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Progress Against Poverty in Danger in NY

New York's poverty rate is still higher than it was in 2007, before the Great Recession. (Leroy_Skalstad/Pixabay)
New York's poverty rate is still higher than it was in 2007, before the Great Recession. (Leroy_Skalstad/Pixabay)
November 15, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. – Poverty in New York is declining, but a new report says it's still above pre-recession levels and threatened cuts would undermine the progress that has been made.

The report, from the Coalition on Human Needs and Citizen Action of New York, shows that in 2016 the poverty rate in New York had dropped 1.2 percentage points from 2014, when it stood at 15.9 percent.

According to Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action of New York, that progress shows anti-poverty programs work, lifting more than 3 million New Yorkers out of poverty each year between 2009 and 2012.

"Unfortunately, there are still 2.8 million New Yorkers that still live in poverty even in the midst of the great wealth of our state and of our country,” she states.

“So, now's the time we should be further investing in these programs to lift people out of poverty and build on the momentum we've had rather than cutting funding."

Scharff warns that massive cuts to programs serving low and moderate-income people in Republican budget proposals in Congress would drive poverty numbers back up.

Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, says the 2018 budget resolution that passed Congress would slash almost $3 trillion from programs that help lift people out of poverty.

"Including Medicaid and Medicare, low-income tax credits, housing assistance,” she points out. “They would also cut things that give people the tools to be able to compete in the economy like education."

The Trump administration insists that the cuts are necessary to reduce taxes, which, in turn, will grow the economy and create jobs.

But Scharff contends that the vast majority of the tax cuts would benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, while low-income people would lose what little ground they've gained.

"The millions of New Yorkers that have been lifted out of poverty over the past five to 10 years are likely to once again become poor as they lose their housing help, their food help, their health care coverage, their child care help," she states.

Scharff adds that poverty disproportionately affects children and people of color.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY