While Rochester, New York ranks 2nd in the nation for the number of children living in poverty, new data shows that from Buffalo to Newburg poverty rates closing in on 60%
March 20, 2015
Albany, New York – Calling it “a plague spreading across our State,” Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and the Task Force on New Americans, was joined by Latino lawmakers and anti-poverty advocacy groups to release startling data on the pervasive proliferation of childhood poverty across New York State. The most recent data compiled from government and non-governmental organizations show that from Buffalo to Newburg, child poverty rates are exceeding 50%. In most major upstate cities, child poverty rates are as high as 73% for black children and now surpassing the 40% mark for white children.
“Child poverty rates across New York State’s major cities have surpassed the 50% mark in an alarming trend that threatens the economic and social stability of the State,” stated Crespo. “This is not just an issue impacting black and Latino children. We now know that poverty rates for white children have surpassed the 40% mark in Binghamton and about to cross that threshold in Rochester, Syracuse, Schenectady and Troy, New York.”
According to Crespo, “The alarming rates of child poverty in New York have reached epidemic proportions for all ethnic and racial groups. In every major city in New York, those rates now exceed 50%. In one New York State city alone, 73% of black children live below the federal poverty line. For Latino children, Rochester and Syracuse are inhospitable cities with poverty rates at 54.9% and 59.3% respectively.” Crespo added, “At current rates of growth in poverty, New York will surpass every state in the nation with the distinction of having the most children living in poverty.”
“Numbers don’t lie. The rising rate of child poverty has increased over the years, which not only affects NYC, but also Long Island as well. In my district alone there has been an increase in poverty rates amongst children. Brentwood, for example, has over 20% of children under the age of 18 living in poverty. Since 2007, the rate for children living in poverty has increased tremendously after a somewhat steady pace before that. It is only projected to grow if we do not raise awareness and find ways to address the problem,” said Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood).
“Poverty hurts children and our nation’s future,” said Assemblymember Victor M. Pichardo, member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Social Services. “It is critical that we as legislators join forces to combat child-poverty in every community across our State. Every child deserves a fair, healthy, and safe start, and the chance to grown up in an environment which encourages and empowers them to thrive academically, economically, and socially.”
“New York has the greatest income inequality in the nation and we need a budget that faces this problem head on. The Governor’s Budget outlines a number of policy initiatives that will help lift some families out of poverty but does not provide enough ‘shared opportunities’ to help the state’s neediest residents move up the socioeconomic ladder. We need a comprehensive agenda to boost family incomes and address the record levels of child poverty, hunger and homelessness that are pervasive throughout our state,” said Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute. “The Governor’s proposal tends to focus on poverty alleviation in Rochester through the creation of a task force. We applaud the effort but strongly believe that the enormity and severity of the issue require a statewide approach since most of our upstate cities and significant parts of NYC are also facing historic levels of child poverty.”
“Increasing the awareness of child poverty in New York City by the state Legislative body and other influential coalition groups is a great step in the right direction. We must first place our focus on education and implore to U.S. Senate to pass the Dream Act. Proper housing for these children should also be a priority. The main goal is before this legislative session end in June 2015, there will be positive result to combat the growing trend of child poverty rates in New York City,” stated Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Assembly Assistant Majority Whip.
According to Karla Digirolamo, CEO of the New York State Community Action Association, “As the economy continues to recover from the Great Recession, too many of New York’s citizens are left behind, including nearly one million children, many of whom will go to bed hungry tonight in this state with such riches. This is not only a moral outrage, it is damaging to our economy and our future. Ensuring that our lowest wage workers are paid living wages and providing family supports to these low wage workers are the right things to do for our families and for our economy.”
State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) said, “It is unacceptable that the poverty among Latino children is increasing. We must work hard to close the inequality gap in order to provide every child in the state and the nation with the opportunity to succeed. We have to keep up our work to help all families out of poverty.”
“When it comes to the Latino children of the Capital District the numbers revealed in this report are staggering, yet easily explained,” observed Dan Irizarry, Chairman of the Capital District LATINOS, a local nonprofit based in the City of Albany. “Local city and county governments fail to target proper resources to our community, let alone provide them with information in Spanish, as well as English. Simply put, they act as if we don’t exist. ‘Somos’ –the name for this weekend’s legislative conference—is Spanish for ‘We Are,’ but Latinos in the Capital District ‘Somos Invisibles.’ Our thanks to Chairman Crespo for shedding light on our plight.”
“Economic disparity isn’t limited to any one region, community, race or age. In this day and age, the fact that there are people who live their entire lives in poverty is unacceptable. Yet these figures show that not only is it an unfortunate reality, it is becoming the norm. In communities throughout the state, from Buffalo to Brooklyn, poverty is on the rise. For many families life is a daily struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head. We can’t let this continue. It’s the duty of every New Yorker to see that it doesn’t,” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Kings).
Assemblyman Crespo outlined anti-poverty proposals that can have a real impact on reducing overall poverty rates in New York State which now stand at 26.6% for Latinos, 24% for African-Americans, and 11.5% for whites. He stated, “We don’t have to recreate the wheel on this issue. We already know what works to help reduce poverty and improve the lives of all our residents. Now all we need is the political determination to pursue these solutions.”
Some of the solutions proposed at the press event are listed here:
Increase Minimum Wage The New York State Community Action Association (NYSCAA) supports an increase in the minimum wage including a provision to index it to inflation. This is an important step to address income inequality and poverty in New York State and it will boost community economic development by putting more money in the pockets of workers who will spend those dollars in communities across the state.
Increase Funding for Child Care Subsidies The New York State Community Action Association (NYSCAA) urges the state to increase funding for child care subsidies for low income working families. NYSCAA supports Winning Beginning NY’s request for an initial investment of $100 million which would create at least 13,000 new child care slots for working families. This support is critical to helping low income parents with young children access high quality day care so they can work and move their families out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency.
Affordable Housing The New York State Community Action Association (NYSCAA) urges New York to increase the availability of safe, affordable housing in urban and rural communities and to provide resources to expand the availability of supported housing for low income people. NYSCAA supports an increase in funding for rural programs such as RESTORE, Rural Area Revitalization Program, AHC, ACCESS to HOME and small project set-asides and urges the State to ensure that supported housing and case management services are provided to help people maintain their housing. Latino lawmakers, on the eve of the 28th annual legislative conference, will unveil the new child-poverty data for all ethnic/racial groups living in major cities across the State.
Earned Income Tax Credit Assemblyman Crespo has introduced legislation that will authorize the New York State Department of Tax and Finance to release the Earned Income Tax Credit given as a tax refund to low-income residents at a 12 month interval rather than a lump sum at tax-filing season. The per-month release of the tax credit translates into additional monthly income for indigent residents to assist them in buying food, paying for their housing, medical bills and other expenses.