Social IMPACT Research Center Publications

The Social IMPACT Research Center has an extensive portfolio of needs assessment and evaluation research on issues facing poor and low-income populations. Our user-friendly work equips nonprofits, foundations, and governments to advance real-world solutions to poverty.
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Featured

Poverty, Income & Health Insurance Update: Illinois and Chicago Region

September 17, 2020

Poverty rates and household incomes improved in Illinois in 2019. However, this data reflects conditions from the last year before a global pandemic and related recession--meaning the picture is likely much worse today. And even before the 2020 recession, millions of Illinoisans--especially people of color--lived in poverty or on the brink.The poverty rate for the United States was 10.5% in 2019, a decline of 1.3 percentage points from 2018 and the lowest on record. There were 34 million people in poverty nationwide. In 2019, 1.4 million Illinoisans were in poverty--a rate of 11.5%. Additionally, 1.9 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold.The data also revealed that health insurance coverage rates declined in Illinois and throughout the nation in 2019, continuing a disturbing trend of eroding the gains of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), right before a global pandemic and economic recession hit.

Healthcare; Poverty
Featured

Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois

June 29, 2020

This first-of-its-kind study confirms that more than 3.3 million people in Illinois could be impacted by permanent punishments as a result of prior "criminal justice system" involvement, which is more accurately referred to as the "criminal legal system" given the well-documented inequities that bring into question whether the system actually brings justice to people who come into contact with it."Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois," lifts up that permanent punishments are the numerous laws and barriers aimed at people with records that limit their human rights and restrict access to the crucial resources needed to re-build their lives, such as employment, housing, and education. The report recommends a broad dismantling of permanent punishments, so that those who have been involved with the criminal legal system have the opportunity to fully participate in society.The data illustrates the dramatic number of people who may be living with the stigma and limitations of a criminal record in Illinois. Since the advent of mass incarceration in 1979, there are an estimated 3.3 million adults who have been arrested or convicted of a crime in Illinois. Under current laws, these individuals have limited rights even after their criminal legal system involvement has ended. In fact, the report uncovered a vast web of 1,189 laws in Illinois that punish people with criminal records, often indefinitely.

Featured

Illinois and Chicago Region: Poverty, Income and Health Insurance

September 26, 2019

Millions of people in Illinois experience poverty or are living on the brink. That societal position keeps opportunities out of reach and nearly guarantees worse outcomes in every quality of life domain—making ALL of us worse off. The poverty rate for the United States was 11.8% in 2018, a decline of 0.5 percentage points from 2017. There were 38.1 million people in poverty nationwide. In 2018, 1.5 million Illinoisans were in poverty—a rate of 12.1%. Additionally, 2.0 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold. This year marks the first time that the U.S.poverty rate is below pre-recession levels; Illinois lags behind this trend,with its poverty rate just returning to pre-recession levels.

Featured

The Gender Disadvantage: Why Inequity Persists

March 13, 2019

Poverty does not treat everyone equally. Women, children, gender minorities, and people of color are often the hardest hit. And while women in poverty experience the same issues that all people in poverty experience—income inequality, unemployment, poor health, violence, trauma, and more—the odds are often uniquely stacked against them in gendered ways.There are 6.5 million women. and an estimated 50,000 trans people living in Illinois. They are a driving force in our economy and care for our children, sick, and elderly, and yet continue to face discrimination and inequitable opportunities. This year's annual report on poverty in Illinois shows how gender, gender identity, and gender norms shape experiences of poverty for women and gender minorities—and how women who have other marginalized identities experience even more inequity. If we want to dramatically reduce poverty, improving the well-being of women— particularly women of color—would deliver the biggest return.

Asset Building & Financial Security; Poverty
Featured

Illinois and Chicago Region: Poverty, Income and Health Insurance (Fact Sheet)

September 13, 2018

Millions of people in Illinois experience poverty or are living on the brink. That societal position keeps opportunities out of reach and nearly guarantees worse outcomes in every quality of life domain—making ALL of us worse off.This fact sheet on poverty, income, and health insurance coverage in Illinois and the Chicago region, was created using the Census Bureau's release of local American Community Survey data.The poverty rate for the United States was 12.3% in 2017. There were 39.7 million people in poverty nationwide. The poverty rate is not significantly different from the pre-recession level of 12.5% in 2007. In 2017, 1.6 million Illinoisans were in poverty ─ a rate of 12.6%. Additionally, 2.0 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold.

Healthcare
Featured

The 2018 Illinois Poverty Update

April 19, 2018

Heartland Alliance's Illinois Poverty Update indicates that millions of people in Illinois are experiencing poverty or are on the cusp. Rooted in inequity, poverty prevents people from meeting basic needs, improving their quality of life, and creates barriers to opportunities including quality education, stable employment, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods. The update sheds light on who is most likely to experience poverty in Illinois: Women, people of color, and children have the highest poverty rates.In addition to the Illinois Poverty Update, Heartland Alliance also released state legislative district poverty fact sheets.These releases are the first of a series Heartland Alliance is publishing on poverty in Illinois this year. Local- and county-level data books will be published this summer, and an in-depth exploration of the forces that contribute to gender-based poverty inequity will be released in the fall. 

