Affordable Housing and Homelessness

  • Lack of affordable housing fuels Connecticut homelessness, By Brian Charles, December 10, 2013,  New Haven Register: “Connecticut’s battle to bring down the number of homeless people living in shelters or on the streets has been hampered by a dearth of affordable housing, according to the Partnership for Strong Communities. At a time when the nation’s homeless population is in steady decline, the number of homeless people in Connecticut has increased. During the last three years, the state’s homeless population has risen from 4,316 to 4,448, according to data collected in January and released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last month…”
  • With rental demand soaring, poor are feeling squeezed, By Annie Lowrey, December 9, 2013, New York Times: “Violeta Torres cannot afford her apartment. Ms. Torres, a 54-year-old nanny, pays $828 a month for a rundown one-bedroom that she keeps spotlessly clean, making the rent only by letting an acquaintance sleep on a mattress in the living room for about $400 a month. But her one-bedroom happens to be in the booming Columbia Heights area here, where such an apartment, once renovated, would easily command twice the price…”
  • Alaska’s thin line between camping and homelessness, By Kirk Johnson, December 7, 2013, New York Times: “People come to Kenai Peninsula for the natural beauty or for an Alaskan escape from the routines that shape life in fussier places. There are good oil industry jobs, and a Russian patina hangs over the landscape in the names of the small towns and a few orthodox churches that keep the flame alive. When the salmon are running on the Kenai River, you can pull them in until your arms are sore, people here are fond of saying. But those bounties of nature, which have drawn settlers and fortune seekers since the days of Captain Cook, also mask a hard reality. When someone’s life goes awry, through a misstep or a spousal betrayal, a job loss or an eviction, or just a stretch of bad luck, there is not much of a safety net here…”

Poverty Measurement – New York City

With new formula, an official helped unmask the face of poverty in New York, By Rachel R. Swarns, December 8, 2013, New York Times: “Over and over again, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has hammered it home: Forty-six percent of New Yorkers are poor or nearly poor. It is his mantra, the figure he holds up as proof that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has failed nearly half of his citizens. Yet the man who came up with that statistic is no Democratic operative. He is a wry, bespectacled Bloomberg administration official who is far more familiar with complex statistical methodologies than with rough-and-tumble political brawling. His name is Mark K. Levitan, and he is Mr. Bloomberg’s director of poverty research. Over the past five years, he has completely transformed how New York City measures poverty…”

Low-Income Households and Hurricane Sandy Recovery

  • N.J.’s low-income households still reeling from Hurricane Sandy: Study, By Stephen Stirling, October 26, 2013, Star-Ledger: “New Jersey’s low income households were disproportionally affected by Hurricane Sandy and received a starkly small amount of federal assistance in the year following the storm, according to a new study released by Rutgers University. The study, released Friday by the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration, analyzes reams of state and federal data to paint a comprehensive picture of where New Jersey is one year after Sandy struck, and shows the state still needs tens of billions of dollars of work to truly recover from the storm…”
  • Public housing residents relying on agency still recovering from storm, By Mireya Navarro, October 29, 2013, New York Times: “The midday food giveaways at Gravesend Houses in Coney Island began soon after Hurricane Sandy, and are still going strong. A year after the storm, the food line is one of many reminders of the persistent vulnerability of New York City’s public housing and the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the projects…”

Homelessness and Housing – New York City

In New York, having a job, or 2, doesn’t mean having a home, By Mireya Navarro, September 17, 2013, New York Times: “On many days, Alpha Manzueta gets off from one job at 7 a.m., only to start her second at noon. In between she goes to a place she’s called home for the last three years — a homeless shelter. ‘I feel stuck,’ said Ms. Manzueta, 37, who has a 2 ½-year-old daughter and who, on a recent Wednesday, looked crisp in her security guard uniform, waving traffic away from the curb at Kennedy International Airport. ‘You try, you try and you try and you’re getting nowhere. I’m still in the shelter.’ With New York City’s homeless population in shelters at a record high of 50,000, a growing number of New Yorkers punch out of work and then sign in to a shelter, city officials and advocates for the homeless say…”

