A house for sale in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Pushed Out: A documentary on housing in Grand Rapids

Don Norman settles into his chair, and pulls his blanket up to his chest. On the TV, Dick Van Dyke is about to solve a murder. The room is warm, shades drawn. It’s a good old house. A bit of plaster is coming off the ceiling in the corner, but the house is neat. Every shelf is filled with pictures of family. Don’s been here 40 years, he says. Ever since he and his wife got pushed out of their last home, when the hospital near them started an expansion and bulldozed their old block.

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Join us for Issues & Ale: Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White will host this discussion exploring these questions, as we look to define the problem of poverty in Michigan. This is the first community event in Michigan Radio’s “State of Opportunity” project.

Do you live your life in a bubble?

Jul 24, 2012
Juan Calderon via Flickr

Things get old really fast on the internet, so by now it's safe to say that this quiz from March is retro enough to be due for a revival.

U.S. poverty could soon top 1965 rate

Jul 23, 2012

The Associated Press is reporting that when census numbers come out this fall, poverty in America will be at its highest rate in close to 50 years. In 2010 the census found 15.1 percent of people in America were living below the poverty line-that's about 1 in 7 people.

When the 2011 numbers come out, the AP says that several interviews with leading economists and demographers lead it to believe that the poverty rate will be more than 15.1 percent, perhaps as much as 15.7 percent.

Here's a bit more information to help explain yesterday's story Five facts about achieving the American Dream. We've gotten some comments from listeners about how to interpret our five facts, and one of the biggest areas of confusion concerns the distinction between "absolute" and "relative" measures economic mobility. 

Google Street View

Update 5:48 p.m.

Detroit EMS officials now say an ambulance did respond to the scene where a 9-year old boy fell to his death Wednesday.

Detroit State Representative Rashida Tlaib, based on statements from witnesses, said no ambulance ever arrived at the scene of the tragedy.

But Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek says EMS officials dispute that.

EMS officials say an ambulance was indeed dispatched just one minute after a 911 all came in, but police beat the ambulance to the scene and decided to take the boy to the hospital, where he later died.

One of the authors of this op-ed worked for President Obama. The other worked for President George W. Bush. They both want to see more opportunity in America.

Pew Economic Mobility Project

Our State of Opportunity team is looking into ways disadvantaged children in Michigan can get ahead, and we're planning on bringing you many personal stories of families that are working to do just that. But for the next two weeks, we want to take a look at what research can tell us about getting ahead in America. Today, we have a list of five facts about the American Dream.

Before we get to our list of facts, I want to tell you about a dark and dingy room in the basement of the Institute for Social Research building at the University of Michigan.

Former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers writes in the Washington Post: "It is hard to see who could disagree with the aspiration to equalize opportunity, or fail to recognize the manifest inequalities in opportunity today."

State of Opportunity is capping off a busy launch week. We are relying on you for insights, questions and story ideas to help us tell these complicated and important stories. Maybe you have a question, comment or a story idea for the project? We'd like to hear it. 

You can always comment here on the website, or on our Facebook page, but you can also connect with us in a deeper way by sharing your insight here. We promise to read all of your comments and follow up as needed.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

What would it take so that all kids in Michigan have the chance to reach their full potential?

To help us find some answers, we're doing things a little bit differently.

Sure, we're talking to national experts and researchers about what does and does not work when it comes to overcoming poverty. But we're also spending time with real people who are struggling to get ahead.

Our goal is to follow several kids and families over the course of the three-year project to better understand what challenges they face, what resources are available, and where the gaps are. 

Here's a preview of one of the families we've been spending time with: