Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Past Events

November 14, 2017

Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty
by Scott W. Allard

Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty

Between 2000 and 2015, almost every major metropolitan area experienced a significant increase in the suburban poor population. Two-thirds of those regions now find the majority of the poor population in the suburbs. An examination of the rise of poverty in the suburbs is the focus of Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty in America (2017, Russell Sage Foundation Press).

Using a unique combination of data from a range of sources—the Census Bureau, administrative data from state safety net programs, information about local non-profit human service financing, as well as field work and in-depth interviews in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.—his book offers important original insights into the interconnections among place, poverty, and the safety net in contemporary America.

Listen to NCCP Book Discussion of Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty

September 27, 2017

Behind from the Start: How America's War on the Poor
by Lenette Azzi-Lessing

Toxic Inequality

Behind from the Start: How America's War on the Poor is Harming Our Most Vulnerable Children describes the link between America's shaming, blaming, and marginalizing of poor parents, and our nation’s punitive welfare policies that jeopardize the life chances of vulnerable young children and the resulting consequences.

Drawing on knowledge from neuroscience, media studies, and public policy, as well as the author's experiences as a practicing social worker, Behind from the Start offers an important take on both the problem and promising solutions.

Listen to NCCP Book Discussion of Behind from the Start

June 14, 2017

Toxic Inequality: How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, and Threatens Our Future
by Thomas M. Shapiro

Toxic Inequality

Drawing on two sets of interviews with 137 U.S. families of different ethnicities and levels of income over a decade, Toxic Inequality explores the fault lines of race in the landscape of inequality. Making the convincing argument that class must not eclipse race as an explanation of wealth inequality, sociologist Thomas Shapiro explains how the dangerous combination of wealth disparities and racial inequities—what he terms "toxic inequality" — combine to ensnare families in a socio-economic trap.

Listen to NCCP Book Discussion of Toxic Inequality

April 27, 2017

Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality
by Ajay Chaudry, Taryn Morrissey, Christina Weiland and Hirokazu Yoshikawa

Cradle to Kindergarten

The U.S. government invests less in children under the age of five than do most other developed nations. However, reducing educational and economic inequalities requires that all children have robust opportunities to learn, fully develop their capacities, and have a fair shot at success. Cradle to Kindergarten presents a blueprint for fulfilling this promise by expanding access to educational and financial resources at a critical stage of child development. The authors propose a range of strategies, beginning with a federal paid parental leave policy that provides both mothers and fathers with time and financial support after the birth of a child.

Ajay Chaudry is a senior fellow at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Taryn Morrissey is an assistant professor of public administration and policy at American University.

Christina Weiland is an assistant professor of education at the University of Michigan.

Hirokazu Yoshikawa is the Courtney Sale Ross Professor of Globalization and Education at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Listen to NCCP Book Discussion of Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality

February 28, 2017

Catching Homelessness A Nurse's Story of Falling through the Safety Net
by Josephine Ensign

Catching Homelessness Josephine Ensign

A place to call home is a fundamental need we all possess. Yet, in the U.S., more than half a million people are deprived of that essential on any given day. Why – and how – does this happen? NCCP discusses Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling Through the Safety Net with the author, Josephine Ensign. Hers is one of the many stories it’s important to hear in order to address our nation’s homelessness problem. Her detailed account of "catching homelessness" while serving as a nurse working with homeless patients is compelling.

Josephine Ensign is an associate professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she teaches community health, health policy, and narrative medicine.

Listen to NCCP Book Discussion of Catching Homelessness A Nurse's Story of Falling through the Safety Net

Resources from our discussion with Josephine Ensign are available here

November 16, 2016

DIY Detroit: Making Do in a City Without Services by Kimberley Kinder

DIY Detroit Kimberley Kinder

DIY Detroit is an exploration of how residents in Detroit have coped with market disinvestment and government contraction by taking charge of abandoned landscapes – sweeping public streets, boarding empty buildings, mowing vacant lots, and maintaining city parks. With the City of Detroit significantly weakened by longstanding fiscal crises, these self-provisioned, spatial interventions are crucial to stabilizing blocks and exerting social control over neighborhoods. The book reveals how the efforts of these Detroiters and others like them create new urban logics and transform the expectations residents have about their environments. At the same time, readers are cautioned against romanticizing such acts, which are, after all, short-term solutions to a deep and spreading social injustice that demands comprehensive change.

Kimberley Kinder is an Assistant Professor of City Planning at the University of Michigan. Her research explores the cultural, economic, and political aspects of urban space. Dr. Kinder earned a masters degree in geography from the University of Oxford and a PhD in geography from the University of California, Berkeley. She then received a three-year fellowship with the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan, and subsequently joined Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She is the author of Cities Without Services: Do-It-Yourself Urbanism in Detroit’s Spaces of Disinvestment (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and The Politics of Urban Water: Changing Waterscapes in Amsterdam (University of Georgia Press, 2015).

Listen to NCCP Book Discussion of DIY Detroit: Making Do in a City Without Services

September 13, 2016

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Trapped Matthew Desmond

Through the heartbreaking stories of eight families living in the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, Evicted describes the economic hardships and extreme poverty of renting and raising a family on almost nothing. Based on embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, the book helps readers understand what extreme poverty and economic exploitation mean while providing promising ideas for addressing a uniquely American problem.

Matthew Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and co-director of the Justice and Poverty Project. A former member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, he is the author of the award-winning book On the Fire Line, co-author of two books on race, and editor of a collection of studies on severe deprivation in America. His work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Russell Sage, and National Science Foundations, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune. In 2015, Desmond was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" grant.

Listen to NCCP Book Discussion of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City