New Urban Poverty

The decline of manufacturing in the city, decrease in the value of welfare payments, and entrenched poverty in communities like the Bronx had long-term consequences in New York. Due to these circumstances, family poverty as well as family homelessness would become part of life in the city. Even as overall economic conditions improved, a segment of the population continued to struggle.

  • Manufacturing jobs decreased from 538,600 in 1977 to 360,600 in 1989.
  • From 1982 to 1988 the number of homeless families in New York increased from under 1000 to over 5000.
  • Between 1970 and 2000, the foreign born population of New York nearly doubled. Thirty-two percent of the foreign born came from Latin America.
  • Nearly 800 languages are spoken in New York City today.
  • From 2007 to 2011, the median annual income in the city’s poorest neighborhoods was less than $10,000. In the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods it was more than $200,000 a year.
  • Between 2004 and 2009 the number of New Yorkers receiving food stamps (SNAP) doubled.
  • In 1985 the real value of the average welfare payment was 63% of what it had been in 1968.

The Fullers' Story

Sixteen-year-old Shanna Fuller decided that it was best to keep her family’s homelessness a secret from her new boyfriend. “You don't know if you can trust him yet or whether he'll put your business out on the street,'' she explained. ''I told him I might be living with my aunt because she's lonely, but I didn't give him a specific location.” Her brother, 12-year-old Darian, had covered up the family’s situation by mentioning a possible move.

Where has poverty moved?

Over time the most concentrated areas of poverty in the city have shifted as have the areas with few poor persons.

Explore the Map