It has been almost a year since New Hampshire families received the last monthly Child Tax Credit payment of a few hundred dollars, and their advocates say the result of stopping the payments has been alarming.
The families include some 217,000 children, and the number who report they “sometimes or often” did not have enough to eat in the previous week has increased by 50% in the past year.
Michael Reinke, executive director of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, said the change has been dramatic.
“Running out of the things that are more expensive — running out of meat, running out of milk, eggs — those are the highest demand right now,” Reinke observed.
Reinke noted requests for family food boxes are up 25% from this time last year. His organization is urging lawmakers to make restoring the Child Tax Credit a top priority. But the credit has faced headwinds from conservatives in Congress and some older Americans, who think it’s too expensive.
The loss of the Child Tax Credit came as costs for food, fuel and nearly everything else have increased. Nearly half of New Hampshire adults with children say they found it difficult to pay their regular household bills in September, and more than 15% were behind in their rent.
It comes as no surprise to Reinke, who pointed out the majority of people he meets at the soup kitchen are working, sometimes at more than one job.
“You can be working full-time and still not be able to make all of your ends meet,” Reinke emphasized.
Census data show when the Child Tax Credit was available, employment rose slightly more among people with children than those without. Other research has shown the extra aid helped improve children’s health and education, especially as students struggle to regain learning lost during the pandemic.
Advocates for low-income workers say those gains are already being lost.
Cary Gladstone, area director for Granite United Way, which offers free income-tax assistance for people of low to moderate incomes, said the Child Tax Credit offers significant help to the average tax filer making roughly $28,000.
“And so, if you can imagine, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit being added to that, I mean, that can mean a maximum of more than $10,000,” Gladstone stressed. “A 40% increase in their overall income.”
Gladstone added Granite United Way is encouraging lawmakers to revive the Child Tax Credit, and possibly include retroactive payments for families in need. With winter approaching and more calls requesting help to New Hampshire’s 211, he said he hopes lawmakers get the message.
This story was written by Kathryn Carley, a contributor to the Public News Service, where this story first appeared.