Issues and Advocacy

July 19, 2012 Facing Foreclosure After 50 By ROBBIE BROWN MABLETON, Ga. — Roy Johnson fell so far behind on his $1,000-per-month mortgage payments that last year he allowed the redbrick, three-bedroom ranch he had owned since 1963 to lapse into foreclosure. “I couldn’t pay it any longer,” he said. “One day, I woke up and said, ‘Hell, I’m through with it. I’m walking away from the house.’ ” That decision swept Mr. Johnson, 79, into a rapidly expanding demographic: older Americans who have lost their homes in the Great Recession. As he hauled his belongings by pickup truck from this Atlanta suburb and moved into his daughter’s basement, Mr. Johnson became one of the one and a half million Americans over the age of 50 who lost their houses to foreclosure between 2007 and 2011. Of those, the highest foreclosure rate was for homeowners over 75. Once viewed as the most fiscally stable age group, older people are flailing. On Wednesday, AARP released what it described as the most comprehensive analysis yet of why the foreclosure crisis struck so many Americans in their retirement years. The report found that while people under 50 are the group most likely to face foreclosure, the risk of “serious delinquency” on mortgages has grown fastest for people over 50. While the study classified even baby boomers as “older Americans,” its most dire findings were for the oldest group. Among people over 75, the foreclosure rate grew more than eightfold from 2007 to 2011, to 3 percent of that group of homeowners, the report found. “Despite the perception that older Americans are more housing secure than younger people, millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than three million are at risk of losing their homes,” the report found. “As the mortgage crisis continues, millions of older Americans are struggling to maintain their financial security.” The report was based on nationwide loan data that covered a five-year span. The profile of those facing foreclosure has changed since 2007. As the average age and wealth of those people rise, their foreclosures are less likely to involve high-interest loans. In fact, most foreclosures are now the result of prime loans rather than subprime ones, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Instead, older Americans are losing their homes because of pension cuts, rising medical costs, shrinking stock portfolios and falling property values, according to Debra Whitman, AARP’s executive vice president for policy. They are also not saving enough money. Half of households whose head is between 65 and 74 have no money in retirement accounts, according to the Federal Reserve. At CredAbility, an Atlanta-based credit counseling agency, the average age of callers needing help has risen to 49 from 43 in recent years. Scott Scredon, a spokesman for the agency, said most older Americans facing foreclosure are frugal but are unable to live on fixed incomes with the rising cost of living. “When we think of foreclosures, we think of someone who was a little reckless and spent beyond their means,” he said. “The older the person, the less likely that is to be the case.” Foreclosures create unique challenges for older people, Ms. Whitman said. They are less able to find new jobs and more vulnerable to becoming homeless, analysts say. In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Charlotte Orton’s three-bedroom apartment has been under foreclosure for four months. Since losing her job as a real estate agent, Ms. Orton’s only source of income has been Social Security payments of $1,200 per month. If she is evicted, Ms. Orton, 69, who has no family members in Florida, says she does not know where she will live. “This is the lowest point in my entire life,” she said. “If I were in my 30s, it would be easier to get employment. But all they want to know is what your recent experience is, and the real estate market has collapsed.” Other older foreclosure victims have managed to negotiate with banks to stay in their houses. Josephine Tolbert, 76, was temporarily evicted from her house in San Francisco for two weeks. Protesters from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment staged a sit-in at Bank of America, and eventually Ms. Tolbert was able to renegotiate her loan. “At my age, I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “But let me tell you, it was a fight.” Selling houses is also a challenge for many older people. The value of real estate has collapsed, especially in wealthy suburbs of Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago and other sprawling metropolitan areas. For Mr. Johnson, it was painful to watch the house he built 48 years earlier sell for only $33,000 at auction last year. Now he lives in what his 55-year-old daughter calls his “man cave” in her basement. It is an hour away from his old house. Although Mr. Johnson is grateful to have been helped by a relative, he misses having space for all of his belongings and the tree from which he made pear preserves. “I planned to die in that house,” he said. “But I guess it won’t work out that way.”  

