Report finds 50% of New York City working-age households don’t earn enough to meet basic needs

Half of the city’s households do not have enough money to comfortably hold an apartment, access sufficient food and basic health care, and get around, according to a report from the Fund for the City of New York

The report was released as part of a daylong panel at the Ford Foundation.

According to the report’s latest findings, 50% of working-age New Yorkers are struggling to cover their basic needs.

That equates to 1,298,212 households or 2,991,973 people and marks a 38% increase from the 2021 TCL report, showing the profound economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on New York City working-age households.

“What I would say to the average New Yorker is it’s not your imagination and it’s not your fault,” said President and CEO of United Way of NYC Grace Bonilla.

The percentage of households struggling to afford basic needs was higher than any other year in the report’s two-decade history of studying the cost of living.

The report found that households need to bring in at least $100,000 a year to afford food, housing and transportation and a family of four needs to bring in $150,000.

“This report comes at a critical time for organizations supporting the community because it helps us to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how many New Yorkers are deeply affected by increasing economic insecurity and more specifically, where services are most needed,” said Grace Bonilla, President & CEO of UWNYC. “While the Official Poverty Measure is broadly used, it’s become outdated. The NYC True Cost of Living report gives us the insight we need to meet New Yorkers where they are and to create pathways for them to thrive.”

The study found the highest rates of households struggling with income inadequacy are found in the Bronx — particularly the central Bronx, and parts of Brooklyn, including Brownsville and Ocean Hill.

Researchers said that Latino, Black and immigrant New Yorkers are impacted most by the city’s sky-high cost of living.

Additionally, households with children are at a greater risk of not meeting their basic needs, accounting for more than half of households with incomes below the TCL.

“New York City can’t afford to maintain the status quo when 50% of working-age households struggle to make ends meet,” said Lisette Nieves, President of the Fund for the City of New York. “We urge policymakers and employers to use this report as a guide to develop solutions that will lead to a stronger, healthier, more equitable New York. The Fund is the home-and steward-of the NYC True Cost of Living report and we look forward to working with partners to promote its continued use. The report lays the foundation for change and is a powerful policy tool.”

As a result, the group has issued a few recommendations on how to combat the economic inequality:

-Increase wages to assist New Yorkers struggling to meet basic needs amid rising costs.

-Improve access to, and increase, benefits to help New Yorkers afford housing, childcare, food and more.

-Update the Official Poverty Measure to ensure that employers have a clear understanding of wage adequacy based on the cost of living, offer local municipalities a more comprehensive perspective of where emergency assistance is needed and address the fact that income eligibility thresholds for essential benefits and programs are extremely low, disqualifying many New Yorkers from accessing the support they need.

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