In upstate cities, half of children live in poverty
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Hunger Action Network of NYS
Media Release

For More Info: Mark Dunlea, 212 741-8192 xt 5#
For Immediate Release: September 20, 2012 – printable PDF version

In upstate cities, half of children live in poverty:
Hunger Action Network says New York needs to raise welfare benefits and minimum wage, expand child care funding.

New poverty data released today by the federal government (American Community Survey) shows incredibly high rates of childhood poverty in upstate New York cities.

A majority of children in the cities of Rochester (53.9%), Syracuse (53.0%) and Schenectady (50.8%) “officially” live in poverty. The poverty rate for children in Buffalo is 46.8%, while in Albany it is 37.0%.

The official poverty measure is outdated and undercounts the actual rate of poverty.

The poverty rate for children in NYC is 29.8%. Particular neighborhoods have much higher rates of child poverty. For instance, in 2010, Cong. Serrano’s district (16) in the South Bronx had a child poverty rate of 51.6%.

“Government anti-poverty programs for children are failing to do the job. A main culprit is the Temporary Assistance and Needy Families Program (TANF), which New York and its counties operate in such a punitive fashion that it fails to provide benefits to most eligible children. And those who did get help receive benefits less than half the poverty level. Last year Governor Cuomo actually tried to stop children from getting an extra 50 cents a day and he refuses to properly supervise the local districts to ensure they comply with the law. And OTDA does not do enough to help poor children’s parents find jobs,” stated Mark Dunlea, Executive Director of the Hunger Action Network of NYS.

Hunger Action has been urging the state legislature to halt the massive sanctioning rate of welfare participants for alleged violation of rules. However, judges in fair hearings find that the welfare department rather than the participants are normally the ones at fault.

Hunger Action Network said that the high rates of poverty also underscored the need to raise the state minimum wage, which they hope the state legislature will do after the fall elections. Hunger Action supports raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. The State also needs to deal with the chronic shortfall in funding for child care programs.

“Earlier this year Governor Cuomo said that no child should go to bed hungry. The Governor has a lot of work to do to make that happen.” noted Dunlea.

Hunger Action Network will make plans to respond to the census data at its annual membership meeting in Poughkeepsie on Monday, September 24.

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