California threatens to cut the welfare for unemployed parents

NPR broadcast a piece about proposed welfare cuts for children whose parents aren’t working titled “California to Cut Welfare Safety Net for Parents.”

It’s not entirely California’s fault. The federal government is forcing states to cut pack welfare rolls, and so far California hasn’t been making its required benchmarks. If they don’t do something, they’re liable to lose federal welfare funding.

The NPR piece also brings up the debate about allowing parents to attend school, or college, while on welfare. They highlight a women who was forced to quit college and take a $7 an hour job so she could keep herself, and her kids, out of homeless shelters. Seems some don’t want welfare to be a college “scholarship.”

Apartments cheaper than shelters for the homeless

Paying rent for the homeless is cheaper than putting them in shelters. It sounds wrong, but it isn’t. According to a recent study by the University of California, “managing the problem of homelessness costs far more than ending it.”

For example, the cost of sheltering 15 people for a year and a half in San Diego costs about $3 million. According to an article titled “Room Cheaper Than the Street,” “Putting them up in ocean-view homes with 24-hour concierge service would have cost less.”

I first heard about this idea from Elisha Harag-Blaine, director of the SHIFT Coalition, in Lowell, Massachusetts. They’re trying to reduce the cost of sheltering the homeless by providing help with rent, moving costs, and utility bills. This idea prevents people, and families, from becoming homeless, thus saving the state, and city, millions a year.

Urban planning not priority to Philly’s mayoral candidates

Inga Saffron, writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote two great articles, published this week, on how the candidates for Philadelphia’s upcoming mayoral election don’t include planning among their priorities.

Inga’s says in her first article, “Forum shows urban planning not priority in mayor’s race,” that “This was supposed to be the year in which urban planning took center stage as an issue in Philadelphia politics, along with crime and schools. But if last night’s mayoral forum on urban design was any indication, the subject is still stuck with a bit role in the campaign.” Candidate Chaka Fattah thinks planning is about looks and a niche issue for the elite, saying, “”I’m interested in rebuilding the lives of people and not just the skyline.”

Interestingly, the American Planning Association is holding its annual conference in Philadelphia this weekend. Inga used this as an opportunity to write a commentary piece called, “Changing Skyline | Welcome, welcome, city planners.” In it, she explains how a lack of planning in the past led to what’s called the “privatization of planning” that leads to little resident input, and lack of forward thinking.