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2 September 2006

The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog: Hurricane Recovery & Women- a new report

Before Katrina, fifty-six percent of families in New Orleans were not two-parent but female-headed, single-parent households with median annual income of just $16,450-notching them below the federal poverty line. The Institute for Women's Policy Research recently found that women represent more than 90% of prime-age American workers (age 26-59) who average low earnings over 15 years. For many of Hurricane Katrina's female survivors, the loss of their home meant the loss of a home-based business as well.

Attempting to turn around their lives' upheaval, Hurricane Katrina's survivors are hoping for better prospects than they had before. The women's funding movement has set out to help make this a reality.

Throughout the South and in other parts of the country, women's funds are delivering resources to create sustainable economic opportunities and to reverse social injustices as the centerpiece of long-term relief for the direct impact of the disaster.
The role of the women's funding movement in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath is to identify the ways in which women and girls are impacted, and to make them integral to the disaster recovery and rebuilding of their communities.
Thirty years of partnership with grassroots women puts women's funds in a crucial position to funnel support to local activists dealing with economic and social justice issues as well as the long-term reconstruction effort...MORE

1 September 2006

Home-Health Aides Struggle

Home-Health Aides Struggle
With Low Pay, Lack of Benefits
By Kristen Gerencher

From MarketWatch

Home health worker Merlin Willis looks on the bright side as he helps disabled and elderly people with dressing, bathing, food shopping, light housekeeping and feeding.

"In general, it's a decent job," said Willis, 55, who works for San Francisco's In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, which helps low-income Californians remain in their homes. "You don't have a boss hanging over you every five seconds. You meet interesting people and you're making a difference."

The little things -- when a patient begins to walk on his own again or says a heartfelt thank you -- go a long way toward making the job satisfying, he said. But the flip side can be intense, such as when an unstable patient doesn't want the intrusion.

"I've been in the position where I've had knives pulled on me, bottles thrown at you," Willis said. "You do get clients that have drug problems, alcohol problems and they live in a single room of a sleazy hotel. You have to take care of them also. They're people."

Despite growing demand for their services, home-health workers often face tough working conditions, spotty low pay and lack of health insurance, experts said. Such issues are poised to become even more serious as Baby Boomers age and seek to remain out of nursing homes...MORE

28 August 2006

Business - International Herald Tribune

Retraining laid-off workers, but for what?

Retraining laid-off workers, but for what?
By LOUIS UCHITELLE
The New York Times
SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 2006

Layoffs have disrupted the lives of millions of Americans over the last 25 years. The cure that these displaced workers are offered - retraining and more education - is heralded as a sure path to new and better-paying careers. But often that policy prescription does not work, as this book excerpt explains. It is adapted from "The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences" by Louis Uchitelle, an economics writer for The New York Times. Knopf will publish the book on Tuesday.

JO GOODRUM, a thin, energetic woman older than her audience of aircraft mechanics - old enough, perhaps, to be their mother - got their attention with a single, unexpected sentence, which she inserted early in her presentation. Her husband, she said, had been laid off six times since the late 1980's. And yet here she was, standing before them, in one piece, cheerful, apparently O.K., giving survival instructions to the mechanics, who would be laid off themselves in 10 days.

They were, in nearly every case, family men in their 30's and 40's who had worked for United Airlines since the mid-1990's. Summoned by their union, they had gathered in the carpeted conference room at the Days Inn next to Indianapolis International Airport, not far from United's giant maintenance center, a building so big that 12 airliners could be overhauled in it simultaneously. That no longer happened. Most of the repair bays were empty. The airline was cutting back operations, and the 60 mechanics at the meeting were in the fourth group to be let go.

Confrontation had brought on the layoffs. Influenced by militants in their union local, Hoosier Air Transport Lodge 2294 of the International Association of Machinists, the 2,000 mechanics at the center had engaged in a work slowdown for many months, and then a refusal to work overtime. But rather than give ground, United responded by outsourcing, sending planes to nonunion contractors elsewhere in the country.

That scared the mechanics. They quieted down and, in effect, authorized the leaders of Lodge 2294 to make peace. Their hope was that if they cooperated, United would ease up on the layoffs and revive operations at, arguably, one of the most efficient, high-tech maintenance centers in the world. In this state of mind, the union was helping to usher the 60 laid-off mechanics quietly away. It had rented the conference room on this cold January evening in 2003 to introduce the men to what amounted to a boot camp for recycling laid-off workers back into new, usually lower-paying lines of work. MORE

27 August 2006

The Housing Crisis Goes Suburban

The Housing Crisis Goes Suburban

By Michael Grunwald
Sunday, August 27, 2006; Page B01

In the past five years, housing prices in Fairfax County have grown 12 times as fast as household incomes. Today, the county's median family would have to spend 54 percent of its income to afford the county's median home; in 2000, the figure was 26 percent. The situation is so dire that Fairfax recently began offering housing subsidies to families earning $90,000 a year; soon, that figure may go as high as $110,000 a year.

Seventy years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the Depression had left one-third of the American people "ill-housed, ill-clothed and ill-nourished," Americans are well-clothed and increasingly overnourished. But the scarcity of affordable housing is a deepening national crisis, and not just for inner-city families on welfare...

....(Still), Fairfax County illustrates how the creative solutions to the current crisis are emerging locally. It was one of 130 communities to adopt "inclusionary zoning," requiring developers to reserve a percentage of affordable units. It is one of more than 300 communities with affordable-housing trust funds; Fairfax voters approved a "Penny for Housing" initiative that will divert one cent of property taxes to subsidized projects. The Fairfax housing authority is also at the cutting edge of "workforce housing," offering 20 single-room apartments for day laborers in its own offices, while building and buying several dozen townhouses to rent to nurses, police officers, firefighters, teachers and bus drivers...MORE

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