Poverty in New Jersey


Povertyin New Jersey


Povertydenies people the opportunity of enjoying services like others do.Also, it bars individuals from accessing basic commodities thatsupport human welfare. In the state of New Jersey, poverty is anissue since it has spread in all the counties however, the level ofat which the social problem has extended to the counties variesgreatly. In these counties, different races have been associated withthe issue, which is an indication that poverty can affect anyoneregardless of the ethnic group. Emanating from the spread of povertyin New Jersey, there is a need for a policy that would help in theeradication of the problem. Programs that have been developed tofight the issue have not been successful in eradicating it because oflimited allocation. Therefore, programs that are geared towards theproblem should receive sufficient resources. The initiatives need toemphasize on strengthening the safety net, investing in the youths,and empowering families financially.

TheState of New Jersey is ranked among one of the wealthiest in Americahowever, poverty has been considered a big problem. A large portionof the State’s population dwells in regions having poverty ratesthat are above 20%. The official poverty threshold, in New Jersey,does not bear a relationship of the normal cost of living in theState (Haymes et al., 2014. P 64). Thus, it is possible to see familyunits having incomes up to two and a half times the poverty levelstruggling in making ends meet. The number of individuals livingbelow the poverty level is shown below in terms of percentage.


Comparisonof Poverty by Race and Ethnicity in Different Counties

Inthis section, five counties that have the highest number ofindividuals under the poverty level will be compared. These includeCumberland, Hudson, Essex, Passaic, and Atlantic counties.

InCumberland County, the highest number of individuals living below thepoverty level comprises the White, and is followed by Hispanic andBlack or African Americans. The largest racial/ethnic groups inHudson County are the Hispanics and they constitute 42.7% of thecounty’s population. They are followed by the Whites who are about29.6% and Asians who make 14.1% of the population. The Hispanics makethe largest ethnicity that live in poverty in this county followed bythe Whites. In Essex County, the ethnicity/race that has the largestpopulation living in poverty is the African Americans. They arefollowed closely by Hispanics and Whites. In Passaic County, theHispanics constitute the largest number of individuals that livebelow the poverty line. This ethnic group is then followed by theWhites. Alternatively, in Atlantic County, the most prevalentrace/ethnicity that lives under the poverty line is the White. Thisethnic group is then followed by the Hispanics and the AfricanAmericans.

Fromthe comparison of the different counties in regards to ethnic groupsthat are in poverty, it is apparent that different ethnic/race groupslive in poverty in the varied counties. This is an indication thatany ethnic group can be in poverty. Also, it is a depiction thatpoverty is not a racial issue, but a social issue and can affect anysocial group.

Thereis the need to address the issue of poverty in New Jersey to ensurethat the impoverished individuals live in a decent manner. In casethe state is to make real progress on mitigating the systemic povertywhich traps a great number of residents, the whole state needs torecognize and respond to the crisis.

Analysisof Social Policy Issue

Thesocial issue being discussed in this report is poverty in New Jersey.There have been some policies put in place to fight this socialissue. One of the policies such as Childcare assistance and theearned Tax Credit (EITC) has concentrated on programs that emphasizeon reducing child poverty. Currently, there are varied supportsystems and safety net programs that assist millions of childrenannually (Haymes et al., 2014. P 28). The programs offer significantassistance however, they are not adequate in isolation to cure allthe demerits of concentrated poverty. Programs like Childcareassistance and the earned Tax Credit (EITC) have been indicatedbeneficial to working parents. Also, programs such as nutrition andhousing assistance are important in ensuring that children have foodand a dwelling place when families have income constraints. Thenumber of people and families that can benefit from the safety netprograms has been impacted by the PWORA Act of 1996 that developedthe Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program for thepurposes of welfare reform. TANF program has been essential inproviding services linked to reducing the degree of poverty. The goalof the TANF is to assist individuals get off welfare, get employmentand become independent, through education, job training and workactivities (Thomas &amp World Bank, 2010. P 102). The servicesoffered include child care, drug/alcohol assistance, child support,earned income tax credit, refugee resettlement, emergency assistance,and Medicaid among others.

PolicyAnalysis Framework

Thegoals of the policy are to reduce the number of individuals who livein poverty and enhance the welfare of the impoverished individuals,especially children. The goals will be attained through creatingemployment-generating programs as well as initiatives geared towardsthe empowerment of the children.

Thepolicy will benefit poor families by helping them become financiallyempowered. Apart from this, the state will also benefit from thepolicy since it will have few numbers of individuals living under thepoverty line. The services that will be provided under this policywill include the creation of support programs, overseeing theimplementation of the programs, and assessing and correcting gapsthat develop in the programs.

