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Legislative report says 20% of Suffolk County residents live in poverty

A volunteer loads food into a cart at a mobile pantry in Detroit in April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an uptick in the demand at food banks.
Gregory Shamus
Getty Images
A volunteer loads food into a cart at a mobile pantry.

A fifth of Suffolk County residents live in poverty according to a legislative report.

The legislature’s Welfare to Work Commission found that the federal definition of poverty was absurdly low for Long Island’s cost of living. Insteadthe report relied on two studies to conclude that a family of four needs at least $100,000 a year to provide for basic necessities.

Roughly half of Long Island households earn less than that. The report's authors said that the main obstacle to reducing poverty on Long Island is that the federal poverty rate is $28,000 thousand a year for a family or four.

“You have tens of thousands of Suffolk residents and households not getting the supportive services they need, such as food stamps, or Medicaid, because they earn too much," said Richard Koubek, chairman of the commission.

Koubek adds that a second hurdle to tackling poverty is addressing Long Island's racial segregation. He said this manifests in a number of ways including disparate education, access to health care, and transportation around the island.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.