Posts Tagged KERA
KERA on point for what is really going on – has this on the state of hunger in the State:
A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture released this week shows that Texas is the second worst in the nation when it comes to hunger, with some 16.3 percent of the households surveyed reporting low or very low food security for the period between 2006 and 2008.
Families facing very low food security in Texas reached 5.7 percent.
Overall, the percentage of families facing hunger reached 12.2 percent.
Mississippi reported the highest percentage of families facing hunger at 17.4 percent.
This year, agencies working with the North Texas Food Bank reported demand from families seeking help for the first time rose 36 percent, and distribution has grown by 46 percent.
Sharply rising unemployment and lengthy administrative delays processing food stamps have exacerbated the situation for many families.
Read the entire report from the Department of Agriculture and learn more about how community organizations are helping struggling families in North Texas on the Community Voices page of KERA’s Economy Web site.
Representatives from several organizations, including 2-1-1 Texas and the North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank, can help families locate food pantries in their area and help them apply for food stamps.
I am picking up a pattern – do you see what I see? The issue is food. With millions unemployed or under employed, feeding the family is becoming a real worry. Food Banks are getting pressed. The old donate cans of beans or getting old food from retailers is not keeping up. My bet is that this crisis will morph into a new opportunity – for people to grow food in the cities for themselves and for their community.
What are you seeing?
Officials say the face of hunger in North Texas is changing, thanks to historically high unemployment and the nation’s deepest post-WWII recession.
As a result, thousands of North Texans are finding themselves seeking food assistance for the first time, thanks to unemployment, a reduction in pay or work hours and lengthy delays in the state’s food stamp program.
For the North Texas Food Bank’s partner agencies, the number of first-time clients has risen 36 percent.
Among those first-time clients is Plano resident and former healthcare administrator Ray, who shared this story. Ray and his wife volunteer at the food pantry as he continues to look for work.
“When I was laid-off from a well-paid position and my financial obligations began piling up, my wife and I ultimately had to choose between eating and paying the bills. It was then that I shook off my pride and sought assistance from Minnie’s West Plano Food Pantry.”
Overall, food distribution for the North Texas Food Bank is up 46 percent over the same time last year.
Unfortunately, the fast-rising demand has forced some agencies to turn people away due to short supplies.
With help from the campaign launched Tuesday, the North Texas Food Bank hopes to raise $5 million – enough to distribute 20 million meals –by the end of the year.
Learn more about the North Texas Food Bank’s campaign and hear some of the stories from your community here.
The North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank are part of KERA’s Advisory Group for its Economy Project. Learn more about what non-profit groups are doing on the Community Voices page of KERA’s Economy Web site.
Monday on The American Experience: The 1930s:
Civilian Conservation CorpsIn March 1933, within weeks of his inauguration, President Franklin Roosevelt sent legislation to Congress aimed at providing relief for the one out of every four American workers who were unemployed.
He proposed a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs in natural resource conservation. Over the next decade, the CCC put more than three million young men to work in the nation’s forests and parks, planting trees, building flood barriers, fighting fires and maintaining roads and trails.
Corps workers lived in camps under quasi-military discipline and received a wage of $30 per month, $25 of which they were required to send home to their families. This program interweaves rich archival imagery with the personal accounts of CCC veterans to tell the story of one of the boldest and most popular New Deal experiments, positioning it as a pivotal moment in the emergence of modern environmentalism and federal unemployment relief.
The five-part series, “The 1930s,” draws parallels between our current age and the Great Depression era, examining the political and cultural life of America during one of history’s most tumultuous decades.
Learn more about the series and watch films online here.
Here is a snip and link to a great post by KERA on the North Texas Food Bank – As more people are stretched why not start to think of the Food Bank as the possible centre of a local food system where the system expands from a donation model to a local supply model where people learn also how to grow and make food for each other?
The North Texas Food Bank is working to expand its reach to meet the growing demand and is in its second year of a campaign to narrow the gap between available services and demand by expanding annual access to 50 million meals.
Last year, it provided access to 37 million meals.
The nonprofit agency was created in 1982 to pull together efforts to feed hungry residents of 13 counties, securing donations of surplus unmarketable, but wholesome, food and grocery products to distribute throughout its network. Last year, the agency distributed more than 39 million pounds of food through partner agencies in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Fannin, Rockwall, Hunt, Grayson, Kaufman, Ellis, Navarro, Lamar, Delta and Hopkins counties.
Food collected by the North Texas Food Bank is distributed through 291 agencies, supporting 1,146 feeding and education programs.
