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Political Economy Research Institute;
In the spring of 2001, a diverse group of Americans gathered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a three-day environmental conference. These men and women, mostly from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, traveled from urban housing projects and suburban neighborhoods -- from the bayous of Louisiana, the coalfields of West Virginia, and the deserts of Southern California. They came from abandoned mining towns in Idaho, agrarian regions of the South, and traditional Native American villages in New Mexico. Sadly, many of these Americans were coming to Baton Rouge as witnesses to report stories of corrupt governmental officials trading their communities' rights to clean air, water, and land for corporate payoffs and political favors. The Baton Rouge conference was organized for two reasons. One was to unite these heroines and heroes of modern America -- those who are working to free future generations from the environmental degradation that has cast shadows on their lives. The other was to introduce a new tool into their strategic plans for restoration and prevention -- a concept that could help them reclaim their democratic right to a clean environment and enable them to build economically sustainable and environmentally friendly community infrastructures. This new tool is the natural assets movement, a radical notion that seeks to simultaneously reduce poverty and protect the environment. This new movement is predicated on the notion that poor communities and communities of color have wrongly been blamed for the environmental degradation plaguing their urban or rural settings. Rather than viewing the environment through a human vs. nature lens, natural-asset-buiding strategies regard the problem as human vs. human, and in many cases, as wealthy humans vs. poor humans. Since the rise of industrialization, government officials and corporations have often viewed economically poor communities and communities of color as politically and economically weak and therefore easy prey. For three decades, the environmental justice movement has argued that the disproportionate siting of hazards in communities of color and poor neighborhoods reflects a cold-hearted calculation based on the unlikelihood of effective resistance by residents. Through the lens of natural-assets-building, the potential strength of resistance a community can offer may be measured by the level of assets, or capital, it can use in its defense. Communities with less economic or political power are learning how to strengthen their "social capital" -- their bonds with each other and bridges to others -- by organizing effective strategies in large numbers.
Despite the current recession, temporary employment will likely represent an increasing share of the labor market in the future, particularly for entry-level and low-wage occupations. In recent economic downturns, the temporary help sector has been among the first to rebound, coming back strongly after times of high unemployment. In this climate, alternative staffing organizations, which couple temporary placements with key supportive services, are well-positioned to provide needed assistance to both disadvantaged job seekers and employers.
A Foot in the Door presents P/PV's findings from the national Alternative Staffing Demonstration, funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. It provides a close examination of four alternative staffing organizations (ASOs) and their efforts to help low-skill and low-wage job seekers find employment. Unlike typical for-profit staffing firms, ASOs may offer -- in addition to the temporary jobs they help participants secure -- retention and supportive services, access to better jobs and assistance obtaining full-time, permanent employment. Fees charged to employers largely cover the costs of these services, making ASOs distinct from other workforce development strategies that depend entirely on foundation grants or public contracts and are usually required to serve certain populations. In contrast, ASOs are flexible on both the supply and demand sides -- they can make adjustments to whom they serve to meet employer needs and identify businesses that are a good match for job seekers. Our findings suggest that when this flexibility is combined with the provision of appropriate supportive services, it may open doors for populations that would otherwise have difficulty accessing these opportunities.
A companion report from the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston's John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies focuses on the capacity of the four ASOs to generate job assignments and serve two sets of customers -- job seekers and employers -- and explores the financial and operational implications of meeting mission and income-generation goals.
Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest);
This report presents information on the clients and agencies served by The Idaho Foodbank. The information is drawn from a national study, Hunger in America 2010, conducted in 2009 for Feeding America (FA) (formerly America's Second Harvest), the nation's largest organization of emergency food providers. The national study is based on completed in-person interviews with more than 62,000 clients served by the FA national network, as well as on completed questionnaires from more than 37,000 FA agencies. The study summarized below focuses on emergency food providers and their clients who are supplied with food by food banks in the FA network.
The FA system served by The Idaho Foodbank provides emergency food for an estimated 124,300 different people annually.42% of the members of households served by The Idaho Foodbank are children under 18 years old (Table 5.3.2).36% of households include at least one employed adult (Table 5.7.1).Among households with children, 85% are food insecure and 37% are food insecure with very low food security (Table 220.127.116.11).48% of clients served by The Idaho Foodbank report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel (Table 6.5.1).33% had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care (Table 6.5.1).26% of households served by The Idaho Foodbank report having at least one household member in poor health (Table 8.1.1)The Idaho Foodbank included approximately 179 agencies at the administration of this survey, of which 179 have responded to the agency survey. Of the responding agencies, 130 had at least one food pantry, soup kitchen, or shelter.63% of pantries, 42% of kitchens, and 22% of shelters are run by faith-based agencies affiliated with churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious organizations (Table 10.6.1).Among programs that existed in 2006, 84% of pantries, 58% of kitchens, and 54% of shelters of The Idaho Foodbank reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites (Table 10.8.1).Food banks are by far the single most important source of food for agencies with emergency food providers, accounting for 69% of the food distributed by pantries, 38% of the food distributed by kitchens, and 47% of the food distributed by shelters (Table 13.1.1).As many as 95% of pantries, 93% of kitchens, and 70% of shelters in The Idaho Foodbank use volunteers (Table 13.2.1).