Aging Immigrant Population – New York City

Immigrant struggles compounded by old age, By Kirk Semple, July 25, 2013, New York Times: “After retiring from his job as a security guard in 2011, Wahid Ali spent his days struggling against tedium. Speaking only limited English and with few friends, he had little to do and mainly stayed at home, a small rented room in an illegal basement apartment in Coney Island. But the tougher fight was financial. Mr. Ali, 78, had meager savings, and his wife had not worked since they immigrated to the United States from Pakistan in 2006. So the couple depended on his monthly Social Security check of less than $600…”

Public Housing Waiting List – New York City

227,000 names on list vie for rare vacancies in city’s public housing, By Mireya Navarro, July 23, 2013, New York Times: “Lottie Mitchell made her regular pilgrimage the other week, riding the subway for 45 minutes, then transferring to a bus to reach her destination: an office of the New York City Housing Authority. When her turn came, Ms. Mitchell, 57, using a cane, hobbled to the counter with the same request that she has made for the last four years. ‘I want to check the status on my housing,’ she said. As always, the clerk responded: ‘You’re on the waiting list.’ It is called the Tenant Selection and Assignment Plan, but to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers seeking a home, it is ‘the list.’ Prosperous city residents may consider public housing to be a place of last resort. The waiting list indicates otherwise…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – New York City

Many Staten Islanders in need miss out on food stamps, By Judy L. Randall, May 13, 2013, Staten Island Advance: “The way Saeeda Usmani sees it, her participation in the federal food stamp program has been a godsend. At 71, the retired nurse from Stapleton couldn’t afford to maintain her medically mandated gluten-free diet, which can be pricey, without assistance. As it is, because Ms. Usmani tires easily, she goes to the supermarket only every three weeks and carefully husbands the fresh fruits and vegetables that she purchases with the $173 she receives each month from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), the current name for food stamps. But Ms. Usmani is something of a rarity among SNAP-eligible low-income Staten Islanders 60 and older: Only 23 percent participate in the program here, the lowest percentage among the five boroughs…”

Poverty Rate – New York City

City report shows more were near poverty in 2011, By Sam Roberts, April 21, 2013, New York Times: “The rise in New York City’s poverty rate as a result of the recession has apparently eased, but not before pushing nearly half of the city’s population into the ranks of the poor or near-poor in 2011, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg administration. That year, according to the city’s measure, about 46 percent of New Yorkers were making less than 150 percent of the poverty threshold, a benchmark used to describe people who are not officially poor but who still struggle to get by. That represents a rise of more than three percentage points since 2009, when the nation’s recession officially ended. By the city’s definition, a family with two adults and two children could earn $46,416 a year and still fall within 150 percent of the city’ poverty level. Unlike the official but rigid federal poverty level, the city’s measure balances the added value of tax credits, food stamps, rent subsidies and other benefits against expenses like health and day care, housing and commuting that reflect New York’s higher living costs…”

Paid Sick Leave – New York City

  • Deal reached to force paid sick leave in New York City, By Michael Barbaro and Michael M. Grynbaum, March 28, 2013, New York Times: “New York City is poised to mandate that thousands of companies provide paid time off for sick employees, bolstering a national movement that has been resisted by wary business leaders. A legislative compromise reached on Thursday night represents a raw display of political muscle by a coalition of labor unions and liberal activists who overcame fierce objections from New York’s business-minded mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, and his allies in the corporate world. The deal required a high-profile concession from a leading candidate to succeed Mr. Bloomberg, Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, who had single-handedly blocked action on the sick-leave issue for three years, arguing that it would inflict damage on the city’s fragile economy…”
  • Sick-pay plan called blessing and burden, By Patrick McGeehan, March 29, 2013, New York Times: “The compromise reached on a sick-leave law for workers in New York City drew cheers on Friday from employees who have feared that catching a cold could cost them their jobs. But some employers complained that it would unfairly load yet another expense onto their shoulders. The agreement would eventually require most businesses with at least 20 employees to provide up to five days a year off with pay for illness. It also calls for even the smallest businesses, like the bodegas found on nearly every block, to let workers take days off without pay but without jeopardizing their jobs when they are too sick to work…”

