WBEZ | families http://www.wbez.org/tags/families Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en From Deadbeat To Dead Broke: The 'Why' Behind Unpaid Child Support http://www.wbez.org/news/deadbeat-dead-broke-why-behind-unpaid-child-support-113864 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/img_2876-edit_custom-7d9b022cb3179d07b6163e3609164fc23ff458da-s1600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456671311"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Harrelle Felipa with five of his children and a granddaughter." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/img_2876-edit_custom-7d9b022cb3179d07b6163e3609164fc23ff458da-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 408px; width: 620px;" title="Harrelle Felipa with five of his children and a granddaughter. (Jennifer Ludden/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>On a recent Saturday afternoon at his West Baltimore rowhouse, Harrelle Felipa fields a steady stream of interruptions as he breads a large plate of fish and chicken for dinner.</p></div></div></div><p>His 4-year-old son wants to recite his letters. The 3-year-old brings him a toy that&#39;s broken. The tweens play Minecraft on the Xbox while Felipa&#39;s teen daughter checks her email. Felipa says he loves it.</p><p>&quot;This is what my life consists of,&quot; he says. &quot;I arrange my life around these guys.&quot;</p><p>It&#39;s not the typical image of a &quot;deadbeat dad.&quot;</p><p>Yet 47-year-old Felipa owes $20,000 in unpaid child support. Over the years, he has lost his driver&#39;s license for that (for two months), and spent time in jail for missing a court appointment (for two weeks).</p><p>He is part of a shift: Despite a two-decade crackdown on delinquent dads &mdash; an enforcement push that officials say has largely worked &mdash; the U.S. has more than <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456632896/how-u-s-parents-racked-up-113-billion-in-child-support-debt" target="_blank">$113 billion in child support debt.</a> The Obama administration, and others who support changes to child support enforcement, say this isn&#39;t because men won&#39;t pay.</p><p>&quot;That problem has been solved,&quot; says Vicki Turetsky, the head of the federal&nbsp;<a href="http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css">Office of Child Support Enforcement</a>. That&#39;s thanks to welfare reform in 1996, which included tougher rules that tracked down men with money.</p><p>The problem today, Turetsky says, is the many men without money. They don&#39;t earn enough, and they&#39;re accruing mountains of debt in back child support.</p><p><strong>Caught Between Parenting And Mounting Debt</strong></p><p>Take Felipa in Baltimore, for instance. He had his first child young, at 14. His own father wasn&#39;t around, and he says being a dad makes him feel complete.</p><p>Like so many families today, his is complicated. He has five young sons with a woman he calls his &quot;ex-fiancée.&quot; The boys have lived with him much of the time while their mother has worked as a restaurant manager.</p><p>Felipa&#39;s child support debt is for two teens with his ex-wife. The son lives with her, and Felipa has full custody of their 15-year-old daughter. Yes, you read that right: He owes child support for someone who lives with him full time.</p><p>It&#39;s not clear why; he&#39;s been asking the court to change it.</p><p>Maryland enforcement officials can&#39;t comment on specific cases. But they say custody and child support are often dealt with separately, the rules vary by state and are confusing, and changing a child support order can take many months. Some parents also have no right to a lawyer. Felipa says tensions over his child support situation helped lead to the breakup with his fiancée.</p><p>Felipa admits it&#39;s tough getting by with so many kids. He&#39;s paid child support sporadically, most recently when he was employed as a truck driver.</p><p>&quot;I was making $1,300 every two weeks and they were taking five [hundred]-something out every two weeks,&quot; he says. &quot;After the taxes and all that, can you imagine what [that] left me?&quot;</p><p>Current federal guidelines allow states to garnish up to 65 percent of a parent&#39;s pretax income for child support.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/1001242-Assessing-Child-Support-Arrears-in-Nine-Large-States-and-the-Nation.PDF">One study found</a>&nbsp;that among parents with reported annual incomes of $10,000 or less, the median child support order represents 83 percent of their income.</p><div id="res456663547"><div id="responsive-embed-child-support-income-20151117"><iframe frameborder="0" height="549px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/child-support-income-20151117/child.html?initialWidth=774&amp;childId=responsive-embed-child-support-income-20151117&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2015%2F11%2F19%2F456352554%2Ffrom-deadbeat-to-dead-broke-the-why-behind-unpaid-child-support%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D456352554" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="620"></iframe></div></div><p>Felipa says his child support order didn&#39;t leave him enough for child care. His hours were tough, leaving at 4 or 5 in the morning, sometimes not getting back until 8 or 9 at night. He hated leaving the kids with a sitter.