poverty

Maxica Williams, seen with three of her children, appeared before a state legislative committee to speak to the need for an increase financial help for needy families.
Courtesy of Maxica Williams

Illinois recipients of Temporary Aid for Needy Families - also known as TANF - will see an increase in the amount of their monthly grants in October. A $22 million boost was negotiated in the budget this year. Advocates for the poor say the difference may mean more families will be off the streets.

Lee V. Gaines / Illinois Newsroom

About 100 teachers and school support staff spent the better part of three hours inside a junior high school gymnasium in rural, east central Illinois in early January. They were role playing people living in poverty.

Illinois Issues: Cairo Faces Public Housing Crisis

Aug 17, 2017
Richard Sitler / The Southern Illinoisan

Southern Illinois city's residents grapple with planned closure of public housing complexes.

"Upstate/Downstate"

If you had to place a bet on where student test scores have plummeted over the past decade and a half, where would you put your money? Chicago Public Schools? Galesburg? Urbana? A new study on student achievement in Illinois shows some surprising results.

Rep. Anna Moeller
Rep. Anna Moeller

Legislation passed out of the House Wednesday is meant to help close the gender wage gap in the state.

After a House vote of 91-24, the Equal Pay Act amendment will now be considered in the Senate as SB 981, under the sponsorship of Sen.  Daniel Biss, a Democrat from Evanston. 

Democratic Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin, who sponsored House Bill 2462, says that while she expected the House to pass the bill, she was surprised by the number of yes votes.

“It just shows that this is an issue that is important to women in Illinois and families in Illinois,” she said. 

Kendall Coyne

A bill in Springfield seeks to ease the gender pay gap.

Palos Heights native Kendall Coyne, an Olympic silver-medalist in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and a member of the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team, has joined her fellow skaters in a fight off the ice.

Chart of children in poverty by race.
2015 American Community Survey / U.S. Census Bureau

Poverty rates in Illinois are starting to go down. But economic inequality  is growing between white Illinoisans and their black and Latino counterparts.   That's according a recently issued report by group of anti-poverty organizations. That report also showed that being poor in Illinois is a costly proposition. Food, housing, credit and other things often cost for impoverished people than the general population

Debates over the minimum wage usually come down to economics — whether it helps or hurts workers and businesses. But new research suggests another potential winner: babies.

Economists have long known that people who make more money are generally healthier.

Robert Kaestner is with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government & Public Affairs. He found that among new mothers with lower education levels, living in an area with a higher minimum wage led to heavier babies — about 11 grams for every dollar — and heavier babies are healthier babies.

At East Alton-Wood River High School, as well in schools across the state, the measurement of academic improvement is based on a single test given over two days once a year. “It’s silly to measure a school’s performance by that,” says the Superintendent.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The makeup of Illinois schools is changing. If you moved every desk, from every Illinois school, into one giant classroom, more than half of the kids in those seats would be students of color.

That's on par with national figures; last year the U.S. Department of Education signaled that minorities would outnumber whites at the nation's public schools.

Picture of Zylinska family
Magdelina Zylinska

Nearly half of Illinois children in households headed by single women live in poverty — compared with just over a quarter of children in households headed by single men.

potter
Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Bruce Rauner froze several state grants in order to balance the budget for the current fiscal year. Now lawmakers are asking what will happen to the people who relied on those programs even after their deaths. 

One of the grants provided money to cover burial of the poor. Under the program, funeral homes provide the services and bill the state to cover part of the costs.

potter
Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Illinois has until recently paid for the cost of burial of its indigent dead. That changed on Good Friday, when the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner terminated funding for the program.

The $9 million loss could push the cost of impoverished decedents’ final arrangements onto their families, funeral homes or even counties. Funeral directors say the cut could “cause many problems” for the state, which is struggling to fund operations through the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

What would our cities look like if wealth was represented by the height of buildings? Here's Chicago...

