Our Great Recession continues

While the plutocrats get richer and the president proclaims the greatest economy in the history of the nation, the three counties which led the race to the top of the most inflated real estate prices in the nation and the race to the bottom of highest foreclosure rates in the nation are creating institutions to cope with permanent recession. The reason I say permanent is that, unlike during the Great Depression, when the country had real political leadership that faced problems, liars and deniers voted in by the deceased and deluded have attempted to profit from the “Great Recession.” -- wmh

Valley Chidrens Health Care
Program To Help Families Facing Food Insecurity Underway In Merced County

(Merced, California) – Thanks to a $90,873 grant from the Central California Alliance for Health, Valley Children’s Healthcare and the Merced County Food Bank launched an innovative program this week to help families facing one of the leading health threats in Central California – food insecurity. Lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle affects one in three children in Merced County.
Through the project, Valley Children’s physicians at Olivewood Pediatrics in Merced will screen all patients for food insecurity. Those found at risk will receive a “Prescription for Food,” a voucher redeemable for a 30-pound box of nutritious and healthy food options from the Merced County Food Bank. This resource will be provided on a monthly basis to families identified as food insecure for a whole year. Grant money from the Central California Alliance for Health will help the Food Bank cover the cost of food purchases for these distributions. Patients and families will also be provided with a list of food resources and federal nutrition assistance programs available to them in Merced County.
“Individuals who are food insecure lack access to affordable and healthy foods which leads to adverse effects on health and development,” says Valley Children’s Community Health Specialist Simran Kaur. “As a healthcare provider, we recognize the importance of addressing the root cause and our ‘Prescription for Food’ program provides much-needed access to healthy food options for our patients and families.”
“It is critically important that the community works together to address this crisis,” says Merced County Food Bank Executive Director Bill Gibbs. “Our new partnership with Valley Children's Healthcare and the Central California Alliance for Health directly addresses childhood food insecurity, and we are very thankful to have them standing side-by-side with us in the fight against hunger in our community.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who live in households that are food insecure are likely to be sick more often, recover from illness more slowly and are hospitalized more frequently. The “Prescription for Food” program aims to integrate community resources into healthcare delivery to improve the health and wellbeing of patients and their families. The program’s goal is to increase access and consumption of healthy and nutritious foods.

Stockton's 'Guaranteed Income' Experiment: Why Mayor Tubbs Is Doing It
Lily Jamali

This week, more than 100 Stockton residents will receive $500 debit cards in the mail — no strings attached. It will be their second cash distribution since this city began an experiment in February to test whether offering residents a "guaranteed income" can alleviate poverty.
Stockton's 28-year-old mayor, Michael Tubbs, is the face of this test.
"I took the step to do the pilot and to be the first intentionally," Tubbs told KQED during an interview in Stockton, where a quarter of residents live in poverty.
"As someone who grew up in poverty, who moved up to the working poor, I knew there are a lot of tropes around poor people that are just not true," he said. "I thought I would trust no one else to tell that story and elevate that than myself."
Stockton is one of the first cities in the U.S. to run a trial of this size, which will continue for another 18 months. The money goes to a small group of randomly-selected residentswho live in neighborhoods where the median annual income is at or below $46,033.
Partial funding for this experiment comes from The Economic Security Project, with the goal of testing the viability of a universal basic income. The group is co-chaired by Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook.
Similar projects have been attempted elsewhere, including in Canada and Finland.
"The argument we've been making is that in the greatest country in the world, no one should not have a floor. I'm not saying everyone should have a yacht or everyone needs to have a Benz. I'm saying everyone should have enough of the basics," Tubbs said. "We're paying for it anyway in hospital visits and truancy and just how much poverty costs us."
The idea has garnered support in Silicon Valley, where some tech leaders view it as a way to offset job losses caused by the march towards automation.
Support for the idea of a basic income has historically straddled the partisan divide. Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke on its behalf. So did conservative economist Milton Friedman who,  despite his opposition to government welfare, saw universal basic income as a way of cutting through the patchwork of fixes for those in poverty. Friedman pushed for a rebate that offered the poor just enough to subsist.

Should We Get Free Money From the Government?
Critics of basic income schemes say that handing out free money just lowers the incentive for recipients to find employment. But welfare systems where benefits are withdrawn once the recipient finds a job have also been criticized for having the same effect.
Mayor Tubbs' vision is to allow residents participating in Stockton's trial to benefit from both a guaranteed income and any additional income earned from a job.
A two-year experiment in Finland that just concluded was designed to test the effect of a basic income that was paid independently of whether or not the recipient had a job. During 2017 and 2018, 2,000 unemployed citizens were given the equivalent of $634 monthly.
While the study is still being analyzed, initial results suggest that the experiment didn't change the number of people who got jobs. The money, however, did leave people feeling happier.
The Stockton income experiment is being watched closely. It's already being raised in the 2020 presidential campaign. Tech entrepreneur-turned-candidate Andrew Yang is offering to give away $1,000 of his own money every month to two families — fittingly located in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Whether or not automation causes job losses in the future, Mayor Tubbs said the time is right for his experiment. "One in two Americans can't afford one $500 emergency. Folks are working two or three jobs," he said. "We need to shore up our economic foundation."