</p><p>&quot;Sometimes you get that gut feeling, and when they cry, I just couldn&#39;t do it,&quot; he says. &quot;I felt something wasn&#39;t right.&quot;</p><p>So, in a move not likely to get much sympathy in family court, Felipa quit working. For two years he&#39;s relied on food stamps and other aid while his child support debt has ballooned.</p><p><strong>&#39;Income That Doesn&#39;t Exist&#39;</strong></p><p>&quot;When people have orders that they can&#39;t comply with, it doesn&#39;t motivate them to work and pay. It does the opposite,&quot; says Turetsky of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css">Office of Child Support Enforcement</a>.</p><p>She says too many men quit jobs, turn down promotions, or go underground when courts set child support orders too high. One problem, she says, is that when there&#39;s no evidence of income, many jurisdictions &quot;impute&quot; it, often basing payments on a full-time minimum wage job.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m going to call it magical thinking,&quot; Turetsky says. &quot;You could call it the income we think you should have. But the bottom line is that it is income that does not exist.&quot;</p><p>The child support system was set up four decades ago, and Turetsky says it seems stuck there &mdash; as if a man with no college can still walk into a factory tomorrow and pull down middle-class wages. In fact, a large majority of child support debt is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/1001242-Assessing-Child-Support-Arrears-in-Nine-Large-States-and-the-Nation.PDF">owed by men who make less than $10,000 a year</a>.</p><div id="res456663291"><div id="responsive-embed-child-support-debt-20151118"><iframe frameborder="0" height="422px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/child-support-debt-20151118/child.html?initialWidth=774&amp;childId=responsive-embed-child-support-debt-20151118&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2015%2F11%2F19%2F456352554%2Ffrom-deadbeat-to-dead-broke-the-why-behind-unpaid-child-support%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D456352554" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="620"></iframe></div></div><p>&quot;We&#39;re asking that [women and children] become dependent on men who are just as poor as they are,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://cffpp.org/staff/">Jacquelyn Boggess</a>&nbsp;of the Center for Family Policy and Practice.</p><p>When parents face incarceration for nonpayment, it can burden entire families. Boggess has seen men&#39;s mothers, even their ex-girlfriends or wives, step in to pay to keep a father out of jail. And child support debt never goes away, even if you declare bankruptcy or when the children grow up.</p><p>&quot;We found that there are 20- and 30-year-old children who are paying their father&#39;s child support debt, so their father can keep whatever small income they may have,&quot; she says.</p><p>Another quirk in the system is that many men rack up child support debt while in jail. After Antonio Martin&#39;s ex-girlfriend lost her company health insurance, she had to give the government Martin&#39;s name, as it was a requirement in order to get Medicaid coverage for their daughter. Martin was serving seven years for robbery when the child support order came.</p><p><img alt="Felipa prepares dinner for his family at their home in West Baltimore, Md." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/17/harrelle-cooking-c9f69523fb7cf41adb984a51d291a2fc7fcc1b58-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Felipa prepares dinner for his family at their home in West Baltimore, Md. (Jennifer Ludden/NPR)" /></p><p>It was &quot;$183.50 twice a month,&quot; he says. &quot;So in my mind I&#39;m thinking, upon release I&#39;ll start paying this amount of money.&quot;</p><div id="res456413992"><div><div><p>Enforcement officials say that happens a lot. Some parents don&#39;t realize they can file to defer payments. But many states consider incarceration &quot;voluntary employment,&quot; and no excuse to suspend child support. Martin&#39;s debt added up, month after month.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;When I came home and I got the first letter,&quot; he recalls. &quot;I was seeing it was $4,000 on there.&quot;</p><p>That was two years ago. With his criminal record, Martin has struggled to find work. His debt is now approaching $6,000. Martin recently completed a job training program at the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cfuf.org/">Center for Urban Families</a>&nbsp;in Baltimore, hoping to find any job he can to start paying down his debt. Eventually, he hopes to get certified for work in plumbing or carpentry.</p><p><strong>Balancing Responsibility And Reality</strong></p><p>Among the Obama administration&#39;s proposed changes to child support rules is a provision&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-17/pdf/2014-26822.pdf">barring states from letting child support pile up in prison</a>. There is wide support for that, even among conservatives.</p><p>&quot;Everyone agrees yes, we should be tough,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brookings.edu/experts/haskinsr">Ron Haskins</a>&nbsp;of the Brookings Institution. &quot;But if a father goes to jail for five years, should he owe $15,000 in child support when he comes out? You know that guy&#39;s never going to have $15,000 in his whole life.