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Clyburn and Booker Introduce Sweeping Anti-Poverty Bill

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “For far too long, persistent poverty communities have suffered from neglect and indifference, leading to a lack of access to quality schools, affordable quality health care, and adequate job opportunities,” said Majority Whip Clyburn. “This legislation seeks to right this wrong by targeting much needed federal investments to areas that need them the most.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced a sweeping anti-poverty bill to better target federal grant dollars to high-poverty urban, rural, and tribal communities. The bill, titled An Act Targeting Resources into Communities in Need, expands the successful 10-20-30 anti-poverty formula, including a significantly larger group of struggling communities and broader universe of federal accounts by targeting funding into high-poverty census tracts.

“While genius is spread equally across zip codes, opportunity is not,” said Senator Booker. “This bill more strategically targets federal resources to where they are needed most, ensuring that families and communities long left behind are given a fair shot. In doing so, we can move to a smarter, more responsive government.”

“For far too long, persistent poverty communities have suffered from neglect and indifference, leading to a lack of access to quality schools, affordable quality health care, and adequate job opportunities,” said Majority Whip Clyburn. “This legislation seeks to right this wrong by targeting much needed federal investments to areas that need them the most.”

“The quality of life in our urban counterparts is directly linked to the health and vitality of rural America….the majority of our food, fiber and fuel are produced in these areas….this legislation continues to strengthen that link,” said Sam Wade, CEO of the National Rural Water Association. “We would also like to commend our partners at Rural Development, and we believe they are uniquely qualified and experienced to assist these communities, many of which, unfortunately, lack the human capacity and financial resources to move ahead without some assistance.  We at NRWA stand ready and able to work with Congress and our partners at Rural Development to further the health and prosperity in these rural communities.”

“In the United States, poverty is not equally distributed.  It clusters in specific regions, states, towns, and even neighborhoods,” said Minor Sinclair, Director of Oxfam America’s U.S. Domestic Program. “At Oxfam, we’ve seen states in the Gulf Coast working to pull people out of poverty, but struggling against formidable barriers, including a legacy of racism with roots in slavery, exacerbated incarceration rates, and elevated exposure to climate hazards such as hurricanes. The Clyburn-Booker bill is a critical step to ending the injustice of poverty. This bill would target resources in the communities that need it most, helping to mitigate the historical, social, and environmental factors that inhibit communities’ abilities to thrive.”

“The Housing Assistance Council has almost 50 years of experience working in persistently poor rural communities across the country,” said David Lipsetz, CEO of the Housing Assistance Council. “We know how challenging it is to direct federal funds to these high-need places. Without increased federal investment in capacity on the ground, high-poverty communities will continue to fall behind. We applaud Congressman Clyburn and Senator Booker for addressing this challenge with An Act Targeting Resources to Communities in Need, which will direct important federal funding and programs – like those of USDA’s Rural Development and the CDFI Fund – to the nation’s most persistently poor communities.”

“In 2017, over 12.8 million children in America lived below the official poverty level — $25,094 for a family of four, and nearly half lived in extreme poverty at below half the poverty level,” said MaryLee Allen, Director of Policy at the Children’s Defense Fund. “More than one in ten children spend at least half their childhoods in poverty and the longer a child is poor, the greater their risk of becoming a poor adult. An Act Targeting Resources to Communities in Need is an important step toward badly-needed investment in the persistently poor areas so many of our most vulnerable children and families call home.”

“Confronting and eradicating areas of persistent poverty will address educational imbalances, health disparities and economic inequities,” said Lou Tisler, Executive Director of National NeighborWorks Association. “National NeighborWorks Association supports instituting the 10-20-30 plan more broadly, as proposed by the Clyburn-Booker Act, which will prioritize and provide necessary resources, while creating impactful leverage and enduring strength in neighborhoods and communities across the country, as NeighborWorks organizations do every day.”

“Child poverty is not inevitable – we know firsthand from our work in rural communities across the country that investing in families and community supports can help break the pervasive cycle of poverty and ensure equal opportunity for all,” said Mark Shriver, senior vice president for Save the Children’s U.S. Programs and Advocacy. “Recently, the National Academy of Sciences released a landmark study confirming child poverty in the United States is a solvable problem if there is the political will to address it. I want to thank Congressman Clyburn and Senator Booker for focusing on one of the most pressing issues facing our country today.”

“Poverty is deeply related to place,” said Professor Trevon Logan, Economics professor at the Ohio State University. “That means we need solutions that target areas where poverty is entrenched and persistent. This bill expands on a proven policy of targeting federal expenditures to make sure that we do not overlook areas beset by persistent poverty. Bills such as this can move Americans out of poverty and move all of us towards economic prosperity.”

The 10-20-30 formula requires that a minimum of ten percent of federal funds of a particular federal program go to communities with “persistent” poverty, defined as a county where the poverty level has been 20 percent or higher over the past thirty years. This formula was successfully applied to three accounts in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, 15 accounts in the omnibus appropriations law of 2017, and 14 accounts in the omnibus appropriations law for 2018. This new bill expands this formula so that it applies to a larger universe of federal programs, ensuring that more high poverty communities are reached.

In order to ensure federal investment reaches all high-need communities, including pockets of deep poverty and those communities experiencing more recent economic downturns, preventing them from being defined as persistent, the bill would also require certain federal agencies and programs target resources to census tracts with poverty rates currently exceeding 20 percent.

Read a summary of the legislation here.

Read the text of the legislation here.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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