Poverty
Featured

Access to Secure Choice: Addressing the Barriers to Retirement Savings for Illinois Workers

November 28, 2017

Illinois is among the first states in the nation to pass retirement savings legislation in the form of Secure Choice. With the implementation of Secure Choice, workers in Illinois at qualifying businesses without access to an employment-based retirement plan will be automatically enrolled in a retirement savings program. An estimated 1.3 million Illinoisans who currently do not have access to workplace retirement plans will be potentially impacted by Secure Choice. As Illinois moves toward Secure Choice implementation, however, there are a number of key questions that should be answered to help ensure that the program is addressing barriers to participation, especially among low-income workers, women, immigrants, and workers of color. This research is aimed at better understanding these barriers.

Employment; Safety Net & Human Services
Featured

Cycle of Risk: The Intersection of Poverty, Violence, and Trauma

March 15, 2017

Chicago is currently facing a devastating surge in lethal violence in addition to staggering rates of poverty across Illinois. Policymakers and community leaders are struggling with finding short- and long-term solutions to stem the violence and allow neighborhoods to heal. In the meantime, communities are fearing for their own safety and grieving over lost parents, children, friends, and leaders every day. The stakes forgetting the solutions right could not be higher. Poverty and violence often intersect, feed one another, and share root causes. Neighborhoods with high levels of violence are also characterized by high levels of poverty, lack of adequate public services and educational opportunity, poorer health outcomes, asset and income inequality, and more. The underlying socioeconomic conditions in these neighborhoods perpetuate both violence and poverty. Furthermore, trauma can result from both violence and poverty. Unaddressed trauma worsens quality of life, makes it hard to rise out of poverty by posing barriers to success at school and work, and raises the likelihood of aggressive behavior. In this way, untreated trauma—coupled with easy gun availability and other factors—feeds the cycle of poverty and violence.

Executive Summary - Resigned to the Process: Barriers to Accessing and Maintaining TANF among Low-Income Families with Young Children in Illinois

October 7, 2022

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash payments to help extremely low-income families gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency. Emerging research suggests that TANF policies, includingeligibility requirements and sanction procedures, createbarriers to accessing and maintaining TANF benefits that disproportionally impact certain families based on their race.The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) at HeartlandAlliance was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood JohnsonFoundation (RWJF) to explore barriers to enrolling in TANF among families with young children in Illinois. The project was implemented in partnership with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), and a research advisory board (RAB) of grassroots leaders in Chicago who have direct experience receiving TANF.

Resigned to the Process: Barriers to Accessing and Maintaining TANF among Low-Income Families with Young Children in Illinois

October 7, 2022

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash payments to help extremely low-income families gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency. Emerging research suggests that TANF policies, including eligibility requirements and sanction procedures, create barriers to accessing and maintaining TANF benefits that disproportionally impact certain families based on their race.The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) at Heartland Alliance was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to explore barriers to enrolling in TANF among families with young children in Illinois. The project was implemented in partnership with the Chicago Coalitionfor the Homeless (CCH), and a research advisory board (RAB) of grassroots leaders in Chicago who have direct experience receiving TANF.

Illinois and Chicago Region 2021: Poverty, Income and Health Insurance (Fact Sheet)

September 15, 2022

Poverty rates increased and household incomes were stagnant inIllinois from 2019 to 2021. This data reflects 2021, when COVID-19 pandemic-related government assistance provided some relief, suggesting that the financial picture is likely much worse today.

Bringing Oral Health Home. An Implementation Evaluation of Heartland Alliance Health’s Shelter-Based Oral Health Outreach Program

May 10, 2022

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Heartland Alliance Health (HAH) aligned with multiple residential sites serving people experiencing homelessness and people with substance use disorders to expand access to oral health services for their residents through site-based outreach.The HAH Shelter-Based Oral Health pilot program aims to improve the oral health of individuals experiencing homelessness and increase access to oral health services and other services addressing social determinants of health. The pilot program aims to do this by establishing stronger partnerships with residential sites and providing on-site dental services. The long-term goals of the program are to increase knowledge for medical providers to successfully implement and deliver on-site oral health care and continue developing strategic alignment between Heartland Alliance Health and residential sites.Recognizing the importance of program implementation in effective service delivery, the evaluation of the Oral Health Service followed the World Health Organization's Implementation Framework. To understand how the service was operationalized, the outcome variables of acceptability, adoption, appropriateness, feasibility, fidelity, coverage and sustainability were assessed. Research questions were developed within each of the overarching outcome variables, sourced from relevant literature and the HAH Oral Health Logic Model (Appendix A). The logic model was co-developed by the research team, HAH Oral Health staff, and outreach partner staff. Specifically, the research questions for this report focus on the implementation of the Oral Health Service based on identified short- and mid- term outcomes.

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