&quot;</p><p>More controversially, the administration wants to make sure child support orders are based on a parent&#39;s actual income.</p><p>&quot;We can&#39;t be naive when we&#39;re dealing with parents who have walked away from providing for their children,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://www.aei.org/scholar/robert-doar/">Robert Doar</a>, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.</p><p>Doar, who used to head child support enforcement in New York state, says there will always be some parents who go to great lengths to hide income. He does support suspending debt during incarceration and more job training programs &mdash; but worries the proposed changes would make it too easy to dismiss cases as &quot;uncollectible.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re talking about poor, single parents, often moms,&quot; he says. &quot;And the child support collections that they get, when they get it, represents 45 percent of their income.&quot;</p><p>Republicans on Capitol Hill have filed bills to&nbsp;<a href="http://waysandmeans.house.gov/house-senate-lawmakers-announce-bill-to-reaffirm-congress-role-in-welfare-policy/">block the proposed regulations</a>. They worry they&#39;ll undermine the principle of personal responsibility, a hallmark of child support enforcement measures in the 1990s. They also say any regulatory changes should be made through Congress, not the administration.</p><div id="res456414569"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Harrelle Felipa (right) speaks during the Responsible Fathers meeting at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. His child support debt has accrued to $20,000 after he quit a job to be a stay-at-home dad." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/17/responsible-fathers-meeting-jtsuboike-0308-edit_custom-42c20c167079f05c3f6a0a4661b6f031cb8e85d1-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Harrelle Felipa, right, speaks during the Responsible Fathers meeting at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. His child support debt has accrued to $20,000 after he quit a job to be a stay-at-home dad. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Meanwhile, Harrelle Felipa continues to do the best he can. His youngest will head to school soon, and the boy&#39;s mom &mdash; Felipa&#39;s ex-fiancée. &mdash; recently lost her job. So Felipa is looking to work again. He&#39;s been volunteering at an elementary school and is talking with the principal about a paid position. This time, he hopes what&#39;s left in his paycheck after child support will be enough.</p></div></div></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456352554/from-deadbeat-to-dead-broke-the-why-behind-unpaid-child-support?ft=nprml&amp;f=456352554"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 16:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/deadbeat-dead-broke-why-behind-unpaid-child-support-113864 Suing a nursing home could get easier under proposed federal rules http://www.wbez.org/news/suing-nursing-home-could-get-easier-under-proposed-federal-rules-113408 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/nursing-home_custom-80c8cb23ff11dd5ce8c1f86da5534458bd5c7daf-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res449991080" previewtitle="Proponents of arbitration say the system is more efficient than going to court for both sides, but arbitration can be costly, too. And a 2009 study showed the typical awards in nursing home cases are about 35 percent lower than the plaintiff would get if the case went to court."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Proponents of arbitration say the system is more efficient than going to court for both sides, but arbitration can be costly, too. And a 2009 study showed the typical awards in nursing home cases are about 35 percent lower than the plaintiff would get if the case went to court." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/19/nursing-home_custom-80c8cb23ff11dd5ce8c1f86da5534458bd5c7daf-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Proponents of arbitration say the system is more efficient than going to court for both sides, but arbitration can be costly, too. And a 2009 study showed the typical awards in nursing home cases are about 35 percent lower than the plaintiff would get if the case went to court. (Heinz Linke/Westend61/Corbis)" /></div></div><p>As Dean Cole&#39;s dementia worsened, he began wandering at night. He&#39;d even forgotten how to drink water. His wife, Virginia, could no longer manage him at home. So after much agonizing, his family checked him into a Minnesota nursing home.</p><p>&quot;Within a little over two weeks he&#39;d lost 20 pounds and went into a coma,&quot; says Mark Kosieradzki, who was the Cole family&#39;s attorney. Dean Cole was rushed to the hospital, says Kosieradzki, &quot;and what was discovered was that he&#39;d become totally dehydrated. They did get his fluid level up, but he was never, ever able to recover from it and died within the month.