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.

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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Many low-income working parents have a tough time finding child care.

The nonprofit Children At Risk mapped zip codes in Texas with very limited access to certified child care, areas known as "child care deserts." The vast majority of low-income kids in Dallas County live in one.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

At age 84, Lily Garcia is a first-time homeowner.

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Something that often pushes people living near poverty over that edge is having children. New numbers from the Mayor's Task Force on Poverty shows a wide gap in Dallas between the general poverty rate, and the child poverty rate.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Monday was the deadline for families living in homes owned by HMK Ltd. to move out or face eviction. The 305 low-cost rentals, mostly in rapidly gentrifying West Dallas, have been at the center of a conflict between the landlord and the city.

Rabbi Sholey Klein / Dallas Kosher

Hurricane Harvey flooded homes, bakeries and grocery stores across Houston, forcing many Jewish families who keep kosher to survive on crackers from the corner store.

So North Texas kosher caterers took action, and set off for Houston bearing brisket and much more. 

Courtney Collins / KERA news

One way teachers offset poverty in the classroom is by reaching into their wallets.

For some parents, filling a shopping cart with school supplies is a chore. For others, it's an impossibility. Many teachers would rather spend their own money, than see kids in their class go without.

The National Guard photo by: Lt. Zachary West , 100th MPAD / Flickr

One safeguard many people opt out of is flood insurance. This already powerful hurricane season has shown everyone the devastation rising waters can cause, and only two in 10 homeowners in Harvey’s path had flood insurance.

 

Insurance expert Burl Daniel, based in Fort Worth, explains the importance of having coverage across the state, including North Texas.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

One essential item that runs out quickly and many families can't live without is diapers. Toddlers need six to eight every day, and infants can go through up to 12.

In the aftermath of Harvey, and with Hurricane Irma cranking up in the Atlantic, diapers are a key element in outfitting a shelter.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Folks who know firsthand how devastating a natural disaster can be, have a unique take on Hurricane Harvey, and what's ahead for survivors.

When tornadoes ripped through North Texas the day after Christmas in 2015, hundreds of families had to completely rebuild their lives. This kind of financial disruption can take years to sort out.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Most universities host "move-in weeks" for new students; think orientation sessions, mixers and cookouts. Freshmen at Dallas Baptist University are also expected to commit a full day to community service.

During orientation, or "SWAT week," freshmen have time for fun, figuring out schedules and decorating dorm rooms. When Friday rolls around, though, it's time to leave campus, and get to work.

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Poor families that spend too much on rent or live in terrible conditions have what's known as "worst-case housing needs."

 

A new U.S. Housing and Urban Development report shows the numbers of those types of renters surging across the country. Sandy Rollins of the Texas Tenants’ Union explains what that means for North Texas.

Courtesy of Aydrelle Collins

New research in Dallas County unravels what teen pregnancy costs a young mom and the community she lives in — from money spent on Medicaid for prenatal care to what it takes to investigate child abuse and neglect.

A North Texas teen pregnancy prevention program teamed up with UT Southwestern to calculate the costs.

A new study shows the harsh impact that growing up in a poor neighborhood has on a kid’s development. Researchers in Texas, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin found the number of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods surged during the Great Recession; from 36 percent of kids in 1998 to 44 percent in 2010.

Rice University sociologist Rachel Kimbro explains why the kids living in those neighborhoods were already a year behind their peers, before even starting school.

Dallas Area Habitat For Humanity / Facebook

Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit that builds homes for people on the financial edge, just signed a deal to buy nearly four dozen lots in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of West Dallas. Getting people into the homes that will be built there, though, will take years.

frankieleon / Flickr Creative Commons

In Texas, many families are pulled out of poverty by what’s known as the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. Some experts say changing how the credit is paid out might help even more people.

The Brookings Institution’s Alan Berube talks about the credit — and why paying it all at once may not be the answer.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Bed bugs can be especially overwhelming for low-income families. The pests are drawn to apartment complexes with lots of people packed into small spaces, and they cause pain, anxiety and financial stress.

alamosbasement / Flickr

One nonprofit program is trying to help families think beyond a single crisis—and make real plans for the future.

Catholic Charities Fort Worth launched its Padua program just over two years ago. It’s named for Saint Anthony of Padua—who was devoted to the sick and poor. Corinne Weaver of Catholic Charities breaks down some of the early results.

Allison V. Smith / KERA special contributor

Last week brought news of potential resolution for the West Dallas families KERA’s been following in the series One Crisis Away: No Place To Go.

Questions still swirl around many of those families' homes; like the one Joe Garcia and his 84-year-old mom, Lily live in.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

For months, residents living in  weathered rent homes in West Dallas were told they had to clear out by early June. That's been the focus of KERA's series One Crisis Away: No Place To Go.

Jessica Diaz-Hurtado / KERA News

There’s a little patch of West Dallas called Gilbert-Emory. It’s only about six blocks, and it’s in the shadow of some of the new apartments and townhomes being built next to Singleton Boulevard.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

In Dallas, the numbers on affordable housing are shocking. There are only 19 affordable homes for every 100 low-income families who need them. That’s playing out in West Dallas—as KERA's been exploring in the series One Crisis Away: No Place To Go.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

West Dallas has been an afterthought for the better part of a century-- today it’s booming. The last four years have been a construction frenzy of new restaurants and upscale apartments. Some of the oldest residents don’t recognize the place.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Dozens of people wearing “I Heart West Dallas” t-shirts packed a Dallas County courtroom Friday hoping for good news about their rental homes—which are scheduled to close in less than a month.

It's the focus of KERA's series One Crisis Away: No Place To Go.

Allison V. Smith / KERA special contributor

The City of Dallas can now inspect the inside of rental properties—something that wasn’t possible before code enforcement standards were tightened in September.

Allison V. Smith / KERA special contributor

The days are numbered for 305 weathered rental homes, most of them in West Dallas. The city says they aren’t up to code—so the landlord had to choose: fix them, or close up shop. He picked the latter.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

A century ago, West Dallas was a poor, mostly white, unincorporated home for folks on the edge of society. As industry came, black families moved in— then Latinos, who put down roots that still run deep today.

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