Week in Review

Week in Review

Census stats, homelessness and budget options were among the leading topics at The Chicago Reporter's Muckraker blog this week.

We continue to report about the increase in the number of poor people in the city. Eleven years ago, during its decennial count, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 556,791 individuals who fell below federal poverty thresholds in Chicago. In the agency's most recent community survey, for 2010, that number had risen to 596,975.

The increase of more than 40,000 more people considered poor in Chicago came even as the city's overall population shrank from approximately 2.8 to 2.6 million between 1999 and 2010.

More than 22 percent of Chicagoans now are poor, up nearly 3 percent from 1999. Check out the full post here, which includes rates of poverty broken down by race for the 2000 Census and the 2010 survey.

In other census stories, we reported this Wednesday that seven out of every 1,000 couples in Illinois are same sex.

"[T]he overall number of same-sex couples in the U.S. has grown by 80 percent since the 2000, census officials said yesterday," our post reads. "The number of those couples listing themselves as married has nearly doubled--up 197 percent. While still relatively small--131,729 couples for the entire nation, according to the latest estimates - that number may continue to rise as states like Illinois pass laws legally recognizing these partnerships."

Fifty-eight percent of Illinois same-sex couples are female. Twenty-one percent of same-sex couples in the state are raising children. Most live in the Chicago region--there are 18,202 couples in Cook County, with more than 13,000 of them stationed in Chicago.

While poverty is increasing in Chicago and around the country, the number of homeless people fell between the start of the last recession and its midpoint, the National Alliance to End Homelessness recently found.

In all, there were 34,877 fewer homeless people on the streets, due to what the group says were successful investments in homeless prevention.

But that could become undone:

New projections show that homelessness will rise by about 5 percent nationally by 2013. That means that about 74,000 more people will be living on the streets, according to [the alliance's] new report, Increases in Homelessness on the Horizon.

So why is homelessness going up again, after it went down? A combination of two factors: one, the economy is still circling the drain. The number of families living in poverty is up and incomes are down. Unemployment isn't looking like it will be back to pre-recession levels until the middle of the next decade.

Two, all that funding put into preventing people from becoming homeless is drying up, most of it already gone.

In municipal news, Chicagoans are bracing for the 2012 budget--there's a budget gap of more than $635 million to deal with, and layoffs and service cuts may be on the horizon.

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel is due to release his spending plan for '12 in mid-October, this week city's Inspector General Joseph Ferguson put 63 different options council members and the mayor could utilize to raise revenue or cut spending, and thus close the budget hole.

The proposals range from instituting a city income tax to tolling Lake Shore Drive to cutting funding for after-school and summer employment programs for youth.

We also touched upon a big national battle on the Muckraker's blog this week: whether or not Capitol One bank will be allowed to purchase ING for more than $9 billion. The local Federal Reserve branch held a hearing about the idea on Tuesday. Click here for an explanation of the major issues.

On the Reporter'sBarbershop Show, we talked about criminal justice, racism, the execution of Troy Davis and the judicial system with a distinguished panel of guests: Judge Mathis,  Rob Warden of the Center for Wrongful Convictions, Jeremy Shroeder from the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Gordon (Randy) Steidl, a man freed from death row. Check out the full show here.

© Community Renewal Society 2011

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