Thepolicy will require identifying who will be eligible for the supportprograms. In order to qualify for the programs, for an adult, onewill need to be either a single parent living under povertyconditions, or parents who have dependants and living below thepoverty line based on their income. In the case of a minor, theprograms will support those who have no parents and no guardians todepend on, as well as minors whose parents live under immenseconditions of poverty.

Sincethe existing programs dealing with the issue of poverty are working,but delivering inadequately, they need to be supplemented andenhanced so as to become sufficient in fighting the problem.Therefore, the policy will focus on supporting these programs anddeveloping them further. Therefore, the service delivery willemphasize on how the existing programs can have their value added soas to bring the much desired outcomes. The benefits and services willbe financed through taxation as well as grants. Instead of increasingthe taxes paid by individuals, the state should develop ways throughwhich to discover tax defaults. Also the tax system needs to bedeveloped to account for any discrepancies. This will help in theallocation of more resources to the programs. The NASW code of ethicsthat will be focused on in the development of this policy concernsthe use of moral reasoning in the delivery of service to the poor.Also, professionalism will be emphasized. This will ensure value tothe needy and social justice.

HistoricalBackground of the Policy

Thedevelopment of a poverty alleviation policy started back in 1964,when President Lyndon Johnson announced the war on poverty through aseries of legislative efforts that were planned to create socialprograms which would support America’s significant number offamilies in poverty (Railsback et al., 2002. P 62). Most of theprograms established during the time are still intact today forinstance, Food Stamps, Job Corps, Child-nutrition programs, andMedicaid. Today, most of the previously established programs to dealwith poverty issues have been expanded and there are around 92federal anti-poverty programs, which tend to address the basic needsof the citizens ranging from Medicaid, food assistance, education andhousing (Kneebone &amp Berube, 2013. P 94). However, in the fiscalyear of 2016, the federal budgetary assistance dropped substantiallyfor low-income programs, healthcare aside, and is estimated to dropto its lowest level in over 40 years (New Jersey &amp New Jersey,2010. P 52). Although the poverty alleviation efforts have not beenin a position to eradicate poverty, the programs have significantlymitigated the epidemic. There has been evidence that theanti-poverty programs work. For instance, early childhood educationprograms have been indicated to support higher rates of high schoolgraduation as well as college attendance among the low-incomechildren. Also, the EITC program has been praised for promotingemployment amid single mothers and lifting a great number of childrenfrom poverty. Since the already developed programs have not yet beenin a position to eradicate poverty, there is a need to develop thepolicy further so as to help in the fight against poverty effectively(Stricker, 2008. P 77).

Itcan be argued that the poverty policy developed by President Johnsonhas been successful in tackling the problem of poverty, but thepolicy has not adequately attained the required level. One of themain reasons why the policy has not sufficiently addressed the issueis the decrease in the resources allocated to programs (Alemayehu &ampFontenot, 2014. P 90). For instance, priorities aid has decreased amove that has weakened the cash assistance safety net under TANF. Forthe programs supported by the policy to succeed, there is need foradequate resources to be channeled towards the programs (Hatcher,2016. P 38). Otherwise, the initiatives supported by the policy wouldnot realize the intended goals.

TemporaryAssistance to Needy Families (TANF)

TheCongress developed the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)through the PWORA Act of 1996. This originated from the federal’seffort to combat welfare. It replaced Aid to Families with DependentChildren (AFDC) that offered cash welfare to poor families havingchildren since 1935. States utilize federal TANF and statemaintenance of effort (MOE) dollars to meet any of the followinggoals

  • Stop the dependence of the needy parents on benefits provided by the government through promoting job preparation, marriage, and work.

  • Promote the development and maintenance of two-parent families.

  • Offer aid to needy families so that families can be cared for in their homes or the homes of their families.

  • Avoid and mitigate the incidence of out of wedlock pregnancies and develop annual numerical goals for putting off the incidence of the pregnancies.

WhenTANF became created, child-only cases were usually the center ofattention. Also, when it was reauthorized in 2005, it focused more onchildren cases. As per 2011 report, child-only cases wereapproximately two in every five cases tackled by TANF. Child-onlyTANF assistance reaches divergent mix of children, including thoseliving in homes of relatives, children of parents receivingsupplemental security income (SSI), as well as U.S-born kids ofparents whose immigration status makes the parents ineligible forTANF benefits. An important element worth noting is that child-onlycases are not subject to the state and federal program rules whichhave driven down TANF caseloads since its inception in 1996. Thestates administer TANF and have taken into account room inestablishing the mix of cash assistance, work support, as well asother services that it offers (Centeron Budget and Policy Priorities, 2015).However, in case very few families that receive cash aid areparticipating in work-related activities, a state may lose somefederal funding. Therefore, states need to impose work requirementson recipients of cash assistance. Furthermore, those recipients havefederal limits on how long they are eligible for cash aid.

