The good news is that the child poverty rate in Mercer County has been gradually declining over the last several years. Your recent articles about the work of Housing initiatives of Princeton, the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness, and the HomeFront panel discussion at Labyrinth Books, showcase what they have been doing to provide housing and other supportive services that reduce poverty for children and families. In addition to their efforts and those of governmental and private groups locally and throughout New Jersey, 2021 saw an even more dramatic drop in the child poverty rate. What led to this significant change was a short-term expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC).
With increased allotments, wider coverage, and payments distributed each month, the CTC helped cover such basic monthly expenses as food, rent, and utilities. As a result, it raised an estimated 89,000 New Jersey children from poverty and cut child poverty rates nationwide by over 40%.
When the expanded CTC expired a year ago, however, child poverty again rose. The watch words of HomeFront are “helping families break the cycle of poverty.” In order to do that, we need the collaborative efforts of the federal and state government, local municipalities, and the private sector.
The expanded CTC needs to be restored. There is still an opportunity before the end of this year. If Congress tries to extend tax breaks for wealthy corporations, New Jersey members of Congress should follow the lead of Representatives Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-12) and Andy Kim (D-3) to reject corporate tax cuts unless an expanded, monthly CTC is included. With such proven results to lift our children out of poverty, how can they do no less.
Sam Daley-Harris, Lawrenceville
Wilma Solomon, Princeton
Marc Tolo, Princeton
The trio are part of Results, an organization for ending poverty.