Is this an idea that is ripe for Public Stations to add to their work on FTMC? Would it not be the same kind of work – helping glue the community together – telling the stories etc?
Beth Kobliner, author of the best-selling book “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties,” offered some key insights on the television special Your Life, Your Money.
The program broadcast on KERA-TV Sept. 9, but you can watch it online here.
Here are Beth Kobliner’s Top Ten Tips for Keeping Your Finances on Track
1. Your 401(k) is still your best financial friend. Wall Street’s meltdown knocked 50% out of the value of a lot of retirement accounts, but the best place to save for the future is still a 401(k) with matching employer contributions—which are basically free money. If your company kicks in 50 cents for every dollar you contribute, that’s like earning an interest rate of 50 percent. And if you’re nervous about putting money in the stock market right now, your 401(k) offers a menu of less risky choices.
2. Quit living on borrowed cash. With credit card rates and penalties rising and credit limits falling, now is the time to rein in your debt. Make it a priority to pay off your credit card balances, starting with those that charge the most interest. Even if you pay just $10 a month more than the minimum on your cards, you can save thousands of dollars.
3. Guard your credit score. Get a sense of your score for free at sites like creditkarma.com (or pay about $16 to get the real thing from myfico.com). If you’re in good shape, stay that way: Don’t close any accounts without a good reason, and go on paying your bills on time. One missed payment could mean a higher-rate mortgage in the future, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars in extra interest.
4. If you have health insurance, hang on to it. If you get laid off, see if your ex-company will extend your health coverage for a few months as part of your severance package. Even if that doesn’t fly, under the law known as COBRA, you are legally entitled to keep your current coverage for 18 months if you pay for it yourself. And thanks to the new economic stimulus package, the government will pick up 65 percent of the bill.
5. Automate your finances. Set up automatic payment on regular bills (phone, electric, etc.) to prevent late fees that can damage your credit. Timely payments are the most important factor in your credit score, and the one you have the most control over. Opt in for email or text alerts from your bank before your credit card bill is due. And automate your saving habits, too. If your company won’t deposit part of your paycheck directly into your savings account, set up a monthly transfer through your bank’s website.
6. Keep emergency money in a safe place. Ignore people who say it’s dumb to keep money in a savings account paying just 1 percent or 2 percent. These accounts may not earn much interest, but at least you know your money’s protected. Find the best rates at bankrate.com and then work to save at least three months’ worth of living expenses in case you lose your job or get really sick.
7. Use every trick at tax time. Make sure to open an IRA and take advantage of tax savings. You can contribute up to $5,000 to a traditional IRA and get a tax break of as much as $1,250. Also, see whether you’re eligible to deduct student loan interest and job-hunting expenses, as well as whether you qualify for the latest tax breaks for homebuyers.
8. Speak up. If you want real answers (or any sort of break), pick up the phone and talk with a lender, a bank, an investment company, a landlord, or even an airline (if you’re trying to use your frequent flyer miles). Asking for the retention desk at your credit card company will give you an opportunity to argue your case for a lower interest rate.
9. Get real about buying a home one day. The days of banks giving mortgages to everyone with a pulse are over, so if you plan to buy a home, make sure to keep your credit score in top shape and save a down payment (at least 3 percent, but many lenders will want to see 20 percent) even before you start looking. Mortgage rates are low right now so if you’re in good shape, take advantage of them.
10. Don’t waste money. Where can you cut back? Think convenience-store coffee (99 cents) versus an extra-flavor venti latte ($4 plus), tap water rather than bottled, and shopping your closet rather than the racks. Keep an eagle eye on your bottom line. And watch out for ATM fees, overdraft penalties, and other service charges that cost the average American around $100 a year.
See how your finances shape up using the special calcuators for retirement planning and paying off credit cards on the Your Life, Your Money Web site.
In an earlier life I was SVP HR for a large bank – ouch! I only say this because I do know a bit about how HR works. So with that as context, here is a simply outstanding tip sheet on how to get the most out of a resume offered by KERA from one of their partners – Jewish Family Services
Our economic model has been based until now on the value of scarce and good content. Many of us are learning during the FTMC project that we can develop deeper relationships by helping in our community.
Deeper in that saving a home means more than liking a program. Deeper in that by helping people and communities, we can bring new supporters who would never have watched our programming.
Here are two examples of what I mean from KERA – First of all here is a video showing the power of developing a deeper relationship based on offering real help.
La Voz Del Anciano works to help the Spanish-speaking elderly community overcome cultural, language and literacy barriers to access existing community resources and education.
