A new study suggests that programs like food stamps and housing vouchers cut poverty by almost twice as much as we thought they did.
According to standard census numbers, the poverty rate in New York from 2008 to 2011 was 13.6 percent, before taking these programs into account. The programs the study examines — food stamps (a.k.a. SNAP), welfare (a.k.a. TANF), state-level general assistance programs, and housing aid — dropped that down to 10.8 percent. But the study suggests the real number was even lower: a mere 8.3 percent. If that’s true, then the estimated poverty-fighting power of these programs has been dramatically understated for years.