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  • Individual Author: Berger, Lawrence M. (ed.); Cancian, Maria (ed.); Magnuson, Katherine (ed.)
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2018

    The 2016 presidential election has brought to the fore proposals to fundamentally restructure the U.S. anti-poverty safety net. Even though much of the current debate centers on shrinking or eliminating federal programs, we believe it is necessary and useful to explore alternatives that represent new approaches and significant innovations to existing policy and programs. This double issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences builds on and extends the scholarly conversation on the state of current U.S. anti-poverty policy by high-lighting a collection of related innovative and specific policy proposals for the United States. Well before the election, the authors of the articles in this volume were explicitly tasked with proposing substantially new policies solidly grounded in social science evidence that have the potential to transform anti-poverty policy. Assuming the goal to be reducing poverty among the U.S. population, we asked what new ideas should be seriously considered. The authors responded with carefully crafted proposals that tackle poverty...

    The 2016 presidential election has brought to the fore proposals to fundamentally restructure the U.S. anti-poverty safety net. Even though much of the current debate centers on shrinking or eliminating federal programs, we believe it is necessary and useful to explore alternatives that represent new approaches and significant innovations to existing policy and programs. This double issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences builds on and extends the scholarly conversation on the state of current U.S. anti-poverty policy by high-lighting a collection of related innovative and specific policy proposals for the United States. Well before the election, the authors of the articles in this volume were explicitly tasked with proposing substantially new policies solidly grounded in social science evidence that have the potential to transform anti-poverty policy. Assuming the goal to be reducing poverty among the U.S. population, we asked what new ideas should be seriously considered. The authors responded with carefully crafted proposals that tackle poverty from a variety of perspectives. Some of these proposals are more of a departure from existing policies than others, some borrow from other countries or revive old ideas, some are narrow in focus and others much broader, but all seek to move anti-poverty efforts into new territory. (Author abstract) 

    Contents:

    Introduction

    Anti-Poverty Policy Innovations: New Proposals for Addressing Poverty in the United States

    Lawrence Berger, Maria Cancian, and Katherine Magnuson

    Part I. Tax and Transfer Programs 

    A Universal Child Allowance: A Plan to Reduce Poverty and Income Instability Among Children in the United States

    H. Luke Shaefer, Sophie Collyer, Greg Duncan, Kathryn Edin, Irwin Garfinkel, David Harris, Timothy M. Smeeding, Jane Waldfogel, Christopher Wimer, and Hirokazu Yoshikawa

    Cash for Kids

    Marianne P. Bitler, Annie Laurie Hines, and Marianne Page

    A Targeted Minimum Benefit Plan: A New Proposal to Reduce Poverty Among Older Social Security Recipients

    Pamela Herd, Melissa Favreault, Madonna Harrington Meyer, and Timothy M. Smeeding

    Reforming Policy for Single-Parent Families to Reduce Child Poverty

    Maria Cancian and Daniel R. Meyer

    Reconstructing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to More Effectively Alleviate Food Insecurity in the United States 

    Craig Gundersen, Brent Kreider, and John V. Pepper

    A Renter's Tax Credit to Curtail the Affordable Housing Crisis 

    Sara Kimberlin, Laura Tach, and Christopher Wimer

    The Rainy Day Earned Income Tax Credit: A Reform to Boost Financial Security by Helping Low-Wage Workers Build Emergency Savings

    Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Sara Sternberg Greene, Ezra Levin, and Kathryn Edin

     

  • Individual Author: Coffey, Amelia; Lantos, Hannah
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2018

    Posted by Amelia Coffey and Hannah Lantos, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Between the 1990 census and the 2000 one, the percent of Americans who lived in census tracts with over 40 percent of residents living below the federal poverty level (FPL) dropped by over 25 percent. Between 2000 and 2010, those gains were entirely lost when the number of Americans living in one of these “extremely poor” census tracts increased by 50 percent.  This increase continued beyond 2010, with nearly 14 million people living in these extremely poor neighborhoods between 2010 and 2014. The increase in people living in extremely poor census tracts was more than...

    Posted by Amelia Coffey and Hannah Lantos, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Between the 1990 census and the 2000 one, the percent of Americans who lived in census tracts with over 40 percent of residents living below the federal poverty level (FPL) dropped by over 25 percent. Between 2000 and 2010, those gains were entirely lost when the number of Americans living in one of these “extremely poor” census tracts increased by 50 percent.  This increase continued beyond 2010, with nearly 14 million people living in these extremely poor neighborhoods between 2010 and 2014. The increase in people living in extremely poor census tracts was more than three times greater than the rise in the overall national poverty rate over the same time period. This meant that more people overall as well as more of the poor were living with or near a higher concentration of people who were poor. Neighborhoods where 40 percent or more of residents are poor are categorized as “extremely poor,” while neighborhoods with 20 to 40 percent living below the FPL are categorized as “high poverty” neighborhoods. Concentrated poverty can negatively impact overall well-being. Being poor in a poor neighborhood is different from being poor in a wealthy neighborhood; for decades, research has linked living in an impoverished community with barriers to economic self-sufficiency, but has also identified the elements of interventions effective at increasing residents’ self-sufficiency.  