Impoverished in Illinois

Dec 1, 2014
Vacant apartment building.
Robert Loerzel / WUIS/Illinois Issues

This story first appeared in the January 2014 issue. Statistics have been updated where new numbers were available.

In some pockets of Illinois, where one in every three people live in poverty or close to it, the need is visible in the landscape: empty lots where buildings once stood in Cairo; abandoned houses marked with X’s in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood; families living in ramshackle trailers in Kankakee County’s Pembroke Township.

americanwinterfilm.com

It’s been 50 years since the war on poverty was declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but Illinois still has about 15% of residents living in it – the same percentage living in poverty that half century ago. American Winter is a documentary made about families facing poverty, especially after the most recent recession. It’s being presented on the UIS campus Monday night, and a discussion will follow. It’s part of the university’s series on poverty.

Race & Education: The Real Issue is About Justice

Sep 1, 2014

 

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."

— Frederick Douglass

 The balls in this Illinois lottery bounced inside a clear bowl as the number-holders anxiously watched. I was among them in a middle school commons in Matteson, a south suburb of Chicago. Our daughter’s number was 10. But would it be our lucky number tonight? 

Georgetown University

A new study finds Illinois' overall poverty rate is about the same as it was a half century ago.  

The report released Thursday by the Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center says almost 15 percent of Illinois residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2012, about the same percentage as in 1960.  

That's despite scores of state and federal aid programs and a dramatic drop in the number of older people in poverty.  

Poverty has increased among working-age men and women, and 1 in 5 children are in poverty. It's highest among blacks and Latinos.  

"Four of the past seven governors of Illinois have gone to prison for corruption, and to my knowledge no one has demanded that Illinois schools be shut down or it's highways closed." - Bill Gates

Classie Poe says East St. Louis even has few fast-food jobs
Robert Loerzel / WUIS/Illinois Issues

In some pockets of Illinois, where one in every three people live in poverty or close to it, the need is visible in the landscape: empty lots where buildings once stood in Cairo; abandoned houses marked with X’s in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood; families living in ramshackle trailers in Kankakee County’s Pembroke Township.

Charlie Wheeler headshot
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Declaring a state goal “that all people be free from poverty,” Illinois four years ago created a special panel charged with developing a strategic plan to reduce extreme poverty in Illinois by 50 percent or more by 2015.

The timing could not have been worse.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The new millennium has not been kind to many Illinois families who are struggling to make ends meet, pushing almost a quarter million more residents into poverty, researchers reported recently.

About 1 out of 8 Illinoisans — more than 1.5 million total, 526,000 of them children — were living below the poverty line last year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. The poverty guideline, set by the federal government, was $21,200 for a family of four in 2008. 

Paul Simon Essay: Burning Question - How to help the poor?

May 1, 2007

Poverty. It is the perennial question. American Poverty — rural, urban and suburban poverty. Stubborn poverty, the kind that rises like the stench of polluted well water.

Go to 
John Wesley Fountain's Blog
and click on
"Multimedia Presentation" 
to view photos and video.

I stand with one foot in each of two worlds. One in poverty, the other planted firmly in the American Dream. One man, with one soul and one dream borne in two Americas.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Perhaps the answer might be found in the stories and also in the voices of some Illinoisans who themselves live in the poorest communities in the state ? among the poorest in America." 

John Wesley Fountain

Out of Hiding: Poverty is on the rise in Illinois and increasingly visible

Mar 1, 2003

It would be an easy bicycle ride down Lincoln Highway from the Lincoln Mall in Matteson to Rick’s Food & Liquors in Ford Heights. Just a tad over six miles, though the traffic in this far south suburban region of Chicago would be busy at the start. 

In Matteson, middle-class shoppers buy cosmetics at Carson Pirie Scott, motorists gas up SUVs at Mobil, Citgo or Shell, parents fill shopping carts at Jewel and Cub Foods and executives dine at Olive Garden, Red Lobster or Fazoli’s.