The Rising Cost of Living in Dane County is a Key Factor Adding to Poverty in Dane County

The cost of living, childcare, healthcare, education and lack of access to social benefits are the main factors that limit the ability of Dane County residents to get ahead financially, according to people interviewed as part of the DreamUp Wisconsin initiative. The initiative, part of UW-Madison’s implementation of The Alliance for the American Dream, which is a community-university collaboration funded by Schmidt Futures, aims to promote shared prosperity and increase American competitiveness. For people living in poverty in Dane County, unaffordable housing, food, utilities, health insurance and taxes prevent individuals from overcoming financial troubles. It is also hard to find affordable childcare services that have flexible scheduling. Post-secondary education and training, often seen as solution to poverty, are too costly for many and remain out of reach.

Structural Factors and Stagnating Wages Stop People From Overcoming Poverty in Dane County

The causes of poverty in Dane County are widely debated, with no single consensus existing in scholarly circles to explain it. Individual factors, such as low education, lack of motivation or culture that supports economic instability, play a key role in getting people into poverty and keeping them there. But structural factors like the characteristics of the labor market and institutional discrimination are also central. Lawrence Berger, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor in the School of Social Work and Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty, suggests that in Dane County an amalgamation of both structural constraints and individual-level behaviors drive poverty. “I think we really do know that it is a combination between structural or contextual factors and individual factors, including, part of it is the luck of who you are born to.

People of Color and Single-Parent Households are Most Likely to be in Poverty in Dane County

Single-parent households and people of color are under the greatest risk of being in poverty in Dane County, according to the 2018 State of Working Wisconsin report by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS). COWS is a national think-and-do tank that promotes “high road” solutions to social problems based around University of Wisconsin-Madison. The report states that wages have been nearly stagnant over the last 40 years and income today is lower than it was in 2000. Poverty in Dane County doesn’t mean that people aren’t working. Unemployment is at 2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mifflandia Project Presents Development Proposal at Final Public Meeting

The City of Madison planning team charged with guiding the redevelopment of Madison’s Mifflin neighborhood showed off its final recommendations at the project’s last public meeting June 3 at the Madison Senior Center. The team’s recommendations covered a wide range of topics, from specific proposals regarding building height maps and land usage, to broader ideas about increasing diversity and inclusiveness in Madison’s downtown area. Based on feedback from residents since the project’s first meeting in October 2018, the Mifflandia team flipped the City’s 2012 Comprehensive Plan’s guidelines for residential and business land usage in the area. The new plan reserves Mifflin and Main Streets for residences and concentrates businesses along W. Washington Avenue. The group also proposed a “four-plus-two” height restriction — in which buildings’ street-side facades would be limited to four stories, followed by a “set-back” that would allow building up to six stories farther back from the street — for all buildings from W. Mifflin Street to W. Main Street.

The Bus Stops Here: Bus Rapid Transit MUST ADD to Local Bus Service

At the downtown Senior Center in early May, the City of Madison had yet another in a series of public meetings on a hypothetical regional transportation system to compliment the local service provided by Madison Metro dating back to at least 2002. A video of the meeting can be seen here. This time, the meeting focused on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), not rail. BRT may be most suitable for an urban area our size, at least initially. The Madison area has become just too big to be served adequately by a local bus system alone, but it is not yet big enough to warrant having a more expensive rail system.

June 2019 Backyard Heroes

Community Shares, a partner of Madison Commons, recognizes two volunteers each month. The volunteers come from Community Shares' member groups and are selected for their service to the community and to community issues. Thom Thoresen, Wisconsin Conservation Voices

Thom Thoresen is a hardworking volunteer and longest-serving board member of Wisconsin Conservation Voices. Since 2004, Thom has facilitated Wisconsin Conservation Voices’ membership at Community Shares of Wisconsin. In this role, he leads fundraisers and matches donations for the annual Big Share campaign.

Why We Need Medicaid Expansion and Why Opponents Are Wrong

The co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee have announced plans to reject Governor Evers’ proposal for Medicaid expansion in the biennial state budget. Their politically motivated decision would result in a loss to the state of $324 million over two years, including needed general operating funds. Not accepting these federal tax dollars would gut much of what the Governor has proposed, including programs in the health, transportation and education budgets which serve all Wisconsin residents. Here are five reasons why Wisconsin should accept the federal funding for Medicaid expansion:

More people will be covered by BadgerCare. The Governor’s proposal would lift the income eligibility ceiling for a single individual from $12,490/year to $17,236/year, expanding BadgerCare eligibility to cover an additional 82,000 more adults.

May 2019 Backyard Heroes

Community Shares, a partner of Madison Commons, recognizes two volunteers each month. The volunteers come from Community Shares' member groups and are selected for their service to the community and to community issues. Jill Nagler, OutReach

Jill Nagler has been a volunteer for OutReach since 2011 in many capacities and is now the OutReach Board Secretary. OutReach’s mission is a commitment to equity and quality of life for all LGBTQ+ people through community building, health and human services, and economic, social, and racial justice advocacy. In addition to the board duties, Nagler also volunteers their time with the Speakers Bureau, educating people on non-binary identities.

Creating Opportunities for Madison’s Latinx Communities

Since it grew out of Madison’s Latino Family Resource Center in 2010, the Latino Academy of Workforce Development has provided general education, workforce training, and safety programs to a community hungry for learning opportunities. Before the Latino Academy’s inception, Latino Family Resource Center coordinators like Baltazar de Anda Santana provided basics like food and English classes to Madison’s Latinx population. But there was a growing desire among the LFRC’s clients for something more substantial. “There were the participants who were okay receiving the help, but there were other participants who were more interested in learning how to do things,” said de Anda Santana, now executive director of the Latino Academy. The effort to make clients self-sufficient came not from coordinators but from the clients themselves. “The participants wanted that, they wanted to be the ones to learn English, they wanted to learn computers,” de Anda Santana said.

More than three years after forming, city committee close to releasing recommendations for police reform

A city committee will release recommendations for police reforms, including the recommendation for an independent monitor and civilian oversight board, in the next few months. The committee, referred to as the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee, was formed in 2015 to conduct a review of MPD and address concerns over police brutality in Madison. In particular, the group was formed to respond to the death of Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old black man, who was shot and killed by police officer Matthew Kenny. In June 2016, the committee spent $400,000 for an outside consulting group, OIR, to conduct an independent review the Madison Police Department. OIR looked at MPD’s policies, practices, culture and training and came up with 146 recommendations on reforms for the department.