All Articles Tagged "welfare"

Why Are There So Many Daycare Facilities in the ‘Hood?

August 7th, 2012 - By Charing Ball
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With the economy not quite at its strongest, finding work still remains a difficult task for some.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is still above 8.3 percent, with unemployment rate among blacks at 14.4 percent. In Philadelphia, there are four people per every job available. The unemployment rate is around 9 percent, with blacks and Hispanics making up a large chunk of that figure. Philly’s public sector has shed approximately 9,000 jobs over the past year, which used to be the bread and butter of most blacks. Of course the official unemployment numbers do not include the unemployable (i.e. those with criminal records) and those folks who have been out of work for more than a year, thus no longer qualify for unemployment benefits. When you factor in those numbers, the real figure is somewhere in the double digits.

Yet it seems that the fastest growing industry in the city are daycare facilities. Walk down any Philadelphia street within black and Hispanic neighborhoods and you will see a plethora of child care choices. They are in old renovated warehouses, storefronts and operating out of residential homes. Sometimes there are daycare facilities opened on the same block – in some cases across the street from each other.  These facilities run from 8 hours, five days a week to up to 23 hours/7 days a week serving all sorts of children from infants all the way up to first graders.

Most ironically, most of these daycare facilities are housed in communities with high unemployment and unemployable rates. Which makes me ask: if the people ain’t working then why are there so many daycare facilities in low-income communities?

What got me thinking on this dichotomy was a film I had watched a couple of weeks ago called the Pruitt-Igoe Myth, which was about the failure of one of the first housing projects in the country. As explained in the documentary, the projects came about as a way to deal with the slums, which were occupied by poor working class folks, who mainly worked in downtown St. Louis, thus needed residency close to their employment. Believing that the slums deterred growth within the St. Louis, the city came up with a plan to tear down the slums and move the working poor to public housing.  At first the projects were declared a victory in the war on poverty. However neither the city, nor the state, ever properly funded the project, thus basic maintenance within the facilities was ignored and eventually the high rises began to fall in disarray.

There is more to this story including how the Housing Development Act, which was used to fund the creation of the projects, also contributed to white flight out of the city, thus creating a further void in tax dollars, to support this project.  However, the most interesting part of the film is an interview, with one former tenant of Priutt-Igoe, who recalled an incident, where the city’s welfare came to her slum and told her mother that they would give the family free housing plus food allotment but the only stipulation was that the kids’ fathers, couldn’t come.  According to the film, this practice was commonplace for many families in the projects.  And as many black intellectuals have long suspected, it was this practice of removing the father from the household for financial security, which has contributed to the destruction of black families, particularly those in the lower rungs of society.

Drug Dealer Allegedly Uses Welfare EBT Card to Post Bail

April 12th, 2012 - By MN Editor
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For the folks that are abusing the system … STOP IT!

There are so many people starving and homeless in America that really need the help from social programs funded by the federal and state governments and even more Republicans ready to cut all programs for the actions of a few.

All they need is excuses like folks using the money on their EBT cards to buy drugs and cigarettes. But, one dude takes it even further than that.

For the complete story, visit


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Jesse Peterson Wants to Put Black Folks Back on the Plantation, Literally

January 18th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson isn’t a friend of many and he’s probably racked up quite a few more enemies with his latest comments in which he says he agrees with Newt Gingrich’s statements about black people demanding paychecks instead of food stamps. But Peterson took think a few steps further, as he usually does, saying what black people need to get back on the employment track is hard work—in the form of slavery.

“One of the things that I would do is take all black people back to the South and put them on the plantation so they would understand the ethic of working,” Peterson told The Huffington Post’s Black Voices. “I’m going to put them all on the plantation. They need a good hard education on what it is to work.”

Education, maybe. Plantation, no.

“People don’t want to hear the truth,” Peterson added. “Newt was 100 percent correct. Newt said that he would have black children, minority children work as janitors at school. Working as a janitor would build character, more so than the handouts so many of them like.

“I know some people take it personally because a whole lot of folks don’t like hearing the truth; they like to be in denial,” he said. “Not all black people, but most black people know, and white people know, and black people say it more in private than they would in public, but for the last 50 years or so, generations and generations of black people have relied on the government or someone else to take care of them.”

