New Report Identifies Opportunities to Address Inequality in Northern Manhattan

Press Releases

May 3, 2018

For Immediate Release: May 3, 2018

 Year-long study engages community members in identifying solutions to foster upward mobility and improve well-being for children and families

New York, NY – Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) released its new report, Celebrating Strengths, Addressing Needs: Community Driven Solutions to Improve Well-Being in Northern Manhattan.” The report is the result of a year-long assessment of child and family needs in Washington Heights, Central Harlem and West Harlem, gathered through analysis of government data and new data collected through focus groups and interviews with services providers, parents and youth.

While Northern Manhattan has experienced progress in recent years – with greater than citywide decreases in the rate of uninsured children and teen birth rates and increases in average household incomes – the report underscores how these gains have not been experienced equally among residents, and how worrisome outcomes persist related to poverty, housing stability and education, particularly for black and Latino families.

“Northern Manhattan reflects the diversity and cultural richness of New York City as a whole, while also reflecting the core challenges that impede mobility and well-being,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of CCC. “Through participatory research, we’ve engaged community members in identifying the key challenges they face – unstable and unaffordable housing; employment opportunities with limited wage growth; underperforming schools with limited resources; lack of information and limited access to convenient, affordable supports, among others. Together, we’ve identified a set of concrete opportunities to not only improve mobility and well-being in northern Manhattan, but inform citywide policy priorities to make New York City a fairer and more equitable city for all children and families.”

In northern Manhattan, inequality between racial/ethnic groups in terms of income and opportunities for upward mobility is even greater than it is citywide:

  • The income gap between white households and black households is wider in northern Manhattan than it is citywide, partly due to the fact that black households have much lower average incomes in northern Manhattan than they do citywide ($44,000 citywide, between $34,000 and $39,000 in northern Manhattan). The income gap between white and Latino households is also wider in northern Manhattan.
  • Over 40% of Latinos (ages 25 and over) in West Harlem and Washington Heights lack a high school diploma, compared to one-third of Latinos citywide.
  • In northern Manhattan, the poverty rate for black residents is 30%, 18 percentage points higher than for white residents (12%). Citywide, the poverty rate for black residents is 21% percent.
  • In northern Manhattan, 76% of three- and four-year-olds in higher income households are enrolled in an early education program, compared to 53% of those in poor households, a 23-percentage point difference.  Citywide, the difference in early education enrollment between higher income and poor households is 17 percentage points (73% versus 56%).

The data demonstrates how, despite economic progress overall, there remain areas of high poverty, and the cost of living is increasing,” said Apurva Mehrotra, CCC’s Director of Research and Data Analysis. “This presents clear challenges for residents that impact their health and well-being.”

In addition to disparities in income, children and families in northern Manhattan communities experience several risks to well-being:

  • Nearly one out of four 16- to 24-year-olds in Central Harlem is out of school and out of work, the second highest rate out of 59 community districts.
  • Fifteen percent of Washington Heights households – including over 20% of Latino households – are overcrowded, meaning there is more than one resident per room. In Central Harlem, the rate of families entering homeless shelter rose to 5.8 per 1,000 households in 2015 which is significantly higher than the citywide rate of 3.8
  • Central Harlem has the second lowest life expectancy out of 59 community districts in the city, and has among the poorest outcomes on a range of health indicators, including having the third highest infant mortality rate in the city, and high rates of child asthma and alcohol and drug related hospitalizations.
  • In each northern Manhattan neighborhood (with the exception of Morningside Heights) pass rates on state-mandated English Language Arts and Math exams are below the citywide average.
  • Nearly 40 percent of residents in Washington Heights are limited English speakers, and in nearly a quarter of households, no one over the age of 14 speaks English “very well.”

“Our community based work in northern Manhattan not only informed what data we collected and analyzed, but also created a space for community members to validate shared concerns, learn from one another about resources in the community, and identify opportunities to address the needs of their community,” said Bijan Kimiagar, CCC’s Senior Associate for Community-based Research and Data Analysis. “What stands out from these conversations is the desire for multi-use spaces with co-located services that make accessing information and programs a little easier for children, youth and their families.”

Among the community-informed recommendations in the report:

  • Both caregivers and youth seek opportunities to be economically secure and upwardly mobile. Service providers and residents recommended creating greater access to financial literacy, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship resources for all households. Residents also expressed the need for on-site child care services for caregivers enrolled in adult education, literacy or ESL courses.
  • Residents feel they need greater protections in maintaining stable housing. Service providers and residents suggested expanding existing efforts by the city to maintain affordable housing units and provide free legal counsel to residents facing eviction and harassment from landlords.
  • Youth and caregivers shared a desire for more equitable distribution of resources in schools and more opportunities for parental involvement in their children’s education. Residents said they wanted more free or low-cost homework help programs, especially to support families with limited English proficiency. They also called for the creation of more mixed-use spaces in the community for play and homework help that could alleviate stressors related to household overcrowding.
  • Community members expressed a need to eliminate access barriers to ensure greater ease and accessibility in obtaining needed and desired programs and services. Residents desired greater access to information about programs including an all-in-one resource center that could help families meet a variety of needs and interests, including arts programs and recreational activities.

About Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York

Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York educates and mobilizes New Yorkers to make the city a better place for children. Since 1944, our advocacy has combined public policy research and data analysis with citizen action. We cast light on the issues, educate the public, engage allies, and identify and promote practical solutions to ensure that every New York City child is healthy, housed, educated and safe. For more information on CCC, visit our web site at Stay up to date on the latest news and information regarding the well-being of New York City’s children by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

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