This fall, new census data was released, putting hard numbers to what countless families were already experiencing: after falling the year before, poverty in the U.S. increased significantly in 2022. This dramatic rise is largely due to the abrupt end of much-needed pandemic-era programs, like the expanded Child Tax Credit, increased SNAP benefits, stimulus checks, and others. Children were impacted most severely, with child poverty jumping from a record low of 5.4 percent to 12.4 percent in just one year.
These numbers reflect what the Poor People’s Campaign and others have long said: that poverty is indeed a policy choice. Millions of kids and families need not have been thrown back into poverty last year. So while it is infuriating and discouraging that they were, we know that another path is not only possible but necessary. With your support, Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS is uniting faith, labor, and community in a movement to win the anti-poverty policy agenda New Yorkers need and deserve.
As you’ll see in our 2023 Highlights, Labor-Religion Coalition’s work this year took us around the state, amplifying the stories and statistics of the crisis of poverty in New York, educating and connecting religious and movement leaders, and helping to fight for—and win—concrete policy changes like the Fair Medical Debt Reporting Act.
At the same time, we faced a setback in 2023 with the loss of a major funder that forced us to reduce our staff. That means that we are counting on the generous support of people like you to keep LRC going strong in 2024.
We know that this coming year will be a critical one in shaping the policy choices that will continue to impact our families and communities. Gov. Kathy Hochul is already sending signals that she plans to respond to a projected deficit by cutting essential services in this year’s state budget. In 2024, will New York again choose a path of austerity, or will we ask the ultra-wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes so we can invest in our communities?
As we head into a critical election year, at both the state and federal levels, the House of Representatives has just elected a new Speaker with deep roots in the White Christian Nationalist movement. In 2024, will extremist politics take further root in communities across our state? Or will a multi-faith and multi-racial movement counter this dangerous ideology and out-organize its proponents?
Labor-Religion Coalition is committed and well-positioned to respond in this moment of threat and opportunity for our state and nation. But we need to raise $10,000 by Dec. 31 to sustain our work. A donation of any amount goes a long way in helping us to continue to advocate for the services, resources, and policy changes that would greatly improve the lives of the 43% of New Yorkers living in or on the edge of poverty.
For over 40 years, the Labor-Religion Coalition has been a lean and scrappy organization, advocating for New York’s most marginalized communities. This year, I am more proud than ever of how our small staff, volunteers, and supporters have risen to meet challenges day in and day out. Together, I know that we can overcome this recent setback and continue our work for racial, social, and economic justice in New York State.
You can help us reach our goal of $10,000 by December 31 by mailing your contribution in the enclosed envelope or making a donation here.
Thanks for your support, and we wish a happy New Year to you and yours!
Rev. West McNeill