He goes on to paint all black women with the same generational welfare queen brush, while expressing hope that black people will turn away from the Democratic party and it’s “godless leaders.” It’s too bad he doesn’t understand that he’s feeding into all of the sterotypes every time he opens his mouth, and that he’s doing black people no favors when he puts forth such ridiculous suggestions. There are more ways to build character than by working as a slave or janitor, maybe the rev should give it a try so he can build some himself.

What do you think about Rev. Peterson’s comments? Is he doing the black community harm or good by speaking out like this?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Mother Kills Herself And 2 Kids After Being Denied Food Stamps

December 7th, 2011 - By Brande Victorian
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A seven-hour standoff at a Texas Department of Health and Human Services building that was staged by a mother who was denied food stamps ended with the woman killing her two children and then herself.

The victims were mother Rachelle Grimmer, 38, her 12-year-old daughter Ramie, and her 10-year-old son Timothy. Grimmer first applied for food stamps in July after moving to Laredo, TX, from Zanesville, OH; she was denied assistance because she didn’t turn in enough information. When the department didn’t hear back from Grimmer, her case was closed Aug. 8 due to lack of a full application.

Stephanie Goodman, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, told The Associated Press Grimmer’s last contact with the agency appeared to be a phone call in mid-November. When she entered the Laredo office on Monday around 5 pm, Grimmer asked to speak to a new caseworker and was taken to a private room to discuss her case. The mother then revealed a gun and the standoff began.

Police negotiators stayed on the phone with Grimmer throughout the evening, but she kept hanging up, Laredo police investigator Joe Baeza said. Grimmer allegedly told negotiators about a slew of complaints against state and federal government agencies, but Baeza said he still wasn’t entirely sure what sparked the standoff.

“This wasn’t like a knee-jerk reaction,” he said, adding that Grimmer felt she was owed restitution.

Grimmer released a supervisor around 7:45pm, but stayed inside the office with her children. After hanging up the phone around 11:45pm, police say they heard three shots. When the SWAT team entered the building, they found Grimmer unconscious. Her children were “very critical.”

Goodman said she didn’t know whether Grimmer had a job or whether her children were covered under Medicaid or the state children’s health insurance program. She added that it’s possible the family’s move from Ohio may have complicated Grimmer’s application if the family had no Texas records the agency could check electronically. Grimmer would have also been denied benefits if she was receiving welfare assistance.

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Coach Tells Student: You Look Like a ‘Future Welfare Recipient’

November 16th, 2011 - By Brande Victorian
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I really don’t understand what’s going on with teachers across America these days. Perhaps it’s the increased access to more news that makes cases of discrimination in the classroom seem more frequent than ever before. Parents of students at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, MO, are up in arms after Marcus Williams, Jr., a senior there, filed a racial harassment complaint with the school district after his basketball coach, Derek Howard, made offensive remarks to him.

Williams told that when photography students asked him to pose for a picture, the coach stopped and said the words “future welfare recipient” should be printed beneath the photo.

“I just felt belittled, crushed, and utterly discouraged,” Williams said, adding that this is not coach Howard’s first offense. He said in his past two years of interacting with the coach, he regularly made demoralizing comments either directly to African-American students or about them. Consequently, Williams chose not to try out for basketball this year.

Williams’ father, Marcus Williams, Sr. said he wants Howard removed from his coaching and teaching position with the school. So far, Howard has only been placed on paid leave while under investigation.

Dr. Dan Clemens, the district assistant superintendent released a statement saying:

The behaviors reported by this student do not reflect our professional conduct standards and will not be tolerated. We expect all students to be treated with respect by all staff at all times.

I certainly hope that is the case. It’s not shocking to me that these teachers and coaches have the racist mindsets that they do, but I am surprised that they will so blatantly express their bigotry out in the open. What could be motivating them?

Do you think offensive school staff members expect to be protected by the school and get away with making comments like this? More importantly, what are these comments doing to black students’ self esteem?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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10 Signs You’re On Your Way to Becoming a Baby Mama

September 18th, 2011 - By L. Nicole Williams
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More black women in this country are baby-mamas than they are wives. Some even have multiple children with multiple men. Indeed there are several who qualify as hoodrats—of which such outcomes are expected. However, many are quite the opposite—educated, successful, selective. Certainly no one would classify Nia Long as a rat; yet, she has birthed two children out-of-wedlock.

