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

Some high-paying jobs just don’t attract many women. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1998 only 2.5 percent of firefighters were women. Fast forward to 2016, and it’s just 3.5 percent.

One North Texas training program is helping a few women buck that trend.

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There's one March Madness bracket that pits college against college off the hard court. This tournament awards victories based on a school’s ability to graduate low-income students without piles of loans.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Dallas families bracing to lose their housing this June will get some money to relocate. The City of Dallas Housing Finance Corporation voted Tuesday to set aside $300,000 for families renting homes owned by HMK Ltd.  – homes that don’t meet housing standards that were strengthened last fall.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

In Dallas, there’s a program designed to send kids home from school each week loaded up with fresh fruits and veggies.

Brighter Bites, the nonprofit behind students' heaping bags of produce, also makes sure that parents know what to do with that food.

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Across the United States, there isn't enough affordable housing for those who need it-- only 35 affordable rental homes for every 100 poor families, and the situation is worse in North Texas. That’s according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

According to JP Morgan Chase, some 42,000 “middle skills” jobs in North Texas will remain unfilled this year and next. Those are trades like electrician or dental hygienist—things that require training after high school but not a four year degree. These jobs pay a median salary of $24 per hour.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

While people regularly give coats and outgrown shoes to those in need, homeless shelters—and the women who live there—are often without essentials like bras and feminine hygiene products.

A grassroots effort called Support The Girls is trying to change that.

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Women often walk a rougher road than men when it comes to economic stability.

A new report from the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, and Texas Woman’s University shows 17 percent of Texas women live in poverty, compared to 14 percent of men.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

A United Way fellowship program is giving social entrepreneurs a leg up.

One of them is an urban farm in southern Dallas, a community with limited access to fresh food. The founder has dreams of a café and market serving up meals by the end of summer.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Spending a couple of hundred dollars on a tax preparer can eat into a refund, and keep a family from finding stable fiscal ground.

That’s what the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is there to prevent. Thousands of North Texans rely on what’s known as VITA.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Small nonprofits walk a delicate financial tightrope. Staffers at a Dallas organization just learned what it’s like to have an emergency come up when the budget’s tight. One stolen delivery van means their operation grinds to a halt.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

There was some movement Monday in the case of 300 families slated to lose their rental homes in West Dallas. At a City Hall news conference, Mayor Mike Rawlings announced that Catholic Charities Dallas will start canvassing the neighborhood.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Education and earning potential both suffer when teens have babies—and one North Texas nonprofit is challenging students to think about how their life would change with a child to care for-- by hosting a film competition.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

A interactive exhibit housed in a 53 foot-long trailer is traveling the country, to educate communities about hunger—and the 42 million Americans who experience it.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

A big city library has turned around the way it handles some of its most marginalized visitors. The Dallas Public Library has committed to not just tolerating—but welcoming—every homeless person who walks through the door.

Poor Texans Left In Dark As State Electricity Aid Programs Ends

Jan 5, 2017
Cooper Neill for The Texas Tribune

North Texas was freezing during a three-day stretch last month, but Mary Garcia refused to turn on the heat in her cramped apartment. She feared that doing so would too quickly drain her pay-as-you-go account with Penstar Power, a Dallas-based electricity provider.

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Some people struggling with money may decide to make big changes to mark the start of 2017.

Experts say there is a right and wrong way to approach financial New Year’s resolutions—and people hoping to succeed need to know the difference. Certified financial planner Hannah Moore gives her best practices.

North Texas Food Bank

Editor's note: Jan Pruitt, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, died Jan. 2 after a battle with cancer. Last month, Pruitt stepped down from her post at the food bank after two decades of service. This story was published on Dec. 27. It details her life and work. 

Samantha Guzman / KERA news

KERA’s One Crisis Away series: Rebuilding A Life is catching up with four families on the financial edge still struggling to move past last year’s Christmas weekend tornadoes. 

Jessica Cadick, her fiancé and their three kids were in a bad place after the storm. Their rental home was ripped apart and they didn’t have insurance. It’s been a tough year for the family financially, and  they’re still fighting to stay afloat.

Lara Solt / KERA news special contributor

KERA’s series One Crisis Away: Rebuilding A Life—looks at four families on the financial edge still trying to recover from last year’s Christmas weekend tornadoes.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Four families on the financial edge are still struggling to get past last year’s Christmas weekend tornadoes.

It took 10 long months to put Alfredo and Anthony Fowler-Rainone’s home back together. They waited out the construction in a North Dallas hotel with their three dogs. Now, they’ve moved back in — and, a year after the tornado, they barely recognize their neighborhood.

Lara Solt / KERA news special contributor

Four families on the financial edge are still trying to recover from last year’s Christmas weekend tornadoes and rebuild their lives.

Jennifer Anderson thinks she’s endured her fair share of tragedy. Last year’s tornado ripped her Garland apartment to pieces and she’d lost her husband to suicide just two years before. Jennifer can’t shake the feeling another crisis could be on the horizon, something she struggles with, even a year later.

Lara Solt / KERA news special contributor

The decorations were still up when a dozen tornadoes ripped through North Texas the day after Christmas last year. KERA has been following four families on the financial edge trying to recover from the storms.

We first got to know them last spring, in a series called One Crisis Away: Rebuilding A Life. Now, we check back in with them, a year later.

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There’s a strong correlation between physical health and socio-economic status.

The Corporation For Enterprise Development— a Washington D.C. based nonprofit — recommends bringing financial services, like budget coaching and free tax preparation, into community health centers. CFED's Parker Cohen explains why.

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Recent FDIC numbers show statewide, fewer people are what’s known as “underbanked." Translation: not being able to access mainstream credit. In North Texas, however, those numbers continue to rise.

One nonprofit is working to turn that tide—one low interest loan at a time.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Families in West Dallas living in rental houses slated for closure will be allowed to stay in their homes until the end of the school year.

HMK Limited owns 305 inexpensive rental homes that don’t meet city code. Instead of repairing all the houses to bring them to standard, owner Khraish Khraish opted to close his rental business and have tenants vacate. 

Courtney Collins / KERA news

What happens when 300 families lose their housing all at once? That’s playing out in West Dallas, a longtime black and Latino neighborhood that’s rapidly gentrifying.

The City Council passed new housing standards in September. One landlord is now closing his rental home business because hundreds of his homes aren’t up to code.

Pan_Da / Shutterstock

Texans are struggling to pay for housing, despite the state’s reputation as an affordable place to live. Almost half of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

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KERA’s series One Crisis Away: Drowning In Debt focused on North Texans struggling to pay back money owed. These stories struck a chord with KERA listeners—many commented that they could relate. Others weren’t nearly so sympathetic. Here's a look at what's behind the shame and stigma surrounding debt.

Lara Solt / KERA news special contributor

Most people are working to pay down something. A mortgage, a credit card balance, a car note. There’s another kind of debt too—accounts that have fallen behind. They’re called delinquencies; they can wreck a credit score and stick around for years.

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