Financial assistance

Some Los Angeles families pushed back into poverty as child tax credit ends

More than 1.4 million families across Los Angeles County started the new year with less money in their pockets. For the first time in six months, monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) installments have not been sent out because the Senate has yet to pass the House-passed “Build Back Better Act”.

The end of Child Tax Credit payments means some 634,000 families in the city of Los Angeles alone are scrambling to make up the difference, especially as January draws to a close.

“It’s really at the end of the month that you run out of money,” says Democratic Congressman Tony Cárdenas, who represents the northern San Fernando Valley. “They were able to catch up on their bills and pay their rent.”

The expanded CTC has helped reduce child poverty by more than 40% while lifting more than 4 million children out of poverty, according to a to study of the Center on budget and policy priorities. Cárdenas says the monthly payments have helped 140,000 children in his district over the past six months.

“The fact is, we have hard-working, barely successful families. And now you have families who have to quit their jobs because their child is sick. It’s really messy when you do it month to month, and these checks solved a lot of those issues.

CTC payments were halted because the Senate failed to pass President Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposal.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has delayed passage of the spending bill, saying he cannot support it unless changes are made, such as adding a work requirement for the parents. But Cárdenas says he can’t go along with the manchin version of the CTC.

“We haven’t made it a work requirement in the last six months. We are lifting 40% of our children in America out of poverty. And we must continue this great impact, making sure we continue for the next 12 months.

Cárdenas also argues that adding a work requirement to the renewed CTC program would render countless families ineligible for financial assistance.

“We have grandparents who are retired and taking care of their grandchildren, etc. There are far too many situations where we are going to hurt families instead of helping them.

But Cárdenas says he is open to an alternative to bring Manchin on board with the adoption of “Build Back Better” by reducing the amount of monthly payments to families.

“Maybe instead of $300 per child, it would be $250 per child. But we can do something where we can actually massage it a bit, but still make sure the kids aren’t hungry.