Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "low-income families" ...

  • Habitat for Humanity Harsh Reality

    The News-Press investigative reporter Melanie Payne learned that Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties had foreclosed on more than 100 homes in the last decade - 10 percent of the total homes it had built for low-income families in Southwest Florida. This conflicted with Habitat's reports of a foreclosure rate of less than 2 percent. A look at the financials showed that many homes were priced at over $150,000 and some as much as $230,000, and were sold to people earning less than $20,000 a year. In addition, the CEO was paid at a rate comparable to Habitat CEOs in major metropolitan areas. She had a total compensation package of nearly $180,000 - about $50,000 more than counterparts in bigger communities. The complicated financing and the group's resistance to any mortgage modification was found to contribute to the high foreclosure. This challenged the notion of Habitat being of service to low-income residents who couldn't afford a home any other way.
  • Privacy on the Line

    “Privacy on the Line” documented security breaches and fraud in the implementation of a $2 billion federal phone subsidy for low-income families. We found tens of thousands of applicants to Lifeline, were put at heightened risk for identity theft when more than 170,000 sensitive records were posted publicly online. While researching companies participating in the Lifeline program, Scripps investigative reporter Isaac Wolf discovered a data breach touching residents of 26 states.
  • Privacy on the Line

    Tens of thousands of applicants to Lifeline, a federal phone subsidy for low-income families, were put at heightened risk for identity theft when more than 170,000 sensitive records were posted publicly online. When a Scripps team contacted those the files, the reporters heard a startling claim: The “applicants” said they had never seen the forms bearing their signatures – and in some cases had never heard of TerraCom Inc., based in Oklahoma City. Former TerraCom field agents, who were paid on commission, told Scripps that they, not applicants, fabricated and completed applications on instruction from superiors.
  • "Childhood Lead Poisoning Rates in Chicago"

    In this three-part series, Matthew Hendrickson examines the factors that contribute to lead poisoning in Chicago children. He finds that most children who are affected come from low-income families and that many are at risk for health problems down the road. In Chicago, children are not required to have a blood test until they start school, so early detection of lead poisoning is rare.
  • Hardly a Home; Crime, pests plague tenants; Many tenants want out; 'If nobody cares,' why bother, police wonder; Apartment woes are news to council members

    This four-part investigative story focuses on a group of apartment complexes in Colorado Springs owned by Terry Ragan. The complexes, which are primarily occupied by low-income families, were not only found to be extremely dangerous, but were also found to provide unacceptable living conditions to tenants. The article describes problems in the complexes such as lack of heat, water leaks, cockroach infestation, sewage backups, drug dealing, and violence with weapons, among others. Due to yearly police and fire code inspections and court services, Ragan's complexes end up costing taxpayers about $1 million each year.
  • Student applications for financial aid give lots of false answers

    Students who fill out Federal Applications for Financial Aid (FAFSAs) are granted money for higher education based on need, which is usually gauged by the student's own answers to how much their family made last year. However, when FAFSA answers are compared to tax filings, sometimes egregious understatements were exposed. In one case, a student who received a Pell grant, meant only for low-income families, reported an income of $1.3 million to the IRS.
  • Reforming Welfare Reform

    American Prospect takes a look at the Welfare Reform, and the need to make changes: "we judged it too punitive and too far from the spirit of progressive reform, which would have focused less on reducing caseloads and more on both promoting employment and improving the well-being of low-income families with children.
  • Rollback: A Corporate Feeding Frenzy During Bush's Honeymoon

    A Multinational Monitor investigative packet looks at the first hundred days for the George W. Bush administration, and finds that the cabinet has "aggressively carried forward the corporate agenda." The stories within the packet focus on the negative consequences to the environment, workers, public health, consumers, civil rights, mining, etc., resulting from the suspension or rescinding of important regulations. One of the articles sheds light on the new bankruptcy rules that favor the automobile industry and finance companies, while diminishing the chance of financially devastated low-income families to resume "lives as productive members of their community." A separate piece reveals the background and the corporate connections of vice-[president Dick Cheney. The packet includes profiles of the members of Bush's "corporate cabinet," and dissects some possible motives that might have inspired their actions in the first 100 days. The profiled officials are: Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, EPA Administrator Christine Whitman, Veteran Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Director Office of Management and Budget Mitch Daniels, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Secretary of Transportation Norm Minetta, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell.
  • CHA Parents Seek Stability As Housing Falls

    As the Chicago Housing Authority closes down more developments due to failed inspections and uncorrected problems, low-income families are forced to move, ultimately putting their children into new school districts. School and housing officials informally agreed to pay for busing if students were moved from the development during the school year. However, the groups have interpretted this agreement differently. The CHA says "only children who are relocated outside a development because a building is scheduled for closure should be included." But school officials say "assistance should be available for any CHA family who moves, if a parent wants a child to remain in the school." Parents agree that pulling their children out of schools is not in their best academic interests, but many can not afford transportation. And while authorities thought moving people would create diversity, "most children who left schools serving Chicago Housing Authority developments between 1995 and 2000 transferred to schools with above-average numbers of low-income, black and low-achieving students." The Chicago Reporter provides insight on these issues.
  • Getting the Brush-Off

    Minnesota Monthly investigates "the shortage of dentists in Minnesota, particularly outside the metro area. Health officials say this is a result of many factors. 'One is the competition for dental care. There's more people needing dental care than we have dentists available to provide service. The second is we have competition between what people can and will pay for dental care and that drives who's going to get priority for appointments.' And with that comes the problem of many Minnesotans not receiving dental care at all. Mostly because of insurance policies like MinnesotaCare, a state medical and dental plan for low-income families. 'With MinnesotaCare . . . people are essentially buying an insurance policy without providers. And while there are compassionate dentists serving the low-income population, they don't necessarily want word to get out.'