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poverty

Book cover for "Stakes is High" - red and gray text on a black background
Bold Type Press / Bold Type Press

Mychal Denzel Smith’s last book, "Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching," was a powerful account of what it means being a young black man in America. In his follow up, he confronts the well-meaning liberal reaction to the 2016 election and calls on us all to reckon with who we are as Americans and, perhaps more importantly, who we want to be.

We have been invested in a set of beliefs about our American identity: our exceptionalism, the inevitable rightness of our path, and the promise that hard work and determination will carry us to freedom.

But in his new book, "Stakes Is High," Mychal confronts the shortcomings of these stories--and with the American Dream itself--and calls on us to live up to the principles we profess but fail to realize. He exposes the stark contradictions at the heart of American life, holding all of us, individually and as a nation, to account. We’ve gotten used to looking away, but the fissures and casual violence--of incarceration, poverty, misogyny, and racism--are ever-present. But there is a future that is not as grim as our past. In this profound work, Mychal helps us envision it, with care, honesty, and imagination.

Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis
Dave Lucas / WAMC

2020 has been a remarkable year, but 2021 promises to be a consequential year for Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis, too. Ellis spoke with WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas about racism, policing, the pandemic and politics.

Joe Donahe: Journalist Lauren Sandler's new book "This Is All I Got: A New Mother's Search for Home" is an immersion in the life of a young homeless single mother amid her quest to find stability and shelter in the richest city in America. Camila is 22 years old and a new mother, she has no family to rely on, no partner, and no home. Sandler chronicles a year in Camila's life from birth of her son to his first birthday, as she navigates the labyrinth of poverty and homelessness in New York City.

Lauren Sandler as an award winning journalist. She is the author of three books, including the brand-new "This Is All I Got: A New Mother's Search for Home." 

City Mission of Schenectady, founded in 1906, seeks to comprehensively meet the needs of the poor in a manner that dignifies and strengthens the individual, the family, and the community.

They want to help people who are in need right now by meeting basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. Providing these life essentials are at the core of their mission.

In addition, their hope is that they can do more than just meet basic needs. They look to transform lives by providing spiritual guidance, counseling, training, classes, life and job skills training. Mike Saccocio is the CEO of the City Mission of Schenectady.

Unity House is a Rensselaer County-based human service agency that provides a wide range of services to meet the otherwise unmet needs of people in the community who are hurting and struggling. They assist those who are living in poverty, adults living with mental illness or HIV/AIDS, victims of domestic violence, and children with developmental delays. They work to achieve social justice in our community and to create a better understanding of those we serve.

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the acclaimed, best-selling "Half the Sky" now issue a plea, deeply personal and told through the lives of real Americans, to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure.

Their new book is "Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope."

For the majority of young adults today, the transition to independence is a time of excitement and possibility. But nearly five million young people experience entry into adulthood as abrupt abandonment, a time of disconnection from school, work, and family.

For this growing population of Americans, which includes kids aging out of foster care and those entangled with the justice system, life screeches to a halt when adulthood arrives. The new book, “Abandoned,” is an exploration of this tale of dead ends and broken dreams.

Journalist Anne Kim weaves heart-rending stories of young people navigating early adulthood alone, in communities where poverty is endemic and opportunities almost nonexistent. She then describes a growing awareness, including new research from the field of adolescent brain science, that “emerging adulthood” is just as crucial a developmental period as early childhood, and she profiles an array of unheralded programs that provide young people with the supports they need to achieve self-sufficiency.

MacArthur Genius and Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and the Andrew Carnegie Medal, among others.

Desmond will be at UAlbany’s Page Hall on Thursday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. for an event sponsored by the Changing the Conversation Committee, a partnership of CatholicCharities, Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Unity House, and the New York State Writers Institute.

A former aide to Robert F. Kennedy and senior official in the Clinton administration, Peter Edelman has devoted his life to understanding the causes of poverty.

In one of the richest countries on Earth it has effectively become a crime to be poor. For example, in Ferguson, Missouri, the U.S. Department of Justice didn’t just expose racially biased policing; it also exposed exorbitant fines and fees for minor crimes that mainly hit the city’s poor, African American population, resulting in jail by the thousands. As Peter Edelman explains in "Not a Crime to Be Poor," in fact Ferguson is everywhere: the debtors’ prisons of the twenty-first century.

Peter Edelman is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy and the faculty director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University Law Center.

Ben Downing: Moving The Line

Jul 4, 2019

With a single regulatory change, the Trump administration wants to reduce poverty. Shockingly, that change is not an innovative effort to create jobs, lessen the burden of housing or healthcare costs, or improve education. It is an attempt to change how the federal government measures and defines poverty. People will not receive new benefits or opportunities, the federal government will just stop recognizing that they are poor. 

Troy ESPRI
Jesse King

New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was in Troy Tuesday to announce nearly $600,000 in state funding for 15 projects aimed at reducing poverty in the Collar City. 

Mayor Kathy Sheehan and her partners in fighting poverty throughout Albany announced the launch of the third phase of the City of Albany’s Poverty Reduction Initiative (CAPRI) at a press conference on Thursday.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Mayor Kathy Sheehan has unveiled the third phase of Albany's Poverty Reduction Initiative. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was at city hall for the announcement.

Our Falling into Place series spotlights the important work of -and fosters collaboration between- not-for-profit organizations in our communities; allowing us all to fall into place.

Falling Into Place is supported by The Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation, Providing a helping hand to turn inspiration into accomplishment. See more possibilities … see more promise… see more progress. This morning we focus on Joseph’s House & Shelter in Troy, NY. Kevin O’Connor is the Executive Director.

   The longtime executive director of a grassroots anti-poverty organization in western Massachusetts has announced her retirement.

The city of Albany is receiving $2.2 million in state funding toward combatting violence.

At the age of nine, Issac J. Bailey saw his hero, his eldest brother, taken away in handcuffs, not to return from prison for thirty-two years. Bailey tells the story of their relationship and of his experience living in a family suffering from guilt and shame in his book, "My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Midst of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South." Drawing on sociological research as well as his expertise as a journalist, he seeks to answer the crucial question of why Moochie and many other young black men, including half of the ten boys in his own family, end up in the criminal justice system.

What role do poverty, race, and faith play? What effect does living in the South, in the Bible Belt, have? And why is their experience understood as an acceptable trope for black men, while white people who commit crimes are never seen in this generalized way?

Issac J. Bailey was born in St. Stephen, South Carolina, and holds a degree in psychology from Davidson College in North Carolina. Having trained at the prestigious Poynter Institute for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida, he has been a professional journalist for twenty years. He has taught applied ethics at Coastal Carolina University and, as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, has taught journalism at Harvard Summer School.

wikipedia commons

Three new initiatives aim to reduce poverty in New York state's capital city.

Ben Downing: Addressing Poverty

Apr 3, 2018

Earlier this year I commented here that policymakers were missing the mark if they did not turn their focus to poverty. Which begs the question, if they did focus on poverty, what should they do about it?

Inequality In America slate
Senator Bernie Sanders/Facebook

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders moderated a town hall on Inequality in America Monday evening.  He brought together outspoken advocates to discuss what they see as the decline of the middle class and risks of an oligarchy, and offer potential solutions.

Ben Downing: Ending Hunger

Mar 6, 2018

Massachusetts is one of the richest states in the richest nation on earth and yet, 1 in 10 people and 1 in 7 children struggle with hunger. That’s 701,630 of our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. It’s 187,920 kids. That is a moral outrage and it should spur action to ensure no one goes hungry. Unfortunately, this hasn’t proven to be the case. Thanks to a recent study by Children’s Health Watch of Boston Medical Center we have a new way of thinking about the costs of hunger and with it hope for renewed action.

Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce

   ArteSana is dedicating its new storefront workshop in downtown Holyoke, Massachusetts later today.

  Our Falling into Place series spotlights the important work of -and fosters collaboration between- not-for-profit organizations in our communities; allowing us all to fall into place.

Falling Into Place is supported by The Seymour Fox Memorial FoundationProviding a helping hand to turn inspiration into accomplishment. See more possibilities … see more promise… see more progress.

