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Report: Proposed ‘public charge’ rule changes could throw more than 100,000 New Yorkers into poverty

Robin Hood, with new data from its Poverty Tracker, reveals that proposed changes to the “public charge” rule would increase the number of New Yorkers in poverty by almost 5 percent

NEW YORK, Dec. 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new report from Robin Hood, the largest anti-poverty force in New York City, reveals that proposed changes to the federal “public charge” rule could push as many as 115,000 New Yorkers, including up to 45,000 children into poverty. The report further estimates “chilling effects” from the public charge rule changes that could negatively affect the income of 400,000 to 700,000 people in New York City

On Sept. 22, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security proposed changes to “public charge” policies that govern applications for legal permanent resident status. The changes would penalize applicants who receive public benefits including parts of Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance, and other public benefits.

To understand the implications of this proposed rule on poverty in New York City, Robin Hood employed data from the Poverty Tracker, a citywide survey created by Robin Hood in partnership with Columbia University, supplemented with data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

The data shows that the policy changes would push between 65,000 and 115,000 New Yorkers into poverty, including as many as 45,000 children.

“We estimate that the number of New Yorkers in poverty could increase by almost 5 percent. This could increase the city’s poverty rate by 1.4 percentage points, to 24.6 percent. The child poverty rate would increase by 2.5 percentage points, to 28.3 percent,” the report states.

The report also explores the so called “chilling effect” of the policy, where people drop out of public programs even if they are not directly affected because of misinformation or fear. Robin Hood’s Poverty Tracker revealed that nearly 15 percent of non-citizens have avoided public programs, and 30 percent have a wide range of daily activities out of fear over their immigration status.

With those chilling effects, the report estimates the public charge rule changes could negatively affect the income of 400,000 to 700,000 people in New York City.

“Robin Hood always uses data to inform how we invest in programs and policies that affect low-income New Yorkers,” said Veyom Bahl, Robin Hood’s Managing Director for Survival. “Our new research with Columbia University demonstrates that changing the public charge rule would have a profoundly negative impact on poverty in our city. Reduced access to the safety net could needlessly thrust as many as 45,000 children below the poverty line.”

“Robin Hood has 30 years of experience, lessons, and data that guides our work fighting poverty,” said Robin Hood’s Chief Program Officer Emary Aronson. “It is that perspective and this data from our Poverty Tracker that shows how much damage could be brought by the stroke of a pen with this proposed policy change to public charge.”

“At Robin Hood, we know how critical public benefits like Medicaid, SNAP, and housing benefits are for helping people escape poverty,” said Robin Hood CEO Wes Moore. “This new data from our Poverty Tracker affirms that and shows that these proposed changes to public charge would have real; dire; and frankly, unnecessary effects on our most vulnerable neighbors.”

The full report is available here.

About Robin Hood: Founded in 1988, Robin Hood finds, fuels, and creates the most impactful and scalable solutions lifting families out of poverty in New York City, with models that can work across the country. Robin Hood invests roughly $120 million annually to provide legal services, housing, meals, workforce development training, education programs, and more to families in poverty in New York City. Robin Hood tracks every program with rigorous metrics.  Facebook: Twitter: @robinhoodnyc Instagram: @robinhoodnyc

About Poverty Tracker: Launched in 2012 and conducted in partnership with Columbia University, Poverty Tracker is a groundbreaking study of disadvantage in New York City. Unlike typical surveys of poverty that take an annual snapshot, Poverty Tracker checks in with the same 4,000 households quarter after quarter for several years. This approach provides a dynamic view of poverty over time.

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