Category Archives: War on Poverty

New Article: China Aims to Extreme Poverty Covid-19 Exposes Gaps

New Article: Javier C. Hernández, China Aims to Extreme Poverty Covid-19 Exposes Gaps, N.Y. Times, (Oct. 26th, 2020).

Four decades of fast economic growth lifted most people in China out of poverty, and the Communist Party has vowed to help those who remain at the bottom. Mr. Xi’s antipoverty drive is focused on around five million people who earn less than 92 cents a day, down from nearly 56 million five years ago.

News Coverage: The Many Ways Institutional Racism Kills Black People

News Coverage: Khiara M. Bridges, The Many Ways Institutional Racism Kills Black People, Time Magazine (June 11, 2020).

Op-Ed: Detroit. New Orleans. D.C. Predatory Cities Are on the Rise.

Op-Ed: Bernadette Atuahene, Detroit. New Orleans. D.C. Predatory Cities Are on the Rise., N.Y. Times (June 11, 2020).

New Book: The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina

New Book: Gene R. Nichol, The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina (The University of North Carolina Press, 2018). Overview below:

These are the faces of poverty in North Carolina: scores of homeless men, women, and children take refuge in makeshift camps, barely hidden in the woods near some of our most affluent neighborhoods. Hundreds wait in lines hours long to receive basic health care at underfunded free clinics. In large cities and small towns, children–especially children of color–rely on meals at their schools to keep hunger at bay, while parents struggle in jobs that fail to pay living wages. While many in the Tar Heel State enjoy unparalleled prosperity, those born into poverty have lower odds than ever of climbing the ladder of economic upward mobility. Today, more than 1.5 million North Carolinians live in poverty. More than one in five are children. Behind these sobering statistics are the faces of our fellow citizens. This book tells their stories.

Since 2012, Gene R. Nichol has traveled the length of North Carolina, conducting hundreds of interviews with poor people and those working to alleviate the worst of their circumstances. Here their voices challenge all of us to see what is too often invisible, to look past partisan divides and preconceived notions, and to seek change. Only with a full commitment as a society, Nichol argues, will we succeed in truly ending poverty, which he calls our greatest challenge.

Article: Understanding the Hidden $1.1 Trillion Welfare System and How to Reform It

Article: Robert Rector & Vijay Menon, Understanding the Hidden $1.1 Trillion Welfare System and How to Reform It, Heritage Foundation – The Backgrounder, April 5, 2018.

Abstract below:

The true cost of welfare or aid to the poor is largely unknown because the spending is fragmented into myriad programs. Current welfare is focused largely on increasing benefits and enrollments and redistributing income. Self-defeating behaviors that increase the need for assistance are rarely even mentioned. Policymakers should replace welfare’s current focus with a new set of interlinked goals: reducing self-defeating and self-limiting behaviors, increasing self-support, and improving true human well-being. Welfare reform should (1) require all able-bodied adult recipients to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid, (2) remove the substantial penalties against marriage within the welfare system, and (3) fund programs aimed at improving behavior on

New Report: Administration’s Poverty Line Proposal Would Cut Health, Food Assistance for Millions Over Time

New Report, Aviva Aron-Dine et al., Administration’s Poverty Line Proposal Would Cut Health, Food Assistance for Millions Over Time, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 18, 2019.

ew Report: NYC Right to Counsel: First Year Results and Potential for Expansion,

New Report: Oksana Mironova, NYC Right to Counsel: First Year Results and Potential for Expansion, Community Service Society, March 25, 2019. Preview below:

Evictions are a major driver of housing instability and homelessness for low-income New Yorkers. In the past, tenants facing eviction usually arrived to housing court without legal representation, at a major disadvantage to landlords who almost always have an attorney. This is changing. After years of advocacy, New York became the first city in the country to launch Right to Counsel (RTC) in late 2017. This law will give tenants with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level who are facing an eviction in housing court access to an attorney. The city’s FY 2018 budget included $15M for the first phase of the program, which is reaching 20 of the city’s 200+ zip codes. Plans are to extend it to the remaining zip codes by 2022.