Source: Lexington Herald Leader

Expand Medicaid to help Kentucky's poor Published: July 14, 2012 By Susan G. Zepeda In the wake of the Supreme Court decision upholding much of the Affordable Care law, states have many factors to weigh. Importantly, the court affirmed the right of states to opt out of the expansion in Medicaid coverage under the law, without penalty. Some state and national leaders claim that the poor are already covered under Medicaid. Nearly 15 percent of Kentuckians lack health insurance, including about 290,000 low-income adults who would be eligible for the Medicaid expansion. It may surprise many that about eight out of 10 uninsured Kentuckians are working adults.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Kentucky could benefit greatly as a result of the Medicaid expansion — with about 57 percent of uninsured adults eligible for coverage. While many believe Medicaid provides coverage for all low-income individuals, it differs widely from state to state. In Kentucky: 1.       Working parents are eligible for Medicaid only if they earn 62 percent or less of the federal poverty level — less than $8,926 per year for a family of two. 2.      Jobless parents are eligible if their total income is 36 percent or less of the federal poverty level — less than $5,144 for a family of two. 3.      Pregnant women are eligible if their income is up to 185 percent of poverty level (about $20,665) but lose eligibility after the child is born. 4.      Legal immigrants in the U.S. for less than 5 years are not eligible for coverage. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible. In short, not all Kentuckians living in poverty are covered. If Kentucky does not expand Medicaid, many individuals and families will be without health insurance access. The new law also creates insurance exchanges, and places limits on out-of-pocket expenses, depending on income. While these subsidies will allow many low-income parents and individuals to purchase insurance, they are only available for families above the poverty level. Other parts of the law assume that all states will expand Medicaid coverage. Cuts to other federal health funding are built into the continuing rollout of the law. For example, Disproportionate Share Hospital funding has provided an average of 95 percent of uncompensated care costs for state-owned hospitals; 69 percent for local public hospitals; and 38 percent for private ones. The law will reduce DSH funding by $14 billion over 10 years, starting in 2014. This funding decrease was supposed to be offset by the increase in Medicaid coverage, as the number of uninsured individuals seen at hospitals would drop significantly. If Kentucky opts out of the Medicaid expansion, however, state, local and private hospitals could be faced with sharp increases in uncompensated care. The coming months will present opportunities for our state leaders to look at the sometimes difficult health realities of our commonwealth and make decisions that will best serve the health of all Kentuckians. To quote the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."

Susan G. Zepeda is president/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  

The more things change … a Comparison of Mothers in Hard Times

Posted on July 6, 2012 by WRAP Comms

Two photographs of mothers and children surviving hard times together bridge the divide of seven decades between the Great Depression of the 1930s and contemporary homelessness. Dorothea Lange’s image from 1939 and David Bacon’s 2005 photo both call into question the morality of a society that creates such conditions. The Great Depression was not the first economic disaster for the country, but it was a terrible experience of displacement, loss, and uncertainty for millions. And for the first time in American history, the federal government, through the New Deal programs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stood up to address these concerns. Yet, since the early 1980s, as a new wave of homelessness swept over the country, the federal government has largely washed its hands of the matter. In fact, the response has been to undo the policies that addressed poverty and homelessness from the Depression onward. Both photos present rural homelessness. Lange’s image is of an American family displaced from the Dust Bowl of the Midwest. The family in the car is probably looking for agricultural work in the far north of California. The baby holds a coke bottle with a nipple on it. If they were like thousands of other migrants from the Dust Bowl, they were displaced by economic failure and environmental disaster. David Bacon’s photograph speaks to the global character of contemporary homelessness. Like the so-called Okies of the Depression, many of today’s migrants have been displaced by environmental degradation and wider economic forces, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA} which has led to the devastation of small farmers in Mexico.  Both images show agricultural workers with inadequate housing, a car in one case, a tarp in another. Both images show that poverty and homelessness are not strictly an urban issue.  And, perhaps most importantly, both images show the strength and nobility of their subjects. What is not depicted is the constant threat under which these women and their children live. Police intimidation and vigilante harassment, both then and now, keep these families perpetually on edge, unable to find a safe haven, always ushered onward to another nowhere.

