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Poverty

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - 15:49

After a day of wiping tables and sweeping french fries off the floor of McDonald´s, Kelly Gaddis limps home to the Courtesy Motel on North Vine Street in Urbana.

Gaddis, 53, cannot afford to buy a car or lease an apartment on the $8 an hour he earns as a lobby attendant at McDonald´s. He and his wife, who also works at the restaurant, rent a motel room by the week within walking distance of work.

He also cannot afford the company´s health insurance, so he hasn´t seen a doctor about a foot problem that causes him to limp. Asked what he does when he gets sick, Gaddis chuckles. "You hope you don´t. Or you go to the hospital and when the bill comes, you add it to the rest of them.”
 

Food

Saturday, June 12, 2010 - 13:00

CHAMPAIGN -- With more than 1.5 million people enrolled in the federal food benefit program, Illinois is among the top six states in the nation receiving the most federal help feeding its residents - following Texas, California, New York, Florida and Michigan.

This past February marked a record high for the federal food stamp program since its inception during the Great Depression as more than 32 million families claimed benefits. Now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, low-income families buy food at participating retailers using an electronic card, much like a debit card.

Friday, December 11, 2009 - 17:20

CHAMPAIGN -- One Illinois economic sector reports record-breaking business this year, but it's not good news.

The state's system of food banks – which supply more than 2,000 food pantries across Illinois – has seen its clientele grow steadily with the recession, and August was the busiest month on record.

"Every month, we continue to see record-breaking numbers, not just here in Chicago but across the state," said Kate Maehr, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository and president of Feeding Illinois, the state association of food banks.

The Eastern Illinois Foodbank in Urbana is no exception.

Housing

Friday, December 11, 2009 - 19:22

CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign landlord facing a criminal charge for allegedly renting an unsafe apartment may lose four apartment buildings and two rental houses after defaulting on a nearly $1.8 million mortgage.

 The landlord said that he´s been singled out by the city because of his race and that he wants to reorganize his business or find a buyer. 

 A federal bankruptcy judge has given Herget Bank of Pekin permission to auction properties that Bernard Ramos owns on West Church Street in Champaign and on South Lynn Street in Urbana. 

 The properties are scheduled to be auctioned Sept. 25. 

Friday, December 11, 2009 - 19:33

CHAMPAIGN -- Champaign County's homeless population continues to rise, according to two recent surveys, a trend authorities blame at least in part on the economic recession.

The latest survey, in August, counted 594 homeless people in Champaign County, including 358 children, according to the Urbana-Champaign Continuum of Care, a group that oversees homeless services.

That's a 20 percent increase from a similar count last January, which found 495 homeless individuals. Last winter's number, in turn, was 15 percent higher than the 429 counted in the January 2007 survey.

The number of homeless children has also grown. About half the 345 households surveyed this summer had children, up from 38 percent in January, figures show.

Jobs

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - 17:16

Monday, December 14, 2009 - 19:32

CHAMPAIGN -- Carol Williams has worked in the hotel business for more than 10 years.

Until October,  the 38-year-old single mother of four worked between 32 and 40 hours a week as a night auditor for two years.

Her overnight shift allowed her to be at home for her younger children - ages 13 and 7 - after school, She was able to help them with their homework,  make dinner and put them to sleep before leaving for work.

But an illness and subsequent hospitalization prevented her from working for nearly a month. When she was able to go back to work, she found her hours were given to someone else.

Williams now works 12 hours a week between 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. 

Education

Friday, June 11, 2010 - 21:50

A program that sends backpacks full of food home with needy schoolchildren every weekend will expand to a fifth Champaign County site this fall.

 The Urbana Rotary Club has pledged $22,500 over the next three years to support the Eastern Illinois Foodbank´s BackPack Program at Prairie Elementary School in Urbana.

 The program combats hunger by providing weekend groceries for children, distributed in backpacks on Friday afternoons to ensure students return to school on Mondays fed and ready to learn.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - 15:47

RANTOUL-- At Broadmeadow Intermediate Grade Level Center in Rantoul, third graders quietly file through the cafeteria line and pick up a hot lunch of turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, corn and fruited gelatin. Eight out of every 10 children waiting in the lunchroom line this year are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Health Care

Saturday, June 12, 2010 - 12:59

CHAMPAIGN — The financial misery for many Americans affected by recession job cuts took a turn for the worse this week, as a temporary helping hand from Uncle Sam to pay for health insurance began to expire.

The nine-month subsidy that helped people losing their jobs pay for extended coverage through their former employers' health plans ran out Nov. 30 for the first people who began receiving it in March.

More people will lose this COBRA subsidy in succeeding months, and those losing their jobs after Dec. 31 won't have any help with their COBRA costs at all, according to Families USA, a national health care consumer organization.

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