APN News

APN announcements and press releases are below. Members of the press can reach APN Executive Director at renee@antipovertynetwork.org.
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  • 17 Sep 2015 8:34 AM | Anonymous

    A large portion of New Jersey’s population is still facing economic hardship, despite

    the supposed distance of the Great Recession. This lived reality was confirmed today by new Census data from The American Community Survey. The data release includes the official poverty rate for the state (11.1%), which shows no statistically significant drop in poverty last year. 

    “Unfortunately, stubbornly high poverty rates are not the only disheartening news,” according to Serena Rice, Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, “because these official rates don’t show the full scope of economic hardship in New Jersey. The federal calculations use very low income thresholds - only about $24,000 for a family of four in 2014 - meaning that families with slightly higher incomes are not counted by the official measure, even though New Jersey’s cost of living is at least two or three times higher. True poverty can be more accurately measured by doubling the income used to calculate poverty - so for the new 2014 Census data, this means counting as ‘poor’ everyone whose income falls below 200% of the federal poverty thresholds (about $48,000 for a family of 4). The new data shows that about 1 in 4 (24.9%) of New Jersey residents have to rely on incomes below this minimal threshold.”

    Monique Hickson, a resident of an affordable housing building in Somerset County, understands the economic hardships of living above the federal poverty line and still struggling to make ends meet. Monique and her husband, parents of three, both work full-time and earn a combined income of about $70,000 a year but they are still “check to check,” she says.

    “If there’s an incident, we may be facing homelessness. There’s no back-up system,” Hickson said. “It’s almost impossible to have any kind of quality of life. It’s more about surviving.”

    Last month, APN used ACS data from 2011-2013 to calculate the numbers of people from each county living in true poverty, as a benchmark for the 2015 Poverty Solutions Pledge. This pledge campaign asks all candidates for Assembly to recognize the reality of true poverty in their district and to work with APN to ensure economic opportunity for all their constituents. “The data shows that every district in the state includes significant numbers of people who are really struggling just to pay their bills every month,” Rice explained. “New Jersey’s poverty problem is much bigger than the poverty rate, and we all need to work together to make this state a place where everyone can thrive.”

    To contact Serena for comment please call her directly at 908-458-3940.

  • 27 Aug 2015 9:05 AM | Anonymous
    The Anti-Poverty Network, a coalition representing more than 45 organizations throughout New Jersey, is asking those running for state Assembly to sign onto a pledge that states their district will best thrive when all residents have access to decent housing, basic nutrition, and economic opportunity.

    “Poverty is an issue that impacts our whole society and New Jerseyans need to know that our elected officials recognize the breadth and depth of the problem,” explained Serena Rice, the network’s Executive Director.  “We are inviting the candidates to make a statement that every person in their district should be able to meet their basic needs, and to pledge their effort to work toward opening this opportunity to everyone.”

    Using the most recent Census numbers (from 2011-2013) APN has calculated the numbers of people in each county living in true poverty, defined as 200% of the federal poverty level. In real world terms, this encompasses people earning less than $48,500 for a family of four. APN found the following five counties with the highest percentages of poverty:

    Cumberland with 40% (or 57,745) of its residents living in true poverty. Cumberland is covered by legislative districts one and three.
    Hudson with 37% (or 237,402) of its residents living in true poverty. Hudson is covered by legislative districts 31, 32 and 33.
    Passaic with 36% (or 178,090) of its residents living in true poverty. Passaic is covered by legislative districts 26, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, and 40.
    Essex with 36% (or 274,776) of its residents living in true poverty. Essex is covered by legislative districts 26, 27, 28, 29, 34, and 40.
    Atlantic with 33% (or 89,774) of its residents living in true poverty. Atlantic is covered by legislative districts 1, 2, 8, and 9.

    In our high cost state, $61,200 is considered a survival budget for a family of four, according to the ALICE study published last year by the United Way of Northern New Jersey. Almost 40 percent percent of households in New Jersey struggle to afford basic household necessities, like housing, food, transportation, child care, and health care, according to the report.

    These numbers come as no surprise to Susan Parker. Parker is now living in supportive housing but has experienced homelessness in the Mount Laurel area. Having struggled both with mental health and addiction challenges, she now works as a peer advocate with Catholic Charities helping others rebuild their lives.

    "I was one of the lucky ones and I got housing," Parker said. "Without a home it's hard to put everything behind you and keep it moving. You're constantly worried about where you're going to sleep, where you're going to get a shower. You can't concentrate on any other issue other than where you're going to sleep. Once you have a place to call home you can concentrate on other issues."

    "My favorite quote is everybody deserves a little place to call home," she said.

    APN asks those who are running for Assembly to partner with APN and their allies, especially those with lived experiences of poverty, to consider and implement solutions for the nearly 2 million New Jerseyans living with incomes below true poverty.