    Recent research using data from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program– a national study of families who were randomly selected to receive vouchers that allowed them to find housing outside their high-poverty neighborhoods – demonstrated that neighborhood effects on children are potent and durable, contributing to the perpetuation of poverty across generations. Childhood residence in less advantaged neighborhoods has been linked to negative outcomes in areas that are important building blocks for self-sufficiency, including academic achievement and cognitive skills. For example, one study found that attendance at the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy charter schools—which provide high-quality programming, such as extended classroom hours and coordinated tutoring, that are not offered at other schools—improved student standardized test performance enough to close the racial achievement gap in English and math. Similarly, another study found that when providing low-income families a chance to live in more advantaged neighborhoods where their children can attend low-poverty public schools, these children were able to catch up to their more affluent peers in standardized test performance. Other research has found a relationship between neighborhood violence and school performance, as well as children’s cognitive processes.

    Examination of additional mechanisms that may explain the negative effects of disadvantaged neighborhoods on residents is an important new research frontier. For example, social scientists have begun to explore characteristics of impoverished communities that affect academic achievement, thereby indirectly affecting self-sufficiency. One group of researchers looked at small-area geographic data in New York City, and found that community violence, comparatively prevalent in disadvantaged neighborhoods, contributes to children’s poor performance on standardized tests. 

    Two primary strategies have been used to improve outcomes for residents of impoverished communities: place-based investment, and encouraging residential mobility. Place-based investment initiatives take many forms, but usually target multiple factors affecting resident well-being, including the local job market, the physical environment, and the availability of services. The Promise Neighborhoods Initiative was an example of a place-based strategy. Evidence of the effectiveness of place-based investment is inconsistent. Existing research generally indicates that the level of sustained investment needs to be high to produce meaningful impacts in the neighborhood. An effort that did see positive results was the Empowerment Zones program, which used place-based investment incentives in disadvantaged areas. An evaluation found that the program increased the number of jobs and businesses in targeted neighborhoods, while boosting residents’ wages. Looking ahead, the federal Choice Neighborhoods program and several other place-based interventions are currently being implemented with the benefit of lessons learned drawn from previous evaluations. These efforts will shed more light on the effectiveness of, and investments required for, this approach.

    Residential mobility programs help members of disadvantaged communities move to areas with better conditions, typically by providing housing vouchers and counselling; Moving to Opportunity was one such program. Evidence of the effectiveness of these programs is also mixed. Previous studies of MTO (the voucher study mentioned above) found no significant outcomes related to self-sufficiency. However, more recent evidence indicates that children who were young at the time their families used a program voucher to move to a new neighborhood had considerably higher incomes in adulthood. Additionally, initial results suggested that young girls fared better than young boys. Findings from this and other studies suggest that keys to the effectiveness of this strategy include providing supports to ensure that families move to less disadvantaged neighborhoods, prioritizing families with young children, and supporting boys who may need more help adjusting to their new neighborhoods. 

    Learn more about impoverished communities from the SSRC:

    The SSRC Library contains numerous evaluation reports and stakeholder resources on impoverished communities, including:

    • U.S. concentrated poverty in the wake of the Great Recession: This report provides an overview of trends in geographic concentration of poverty across the United States, using the latest available data from the American Community Survey.    
    • Neighborhoods, cities, and economic mobility: This article summarizes existing evidence on how community and city characteristics can affect the economic mobility of residents. There is an overview of the effectiveness of past interventions. The author also discusses policy implications and areas for future research.
    • Tackling persistent poverty in distressed urban neighborhoods: This white paper summarizes the history of place-based strategies, and lessons learned from past efforts. The authors also offer principles for structuring future interventions. The paper emphasizes the need for poverty alleviation strategies that are both place-conscious and child-focused, and includes guidance for philanthropic involvement.
    • Severe deprivation in America: This book of essays explores how people in extreme poverty live in the United States.  Each chapter is available online from the Russell Sage Foundation, and highlights different components of surviving in poor neighborhoods and families.
    • How to evaluate choice and promise neighborhoods: Evaluations of interventions to address well-being of people living in extremely poor neighborhoods can be challenging. This research brief highlights key research questions and methodologies to consider when beginning to plan an evaluation of a neighborhood poverty reduction initiative.

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more.

