ISSUE 240 | January 18, 2024

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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News

PA Funds Public Defense for the First Time

Pennsylvania has allocated $7.5 million to support public defense, allowing aid for those who cannot afford criminal legal representation.

Prior to this development, the Commonwealth was one of only two states that did not provide such funding.

The new legislation will set universal standards for criminal public defense across the state, which have varied greatly due to a wide range of resources and funding per county. 

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State Awards $1 Million in PA Hunger-Free Campus Grants

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has awarded $1 million in grants to 30 colleges and universities to support hunger-free campuses.

Resulting initiatives may involve formulating flexible meal plans, partnering with community resources, and educating students about accessible programs and assistance.

This comes as an expansion of Pennsylvania’s provision meal assistance in schools. 

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Wayne County Starts Emergency Housing Fund

Wayne County has launched a pilot Emergency Housing Discretionary Fund.

This fund is designed to protect and assist county residents who face housing insecurity.

Approximately 23 percent of the county's residents are cost-burdened, attributed in part to post-COVID increases in rental rates as well as widening wage discrepancies.

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From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News

U.S.’s Biggest Universal Basic Mobility Experiment is Underway

The biggest Universal Basic Mobility experiment in U.S. history is taking place in Los Angeles.

This pilot program will provide up to 1,000 city residents with a debit card with a monthly stipend to use for an array of transportation services.

The program hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to provide more transportation accessibility for low-income residents, and follows similar experiments conducted around the nation, including in Pennsylvania. 


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States Begin Tapping Medicaid Dollars to Combat Gun Violence

Multiple states are using a new Medicaid program to implement preventative measures against gun violence and its effect on communities.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have experienced an increase in violent crimes, impacting both mental and physical health of residents.

Funding from Medicaid aims to provide community educational and safety resources to prevent a further spike in gun related crimes via targeted programming. 

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The Invisible Factors Driving US Homelessness to Record Highs 

According to a recent study, the United States is experiencing its highest rate of homelessness in the last 15 years, with over 10 percent of the increase coming between 2022 and 2023.

The report additionally suggests that the number of unhoused individuals over the age of 55 will overtake the individuals under 18 in the next few years, and that asylum seekers are a large portion of the growing unhoused population.

Key factors in the growing housing issues include global political climate, an aging population with growing costs of living, and a highly fluctuating average for wages and rent costs. 

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