Council Passes Legislation to Track and Reduce New York City Poverty
NEW YORK, NY – Today, the City Council passed legislation requiring the mayor to annually report on poverty in New York City, assess the effectiveness of anti-poverty policies, and lay out plans to reduce poverty going forward. Following an election where New York City’s startling inequality took center stage, the legislation creates a regular mechanism to assess the inequalities across the city and reduce poverty.
“This law will create permanent access to the data future leaders of our City need to develop a blueprint toward reducing poverty. This annual poverty report will illuminate the results of the City’s poverty reduction efforts, for good or bad, setting the stage for large scale comprehensive programs that can be effective,” said Council Member Albert Vann, Chair of the Committee on Community Development.
“New Yorkers made it clear in November: reducing poverty and income inequality must be a priority of the next administration,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The cost of living in New York keeps rising, but for many, wages are not keeping up. We need to track this problem and get to work on fixing it.”
The annual report will contain a description of the City’s efforts to reduce the rate of poverty in New York and information on the number and percentage of city residents living in or near poverty. Rather than using the often criticized federal poverty measure, the report will utilize the City’s own poverty measure, which has been recognized by national researchers and the federal government for its comprehensive and detailed method of measuring poverty.
The report will also include demographic and geographic details of poor New Yorkers, including ethnicity, race, age, employment status, educational background, borough, and neighborhood.
“This legislation will create an opportunity to have an honest discussion about whether the programs created by the City are achieving their intended goals of reducing poverty,” said David Jones, President and CEO, Community Service Society of New York. “We need to ensure that the communities in greatest need are being adequately served, and this legislation will set us on the right path.”
“For too long, the City of New York has taken an ostrich approach to dealing with poverty, thinking that if we all put our heads in the sand and explained away uncomfortable facts, the poverty problem would cease to exist,” said Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger. “Given that Mayor-elect de Blasio has made poverty reduction a centerpiece of his agenda, this is the perfect time for this new law requiring improved poverty reporting by the City. We are extraordinarily thankful to Council Members Vann and Lander for taking the lead in ensuring that the City will report on poverty metrics in a more regularized and transparent manner.”
Beyond tracking the status of poverty in New York City, the new law requires the City to assess its own efforts to reduce poverty and be transparent about its plans going forward. The administration will report on the outcomes of poverty reduction programs city-wide. Particular focus will be given to children, the working poor, youth (ages 16-24), families with children, and senior citizens.
“More than 21 percent of New Yorkers live in poverty, including 31.4 percent of all children,” said Colvin Grannum, President & CEO, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. “A highly proactive approach to reducing poverty and promoting upward mobility is required. Int. No. 891-A is an important next step in creating coordinated, accountable and transparent city government processes focused on overcoming poverty. Submission by the Mayor of a plan to reduce poverty accompanied by annual reports on the City’s efforts will allow the City Council, the public, and a range of stakeholders to assess the strengths and shortcomings of the City’s efforts.”
“Community Voices Heard has been fighting for policies that end poverty since our founding,” said Ingrid Soto, member of Community Voices Heard. “I think it is great this law is going to be passed, I only wish it had happened sooner during the Bloomberg administration. However, holding the new administration and all future mayors accountable to reducing poverty can only help.”
“With one in three New York City children living in poverty, Citizens’ Committee for Children believes addressing poverty is critical,” said Louise Feld, Esq., Senior Policy Associate for Food and Economic Security, Citizens Committee for Children. “The new Annual Poverty Report will enable the City Council, Borough Presidents, Community Boards, and the advocacy community to better assess the effectiveness of efforts to combat poverty, and then advocate for the resources necessary to better help poor children and their families.“