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A public-housing pathway to opportunity
Families living in poverty often live in neighborhoods that lack access to resources like high-performing schools, full service grocery stores, and clean and safe public spaces. As a result, children in high-poverty areas often have fewer opportunities than their peers in wealthier neighborhoods. In response, Seattle has taken an innovative approach with a pilot program aimed at moving families who receive Section 8 housing vouchers into “higher opportunity” housing. In collaboration with nonprofits, the program helped families search for housing, engaged with landlords and provided financial aid to cover gaps in security deposits and moving costs. As Route Fifty’s Bill Lucia explains, Seattle’s experiment has so far shown promise as a model for helping people earning low-incomes access the housing they want:
Among the group that participated in the program, the share of households that leased housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods was 40 percentage points higher, at 54.3%. Survey results indicated that about 67% of families in the treatment group were very satisfied with the neighborhood they moved to. The same was true for only 33% of the control group. “Our experimental results imply that most low-income families do not have a strong preference to stay in low-opportunity areas; rather, barriers to moving to high-opportunity areas play a central role in explaining neighborhood choice,” the researchers wrote. They defined high-opportunity places as those where low-income children have historically gone on to have improved economic outcomes. They did so, they explain, because past research has shown that neighborhoods tend to have a greater effect on kids than adults in this respect.
The fight for oil revenues continues
Revenue from offshore leases to oil companies are split between Louisiana and the federal government, with a portion dedicated to coastal restoration efforts. A new bill introduced by Louisiana Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, along with members of Congress from neighboring states and Alaska, would amend the Gulf of Mexico Security Act to send more money to Gulf Coast coffers, but reduce the portion of funds dedicated to the federal conservation fund. David Jacobs at The Center Square reports:
“This bill makes it clear that Louisiana needs an equitable portion of the revenue made off our coast from offshore drilling,” Kennedy said. Louisiana constitutionally dedicates offshore energy production revenue to coastal restoration and protection. “Louisiana’s coastline infrastructure is critical for America’s energy and economic security,” Cassidy said. “This legislation creates equal treatment for Louisiana’s offshore revenue sharing and secures the funds needed to strengthen our state’s coastal restoration efforts.
The federal budget deal
While the Daily Dime took its annual summer vacation, the U.S. Congress agreed on a two-year budget deal that includes a substantial increase in spending on non-defense discretionary programs, including child care assistance, low income housing and environmental protection. That’s the good news. The bad news is that discretionary spending is still at a historic nadir when measured against the whole economy. Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities weighs in:
(I)t boosts funding for those (non-defense) programs by $56.5 billion over the next two years above the 2019 level to help address various needs that have built up following years of squeezing this part of the budget. It also raises defense funding relative to its 2019 level, by $10 billion less than the non-defense increase. …Moreover, the levels that the deal provides for non-defense appropriations will enable lawmakers not only to provide the necessary funds for the census and the Mission Act, but also to increase support for key underfunded priorities such as child care, low-income housing, environmental protection, and IRS enforcement, to name a few.
New York’s restaurant industry thrives with $15 an hour wages
While hundreds of thousands of Louisiana workers still toil at (or near) the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, it’s a very different story in New York City. Five years after the Big Apple approved a phased-in, $15 per hour minimum wage, the city’s restaurant industry is thriving. A new report released Thursday by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School and the National Employment Law Project explains:
Contrary to fears of massive job losses, $20 Big Macs, and shuttered restaurants, we found a thriving industry. The New York State minimum wage rose in phases from $7.25 an hour at the end of 2013 to $13.50 during 2018. … New York’s rising minimum wage has tremendously benefitted low-wage workers, including those in both the full-service and limited-service categories. New York City workers in the lowest-paid three deciles of the wage distribution had inflation-adjusted wage gains of 8.5 to 15 percent since 2013 (the largest wage gains for these workers in the last 50 years). Wage gains among restaurant workers have been even stronger, with 2013-18 real wage increases averaging 15-23 percent for full-service and 26-30 percent for limited-service restaurant workers.
Number of the Day
191 – Estimated annual number of near-elderly Louisianans whose lives were saved by the state’s expansion of Medicaid. (Source: National Bureau of Economic Research)