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Social Services

Activists Are Reclaiming Jails As Community-Operated Social Service Facilities

Jails have emerged as a key focal point of the struggle against mass incarceration. Several trends are in motion at the same time. In jurisdictions like New York and Los Angeles, grassroots-led struggles have closed facilities and blocked others from being built. By contrast, in many rural areas, local authorities are manipulating the opioid crisis and bail reform into a jail-building platform.

For Those Living In Public Housing, It’s A Long Way To Work

Let’s say there are two people in Atlanta who need jobs. They poke around on Snagajob, a job-search site for hourly work that lists hundreds of thousands of jobs in 300,000 locations. They scroll through listings for FedEx delivery driver, or shift manager at Wendy’s, or lot associate at Home Depot. But one job seeker lives in a public housing development, and the other doesn’t.

‘Just Get On And Go!’ Olympia Transit System Goes Fareless

As of the New Year, no bus fare is needed to ride the Olympia area’s Intercity Transit. On Jan. 1, the transit agency became the largest in the Pacific Northwest to eliminate fare collection, leapfrogging Corvallis and Missoula which did so earlier. Intercity Transit leadership looked at the cost of replacing its obsolete fare boxes with new electronic fare card readers and decided it wasn’t worth it, especially given the potential to increase ridership and speed up boarding by not charging fares at all.

Revealed: Americans Care More About Social Needs Than Deficits

A recent poll from the Democracy Collaborative and YouGov reveals that most Americans are ready to spend more for social needs, even if it raises the deficit. The debate around modern monetary theory (“MMT”) is picking up steam – with its partisans pushing the model further into the public sphere than one might expect, and the old guard of establishment economics, together with some more interesting critical voices, pushing back. The questions at stake can make the average person’s head spin: can a government with sovereign control over its currency create money at will to meet social needs, or would this create out of control inflationary spirals?

In An Unequal America, Empathy, Not Just Housing, Has Become Too Pricey

In our daily lives, as anyone who keeps a household budget can attest, the unexpected happens all the time. A refrigerator evaporator fan motor fails. Some part on your car you never realized existed breaks down. A loved one passes away and you have to — you want to — be at the funeral a thousand miles away. “Unexpected” expenses like these will, sooner or later, hit all of us. But all of us, says new research out of the Federal Reserve, can’t afford them.

“Pretty Much a Failure”: HUD Inspections Pass Dangerous Apartments Filled With Rats, Roaches And Toxic Mold

In the winter of 2017, a toddler was rushed to the emergency room after swallowing rodent poison inside her family’s unit at the federally subsidized Clay Arsenal Renaissance Apartments in Hartford, Connecticut. Her mother had placed sticky traps throughout the house after another one of her children was bitten on the arm by a mouse, according to a local housing advocate who worked with the family. This August, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley sued the St. Louis Housing Authority and the private management company it hired to run the Clinton-Peabody Housing Complex, saying they both violated the state’s consumer protection laws by advertising that the development was habitable even though it was plagued by a pest infestation, black mold and water damage.

Massive Protests In Iraq

A week ago, demonstrators gathered in Basra at the entrances to three Iraqi oilfields: the West Qurna field run by Lukoil, the Rumaila field run by BP and the West Qurna field run by ExxonMobil. Protesters accused the foreign companies of polluting the water and the environment in the city of Basra and more widely throughout southern Iraq; of failing to provide social benefits for the cities in which they work; and of not providing jobs for Iraqis. On July 10th, a group of demonstrators from Garma, in the north of the province of Basra, denounced environmental destruction and demanded “treatment of high water salinity that has killed the trees and plants and destroyed our land”. The protests intensified after Iraqi police opened fire in an attempt to disperse dozens of protesters near the West Qurna field, killing one person and injuring three others.

