People using federal housing vouchers face high rates of discrimination by landlords in cities that lack specific protections for these tenants, according to a new Urban Institute study that tracked interactions between landlords and potential tenants in five cities: Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Newark, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. “The federal voucher program disproportionately serves members of protected classes including families with children, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities. Federal law bans housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, family status, and disability, but there are no source-of-income protections. That means federal law doesn’t stop landlords from denying housing to voucher users, and discrimination against federal voucher recipients was high in all five cities, according to the study. But some states and cities have imposed laws that protect renters who use housing vouchers, and in those cities, discrimination was significantly lower than in cities without protective laws. Landlords denied renting to voucher recipients 78 percent of the time in Fort Worth and 76.4 percent of the time in Los Angeles — two cities without legal protections for voucher renters, according to the study… Meanwhile, two cities where voucher holders are considered protected classes had the lowest discrimination rates: Washington D.C. had a denial rate of 14.8 percent and Newark, 30.9 percent.” Los Angeles City Council is currently considering protections for tenants who use housing vouchers.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a complaint against Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act, charging that Facebook allows landlords and rental companies to target ads in ways that discriminate against potential renters based on their race, sex, family status, and disability, among other protected categories.
The Trump administration announced its plan to replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Vox reports that “the 2015 Obama-era rule aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, now the second-largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. The CPP gave 47 states unique emissions targets while leaving it up to them how to get there. The EPA invoked health provisions of the Clean Air Act to make this rule, arguing that cutting greenhouse gas emissions would also limit other pollutants. That, in turn, would avert 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 1,700 heart attacks each year…” The new proposal would weaken standards significantly, meaning that states won’t have to overhaul their use of fossil fuels to be in compliance. As a result, “the EPA’s own calculations show the new proposal would lead to upward of 1,400 additional premature deaths each year due to higher levels of air pollution. So the EPA is trading the health and well-being of thousands of Americans for keeping polluting and often unprofitable power plants online.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services released its latest Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and DSHS Joint Biennial Report on 118 women who died of pregnancy-related causes in 2012. According to Rewire, “nearly eight in ten of the pregnancy-related deaths in Texas were preventable, and those deaths could have been prevented by ‘one or more reasonable changes to the circumstances of the patient, provider, facility, systems or community factors.’ … Black women, regardless of socioeconomic status including income, education, and marital status, “continue to be at greatest risk for maternal death,” according to the report. The pregnancy-related mortality rate for Black women 13.9 per 100,000 live births, while the pregnancy-related mortality rate was 9.3 per 100,000 live births for Hispanic women and six per 100,000 live births for white women.. Black women are more likely to die from pregnancy or giving birth, regardless of background or socioeconomic factors… The report outlines ten recommendations for improving pregnancy outcomes and lowering maternal mortality, including increasing access to health care during the year after pregnancy, improving the screening process for risk factors, the creation of a public awareness campaign, and increasing maternal health services that target high risk populations.” This week, California Senator Kamala Harris introduced a bill that would provide $30 million in healthcare training grants to address racial inequities in maternal health outcomes.
The Society Pages cites a new study on how childhood trauma and mental illness make it difficult for people leaving incarceration to rebuild relationships and secure housing and employment. Study author sociologist Bruce Western said, “Redressing the historic injustice of mass incarceration must do more that settle accounts with the past. Police, judges, and penal officials who acknowledge historic harms can begin to heal relationships and build trust with disadvantaged communities. But such efforts will feel hollow without real change. Under the harsh conditions of American poverty, the antidote to violence is not more punishment but restoring the institutions, social bonds, and well-being that enable order and predictability in daily life.” In other words, for true change to occur, we must address the frequent connections between childhood trauma, mental health, and criminal involvement with adequate programming and treatment. At this point, the United States addresses crime with lengthy stints of incarceration, disentangling it from a complicated picture of people’s lived experiences with violence and trauma. As Western strongly asserts in the article, “The whole ethical foundation of our system of punishment I think is threatened once you take into account the reality of people’s lives.”
PI’s Alisha Somji wrote for Ms. Magazine Blog on how sexual violence, domestic violence, child maltreatment, and community violence are often experienced together, and exposure to one form increases risk of experiencing or engaging in another. “Thus, the cycle of violence continues—except it doesn’t have to. Many communities are changing the narrative and proving that safety is possible. In fact, violence prevention advocates across the country are crafting efficient and effective solutions that address and prevent multiple types of violence…”
In this article in the SF Chronicle, Keith Carson and Muntu Davis explain the toll of displacement in the Bay Area and its associated health risks. “When we don’t have access to quality, affordable homes, our health suffers and we compromise the vibrancy of our Bay Area region. Patients cut pills in half to make them go further. People take on extra jobs and spend less time with family, friends, exercising and sleeping. The stress of stretching every penny increases mental and physical health problems, which is reflected in higher rates of hypertension, depression and suicide.” They highlight the Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA), a community-driven group working to develop a set of policy and regulatory recommendations that will form a Regional Housing Implementation Strategy designed to keep people in their homes and expand housing availability. This group of city and county elected officials, business and tech leaders, housing builders, union representatives and, leaders representing residents who are directly impacted by the lack of housing plans to release a report later this year.
The New York Times reports that several hospitals around the country, including in California, are succeeding with medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Rather than hand patients brochures and medications to reduce vomiting and diarrhea, these hospitals offer E.R. overdose patients buprenorphine, one of three approved medications in the US to treat opioid addiction by curbing withdrawal and cravings. Treatment on the spot allows patients a reprieve from withdrawal, a few days to feel ‘normal’ again, and time to think about pursuing further treatment. “Under this so-called hub-and-spoke system, an emergency room serves as a portal, starting people on buprenorphine and referring them to a large-scale addiction treatment clinic (the hub), to get adjusted to the medication, and to a primary care practice (the spoke) for ongoing care. Dr. Herring is serving as the principal investigator for the project, known as E.D. Bridge. The $78 million is most of California’s share of an initial $1 billion in federal grants that Congress approved for states to spend on addiction treatment and prevention under the 21st Century Cures Act, enacted in 2016.”
Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering a proposal to divert federal education funds to arm teachers and provide firearms training, according to a New York Times report.