&quot;</p><p>Kosieradzki says that Virginia Cole had signed a stack of papers when her husband was admitted to the nursing home. As is often the case, one of the forms was a binding agreement to go to arbitration if she ever had a claim against the facility. So instead of taking the nursing home to court, her claim for wrongful death was heard by three private arbitrators. They charged for their services.</p><p>&quot;The arbitration bill for the judges was $60,750. That was split in half between the two parties,&quot; says Kosieradzki.</p><p>Virginia Cole won her claim, but after paying the arbitrators, expert witnesses and attorney&#39;s fees, she was left with less than $20,000.</p><div id="res449978478"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>The federal government is now considering safeguards that would regulate the way nursing homes present arbitration agreements when residents are admitted.</p><p>But more than 50 labor, legal, medical and consumer&nbsp;<a href="http://theconsumervoice.org/uploads/files/issues/CMS_Long_Term_Care_Comments_Oct14_.pdf">organizations</a>&nbsp;have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.citizen.org/documents/FAN-CMS-arbitration-comments-10-14-15.pdf">told the government</a>&nbsp;that&#39;s not enough. They want these pre-dispute arbitration agreements banned entirely. Thirty-four&nbsp;<a href="https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=press_release&amp;id=3247">U.S. senators</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/ArbitrationProvisons.pdf">attorneys general</a>&nbsp;from 15 states and the District of Columbia also have called for banning the agreements.</p><p>&quot;No one should be forced to accept denial of justice as a price for the care their loved ones deserve,&quot; says Henry Waxman, a former congressman from California. Arbitration agreements keep the neglect and abuse of nursing home residents secret, Waxman says, because the cases aren&#39;t tried in open court and resolutions sometimes have gag rules.</p><p>&quot;None of the systemic health and safety problems that cause the harm will ever see the light of day,&quot; he says.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/07/16/2015-17207/medicare-and-medicaid-programs-reform-of-requirements-for-long-term-care-facilities">proposed federal regulation</a>&nbsp;would require nursing homes to explain these arbitration agreements so that residents or their families understand what they&#39;re signing. It would also make sure that agreeing to arbitration is not a requirement for nursing home admission.</p><p><a href="http://www.ahcancal.org/Pages/Default.aspx">The American Health Care Association</a>, which represents most nursing homes, is against this proposed change in the rules. Clifton Porter II, the AHCA&#39;s senior vice president for government relations, says that&#39;s because &quot;they&#39;re prescribing us to do things that we, frankly, already do.&quot; Porter acknowledges, however, that practices vary from facility to facility, depending on state law.</p><p>Arbitration agreements, he says, are common throughout the health care industry &mdash; in hospitals, surgery centers and doctors&#39; offices. &quot;Why aren&#39;t rules being promulgated to eliminate arbitration in those settings?&quot; he asks.</p><p>In any case, Porter says arbitration is more efficient for both sides than going to court would be.</p><p>&quot;It actually allows consumers to get an expedited award,&quot; he says. &quot;And you have the benefit of not having to use the courts and go through the entire process.&quot;</p><p>But that expedited award is about 35 percent lower than if the plaintiff had gone to court. That&#39;s one conclusion of a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ahcancal.org/research_data/liability/Documents/2009ArbitrationStudy.pdf">study</a>&nbsp;commissioned by Porter&#39;s organization in 2009.</p><p>If the federal government does regulate or ban the signing of arbitration agreements for new nursing home residents, Porter says the American Health Care Association will probably fight the move in court.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/19/449957318/suing-a-nursing-home-could-get-easier-under-proposed-federal-rules?ft=nprml&amp;f=449957318" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 15:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/suing-nursing-home-could-get-easier-under-proposed-federal-rules-113408 Families make up a growing number of the homeless population http://www.wbez.org/news/families-make-growing-number-homeless-population-111225 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/homeless families.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-9324213e-3e84-1716-850d-2137f1c8207c">The people we see at an underpass might be the most visible among the homeless population in Chicago. But families make up a major part of the count, and they often go unnoticed.</p><p dir="ltr">If you saw Marilyn Escoe, you might just see a single mother to four. A few years ago, she was providing for her family on a tight budget, but things spiraled when her mom got sick. Her mother moved into her house and Escoe became her caretaker.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My mom, she started getting sicker. That didn&rsquo;t leave me enough time to keep up with my job duties,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Escoe lost her job and fell behind on rent. She thought staying with a friend would be a burden and that moving into a homeless shelter would put the responsibility on her. So she made the tough decision to put her mother in the hospital and move the kids to a shelter.