CEO Executive Director Mitchell Little issued the following statement on the poverty data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau:
The 2021 local and national poverty data released last week reinforces the need to continue the push for strategic investments in families.
The percentage of Philadelphians in poverty continued to decline to 22.8 percent, according to the official poverty measure. Most encouraging, however, is the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which shows the impact of government interventions like the economic impact payments and expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC). By this measure, the national child poverty rate decreased by 46 percent and fell to the lowest level on record. While supplemental data on Philadelphia has not yet been released, we know that the same investments that helped families nationally were felt here in Philadelphia.
CEO was proud to work with Mayor Kenney to make a significant effort in reaching Philadelphians with very low incomes about the Child Tax Credit. We reached hundreds of thousands of families through phone calls, text messages, grassroots outreach, and marketing to tell them about the CTC and the Earned Income Tax Credit and how they could claim both for free. The funding provided for free tax preparation services offered by Campaign for Working Families and the Latino Economic Development Collective through Ceiba contributed to more than 25,000 Philadelphians gaining high-quality, no-cost expert help claiming the CTC, EITC, and any other credits for which they were eligible.
The SPM data underscores what we already knew: that investing in families can significantly impact child poverty. Nationally, child poverty measured by the SPM fell for all races and ethnic groups, but most sharply for Hispanic children and Black children, demonstrating that the COVID-19 economic relief measures were an equitable investment that had the greatest impact on the most disadvantaged children.
These investments allowed families in Philadelphia and across the U.S. to pay for necessities like food, clothing, housing, and transportation, relieving the overwhelming stress they face every day. It is simply unconscionable that we would plunge these families back into poverty by allowing the expanded CTC to expire. We urge lawmakers to extend the expanded CTC because all our children deserve a chance to grow and thrive.
While we advocate for equitable policies at the federal level, CEO will continue its whole-family approach to advancing economic mobility for Philadelphians. One of our core strategies is to ensure that vulnerable families get access to the benefits for which they are eligible. Successfully claiming those benefits helps decrease poverty by giving families an opportunity for the stability they need to focus on education, employment, training, health, and other opportunities. That is also why CEO invests in BenePhilly, which helps families enroll in benefits like SNAP, utility assistance, and other programs.
We also call on the U.S. Senate to pass H.R. 5129, the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) Modernization Act, which will allow us to continue investing in, and growing, access to benefits, financial empowerment, and upward mobility opportunities for Philadelphians. We applaud Congressmembers Evans, Scanlon, and Boyle for voting in favor of this bill in the House.
About the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO)
CEO provides leadership on issues of economic justice by advancing racial equity and inclusive growth to ensure that all Philadelphians can share in the city’s prosperous future. As Philadelphia’s designated Community Action Agency (CAA), CEO distributes Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to more than 20 programs that improve economic mobility for thousands of residents with low income each year. More information is available at www.phila.gov/ceo.