The nonprofit, which is the only bilingual and bicultural program of its type in Dallas, was created in 1976 by a group of religious leaders, social service agency workers and community volunteers to serve the estimated more than 50,000 low-income, elderly Latino men and women in the area.
I see the beginnings of a new model for value – don’t you?
College has become more of a stretch in the last few years – never more than now. Here KERA has some good advice for students and parents – key ACT NOW!
UT Arlington told KERA that its average student spends about $20, 600 to cover all costs for a year of school, and financial aid officers are able to find scholarships and loans for some 65 percent of UTA students.
- If you haven’t filed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid for 2009, do it now. Re-file after Jan. 1 for the 2010 school year.
- If your financial situation has changed since your financial aid package was issues, contact your school’s financial aid office immediately and request a review for additional aid.
- Start scouring the Web and other sources for information on scholarships, many deadlines are during the fall or first part of the year.
I use Twitter to follow the crisis. I watch “foreclosure” and #ftmc. I am amazed at how many scams are out there. There is a huge “industry” out there ready to scam home owners. What the betting that these are the very same people that got others into this mess in the first place.
WVXU (Cincinnati) has this interview with the Attorney General of Ohio.
KERA in Dallas has a useful guide to help people avoid being scammed. here are the main points:
KERA’s Sam Baker talks with special investigators with the Dallas District Attorney’s office and Specialized Crime Divison about mortgage foreclosure scams Monday.
Andrew Masters, a special investigator with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and Specialized Crime Division, and Stephanie Martin, an assistant District Attorney for Dallas County Specialized Crime Division, offered some red flags consumers should watch out for:
-Company asks for money upfront to pursue your case. Often it’s a hefty fee of $1,000 or more. Free help is available through HUD-approved housing counselors. Contact HOPE NOW at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) or dial 2-1-1 to be connected to local resources.
- You’re contacted by the company directly, and pressured to take action before calling your mortgage company. Public posting requirements of a home slated for foreclosure make it easy for such firms to come knock on your door.
-The company tells you NOT to contact your lender. You should always stay in contact with your lender.
- Company contacts you and says it’s affiliated with a government agency. That may be true, but you should always check with that agency to be certain.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also warns against so-called “equity-stripping” schemes, in which a company offers to “temporarily” sell the home so the owner can catch up on mortgage payments.
The Texas Attorney General offers several resources on avoiding fraudulent foreclosure operators and has a special taskforce devoted to protecting consumers.
To file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General, go to the Web site or call 1- (800) 252-8011
One trend is now clear – that unemployment is the most important driver for foreclosure. So what do the unemployment numbers mean? As this report by KERA tells us – they are not truly representative of what is going on and they can seriously understate what is going on:
Many people assume that the government only uses the number of persons filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits (UI) through state or federal government programs as their source.
Because many people aren’t eligible for UI or have already exhausted their benefits, that wouldn’t give us a real picture of the number of unemployed people.
Other people believe that the government actually counts the number of all unemployed people each month –an undertaking that would require the level of work done by the U.S. Census every ten years.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses a monthly survey called the Current Population Survey to measure unemployment across the country. It has been conducted in the U.S. every month since 1940, and is one of the oldest continuous monthly sample surveys of households in the world.
There are about 60,000 households in the sample, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. and each month, a quarter of the households in the sample are changed so that none are interviewed more than four consecutive months. Surveyed individuals are interviewed and the data is compiled electronically so it can be adjusted to independent population estimates.
The survey relies on three basic concepts of employment and unemployment:
- Individuals with jobs are counted as employed.
- Individuals who are jobless, looking for a job, and available for work are unemployed.
- Individuals who are neither employed nor unemployed are not counted in the labor force. People who are under 16 or in the Armed Forces are also not counted.
These definitions aren’t as simple as they may sound. People are considered employed if they did any work for pay during the survey week. An 18-year-old student who baby-sits for 6 hours a week would be counted as employed, just as her mother who might work 40 hours per week.
People are classified as unemployed if they don’t have a job, are actively looking for work, and are currently available for work. If they are in training or educational activities, they are not counted as either employed or unemployed.
People who aren’t working but are physically unable to job aren’t counted in either category. Other examples of people not considered in the labor force would be persons confined to institutions such as prisons, jails, or hospitals.
As you might expect, there is much work that is done outside these simple definitions. The BLS keeps data on persons who would be counted as “marginally attached to the labor force” but not counted as either employed or unemployed.
“Discouraged workers” are a subset of this group. Many of these individuals are the people our community partners see every day. They don’t believe there is a job available for them and that they lack the skills necessary to find employment. The BLS keeps numbers on these individuals as well, but doesn’t count them in the official numbers.