One Crisis Away | KERA News

One Crisis Away

KERA’s One Crisis Away project focuses a spotlight on North Texans living on the financial edge both in weekly stories and regular in-depth series.

A scene from West Dallas near Singleton Boulevard.
Credit Allison V. Smith for KERA News

A job loss, health emergency, even legal trouble can be enough to plunge a third of our friends and neighbors into financial distress. One Crisis Away puts a human face on asset poverty and the financial struggles of people in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

Explore multimedia projects: No Place To Go, a deep dive into affordable housing and gentrification in West Dallas; Rebuilding A Life, a series about North Texans recovering from devastating tornadoes; Drowning In Debt, stories about and resources for living with financial burden; and more.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

For Louanna Fowler, becoming homeless didn't happen little by little — it happened all at once. One day she was living in a foster home, the next, she had aged out and was on the street.

Associated Press

After high school, there a lot of different paths to choose from — college, vocational training, work, to name a few. A new report finds that millions of young adults who are looking for a job, can't find one.

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Americans with a lot of money are often praised as "hard workers,” but do elbow grease and ambition always lead to wealth?

Taylor Moran

Strong tornadoes and major floods often produce nonstop news coverage and an outpouring of charitable giving. It's the small storms, though, that tend to come and go without much notice.

That's when Denton Bible Church steps in.

Eugene Keahey died by suicide in connection with a suspicious house fire that killed his wife and two daughters. Their deaths have been ruled homicides.
Courtney Collins / KERA news

The people who live in the unincorporated Dallas County community of Sandbranch don't have running water. Pastor Eugene Keahey was working to change that, until a suspicious house fire in February. 

Last week, Keahey's death was ruled a "suicide by gunshot" — his wife and two daughters were declared victims of homicide. Now, a fellow pastor is struggling to reconcile Keahey's legacy.

Julio Cortez / Associated Press

Opportunity zones are an effort to bring investors to struggling neighborhoods in exchange for tax benefits. There are thousands across the country, including 18 in Dallas County, seven in Tarrant and three in Denton County.

Pastor Eugene Keahey in 2015, standing by the water tank at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
Courtney Collins / KERA News

Sandbranch, an unincorporated community in southeast Dallas County, doesn't have running water. And the man who fought so hard to change that, Pastor Eugene Keahey, was killed in a house fire.

fizkes / shutterstock

Many American families are staring down retirement with hardly any money set aside.

In fact, sociology professor and author Katherine S. Newman says about half of Americans have no savings at all. Many others haven't saved enough.

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To avoid what's been dubbed the "benefits cliff," some workers turn down higher-paying jobs because it would disqualify them from public assistance.

stack of diapers
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Diapers Etc. hands out around 10,000 to 12,000 diapers per month to families in need, for free. For those families on the financial edge, the necessary baby-care staple would be a crippling cost otherwise.

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Baby's first year is full of milestones, like first smile, first steps and first round of shots.

Everything about the first 12 months is new — including a major new line item in the family budget.

Many of the people who care for disabled Texans don’t earn a living wage. Charlotte Stewart is executive director of REACH, a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities. She has a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, and she's helping lead the fight to boost pay for aides funded by Medicaid. They’re known as community attendants.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

A choir for homeless men and women in Dallas has inspired street choirs across the country to form and collaborate. Its founder has formed a multi-city alliance and dreams of eventually creating a national street choir.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Elementary schoolers in Arlington donned hairnets and boxed up thousands of meals for hungry children Friday. The event benefits a nonprofit called Feed My Starving Children, which sends food to 100 countries.

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North Texas is experiencing an economic boom, but just how inclusive is that growth? That's the focus of a new report by Cullum Clark, director of economic growth at the George W. Bush Institute.

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A new statewide study shows 42 percent of Texas households struggle to make ends meet — households where at least one adult is working. In Dallas County, it's 43 percent. 

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Survivors of domestic violence often face financial exploitation — and that can make it more difficult to leave their partners. A bill introduced in the Texas Senate aims to help survivors by making it a state jail felony to threaten someone into taking on debt.

