Physicians for Human Rights released a report this week on persistent psychological effects of family separation on parents and children, finding that the US government’s treatment of these families “rises to the level of torture.” “These policies have profound health implications for migrant adults and children and violate basic human rights, including the right to be free from torture and enforced disappearance.” The investigation, based on psychological evaluations of asylum-seeking parents and children who separated by the U.S. government in 2018, found “pervasive symptoms and behaviors consistent with trauma; most met diagnostic criteria for at least one mental health condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder consistent with, and likely linked to, the trauma of family separation.”
Coronavirus continues to spread—raising fears of a global pandemic. The New York Times reports on the role local public health departments in the US play in monitoring coronavirus, which is putting a strain on agencies that have been underfunded and understaffed for years. The Guardian reports on the spread of misinformation about the virus: “Ensuring the public has the best possible health information is crucial during an outbreak. At best, misinformation can distract from important messages. At worst, it can lead to behaviour that amplifies disease transmission. The novelty of coronavirus makes the challenge even greater, because viral speculation can easily overwhelm the limited information we do have. The scientific community is already making huge progress in understanding the infection, but we’ve had to start at the bottom, without stacks of earlier research to stand on. When it comes to stopping the outbreak, we’ll need ladders, not snakes.”
A new Urban Institute report finds that people who live in public housing are much less likely to find employment close to their homes. CityLab reports: “Using job listing and applicant data collected in 2015 by Snagajob, researchers cross-referenced available jobs posted in 16 metro areas with the number of applicants who lived within a “reasonable commuting distance” from the jobs in question. (Here, “reasonable” is defined as one being within 6.3 miles of each zip code’s population-weighted center; though Snagajob is just one platform, U.S. Census Bureau figures suggest that in the 16 metros researchers studied, it accounted for 13% of recent new hires.) Then they compared that difference for those who used federal housing assistance, like public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, or Section 8 rental assistance, and those who didn’t. Depending upon which zip code they call home, researchers found that the average person using some form of government housing aid is likely to face tougher odds of getting a job near their neighborhood than the average job seeker who isn’t using assistance, even those who are extremely low-income.... Scoring high on the spatial mismatch scale doesn’t have to preclude workers from bridging those divides and finding a great job in another neighborhood anyway, though. Good public transportation — and affordable housing built near it — can turn an unreasonable commute into a reasonable one. A journey of 6.3 miles in the Bay Area, for example, could mean a two-stop BART ride from Oakland into San Francisco’s Financial District; in Atlanta, that same 6.3 miles across the city could take up to an hour by bus.
A new report from the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence finds that lack of safe, stable housing is connected to the disappearance and murder of American Indian and Alaska Native women, finding, for example, that 98% of the women who had had been prostituted and sex trafficked were either currently experiencing or had experienced homelessness.
NPR reports on the potential of implementing European-style social housing in the US: “That hasn't been the case in places like Vienna, Gowan says. Social housing has existed in Western Europe for more than a century, first established to house the masses of job-seekers who overwhelmed cities during industrialization. But the system didn't truly take off until after World War II, when governments were forced to rebuild cities destroyed in the conflict. Today, social housing in Vienna is available to people of all incomes. It's often built on government-owned land that's sold to a private company, which then owns and operates the housing units under public oversight. And crucially, social housing is placed in desirable areas and required to meet architectural and livability standards that make it appealing to people across the income spectrum… Social housing is still a radical concept in the U.S., where government-funded housing is — unfairly or not — associated with crumbling apartment towers marred by crime and poverty. First constructed as segregated housing for low-income Americans during the New Deal era, many public housing projects were reserved for poor African Americans systematically shut out of the housing market. As conditions worsened in public housing, the federal government pulled out, leaving local authorities with enormous maintenance backlogs and residents in unsafe conditions. Some progressive officials and activists say public housing doesn't need to be this way. Borrowing best practices from cities like Vienna, Austria, they say, could improve millions of lives, chip away at America's legacy of racial segregation and give the country an economic boost.”