Nearly 1 in 4 Chicagoans, totalling over 636,000 people, lived below the federal poverty level in last year, according to the Census Bureau’s newly released community survey — indicating an anemic recovery and city economic development policies which have failed to target living-wage jobs for neighborhood residents.
The number represents an increase of over 6,500 Chicagoans in poverty over last year’s survey.
The Illinois Hunger Coalition  cited the figures to argue that Congress should reject cuts to nutrition assistance now under consideration in the House of Representatives.
“Hunger and poverty rates spiked at the beginning of the recession and have stayed high ever since,” said Diane Doherty of IHC. “Given the economic struggles that continue to persist in this state, it is outrageous that Congress is even debating cuts to SNAP,” said Diane Doherty of IHC.
SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. The House of Representatives is set to vote on a Republican proposal to cut funding for the program by $40 billion over the next ten years.
An estimated 1.85 million people in Illinois live in poverty, including 20.7 percent of children, according to the survey. Previous surveys have found that more than half of African American children in Chicago live in poverty.
IHC has also cited a new study from the Food Research and Action Center that found that more than 22 percent of Illinois households with children said there were times when they could not afford the food they needed.
“What these data tell us is that there’s a new reality for too many Americans,” Doherty said.