Homeless Shelter System – New York City

City’s sheltering of out-of-town homeless, and Mayor’s remark, stir debate, By Sam Roberts, March 17, 2013, New York Times: “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has a penchant for hyperbole, was at it again this month when he fumed that New York State’s guarantee to shelter the homeless means ‘you can arrive in your private jet at Kennedy Airport, take a private limousine and go straight to the shelter system, and walk in the door and we’ve got to give you shelter.’ Advocates for the homeless accused the mayor, no stranger to private jets, of insensitivity. But while Mr. Bloomberg’s wording might have been inelegant, the substance of his comment does not appear to be far from the mark: More people who gave their last address as outside New York are entering the city’s shelter system…”

Homelessness in New York City

  • New York City leads jump in homeless, By Michael Howard Saul, March 4, 2013, Wall Street Journal: “An average of more than 50,000 people slept each night in New York City’s homeless shelters for the first time in January, a record that underscores an unsettling national trend: a rising number of families without permanent housing. Families have become a larger share of the nation’s homeless population, growing 1.4% from 2011 to 2012, after their numbers fell as the economy emerged from recession…”
  • 50K homeless in NYC shelters nightly, report says, By Jennifer Peltz (AP), March 5, 2013, NorthJersey.com: “More than 50,000 homeless people a night — the most in decades— are now in New York City’s homeless shelters, a spike that mirrors the largest increase in overall homelessness among the nation’s cities last year, according to a report released Tuesday. Homelessness has been a troubling and contentious aspect of life the nation’s biggest city for decades. But it has become an escalating crisis in recent years amid a chronic shortage of affordable housing and an unemployment rate higher than state and national levels…”

Nurse Home Visiting Program – New York City

For mothers at risk, someone to lean on, By John Leland, December 15, 2012, New York Times: “The tattoo below Joanne Schmidt’s right ear says ‘Jesus’ in Hebrew. On the back of her neck, under a short crop of dyed red hair, is a second tattoo that says ‘Bad Girl’ in Chinese. ‘That was from my earlier period,’ she said. On a drizzly December afternoon, Ms. Schmidt was in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx to visit Elizabeth De la Rosa, who is 19 years old, single and was about as pregnant as a person can be. On this day, which happened to be the date her baby was due, Ms. De la Rosa was living in her mother’s apartment, a surprise to Ms. Schmidt, 37, who had been visiting her since early in the pregnancy — sometimes at a homeless shelter, sometimes at Ms. De la Rosa’s aunt’s. Ms. De la Rosa and her mother had a history of bitter arguments, which had landed the daughter in counseling at age 14…”

Hurricane Sandy and Low-Income Residents – New York City

  • For some after the storm, no work means no pay, By Shaila Dewan and Andrew Martin, November 2, 2012, New York Times: “Chantal Sainvilus, a home health aide in Brooklyn who makes $10 an hour, does not get paid if she does not show up. So it is no wonder that she joined the thousands of people taking extreme measures to get to work this week, even, in her case, hiking over the Williamsburg Bridge. While salaried employees worked if they could, often from home after Hurricane Sandy, many of the poorest New Yorkers faced the prospect of losing days, even a crucial week, of pay on top of the economic ground they have lost since the recession…”
  • In New York’s public housing, fear creeps in with the dark, By Cara Buckley and Michael Wilson, November 2, 2012, New York Times: “It would be dark soon at the Coney Island Houses, the fourth night without power, elevators and water. Another night of trips up and down pitch-black staircases, lighted by shaky flashlights and candles. Another night of retreating from the dark. On the second floor of Building 4, an administrative assistant named Santiago, 43, who was sharing her apartment with five relatives, ran through a mental checklist. Turn the oven on for heat. Finish errands, like fetching water for the toilet, before the light fades…”

