January 23, 2020
Press Release
Announces sponsorship of package of legislation to create opportunity and help individuals and families reach self-sufficiency

(Rochester, NY) – Today, in recognition of January as National Poverty Awareness Month, Congressman Joe Morelle announced a package of legislation he has co-sponsored to uplift families in need and help create opportunity for all people to succeed.

"It’s no secret that the Rochester community faces alarmingly high rates of poverty—especially childhood poverty,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “While there is no singular silver bullet to eradicate poverty, we can work together as a community to create opportunity and ensure everyone has the tools to be successful. May this Poverty Awareness Month serve as a call to action that we must address the need for higher wages, affordable housing, universal childcare, and so much more to truly help families become self-sufficient.

“As the federally approved Community Action Agency serving Monroe and Ontario Counties, Action for a Better Community is pleased that Congressman Morelle is cosponsoring legislation aimed at funding initiatives for marginalized people,” said Jerome Underwood, President and CEO of Action for a Better Community, Inc. “Poverty Awareness Month is an opportunity to highlight the need for the creation and investment in equitable opportunities which will enable economic and social / emotional self-sufficiency.”

“Too often, poverty acts like a life sentence for children born to it, meaning lifelong struggles in their health, education, and overall quality of life,” said Larry Marx, CEO of the Children’s Agenda.  “For a growing child, science has shown that poverty’s deprivation and stress can become a kind of neurotoxin limiting a child’s future.  But there are policy solutions, especially increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable child tax credit, and assistance with high quality early child care.  With those in place, poverty is not destiny – just a barrier in life that can be overcome.”

“Thank you to Congressman Morelle for proposing legislation that could have a positive impact on so many families, including those that come to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester,” said Dwayne Mahoney, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester. “Our doors open up to over 400 kids a day at 3 different locations, and a large majority reside in single-parent and skip-generation households. Many Club parents are simply trying to make it by working two or three jobs. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester works to inspire and enable young people of all backgrounds to realize their full potential, especially those who face daily challenges such as poverty. We stand with Congressman Morelle in coming together as a community to support our children and families.”

Rochester has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the nation, with 32.6% of the city’s population living in poverty—and more than 50% of children under 18. In Congress, Rep. Morelle has taken action to reduce poverty and help ensure every family has the resources and support to succeed by co-sponsoring the following measures:

HR 582 Raise the Wage Act – *PASSED HOUSE 

This legislation would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 in 2024, index future minimum wage increases to median wage growth, and ensure all workers are paid at least the full federal minimum wage by phasing out the subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it would lift 1.3 million out of poverty, including 600,000 children. 

HR 1560 American Family Act 

The bill creates a new $300 per-month, per-child credit for children under 6 years of age and a $250 per-month, per-child credit for children under 17 years of age—increasing the credit for all children and, for the first time, making the credit fully refundable. Poverty among children would fall from 14.8 percent to 9.5 percent, meaning 4 million kids would escape poverty.

HR 1364 Childcare for Working Families Act 
This legislation would significantly improve compensation and training for the childcare workforce in order to increase the number of qualified providers and get children off of waitlists and into high-quality care. Furthermore, the legislation would guarantee childcare assistance to low and middle-class families by ensuring that no family under 150 percent of state median income pays more than seven percent of their income on childcare – and families under 75 percent of the state median income will not have to pay anything at all.

HR 3077 – Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act - Legislation to increase investment in affordable housing and provide more resources and stronger protections for at-risk groups. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019 would expand and strengthen the Affordable Housing Tax Credit (also known as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit) to produce more units of affordable housing and better serve a number of at-risk and underserved communities.

H.R. 3884 – Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act
Decriminalizes marijuana at a federal level, removes it from the Controlled Substances Act, and applies this retroactively to federal drug convictions and pending convictions. Those currently in custody for marijuana offenses would need to go through a re-sentencing process, A 5% federal tax on marijuana sales would be used to fund reentry and substance use services.

HR 3378 – Stop Child Summer Hunger Act - The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act is a long-term, common-sense solution to reducing child hunger during school breaks. The legislation will provide families who have children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. This EBT card will include funds that the family can use to purchase food to replace the meals that the children would otherwise be receiving at school. 

HR 1695 Community Service Block Grant Authorization Act

This legislation supports a bipartisan effort to reduce poverty within urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities across the country. The legislation reauthorizes the Community Action Agencies program for 10 years to help improve economic security of low-income individuals and families.

HR 1185 Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act 

This legislation would create a universal, gender-neutral, national paid family and medical leave program. It would ensure that workers can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a pregnancy, the birth or adoption of a child, recovery from a serious illness, or to care for a seriously ill family member while earning 66% of their monthly wages.

Fair Chance Act – Included in National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020

This bipartisan bill prohibits the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment, while still allowing an employer to determine an individual’s criminal history before they are hired.


“It’s going to take a comprehensive, holistic approach to reduce poverty in our community and across the nation—but these bills would go a long way towards creating an environment for families to be successful,” continued Rep. Morelle. “I’ll always keep fighting alongside our dedicated community partners to create opportunity and empower those in need with the tools to thrive.”