    “Hunger, homelessness, and barriers to good paying jobs cause immediate harm, and reflect imbalance in our social system,” said Rice. “But the good news is that poverty does not have to continue to stagnate. We can implement policies to ensure access to opportunity and make common-sense investments in solutions that we know work.”

    The pledge reads: As a candidate for Assembly in District X which encompasses LIST COUNTIES, I recognize that there are X number of people (X percentage) living in true poverty in these counties. True poverty is defined as those earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level. I believe that my district will best thrive when all residents have access to decent housing, basic nutrition, and economic opportunity. If elected, I pledge to work with the Anti-Poverty Network and its members to prevent, reduce, and end poverty in my district and throughout New Jersey.

    Participants in the call with members of the press on Thursday, August 27 at 11 am will be: 
    • Assemblyman Daniel Benson who represents District 14 (Cranbury, East Windsor, Hamilton, (Mercer),Hightstown, Jamesburg, Monroe (Middlesex), Plainsboro, Robbinsville, Spotswood).
    • Joyce Campbell is the Associate Executive Director for External Affairs for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, and an APN Board Member.
    • Arnold Cohen is the Senior Policy Coordinator for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, and an APN Board Member.
    • Susan Parker is now living in supportive housing but experienced homelessness in the Mount Laurel area. Having struggled both with mental health and addiction challenges, she now works as a peer advocate with Catholic Charities helping others rebuild their lives.
    • James Abro became homeless in 2009 in Ocean County, after caring for a terminally ill parent. He is a regular contributor to TalkPoverty.org, as well as an active member in the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness and APN.

  • 29 Jun 2015 3:19 PM | Anonymous

    New Jersey’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will be seeing a 50% increase (to 30% of the federal EITC) thanks to last-minute bipartisan agreement to expand this vital program for low-wage workers. 

    EITC restoration and expansion has been a top priority for APN ever since the benefit was cut by the Governor in 2010. APN highlighted the value of this investment in budget conversations with members of both parties, and also convened a round table discussion in early June to highlight the importance of the EITC in the lives of low-wage workers. The discussion gave the opportunity for three workers to share their individual stories with state and local leaders, including Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, who sponsored the legislation to increase the EITC. 

    Sherry Rubel, a substitute teacher who spoke at the roundtable, expressed excitement after hearing about today’s vote. “I’m ecstatic. This year, without the EITC I would not have gotten anything back from my taxes, and now it will mean close to $600. That can be the difference for being able to eat for the month, or pay for gas to get to work, or be able to save a little extra in case the car breaks down. This is just great.

    The original legislation to restore the credit to 25% of the federal benefit linked this increase to an important revenue increase in the form of a millionaire's tax. While the Governor conditionally vetoed the tax increase, he did approve not only restoration of the EITC, but further expansion to 30% of the federal level. Strong bi-partisan majorities in both legislative bodies approved the increase today. 

    For a link to APN's press release on the increase, click here

  • 17 Jun 2015 2:16 PM | Anonymous

    On June 16, 2015, Housing & Community Development Network held a Lobby Day where advocates collectively urged lawmakers to make a greater investment in the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and the New Jersey State Rental Assistance Program. 

    Also among the policy priorities were:

    • Fund Housing and Community Development 
    • Increase Efficiency & Transparency of Superstorm Sandy Aid (S2825/A4316)
    • Expanding Land Banking Opportunities (A4248/S2865)
    • Fund foreclosure prevention (A1994/S2081)
    • Protect Sandy-impacted homeowners from foreclosure (S2577/A4139)
    • Maintain the interior of residential properties in foreclosure (A4173/S2702)
    • Maintain non-residential property in foreclosure (A4172/S2701)

    Details regarding the background of the legislation in addition to the specific calls to action can be accessed here.

    Also, hear about the priorities raised by advocates from around the state, including comments from APN's Serena Rice on WMBC-TV News.

  • 08 Jun 2015 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    The 2015 Poverty Summit will be held on Tuesday, October 13. This year's theme is:

    Weeding Out Poverty: Uncovering the Roots of Racial and Economic Injustice. 

    Advocates, direct service providers, faith communities, government and business partners, and individuals with lived experience of poverty are encouraged to join this annual gathering for an inspirational day of learning, networking, and conversation. Our focus will be understanding and exploring strategies to address the structural factors that perpetuate poverty and racial disparity in New Jersey. 

    For details, check out the events page.