This morning we focus on Butterfly Wings – an organization that provides non-food resources to families during times of financial insecurity. Christine J. Baxter, Director of Community Development, joins us.

Veteran health journalist Mary Otto looks inside America’s mouth, revealing unsettling truths about our unequal society.

Her new book, Teeth, takes readers on a disturbing journey into America’s silent epidemic of oral disease, exposing the hidden connections between tooth decay and stunted job prospects, low educational achievement, social mobility, and the troubling state of our public health.

Mary Otto is the oral health topic leader for the Association of Health Care Journalists. She began writing about oral health at the Washington Post, where she worked for eight years covering social issues including health care and poverty. 

Even as US spending on healthcare skyrockets, impoverished Americans continue to fall ill and die of preventable conditions. Although the majority of health outcomes are shaped by non-medical factors, public and private healthcare reform efforts have largely ignored the complex local circumstances that make it difficult for struggling men, women, and children to live healthier lives.

In Dying and Living in the Neighborhood, Dr. Prabhjot Singh argues that we must look beyond the walls of the hospital and into the neighborhoods where patients live and die to address the troubling rise in chronic disease.

Government aid doesn’t always go where it’s supposed to. Foster care agencies team up with companies to take disability and survivor benefits from abused and neglected children. States and their revenue consultants use illusory schemes to siphon Medicaid funds intended for children and the poor into general state coffers. Child support payments for foster children and families on public assistance are converted into government revenue. And the poverty industry keeps expanding, leaving us with nursing homes and juvenile detention centers that sedate residents to reduce costs and maximize profit, local governments buying nursing homes to take the facilities’ federal aid while the elderly languish with poor care, and counties hiring companies to mine the poor for additional funds in modern day debtor’s prisons.

In The Poverty Industry, Daniel L. Hatcher shows us how state governments and their private industry partners are profiting from the social safety net, turning America’s most vulnerable populations into sources of revenue.

  For decades, conversations about poverty have focused on jobs, public assistance, parenting, and mass incarceration. After years of intense fieldwork and study, Harvard sociologist and 2015 MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Matthew Desmond has come to believe that something fundamental is missing from that picture: how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty.

Desmond says, “Not everyone living in a distressed neighborhood is associated with gang members, parole officers, employers, social workers, or pastors, but nearly all of them have a landlord.” The result of his research is the new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

  Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s first main stage Powerhouse production this season is Lucy Thurber’s Transfers.

As two young men from the Bronx vie for acceptance to an elite college, their shared past threatens to overshadow their bright futures. Class, ambition, and expectations are called into question when higher education – and its life-changing potential – is just within reach.

Thurber is a Lilly Award winner and won a 2014 OBIE Award for her theatrical cycle, The Hill Town Plays. She was also a member of the influential Obie-winning playwrights’ collective, 13P.

WAMC

The food service program operated by the public school system in Springfield, Massachusetts, which has been lauded for its high participation rates, does not take the summer off.  A free summer meals program for school-age children began today.

The Springfield Public Schools’ summer food service program operates at more than 2 dozen locations including schools, parks, and public housing complexes.  Most locations serve both breakfast and lunch.

Because of Springfield’s high poverty rate, all of the city’s roughly 30,000 school-age children are eligible for free meals.

  Jim Shepard’s new book, The Book of Aron, tells the story of a Jewish boy growing up in poverty and desperation. It begins before the Germans invaded Poland and, through Aron’s eyes, takes us from the Polish countryside into the depths of the Warsaw Ghetto and then into a famous orphanage for destitute children.

In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today, we will learn about the Clemente Course in the Humanities, which is a program that offers free, college-level seminars in literature, US history, moral philosophy, art history, and writing to adults living in poverty.  The Clemente Course has been offered in ten states - including Massachusetts and New York, as well as in Canada, and Mexico.

We are joined today by Ousmane Power-Greene, Associate Professor of History at Clark University and Instructor of US History at the Clemente Course in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Worcester, Massachusetts, and David Tebaldi, Executive Director of Mass Humanities. 

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