One Crisis Away | KERA News

One Crisis Away

KERA’s One Crisis Away project focuses a spotlight on North Texans living on the financial edge both in weekly stories and regular in-depth series.

A scene from West Dallas near Singleton Boulevard.
Credit Allison V. Smith / KERA News special contributor

A job loss, health emergency, even legal trouble can be enough to plunge a third of our friends and neighbors into financial distress. One Crisis Away puts a human face on asset poverty and the financial struggles of people in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

Explore multimedia projects: No Place To Go, a deep dive into affordable housing and gentrification in West Dallas; Rebuilding A Life, a series about North Texans recovering from devastating tornadoes; Drowning In Debt, stories about and resources for living with financial burden; and more.

Jessica Diaz-Hurtado / KERA News special contributor

There’s a lawsuit brewing in West Dallas, where dozens of former renters purchased homes last year.

These low-cost rental properties owned by HMK Ltd. had racked up numerous code violations and were slated for closure after the city of Dallas tightened housing standards.

HMK sold many of those homes to tenants. Now, a lawsuit filed in federal court by two of the homeowners alleges the mortgage contracts are predatory.

About every five years, Congress reconsiders the farm bill. The package deals with most affairs regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bill also funds the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) — what used to be called “food stamps.” 

Millions of Texans depend on SNAP to help buy food every month, and recent attempts by the U.S. House to change the program didn't work because the bill lacked votes. The Senate, however, is expected to release its own version of a farm bill this June.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

Dallas’ first comprehensive housing policy, approved last week, is designed to encourage more affordable housing and disrupt patterns of segregation and gentrification. However, the policy has its critics.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Tuition will increase at all eight University of Texas system schools this fall, and price hikes might be driving down enrollment. According to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than half of U.S. public colleges didn't meet their enrollment goals this year.

One Arlington family decided to study at the community college level instead — and this weekend, they'll finish, together.

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Since the recession of 2008, and the housing market crash, fewer Americans are able to purchase a home. And a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts finds that since then, many families have become "rent burdened" and struggle to pay the bills. 

Courtney Collins / KERA news

New research shows that even basic digital skills bump earning potential by about 17 percent. And since the auto industry is moving in a digital direction, there are a lot of good-paying jobs to be found there. A few hundred Dallas high schoolers just got to see for themselves.

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It's been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law. It's designed to protect people from discrimination as they try to get a home loan, buy a house, or rent.

Peniel Joseph with the School of Public Affairs at UT Austin says its legacy has been a mixed bag. He talked with David Brown, host of Texas Standard. 

Allison V. Smith / KERA News special contributor

A new study by the Communities Foundation of Texas and the left-leaning Center For Public Policy Priorities evaluated education, employment, debt, housing and healthcare across Dallas County. 

The data show experiences vary greatly from zip code to zip code.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Whether it's cashing a check, wiring cash to a friend, or trying to borrow money, people living in poverty have a different experience than those on sound financial footing. One North Texas nonprofit aims to close that gap by giving those with financial means, a taste of life without.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

There's a training program in Dallas that wants to match veterans struggling to find work with jobs that actually pay the bills.

Business Insider ranked Dallas-Fort Worth the 11th most "high-tech city" in the world last year, up from 28th the year before. There's plenty of demand for tech workers, just not enough supply.

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Access to credit is how most people buy houses, pay for school or get a new car. Borrowing money and paying it back is how people participate in the economy.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has been exploring debt trends in Dallas County. Emily Perlmeter wrote the report, and explains what she found.

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When people are arrested and can't afford to bail themselves out, they can sit in jail for days or even weeks awaiting trial. That may cost them their house, job or kids.

A 21-year-old SMU student is trying to level the playing field by starting a bail fund of his own.