Soon You Cant’t Use Food Stamps At Farmers Markets — But That’s Not Half Of It

This week, I thought I would write about food stamps and farmers markets. People on food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), receive their benefits on a card that can be read like a credit card. Crucial to allowing recipients to use food stamps at farmers markets are card readers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just canceled its contract with the company that makes the card readers. As a result, food stamp recipients will likely lose the ability to use food stamps at farmers markets. I was all set to write about this terrible mix-up. But then I realized it’s not the part I really care about. Of course, food stamp recipients should be able to shop at farmers markets. But it’s a tiny part of a much bigger issue. The diets of food stamp recipients lie at the intersection of two issues: our food system and economic inequality.

Why People Love ‘Assistance to the Poor’ But Hate ‘Welfare’

Last Spring, in a highly publicized meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, President Donald Trump received some startling news. One of the members mentioned to Trump that pushing forward with “welfare reform” would be hurtful to her constituents, “not all of whom are black.” “Really?” Trump replied. “Then what are they?” Statistically, they were probably white. But given the United States’ history with the word “welfare,” it’s not all that surprising that Trump was confused. Despite the fact that white Americans benefit more from government assistance than people of color, means-tested aid is primarily associated with black people and other people of color—particularly when the term welfare is used. For many Americans, the word welfare conjures up a host of disparaging stereotypes so strongly linked to stigmatized beliefs about racial groups that—along with crime—...

#TheseCutsHurt Day Of Action

By Staff of Witnesses to Hunger - On October 30th, 2017, people from around the country will be speaking out to raise awareness about how proposed budget cuts will hurt their families, children, communities, and this country as a whole. By sharing their personal experiences and ideas for change, Americans can stand up together and say that THESE CUTS HURT and that they have had enough of the government refusing to prioritize our children and our families. Programs that feed millions, that house people, that provide health care – among so many others – are on the chopping block. Our country can and must do better to support families – the majority of whom are working or want to work – to make ends meet.

Reimagining Safety & Security In Our Communities

By Staff of Law for Black Lives - Over the last 30 years, at both the national and local levels, governments have dramatically increased their spending on criminalization, policing, and mass incarceration while drastically cutting investments in basic infrastructure and slowing investment in social safety net programs. The choice to resource punitive systems instead of stabilizing and nourishing ones does notmake communities safer. Instead, study after study shows that a living wage, access to holistic health services and treatment, educational opportunity, and stable housing are far more successful in reducing crime than police or prisons. This report examines racial disparities, policing landscapes, and budgets in twelve jurisdictions across the country, comparing the city and county spending priorities with those of community organizations and their members. While many community members, supported by research and established best practices, assert that increased spending on police do not make them safer, cities and counties continue to rely overwhelmingly on policing and incarceration spending while under-resourcing less damaging, more fair, and more effective safety initiatives. Each profile also highlights current or prospective campaigns that seek to divest resources away from police and prisons towards communities and their development.

Ontario Moving Forward With Basic Income Pilot

By Daniel Tencer for Huffington Post. Ontario, Canada - Former Sen. Hugh Segal has been a vocal proponent of basic income for decades, and now he will have the opportunity to help make the idea a reality. Ontario’s provincial government has appointed Segal — former chief of staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney — as an advisor on the design and implementation of its basic income pilot project. It will be designed “to test the growing view that a basic income could help deliver income support more efficiently, while improving health, employment and housing outcomes for Ontarians,” the province’s Ministry of Community and Social Services said in a statement on Friday. A basic income would deliver a certain amount of money regularly to every legal resident, regardless of employment status or any other factor.

Profiting From The Poor: Outsourcing Social Services

Mississippi protestors had good reason to be concerned. The privatization of social services has in the past resulted in some spectacular failures. The Denver Post found a shocking pattern of abuse when it conducted an in-depth investigation of the privatization of Colorado's foster care system a decade ago. The Post reported that numerous children were molested, abused, and even died in foster home after the state started contracting with businesses that failed to ensure they were placed in safe homes. The state also paid three times as much to place a child in private foster care as it did in homes that were supervised by the counties. More recently, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels' attempt to transform the state into a privatized utopia failed spectacularly in the health and human services area.
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