Self-Sufficiency Study 2018

Two in five New York City households (or 40%) lack enough income to cover necessities, such as food, housing, health care, and child care.

This translates to over 2.5 million men, women, and children who are struggling to make ends meet in New York City. Yet only a third of that number qualify for public assistance, according to the federal official poverty measure. Consequently, a large and diverse group of individuals and families across our city are struggling and are regularly overlooked and undercounted. These are many of the New Yorkers who turn to the soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community food programs City Harvest serves in order to make ends meet.

Many working families find they earn too much income to qualify for most supports, yet they are still struggling to meet their basic needs. To make things worse, their efforts are exacerbated by the reality that housing, health care, and other living costs are rising faster than wages.

With food costs in New York City among the highest in the nation, many working families are forced to choose between paying their rent or buying groceries. There were nearly 25 million visits to soup kitchens and food pantries across the city last year, despite the fact that most households have at least one member who works full-time.

City Harvest is proud to partner with United Way of New York City, the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement, and the New York Community Trust on the Self-Sufficiency Standard, which measures how much income is needed to meet families’ basic necessities, without any public or private assistance. We use the Self-Sufficiency Standard to better understand the realities so many of our neighbors are facing.

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We invite you to explore what we’ve learned below with these interactive tools: