New Report: 42% of New York Households Don’t Meet Basic Self-Sufficiency Standards


NEW YORK, NY – The Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement, United Way of New York City, City Harvest and New York Community Trust are pleased to announce the release of the 2014 Self-Sufficiency Standard Report, a study that establishes the income necessary to be economically independent in each of New York City’s neighborhoods. The study also answers the question of how many households live below the self-sufficiency standard, neighborhood by neighborhood, and analyzes the characteristics of these households. The report was released at a panel event last week in conjunction with Crain’s New York Business featuring key business, foundation, nonprofit and political leaders.

The 2014 Self-Sufficiency Standard report creates a new template for how we view economic independence in the city and what factors contribute to a failure to meet these standards. The report measures what a basic bare-bones budget requires, including food needs, shelter, healthcare, transportation, childcare, etc. and applies this standard to 152 unique family compositions in order to measure what families need. The report provides an authentic snapshot of the families who live in New York without public support and how their basic needs differ from various geographical locations and neighborhoods and how race, education, gender and age affect their self-sufficiency.

“This new report identifies a large portion of New York households, nearly 2 out of 5, who do not meet basic self-sufficiency needs like food, shelter and healthcare. It is critical that we address this gap between those who can meet basic needs and those who cannot. The problems and the solutions are interconnected. The business, nonprofit, foundation and political sectors must join together as a community to solve these systemic problems,” said Sheena Wright, President & CEO, United Way of New York City.

“We looked at 152 different family compositions to understand what it really means to be self-sufficient in New York City,” said Merble Reagon, Executive Director, Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement. “This report actualizes the difference between a family of one adult and one preschooler living in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, as opposed to a family of two adults living in the West Village. Each of these families will have different financial needs.”

“The reality is that many New York City families must prioritize housing and childcare, which makes food an elastic expense in many budgets. Households resort to skimping on meals or skipping them altogether,” said Jilly Stephens, Executive Director of City Harvest. “City Harvest relies on research like the Self-Sufficiency Standard Report to understand the demands on our network of community food programs and to further develop our feeding plan to reach as many residents in need as possible.”

“The report is already informing and shaping policy, from a living wage for thousands of workers to more job training for decent jobs,” said Pat White, Program Director for Children, Youth, and Families at The New York Community Trust. “We hope these findings continue to resonate with policy makers across the city.”

The report found that income inadequacy is more severe among households with children, households maintained by women alone or households maintained by people of color. Notably, New York City has an income inadequacy rate that exceeds that of the state of Mississippi, where there is a high minority population. In addition, Women and people of color must have several more years of education as well as several more years of employment to achieve the same pay scales and levels of income adequacy. 53% of households below the self-sufficiency standard have children; 25% are married-couple households, 23% are single-women households and 5% are single-male households. 94% of households below the Self-Sufficiency Standard in New York do not receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). 36% of Latinos households, 25% of black households and 22% of white households are income inadequate. At 56% of all households below the Standard, the Bronx has the highest overall income inadequacy rate.

The full report is available online at:  

For media inquiries, contact Rida Bint Fozi at The TASC Group at 212-337-8870 or

About United Way of New York City

For more than 75 years, United Way of New York City has been the activist inside, working deep within the system to weave a net of interconnected solutions to catch our poorest neighbors. We orchestrate hundreds of partners in a symphony of hope, and mobilize communities to break down barriers and build opportunities that improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers for the benefit of all. We help ensure that short-term needs are being met while simultaneously working on long-term solutions to the city's most intractable problems. We envision caring communities where all individuals and families have access to quality education and the opportunity to lead healthy and financially secure lives. We are the activists inside, working to make New York City work for every New Yorker. FollowLike and Pin us, and learn more at

About the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement

The Women’s Center is a 44-year-old nonprofit organization committed to the goal of economic self-sufficiency for all New York City women and families. Through innovative technology resources, job readiness programs, and career services, we educate and advocate for socially just public policies and opportunities that lead to the empowerment of women. As such, the Women’s Center has provided over 40,000 women with the tools to succeed in today’s economy. Through the Self-Sufficiency Program, the Women’s Center provides technical support to organizations, institutions, and other advocates working to eradicate poverty in New York City. The 2014 NYC Self-Sufficiency Standard charts what it costs to live, work, and make ends meet in New York City and will be used to better understand issues of income adequacy, to analyze policy, and to help individuals striving for self-sufficiency. The 2014 report includes a demographic study that documents how many NYC families are above and below the Standard.

About City Harvest

Founded in 1982 as the world’s first food rescue organization, City Harvest ( is dedicated to helping feed the more than 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger. City Harvest will collect 50 million pounds of excess food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries, manufacturers, and farms, and deliver it free of charge to more than 500 community food programs across the city this year. In addition to helping meet the immediate need for food, City Harvest takes a long-term approach to fighting hunger by partnering with residents, local organizations and businesses through Healthy Neighborhoods programs which increase the availability of affordable fruits and vegetables in low-income communities and provide the nutrition education and resources to maintain a wholesome, food-secure diet. Visit to learn more.

About The New York Community Trust

Since 1924, The New York Community Trust has been the home of charitable New Yorkers who share a passion for the City and its suburbs—and who are committed to improving them. The Trust supports an array of effective nonprofits that help make the City a vital and secure place to live, learn, work, and play, while building permanent resources for the future. The New York Community Trust ended 2013 with assets of $2.4 billion in more than 2,000 charitable funds, and made grants totaling $141 million. The Trust welcomes new donors. Information at