Approximately one in five New Yorkers lives in poverty and nearly half the city’s households are considered near poor.  Employment data and the city’s food banks tell us that the number of working poor continues to rise.  We focus on policies to help families maximize income and access public benefits and services, including raising minimum wage and job quality issues, expanding tax credits, and access to affordable child care and other work supports. We are also examining the racial disparity in wealth and strategies to temper hardship caused by fluctuations in earnings and expenses.   


Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty

Unpaid Bills, Unmet Needs: Why Workers Need Fair Work Schedules

By Harold Stolper

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers work in stores and restaurants across the five boroughs. Not only do these jobs typically pay low wages; many workers also don’t know from week to week—or even from day to day—when and for how many hours they’re expected to be on the job. The resulting unpredictability in incomes and schedules can make it difficult to arrange child care, create stable household budgets, and pay bills on time.

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Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty

It’s No Holiday for Hotel Workers When Bad Design Burdens Them

By David Brody

The hotel industry does everything in its power to make certain that guests do not have to think about the hard work involved in cleaning guest rooms. The connection between design and the concealment of housekeepers’ work is particularly significant, since it is design that manipulates our perceptions about what does or does not occur at a hotel. 

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Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty

Next Stop, Fairness in Fares: Why New York Needs Low-Income Transit Discounts

By Harold Stolper
Most affluent New Yorkers don’t think twice before ponying up $2.75 to ride the subway or bus. But for the working poor, it’s another story. 

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Women's Pay Equity: Getting Even (2016)

It is well known that women in the U.S. are paid, on average, 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. We discuss: what is the nature of the pay gap and why does it exist; who is affected the most; and what policy initiatives can be taken to close the gap?

Deborah J Glick, assemblymember, NY State Assembly; Brad Hoylman, senator, NY State Senate; Azadeh Khalili, founding executive director, Commission on Gender Equity, NYC Mayor's Office; Beverly Cooper Neufeld, founder, PowHer New York; Teresa Tritch, editorial board, The New York Times


Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty

Designed to Work: A Neighborhood-Based Strategy to Connect People to Jobs

By Rosanne Haggerty and Katie Gordon
In New York City, unemployment has fallen well below the 10%-plus peak it reached after the global financial meltdown and recession of 2008. While that’s hopeful news, it obscures a glaring divide: This recovery hasn’t benefitted the city’s neighborhoods equally.

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Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty

No Food, No Phone, No Subway Fare:
Daily Hardships of the ‘Unheard Third’

By Apurva Mehrotra and Nancy Rankin
"In New York City, the idea that hard work and perseverance can lead to a better life is losing ground.” That bleak assessment begins "Getting Ahead: An Upward Mobility Agenda for New Yorkers in 2016," a report based on the most recent (July-August 2015) annual survey of the city’s “Unheard Third” by the Community Service Society of New York – what CSS calls “the only public opinion poll in the nation to regularly chronicle issues facing low-income individuals and families.”

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Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty

Human Services, Human Costs: Two Views of What the Fight for $15 Could Mean for Low-Wage Caregivers

By E.J. McMahon and James Parrott
While fast food workers have commanded most of the attention in the “Fight for $15” both nationally and in New York, proposals to raise the minimum wage affect other major segments of the workforce, too. By some estimates, more than 400,000 workers in the human services in New York State currently earn less than the $15 per hour that Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed be the new State minimum wage, to be phased in by 2019 in New York City and mid-2021 in the rest of the state.

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Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty 

Help Wanted: Nonprofits Hiring Young Adults with Criminal Histories in Supportive Work Environments

By Julie Peterson
Many social service programs aim to get young people ready for work. Not enough hire them. As important as education and training are, they often fall by the wayside for young people living in poverty, lost in the unending immediate need for funds to survive and support a family. Without a job to provide those funds, inevitably, many young people turn to a shadow economy – and that often leads to a criminal record.  Once that spiral has begun, opportunities for legitimate employment become few and far between. Opportunities for meaningful employment are almost nil.

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Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty

A Conversation About America's Retirement Crisis with Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci

A professor of economic policy analysis at The New School, Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci is a nationally recognized expert on retirement policy. She recently talked with Urban Matters about the proposal by her and others to close retirement savings shortfalls by creating guaranteed retirement accounts.

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Urban Matters | Inequality & Poverty 

The Stark Black and White Of America's Wealth Divide (2015)

By Darrick Hamilton and William Darity, Jr. 
Wealth – the value of what you and your family own minus what you owe – matters. A lot. Wealth is, in short, the paramount indicator of future economic success.

