It ought to be shocking to anyone that in the wake of the recession the number of Americans living in poverty has jumped to 44 million -- one in seven citizens is now living below the poverty line, more than at any time in the past 50 years. More specifically, one in five American children, more than a quarter of African Americans and Latinos, and over 51% of female-headed families with children under 6 is impoverished. According to poverty expert Peter Edelman, 19 million people are now living in "extreme poverty," defined as under 50 percent of the poverty line, or $11,000 for a family of four. "That means over 43 percent of the poor are extremely poor."

But Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, argues there are ways to attack the problem:
Half in Ten, a coalition working to cut poverty by half in 10 years, is pushing Congress to renew the TANF Emergency Fund, which is set to expire on Thursday. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have used the program to provide 250,000 low-income and long-term unemployed workers with subsidized jobs. The coalition is also pushing to make the Obama administration's Recovery Act reforms to the child tax credit and the earned-income tax credit permanent. These progressive policies keep families from falling into poverty and reduce long-term costs such as crime, public benefits and lost consumption. Estimates of costs associated with childhood poverty run at $500 billion annually, or 4 percent of gross domestic product.
The rest of the story: As 44 million Americans live in poverty, a crisis grows by Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Washington Post 2010-09-28).

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