The U.S. Conference of Mayors
2007 ADOPTED RESOLUTIONS
URBAN ECONOMIC POLICY

REVISING THE FEDERAL DEFINITION OF POVERTY

WHEREAS, the federal poverty threshold was originally developed in 1963-1964 using U.S. Department of Agriculture Ffood budgets designed for families under economic stress and data on the portion of income families spent on food alone; and

WHEREAS, while in the 1960's families spent about one-third of their income on food, today food accounts for about one-seventh of an average household's total expenditures, and about one-sixth of expenditures by households in the lowest income quintile;

WHEREAS, because there have been few changes to the formula for calculating the poverty threshold over the years, it does not take into account changes in the cost of basic necessities - particularly housing and health care - which 21st Century families must meet; and

WHEREAS, while the poverty threshold is adjusted for inflation and the number of household members, it is the same for cities and rural areas and throughout the contiguous 48 states; and

WHEREAS, because the current federal poverty line no longer represents the income that families must earn to meet the basic costs of daily life, it underestimates the number of individuals who are struggling to stay adequately fed, housed, employed, healthy, and educated; and

WHEREAS, an accurate calculation of the federal poverty rate is important to understanding the dimensions of the nation's economic needs; and

WHEREAS, the poverty rate is a significant factor in the allocation of funds in many federal formula grant programs,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges the federal government to revise the formula for calculating the federal poverty line so that it better reflects the amount that families must earn to meet the basic costs of daily life, and that it include factors such as housing, transportation, health care, and child care, in addition to the cost of food.

2007 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352
info@usmayors.org