UPTOWN INEQUALITY

We have the details on a sobering report on racial inequality and income disparity in uptown Manhattan.

Aired on October 8, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> INEQUALITY BETWEEN RACIAL AND ETHNIC GROUPS IN TERMS OF HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION IS OFTEN GREATER IN NORTHERN MANHATTAN THAN IT IS CITYWIDE.

CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR CHILDREN OF NEW YORK, A NONPROFIT CHILDRENS ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION, IS PROPOSING COMMUNITY DRIVEN SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE THE WELL-BEING OF THE 500,000 RESIDENTS AND 90,000 CHILDREN IN NORTHERN MANHATTAN.

AND JOINING US TO TALK AS PART OF OUR ONGOING INITIATIVE CHASING THE DREAM, POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA, IS JENNIFER MARCH, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR CERTAIN.

JENNIFER, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

JENNIFER, WHAT IS THE PRINCIPAL MISSION OF THE ORGANIZATION?

SO CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR CHILDREN ARE OFTEN REFERRED TO AT CCC IS TO ENSURE EVERY CHILD IS HEALTHY AND EDUCATED AND SAFE.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO FOCUS ON NORTHERN MANHATTAN, AND WHAT IS NORTHERN MANHATTAN?

SO NORTHERN MANHATTAN INCLUDES WEST HARLEM, CENTRAL HARLEM AND WASHINGTON HEIGHTS.

AND WE CHOSE TO FOCUS OUR REPORT ON THIS DISTRICT BECAUSE WE HAVE A LARGE DATA SET CALLED KEEPING TRACK OF NEW YORK CITY'S CHILDREN.

AND WE LOOK AT THE DATA ACROSS DIFFERENT IMPORTANT DOMAINS, ECONOMIC SECURITY, HOUSING, HEALTH, EDUCATION, YOUTH AND FAMILY AND COMMUNITY.

WE SEE THAT NORTHERN MANHATTAN RANKS VERY HIGH RISK FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.

ALL RIGHT.

WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE NEEDS THAT ARE SHARED OVERALL IN NORTHERN MANHATTAN.

BUT LET'S FOCUS ON EACH OF WHAT YOU CALL THE COMMUNITY DISTRICTS.

TALK ABOUT -- WILL YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNIQUE NEEDS OF EACH OF THOSE DISTRICTS?

IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, WHAT'S A UNIQUE NEED IS SOCIAL ISOLATION THAT'S DRIVEN BY IMMIGRATION STATUS.

WE HAVE HIGHER RATES OF ADULTS WITH LIMITED ENGLISH ABILITY.

AND REALLY CONCERNS GIVEN THE NATIONAL CLIMATE AROUND IMMIGRATION ABOUT SEEKING SERVICES.

SO THAT'S ONE PARTICULAR UNIQUE NEED TO WASHINGTON HEIGHTS.

IN CENTRAL HARLEM AND WEST HARLEM, WHAT WE'RE SEEING IS LARGER THAN AVERAGE SHARES OF ADULT HOUSEHOLDS, HEADS THAT LACK A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA AND WHO ARE REALLY STUCK IN EMPLOYMENT SECTORS WHERE WAGE GROWTH IS LIMITED.

SO SPEAKING MORE BROADLY, YOU KNOW, HOW DOES THE POVERTY RATE OF NORTHERN MANHATTAN GENERALLY COMPARE TO THE POVERTY RATE CITYWIDE?

WELL, WHAT'S INTERESTING IS THAT THERE'S BEEN A MORE DRAMATIC DECLINE IN POVERTY RATES AND CHILD POVERTY RATES IN THE DISTRICT AS A WHOLE THAN THE CITY OVERALL.

SO THE POVERTY RATE HAS DECLINED ALMOST 4% WHERE OVERALL IN THE CITY IT'S DECLINED 1% OVER THE LAST DECADE.

WHAT WE SEE, THOUGH, IS THEY ARE FAR HIGHER NUMBERS OF CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY IN THOSE DISTRICTS MEANING 60% OF CHILDREN ARE LIVING IN HOUSEHOLDS THAT EARN LESS THAN $38,000 A YEAR.

THAT'S DRAMATIC WHEN WE KNOW THE MEDIAN INCOME IN NEW YORK CITY IS ABOUT $56,000.