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I thought about the sense of privacy. I thought about how would my children react with other children,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Escoe and her kids slept on bunk beds in a dorm-style space with other families.</p><p dir="ltr">What was supposed to be a four-month stay, turned into two years.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The twins, they actually started their puberty at the shelter. I said, &ldquo;wow,&rdquo; if anything else can&rsquo;t happen, this had to happen,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Escoe&rsquo;s mother passed away during that time, and her oldest daughter had to step up when Escoe got a part-time job.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t be able to transport them to school. So at 12 years old, she was taking her three siblings back to the West Side to school. So it was like an hour and half away from the shelter,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Escoe&rsquo;s story isn&rsquo;t uncommon. The city&rsquo;s most recent count recorded a general homeless population of 6,294, relatively unchanged from the previous year. But there was a 7 percent increase in sheltered families with children.</p><p dir="ltr">Providers like the Primo Center for Women and Children felt that uptick firsthand.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There are so many families we turn away because we don&rsquo;t have the beds,&rdquo; said Christine Achre, CEO of the center.</p><p dir="ltr">This shelter has wraparound services, things like child care and counseling. Unlike many facilities in the city, families share apartment-style units. There are 111 beds here, and Achre says 30 families are using all of them.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the years, Achre has seen intact families and single fathers with their kids. The most typical configuration is a mother and at least one child. Achre says one of the greatest predictors of adult homelessness is if a mother&rsquo;s experienced residential instability in her youth.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really important that if we&rsquo;re going to break the cycle of homelessness, that we need to nurture our families more and give more priority to family homelessness,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s Department of Family and Support Services has a $43 million homelessness program. It&rsquo;s a mix of funding from the federal government, the state, the city and some private donors.</p><p dir="ltr">John Pfeiffer with DFSS says poverty is a complex problem that takes many agencies working together.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When there is a failure in one system or if someone&rsquo;s had a bad experience in one of those systems, or multiple systems it can result ultimately in homelessness. So we&rsquo;re always trying to look back up the chain and try to see what policy changes can be made to prevent further homelessness,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Pfeiffer says beds were available for all families in need this year, whether that was at a shelter or an overflow site. He says the city&rsquo;s been maintaining its services for all subsets, and it&rsquo;s aligned itself with a federal initiative to end veteran homelessness in 2015.</p><p dir="ltr">Julie Dworkin with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless says while those efforts are good, it can turn attention away from other groups. For example, she says, a previous push to end chronic homelessness came with the idea that it would free up resources for others.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Where the resources are getting saved are emergency room visits, jails. Other systems are saving money because these folks aren&rsquo;t accessing them. But it doesn&rsquo;t create any more money in the homeless service system,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Dworkin says families make up more than half the city&rsquo;s homeless population. The coalition&rsquo;s annual count estimates 138,575 people were homeless between June 2013 and June 2014. That&rsquo;s 22 times the city&rsquo;s count. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The main difference is the city uses standards from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the coalition uses the definition from the Department of Education. Basically, the coalition counts people living temporarily with a friend or relative, and the city doesn&rsquo;t.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If you say these folks who are doubled up aren&rsquo;t homeless, they&rsquo;re eventually going to end up in the shelter system. That&rsquo;s the most common pattern, (is) when the families come in and you say &lsquo;why are you here?&rsquo; They say it was because of a dispute. Those situations break down,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Dworkin says there&rsquo;s been little change to the city&rsquo;s budget line item for the homeless over the years.