In addition to RTC, the city has launched other anti-harassment/anti-displacement legal services programs since 2014, like the Tenant Harassment Assistance program. The major difference is that in RTC zip codes, access to an attorney is a right for any low-income tenant facing an eviction. In non-RTC zip codes, legal services are a benefit for some low-income tenants.

In this brief, we look at how much legal representation has grown as a result of the Right to Counsel law, and what impact it has had on eviction rates. The phase-in of the program provides a natural experiment; it has given us an opportunity to compare RTC zip codes with similar zip codes without the program.

New Report: Forcing Judges to Criminalize Poverty: Eroding Judicial Independence in North Carolina

Report: Gene Nichol & Heather Hunt, Forcing Judges to Criminalize Poverty: Eroding Judicial Independence in North Carolina, North Carolina Poverty Research Fund, 2018.


Book Review: Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor

Book Review: Dorothy E. Roberts, Digitizing the Carceral State: A review of Automatzing Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor, by Virginia Euba (New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, 2018), 132 Harv. L. Rev. 1695 (2019).


New Book: Holes in the Safety Net: Federalism and Poverty

I’m excited to share that Holes in the Safety Net: Federalism and Poverty (Ezra Rosser ed., Cambridge University Press, 2019) has just been published and is now available. As can be seen in the list of chapters below, the book has a great group of contributors:

Introduction by Ezra Rosser

Part I: Welfare and Federalism

Federalism, Entitlement, and Punishment across the US Social Welfare State by Wendy Bach

Laboratories of Suffering: Toward Democratic Welfare Governance by Monica Bell, Andrea Taverna, Dhruv Aggarwal, and Isra Syed

The Difference in Being Poor in Red States Versus Blue States by Michele Gilman

Part II: States, Federalism, and Antipoverty Efforts

States’ Rights and State Wrongs: Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Work Requirements in Rural America by Rebecca H. Williams and Lisa R. Pruitt

State and Local Tax Takeaways by Francine J. Lipman

Early Childhood Development and the Replication of Poverty by Clare Huntington

States Diverting Funds from the Poor by Daniel Hatcher

States’ Evolving Role in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program by David A. Super

Part III: Advocacy

Federalism in Health Care Reform by Nicole Huberfeld

Poverty Lawyering in the States by Andrew Hammond

Conclusion: A Way Forward by Peter Edelman

Though it will be a year before a cheaper paperback option is sold, the hardback version of the book mainly targeted at libraries is now available. Here is the publisher’s page on the book, and here is the Amazon page. Please check it out and consider forwarding a request to your school’s librarian to get a copy of the book. The chapters really are great!

That is the main message, but I think it is within my fair use rights to share the book’s Acknowledgments’ page below because the first part of it speaks to the poverty law community generally:

This book is a product of the poverty law scholarly community. I would not have considered working on it if I had not been confident that I would find a great group of scholars willing to participate in this project. This is my third collaborative poverty law book project and it truly is wonderful to be part of a community that is primarily motivated by concern for the poor. My confidence was justified and I would like to thank especially the great group of contributors who wrote chapters for this book.

This book grew out of a conference hosted by American University Washington College of Law (WCL). I would like to thank Dean Camille Nelson, as well as Jennifer Dabson, Shayan Davoudi, and Karina Wegman for their support not only of the biannual poverty law conference but also of the Economic Justice Program at WCL. Daniel Hatcher’s eye-opening book, The Poverty Industry: The Exploitation of America’s Most Vulnerable Citizens (2016), inspired both that conference and this edited volume. Hatcher’s book is well worth reading in its own right.

I would like to give a special shout-out to my phenomenal research assistant, Oliver Jury. Often it was Oliver who caught the stray period mark or came up with the best way to fix a troublesome sentence. His attention to detail and skills as a writer are truly impressive.

Finally, I owe a big thank you to all those who cared for my young children while I worked on this project. In the United States, I want to thank Glenda, Onestina, and the staff at Play, Work or Dash; in El Salvador, thanks to my mother-in-law and to Elba. And everywhere, at all points in time, and for everything, thanks to Elvia. This book is dedicated to our children, Mateo and Mario. May they realize both the value of hard work and tremendous privileges they enjoy, and may their lives be filled with happiness and meaning. Un fuerte abrazo.

Thanks again to the contributors and to the larger community. And I hope you get a chance to read the many great chapters in the book.