Congressman James E. Clyburn

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Clyburn and Booker Introduce Sweeping Anti-Poverty BIll

April 03, 2019

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.