New Census Data: Poverty Among Colorado Families, Kids Remains High

September 19, 2013
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MEDIA RELEASE
Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013
Contact: Jenny Davies-Schley, 720-296-9545
 
New Census Data: Poverty Among Colorado Families, Kids Remains High
Yet U.S. House Faces Vote to Cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP
 
DENVER – On the day the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to debate proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that hundreds of thousands of struggling Coloradans are still living in poverty and need food assistance to survive.
 
The new Census report shows that in 2012 there were 694,842 Coloradans – or almost 14 percent – living in poverty.  Tragically, over 18 percent of children were living in poverty last year, much higher than at the start of the recession in 2007, when it was 15.9 percent.
 
In Colorado, 186,000+ households rely on SNAP to put food on the table. Of these:
Seniors: 21 percent of households had at least one senior over the age of 60
Children: 56 percent of households had at least one child under the age of 18
People with Disabilities: 41 percent of households had at least one person with a disability
Workers: 82 percent of households had at least one worker, while 32 percent had two or more
 
“SNAP has helped struggling working families stay afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director of Hunger Free Colorado. “This modest assistance provides a lifeline to those who work at jobs that do not pay them enough to put food on the table every day and those still looking for full-time work.” 
 
In Rep. Cory Gardner’s district, almost 25,000 households depended on SNAP in 2012. Of those households:
Seniors: 20 percent of had at least one senior over the age of 60
Children: 61 percent had at least one child under the age of 18
People with Disabilities: 40 percent had a person with a disability
Workers: 85 percent were working families, with 28 percent having two or more workers.
 
“Not only is SNAP an enormous help to working families trying get back on their feet financially, but it’s an effective tool to stimulate our economy, as well,” said Kathy White, deputy director at the Colorado Fiscal Institute. “Rep. Coffman should know that a $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity, helping expand prosperity among local businesses – so we can’t afford any more cuts.” 
 
Even if the House of Representatives does not vote for cuts today, food assistance will be reduced for more than 47 million Americans – including 22 million children – as a result of the expiration of an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) boost designed to strengthen the economy and ease hardship expires on October 31st. For a family of three, that cut will mean a $319 reduction for the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year, or getting by on $1.40 per person per meal. 
 
Colorado Fiscal Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides credible, independent and accessible analyses of fiscal and economic issues facing Colorado in order to inform policy debates and foster greater economic prosperity for all:http://www.coloradofiscal.org
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