University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute;
Why is there so much difference in the health of residents in one county compared to other counties in the same state? In this report, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program explores how wide gaps are throughout Idaho and what is driving those differences. This information can help Idaho state leaders as they identify ways for everyone to have a fair chance to lead the healthiest life possible. Specifically, this document can help state leaders understand: 1. What health gaps are and why they matter 2. The size and nature of the health gaps among counties within Idaho 3. What factors are influencing the health of residents, and 4. What state and local communities can do to address health gaps.
United Way Worldwide;
Through a series of new, standardized measurements, the United Way ALICE Reports present a broad picture of financial insecurity at the county and town level, and the reasons for why. What we found was startling -- the size of the workforce in each state that is struggling financially is much higher than traditional federal poverty guidelines suggest. The United Way ALICE Project is a grassroots movement stimulating a fresh, nonpartisan national dialogue about how to reverse the trend and improve conditions for this growing population of families living paycheck to paycheck.
Fels Institute of Government at University of Pennsylvania;
This report is part of a series of 21 state and regional studies examining the rollout of the ACA. The national network -- with 36 states and 61 researchers -- is led by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York, the Brookings Institution, and the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
Idaho is by some accounts one of the most conservative states in the country, yet it is the only state led by a Republican governor and a Republican legislature that chose to create a health insurance exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) implementation. The state has decided not to expand Medicaid for the time being, though they may revisit this decision in the future.
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED);
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard is a comprehensive look at Americans' financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future. It assesses the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 130 outcome and policy measures, which describe how well residents are faring and what states are doing to help them build and protect assets. The Scorecard enables states to benchmark their outcomes and policies against other states in five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.
Pacific Community Ventures;
Impact measurement is central to the practice of mission investing, allowing mission investors to understand if their investments are meeting their goals and furthering their mission. The Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) has worked with PCV InSight for eight years to evaluate and understand the impact of its mission-related investment, Invest Northwest. In this white paper, we detail how the fund has delivered consistent social impact since its inception, including: strong job growth; steady increases in annual median wages; and higher employee wages than at other private businesses nationally and regionally.
Sightline Institute (formerly Northwest Environment Watch);
"Property Wrongs," a report by Seattle-based Sightline Institute, documents a growing backlash against "property rights" initiatives by chronicling six stories of Oregon communities deeply affected by Oregon's Measure 37.
The report also examines the implications for Washington and other states considering similar initiatives this fall, including Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and California, which are all modeled after Measure 37.
Public Citizen's Congress Watch;
A wealthy New York developer coordinated an $8 million campaign to enact state ballot initiatives that would eviscerate state environmental safeguards in four Western states and threaten to bankrupt the state treasuries.
Organizations connected to Howie Rich have primarily funded the initiatives to allow individual landowners to claim compensation from state and local governments for any decrease in property value as a result of planning, environmental or other government protections. They will be on the ballot in four states on Election Day: Arizona (Proposition 207), California (Proposition 90), Idaho (Proposition 2) and Washington (Initiative 933).
Similar initiatives were bounced -- in full or in part -- from ballots in Oklahoma and Nevada because courts there found that the structure of the initiatives violated those states' requirements that ballot initiatives embrace only a single subject. In Montana, a court found that proponents engaged in massive fraud in the petition drive to win a spot on the ballot.
The campaigns falsely advertise the initiatives as necessary to prevent governments from condemning property owners' land, but they instead are intended to serve as cash cows for developers. If approved, they would leave governments with an unacceptable choice between rolling back decades of environmental protection rules -- such as those to combat sprawl, protect wetlands and preserve clean air and clean water -- or paying bounties to developers as compensation for restrictions on using their land however they please.
Laura and John Arnold Foundation;
State and municipal pension systems are in financial trouble. According to a 2012 Pew Center on the States report, state pension plans estimate that they were collectively $757 billion short of the funding needed to meet the pension promises that had, as of that publication, been made to public employees. Moreover, that figure depends on a risky set of assumptions (e.g., expected rate of return and life expectancy) and may be considerably larger if reality does not match the predictions made by each system. Estimates produced using more conservative assumptions, similar to those used for private sector pensions, approximately double the shortfall.
Regardless of the exact size of projected deficits, rising annual pension costs have already spurred financial distress in many jurisdictions. For instance, Central Falls, Rhode Island, recently declared municipal bankruptcy because of unaffordable pension costs. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pointed out that the city faces $20 billion in unfunded liabilities and will soon spend a staggering $1.2 billion per year solely on pension costs, or roughly 22 percent of Chicago's entire budget. As Mayor Emanuel stated, "Our taxpayers cannot afford to choose between pensions and police officers, or pensions and paved streets."
In light of looming deficits, states and municipalities across the country are taking steps to reform their pension systems. While some reforms are relatively modest, a few jurisdictions have enacted comprehensive reforms that aim to solve their pension problems permanently. Enacted reforms generally have addressed the following: cost-of-living adjustments, increases in retirement age and contribution rates, and establishment of defined contribution, cash balance and hybrid plans.