A new report has revealed that temporary pandemic relief programs brought child poverty to a historic low of 15% in New York City. In the years leading up to 2021, child poverty had stayed steady at 18%.
The data comes from the fifth annual Poverty Tracker report, put together by the nonprofit Robin Hood, New York City’s largest anti-poverty organization, in partnership with Columbia University. The report, which is produced by surveying a representative sample of 4,000 New York City families, assessed income poverty, material hardship and economic hardship in 2021.
One of the report’s key findings was that the expanded Child Tax Credit — which was temporarily increased, made available to more families and paid out monthly as part of a pandemic relief initiative — alone lowered the city’s child poverty rate by nearly one-third. Another recent study of this expansion found that the payments resulted in fewer emergency room visits for abuse and neglect related injuries. That expansion ended in December 2021 when Congress decided against making the changes permanent.
In total, cash infusions from the government during this period kept half a million children out of poverty in New York City alone, the researchers determined.
In addition to the drop in child poverty, the financial support in place in 2021 created a significant decline in material hardship — defined as inability to meet basic needs — which affects people living above the poverty line, too. Among children, material hardship dropped from 36% to 26% that year.
The report also analyzes who experiences poverty and other hardships, finding disproportionate rates among women and people of color. Roughly 12% of white New Yorkers experience poverty, while between 20% to 24% of Latino, Black and Asian residents do.
When the expansion of the federal tax credit ended, a third of New York children became ineligible for the standard benefit. In light of the notable impact the expansion had, Robin Hood stated it will advocate for permanent expansions to the state’s child tax credit, which it said could lift 12 million children out of poverty.
The full report can be found here.