Common Thread: Confronting Poverty & Moving the Needle


Insights

January 10, 2023

By: Julie Kronick

With a mission to ensure that every New York child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe, CCC’s work consistently confronts family and child poverty and economic hardship, the common thread connecting issues with housing, education and healthcare access, and community well-being.  

January is National Poverty Awareness Month, but significant conversations surrounding poverty have been in focus over the last few months, from the City’s housing and homelessness crisis to concerns about inflation and COVID-19 recovery. Alongside the Governor’s 10-year plan to reduce child poverty and creation of the Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council, as well as the City’s new Charter Amendment that requires measuring the true cost of living annually, this is a crucial time to take aim at the root issues of inequity for families and children in New York.  

Right now, New York is experiencing the worst homelessness crisis since the Great Depression and homeless shelter capacity is dangerously low. We know that across the state families are still recovering financially from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, either due to personal loss or loss of income, and as federal aid and eviction protections have lapsed, more and more New Yorkers are at risk of becoming homeless. CCC’s recent data confirms that 1,122,000 NYC households are under pressure from high housing costs and rent burden—their monthly housing costs were more than 30% of their monthly income. Non-citizen, immigrant households shoulder an even higher burden for housing costs, too.  

CCC’s data also illustrates the fact that extreme inequality keeps hundreds of thousands of children living below the Federal Poverty Level in New York.  Click here to see data and charts on child poverty and search for more economic conditions data. This statement is supported by NYS Comptroller DiNapoli’s December report “New Yorkers in Need” which revealed that almost 2.7 million New Yorkers, or 13.9% of the state’s population, lived in poverty in 2021, compared to 12.8% of all Americans. The report also shows that the percent of population under 18 and below the poverty level in New York was 18.5%, 4.6 percentage points higher than for the overall population.  

There is a real poverty crisis facing New Yorkers that we cannot ignore. So, what policies and programs can help?  

In late October 2022, CCC submitted testimony at a hearing that examined the current public assistance benefits in light of the economic instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation. In this testimony, CCC supported several bills and policy decisions that impact housing vouchers and rental assistance, tax-based credits, food assistance, and the minimum wage expansion. Click here to view the testimony. Bills supported include: the enactment of a law that would require indexing the minimum wage to reflect inflation and life cost increases; requiring all state schools to register into the Community Eligibility Programs offered by the federal government to close the income and food inequality gap so that all children in NYS receive free school meals; and more.  

With recent census data illustrating that the temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) included in the American Rescue Plan led to a historic reduction in child poverty, lowering child poverty by more than 40%, CCC and other advocacy organizations have rallied and spearheaded letter writing campaigns to urge federal leaders to expand tax relief for families. You can sign onto CCC’s take action campaign about expanding the CTC and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) here 

There is also support from policymakers and advocates to expand tax credit programs at the state level. As part of Governor Hochul’s 10-year plan to reduce child poverty in New York by 50%, the Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council is focusing on, among other priorities, expanding/modifying state tax credit programs including the Empire State Tax Credit and the State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Currently, CCC supports policy recommendations to include a permanent extension of the EITC in the State FY2024 budget with expansion to 35 percent of the Federal tax credit, as well as making sure households with children under 4 years of age and immigrant households with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) are eligible for the Empire State Tax Credit. Young children are not currently eligible to receive Empire State Tax Credit, yet nearly 1 in 5 New York children live in poverty and, as this Raising New York data publication states, “the first years of life are a critical window of developmental opportunity, highly dependent on a child’s environment.” Additionally, the EITC has been shown to incentivize employment, which you can read about in this Community Service Society publication. 

Recent conversations around housing stability have called for several solutions, from building more affordable housing as a long-term fix to making it easier for those in NYC to access housing vouchers through CityFHEPS (click here to sign our take action letter urging the city to eliminate a rule that makes families in shelter wait months for rental assistance).  

On the state level, there is a bill ready to be signed that establishes a State funded Housing Assistance Voucher Program (HVAP) which CCC supports. First proposed last year, this program is a significant solution to some immediate issues of housing stability across the state that the Governor has the chance to fund this budget season. HVAP is a permanent, statewide Section 8-like rental assistance program. The program’s resources will be dedicated to helping homeless New Yorkers across the state find stable housing and eviction prevention for households at risk of becoming homeless. Click here to read Family Homelessness Coalition Fellow Kadisha Davis’ op-ed about how HVAP would benefit New Yorker’s in need. 

What’s Next? 

This post details just some of the current advocacy aimed at tackling poverty in New York. CCC remains committed to supporting and championing policy recommendations that improve quality of life for children and families through investment and community building and using data to confront significant inequities. This month CCC will be releasing a new publication, Child & Family Well-being in New York State: Addressing Barriers to More Equitable Opportunities, analyzing publicly available data to identify counties across New York State where children and families face greater barriers to their well-being. The analysis uses 18 indicators to create an overall index score for each of New York State’s 62 counties. These indicators include measures of economic burden and poverty, and the publication will discuss policy recommendations from CCC based on the findings. We will be releasing this publication soon, so stay connected to our newsletter and social media channels for the public release. CCC will also respond to Governor Hochul’s forthcoming Executive Budget, and in the coming weeks will share our state budget priorities and information about ways you can take action for New York’s children this budget season. 

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