  • 03 Jun 2015 2:17 PM | Anonymous

    On June 3 the Anti-Poverty Network gathered with a group of elected leaders and low-income workers to hear the workers tell their stories of working and still struggling. Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Shirley Turner, Assemblywoman Elizabeth Muoio, Mercer County Executive Executive Brian Hughes, and Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson all participated in the roundtable discussion, and responded with deep concern for the courageous workers who shared their stories, as well as commitment to advance policies like Earned Income Tax Credit and SNAP, that can help New Jersey's working poor.   

    Three amazing self-advocates shared their stories of struggle:

    • Devika Smith is a certified nursing assistant in Union City, supporting her family of 6 on just $13.43 per hour. Despite devoting her life to providing care to her community's elderly and vulnerable, she often struggles to make ends meet at home. This has meant walking to work and hoping a co-worker will stop to give her a ride, because her son needed the only cash she had to get to school. Devika is a delegate of her union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. 
    • Robert Worrel is a security guard in Atlantic City, who had to take a $6/hour pay cut in order to get full-time work after his hours as a casino cook were drastically cut and his wife lost her job when the Revel closed. Their family of four, including their three-year old son and Robert's disabled sister, are now struggling to get by, especially since his sister's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits were cut with the end of the Heat and Eat program. Robert is part of the NJ Soul of Hunger, a joint project between the NJ Anti-Hunger Coalition and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.
    • Sherry Rubel is a substitute teacher in Middlesex County who found herself suddenly sliding out of the middle class after her divorce. In the past year she has juggled two jobs while also fighting to advocate for her challenged adult son to get the services he needs to move out of homelessness. At the same time, her low-income left her without the money for her own housing and she lived out of her van for a year. Despite these struggles, Sherry is a tireless advocate for others experiencing homelessness and a proud member of the Anti-Poverty Network.

    APN Thanks all of the participants, as well as our gracious hosts at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. This conversation was just the first step. Together we can change public attitudes about poverty and promote policies that can change lives.

  • 19 May 2015 3:20 PM | Anonymous

    This Monday night was a very special night for the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey. Sixty two partners joined us for a celebratory event marking the Network's 15th Anniversary and celebrating two lifetime advocates: Connie Pascale, and former Congressman Rush Holt.

    The night really was a celebration. It was heart-warming to see the out-pouring of love and appreciation for Connie Pascale, as well as the admiration for Rush Holt even though he could not be with us. It was also such a great chance to recognize the three leaders who began the Anti-Poverty Network 15 years ago: Marlene Lao-Collins, Rev. Bruce Davidson, and De Miller. The example of all of these amazing advocates is encouraging evidence of the value and power of a life committed to fighting poverty. 

    Our thanks go out to the more than 80 contributors who made donations to support the work of APN, with special thanks to our Champion Activist Sponsors: Deb Ellis & Hal Strelnick, Bruce Davidson & Don Barb, and Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. These resources will help APN to continue our vital work or Preventing, Reducing, and Ending Poverty in New Jersey. 

  • 19 Mar 2015 4:22 PM | Anonymous

    As a service to Anti-Poverty Network members and other partners, the APN is working to compile state budget analyses, talking points, and other resources for use in budget advocacy. These resources are being posted in a special section at the top of the Community Resources website page. Please check back regularly for new updates, and if you have resources to share, please contact info@antipovertynetwork.org

    The APN community is coordinating budget efforts around the theme "Put the Money Where It Should Be," to focus attention on the importance of prioritizing all basic human needs and prevention programs, rather than opposing these needs against each other. APN's Executive Director, Serena Rice, presented testimony at the May 18 public hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee. Click to access this written testimony and the APN budget talking points

  • 16 Feb 2015 10:40 PM | Anonymous

    The state appears to be near action on revenue raises to address the chronic underfunding of the Transportation Trust Fund, which almost certainly means increased taxes on gas. The Anti-Poverty Network offered testimony in support of this step, provided the state acts concurrently to restore the state Earned Income Tax Credit. The testimony was offered at the November 6 public hearing of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Commission, and APN Director Serena Rice's testimony can be accessed here. See also coverage of the hearing, including Rice's statements in the Star Ledger. 

  • 16 Feb 2015 10:39 PM | Anonymous

    Nearly 200 people gathered in Monroe, NJ on Dec 4 to talk about "Changing Attitudes, Changing Laws, Changing Lives." The event included moving speeches from Professor Kasturi Dasgupta (see link below) and Shaquana Thompson, as well as the opportunity to hear from two state legislators: Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr., and Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia. Just as importantly, participants built advocacy skills and developed advocacy plans for key anti-poverty efforts in conference workshops. Anyone interested in being part of these efforts is urged to attend the next APN general meeting on January 28 to learn more.

    For press coverage of the event, see the NJTV news story, as well as coverage in MyCentralJersey.com,  NJSpotlight, and Greater Media News.

    Professor Dasgupta's keynote address:

    "Vanquishing Injustice Once And For All" 

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