Sunday, July 13, 2008
7/14/08 - Top Story - NYC's Mayor Bloomberg Attempts To Redefine Poverty
The above presentation was sponsored by the Catholic Campaighn for Human Development
Bloomberg Attempts To Redefine Poverty
By GRACE RAUH, Staff Reporter of the Sun | July 14, 2008
Nearly one in four New Yorkers are living below the poverty line, according to Mayor Bloomberg, who says the federal government is underestimating the number of poor people in the city.
The Bloomberg administration is adopting a new poverty measurement that raises the rate of poverty in the city to 23% from 18.9% by accounting for the cost of food, clothing, shelter, and utilities, as well as tax credits and government subsidies received.
The federal poverty measure, adopted in 1969, is primarily based on food costs and income levels. It does not account for regional cost of living differences or the impact of government programs to combat poverty.
Any effort to redefine poverty in America would be fraught with political implications. A new formula that increases the number of people living below the poverty line, as the New York City formula has done, is expected to create pressure on the government to expand social service programs to reach families previously ineligible for anti-poverty programs.
Mr. Bloomberg, who has attempted to make combating poverty a centerpiece of his second term, was supposed to announce the new formula at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Cincinnati yesterday, but after storms grounded his plane a deputy mayor, Linda Gibbs, did so on his behalf.
"In Washington, while there's a never-ending debate about how to confront poverty, there is hardly any clarity on who is actually poor. I spent most of my career in the private sector, and I'm a big believer in the saying, 'If you can't measure it, you can't manage it,'" Mr. Bloomberg was to have said, according to his prepared remarks.
The mayor's poverty campaign will head to Washington this week, where the director of poverty research for the city's Center for Economic Opportunity, Mark Levitan, will testify at a congressional hearing about a similar federal proposal to change the national poverty formula, known as the Measuring American Poverty Act.
A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee will hold the hearing on Thursday. Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat of Harlem who is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, is supportive of the city's efforts, saying in a release issued by the mayor that it is a "useful start."
"We are clearly using an outdated standard to measure the level of poverty in our nation," he said.
As with the federal proposal, the city's new formula is based on recommendations developed in 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences' panel on poverty and family assistance. Those proposals were never implemented.
Ms. Gibbs said yesterday that the city's anti-poverty commission, which the mayor convened in 2006, quickly determined that the federal poverty measure was inaccurate and inadequate when describing the current dynamics of poverty.
The measurement would not immediately change program funding or eligibility requirements for city programs, but Ms. Gibbs said it would allow the city to more accurately track poverty and develop policies to combat it.
The federal poverty measurement puts the poverty line at $20,444 for a family of two adults and two children in 2006. Under the city's new formula, the poverty line for the same family would be $26,138.
Using the city's formula, there is a smaller proportion of New Yorkers living in extreme poverty, which is measured as less than 50% of the poverty threshold. The proportion of impoverished families where at least one family member has a full-time job would grow under the city's measurement.
The city's formula found that Hispanics represent the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line, followed by Asians and then blacks. Hispanics also represent the largest group of impoverished Americans under the federal formula, followed by blacks.
Posted by Spyridon at 10:18 PM