SNAP Enrollment – Staten Island, NY

More than 47,000 Staten Islanders now get ‘food stamp’ help, By Deborah Young, October 7, 2012, Staten Island Advance: “They are becoming ever more familiar at Staten Island supermarket check-out aisles – those white and blue EBT cards, slipped quietly out of the wallet when it’s time to pay. One in 10 Islanders received the government benefit commonly known as food stamps as of June 2012, according to the most recent statistics from the Human Resources Administration — the city department that oversees the federal program meant to keep Americans out of hunger’s grip. The 47,131 Islanders who got help paying for groceries (but no other form of assistance) represented a quadrupling since June, 2000, when 10,263 Islanders received the benefit. The use of food stamps — a monthly allocation of funds for groceries, available only to citizens or legal residents of the country who have lived here five years or longer — has increased far more sharply in the borough than across the city and the nation, where the number of recipients is also on the rise…”

Homelessness – New York City

New York acts quickly amid sharp rise in homelessness, By Aaron Edwards, August 10, 2012, New York Times: “The homeless population in New York City has jumped sharply over the last year, causing a record number of people to enter the shelter system. The increase has forced the Bloomberg administration to open nine more shelters in just the last two months – sometimes with only a few weeks’ notice to surrounding neighborhoods. The administration said the increase stemmed in part from the end of the city’s main rent-subsidy program for homeless families. But the new shelters – five in the Bronx, two in Manhattan and two in Brooklyn – have provoked criticism from local officials who say they were blindsided by the decisions to open them…”

Poverty and Child Asthma Rates – New York City

Poor children drive city’s asthma rate, By Sumathi Reddy and Jie Jenny Zou, July 17, 2012, Wall Street Journal: “One in eight New York City children has been diagnosed with asthma, with poor children nearly twice as likely to suffer from the respiratory disease, according to a report to be posted by the city health officials on Wednesday. The report was based on a 2009 survey and is the first time the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has estimated the number of children with asthma. The survey of parents found that 177,000 children 12 years and younger-or 13% of children in that age group-had received an asthma diagnosis at some point in their lives…”

African-American Unemployment – New York City

Blacks Miss Out as Jobs Rebound in New York City, By Patrick McGeehan, June 20, 2012, New York Times: “For months now, New York officials have been highlighting how the city has regained all the jobs lost during the long recession and then some. But by several measures, the city’s recovery has left black New Yorkers behind. More than half of all of African-Americans and other non-Hispanic blacks in the city who were old enough to work had no job at all this year, according to an analysis of employment data compiled by the federal Labor Department. And when black New Yorkers lose their jobs, they spend a full year, on average, trying to find new jobs — far longer than New Yorkers of other races. . .”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – New York City

Cuomo pushing city to end food-stamp fingerprinting, By John Eligon, May 17, 2012, New York Times: “New York City would have to stop requiring the electronic fingerprinting of food stamp applicants under regulations proposed on Thursday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has sided with advocates for the hungry who say it discourages people from seeking benefits. New York State stopped requiring the fingerprinting of food stamp recipients in 2007, but granted an exemption to the city at the request of the Bloomberg administration, which said fingerprinting was the best way to prevent fraud. Mr. Cuomo said many New Yorkers eligible for the federal food stamp program did not receive them in part because of the stigma associated with being fingerprinted…”

Income Inequality – New York City

More earners at extremes in New York than in U.S., By Patrick McGeehan, May 20, 2012, New York Times: “The wealthiest 1 percent of New York City residents took in nearly one-third of the personal income in the city in 2009 – almost double the comparable proportion nationwide, a new study shows. In a report scheduled to be released on Monday, the city comptroller’s office found that large percentages of New Yorkers earned high incomes and low incomes, leaving a smaller middle class than in the nation as a whole…”

Poverty Rate – New York City

New York’s poverty rate rises, study finds, By Sam Roberts, April 17, 2012, New York Times: “The number of New Yorkers classified as poor in 2010 increased by nearly 100,000 from the year before, raising the poverty rate by 1.3 percentage points to 21 percent – the highest level and the largest year-to-year increase since the city adopted a more detailed definition of poverty in 2005. The recession and the sluggish recovery have taken a particularly harsh toll on children, with more than one in four under 18 living in poverty, according to an analysis by the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity that will be released on Tuesday…”