Lessons From a Historic Decline in Child Poverty, a new report from Child Trends, found that housing assistance played a significant role in reducing childhood poverty. The report examines the effects of social safety net programs on the Supplemental Poverty Measure from 1993 – 2019. Overall, child poverty decreased by 59% between 1993 and 2019.
Notably, housing assistance was a major factor in decreasing child poverty over the timespan. Housing assistance protected 290,000 children from poverty in 1993, compared to 790,000 children in 2019. When analyzing subgroups by race, ethnicity, and nativity, poverty decreased at similar rates. Poverty among Hispanic, Black, Asian/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and white children all decreased between 63% to 66% over the study period. Children whose parents lacked stable employment only experienced a 28% decline in poverty.
However, because each group had an unequal poverty rate to start off with in 1993, the measures did not address existing inequality among groups. The report also notes that families with the lowest incomes often cannot access the social safety net, leading the authors to make several recommendations on how to reduce child poverty among the most vulnerable families.