Executive Director Karen Bankston, Program Director Ashlee Young, and Operations Director Julia Elmer sat down with Local 12 Reporter Duane Pohlman to discuss poverty in Cincinnati and are featured in the Local 12 series: Childhood Poverty: A Cincinnati Crisis.
How Reducing SNAP Benefits Affects the Economy
Reducing or restricting SNAP benefits will have an effect on our overall economy that goes well beyond the families who will find it even more difficult to put dinner on the table every night. Researchers Justine Hastings and Jesse Shapiro of Brown University and the Rhode Island Innovative Policy Lab have examined retail panel data and made some interesting discoveries about food purchases made by families who receive SNAP benefits. They found that every $100 in SNAP benefits leads to between $50 and $60 more food spending each month. We know that the roughly 1.5 million families in Ohio who receive SNAP benefits receive an average of $120 per month to help purchase their groceries, and this new research tells us that those SNAP dollars are supplemented by an additional $60-$72 of cash spending on food per family. Those purchases all support our food production and grocery sectors in Ohio, and our policy makers know that grocery spending is important for our overall economy. As Hastings and Shapiro explain in their article, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 increased SNAP benefits because they are spent quickly and have a multiplicative effect on overall economic activity. Interestingly, previous research demonstrated that the end of those ARRA benefit increases in 2013 was one factor in the decrease in grocery spending during that period. Specifically, the researchers estimated that for every $1 decrease in SNAP benefits, grocery store spending decreased by $0.37. People were spending less cash on food when they received fewer SNAP benefits. Hastings and Shapiro’s new research demonstrates that replacing SNAP benefits with an equivalent amount of cash benefits would lead to much smaller increases in food spending. In other words, SNAP benefits entice families to spend more on food purchases overall. Hastings and Shapiro conclude that SNAP has a larger effect on food spending than traditional economic models would predict. It is important not only for individual families but for our economy overall. Hastings and Shapiro’s article about their research will be published in the American Economic Review, one of the oldest and most respected scholarly journals in economics, and can be read in full here.
"Evicted" Author Returns to Cincinnati as 158 Ohio families a day lose their homes
Matthew Desmond, the author of Evicted which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, launched the Eviction Lab last year. The Lab makes eviction data publicly available with the hope that “findings will inform programs to prevent eviction and family homelessness, raise awareness of the centrality of housing insecurity in the lives of low-income families, and deepen our understanding of the fundamental drivers of poverty in America.” Here’s the map for Ohio which demonstrates that we have an eviction rate of nearly 3.5%. In other words, 158 families in our state lose their homes every single day. And if we drill down to Cincinnati in particular, we find that nearly 11.5 evictions occur here every day. Our eviction rate is 4.7% which is 2.36% above the national average. We ranked 46th in the country for evictions in 2016. What does this say about our community and what we could be doing differently to stabilize homes? In the NPR article, First-Ever Evictions Database Shows: 'We're In the Middle Of A Housing Crisis, Desmond refers to a lack of imagination and a lack of compassion that have prevented us as a country from finding solutions to housing insecurity. Here at the Child Poverty Collaborative, we know that Cincinnati is a very generous community. If we were able to harness dollars and compassion to re-imagine housing security in our region, imagine what could we accomplish.
We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions. Matthew Desmond is returning to Cincinnati this week for events at NKU, and the CPC staff will be in attendance at the think tank event being held on Friday. You can see a full list of his appearances here. What would you like to ask Desmond about his work? Or what would you like to ask the local panelists about the dearth of affordable housing and the high eviction rates in our area?
Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be Counted: What's at Stake with the 2020 U.S. Census
Once every ten years, the Census Bureau aims to count everyone in our country. This count will take place again in 2020, and it will be the first Census to use an Internet portal as the primary form of response. The Census provides an entire count of the population which is then used to measure and adjust all other federal population counts. It will determine how many seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed to local communities. Furthermore, once the Census is complete, the Bureau will provide each state the data required to redistrict its seats in Congress based on population shifts.
The Census Bureau released last week a map of predicted non-response rates at the Census tract level, and we can see that many areas in Cincinnati are predicted to have high numbers of residents who do not respond and therefore will not be counted. (The darker the blue color on the map, the higher the predicted non-response rate.) This map details the non-response rates for the 2010 Census and highlights particular groups of people at risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census based on historical non-response rates and Internet access. In 2016, 18.3% of households in Hamilton County had no Internet access or only dial-up access.
The consequences of an undercount in any community are real. We stand to lose federal dollars, and we could see changes in our number of Representatives as well as changes in our electoral districts. Census tract 263 to the west of our downtown area highlights what could be at risk for families experiencing poverty. This tract is home to about 1,200 Cincinnatians with a median household income of $15,580. About 11% of the population in this tract is Hispanic and 39% is Black. Almost 65% of residents in this tract are living below the federal poverty level, and we can see on the previously referenced maps that only 56% of households mailed back the Census survey in 2010. In 2016, 40-60% of this tract's households did not meet the minimum threshold for Internet access. Not surprisingly, the Census Bureau expects that only 35% of residents in this tracts will respond to the 2020 Census. That means that fewer Cincinnatians experiencing poverty will be counted, and it could have damaging effects in terms of federal dollars and community representation at the federal level.
What can we do as a community to increase response rates in all of our Census tracts in 2020?
Please contact us at Childpovertycollaborative@gmail.com with any questions.
Executive Director Dr. Bankston speaks at Cincinnati City Council's Major Projects Committee Meeting
March 8, 2018 - CPC Executive Director Dr. Karen Bankston spoke with Cincinnati City Council Members on the Major Projects and Smart Government Committee about the Child Poverty Collaborative. Video of committee meeting available here.