C
Poverty isn't
Permanent
Explore how people move in and out of poverty and material hardship
C
Official Poverty
Measures are Wrong
Learn how government measures fail to capture the full scope of disadvantage
C
Public and Social Services
Don't Reach All in Need
Discover how many New Yorkers struggle to find assistance
Monitoring Poverty and
Well-being in New York City
Official measures of poverty are too simplistic, and fail to fully describe the magnitude of struggles that New Yorkers face when trying to make ends meet. The Poverty Tracker, a first-of-its-kind survey conducted by Columbia University’s Population Research Center in partnership with Robin Hood, reports that disadvantage in New York City extends further than federal poverty statistics suggest.

Introduction

The Official Poverty Measure Is Wrong

The federal government developed the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) in the 1960s, and it doesn’t reflect the massive changes to the American family over the past 50 years. The Official measure is based solely on minimum income level needed to afford food and meet daily needs. Yet the measure doesn’t account for the rising costs of living expenses, the geographic variation in costs of living, or the full spectrum of income sources families use to meet daily needs.

How many New Yorkers
are actually in poverty?

The OPM

Nearly One In Four New Yorkers Face Income Poverty

The federal government recently introduced the Supplemental Poverty Measure. It is also based on income, but it incorporates the expenses of basic living necessities — food, shelter, clothing and utilities, the geographic variation in living costs, and it adjusts for the variety of factors that impact income to include government benefits and tax credits. The Poverty Tracker used the SPM methodology and found that more than 1.9 million people in New York City are living in poverty.

What if income doesn’t
capture the whole story?

Income Hardship

37% Of New Yorkers
Suffer Severe
Material Hardships

In 2012 nearly four of ten New Yorkers faced a persistent shortage of critical resources or underwent an episode of acute deprivation, such as staying in a shelter, having utilities shut off or being unable to pay for a doctor.

Material hardships
Financial
Food
Utilities
Housing
Medical

How is health tied to scarce
financial and material resources?

Material Hardship

Health Challenges Are More Prevalent For Those Under the Poverty Line

While people may suffer from health and related challenges regardless of their economic situation, indicators of well-being are often tied to poverty and material hardship. The numbers of New Yorkers reporting poor health or a severe work-limiting health condition increases under the poverty line.

How many New Yorkers experience multiple
forms of disadvantage at a time?

Health Challenges

More Than Half Of New Yorkers Face At Least One Disadvantage

53% of city residents struggled with income poverty, severe material hardship, or health-related challenges in 2012. Nearly one in five New Yorkers experienced two types of disadvantage simultaneously. 4% experienced all three disadvantages.

income
Hardship
Health

These studies are just the beginning

C
Poverty isn't
Permanent
Explore how people move in and out of poverty and material hardship
C
Official Poverty
Measures are Wrong
Learn how government measures fail to capture the full scope of disadvantage
C
Public and Social Services
Don't Reach All in Need
Discover how many New Yorkers struggle to find assistance
These studies are just the beginning
The Poverty Tracker describes the lives of low-income New Yorkers as more than a snapshot, but as a series of dynamic movements in and out of poverty and hardship. Conventional point-in-time income measurements make it difficult to understand the full scope of disadvantage. Future surveys will allow us to look at even more changes so that we can dig deeper into the factors that drive people in and out of disadvantage. This information is already making a difference as we devise more effective means of reaching those in need, and providing them with the assistance to emerge – and remain – out of hardship and poverty.

Introduction

Nearly Half Of New Yorkers Suffer From Chronic Health Challenges

New Yorkers are suffering from chronic health issues at an alarming rate, with hypertension leading the way as the most prevalent health issue. As obesity rates climb in the city, prevalence of diabetes and hypertension are expected to increase as well, placing strains upon the city’s health care systems.

Health Troubles
Asthma
Diabetes
Hypertension

How many New Yorkers were
hospitalized?

Chronic Illnesses

More Than One In Ten New Yorkers Were Hospitalized Over a Single Year

12% of New Yorkers reported that they stayed overnight in the hospital during the preceding 12 months. Among those hospitalized, the largest proportion had incomes just above the Supplemental Poverty threshold.

