Thursday, December 5, 2019

On the verge of homelessness, one man’s story highlights limited options for low-income seniors

“You can’t put an 80-year-old man that has a walker out on the street during the day and into a shelter at night.”

Housing problems for low income seniors in the Lehigh Valley, as reported in the Allentown Morning Call.  Read the article here.

Poverty is a Story About Us, Not Them

An expose from Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
by Kalena Thomhave

Too often still, we think we know what poverty looks like.
It’s the way we’ve been taught, the images we’ve been force-fed for decades.
The chronically homeless.
The undocumented immigrant.
The urban poor, usually personified as a woman of color, the “welfare queen” politicians still too often reference.
But as income inequality rises to record levels in the United States, even in the midst of a record economic expansion, those familiar images are outdated, hurtful, and counterproductive to focusing attention on solutions and building ladders of opportunity.
Today’s faces of income inequality and lack of opportunity look like, well… all of us.
Read the entire expose here


From our partners at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia
The Social Security Administration just announced that it wants to change its rules for people who get disability benefits, including SSI.  Most people would have to prove disability every two years.
Social Security expects to cut off nearly two million people over the next ten years.  These are people with severe disabilities who can’t work.


    1. Getting Social Security disability benefits is incredibly burdensome. It can take years to qualify, and the process is time-consuming and stressful.  The new rules would force people to start over just two years later.
    2. Social Security makes mistakes. Social Security does not always follow the law for disability reviews, and people get cut off by mistake.  The new rules would make these problems worse.
    3. More reviews would clog the Social Security system for everyone. People often wait two years or more for Social Security hearings.  The new rules would push more people into the system, creating longer delays for people who need income urgently and cannot work.
    4. There are not enough lawyers to help people. Without a lawyer, most people will not make it successfully through the review process. But many lawyers are not able to handle disability reviews, so people will go without the help they need.
CLS is asking for us take action.  Here's how:

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Essay: SNAP’s Powerful Effects, Ways to Improve It

by Brynne Keith-Jennings, Senior Research Analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

SNAP (food stamps) is an effective program that helps millions of Americans put food on the table, but there’s room to build upon its successes, as we write in a special issue of the American Journal of Public Health that’s focused on SNAP.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Half of Single Older Adults Unable to Pay for Basic Needs

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, November 20

Researchers from the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston produced an Elder Index to calculate the rates of elderly adults living in financial insecurity across the United States. The study found that half of older adults 65+ living alone – and nearly a quarter of older two-person households – are unable to afford basic necessities such as food, housing, and healthcare. Researchers also found that 18.2 percent of older adults living alone have incomes below the Federal Poverty Level, with an additional 32.1 percent living “in the gap” with an income above the poverty line but who are still unable to afford their living costs.

New Research Shows Medicaid Expansion is Saving Lives

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, November 20

A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research has calculated that Medicaid expansion has saved the lives of 19,200 adults from 2014-2018. Researchers examined the impact of Medicaid expansion on low-income adult mortality rates in several states as compared to the mortality rates in states that did not expand Medicaid. The study found that starting in 2014, the annual mortality rate in expansion states decreased by 9 deaths per 10,000 people and continued to decrease by 21 deaths per 10,000 people by 2018, indicating that increasing expansion continually benefited adult health outcomes. The researchers demonstrated that the reductions in the mortality rate were driven by a decrease in deaths by preventable causes that improved medical care could help avoid. While thousands of lives were saved in states that expanded coverage, states that did not expand Medicaid had an estimated 15,600 lives lost over the four-year period.

Where 2020 Democrats Stand on Economic Inequality

From the Washington Post, updated on November 18

With the stock market at an all-time high, the debate about wealth accumulation and inequality has become a top-issue in the 2020 campaign. The growing hostilities between the ascendant populist wing of the Democratic Party and the nation's tech and financial elite have spilled repeatedly into public view over the course of the primary campaign, but they reached a crescendo with the news that billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, may enter the race.

The leaders of the populist surge, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) have cast their plans to vastly increase taxes on the wealthy as necessary to fix several decades of widening inequality and make necessary investments in health care, child care spending and other government programs they say will help working-class Americans.

Here's where the candidates stand on economic policy based on their statements, voting records and answers to a questionnaire that was sent to every campaign.