One Crisis Away | KERA News

One Crisis Away

Lindsay Diaz and her son stand in what's left of their home after tornadoes tore through North Texas on Dec. 26, 2015.
Credit Lara Solt

KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

The problem's known as asset poverty, and it doesn’t discriminate. 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 North Texas

Explore the series so far and join the KERA News team as they add new chapters to One Crisis Away in the months to come.

One Crisis Away is funded in part by the Communities Foundation of Texas, Allstate Foundation, the Texas Women's Foundation, The Fort Worth Foundation, The Thomson Family Foundation, and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Canned goods line a pantry shelf
Shutterstock

Shelter-in-place orders and shutdowns due to the coronavirus have contributed to a 1,500% increase in unemployment claims. Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for benefits last week.

man in front of tent
LM Otero / Associated Press

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties nudged downward this year to 4,471, according to an annual census of people living on the streets, in shelters and in transitional housing taken each January.

ticket taker at Dallas zoo
LM Otero / Associated Press

Of the 193 countries that in the world, 179 offer some form of paid sick leave so workers can stay home when they’re unwell. The U.S. is not one of those countries. 

doctor's office
Shutterstock

This story is part of the KERA One Crisis Away series, Coronavirus And Life On The Financial Edge.

The fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic is putting into sharp focus the ways inequality makes responding to disease outbreaks more challenging. As public health and other officials seek to limit the spread of the virus, the decisions they make and the guidance they offer may be undermined by the large number of Texans living on the financial edge.

Shutterstock

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is designed to lift low income workers out of poverty, but new research from the 'Institute On Taxation & Economic Policy shows the tax credit is excluding people in need.

Shutterstock

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is reconsidering some of its routes, and that could affect service to people who’ve come to rely on it. KERA's Justin Martin talked about the potential changes with reporter Juan Pablo Garnham, who's been covering the issue for The Texas Tribune.

Sujata Dand / KERA contributor

A program designed to bring nurses into the homes of vulnerable first-time moms is underutilized in North Texas. 

Praire View College of Nursing building
Shutterstock

A new report shows that a serious gulf still exists in Texas between funding for flagship state universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Ashley Williams with the nonprofit center for public policy priorities talked with KERA's Justin Martin about how this funding gap affects students.

Michael Barera / Wikimedia

These days, when Ashley Bryant drives around in her black Nissan, she does it without the anxiety she carried for six years whenever she got behind the wheel.

Shutterstock

In North America alone, about 14 million households struggled to find food in 2018. There are many different reasons why — everything from poverty to a lack of transportation — but Miguel Acevdeo from the University of North Texas is focused on the source of the food itself — water and soil.

Shutterstock

Hundreds of people walked the streets of Dallas last Thursday to count how many people are homeless in the city. The results will be directly connected to federal funding to help find solutions for the homeless community.

DavidPinoPhotography / shutterstock

After the Great Recession, hundreds of thousands of families lost their homes — but those houses and apartments didn’t disappear into thin air.

Srdjan Randjelovic / shutterstock

Homeless counts across Texas and the rest of the country are happening this week. Thursday night, volunteers in DentonDallas, Collin and Tarrant counties will tally what's known as unsheletered homeless.

Shutterstock

A growing number of people in the state don't have a place to live.  According to the latest figures, nearly 26,000 people in Texas are homeless — and Dallas has the largest homeless population in the state.

Lakesha Bunch and her children Baylor, 3, and Josiah, 10 months.
Sujata Dand / KERA News

What happens when a parent gets sick — and doesn't have child care lined up during treatment? When researchers study women’s health, they often overlook that critical need. But Dallas's Parkland Hospital is trying to change that.

Shutterstock

A new Brookings Institute report shows 53 million Americans are low-wage workers. Martha Ross, one of the report's authors, talked with KERA's Justin Martin about the struggles these workers face.

Shutterstock

From the struggle for food and shelter to overcoming childhood trauma, homeless young people in North Texas are up against many obstacles. 

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

When a family struggles with money, it can actually affect a city's finances.

New research from the Urban Institute reveals that financially insecure families cost Dallas as much as $69 million dollars this year.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

Incarceration decimates wealth. That's the central theme KERA's Courtney Collins explored for the last month in the series, One Crisis Away: The Price of Prison.

After serving 20 years in prison, Ed Ates savors life at home with his wife, Kim Ates.
Allison V. Smith for KERA

Two decades in prison is a long time to go without a paycheck. For parents, that's also 20 years of missed childhood moments. Edward Ates feels the full weight of those losses, especially since he's maintained his innocence since day one. 

"Paying your debt to society by being incarcerated is just a simple myth," says Toby Savitz, ex-offender and director of programs at Pathfinders
Allison V. Smith for KERA

After serving two years in prison for possession of meth, Toby Savitz found herself in a series of low-paying jobs with no real path forward. She finally kicked the door open after landing a position at a nonprofit that helps ex-offenders like her. But she admits there aren’t enough jobs like hers to go around.

Marc Wilson standing outside the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building in downtown Dallas on Sept. 10, 2019. Much of the child support debt he racked up in prison has been reduced. But he's still far behind, and relief is tempered by feelings of guilt.
Courtney Collins / KERA News

Prison makes it nearly impossible to hold onto savings and earn money. But it's a great place to take on debt.

Shutterstock

African Americans are twice as likely to suffer from sudden cardiac death compared to whites — that rate is triple for black women. A new study published in the Dallas-based American Heart Association’s journal 'Circulation' shows that risk might be tied to income and education disparities.

Before prison, Marc Wilson was set up to pass on wealth-building opportunities to his children and grandchildren, like a house and tuition help.
Allison V. Smith for KERA

When people go to prison, income dries up and earning potential rockets backward.

And when you mix incarceration with America's legacy of systemic racism, an ex-offender's ability to hand off wealth to the next generation is an even heavier struggle.

Marc Wilson's personal wealth decreased significantly after serving a seven-year prison sentence for drug trafficking. "I'm starting from scratch, you know?"
Allison V. Smith for KERA

As a father, Marc Wilson had his family firmly in the middle class. Then a drug conviction sent him to prison for seven years. 

Associated Press

Homeless people in North Texas face a mountain of obstacles on the path to financial stability and often the largest setback comes from a small expense — think steel-toed boots for a factory job or an application fee for an apartment. About four years ago, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance created a fund aimed at helping low-income families meet these needs. 

shutterstock

Being short on food or rent money are symptoms of poverty. Going without close friendships or being estranged from family are symptoms of what’s known as social poverty.

Professor Sarah Halpern-Meekin explains the dangers of being socially poor.

shutterstock

Financial analysts have spent the last several weeks talking about whether a recession is looming.

On a recent episode of Think, host Krys Boyd talked with Ryan Nunn, an economic studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, about why sudden changes in the employment rate might mean a recession is near — or here.

txking / shutterstock

If someone winds up in jail because an unpaid traffic ticket leads to a suspended license and then an arrest warrant, does that mean being poor is, in one sense, a crime? Georgetown law professor Peter Edelman explores the topic in his new book, and on a recent episode of Think.

Nearly 1 in 3 Dallas children grow up in poverty — and more than 100,000 kids in the city are living below the poverty line. A North Texas nonprofit has a plan for a collaborative response and an ambitious goal: to cut childhood poverty in half within 20 years. 

Pages