Hochul wants $50 million to fight child poverty in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo – syracuse.com

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Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to fight child poverty in Syracuse – among the worst in the nation – as part of a $50 million pilot program aimed at tackling the problem in New York’s three largest Upstate cities.

Hochul would target the poorest pockets of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, focusing on neighborhoods in each city where about three out of four children live in poverty.

The governor plans to unveil her anti-poverty plan at 1 p.m. today as part of her 2024 State of the State address at the state Capitol in Albany.

Hochul will propose including the $50 million in her executive budget for the 2025 fiscal year, a spokesman told syracuse.com | The Post-Standard.

Under the plan, the governor would work with the cities to come up with innovative ideas and determine how the money should be spent.

Hochul wants to target nine ZIP codes in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo that have the highest childhood poverty rates in the state.

“For decades, Upstate New York has been left out and forgotten,” Hochul said in a statement. “As the first governor from Upstate in nearly a century, I’m committed to change that. Our new $50 million anti-poverty initiative will target the communities who need it most and lift up neighborhoods in every corner of the state.”

If the initiative is successful, Hochul would look to use some of the ideas to fight child poverty statewide, her spokesman said.

The governor chose to focus on Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo because each ranks among the 10 cities in the United States with the highest rates of child poverty.

In Syracuse, Hochul wants to tackle extreme childhood poverty in two ZIP codes, 13202 spanning downtown Syracuse and part of the South Side and 13204 on the city’s West Side.

The childhood poverty rate in Syracuse’s 13202 ZIP code is 70%, the third-highest in the state, and the 13204 ZIP code has a childhood poverty rate of 63%, ranking fourth in New York, according to Census Bureau estimates.

Hochul’s administration would work with leaders in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo to come up with “locally driven efforts to address the needs of these children and families,” a spokesman said.

There would be no restrictions on how the $50 million is divided among the three cities. The governor has not yet decided whether money from state taxpayers or federal aid would be used for the initiative.

Under the initiative, four ZIP codes would be targeted in Rochester (14608, 14611, 14605 and 14621) and three in Buffalo (14201, 14212 and 14209).

The 14608 ZIP code in Rochester and 14201 ZIP code in Buffalo share the highest child poverty rate in the state, with 73% of all children in those neighborhoods living in poverty, according to the governor’s office.

Syracuse has consistently ranked among the cities with the highest child poverty rates in the United States over the course of decades, including the highest in the nation (48.4%) in 2022.

In the latest U.S. Census estimates published in December, Syracuse had the second-highest child poverty rate (45.8%) among larger cities, with more than 13,700 children under 18 living below the poverty line, according to data covering a five-year period from 2018 to 2022.

The Census Bureau considers a family of four with two children to be living in poverty if it has annual household income of $29,678 or less.

The latest census numbers show pockets of extreme childhood poverty extend across Upstate New York from Syracuse to Rochester and Buffalo.

Rochester ranked No. 5 nationally with a childhood poverty rate of 41.7% and Buffalo ranked No. 7 at 39.8%, according to the Census Bureau.

All three cities have struggled with childhood poverty well above the New York state average (18.1%) and U.S. average of 16.7%.

Syracuse also has the third-highest poverty rate (39.1%) among the state’s 680 school districts, according to Census Bureau data.

The Syracuse School District’s poverty rate was eclipsed only by Rochester at 40.1% and the Kiryas Joel Village Union Free School District in Orange County at 53.8%.

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