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Morning Spew

Most People Can’t Afford to Live Here and Our Elected Leaders Don’t Seem to Care

A new report details a growing affordability crisis, and more links for your Wednesday.

9:21 AM EDT on April 26, 2023

Cherry blossoms in Prospect Park
(Hell Gate)

Are you doing okay? Like, financially? If not, the good (and by that we mean bad) news is that you're definitely not alone. Half of the people who live in New York City can't technically afford to—and yet, here we are, according to a new report from the Fund for the City of New York and United Way. 

That minimum income varies by borough—for a household of four (two adults and two children), it's $107,246 in the Bronx and $110,453 in Staten Island versus $142,051 in northwest Brooklyn or $151,723 in south Manhattan. But location aside, almost 1.3 million NYC residents—50 percent of people who are part of the city's "working-age households"—have earnings that fail to "meet the minimum cost of living" as of 2022. That's a big spike from the numbers in 2021, when only 36 percent of working-age households were in the same boat. 

Obviously, things like race, citizenship, occupation, education level and geography are exacerbating factors in who's getting priced out of New York—Latine households, especially ones where working adults aren't U.S. citizens, are most likely to struggle with "income inadequacy," as are Bronx residents. Meanwhile, while electeds fret over a few millionaires leaving New York, it's longtime Black residents who are leaving the city in droves over cost of living concerns, part of a record-breaking wave of people leaving the state in general. 

The signs of this crisis are everywhere—walk into a grocery store, look at rental listings, fill a prescription at a local pharmacy, or try to enroll your baby in daycare, and you'll see high prices that many can't afford. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, people are moving through the City's shelter system at rates unrivaled since the Great Depression; the housing market is so boned that even Times op-ed writers are pointing to the depressing real estate market as the primary cause of flight from the city. The "True Cost of Living" survey doesn't even factor eating in restaurants—one of the only things the city has to offer its residents, according to some of our mopiest transplants—or any kind of debt into the equation, which would surely tip the scales even further. 

The report ultimately paints a portrait of a city in desperate need of assistance. Is it coming? Hahahaha.  All in all, it's a deeply depressing situation with virtually no silver lining—even if you can afford to move. But hey, at least we've got a few robot dogs.

Some links that'll bum you out marginally less:

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