Source: Western Regional Advocacy Project (July 2012)

 Homeless School kids tops 1 million. The level of injustice going on today is extending more and more deeply into the lives of children. As of last year, over one million homeless children were enrolled in our public schools, a 13% increase over the previous school year. Of these 1,065,794 homeless children reported by the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE), 767,968 are living with another family in a doubled up situation (72%), 187,675 are having to use emergency shelters as their primary nighttime residences (18%), and 55,388 are sleeping in hotels or motels (5%). The remaining 5% (51,897) are unsheltered, meaning they are sleeping in cars, parks, campgrounds, abandoned buildings, and the like. The real number of homeless children is actually much higher than 1,065,794 since the NCHE report does not report children younger than age 3 and children not enrolled in any of the public schools or preschools. What, you might now you ask, will this data be used for? If history is a predictor, not much. Homeless children will not be getting homes. They may be in school, but they will not qualify for housing assistance (HUDs definition of homelessness is not as inclusive as the one used by the Department of Education of NCHE). Schools can (and will) receive federal funding because they enroll homeless students, but more federal money will not be spent to help all children in the US have a place to live. In fact, HUD is actively engaged in significantly cutting its housing program while asking for minimal increases in its homeless funding for single adults. And for 2013, even that is in jeopardy. We repeat Housing is a Human Right.  

Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)

Dear Familia, Last week, I was in Baltimore, MD at our CCDA Leadership Cohort retreat with some of the most amazing young leaders in the nation, who happen to have a heart and passion for the vision and work of CCDA. The focus of the retreat was on the theology that under-girds CCDA’s 8 Component Philosophy. I wish you could have heard the honest, thoughtful, stimulating conversation, rooted in a love for Christ and in deep friendship with one another. I had the privilege of addressing the group and shared what I'm calling the Five Expressions of Kingdom Ministry, a framework giving us the full mandate as Christ-followers to bring transformation to our communities. One of our leaders expressed a longing for the Church to embrace this framework as normative. With that encouragement, I am committing to communicating this message every chance I get. What are the Five Expressions of Kingdom Ministry? 1) Incarnation At the center of our mission is the Biblical truth found in John 1:14. The Message Bible reads; "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood." The incarnation of Jesus into our broken world, not only initiates God's redemptive purposes, but provides us with a model for our ministry in under-resourced neighborhoods. Like Jesus, those of us who are called to CCD move into under-resourced neighborhoods to live out our faith, and are supported by many partners, who leverage our presence in the hood to be catalysts of change. For each of us, our response to the grace of God is to enter into the pain and suffering of the people of our neighborhoods through our proximity, relationships, solidarity and humility. 2) Proclamation and Formation Matthew 28:18-20 instructs us to go into all of the world making disciples. This 'Great Commission' is at the core of our Evangelical ethos, and must be a continued commitment of our work in under-resourced communities. Life change and discipleship that occurs in local neighborhood churches not only creates dynamic Christians, but believers that work and pray for the transformation of their communities. My call to Christian Community Development began with a call to love and follow Jesus. CCD will always have both proclamation and formation at the core of our ministry efforts. 3) Demonstration of Compassion Like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, we are called to bind up the wounds of those that have been beat up on the road of life. Like Jesus, we are moved beyond pity, to actually get involved in crisis situations with a cup of cold water, a meal and blanket, and with our kindness to strangers and prisoners; some of the most vulnerable people in our society. But, when we live in the neighborhood, we quickly recognize when compassion is appropriate, and when it crosses the line to become destructive, as it creates dependence. Relief is necessary, but it must lead to development. 4) Restoration and Development The book of Nehemiah, Jeremiah 29, and so many other Old Testament texts have informed the work of CCD from the beginning. In many respects, it has been our focus on changing unhealthy neighborhood environments as a Biblical expression of ministry that has set us apart. And, because we do this very bricks and mortar ministry from within the neighborhood, not from the outside, we have seen the potential, and experienced the effects, of lasting transformation that comes after many years of hard toil. For many of us, the work of individual and community development has deployed us outside the four walls of the church and has released us to use our gifts and abilities in under-resourced neighborhoods. Living life shoulder to shoulder, deeply ingrained in our neighborhoods, has been key to not only changing our communities, but to changing our lives as well. Because we live there, when we seek the well-being of our neighborhoods, it impacts our personal well-being as well. 5) Confrontation of Injustice Many of us committed to the poor and marginalized of our world have learned getting serious about seeing "justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream" like we read in Amos 5:24, means we must include confronting sinful systems and institutions (comprised of sinful individuals) that keep people, especially the poor from experiencing the Shalom of God. So, we engage in advocacy for immigration reform, for school reform, and for prison reform, among other concerns, because these issues are rooted in the realities of our neighborhoods. They are not simply another justice issue to write congress about. For us, justice will never be a passing fad, because it is rooted in the suffering and pain of our neighbors, that we must never ignore. After 30 years of ministry in under-resourced neighborhoods, I have discovered that these five expressions of ministry may be what Jesus is speaking about in Matthew 4:23, where it says that He preached the good news of The Kingdom of God. May the Lord give us strength and perseverance to be agents of His Kingdom in the neighborhoods He has called us to minister and dwell in. And may we pray to our heavenly Father, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Much love, Noel Castellanos, CCDA CEO

