Contact: Stuart Marques, (917) 273-6194, stuart@stuartmarquescommunications.com

                  Olivia Leirer, (646) 479-3426, oleirer@nycommunities.org



Average Family of three needs $50,000-a-year to survive here;

group calls for $15-an-hour minimum wage


NEW YORK (12/9/2013) -- A survey of 300 low wage workers across the city has found that most make half of what is needed to feed, clothe and support their families – with some families falling short by up to nearly $27,000 a year, a shocking report has found.

 “Low wages force working families to make sacrifices that hard-working people shouldn’t have to make,” said the report from New York Communities for Change (NYCC) and New York Communities Organizing Fund Inc., (NYCOFI).

“Low wages require them to compromise housing and child care,” the report concluded. “At times they must either turn to the government to feed them, or go without. Paying bills becomes a game of cat and mouse, where they pay what must be paid, often borrowing to do so, while paying more in the end as late charges and interest accrue.”

Many of these workers do not have health benefits or paid sick days and often lose pay if they have to take a day off for a family medical emergency.

The survey found that it takes between at least $42,000 and $50,000 annually for a family to cover the cost of housing, health care, childcare, food, transportation, taxes and utilities depending on family size.

For example, the survey found that a family with two adults and one child runs a monthly deficit of $1,051, which amounts to approximately $12,609 a year.  A family of two adults and two children is in the hole for about $22,770, while a family of one adult and two children falls short by $26,955. 

“Those of us who live on the ground in New York City know that life is different for us than for the ones who live in the high-rises,” said Carlie Steen, executive director of NYCOFI.  

“Our survey found there truly are two different worlds in our city: One where people go home to warm meals and comfortable beds, get health care, vacations and raises, and another world, where people need food stamps despite working two jobs, have been working the same job for years without raises or benefits, are forced to use the emergency room for their health care, and must juggle bills each month to keep the debt collectors away,” Steen added.

“We met fast food workers who ate the restaurant's expired food because they couldn't even afford to eat where they worked.  We met parents who leave their young child with older children because they can't afford childcare.  These are heartbreaking stories backed by cold-hard facts and statistics that show the painful degree our city has divided into two.”

Here are some real stories from real people who we met while compiling this report.

·         Anna is a single mom who works 32 hours a week at $10 an hour to support herself and her daughter. She receives a Section 8 housing voucher which helps with the rent, but she still struggles to pay for transportation, food, utilities and other essentials. She says paying her bills is like “trying to put a jigsaw puzzle.” She cuts corners on food, but was still so far behind in rent that her landlord took her to court two years ago.

·         Juan and Celina are immigrants who struggle to support themselves and their four-month-old daughter. Prior to having her daughter, Celina worked as a grocery store cashier for 18 months earning $6.50 an hour. The owner eventually began paying minimum wage after employees complained. Now they live on Juan’s income of $400 a week he earns as a restaurant worker. They live in a small apartment with a total of 10 people, who combine resources to try to make ends meet for all of them. Celina says if they didn’t live with others she doesn’t know how she would make it.

·         Steve, who is in his mid-20s, struggles to care for himself, his daughter and his sick mother on the $7.25 an hour he earns at McDonald’s. He says he owes $150 for electricity which, he fears, could be cut off at any moment.


“New Yorkers are tired of the inequities and inequalities that grew and worsened during the Bloomberg years,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change. “We are on the cusp of a welcome change and this report clearly demonstrates how badly the city needs to change direction.”  

The report calls such reforms as increasing funding for Section 8 housing to re-open waiting lists; eliminating high-rent vacancy de-control; expanding eligibility guidelines for the city’s Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP); and for childcare vouchers and increasing the wages of service workers – including fast food, grocery stores and car wash workers – to at least $15 an hour.

You can read the report here.






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published this page in Our Work 2013-12-09 13:58:03 -0500
New York Communities Organizing Fund, Inc.
New York Communities Organizing Fund, Inc. (NYCOFI) is a 501(c)(3) community-based organization that seeks to empower low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to help themselves through public education, advocacy, research, and direct services.