AND THE DROP OF THE POVERTY RATE IN NORTHERN MANHATTAN, I MEAN, I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT PARTS OF THAT, PARTICULARLY IN HARLEM, HAVE BEEN HIGHLY GENTRIFIED.

SO I'M WONDERING IF THE DROP IN POVERTY IS BECAUSE THE GENERAL POPULATION'S INCOME HAS INCREASED OR THE PEOPLE MOVING IN RAISE UP THE AVERAGE INCOME?

THAT'S EXACTLY WHY WE WANTED TO DO THIS REPORT AND ACTUALLY SPEAK TO COMMUNITY RESIDENTS AND DIRECT SERVICE PROVIDERS IN THESE DISTRICTS BECAUSE WE SAW MUCH HIGHER GROWTH IN INCOME IN THESE DISTRICTS AND LOWER RATES OF POVERTY WHICH MADE US QUESTION WHETHER OR NOT ALL RESIDENTS WERE BENEFITING FROM THAT LIFTING TIDE.

LET'S TALK ABOUT EDUCATION.

HOW DO STUDENTS FROM NORTHERN MANHATTAN PERFORM IN THE STATE MANDATED TESTS COMPARED TO STUDENTS CITYWIDE?

IT'S PARTICULARLY TROUBLING BECAUSE THEY'RE PASSING THE ESL OR ENGLISH LANGUAGE MATH AND ARTS AT RATES HALF THAT OF THE CITYWIDE AVERAGE.

SO THEIR SCHOOLS ARE REALLY POORLY RESOURCED, AND CHILDREN ARE NOT ATTAINING PASSING RATES AT THE LEVEL WE'D LIKE TO SEE.

SO AS THE REPORT SUGGESTS, IT'S NOT JUST NEEDS BUT STRENGTH IN THESE COMMUNITIES.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE INCREASING INCOME OF PARTS OF NORTHERN MANHATTAN.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER STRENGTHS THAT YOU WITNESS, THAT YOU REPORT?

I THINK WHAT THE REPORT AND WHAT OUR PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH PROCESS DEMONSTRATED IS THAT COMMUNITY MEMBERS, PARENTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE, ARE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THINKING ABOUT HOW TO STRENGTHEN THEIR COMMUNITIES.

THERE'S A LARGE, VERY ROBUST HUMAN SERVICE, SOCIAL SERVICE INFRASTRUCTURE AND HEALTH CARE INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE DISTRICT.

BEAUTIFUL PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS, AND THAT THERE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE AND PARENTS THAT ARE ACTIVELY TRYING TO THINK ABOUT HOW TO ACCESS THE SERVICES THAT THEY NEED TO BE UPWARDLY MOBILE, TO SUCCEED IN SCHOOL AND IN THE WORKFORCE.

AND OUR CHALLENGE IS THE NEEDS ARE GREAT, AND WE NEEDED TO HELP THINK THROUGH HOW THEIR LOCAL ADVOCACY CAN BE INFORMED BY DATA AND HOW WE ENSURE THE CITY OF NEW YORK IS PAYING ATTENTION TO THESE TRENDS AND MAKING SURE THAT SERVICES ARE CONVENIENT, ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE FOR THOSE THAT NEED THEM MOST.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS REPORT?

WELL, I HOPE WE -- MULTIPLE THINGS.

THE PROCESS WAS A YEAR-LONG PROCESS OF TALKING TO PEOPLE THAT LIVE AND WORK IN THE COMMUNITIES THAT WE WERE FOCUSED ON.

AND WE HOPE THAT THAT PROCESS HAS CREATED NEW RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH WHICH PEOPLE CAN EXPLORE COLLABORATIVE SERVICE MODELS AND ADVOCACY AT THE VERY LOVELY LEVEL.

AND WE'RE HOPING THE REPORT INFORMS OUR OWN ADVOCACY OF CITYWIDE INITIATIVES WHO MAKE INSURE ADDICTION PREVENSION RESOURCES ARE IN PLACE, NEW MODELS OF CHILD CARE AND OTHER THINGS THAT HELP PARENTS LIVE, WORK AND RAISE THEIR FAMILIES HERE.

JENNIFER, THANKS.

GOOD LUCK TO YOUR ORGANIZATION AND TO YOU.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANKS FOR HAVING US.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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