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Government Programs Could Reduce Poverty in NYC By Up To 69%: Study - WSJ

By MARA GAY

Three of New York City’s largest religious organizations say local poverty could be reduced by nearly 70% by adding billions of dollars in funding to several government programs.

The study, released by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and the UJA-Federation of New York, found that targeted spending on government programs like transitional jobs, tax credits for seniors and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, known as SNAP, could lower the rate of poverty in the city by 44% to 69%.

Roughly 20% of New York City residents live below the poverty level, according to data from 2009 to 2013 released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We want to do more than alleviate the effects of poverty,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. “We want to eradicate poverty.”

The study, conducted by the Urban Institute, found that a $6.4 billion to $9 billion investment in seven government programs— transitional jobs, minimum wage, earnings supplements, tax credits for seniors and those with disabilities, SNAP benefits, child care subsidies and housing vouchers—would have a dramatic effect on poverty across the five boroughs. The study was based on 2012 data.

“This is about the basics of human dignity,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “They have a right to adequate housing. They have a right to decent meals.”

Officials with the religious groups said they had reached out to both Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss the report’s findings.