A blog in the local newspaper’s (Penn Yan Chronicle Express) on-line site discussed the poverty level of the our congressional district, the NY-23. It had a link to TalkPoverty.org, which lists Poverty Rate data for every congressional district plus the District of Columbia. It is easy see where we stand in relation to the other congressional districts.
It doesn’t look pretty.
- The NY 23rd Poverty Rate of 17.2% is 289th out of 436 districts; Sixty-Six percent (66%) of the Country’s congressional districts have a lower Poverty Rate than us. That amounts to approximately 120,400, or more than one out of six, NY-23ers live in poverty.
- Our Child (Age 18 and younger) Poverty Rate of 23%, ranks us 274th, Sixty-Two percent (62%) of the rest of the districts have a lower Child Poverty Rate than us.
- Our Poverty Rate of Working-Age Women is 19.8%. That ranks us 324, Seventy-Four percent (74%) of the rest of the districts have a lower Working-Age Women Poverty Rate.
Let me put this in another perspective. There are 27 Congressional Districts in New York State.
- We rank 21st in overall Poverty Rate, Seventy percent (70%) of NYS Congressional Districts have a lower Poverty Rate than the NY 23rd. We have New York State’s highest overall Poverty Rate for non-urban congressional districts. The Districts that have a higher Poverty Rate that us are five in New York City (the 15th–South Bronx, the 13th–Harlem, the 7th, 8th, and 9th–which are made up mainly of Brooklyn) and one upstate district–the 26th, which contains Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
- We rank 16th in Child Poverty Rate, Fifty-Six percent (56%) of the NYS Congressional District have a lower Poverty Rate than the NY 23rd. Some might be take solace that we rank close to being average, but more than one out of five NY 23rd children lives in families that are below the Poverty Level.
- We rank 23rd in the Working Age Women Poverty Rate, Eighty-One percent (81%) of NYS Congressional Districts rank lower than the NY 23rd. No other Upstate Congressional District has a higher Working-Age Women Poverty Rate. Even the NY 26 (with Buffalo and Niagara Falls) has a lower rate.
Rep. Reed should realize how impoverished our district is. He has said, “I care about whole community and including those in need. Fighting for the poor is something we can all agree with.” Talk is cheap. I would hope that he understands the causes of poverty, what it takes to survive in poverty households, and what it takes to climb out of the cycle of poverty. Reed may say that “he cares”, but his actions tell us that he doesn’t.
Last year (2014) the The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law Center identified Congressional legislation dealing with employment, housing, and insurance, all of which are key factors that impact economic standing. The Shriver Center reported how each Senator and Representative voted on them. By the way, Rep. Reed earned a “D” for his voting history, which is also what he earned in 2013. Below is a sample of Rep. Reed’s votes. (Follow the Shriver Center link for more details for each Bill. The first number list after the summary is the Vote Number, the second in the number of the bill.)
Rep Reed voted:
- to redefine the meaning of “full-time” employment so that 6.5 million working Americans would be drop from being full-time status, therefore stop receiving full-time benefits. H. 156 (H.R. 2575)
- to make it difficult for the Department of Justice to enforce the Fair Housing Act rules of race discrimination. H 265 (H. AMDT No. 768 to H.R. 4660
- against denying Federal contracts to employers who failed to pay the minimum wage or the required overtime to their employees. H 262 (H. AMDT No. 759 to H.R. 4660)
- against having the Department of Justice review the records of non-violent drug offenders in an effort to reduce their sentences if they were sentenced today. This would save authorities money. H 259 (H. AMDT No. 750 to H.R. 4660)
- for severe cuts to Pell Grants (for College Education). H. 177 (H. Con. Res. 96)
- for an 18% funding cut in the SNAP program. H. 177 (H. Con. Res. 96)
- to reduce the low-income tax credits–H. 177 (H. Con. Res. 96)
- to reduced funding for Social Security Income (SSI) for elderly and the disabled. H. 177 (H. Con. Res. 96)
- to reduced funding for the school lunch program. H. 177 (H. Con. Res. 96)
- to adjusted the tax laws to benefit the highest-income Americans. H. 177 (H. Con. Res. 96)
- to prohibit HUD from using new processes that help them comply with the Fair Housing Act more effectively. H. 285 (H. AMDT. No. 813 to H.R. 4745)
- to slashed funding for volunteer programs to help low-income, seniors, and disabled with their income tax forms. H. 427 (H.R. 5016)
- to not allow the implement portions of the Affordable Care Act that would enable more than 5 million people to gain coverage. H. 427 (H.R. 5016)
- to weaken consumer protection for low income families and taxpayers. H. 427 (H.R. 5016)
- to extend eligibility for the Child Tax Credit to higher income families while denying the credit for many low income working families and taxpaying immigrants. H.451 (H.R. 4935)
- to severely cut funding to the department of Homeland Security while dealing with immigrants. H.478 (H.R. 5230)
- to prohibit the use of Federal funds to increase resources and opportunities for newly-arrived immigrant youth. H. 479 (H.R. 5272)
- to allow insurance companies to offer noncompliant health plans to new customers. H. 495 (H.R. 3522)
John Hunter, author of the blog article which lead me to dig deeper on poverty in the NY 23rd, ends his article with, “I wonder if his constituents will confront Reed and ask him to explain his votes when he runs for reelection in 2016.”
Sounds like a Town Hall topic to me.