Twenty years ago, welfare as Americans knew it ended.

President Bill Clinton signed a welfare overhaul bill that limited benefits and encouraged poor people to find jobs.

"We're going to make it all new again, and see if we can't create a system of incentives which reinforce work and family and independence," Clinton said at a White House bill signing ceremony.

The goals were admirable: help poor families get into the workforce so they'd no longer need government aid. They'd get job training and support, such as help with child care.

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How much can Florida’s minimum wage actually buy? Well, not a whole lot, apparently. And making that wage will not carry a person out of poverty, according to new study from the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University.

The study modeled what families have to pay for when parents work—child care, transportation, taxes—and compared those expenses to increases in earnings as parents work more hours.

According to a new report, children's health in Florida has improved overall, but is still lagging behind when compared to other states.

According the latest Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Florida has slipped three places in overall child well-being, to 40th place from 37th last year.


For many students in Florida, summer vacation means finally getting out of the classroom and away from tests and homework.  But for some, the Summer also means figuring out where the next meal will come from. Now there are efforts underway to address hunger in North Florida—especially at times when a major food program—the school—is no longer in session. 

FIU Metropolitan Center

  Poverty is up in Miami-Dade County and wages are about the same as they were back in 2010 when adjusted for inflation.

Those are just a few of the findings of a new comprehensive study of prosperity in the county coming out Wednesday from the Florida International University Metropolitan Center that paints a picture of the region that in many ways looks worse than during the height of the last recession.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

For the past year, Lucy Perry and her longtime boyfriend William Royal have lived beneath a traffic sign on the sidewalk along Southwest Second Street under I-95. With about four dozen other homeless people, they wait for a church group to come by and hand out styrofoam containers of food.


Perry, Royal and many others out on the street are among the 350,000 people who lost their food stamps this year because of new state rules that adults without children who can work must work in order to get the monthly assistance.


Florida Keys Outreach Coalition

  This year, 78 people will be memorialized at two services marking Homeless Persons' Memorial Day in the Florida Keys.

That's up from 54 last year. Stephanie Kaple, chief operating officer of the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, said many factors contribute to the increase.

"I think that what this shows is probably our economic recovery is not as strong as we think it is," she said.


The debate over raising the minimum wage is not a fight being waged so much on the federal level. It's a series of battles being waged in cities and states all across the country. 

In Florida the current minimum wage is $8.05 per hour. But there's a movement, led by Democrats, trying to change that to something they believe is more livable. They believe it should be $15 an hour. 

Nadege Green / WLRN

Residents of the Little Farm trailer park filed into El Portal Village Hall for a meeting Monday on how to find affordable housing options and other resources to move out.

The trailer park was sold earlier this year to Wealthy Delight’s LLC, a Coral Gables-based company. The new landowner gave residents a February deadline to leave the property.

Yolande Dorce, a 30-year resident of the trailer park, said she pays $450 a month to lease the land. She owns her trailer outright, but it can’t be moved and will likely be demolished.

Robin Sussingham / StateImpact Florida

At last count, during the 2013-2014 school year, the number of homeless students had risen to more than 71,000 in Florida's public schools. For many of these children, a brand-new school uniform may be out of reach, though school officials say it makes a big impact on their attitude. One longtime charity in Lakeland is quietly helping to fill that need.

Marva Hinton / WLRN

The fall term begins Monday at Miami Dade College, and students on one campus will be able to take advantage of a special program to make sure their basic needs are met before classes start.

The college's north campus is teaming up with Farm Share, a nonprofit in Homestead that provides food to the needy, to give students free produce. The school also has a food pantry on campus where students can pick up non-perishable food items.

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

UPDATE: At a meeting Thursday, March 12, the Miami City Commission deferred a final vote on the proposed "anti-camping" law for 30 days.

The Miami City Commission has a final vote scheduled for Thursday that would make it illegal for the homeless to camp out on public property.

The commission tentatively approved a version of the law on February 12 that banned “camping paraphernalia” such as sleeping bags and bedding.

Zack Mccarthy / Flickr


Florida’s minimum wage will be going up Jan. 1, but the increase won’t necessarily put more money in the pockets of minimum wage workers. The 12 cent increase from $7.93 an hour to $8.05 an hour is not meant to increase wages, it’s just supposed to make sure wages aren’t decreasing due to inflation.

The new Florida minimum wage is almost a dollar more than the federal minimum wage, but still not the $10.10 President Obama was championing for all workers last year.


11/25/14 - Today’s Topical Currents examines studies of South Florida’s “working poor.”  Having a job doesn’t preclude a lack of sustenance. Only 1% of those who get food assistance are unemployed.  Seniors often face a choice of paying utilities and rent . . . or going hungry. We’ll learn more about the efforts with guests: United Way of Miami-Dade Sr. Dir.

Flickr / elycefeliz

Labor Day was created to celebrate the country’s labor movement and its social and economic achievements, but a new study from FIU’s Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy (RISEP) may dampen some of this year’s celebration.