Modesto Bee
Modesto joins Stanislaus in support of 180-bed homeless shelter
https://www.modbee.com/news/article226877539.html <strong/>
Modesto’s elected officials have joined their Stanislaus County colleagues in supporting a multimillion-dollar plan to provide more help for the homeless, including opening a 180-bed shelter at The Salvation Army’s Berberian Center near downtown.
City Council members voted 7-0 at their Tuesday evening meeting in favor of the proposal, which will obligate the city to provide as much as $378,326 in infrastructure improvements. A city report also says Modesto will provide $350,000 of its federal Community Development Block Grant money toward operating the shelter.
County supervisors voted 5-0 at their Tuesday morning meeting in support of the plan. It includes putting an access center offering the homeless comprehensive services in modular buildings on city land next to the Berberian Center at Ninth and D streets.
Council members and supervisors approved a drafted memorandum of understanding. The final version is expected to go to The Salvation Army’s Western Territorial Headquarters in Southern California on March 7 for approval along with associated agreements, including one in which the county would lease space from the army for the 180-bed shelter.
The Salvation Army would continue to operate its 120-bed traditional homeless shelter at its Berberian Center.
Unlike a traditional shelter, the county’s 180-bed shelter would take in couples, pets and possessions. People could stay at the shelter for as long as six months as they receive services, including help getting into housing. The county expects to hire Turning Point Community Programs to operate the shelter.
The proposal includes the county buying The Salvation Army’s building at Seventh and I streets in downtown that now houses the army’s administration and social services. The army also serves lunch weekdays and breakfast weekends there.
The county would relocate the army to a modular building at the Berberian Center site and could convert the building at Seventh and I into transitional housing for youths or families. Supervisors could approve the building’s purchase for $1.25 million as well as a plan to pay for the purchase at their April 2 meeting.
The county plans on spending $4 million of the $7.2 million in Homeless Emergency Aid Programs the state recently awarded to the Stanislaus Community System of Care for this proposal, as well as about $1 million of the $2.5 million in state funding Assemblyman Adam Gray secured for the county about two years ago to address the homelessness crisis.
The 180-bed shelter would replace the tent city that went up in September in Beard Brook Park and now is being relocated a couple of hundred yards away to under the Ninth Street Bridge in the Tuolumne River Regional Park. The new homeless camp is expected to operate no later than June 30, though that might be extended to Aug. 15.
The tent city has been home to more than 400 people, but officials are working on more projects to increase shelter and housing for the homeless.
The 180-bed shelter could open by this fall if not sooner, provided the plan is approved by The Salvation Army,
according to county Deputy Executive Officer Ruben Imperial.

Merced Sun-Star
Foreclosures hit all-time high nationally; weekend workshops coming locally
https://www.mercedsunstar.com/site-services/social-media/article3237096.... <strong/>
Home foreclosures soared to an all-time high in the final quarter of last year, underscoring the suffering of distressed homeowners and the growing danger the housing meltdown poses for the economy.
The Mortgage Bankers Association, in a quarterly snapshot of the mortgage market released today, said the proportion of all mortgages nationwide that fell into foreclosure shot up to a record high 0.83 percent in the October-to-December quarter. That surpassed the previous high of 0.78 percent in the prior quarter.
"Clearly it's the worst it's been," chief association economist Doug Duncan said .

Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties have the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Close to 1,900 houses foreclosed in the three counties during January.
Local homeowners having trouble paying mortgages will have the chance to meet face-to-face with lenders Friday and Saturday during foreclosure prevention events in Stockton and Modesto.
Federal, state and local government agencies are partnering with lenders, private businesses and non-profit counseling services to sponsor the events. Free counseling will be offered, and homeowners will have the chance to negotiate with their lenders to discuss ways to avoid foreclosure.
The sessions are free and open to homeowners from throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Reservations are not needed.
Friday's Hope Now Homeownership Preservation Forum will be 2-to-8 p.m. at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds, Building 5 and Building 2, 1658 South Airport Way, Stockton.
Saturday's No Homeowner Left Behind-Stanislaus foreclosure prevention event will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, Harvest Hall, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto.
To prepare in advance for negotiations with lenders at Saturday's event, homeowners are encouraged to download and fill out the registration and family budget forms posted at www.modbee.com/housing Another Modesto foreclosure prevention event is scheduled March 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Modesto Centre Plaza, 1000 K St.
Nationally, the delinquency rate for all mortgages climbed to 5.82 percent in the fourth quarter. That was up from the 5.59 percent in the third quarter and was the highest since 1985. Payments are considered delinquent if they are 30 or more days past due.
Homeowners with tarnished credit who have subprime adjustable-rate loans were the hardest hit. Foreclosures and late payments for these borrowers also swelled to all-time highs in the fourth quarter.
The percentage of subprime adjustable-rate mortgages that entered the foreclosure process soared to a record of 5.29 percent in the fourth quarter. That was up from 4.72 percent in the prior quarter, which had marked the previous high. Late payments skyrocketed to a record high of 20.02 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 18.81 percent - the previous high - in the third quarter.
The association's survey covers almost 46 million home loans nationwide.
"Mortgage credit quality is deteriorating fast," said Mike Larson, a real-estate analyst at Weiss Research.
The worsening foreclosure and late payment figures come as fears grow that the country is teetering on the edge of a recession or in one already.