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Child Poverty Solutions Are a Matter of Political Will

Central New York Medical Professionals Suggest “Guaranteed Income” to End Child Poverty

Local members of ‘Mayors for a Guaranteed Income’ include Rochester and Ithaca

It’s traumatic to repeatedly hear about the poverty in Central New York. The good news is we have the ingredients to quell the suffering: money and solutions that work. We need a coalition to work with our local city and county government to implement these policies.

Rochester and Ithaca are member cities.

Last year’s child payments eased monthly child poverty by an astounding 30%. Cash was spent on food and basic items with no evidence it decreased employment. Baltimore is just one city that is choosing to give cash to families with children after the continued success of these programs. Mayors are expanding similar programs nationally as the federal government abruptly cut off the spigot of cash payments despite their success. Local members of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income include Rochester and Ithaca.

Local investments in child care and jobs help but don’t feed, cloth and help make rent payments that are needed now. Among my most painful experiences is listening to my father describe growing up in India, and calling out in hunger to his father. No one should need to go through what children have been described to experience in our county. Being a street physician and running up against the barriers that poverty puts in the way of treating mental health and addiction leaves people in a state of perpetual suffering. We see an astounding increase in overdose drug deaths. We may not be able to solve these problems with one program, but cash infusions have been shown to alleviate poverty, deep poverty and black poverty with little downside.

A pilot proposal would be to use $60.9 million from Syracuse American Rescue Funds and $110 million from Onondaga County proposals for the aquarium and sports complex toward monthly payments for families up to 200-300% of the poverty level. County government, not the city, is responsible for human services. Eligible families could receive $200/month per child until funds run out. The program may be the most ambitious and well funded in the country. We could make our best effort to go from worst to first.

We can’t continue business as usual in attacking child poverty. The continued appearance of Syracuse at the top of the child poverty list is traumatic for us to hear and for the children and families in poverty to bear. Ignoring, well meaning but partial proposals, repeated corporate tax cuts, and blaming those in poverty haven’t helped meet basic needs of many county residents. Even discussions about the vast evidence of systemic racism and its relation to poverty feels like a nonstarter for many in power. We can’t forget the need to address rural poverty as well–the above should be a countywide effort. Let’s build a county that cares for us all. Join our coalition, contact county and city leadership and let your voice be heard: we need to use our over $170 million towards eradicating child poverty today.

Sunny Aslam, MD
Robert Dracker, MD, President, Onondaga County Medical Society
Rev. Eric Jackson, Plymouth Congregational Church
Ofrona Reid, MD, CMO, Syracuse Community Health Center
Jef Sneider, MD

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Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

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