NYC Affordability Challenges Spread Beyond Housing

Although when the word “affordability” comes up in New York City it is typically assumed to be about the topic of housing, more and more it has extended beyond housing to the overall cost of living, forcing everyday people to leave. A scientific poll — The Unheard Third — conducted by the Community Service Society of New York (CSS) in partnership with Lake Research Partners for more than two decades to hear from New Yorkers, especially low-income New Yorkers about their living situations. The results of this year’s poll reveal that moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers, which are mostly employed and often earning between $62,000 and $128,000 for a family of two adults and two children, are facing increasing financial hardships, owing mainly to the high cost of living in New York City. There are well-known official metrics to capture the challenges for extreme poverty and extreme wealth, however, the financial challenges confronting moderate-income families often fall between the cracks of both extremes. The disturbing new pattern has prompted a push for a “True Cost of Living Measure” that considers all well-known expenses such as housing, childcare, transportation, debt, and taxes. This year, the City of New York is mandated to develop a true cost-of-living measurement that must take all New Yorkers into account, a measure that is supported by 81% of the NYC electorate.