FAST FACT: One-Third of New Yorkers Face Multiple Hardships

March 26, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird And that was BEFORE the recession hit! This week, I attended an amazing presentation by the Community Service Society and the New York Women’s Foundation, “Raising the Voice of Low-Income Women.” The Community Service Society (CSS) presented its 2009 findings for their annual Unheard Third Survey. According to CSS, "the Unheard Third tracks the concerns and hardships of New York City’s low-income residents and their views on what programs and policies would help them get ahead.”  What they found is quite distressing:

54% of low-income mothers in New York City faced 3 or more hardships in 2008.

Hardships include economic (losing a job), food (skipping meals), health (postponing necessary medical care), and housing (falling behind on rent or mortgage payments). Again, this is before the recession really took hold (CSS collected the data in summer 2008).  We can only speculate what next year’s Unheard Third Survey will find.  Between 2007 and 2008, CSS recorded a dramatic increase in hardships among working moms, especially economic and health hardships.

Some other findings CSS shared:

  • 32% of low-income working custodial moms are worried about housing costs or losing their home
  • 18% of low-income working custodial moms are worried about losing their job
  • 51% of low-income working custodial moms are worried about not being able to pay their bills all the time
  • 75% of low-income working moms say it has been a lot harder to make ends meet in the last five years
  • 41% of low-income women have no money to fall back on if tough times hit them and their family

One unique aspect about the Unheard Third report that I especially appreciated was its solicitation of respondents’ perspectives on federal and state policy.  Not surprisingly, the women called for raising the minimum wage to $9.50, guaranteeing child care for those making less than $40,000/year, expanding unemployment benefits, and making health insurance affordable. For more reading, check out the New York Women’s Foundation report, The Economic Status of Women in New York State.

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