HowTANF Compares with Other Federal Programs

Spendingon TANF has indicated a declining trend as a share of federalspending on programs targeted at individuals having low income andtax credits for low income earners. Since the inflation-adjustedvalue of federal spending has decreased for TANF, it has augmentedsubstantially over the last two decades for most other programs andcredits. Currently, the federal government spends significantly onmost of the programs and tax credits compared to TANF (Centeron Budget and Policy Priorities, 2015).

HowDifferent Policy Options Affect TANF

TheCongress Budget Office (CBO) has assessed different ways in which theCongress may opt to change TANF and their effects. According to theCBO, some policies can result in the change of the TANF fundingthese include reducing the state family assistance grant by 10%,linking the state family assistance grant to the unemployment rate,increasing the state family assistance grant to factor inflation,reinstating supplemental grants through mitigating the contingencyfund, and making the contingency fund more responsive to highunemployment. Other policies are likely to change the TANF workstandard. These policies include restricting states from havingdifferent work standards, loosening the limit on counting jobreadiness activities as engagement in work, and loosening the limiton counting occupational education as engagement in work (CongressBudget Office, 2015). Alternatively, some policies may change the MOErequirement such policies include requiring states to use a minimumof one-fifth of TANF funding on cash assistance and restrictingstates from counting private expenditure towards the maintenance ofMOE requirement (Congress Budget Office, 2015).

Problemsthat Necessitate a Poverty Policy

Natureof the Problem

Povertyis a social problem that no one would like to be associated withbecause it denies people opportunities that they should otherwiseenjoy. For example, due to poverty, some children can be denied theopportunity to acquire knowledge. Also, poverty can make a person notbe in a position to afford basic commodities such as clothing andfood. Therefore, the nature of poverty is risky. In case the needy inNew Jersey are left on their own without the government intervention,the future of the state may be destroyed (Gilens, 2009. P 85). Thus,there is a need for a poverty eradication policy due to the problemsthat it may bring to the state.


Thereis a need for a poverty eradication policy emanating from its causes.The situation that one is born in may be a great determinant of thesocial position. Children who are born and brought up in poorfamilies may end up poor if they are not assisted. Also, things likeeducation places individuals at an advantage of accessingopportunities present in a society. However, in case one iseducationally challenged, he/she may end up poor.


Fromthe analysis of the county’s poverty based on ethnicity in NewJersey, it was found that any ethnic group can be affected bypoverty. Therefore, poverty can be viewed as a phenomenon thatimpacts anyone in New Jersey State. Hence, the need for a povertypolicy that can help in eradicating the common issue in the societyadequately.

Spreadof Poverty

Povertyis spread all over the counties of New Jersey. However, the level ofpoverty spread is different in varied counties. Since the phenomenonhas spread in the various counties of this state, there is a need fora poverty policy to eliminate the problem since it has become a stateissue.

TheNumber Affected

Thenumber of individuals affected by poverty, in New Jersey, is high.According to Legal Services of New Jersey (2015), there wereapproximately 2.8 million people living in true poverty in 2014. Outof this number, children constituted 800,000. From this big number,there is a need for poverty policy to handle the issue.

Impactsof the Problem

Povertyis associated with many negative effects, which necessitate thedevelopment of a policy that would deal with it. For instance, whenexperienced by children for a prolonged period, poverty may impacttheir educational achievement. Also, the effects of poverty aresometimes difficult to deal with, and this makes it worth to handlethe problem before it brings unbearable situations. This calls for apoverty policy.

ProposedPolicy Discussion

Theproposed policy will focus on different initiatives. One of theprograms will include improving support for households and theirchildren through the strengthening of the safety net. The purpose ofincreasing the safety net is because it is a significant lifeline forpoor families and individuals near poverty. This can be attainedthrough enhancing the Work First New Jersey cash welfare programsince this would help in responding to income needs of individuals inextreme poverty. Also, it can be realized through improving access toSupplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. The policy willalso be involved in providing support to families having multiplebarriers. Families having multiple barriers such as mental healthproblems, domestic violence, or substance abuse are likely to be lessfinancially secure (O`Connor, 2009. P 116). In an attempt to ensurethat children avoid experiencing hardships faced by their parents, itis crucial for the policy to offer support to parents that go throughoverlapping barriers.

