Broad poverty story angles, how-to housing coverage, income gaps

Tackling poverty on a large scale. Several stories looked at poverty with a broad view this week. Check out this piece about poverty in Dallas, which has jumped 41 percent in the last decade. The story features the mayor’s poverty task force and what the group is doing to reduce poverty rates. It even includes some nice graphics based on Census tracts and the changes in concentrated poverty across the city. In Salt Lake City, government leaders and community activists discussed poverty, transportation and health care at the 11th annual Poverty Partnership Summit. It does a nice job of pulling together several factors that affect poverty across Utah. And nationwide, Congress is “failing” to address poverty, says Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut. She made the comments while marking the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing the Economic Opportunity Act, noting that creating jobs is the first priority.


A focus on homes. Housing is a huge factor in the poverty woes facing Americans. Affordable housing and homelessness are typical story angles, and several stories highlighted nice housing approaches this week. Check out this 40-year perspective on HUD and Community Development Block Grants by the Center for American Progress. Also, a downtown Detroit development changed from low-income senior housing to luxury apartments, and officials reflect on lessons for the future. In Boulder, homeless advocates talk about the need for an adequate day shelter and summer shelter to reduce poverty in the city. And in New York, a city council member talks about his own homeless childhood, calling residents to be part of the solution by getting involved, volunteering and helping families find places to live.


A story “how-to.” We’ve discussed housing resources in recent weeks, but in case you missed it – There’s plenty to check out to cover affordable housing and homelessness in your community. Read the Covering Poverty case studies under Housing. After that, check out the step-by-step tutorials related to Housing. Think about using RealtyTrac for foreclosures, Economic Research Service statistics, Census Bureau for income and poverty estimates and CDC’s Healthy Housing Reference Manual. Think about story ideas related to the ones above – for example, CDBG grants may be up for distribution or changes this fall in your community. Local officials and previous recipients can talk about the importance of the grants.


Research updates. The gap between high and low income households continues to widen, says the Census Bureau, releasing a new report about median net worth of households between 2000 and 2011. The bureau also released several tables about economic characteristics of households in the U.S. for all quarters in 2012. The tables present statistics about average monthly income, participation in government-sponsored social welfare and labor force activity during each quarter, all from a nationwide level.


Final thoughts. Taking it back to housing story angles, Association of Health Care Journalists’ Joe Rojas-Burke features the connections between housing and health, noting that “journalists would do well to broaden the conversation about health care to include questions about social support – especially support for safe, affordable and stable housing.” He offers up AHCJ’s housing reporting resources, as well as a tip sheet from Megan Sandel, an associate professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and former pediatric medical director of Boston’s Healthcare for the Homeless program.


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