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Despite Recovery, the Lives of Illinois's Most Vulnerable Residents Have Yet to Improve

New Report Documents Scope of Poverty in Illinois

Contact: Michelle Nicolet, Marketing Director
312.368.2675, mnicolet@povertylaw.org

According to a report released today by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law (Shriver Center) and the Coalition on Human Needs, poverty in Illinois remains stubbornly high. In 2014, one in seven Illinois residents lived below the poverty line, and 6.6% of the population lived in deep poverty – below 50% of the poverty line.

Poverty in Illinois is deep and disproportionate. According to the report, in 2014 nearly 830,000 Illinoisans lived below the poverty line, which is just $24,230 per year for a family of four.  Moreover, the report shows that significant racial disparities persist. While 10.8% of whites lived below the poverty line in 2014, more than 30% of blacks and almost 20% of Latinos lived below the poverty line. The numbers are even worse for children—40.8% of black and 27.1% of Latino children in Illinois lived in poverty in 2014.

That’s the bad news.

The good news, according to the report, is that both federal and state anti-poverty programs, such as non-cash benefits and tax credits, have proven to be effective anti-poverty tools. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) lifted 478,000 Illinoisans, including 252,000 children, out of poverty from 2011 to 2013. The EITC alone injected about $2.5 billion into Illinois’s economy in 2012. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) lifted 205,000 Illinoisans, including 94,000 children, above the poverty line from 2009-2012. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these programs is limited because of underfunding, and proposed Congressional cuts threaten these programs further.               

“More than 130 human needs programs have seen their funding cut since 2010, adjusted for inflation,” said Dan Lesser, Director of Economic Justice at the Shriver Center. “We need to invest in proven programs to reduce poverty so more Illinoisans, and Americans, can get the help they need.”

The full text of the report, “Too Many Illinoisans Live in Poverty,” is available at povertylaw.org.


The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients. www.povertylaw.org.

The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is an alliance of national organizations working together to promote public policies which address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable populations. www.chn.org.


The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients. www.povertylaw.org

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