House De-Funds Some McKinney Programs, Releases FY 2013 HUD Bill (6/11/2012)

Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) approved its funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013. The legislation includes $2 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. While this is nearly $100 million above the FY 2012 level, the Alliance estimates that it would not be sufficient to fund all Continuum of Care (CoC) renewals and maintain the existing level of Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) activities. As a result, the Alliance estimates that more than 25,000 people would be homeless instead of housed under this legislation. However, the bill also includes level or increased funding for a number of other key affordable housing and homeless assistance programs, including: • $19.1 billion for Section 8 Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, including $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD - Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers; • $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), nearly $400 million above the FY 2012 level; • $1.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program, $200 million above the FY 2012 level; and • $4.5 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund, an increase of over $560 million above the FY 2012 level. These proposed funding increases will go a long way toward keeping many low-income families and individuals in affordable housing; however, cuts to the number of homeless people served would be devastating. We need YOUR help to send a strong message to Congress that, while we are thankful increases in funding for key affordable housing and community development programs, additional resources are needed for homeless assistance. What You Can Do: 1. Call your representatives' Washington, DC offices RIGHT AWAY. Ask to speak to the person who handles housing issues. Congressional office phone numbers can be found by calling the congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. 2. Express your appreciation that House's FY 2013 HUD Appropriations Act includes strong funding levels for HUD-VASH and other key affordable housing programs, but explain that you were EXTREMELY disappointed to see that the legislation would make more than 25,000 additional people homeless instead of housed. 3. Urge the representative to contact leaders of the HUD Appropriations Committee to express his/her support for providing the Administration's requested funding level of $2.231 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento programs. 4. Tell us which office(s) you contacted by emailing Kate Seif at More Information Due to overall budget pressures and a limited amount of funding available overall for federal domestic programs in the House's FY 2013 budget, there is not enough funding to provide sufficient resources for affordable housing and homelessness programs. Within this context, the House's HUD appropriations bill maintains existing funding or even increases funding for some key affordable housing programs. These funds are critical for preventing and ending homelessness, but they cannot come at the expense of people experiencing homelessness and being served by HUD's McKinney-Vento programs. The Alliance estimates that the $2 billion provided in the House legislation is about $100 million below the level necessary to maintain existing ESG activities and renew all CoC projects. As a result, more than 25,000 additional people would be homeless instead of housed under this legislation. The next step is for the legislation to be approved by the full House Appropriations Committee, likely the week of June 18. The Senate Appropriations Committee has already approved its version of the legislation, which included $2.146 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento programs. We need YOUR help to ensure that the House's proposal doesn't become law. Please contact your representatives RIGHT AWAY to let them know how important these programs are. Explain what the local impact of not funding all CoC renewals would be.

So Rich, So Poor: Peter Edelman on Ending U.S. Poverty & Why He Left Clinton Admin over Welfare Law


Homelessness in our community

Scott County, Kentucky has more homeless individuals and families than you might realize.

In 2009 over 200 people were affected by homelessness at some point during the year (county agency estimates).  Between April and December of 2010, Hospitality House helped or referred for help 678 individuals.

Someone who is homeless may not necessarily be sleeping on the streets. Homeless can mean:
  • Families living doubled or tripled-up in single dwellings due to economic necessity
  • People living in motels, their cars, or on campgrounds
  • Living in inadequate running water, holes in the floors, no electricity, etc.
Homelessness is on the rise in our community for a variety of reasons, including:
  • A strained economy.  Jobs can still be difficult to find in Scott County, and incomes haven't necessarily kept up with the rising cost of rent, food, and gasoline.
  • Rising foreclosures. The housing crisis isn't over, and Scott County continues to see families losing their homes to foreclosure.
  • Inadequate social services. Scott County currently has no homeless shelter, so people in need must find a way to shelters in Lexington or beyond, which may not always have room.  If they have children and no reliable transportation, that means pulling their kids out of local schools, a further disruption for a family already dealing with instability.  Limited federal housing and rental assistance are available, but there are often long waiting lists for those, or eligibility criteria, such as immigration status, some can't meet.
  • Substance abuse. Substance abuse and full-blown addiction - to alcohol and other drugs - affect our entire nation, of course.  And Scott County is no different.  But addiction is one of the leading causes of homelessness.
  • Domestic violence. Partners or spouses who escape domestic violence may have to leave their only home and have nowhere to go.

