New Horizons Ministries - Seattle, WA
New Horizons Ministries is a Seattle, WA based Christian ministry to street youth that provides food, self care facilities, job training and advocacy resources for abandoned youth living on the streets. There are an estimated 800 to 2000 youth under the age of 21 living on the streets of Seattle, which in this respect is typical of nearly all large American cities. These youth come from all races, walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds, but all have in common a history of abuse and neglect. For all intents and purposes, these kids have been thrown away by their families and communities and are on the streets because they have nowhere else to go—without emotional or spiritual support of any kind. All are at risk for street violence. Nearly two thirds have been, or are being, sexually abused. Most have no permanent place to live and few opportunities for work or school. New Horizons was started in 1978 by Father Don Erickson, an Episcopal priest who was one of the first people to recognized the existence of these neglected kids and feel a burden for their needs. The ministry expanded in the early 80's when University Presbyterian Church in Seattle offered financial support and teams of volunteers to support him. Today, New Horizons occupies a large modern facility in downtown Seattle with paid and volunteer staff and numerous effective outreach and advocacy programs for street youth. Among the services provided are,
  • Emergency, long-term and referral services, showers.
  • Food, clothing and other self care services.
  • Job training, mentoring, and assistance with placement.
  • Housing assistance in cooperation with apartment owners.
  • Opportunities for healthy, committed relationships with Christian adults.
  • Legal system advocacy.
My ex-wife and I have been involved with New Horizons as Self-Care and Outreach workers and have seen firsthand the blessing they have been to Seattle's street youth.


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