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Community leaders, residents voice concerns about poverty

DANVILLE – Affordable housing, the value of skill versus degree for jobs, social and health safety nets and prompt payments by the state to social-service agencies were some of the topics brought before a public hearing Monday with the Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty.

Monday's hearing was meant to gather views from central Illinois residents. Hearings are also scheduled in Chicago on March 8 and Carbondale on April 8.

Pam G. Dempsey/A woman is seen leaving empty tomb inc., taking with her the two free layette sets she picked up for her newborn twin grandchildren in January. Empty tomb inc. is a Christian organization and offers services to people in need of all income levels. A state commission is hosting public hearings statewide to see how to better combat extreme poverty.

Empty harvest: Migrant family faces hardships in Rantoul

RANTOUL— On a Saturday morning in October, trash overflowed from Dumpsters at the old Air Force hospital in Rantoul, where about 300 migrant farm workers and their families lived this summer and fall. Suitcases sat stacked on a picnic table; men walked around one another’s vehicles, looking under the hoods. Inside, the Ortiz family planned their 1,300-mile journey home to South Texas.

Brothers Ernesto and Isidro Ortiz, their wives — who are sisters — and their five children arrived in Rantoul in early July to detassel corn for Monsanto Company. When the hot fieldwork of summer was done, they stayed on to sort corn at Monsanto’s Farmer City plant.

By Shelley Smithson -- Alejandra Ortiz and her family traveled to Rantoul from Texas to work for Monsanto.

Federal health insurance starts to expire for those who lost jobs

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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