FPWA at the 52nd Annual Legislative Caucus Weekend



Rachel Noerdlinger, rnoerdlinger@actumllc.com  

Emma Brodsky, ebrodsky@actumllc.com 


Panelists Flip the Debate About How to Make Ends Meet by Focusing on How Much Income is Needed to Meet Basic Needs

New York, NY (February 23, 2023) – Last week, Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of FPWA (Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Inc.), moderated the workshop, “Making Ends Meet”, at the 52nd annual legislative conference that addressed one of the largest issues in our nation today: The deliberate undercounting of poverty.  

The conversation sponsored by Senator Roxanne Persaud and Assembly Members Latoya Joyner and Latrice Walker called into question the Federal Poverty Level and asked why we base our public benefits and supports on this artificially low poverty benchmark, when we could base it on a more accurate measure that tells us what income is truly needed to afford basic needs in today’s economy. 

The Self-Sufficiency Standard and other “true cost of living” measurements factor in the costs associated with living, working, supporting a family, and other essential life expenses and can be used as a meaningful tool to inform wage setting and make more effective poverty alleviation programs. 

During the November 2022 midterm election, an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers voted to amend the City charter and mandate City government to calculate what it actually costs to live in New York City. This will help guide and inform government planning and decision-making and is a historic step forward in the fight for economic equity and to ensure that every New Yorker has the resources and support to meet their needs and build economic security. 

Featured panelists, which included Peter Gannon, President and CEO of the Greater Capitol Region, Andrea Miller, Executive Deputy Comptroller for Audit and Policy, Harold Miller, Executive Director of NYC Racial Justice Commission, and Jerome Nathaniel, Director of Policy and Government Relations, City Harvest, and Emilia Tavarez, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Research for Hunger Free America, discussed the importance of adopting a true cost of living measure in New York City and how it needs to be adopted across the nation because it’s vital to ensuring economic security for all.   

Jones Austin and FPWA continue to build support for structural fixes to New York’s benefits system and the outdated measure of poverty. Most recently FPWA released a report “Caught in the Gaps: How the Pitfalls of Cash Assistance Programs Perpetuate Economic Insecurity for New Yorkers” that investigates financial gaps in New York State’s benefits system and provides recommendations for reforms.


FPWA is an anti-poverty policy and advocacy organization committed to advancing economic opportunity, justice, and upward mobility for New Yorkers with low incomes. Since 1922, FPWA has driven groundbreaking policy reforms to better serve those in need. We work to dismantle the systemic barriers that impede economic security and well-being, and strengthen the capacity of human services agencies and faith organizations so New Yorkers with lower incomes can thrive and live with dignity. 

Find out more at fpwa.org, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.