Advocate for the homeless

Follow the legislation - and legislators - having an impact on the homeless and underprivileged. - The Kentucky Equal Justice Center tracks bills in the state legislature affecting the homeless, low income, and more.  View their charts in .pdf here. - Join the Homeless & Housing Coalition of  Kentucky.

Learn more, get involved

Connect with other organizations that shape public policy and advocate for the homeless and poverty-stricken. - Kentucky Equal Justice Center. The KEJC is a nonprofit law advocacy and research center serving the state's nonprofit legal services community and low income families.

Book list

With Justice For AllWith Justice for All    By John Perkins “I am persuaded that the Church, as the steward of this gospel, holds the key to justice in our society. Either justice will come through us or it will not come at all.” John Perkins’ optimistic view of justice becoming a reality starts and ends with the Church. With Justice for All is Perkins’ invitation to live out the gospel in a way that brings good news to the poor and liberty to the oppressed (from Luke 4:18). This invitation is extended to every racial and ethnic group to be reconciled to one another, to work together to make our land all God wants it to be. And it is a blueprint—a practical strategy for the work of biblical justice in our time. In an age of changing demographics where the need to break the cycle of poverty is staring many of us in the face, Perkins offers hope through practical ministry principles—that work. This outstanding resource includes “Reflection” questions for personal or group study as well as “Interaction” sessions for groups to participate in activities together. Compassion Justice and the Christian Life Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life   By Robert Lupton The urban landscape is changing and, as a result, urban ministries are at a crossroads. If the Church is to be an effective agent of compassion and justice, Robert Lupton notes, we must change our mission strategies. In this compelling book, Lupton asks the tough questions about service providing and community building to help ministries enhance their effectiveness. What are the dilemmas that caring people encounter to faithfully carry out the teachings of Scripture and become personally involved with "the least of these?" What are some possible alternatives to the ways we have traditionally attempted to care for the poor? How do people, programs and neighborhoods move towards reciprocal, interdependent relationships? To effect these types of changes will require new skill sets and resources, but the possibilities for good are great. Let Justice RolLet Justice Roll Downl Down    By John Perkins His brother died in his arms, shot by a deputy marshall. He was beaten and tortured by the sheriff and state police. But through it all he returned good for evil, love for hate, progress for prejudice and brought hope to black and white alike. The story of John Perkins is no ordinary story. Rather, it is a gripping portrayal of what happens when faith thrusts a person into the midst of a struggle against racism, oppression and injustice. It is about the costs of discipleship—the jaillings, the floggings, the despair, the sacrifice. And it is about the transforming work of faith that allowed John to respond to such overwhelming indignities with miraculous compassion, vision and hope.   Changing the World Through Kindness Changing the World Through Kindness   By Steve Sjogren Find Out How Kindness Can Change the World. When you think of spiritual warfare, what comes to mind? Stressed-out saints duking it out with demons? Mystical believers seeing things most of us can't? According to author Steve Sjogren, not only are those images inaccurate but they also keep most of us from gaining the spiritual victories God wants us to enjoy. Changing the World Through Kindness shows how every believer can fight the powers of darkness through the greater power of kindness. Using real-life stories to illustrate effective principles from the Word of God, Sjogren shows readers step-by-step how to live a life that will change them, their families, their neighborhoods and their churches and eventually the world. The Irrsistable RevolutionThe Irresistible Revolution Living as a Ordinary Radical   By  Shane Claiborne Living as an Ordinary Radical Many of us find ourselves caught somewhere between unbelieving activists and inactive believers. We can write a check to feed starving children or hold signs in the streets and feel like we've made a difference without ever encountering the faces of the suffering masses. In this book, Shane Claiborne describes an authentic faith rooted in belief, action, and love, inviting us into a movement of the Spirit that begins inside each of us and extends into a broken world. Shane's faith led him to dress the wounds of lepers with Mother Teresa, visit families in Iraq amidst bombings, and dump $10,000 in coins and bills on Wall Street to redistribute wealth. Shane lives out this revolution each day in his local neighborhood, an impoverished community in North Philadelphia, by living among the homeless, helping local kids with homework, and 'practicing resurrection' in the forgotten places of our world. Shane's message will comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable . . . but will also invite us into an irresistible revolution. His is a vision for ordinary radicals ready to change the world with little acts of love. Beyond CharityBeyond Charity: The call to Christian Community Development    By  John Perkins A powerful call to action to bring reconciliation and restoration to broken communities.     A Quiet  revolutionA Quiet Revolution    By John Perkins In A Quiet Revolution, renowned civil rights activist Mary Elizabeth King questions the prevailing wisdom that the first Palestinian Intifada was defined by violence. She argues that initially, the uprising was characterized by a massive nonviolent social mobilization, rooted in popular committees often steered by women. These committees adopted strategies that began to lead to political results — among them the beginnings of a negotiated settlement. King traces the tragic movement away from peaceful protest following the killing of four Palestinian laborers in Gaza, and charts the PLOs increasing contempt for nonviolent struggle. She details the complicity of the media in this escalation of violence — TV crews would not cover peaceful protests, but Palestinian boys throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers would attract foreign cameras. King draws upon the history of non-violent movements and argues that only through nonviolent strategies can a negotiated peace be achieved with Israel. King believes that the residual knowledge of the power of nonviolent resistance from the first Intifada will provide the bedrock upon which to build this eventual, lasting peace. The Hidden MadnessA Hidden Madness    By Jim Jones MHA-Kentucky board member Jim Jones publishes memoir of his recovery from mental illness For the past two years, Jim Jones has spoken to dozens of classes of nursing, social work, and occupational therapy students about his recovery from bipolar illness to encourage the students in their mental health careers. Now, Jim has published a memoir of his struggle with mental illness and his recovery for a wider audience. The book is available from Amazon. A Hidden Madness is the story of an individual who has reached the pinnacle of his profession despite suffering for over thirty years from the severe mental illness bipolar disorder mostly in silence because of fear of stigma. It is an eye-opening voyage through the little-understood realm of severe mental illness featuring its powerful medications, periodic hospitalizations, often rocky relationships, and light as well as dark moments. The story offers both real hope for those afflicted by serious mental illness and deep insight into their many symptoms, numerous drugs, periodic crises, and potential triumphs. Since 1986, Jim has been a member of the faculty of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, where he is a full professor of law. A Hidden Madness includes a foreword by Elyn R. Saks, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. Saks, who is a professor at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California and suffers from schizophrenia, is the only other law professor in the United States publicly to acknowledge having a severe mental illness.   Nickel anNikel and Dimedd Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Essayistand cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich has always specialized in turning received wisdom on its head with intelligence, clarity, and verve. With some 12 million women being pushed into the labor market by welfare reform, she decided to do some good old-fashioned journalism and find out just how they were going to survive on the wages of the unskilled--at $6 to $7 an hour, only half of what is considered a living wage. So she did what millions of Americans do, she looked for a job and a place to live, worked that job, and tried to make ends meet.

