A new report has found that 60% of New Yorkers could face eviction, foreclosure, or homelessness in the event of a lost job, medical emergency, or similar crisis due to a lack of emergency savings.
Since the 2008 economic crisis, most Americans have seen little of Obama’s much-touted economic “recovery” in their personal lives. Considering that the so-called “recovery” involved printing millions of dollars that went directly into the pockets of the same bankers who created the crisis itself, it’s not surprising that many Americans still find themselves struggling. Throughout the nation, many families are struggling just to get by, especially in areas were wages remain stagnant and the cost of living and housing continues to climb. Many American cities are a microcosm of this larger phenomenon, perhaps none more so than New York City. However, a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development has found that nearly 60% of New Yorkers are just one paycheck away from homelessness, showing that the economic strain felt by average Americans continues to worsen.
The report found that a majority of New Yorkers lack the money necessary to cover their costs in the event of a lost job, medical emergency, or any other crisis that could bring unforeseen expenses. Due to a lack of emergency savings or, in many cases, any savings at all, nearly 60% would be unable to cover three months’ worth of household expenses such as food and rent in the event of a disaster. Yet, like many urban centers in the United States, the economic struggle is not evenly shared by the five boroughs that compose the country’s most famous city.
The Bronx had the highest rate of families without adequate savings at 75%. In contrast, those living on Staten Island had the lowest rate of families with insufficient savings at 41%. These at-risk families could face eviction, foreclosure, or homelessness if unable to make their housing payments, even for just one month. Part of this has been aggravated by a tendency among New York landlords to claim “chronic rent delinquency” if only one payment is made late, leading to an unnecessary increase in eviction proceedings which have affected many hard-working yet struggling families. Another issue is that very few people who participated in the study knew where to get emergency rental assistance, a federal program that can help prevent them from falling too far behind on rent payments. Some city legislators have proposed increasing rental assistance services, such as Queens Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi who has been pushing for a $450 million increase in funding for the program. However, the costly program is not a sustainable solution to such a widespread problem.
A survey conducted by Bankrate.com last year found that this problem is indeed nationwide. The survey found that 62% of Americans have absolutely no emergency savings for medical emergencies, car repairs, or similar events and would not be able to financially cope with such events were they to occur. In addition, a 2014 survey conducted by the US Federal Reserve found that 57% of Americans who had savings prior to 2008 used it all up in the economic crisis and its aftermath. At that time, less than half of Americans had even a few hundred dollars in savings to cover any unforeseen expense. Just as troubling, half of Americans can’t even afford the very homes they live in and a majority of Americans are also crippled by debt. As of 2015, Americans were 40% poorer than they were before the crisis in 2007.
Yet, while Americans have continued to feel the pinch from the so-called “Great Recession,” US banks, which caused the crisis, have been posting record profits and the stock market continues to hit record highs. That’s because the 2008 crisis, like all other economic crises before it, are wealth transfers. During a crisis, the money or wealth doesn’t disappear, it just changes hands, frequently ending up in the pockets of elite insiders who knew the crisis was on the horizon. Now, in 2016, only 62 people now control half of the world’s wealth while the majority of the world’s population has been forced to cope with austerity, poverty, drought, and other devastating crises. The question has now become, will Americans wait until they are all homeless before telling the banks enough is enough?
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