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Event | Inequality & Poverty 

Low-Wage NY: Pay Raises & Working New Yorkers (2015)

The rationale for the higher minimum wage is clear:  Since the end of the Great Recession, the majority of job growth in New York, a notoriously high cost-of-living environment, has been in low-wage employment.  While organized labor and its allies have pushed the "Fight for $15" in response, others have voiced concerns that such raises may result in job losses or stymie entrepreneurship.  Is a dramatic raise in the minimum wage the best way to help low-income workers in New York?

Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO, Partnership for New York City; Hector Figueroa, president, 32BJ SEIU; Paul Sonn, program director, National Employment Law Project. Jennifer Jones Austin, chief executive officer, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; Edmund J. McMahon, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute; Darrick Hamilton, associate professor of economics and urban policy, and director of Milano Doctoral Program at The New School


Event | Inequality & Poverty 

Changing Demographics and the Economic Imperative (2015)

A conversation with Manuel Pastor that explore questions such as: what are the national demographic shifts and their impact on our country and the economy? What is the “uncommon common ground”? How can policies be used to advance an inclusive agenda that works for all?


Event | Inequality & Poverty, Homelessness

Protecting the City's Children from Homelessness (2015)

How can we keep children in city-subsidized shelters safe? How can we use the time they spend in shelter to foster rather than derail their development? How can we support parents who are leaving shelters that may be the only homes their children have known?

Christy Parque, executive director, Homeless Services United, Inc. Janee Harvey, program director for preventative programs, CAMBA. Joyce McMillan, parent organizer, Child Welfare Organizing Project. Moderated by Clara Hemphill, interim director, Center for New York City Affairs at The New Schoo
 


Event | Inequality & Poverty, Racial Equity 

Surveillance City: The War on Drugs in Urban Neighborhoods (2014)

The War on Drugs has created a powerful surveillance state in America's most disadvantaged neighborhoods. High-tech techniques criminalize entire blocks and transform informal community networks into liabilities for local residents as police use family relationships to demand information, pursue suspects and threaten incarceration. The presumption of criminality takes a relentless toll.

Alice Goffman, assistant professor of sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; author, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City. Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, The New School. Jamelle Bouie, politics, policy, and race reporter, Slate.


Event | Inequality & Poverty 

Banking Under the Mattress: Financial Literacy and Unbanked New Yorkers (2010)

A FDIC study finds that seven of every 20 New York households is underbanked. New York and other cities and states are experimenting with solutions, including low- or no-fee community banking services and financial literacy campaigns. What works? And what should government, nonprofits, and the banking sector do now?

Jonathan Mintz, commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs; Cathie Mahon, executive director of the NYC Office of Financial Empowerment; Deyanira Del Rio, associate director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP); Edward Kramer, executive vice president of Wolters Kluwer Financial Services; Leslie Parrish, senior researcher at the Center for Responsible Lending. Dean Starkman, managing editor of the Columbia Journalism Reviews The Audit


Event | Inequality & Poverty, Racial Equity 

Race and the Subprime Crisis: The Future of Minority Neighborhoods (2009)

Some critics blame the Community Reinvestment Act for the mortgage meltdown that prompted the current deep recession. Others point to the abuses of subprime lending and Wall Street manipulation. Yet questions about the impact of the economic collapse on African American communities—and about the future of neighborhood stability, consumer access to credit, and the role of race in public policy—remain unanswered. As the federal government acts to reverse the economy's decline, what have we learned, and what does the future hold?

Hon. Maxine Waters, U.S. Representative (D-Calif.); James Carr, COO, National Community Reinvestment Coalition; Sarah Ludwig, Executive Director, NEDAP; Louis Prezeau, President & CEO, City National Bank; Darrick Hamilton, Assistant Professor, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy.


Event | Inequality & Poverty

Markets, State and Democracy: Lessons from the Economic Crisis (2009)

The libertarian model asserts that heavy state intervention in the economy is a threat to human liberty. But the recent history of market-based democracies has shown almost the reverse. The supposedly small-state model of the United States has instead opened the door to massive inequalities of income, wealth, and power. The state has not taken over business; alas, business has taken over the state. Considering the recent experiences of the United States, Scandinavia, and other market-based economies, how should we re-conceptualize the balance of state, market, and democracy? 

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University