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So whether it&rsquo;s a good budget time or bad budget time, it sort of stays stagnant. So it&rsquo;s a matter of priorities,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">These days things are looking up for Marilyn Escoe. She and her children live in a subsidized apartment in Rogers Park. She just finished a culinary program and works part time at the homeless facility that once sheltered her.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I was once in those shoes and I had shelter. Some people don&rsquo;t even have shelter. It could&rsquo;ve still been me out there,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">The city says it&rsquo;s adding new beds in 2015. It hopes with an increase in the minimum wage and more available affordable housing, those extra beds will be just that, extra.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Susie An covers business for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/soosieon">@soosieon</a></em></p></p> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 06:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/families-make-growing-number-homeless-population-111225 Inside and Out: Stress and fatigue can defeat families http://www.wbez.org/story/attorney/inside-and-out-stress-and-fatigue-can-defeat-families <p><p>Nearly half the kids leaving Illinois youth prisons end up back inside. They just can't make it outside. The pull of the old life is strong, and a lot of times,&nbsp; the families of young offenders just can't get them back into school, or a job, or away from the street.&nbsp; It's a wasteful cycle…for the state and especially for the lives of kids themselves.&nbsp; WBEZ's<a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/"> Inside and Out</a> team met a lot of these young people last year as we reported on the state's youth prisons. We're revisiting some of them this week, as we begin a look at what it would take to keep more kids out of prison for good.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>When Meechie was in the Chicago prison for kids his mother and grandmother visited him without fail.<br> <br> SHAPREE: She wants to go every weekend.<br> <br> JOSIE: That's my oldest grandbaby and he's locked up, he can't get out and I know I would want to see somebody, at least on the weekend.&nbsp; I love my baby I'm sorry.&nbsp; I just love my grandson.<br> <br> SHAPREE: That's not teaching him a lesson of him missing us and him doing what he needs to do.<br> <br> JOSIE: That's teaching him a lesson.&nbsp; I think he have learned his lesson.&nbsp; I don't want him to think that I gave up on him.&nbsp; I haven't gave up on him during the times that he was doing the stuff he wasn't supposed to be doing so I'm not giving up on him now.<br> <br> They drive a couple miles through a heavy rain on a Saturday morning from the house on Chicago's West Side to the youth prison on Western Avenue, a few lights north of the Eisenhower.<br> <br> I should say here that we're not using Meechie's last name to protect his identity because of his status as a juvenile offender.<br> <br> On the way to the prison on this morning, his mom and grandmother stop to pick up Meechie's son.<br> <br> JOSIE: Hello Foo-foo.&nbsp; Say 'hi.'<br> <br> The three of them head into the prison and spend a couple hours with Meechie in the visting room but it doesn't go well.<br> <br> Meechie is down because he recently got a ticket for a disciplinary infraction of some sort, nothing major but it's got him worried.<br> <br> The judge in his case said she'd keep him in prison if he didn't stay out of trouble.<br> <br> But in the hearing a week later, a guard from the prison calls Meechie a quote, "model youth."<br> <br> That, along with his good grades impressed the judge and she let him out.<br> <br> MEECHIE: Yeah, I was praying all night so I could come home!&nbsp; Fixin' to go to the house, get in the shower, and change my clothes and stuff.<br> <br> Back at home, on his front porch, Meechie says all the right things, the things he heard over and over from staff in prison.<br> <br> MEECHIE: Yeah I'm fenna get my GED.&nbsp; I'm probably fenna go to Malcolm X, get my GED.<br> <br> But actually going to Malcolm X city college and signing up, that doesn't happen before he's arrested on a drug charge just a couple weeks after being released.<br> <br> For whatever reason Meechie didn't go sign up on his own.<br> <br> He isn't mature enough, or determined enough, or something.<br> <br> And his family didn't help and no one else was on him to make sure he got enrolled.<br> <br> And his new case is an adult case because he's 18 now.<br> <br> On the plus side, he's not being held at the Cook County jail though he does have to spend his days there as part of a day reporting program, a way for the jail to keep an eye on him without having to actually keep him 24/7.<br> <br> But the hearings in adult court are confusing, and frustrating and often times degrading.<br> <br> At his first hearing he didn't have an attorney lined up and the judge, Gloria Chevere, berated him.<br> <br> She scheduled a hearing for a week later and said if he doesn't have a private attorney by then, she's going to take the thousand dollars he posted for bond, and she's going to give it to the first lawyer who happens to be in court that day and that will be his attorney.<br> <br> Meechie and his mom leave angry and silent, walking 20 feet apart.<br> <br> MEECHIE: I don't even want to talk about it.