CCC’s Community Risk Ranking: Economic Security

Digital Briefs

March 3, 2015

CCC’s Community Risk Ranking has generated a lot of attention about the challenges facing New York City children and their families. The New York Times, New York Daily News, and other local news outlets have already offered their take and analysis on CCC’s findings. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will more deeply examine the data and what they tell us about life for at-risk children in New York City.

Children’s well-being is inextricably linked with the economic security of their families and communities. The economic security domain included in the Community Risk Ranking uses three indicators to measure the financial stability of children’s families and communities: the child poverty rate, median income for families with children, and parental employment instability. Here we take a closer look at these indicators, concentrating on the data from the highest risk communities in terms of economic security: Mott Haven (B01)/Hunts Point (B02).

  • At 59.3%, the child poverty rate in Hunts Point (B01)/Mott Haven (B02) was nearly double the citywide rate of 31.4% in 2012. That means that three out of five children lived in households where income was below the federal poverty level, or less than $24,000 for a family of two adults and two children. The high child poverty rates suggest that poverty is widespread throughout the communities, which is particularly troublesome since research has shown that high poverty levels at the community level can amplify the burdens of individual poverty. Communities with high levels of poverty have limited communal resources and face reduced private investments. For families this can mean limited educational and job opportunities, poor housing quality, and higher crime rates, all of which compound the day-to-day struggle of living in poverty.
  • The average family with children in Mott Haven (B01)/Hunts Point (B02) made just $19,570 in 2012 – that’s about $4,000 less than the federal poverty threshold for a family of four. A $20,000 annual income breaks down to a little more than $1,650 per month. Considering that median monthly rent in the community was just shy of $700 in 2012, and the USDA’s “thrifty” food plan for a family of four is estimated to cost about $550, that would leave our family of four with about $400 per month to pay for other essentials such as utilities, transportation, school supplies, and clothing.[1]
  • Further, more than half of the children (55.4%) in Mott Haven (B01)/Hunts Point (B02) lived in families where parents faced employment instability, meaning that no custodial parent worked full-time in 2012. That means that the parents of these children worked less than forty hours a week or were unemployed for some period of time during the year. Either scenario may add a level of unpredictability to the economic well-being of the household, making budgeting more difficult. In addition, families with unstable employment may face additional economic stressors, such as the need to find additional employment and lack of stabilizing benefits such as sick leave and employer-subsidized health care.

The indicators in the economic security domain clearly illustrate that the city’s most vulnerable children need a stronger economic foundation. For this reason, we applaud efforts underway by Mayor de Blasio’s administration to increase educational and training opportunities, improve linkages to work placements, and customize hours of required work-related activities for public assistance recipients.

Building on these initiatives, we hope to see a growing focus on programs and services that have proven effective in helping families overcome poverty such as expanding on and improving the take up rate for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Care Tax Credit, connecting families to banks and children to college savings accounts, and increasing access to early education and after-school programs.

We’ll continue to leverage our data to call attention to the need for increased investments in programs and services that have proven effective in improving child well-being and reducing the economic uncertainty of families and communities. Please continue to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date.

[1] Median incomes are reported by the Census and include all pre-tax cash income, and so exclude income from tax refunds or in kind benefits such as food stamps or housing subsidies. Therefore this monthly budget is presented as a hypothetical example of how an annual income of $20,000 might be used to cover monthly expenses.

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