    See more at: https://www.opressrc.org/content/ssrc-notes-what-have-we-learned-welfare-work

     

  • Individual Author: Pilkauskas, Natasha ; Michelmore, Katherine
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2017

    Housing instability (inability to pay rent, frequent moves, doubling up, eviction, or homelessness) is common among low-income households and is linked with a host of negative outcomes for families and children. As rents have risen and wages have not kept pace, housing affordability has declined over the last 15 years, increasing rates of housing instability. In this study, we examine whether the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a key US social welfare policy and one of the largest cash transfer programs in the US, reduces housing instability. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we employ a simulated instruments strategy to examine whether policy-induced expansions in the EITC reduce housing instability. Results suggest that a $1,000 increase in the EITC reduces doubling up (living with other non-nuclear family adults) 3 to 5 percentage points. We find some suggestive evidence that the EITC decreases the average number of moves per year (0.05 moves). While our results suggest that the EITC...

    Housing instability (inability to pay rent, frequent moves, doubling up, eviction, or homelessness) is common among low-income households and is linked with a host of negative outcomes for families and children. As rents have risen and wages have not kept pace, housing affordability has declined over the last 15 years, increasing rates of housing instability. In this study, we examine whether the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a key US social welfare policy and one of the largest cash transfer programs in the US, reduces housing instability. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we employ a simulated instruments strategy to examine whether policy-induced expansions in the EITC reduce housing instability. Results suggest that a $1,000 increase in the EITC reduces doubling up (living with other non-nuclear family adults) 3 to 5 percentage points. We find some suggestive evidence that the EITC decreases the average number of moves per year (0.05 moves). While our results suggest that the EITC does decrease certain, less severe forms of housing instability, we find no evidence that the EITC decreases more extreme (and rarer) forms of housing instability: eviction or homelessness. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Henry, Meghan; Watt, Rian; Rosenthal, Lily; Shivji, Azim
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) releases the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) in two parts. Part 1 provides Point-in- Time (PIT) estimates, offering a snapshot of homelessness—both sheltered and unsheltered— on a single night. The one-night counts are conducted during the last 10 days of January each year. The PIT counts also provide an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness within particular homeless populations, such as people with chronic patterns of homelessness and veterans experiencing homelessness.  This year serves as the baseline year for estimates of unaccompanied youth, that is, people under the age of 25 who are experiencing homelessness on their own, not in the company of their parent or guardian, and who are not part of a family. Also for the first time this year, Part 1 of the AHAR includes some examination of the changes in demographic characteristics of people experiencing homelessness.  To understand our nation’s capacity to serve people who are currently or formerly experiencing homelessness, this...

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) releases the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) in two parts. Part 1 provides Point-in- Time (PIT) estimates, offering a snapshot of homelessness—both sheltered and unsheltered— on a single night. The one-night counts are conducted during the last 10 days of January each year. The PIT counts also provide an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness within particular homeless populations, such as people with chronic patterns of homelessness and veterans experiencing homelessness.  This year serves as the baseline year for estimates of unaccompanied youth, that is, people under the age of 25 who are experiencing homelessness on their own, not in the company of their parent or guardian, and who are not part of a family. Also for the first time this year, Part 1 of the AHAR includes some examination of the changes in demographic characteristics of people experiencing homelessness.  To understand our nation’s capacity to serve people who are currently or formerly experiencing homelessness, this report also provides counts of beds in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, safe havens, rapid rehousing programs, permanent supportive housing programs, and other permanent housing.  In 2017, the PIT estimates of people experiencing homelessness in sheltered and unsheltered locations, as well as the number of beds available to serve them, were reported by 399 Continuums of Care (CoC) nationwide. These 399 CoCs covered virtually the entire United States. The Northern Mariana Islands are the newest CoC and reported PIT and HIC data for the first time in 2017. (Edited author introduction)

      HUD has methodological standards for conducting the PIT counts, and CoCs use a variety of approved methods to produce the counts. The guide for PIT methodologies can be found here: https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/4036/ point-in-time-count-methodology-guide. HUD reviews the data for accuracy and quality prior to creating the estimates for this report. (Author introduction) 

  • Individual Author: Wood, Michelle; Gubits, Daniel; Dastrup, Sam; Dunton, Lauren; Wulff, Carli
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2016

    This video from the 2016 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) describes the Family Options Study, which is a random assignment study examining the impact of housing and services for homeless families in twelve communities across the United States. Topics covered include the study design, findings from the first 18 months, and the services needs of the families involved in the study.
    See fam more at:https://www.opressrc.org/content/workforce-innovation-and-opportunity-act-federal-interagency-coordination-state

    This video from the 2016 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) describes the Family Options Study, which is a random assignment study examining the impact of housing and services for homeless families in twelve communities across the United States. Topics covered include the study design, findings from the first 18 months, and the services needs of the families involved in the study.
    See fam more at:https://www.opressrc.org/content/workforce-innovation-and-opportunity-act-federal-interagency-coordination-state

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