Children At Risk

Working parents struggle to find affordable child care in Texas. That's according to new research from Children At Risk, a nonprofit that reports many poor Texas families spend up to 30 percent of their income for child care alone. 

Associated Press

Federal housing vouchers are one of the key ways for a low-income family to pay for a place to live. And landlords have the option to accept or reject those vouchers. In Fort Worth, nearly four out of five landlords contacted wouldn't accept the vouchers -- the highest rate of the five U.S. cities studied.

VIDEO: Learning To Become A Businessman Behind Bars

Dec 21, 2018
Kelsey Murrow as he pitches his business plan to visiting business executives at Sanders Estes Unit State Prison in Venus, Texas.
Screenshot of video by Thorn Anderson

Watch Kelsey Murrow as he completes nine months of business training with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program at Sanders Estes Unit State Prison in Venus, Texas, preparing for his release from incarceration.

Allison V. Smith / KERA News Special Contributor

When John Creuzot takes office in January as Dallas County district attorney, he promises to usher in a new era of prosecution.

Christopher Scott, wrongfully convicted of murder in Dallas, was exonerated in 2009. He spent 12 years in prison.
Allison V. Smith

The statistics are startling: If you’re a black man in America, you’re five times as likely to go to state prison as a white man. Latinos and African Americans make up one-third of the U.S. population; they make up two-thirds of the prison population.

You can’t talk about incarceration without talking about race. Christopher Scott knows that too well.

Kristie Tingle is the Center For Public Policy Priorities research analyst. She presented her latest findings to government officials and leaders of non-profits on the effects to children of poverty.
Bill Zeeble / KERA News

More than one in five Dallas children lives in poverty, while one in four Dallas families have a parent who was born in another country, a new study details. That's just two of the statistics detailed in the new "State of Texas Children" report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Chainnaron Soeurn at Hutchins State Jail on Aug. 15, 2018.
Thorne Anderson

A lot of people see prison as the last resort — the ultimate thing to avoid. Then there's Chainnaron Soeurn. After he was released, the struggle to pay the costs of probation was so tough that he chose to go back behind bars.

Stanley Walington, 38, with his girlfriend Lynette Sherman, 24, and their children Honesty, 1; Promiss, 3; and Stanley Jr., 2; in their apartment in Fort Worth. Walington was recently released from Buster Cole State Jail in Bonham, Texas.
Allison V. Smith

Calculating the exact cost of time behind bars is almost impossible. The meter starts running at the moment of arrest, and doesn’t stop after someone’s released. From lawyer fees to jail calls to probation, going away is expensive. Just ask 37-year-old Stanley Walington, a father of five. 

Michael Zanussi / Flickr Creative Commons

Numerous laws protect people from discrimination when they're searching for a home. But many areas across North Texas and around the country still struggle with patterns of housing inequities and segregation.

The Market at Bonton Farms is set to open November 19.
Courtney Collins / KERA

Bonton Farms in South Dallas is evolving to serve its community, by serving meals.

 

On Nov. 19, Bonton Farms will open a market and cafe, in a neighborhood that's long struggled with access to fresh, healthy food. The hope is to inspire residents to make lifelong changes.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin is known as a city of renters — more than half of residents lease a place to live. And each day, a dozen Travis County families are evicted. Audrey McGlinchy of KUT decided to explore what happens when someone can no longer pay the rent, and got to know several people facing eviction.

Michael Zanussi / Flickr Creative Commons

As the Dallas economy has boomed over the last decade, something else has surged, too — the wealth gap between whites and people of color.

A report released this month by nonprofit Prosperity Now attributes the disparity, in part, to the city’s “extensive history of segregation and its longer lasting effects.” And exacerbating these disparities are home values and housing costs in Dallas.

Alexander Oganezov / shutterstock.com

The traditional career at a single company with a pension and retirement is rare these days. For many, it's about piecing together part time or temp jobs to pay the bills.

Recently on Think, host Krys Boyd spoke to professor of economic history Louis Hyman about how we got to a gig economy.

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