The Working Poor: Invisible in America  by David K. Shipler

The Working Poor examines the "forgotten America" where "millions live in the shadow of prosperity, in the twilight between poverty and well-being." These are citizens for whom the American Dream is out of reach despite their willingness to work hard. Struggling to simply survive, they live so close to the edge of poverty that a minor obstacle, such as a car breakdown or a temporary illness, can lead to a downward financial spiral that can prove impossible to reverse. David Shipler interviewed many such working people for this book and his profiles offer an intimate look at what it is like to be trapped in a cycle of dead-end jobs without benefits or opportunities for advancement. He shows how some negotiate a broken welfare system that is designed to help yet often does not, while others proudly refuse any sort of government assistance, even to their detriment. Still others have no idea that help is available at all.

Families in povertyFamilies in Poverty by Karen Seccombe

Poverty is a social problem, and finding solutions requires us to look closely at our society, laws and social institutions. Families in Poverty brings together the best and most recent quantitative and qualitative data to examine poverty among U.S. families, the problems poor families face, and discusses how solutions to poverty do exist. Some major topics found in the text include: Trends in poverty in the United States; Discussion on how poverty is measured and defined; Critiques on several explanations of poverty; Consequences of poverty on children and adults; Labor market issues such as unemployment, minimum wage, employer-sponsored fringe benefits; Programs in the United States designed to eliminate or red.