73 percent of black children enter this world at a disadvantage—they are more likely to live in poverty, and more vulnerable to a life in the animal house called prison. Why? We have grown callous to subliminal media influences and fallen victim to false truths and our own naiveté. You see it’s not necessarily the type of man you date that makes you susceptible; it is the defects in your approach to life and romantic relationships.

Here is a list of some of the wrong-thinking that can place you in the position to do it all, alone:

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Does Welfare Ruin Relationships?

September 15th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Huffington Post) — It probably comes as no surprise that money troubles often lead to marital strife. But could receiving government assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid or welfare do further harm to your marriage?  The answer is yes–and in a big way, according to Dr. David Schramm, a researcher and professor at the University of Missouri.  In a study released earlier this month, Dr. Schramm found that, among couples in the same income bracket, those receiving government assistance experience lower rates of positive bonding, commitment to their spouses and overall satisfaction in their marriages. They are also more prone to divorce, negative interaction and feeling trapped in their marriages.

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Drug War Meddles With Welfare

August 30th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Time) — Under a new Florida law, people applying for welfare have to take a drug test at their own expense. If they pass, they are eligible for benefits and the state reimburses them for the test. If they fail, they are denied welfare for a year, until they take another test. Mandatory drug testing for welfare applicants is becoming a popular idea across the U.S. Many states — including Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Louisiana — are considering adopting laws like Florida’s. At the federal level, Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has introduced the Drug Free Families Act of 2011, which would require all 50 states to drug-test welfare applicants.  And the focus isn’t even limited to welfare. In July, Indiana adopted drug tests for participants in a state job-training program. An Ohio state senator, Tim Grendell, recently said he plans to introduce a bill to require the unemployed to take a drug test before they receive unemployment benefits.

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The New Face of Poverty Doesn’t Jive With The Welfare Queen Meme

August 29th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"charing ball"Some of you all may have seen that EBT (It’s Free Swipe your EBT) song, which has been going viral over the last week, right. All have to say on that one is that there is a special type of ignorant, which thinks it’s okay to mock people, who rely on public assistance for their daily assistance. Most particularly now since the right wing is doing everything in its power to strip away the very safety nets for the working class, the poor and even the middle class (when they need them), which has gotten folks through some very tough times.

For many folks, the stigmatization of public assistance continues with uninformed claims about welfare and its recipients in this country. Folks may see, read or hear about some extreme case of public assistance abuse and believe that it applies to the 45 million people, or 12 percent of U.S population, who use the plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese. Few will actually sit and mull over the fact that food stamp usage is now at record highs and climbing every month. This program now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.

Likewise, this new face of poverty in America includes more than the Tawanqie and the Shanifas of the world; the new face of poverty, mostly the result of the economic crisis and the ever weakening economy, also includes the married couples, struggling college students, the newly jobless, who have seen their unemployment benefits lapse, and workers whose slender wages leave them making the hard choice between rent and food. And still, the Republicans and Democrats who nearly eliminated welfare in the 1980s, under Ronald Reagan and again through the 90s, under Bill Clinton, through ineffective welfare reform acts, have not only unfairly targeted these safety nets but basically are in denial of the very policies and structural causes that have contributed to the need for welfare and other public assistance in the first place.

Policies including tax cuts for the rich and corporations, who send jobs overseas more than they provide employment for Americans here at home. Common place policies include providing billions in property tax breaks, free land and other kind of subsidies to attract or retain big box businesses, which do more to exploit workers than they do to provide livable and sustainable wages.  And let us not forget the trillions in bailout money, including an array of other financial programs, which provided support to banks, car companies and now chicken factory farmers, who gave us little to no assurance that they will not engage in the very same practices, which caused the economic crisis to begin with.

But yet, with the economy in the condition it is in, we only want to discuss whether or not Latoya is smoking weed in her Section 8 approved apartment or has “schemed” her way into buying a $5 sandwich from Subways with her EBT card.

