One Crisis Away | KERA News

One Crisis Away

Lindsay Diaz and her son stand in what's left of their home after tornadoes tore through North Texas on Dec. 26, 2015.
Credit Lara Solt

KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

The problem's known as asset poverty, and it doesn’t discriminate. 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 North Texas

Explore the series so far and join the KERA News team as they add new chapters to One Crisis Away in the months to come.

One Crisis Away is funded in part by the Communities Foundation of Texas, Allstate Foundation, the Dallas Women's Foundation, The Fort Worth Foundation, The Thomson Family Foundation, and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

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.

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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.

How To Manage Student Loan Debt

Sep 21, 2016
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The average American college student will graduate with more than $35,000 in student loan debt.

Lara Solt / KERA news special contributor

Some people borrow $200,000 for law school—others, $10,000 for a bachelor’s degree they never finish.

One Lewisville musician is somewhere in between. She has two undergraduate degreees. One’s paid off, one isn’t anywhere close. KERA's series One Crisis Away: Drowning In Debt zooms in on America's trillion dollar problem: student loans.

Lara Solt / KERA news special contributor

Debt isn’t something limited to folks with low paying jobs. The typical Texan carries nearly $4,700 in credit card debt. Here’s the thing: That balance tends to increase as income goes up.

Lara Solt / KERA news special contributor

For many Texans, the economy is booming—plenty of jobs that pay well and a low unemployment rate.

For many working families, though, there’s a monster in the closet: debt. It looks different in every house and gets tougher to control as each day passes.

KERA's new series One Crisis Away: Drowning In Debt chronicles North Texans scrambling to stay on top of their personal mountain of “money owed.”

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A firestorm erupted after the maker of EpiPen announced steep price hikes for the life-saving injector device. It helps people who have potentially fatal allergic reactions.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

A North Texas program designed to help marginalized women secure meaningful employment also hopes to empower women. The Akola Project says that starts with a job that pays a living wage.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

One North Texas school has a plan to help families living in poverty stay involved at school. Teachers at one elementary are bringing the classroom into the home.

Staffers say a visit before the first school bell even rings can set the tone for the entire year.

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When you don’t have much money, finding legal representation is a challenge; which is why North Texas legal aid groups want families with limited resources to know, help is out there.

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Tax-free weekend starts Friday in Texas. The three-day break lets families buy backpacks, sneakers and blue jeans with no sales tax, which seems like a straightforward way to save.

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An often overlooked aspect of domestic violence is financial abuse. Victims are forced to co-sign loans, open new credit cards and make purchases they can’t afford.

One Tarrant County woman lost tens of thousands of dollars to her abuser. Years later, she’s still working to regain her financial footing.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Simply re-arranging food pantry shelves is helping low income families make healthier choices. It's the same philosophy supermarkets employ-- called nudging-- when the store creates a special display to feature a product.

One North Texas pantry has had luck pushing brown rice, and whole wheat pasta.

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Government programs are in place to help impoverished families, orphans, the disabled and the elderly. Sometimes, though, the money from those programs doesn’t make it to the people in need.

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Worrying about money can be stressful, distracting and time-consuming. According to new research, a third of Americans are actually losing sleep over it.

Experts say chronic concern over finances can take quite a physical toll on the person doing the worrying. 

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Does geography actually matter when it comes to getting that first job?

A new Wallethub study ranks the best and worst cities for starting a career, and Texas is all over the top 25. Analyst Jill Gonzalez breaks down the rankings with KERA's Courtney Collins.

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