NY Seeks to Move Poverty Goal Post

Updated definition of 'poor' may shape programs nationwide
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2007 7:51 PM CST
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to reporters during the U.N. Climate Change Conference Friday Dec. 14, 2007, in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, fed up with the circa-1960s definition of poverty used by Washington, is developing his own measure of deciding who is entitled to financial relief, the New York Times reports. Although Bloomberg’s plan aims to help New York City's poor, officials hope it will spark changes to poverty assessments nationwide.

The federal poverty line for a family of four is about $21,000, calculated as three times the annual cost of basic groceries. Bloomberg’s poverty line would be 80% of the median amount spent by US families on a wider variety of goods—food plus rent, clothing, utilities and extra tacked on—adjusted for New York prices. One analyst calls it "highly likely they will come up with a higher poverty rate" to fuel Bloomberg's anti-poverty policies.