Thepolicy will also emphasize on investing in young children. This isbecause kids brought up in low-income families usually fall behind ineducational fields compared to the economically secure children. Itis critical to consider investing in early education because gapsstart growing at an early age and proceed to adulthood in case theyare left unaddressed (Katz et al., 2013. P 58). Investing in theyoung will help in ensuring that the probability of experiencingpoverty in the future becomes eliminated. Furthermore, the policywill be involved in promoting the financial success of familiesthrough work and family initiatives. This would be an importantconsideration since it would empower families financially. Also,families would be in a position to grow towards independence andsupport the future of their children.

Inselecting individuals who would be supported by the policy, differentlocal heads will be involved. This would ensure that there istransparency in the process. Also, in order to avoid bias andcorruption in the selection of individuals, a thorough investigationwill be carried out to ascertain that the people to be supported bythe policy are the right ones. The policy will be implemented throughintegrating it with other programs that support similar ideas.Furthermore, the policy will be assessed regularly in order toevaluate its outcomes. The assessment will also help in discoveringif any gaps exist and how they can be resolved.

Analysisof the Policy

Thepolicy will be just and democratic since the officers that will beinvolved will be guided by moral reasoning. Also, individuals to besupported will need to be investigated whether they deserve theprograms. Justice will prevail since people who provide falseinformation about their condition will be sued and face the law.Furthermore, since the policy will be enforced by law, it will haveto be scrutinized whether it is democratic or not. The programs thatare supported by the policy do not in any way lead to socialinequality since there will be no member or social class that will befavored by the policy. The policy is likely to result in a betterquality of life because it will support those individuals who livebelow the poverty line to have better lives. Rather than creatinginequality, the programs of the policy will try to bring equality indifferent areas such as education.

Theviability of the Policy

PoliticalFeasibility Support

Politicalconstraints are critical in influencing the support of policies bypoliticians. However, in the case of the policy under consideration,political bodies are likely to offer the needed support since most ofareas, in New Jersey, that have poverty are highly-populated. Thepoliticians are likely to offer support to the policy because thepopulation being helped form strong electoral blocks.

EconomicFeasibility Funding

Thereis always a good reason to believe that a certain policy will resultin bringing the desired economic effects. Thus, there is a need tounderstand the economic impacts of a given policy underconsideration. Another concern entails the ability of an economy. Aneconomy that has low per capita income may not be in a position toimprove the welfare of the poor with enhanced efforts. However, thisis not the case for a high per capita income since the economy cansufficiently distribute resources that can be used in tackling thepoverty issue (Kornbluh, 2009. P 72). In the case of the policy underconsideration, the economy has the ability to fund the programs inorder to alleviate poverty levels. This is because the state falls ina developed economy, where the per capita income is high. Therefore,the policy has economic feasibility.

AdministrativeFeasibility Affective

Thepolicy developed has the constraint of whether it would be possibleto offer the services planned from the first to the last. In somecases, a policy may be designed in a manner that may be difficult toactualize the initiatives that have been outlined. The poverty policyhas been developed in a way that the programs are well laid. Thismakes it possible to administer.

Advocacyand Practice

PotentialShortcomings of the Policy

Oneof the limitations of the policy is that it will require a lot oftime to implement. For the policy to work, it will need approximatelya period of three-five years to start seeing its outcomes. Also, thepolicy requires huge amounts of resources to adequately cover all theprograms.

Oppressionand Discrimination Created by the Policy

Althoughthe policy is not designed to create oppressions or discriminations,its application may tend to develop these issues. The policy may bediscriminatory since it will allocate resources to the counties basedon the level of poverty. Since the resources will not be distributedequally, there will be discrimination. Also, because families will besupported based on the degree of poverty, some form of discriminationamong the poor households may emerge.


Inbringing about change to this policy, workers should embrace it bycontributing willingly towards supporting the programs. For instance,they should disclose their sources of income so as to allow thegovernment to collect additional revenues that would be utilized inthe poverty initiatives.


Iwould recommend that the government of New Jersey should consideradopting this policy emanating from the benefits that it will possesssuch as helping the state in alleviating poverty. Of most important,will be adding more resources to the programs so as to ensure thatthey become successful. The strategies should focus on strengtheningthe safety net, investing in the youths, and empowering familiesfinancially.


AlthoughNew Jersey is ranked among one of the wealthiest states in America,poverty has been considered a big problem. The social problem isspread in all the counties. From the comparison of the differentcounties in regards to ethnic groups that are in poverty, it isapparent that different ethnic/race groups live in poverty. A povertypolicy will be important in eliminating poverty in the state. Thepolicy should focus on strengthening the safety net, investing in theyouths, and empowering families financially.


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