<br> <br> With the hearing done, Meechie is supposed to go back to the jail for the day reporting program, but his mom has had it.…she just drives him back home along with his co-defendant who also had to be in court that day.<br> <br> She drops them both off at a corner in the neighborhood, the same streets where they were arrested.<br> <br> Later at home, tired and seeming depressed, she eats a small pizza off of a paper plate and won't talk about the case.<br> <br> SHAPREE: I ain't fenna answer no questions because I don't feel like it.<br> <br> She says there's no more she can do for her son.<br> <br> Meechie's grandmother Josie is willing to talk but it seems like she too has given up.<br> <br> She's laying on the coach watching One Oh Six and park on B-E-T with two of Meechie's younger siblings.<br> <br> SOT<br> <br> She's able to provide housing for a couple of her adult children and their children.<br> <br> But her job working on case files for cancer patients who have died is depressing and the ride to work is an hour and a half on the bus each way.<br> <br> JOSIE: I'm tired.&nbsp; Disgusted.&nbsp; This is my building, I wanted to move from around here so maybe he would have a better chance in life but I can't afford to move.<br> <br> Josie says she's told the family they shouldn't call her at work anymore when Meechie is in trouble.<br> <br> JOSIE: Long as I don't know what he doing now, it don't bother me too much because I just can't take it no more.&nbsp; I don't want to see him in jail cause he's not in juvie no more, this will be the county.<br> <br> The thing about Meechie's story and his family's inability to help him, it's a very common.<br> <br> In reporting on juvenile justice I've met a number of moms who gave up on their kids, and it's usually for good reason.<br> <br> With limited time and energy, some choose to focus on the younger kids because maybe they can still be saved.<br> <br> Others have no choice because of health problems.<br> <br> I've talked to moms who are under doctor's orders to avoid stress which means avoiding their kids and their kid's problems.<br> <br> But even moms who haven't given up, they still have a hard time getting help for their kids.<br> <br> Tune in tomorrow as we hear about one mother's often frustrated efforts to get her son more support than the monthly five minute visit from a parole officer that he's getting now.<br> <br> Robert Wildeboer, WBEZ.</p></p> Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/attorney/inside-and-out-stress-and-fatigue-can-defeat-families Dear Chicago: We need a place to live http://www.wbez.org/story/dear-chicago-we-need-place-live <p> <br/> <div id="PictoBrowser120123141222"></div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "519", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: We need a place to live"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628999223459"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "top"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "47"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123141222"); </script> <p>It’s estimated that over forty-thousand households in Chicago are headed by grandparents who have taken responsibility for raising their grandchildren. 61-year-old Joyce Jackson is part of that legion. The mother of four has twelve grandchildren, four of whom she’s raised herself: 21-year-old Jamie, 19-year-old Jamal, 18-year-old Mario and 16-year-old Keosha.</p><div>Securing affordable housing is difficult for many Chicago residents but it is often more so for families headed by grandparents. Many of them are retired or are on a fixed income. Senior housing designed for low-income adults is rarely suitable for families with children.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2009 Jackson found an apartment in Coppin House, a 54-unit building just west of Washington Park, developed jointly between a variety of non-profit and government entities, including the City of Chicago. Gladys Jordan, Director of Interfaith Housing Development Corporation, says the city’s contribution to the project included selling the land on which Coppin House sits to the developer for a single dollar. It also issued $8.3 million in tax-exempt bonds and $679,000 in 4% low-income housing tax credits.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The building was designed specifically for families headed by grandparents or other adult relatives, and for young adults phasing out of the foster care system. Coppin House is one of only a few buildings in the city designed with this purpose in mind, so demand for units far outstrips supply. According to Gladys Jordan, every time they open the waiting list for spots at Coppin House, “Literally, thousands of families apply.”</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago, </em></div><div><em>I’ve had my granddaughter Jamie since she was born. I was 40 when she was born, and it changed my life drastically. Her mother was my youngest child and she had went away to school and I had just become an empty nester, so I was thinking this was the time I was getting ready to live, you know, do some things for myself and live life for me. But I loved Jamie, so I adjusted to that. But then it went from one grandchild to three and then to four. