Poverty still remains an issue. (93712)
Poverty

A new report from the Community Service Society chronicles how a group of New Yorkers who are constantly discussed, but never heard from feel about their situation.

Titled “Stuck,” the report, as part of CSS’ “Unheard Third” series of reports, asked a series of questions to New York City’s poor and moderate- and upper-class residents about the issues that affect the impoverished. Despite the economic differences, the New Yorkers polled (1,615 in total, ages 18 and up) shared similar sentiments on a few subjects.

According to the report, 3 out of 4 New Yorkers support a $15 minimum wage, with two-thirds strongly favoring it. When divided along political lines, 86 percent of Democrats support a higher minimum wage and 53 of Republicans support it. The majority of New Yorkers also want the city to have the authority to set its own minimum wage higher than the state.

The study also suggests that across political and income levels, enacting paid family leave and strengthening tenant protections would improve the lives of struggling New Yorkers. However, while many believe that certain measures would improve lives, the divide comes in other areas.

“Many low-income New Yorkers no longer believe it is even possible to get ahead,” read the report. “The prospect of making it into the middle class through gumption and hard work is in many ways at the heart of the American dream, but nearly half of New Yorkers (46 percent), across income levels, do not believe it is possible for the poor to move into the middle class.

“Latinos are the least optimistic, with less than half (48 percent) saying it is possible,” continued the report. “Blacks and Asians are slightly more optimistic with 56 percent of Blacks and 59 percent of Asians still believing in the promise of upward mobility.”

When it came to addressing income inequality self-proclaimed progressives called for structural changes and government interventions while conservatives asked for more investment in human capital and a greater individual responsibility. But they all agree that higher wages, benefits and education skills are the keys to higher paying gigs.

The AmNews spoke with Nancy Rankin, one of the authors of the report, on her findings and the methodology process.

“Everybody feels stuck economically [regardless of income],” said Rankin. “But of course, low-income people are stuck in a worse place. They think that local and state government as can do something about it, like increasing the minimum wage and making college more affordable. They also want paid family league, regulation for acquiring advanced scheduling at work, stronger protection for tenants, financial aid or lowered tuition for City University of New York schools and discounts on the MTA fare for low-wage workers.” Rankin said everyone except those in the upper economic level felt that college was out of reach for them.

Rankin also told the AmNews that even among low-income workers, when asked about specific ideas like the DREAM Act, the majority of workers favor it. But there was a catch.

“The majority of New Yorkers favor the DREAM Act, but there’s actually a pretty large group that’s undecided,” said Rankin.

The surveys were done in English, Spanish and Chinese, with Rankin wanting to reach as many New Yorkers as possible. She said that elected officials should get the message when they check out the report as well.

“I think the message really is—to the governor and to our lawmakers—is that New Yorkers are feeling stuck, but there’s a lot of agreement on one thing—that the city and state can help us get moving again,” said Rankin. “We’ve seen a certain amount of action coming out of the city on universal pre-K and the expansion of paid sick leave, but on the other side, Albany’s been stuck. They should be listening.”