A tale of two boroughs: report highlights poorest and richest areas in Brooklyn

Stephon Johnson | 10/10/2013, 10:40 a.m.
According to a new report by the Independent Budget Office (IBO), wealth in New York City is geographically concentrated, but ...
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Both Lhota and de Blasio didn’t respond to multiple requests from the AmNews to comment on the report that demonstrates the main theme of their campaigns, but a spokesperson from Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent an emailed statement saying that the income disparity simply shows that more work needs to be done. But it’s not a mark on their administration.

“As Mayor Bloomberg has noted, New York City’s poverty rate is lower than other big cities—in fact, we are the only major city whose poverty rate did not increase between 1999 and 2012,” read the emailed statement to the AmNews. “And while we have much more work to do, the issue isn’t that we have the super wealthy within our city limits (which tips the income inequality number). We continue to work to create upward mobility for people at the lower end of the income scale, and we have had far more success than other cities.”

Politicians in the borough of Brooklyn have also reacted to the IBO’s report. Council Member Jumaane Williams told the AmNews that the income inequality is not only a result of Bloomberg’s policies, but overall policies of former President George W. Bush.

“While many other cities across the U.S. have been experiencing similar problems as a result of the Bush administration’s economic policies and an era of unregulated Wall Street, the administration of the last 12 years and beyond have shown little acknowledgement or interest that needs of many of our low-income residents were not being addressed,” said Williams to the AmNews. “In many instances, these policies have exacerbated this inequality. It is my hope that as our city enters a new progressive era, we can adopt a more holistic and multipronged approach that provides adequate funding for the programs and services our too often ignored communities deserve while simultaneously finding innovative solutions to create sustainable, good-paying jobs.”

And while the rich might still be well-off, it looks like they’ve lost some wealth as well. According to the study, between 2000 and 2011, median household income in the richest census tract declined (the same for New York City as a whole). During the same period, however, median household income stayed around the same in the poorest census tract, and the income gulf between the richest and poorest tracts narrowed somewhat.

But the gap still remained.

“The wealthiest census tract in 2011, located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, had a median household income of $247,200,” Turestky wrote. “In comparison, the poorest census tract, located in Coney Island, Brooklyn, had a median household income of $9,500. The difference in median household incomes betweeen the two census tracts was over $237,000, meaning the city’s richest census tract still had a median income 25 times higher than the lowest income tract.”

But the Bloomberg administration disputes the notion that the city has gotten worse for low-income residents. They prefer to say that the wealthy people have made the city better for New Yorkers of all incomes.

“But the fact that we have more wealthy people and that wealthy people here are more wealthy than other places does not make New York a worse place for people on the low end of the income scale,” declared the statement from the Bloomberg administration. “Rather, it makes it a better place because we have resources to spend on improving public schools, on keeping communities safe and on our vast social services network.”