De Blasio’s “Reversing the Two New Yorks” should focus on urban families
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
During newly-elected Mayor +Bill de Blasio January 17, 2014 speech on the proposed changes to the paid sick leave policy he stated that, "1 out of 4 families in New York City shelters have at least one working parent." While campaigning last fall he referenced Charles Dickens' 1959 novel, A Tale of Two Cities, saying New York City is the quintessential example of extreme economic disparity. Currently, New York City consists of two types of residents, the haves and have-nots. For de Blasio to accomplish his goals for the city, he will have to make rebuilding the family structure, especially those in urban communities, a top priority. Families need a lot of support and assistance in New York City. Economic security is a mere dream to many New Yorkers. While this new sick leave policy will help, there is a long way to go in stabilizing urban families.
According to Citydata.com, a family of four in New York City would need to earn between $91, 465 and $211, 645 for a moderate living. One can comfortably speculate that the average bureaucrat or private sector worker isn’t even making half of these numbers aforementioned. Families are slipping further into debt and poverty, losing the fight to maintain a decent lifestyle. The city also has one of the highest costs of living in the country, in the world for that matter, making it difficult for working parents, in a stagnant wage city, to live comfortably and escape poverty.
Under these circumstances, some families have left New York altogether seeking more affordable living in other states. This city is in jeopardy of fully dismantling the family structures in urban communities, which will result in an even more devastating downward spiral for the communities these families reside in. Adding to the city’s familial dilemma is the single parenthood factor. Thirty six percent of single parents live in New York City according to the +Annie E. Casey Foundation , many falling below the poverty level. It is a tough task that the mayor needs to embark on but he really has no choice.
A +New York Times article recently highlighted that 31% percent of children 17 and younger have fell below the poverty line, indicating that poor and working class parents, especially in these urban areas, are having a very difficult time making ends meet. Job training programs should solely target the working poor and unemployed to provide them skills to rise into the working class. De-blasio will also have to continue to fight for public assistance programs: food stamp, WIC, and Medicaid, increase funding for qualifying working parents and simplify the requirements to qualify for such programs. Continuing on with former Mayor Bloomberg’s Young Mens Initiative, to prevent young boys from premature fatherhood or help in preparing them for pending fatherhood is also productive. Childcare, another major factor and complaint for working parents, must seriously and urgently be addressed. Working on more quality government child care facilities and providing more subsidies for working parents making under $120,000 combined will financially relieve a lot of the burden and gives these parents extra finances to save or be spent elsewhere. De Blasio can also support lobbyist who advocate for increasing the minimum wage. It is more pertinent in costly cities like New York City for families to live comfortably.
New York City’s working parents living in lower socioeconomic areas shouldn’t have to fear how they are going to house, feed, clothe and properly educate their children. This is an injustice to responsible parents who work hard and honestly to provide for their children. Why should working parents constantly struggle to keep their heads above water while more affluent parents can effortlessly provide their children with the best housing, education and culture that the city has to offer? For this city to truly be on its path of living equality targeting families and their well being is the best way to go. Having a family, for most human beings is inevitable, even in New York City. This great city has succeeded because of individuals that have started families here, invested in communities and helped to uplift New York to its great worldly status.