Report: Safety net key to pushing Hawaii residents above poverty line

Report: Safety net key to pushing Hawaii residents above poverty line

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If not for federal and state safety net programs, one-third of all children in the islands would live below the poverty line, according to a new analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Safety net programs lift about 220,000 Hawaii residents – including 72,000 children – above the poverty line each year, the analysis said.

Government assistance helps cut the poverty rate for children in Hawaii from 33.9 percent (before safety net programs) to 10.3 percent, CBPP reported.

The analysis considered the impact of a host of social safety net programs, including Social Security, food stamps, and housing assistance. A family of four is considered to be living in poverty in Hawaii if they earn less than $27,950.

CBPP said Social Security lifts more Hawaii residents above the poverty line each year than any other program.

The analysis, from the nonpartisan Washington, D.C-based thinktank, is aimed at underscoring the considerable impact of social safety net programs in each state at a time when they're under increasing threat.

Here's a look at how different social safety programs impact Hawaii:

  • Social Security lifts an estimated 110,000 people – mostly elderly – above the poverty line. Social Security payments cut the elderly poverty rate from 47.9 percent to 16.4 percent, CBPP said.
  • Food snaps, or assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, help move about 74,000 people above the poverty line. About 190,000 people in the islands get from food stamps, including about 76,000 children.
  • Housing assistance helps push about 40,000 people above the poverty line in Hawaii. In all, federal rental assistance benefits about 49,000 people in thesislands.
  • Finally, about 340,000 Hawaii residents have coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In fact, more than one-third of Hawaii kids are covered by public health insurance.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.