Poverty and homelessness in Dallas

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Perception isn’t always reality. In spite of all the DFW corporate relocations and business expansions – good news – in Dallas the homeless population increased 21 percent over the past year due to a combination of high rates of poverty and shortages of affordable housing.

Among the findings presented to the Dallas City Council’s Housing Committee by the Dallas Commission on Homelessness, Dallas has the highest number of people living 185 percent below the poverty line of any American city. It has the second highest number of people living 100 percent below the poverty line.

Along with homelessness, a recent post in FrontBurner by the editors of D Magazine also focused on the city’s community development needs. Some of the facts:

  • Dallas’ median income has declined since 1989.
  • Over 27,300 residents live in poverty despite having full-time employment.
  • Over half of Dallas households make less than $50,000 per year, and 28.6 percent make less than $25,000.
  • Compared to other Texas cities, Dallas has the highest percentage of individuals without a high school diploma and the lowest percentage of residents who hold college degree.
  • 38 percent of Dallas children live in poverty, 20 percent have no health insurance, 28 percent have inadequate food and nutrition, 160,000 children are obese, and 60,000 have asthma.
  • Less than 20 percent of jobs are accessible by transit in less than 90 minutes, and more than 70 percent of HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) assisted properties are unaffordable when housing and transportation costs are combined.

Is there any good news? Between 2011 and 2016 the city of Houston reduced chronic homelessness by 76 percent thanks to a collaboration with HUD. As the Frontburner article suggests, there are successful models in place to address the issue of homelessness. Dallas just needs to find the leadership and funding to implement it.

 

At the intersection of caring

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Today’s wake-up call arrived in this email:

The other person is always right

Always right about feelings.

About the day he just experienced.

About the fears (appropriate and ill-founded) in his life.

About the narrative going on, unspoken, in his head.

About what he likes and what he dislikes.

You’ll need to travel to this place of ‘right’ before you have any chance at all of actual communication.

This is the synchronicity of the universe. This is the message I needed to hear today from Seth Godin, the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world. Seth writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow.

And here’s a related blog post from Seth worth reading today, If not now, when?

Embrace caring. Imagine what you can do through change.

How to spot “fake news” on social media

Although the topic isn’t new, the recent election has recharged the discussion on “fake news” in social media.
fake-news-in-your-newsfeed

 
What is fake news?

It’s information or data appearing on various social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter or other social sites – that readers often accept as real. Sadly, it isn’t necessarily true or factual.


What makes this “news” incredibly troubling (other than the fact it’s “fake”) is that a majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get their news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

Now consider students. As a former college professor teaching public speaking, I explained why key points and messaging in presentations required  – no, demanded – the use of evidence. Objective data and facts from reliable sources. We covered how to source that information. Yet effectively evaluating source and site credibility was an issue for many student researchers.

In a Stanford Graduate School of Education study cited in an NPR article:

Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there, the researchers wrote. Our work shows the opposite.

Gone are the days of “depending” on others to vet sources, according to Stanford researcher Sam Wineberg, a professor in the Stanford University Graduate School of Education cited in the NPR news story.

The kinds of duties that used to be the responsibility of editors, of librarians now fall on the shoulders of anyone who uses a screen to become informed about the world. And so the response is not to take away these rights from ordinary citizens but to teach them how to thoughtfully engage in information seeking and evaluating in a cacophonous democracy.

We can do better. And we must.