Poverty | St. Louis Public Radio


The Rev. Starsky Wilson spoke at the Parents United for Change meeting Wednesday March 14, 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Low-income families who live in public housing in East St. Louis are burdened by hidden fees that keep them trapped in debt, according to a survey conducted by the Stepping Out of Poverty campaign.

To help families escape the escalating debts, a group of East St. Louis parents is fighting the housing authority fees they say prevent families from moving and keep people impoverished. Parents United for Change have met with the East St. Louis Housing Authority to negotiate new policies that would limit the fees.

A crowd likely numbering in the thousands filled Luther Ely Smith Square during the rally after the St. Louis Women's March January 21, 2017.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The first National Women’s March was held in Washington, D.C., one year ago. That's when thousands of pink pussyhat-clad people filled streets in the nation’s capital and cities across the country to rally for the rights of women.

Daje Shelton and her high-school boyfriend, Antonio Shumpert, welcome their baby boy, Ahkeem, into the world.
File | Provided | Jeff Truesdell

By the time Daje Shelton of St. Louis was 17, she’d already lost lots of friends to gun violence. One was shot while waiting at a bus stop, another while walking to the store.

Shelton had few outlets for expressing her grief and coping with emotions about that trauma. In her world, fighting, not talking, was a typical way to address conflict. After one fight, she was expelled from high school.

Julie Russell, Dayna Stock and Mark Tranel joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss a new report from the United Way and UMSL.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A recent report by the United Way and the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis found that 43 percent of all St. Louis metropolitan area households (encompassing 16 counties) do not have the monthly income to meet their basic living expenses. Basic living expenses include housing, food, transportation, taxes, health care and child care.

Much of Monroe County bordering the Mississippi River is in a flood plain. This view of the plain is from the bluffs near Valmeyer in 2013.
File Photo | Mary Leonard | St. Louis Beacon

Only 14 counties nationwide have a lower poverty rate than Monroe County, Illinois, located directly south of St. Louis, according to a new census report.

The mostly agricultural area located across the Mississippi River from Jefferson County had a median household income of just under $80,000 in 2015, and about 5 percent of the population was considered low-income.

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Professors Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer were startled to recently find a trend in American poverty that they hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s: the number of American households living on around $2, per person, per day has reached 1.5 million, including 3 million children.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Even Medicaid is out of reach for some of Missouri’s poorest children, who are uninsured at a rate 2.5 times as high as their counterparts in Illinois. Being uninsured can limit a child’s access to health care or wreak havoc on a family’s finances in the case of an emergency. 

New census numbers show that about 5 percent of Missouri children in families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty ($3,348 a month for a family of three) did not have health insurance in 2014. In Illinois, which has twice as many low-income families, only 2 percent of children in that demographic were uninsured.

Meds and Food For Kids

On a typical day in 2010, Joseph Volcy found himself sitting outside of his church after choir practice when he felt a great tremble, “like a bulldozer on the road.” He looked up, and from his seat on a bench, he saw half of a mountain come down behind his church. Then came the dust.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Volcy said. “No one could see where they were going. When I left the church to go home, I couldn’t. I saw a lot of people on the back of taxis and people being brought to the hospital, where some of them died. But I still couldn’t tell what was going on.”

S. Wray Clay of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, speaks during a presentation of the annual Kids Count report in East St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

“We need to do something different.”  

That was S. Wary Clay's message to parents during a presentation Thursday of the 2015 Kids Count report at the Lessie Bates Davis Family Development Center in East St. Louis.

St. Clair County, which includes East St. Louis, has a 30.3 percent childhood poverty rate, the second-highest for all counties in Illinois. Nearby Marion County's rate is 30.5 percent.

Lawyer To Lead Archdiocese Human Rights Commission

Jan 12, 2015
St. Louis lawyer Marie Kenyon discusses her new role leading the Archdiocese of St. Louis' Peace and Justice Commission with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 12, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Last week, St. Louis attorney Marie Kenyon was named the director of the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ new Peace and Justice Commission.

The issues Kenyon expects to take on with that commission, including poverty, race and education, are the same issues she has dealt with as a lawyer.

Brent Jones/St. Louis Public Radio

In 1990, the population of the Spanish Lake community in north St. Louis County was 80 percent white and 20 percent black. By 2010, the population was reversed: 80 percent was black and 20 percent was white.  Today, much of the township lies empty.

In what is being called an “unflinching” documentary, film director Phillip Andrew Morton takes a look at the causes of this population shift in the film "Spanish Lake.” It premieres Friday, June 13 at the Tivoli Theatre.

Nurses for Newborns

Organizers of a St. Louis-area diaper drive say they’re extending their effort another week because of enthusiastic community response.

Disposable diapers are estimated to cost up to $100 a month for one baby. Some St. Louis nonprofits try to assist families, but there is no dedicated diaper bank charity in the city.

Commentary: Missouri Could Do Better In Fighting Poverty

Jan 26, 2014
photo of locked poor box from saint francis xavier
Maria Vladimirova

This month marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

This central pillar of Johnson’s Great Society was designed to finally defeat the age­old scourge of poverty and destitution in the United States. Major programs that were part of the War on Poverty include Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start and Food Stamps.

(Courtesy GLPR Books)

Less than three years after graduating college in 1989, Jim Ziolkowski quit his corporate finance job at GE and started buildOn, an organization dedicated to building schools in impoverished nations and after school programs in America's inner city schools.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I'm a K-12 teacher for a large school district in the St. Louis area. I teach history and English as a second language. These thoughts come from 20 years of experience working with students from pre-K to college; in three states and abroad; in rural, suburban and inner city environments.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: For this school year, students from two St. Louis-area districts are traveling far away from their homes. That's because their home districts — Normandy and Riverview Gardens — have lost their accreditation from the state of Missouri, and by law, any students who live within those districts are allowed to transfer to better performing districts.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Solving educational problems extends beyond more money, good teachers and dedicated administrators.

A generation ago, we lost our way, and education became the play thing of politicians, preachers and poachers. I think there needs to be an economic emphasis in the region that includes combining the county and city.

knittymarie | Flickr

With less than three months on the job, Normandy School District Superintendent Tyrone McNichols has a clear plan to regain accreditation from the state and a strong message about the help he needs to make that plan successful.

The main academic components of McNichols' plan involve a new literacy program in partnership with the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a new focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). As part of the focus on STEM, a new science program is being implemented through a partnership with Washington University.

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

The St. Louis Post Dispatch recently published an article by Mr. Krehmeyer reporting on the link between poverty and lack of school success. It indicated that with various actions we can do a lot to improve school results in poverty areas. I think that thought has merit. I commend what the author, Chris Krehmeyer, has to say. However in my mind the real issue is “do we really want to erase poverty and do we have the will to truly turn around failing school systems and help children out of poverty?” I ask because I have heard the words so many times.

Jim Belford | Flickr

There is good and bad news when it comes to the latest government figures on poverty in America.  The good news is that the poverty rate has more or less stabilized for the first time in three years, while the bad news is that the number of people living in poverty in the St. Louis area is well above the national average.  Join host Don Marsh for a discussion about poverty and its ripple effects in the region.