Last week marked the 15th anniversary of welfare reform, signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  The goal of the reform was to move struggling Americans into job training and employment (also known as welfare to work). After the economy weakened, states are continuing to push people off welfare, even while fewer and fewer jobs are being created.   Likewise, housing foreclosure has contributed to record levels of homelessness in some places, food cupboards nationwide are struggling for funding and 15 percent of American households in general are experiencing “food insecurity” at some point.  Meanwhile our elected leaders including Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan are pushing budget proposals for deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and even more fundamental changes to how it is administered, particularly turning SNAP into a block grant program, which would allow individual states to set the criteria and stipulations for how the money would be distributed.

SO yeah, with most Americans living about a paycheck and a half away from financial ruin, I find it distasteful, to say the least, to mock through song the very safety net programs, which could mean the difference between hunger, homelessness and even death.  And quite frankly, I have grown weary of this aspirational mindset, which seems to sings praises of the rich while making scapegoats of the working poor. I’m sayin’, when did genuine concern over the welfare over our own citizens become a negative trait?

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

Debt Ceilings, Shared Sacrifice and The Complacency of the Middle Class

August 1st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"charing ball"While Congress continues to hammer out the framework of the agreed-upon debt deal that would basically cut trillions in spending, in order to raise the debt ceiling, it is almost guaranteed that most of America will lose out. What they call a shared sacrifice, I call the gutting of the middle class and the poor.

If I sound a little bit jaded about this situation, it is because I am. You see, the government has been taking money from me since my first taxable job at age 15. They told me that in exchange for these deductions, I would be entitled to unemployment if ever I lost my gig; social security and health care when I retire; food stamps if ever I needed it. Yet through months of long debate about budget deals and debt ceilings I learned that the government has been borrowing against my SSI benefits and basically made it impossible for me, and people like me, to retire at 65 years of age.

But what angers me the most is watching normally responsible people bemoaning the Republicans for not taking a deal from the Democrats, the so-called protectors of the people. Make no mistake, what the Democrats were offering wasn’t any better.

Most people believed that compromise was needed to thwart financial despair. It seems like in this day and age, the coolest side to be on is the side against entitlements. The Tea Party movement is a good example of the level of cognitive dissonance, however, they are not the only ones fed up. I was in the supermarket the other day and overheard a conversation between two older black ladies, who were presumably not Tea Party members, discussing how how “both sides” are the problem.  The poor are draining the system with their entitlements and the top 1 percent and corporations have been getting free passes on their taxes for decades.

This conversation between the older black women is indicative of what a researcher at Cornell University has already discovered; and that is that half of US social program recipients believe they have not used a government social program. Few folks understand that entitlements go beyond welfare, social security benefits and Medicare. Those who have ever gotten a federal subsidized student loan or a Pell grant, had their kids enrolled in head start through public school, taken the home mortgage interest deduction on your income taxes or driven on a freshly paved road in your neighborhood, have all have received entitlements.

In a way, you really can’t blame folks too much for how they feel: members of the middle class, regardless of political affliation, who think they have more in common with the rich tend to support government policies, candidates and legislation against their own interests.  Ronald Reagan and the media have done a pretty good job of demonizing recipients of entitlements as welfare queens and able-bodied SSI cheats. The newfound hatred of the entitlements has enabled the middle class for two decades now to support programs that scapegoat all of our social ills on the backs of poor women, children and the disabled by throwing them off of welfare into low wage jobs, which provide below average livable earnings and little to no benefits.

However, now, the  so-called middle class is now seen as the target and this time, it appears that Republicans and Democrats are working together to ensure that we are all viewed as welfare babies and able-bodied cheats. Politicians are fond of talking about how the middle class will be affected by policies and laws, but rarely do they define who is actually part of that group. Is the middle class only the top 5 percent of U.S. households, who have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975?  Or is it the bottom 80 percent of American households who hold about 7% of the liquid financial assets. Perhaps the middle is the more than 40% of Americans, who actually are employed in service jobs. Or maybe the middle class is now the more than 42 million Americans, who now rely on food stamps.  If this were the middle than I would hate to see what the bottom looks like.

Is it safe to say that the middle class might be dying? I don’t know for sure but our complacency and unwillingness to fight for our own interests and save the very things like entitlements, which enable the United States in the past to have one of the largest and thriving middle class, is sure a sign that we might be going down that road.

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.