With video: Special Project: Ann Arbor's Hidden Poor
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
Why we did this series on local poverty
We’re all aware of the changes - and the sometimes painful readjustments - Ann Arbor residents have been forced to make because of the economy. The recession began with the housing and banking sectors. But it’s crept into nearly every facet of everyday life in small ways and big ways.
Tough choices. Budget crunches. Cutbacks.
Ann Arbor has a reputation as the oasis in Michigan, a state with one of the nation’s most troubled economies, and it’s been a bit easier here than elsewhere for some to forget the recession.
There's always been a struggling population in Ann Arbor, but in the past it's been largely hidden.
That's not the case now. Nearly everyone has either personally experienced job or benefits losses or reduced hours in recent months or knows someone who has.
More people have been filing for public or non-profit assistance to help make ends meet for basic needs like food, housing, health care, transportation and education.
Meanwhile, county and state agencies — which have traditionally helped those in Ann Arbor's low-income population — find themselves stretched thinner than ever while their budgets are threatened by cuts.
As reporters, this was an issue we wanted to explore.
David Jesse has seen first-hand as an education reporter how being poor can affect a student's ability to earn a high school diploma, even if that student attends one of the highest performing schools in the state. He wanted to see how poverty affects the rest of a person's life.
Tina Reed, a health reporter and former business reporter, wanted to better understand how local residents who worry about making the rent and utility bills could possibly cope with paying for health care.
See a video of the reporters talking about this first installment of the series.
And while we don't claim to have any grand solutions, we hope this series will help spark a conversation in the community.
Over the next several months, we'll explore poverty in Ann Arbor and tell the stories of local residents struggling to meet basic needs and the impact the struggles have on the greater community.
David Jesse covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 734-623-2534. Tina Reed covers health and the environment for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 734-623-2535.