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Jamie’s mother, my daughter Daphne, suffered with depression. She moved out and then she had the two boys, Mario and Jamal, and the next girl, Keosha. And she didn’t tell me she couldn’t take care of her children; she just showed me. It had gotten to the point where the children were being left home alone. I knew they were being neglected. The two boys started calling me, saying, “Grandma, we don’t have anything to eat.” I said, well, I may as well have the children if I’m going to be running back and forth trying to make sure they have what they need to wear, trying to make sure everything’s going right in school for them. And down through the years Daphne never one time asked me if she could have her children, you know, “Mama, I’m ready to take care of my children.” </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I didn’t think it would be permanent. I thought she would get better, but she didn’t. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>It was very hard. People told me I should just let them go into the [foster care] system and then they’ll give them back to you, but I loved my grandchildren and I didn’t want to see them out of my home for even one day.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>We had a real nice house in the suburb of South Holland, Illinois--a three-bedroom house with three bathrooms and a full, finished basement. There was plenty of room for us. But they were out there in the suburbs and I was working in the city, and I was just so upset with them coming home in the house alone. So, I decided to resign from my job and do home daycare professionally so I could be home with them.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>At first it went really well. We were paying the bills and, as a matter of fac,t I was making more money doing day care than I was working at my old job. But it got to the point where a lot of people started getting laid off from their jobs and people didn’t have the money for childcare. I couldn’t continue to pay the house note and the utilities, so I lost the house to foreclosure. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>We moved into the city with my sister. But it was really tight. She was already living in a five-bedroom apartment with her friend and my granddaughter, Keosha. It was just too many people in one house. We weren’t getting along, and the boys wound up having to sleep on an enclosed back porch that wasn’t heated. We were really trying to find someplace else to go but I still didn’t have the income to find a place. We got to the point where we really felt like we were going to end up homeless. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Then my daughter-in-law brought me a form from the Chicago Department of Aging. They asked me what I needed, and I checked housing. So eventually about six months later they did call me and told me about Coppin House. My heart was glad and I was like, oh God, I want one of those apartments! But you still needed money to move in. It wasn’t free: I also needed $980 for the security deposit. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Then the Lord sent Grand Families [Program of Chicago] in our life! The Department of Aging hooked me up with Grand Families. I was over to the office one day and the director asked me to come in her office and so I came in and she said, “We’re going to give you the money to get the apartment.”</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I started crying and praising God. We had already gone and looked at the apartments and they were just heaven for us. It was just like a weight lifted off of my heart. And I said God this is it, you have done it, now we have a place of our own again. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Now we have been here almost two years and I love being here and it’s working out for me well. The only problem I have with it--and I still thank God because he has provided for me for these two years--but it is hard for me to pay the rent. Usually every month I’m relying on my other three grown children to help me pay the rent, but it’s getting hard for them, too, because they each have families. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>My appeal would be to build more of this kind of housing that is affordable for grandparents. There are so many grandparents that are going through the struggle and need decent housing. And I’m not the only grandparent in here that’s really struggling to pay the rent. I just met a grandmother that just got seven grandchildren. Seven! And last time I talked to her she was trying to find housing because she was getting ready to be evicted.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I’m grateful for what the city did. Mayor Daley came to the grand opening of Coppin House. He came in and cut the ribbon and said he was glad we were so happy for this housing and he was going to put it on the agenda for more. And I’m kind of sad he’s leaving. Really, I am, because I’m hoping the next person coming in has that same mind. </em></div><div><p class="MsoNormal"><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ’s Partnership Program. Joyce Jackson was nominated for the series by <a href="http://communitymediaworkshop.org/training/">Community Media Workshop</a>.</p></div></p> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/dear-chicago-we-need-place-live