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Childhood trauma and health consequences often go hand in hand. Whether a child is suffering from neglect or living with a substance-abusing or simply overwhelmed parent, over time those stressors can take a toll on the body, and mind.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Until last month, West Dallas had just one brick-and-mortar bank out on the fringe of the neighborhood, near the interstate.

A new bank branch wants to build a relationship with the heart of the community: low- and middle-income families who've lived there for decades.

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Each day, social workers must decide whether or not the children they visit should be removed from their parents’ homes. It’s a decision that changes the courses of those kids’ lives.

During a recent episode of  KERA's "Think," Naomi Schaefer Riley, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, talked about how we can better harness statistical information to help make these decisions.

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The left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities, based in Austin, works on everything from health care to hunger.

Executive Director Ann Beeson lays out the most pressing issues she thinks Texans, especially low-to-moderate income Texans, are up against in 2018.

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The North Texas Food Bank is exploring the link between hunger and bullying. Researchers wanted to find out if kids who are food insecure were more likely to be bullied than kids who got enough to eat, and whether hungry kids are more likely to bully others. 

Government Relations Director Valerie Hawthorne explains the results.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Fewer than 40 percent of community college students get a degree within six years, and low-income students are even more at risk of dropping out.

A Catholic Charities Fort Worth program decided to evaluate whether a mentor makes a difference when it comes to staying in school.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

One Dallas school is devoted to helping its students get hands-on experience with money. Conrad High School is home to many low-income and refugee students, and some of them help support their families financially. Teachers says that means learning about budgeting, saving and investing can't wait.

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A 2010 Washington University study says kids with college savings accounts are seven times more likely to go to college than kids without them.

Woody Widrow with the RAISE Texas organization explains what families on a tight budget can do to carve out room to save.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

For people with disabilities, leaving before a storm hits, or being rescued in the aftermath can be complicated. One Hurricane Harvey evacuee from Beaumont is trying to hold on to her independence, while starting over in North Texas. It's part of KERA's series One Crisis Away: After The Flood.

Allison V. Smith / KERA News special contributor

Low-income neighborhoods are more vulnerable to natural disasters, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And those poor neighborhoods are also disproportionately communities of color. 

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

Close to 4,000 people made their way to North Texas Red Cross shelters to escape Hurricane Harvey and the catastrophic flooding that came with it. The storm claimed lives, homes and people's sense of security.

KERA's series One Crisis Away: After The Flood has the story of a man who left Port Arthur for good to start over in Fort Worth, with high hopes of re-starting his career too.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Hurricane Harvey and the devastating rainfall that came with it displaced thousands of families; and some landed in North Texas.

Three and a half months after the storm, more than a hundred of those families have decided to stay. KERA's series One Crisis Away: After The Flood shares the journey of woman who’s been through this before — 12 years ago, after Hurricane Katrina.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

Three months ago, Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast and settled over southeast Texas for three days, dumping feet, not inches of rain. Thousands evacuated before the storm made landfall, others had to be rescued. Just shy of 4,000 people came to Red Cross shelters in Dallas, Fort Worth and Irving. About 120 families have decided to stay.

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In 2005, Keith Rhodes was running the Methodist Home for Children in New Orleans. Then, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana Gulf Coast. He had to evacuate dozens of kids, and move his own family to safety.

Dane Walters / KERA News

Most Texans don’t save enough money for retirement, according to a new study from the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Once a year, the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and The Stewpot downtown host “community court.” It’s an opportunity for homeless people to trade in tickets for community service, tickets issued for riding DART trains and buses without paying, for jaywalking — relatively minor offenses.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Low-income schools have a tough time paying for field trips, and parents often don't have room in the budget for after-school activities. That's why the Dallas Arboretum is bringing the great outdoors inside some local schools.

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Many agencies are rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach to solving homelessness. The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance has set a goal to cut the Dallas area population of chronic, veteran and elderly homeless in half by next summer.

Dennis Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania specializes in the modern homelessness crisis, and explains why securing housing is uniquely challenging for seniors.

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