Census data suggests new child tax credit payments helped decrease hunger

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DENVER (KDVR) — New data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggests new child tax credit payments helped decrease hunger and economic challenges for families.

Advanced child tax credit payments started going into parents’ bank accounts in July, and the second installment of payments began going out today.

Payments totaling $15 billion were issued to the families of about 16 million children in August, according to the IRS. The U.S. Census Bureau said the money is already making a significant difference.

Like many Americans, Christa Jimenez scaled back and even put off some necessities to avoid having to pay for them during the height of the pandemic.

She says the recent payments have helped make her family’s life enjoyable again. New data shows she is not alone.

Jimenez paused her online businesses last spring when the pandemic hit to focus on her family. It reduced the family’s income and made paying for household expenses more challenging.

“Everybody’s home, so heating and air conditioning. We didn’t have free and reduced lunch at school so all of the food. It was just really — it felt really precarious, but at the same time, we felt really lucky I could stay home. But it was definitely stressful. We could not save at all,” Jimenez said.

A break came for her and other parents in July when child tax credit payments of up to $300 per child went into bank accounts.

“Back to school payments are a lot with like uniforms and supplies so it’s great that it’s hitting right now. So that’s coming up for school. And just things like the things like the girl want to do soccer and we want to save for their college and make sure they have things they need,” Jimenez said.

Critics claim the credits are contributing to the labor shortage. Still, data from the Census Bureau shows the number of families struggling with paying for expenses decreased since the payments went out. There was an even bigger drop in the number of families facing food insecurity over that period, but Hunger Free Colorado leaders said more work needs to be done to keep families fed.

“Hunger has slowly gotten better across the country and in our state, as well,” said Ellie Agar, communications director for the organization. “We don’t have the most up to date numbers at this point. Back in April, we know that we have slightly come down from that 1 in 3 (number of Coloradans that are experiencing hunger), but parents and people of color were still hit pretty hard by the pandemic,”

Hunger Free Colorado said they believe it will take a few years for the hunger crisis in Colorado to really decrease. They believe these child tax payments do help and are advocating for them to becoming permanent.

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