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.

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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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.

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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.

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