Which New Yorkers are uninsured?

Hospitalization

New Yorkers Across Income Levels Lack Health Insurance

Many New Yorkers reported that they were not covered by any type of health insurance. Those lacking insurance come from all income levels. As this data was gathered before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was implemented, the percentage of uninsured New Yorkers may decrease in the future.

Do people receive the help they need?

Uninsured

Those Who Seek Help Don’t Always Receive the Assistance They Need

New Yorkers reported a need for assistance in nine categories ranging from household bills to food, and from legal issues to housing. Yet not all New Yorkers who need additional services ask for assistance. About half of those who need help do not get the help they seek from family, government agencies or social service organizations.

Support Services

Sought Help
Got Help
Got All Help

How do New Yorkers regard
neighborhood services?

Assistance

Most New Yorkers Complain About Neighborhood Services

When asked about the quality of city-provided services, many New Yorkers rated services in their neighborhood as “poor.” Sanitation, police, and crime-related issues drew the greatest number of low ratings.

Neighborhood Services
Health
Sanitation
Recreation
Crime
Transportation

These studies are just the beginning

C
Poverty isn't
Permanent
Explore how people move in and out of poverty and material hardship
C
Official Poverty
Measures are Wrong
Learn how government measures fail to capture the full scope of disadvantage
C
Public and Social Services
Don't Reach All in Need
Discover how many New Yorkers struggle to find assistance
These studies are just the beginning
The Poverty Tracker describes the lives of low-income New Yorkers as more than a snapshot, but as a series of dynamic movements in and out of poverty and hardship. Conventional point-in-time income measurements make it difficult to understand the full scope of disadvantage. Future surveys will allow us to look at even more changes so that we can dig deeper into the factors that drive people in and out of disadvantage. This information is already making a difference as we devise more effective means of reaching those in need, and providing them with the assistance to emerge – and remain – out of hardship and poverty.

Introduction

Poverty isn't permanent

While annual snapshots may tell us that the population experiencing poverty has barely changed, a closer look at the data reveals that from year to year, more people move in and out of poverty than remain persistently poor.

Age
Education

Gender
Race

Hardship is more persistent than poverty

Poverty isn't permanent

Hardship is more persistent than poverty

The number of people suffering from material hardship, defined as the chronic or acute inability to make ends meet, remained relatively unchanged from year to year. Still, some groups were more persistently afflicted than others. Further, many more New Yorkers experienced material hardship than poverty.

Lacking finances needed for food, housing, medical care, or utilities
Age
Education

Gender
Race

Assets can prevent disadvantage

Hardship is more persistent than poverty

Assets can prevent disadvantage

New Yorkers who owned more assets, such as a home, a car, or savings, are less likely to face either poverty or hardship than those with fewer resources.

Poverty
Hardship

Debt can lead to hardship

Assets can prevent disadvantage

Debt can lead to hardship

New Yorkers with higher levels of debt are more vulnerable to material hardship. But surprisingly, those with more debt are less likely to enter poverty than those with little debt. Because individuals have to meet income thresholds to qualify for large loans in the first place, those with more debt are also less often in poverty.

Poverty
Hardship

Receiving help can make a difference

Debt can lead to hardship

Receiving help can make a difference

Government and social service assistance help New Yorkers escape poverty and hardship. Both are also effective in keeping people out of disadvantage in the first place.

Poverty
Hardship

Closing

C
Poverty isn't
Permanent
Explore how people move in and out of poverty and material hardship
C
Official Poverty
Measures are Wrong
Learn how government measures fail to capture the full scope of disadvantage
C
Public and Social Services
Don't Reach All in Need
Discover how many New Yorkers struggle to find assistance
These studies are just the beginning
The Poverty Tracker describes the lives of low-income New Yorkers as more than a snapshot, but as a series of dynamic movements in and out of poverty and hardship. Conventional point-in-time income measurements make it difficult to understand the full scope of disadvantage. Future surveys will allow us to look at even more changes so that we can dig deeper into the factors that drive people in and out of disadvantage. This information is already making a difference as we devise more effective means of reaching those in need, and providing them with the assistance to emerge – and remain – out of hardship and poverty.