In its latest report, the census bureau says the Bronx continues to be the poorest urban county in the nation.
More and more individuals and families are headed to soup kitchens and food pantries in the Bronx because they just can’t make ends meet. The newly released American Community Survey for 2008 says more than 380,000 Bronx residents, which works out to be more than a quarter of the borough’s population, live below the federal poverty line.
“It is hard, my husband just got unemployed and unemployment is rough getting by and I am unemployed,” said one Bronx resident.
The survey was done by the US census bureau and found that 18 percent of all city residents lived below the federal poverty line of $17,600 a year for a family of three last year. The Bronx led the way with 27.6 percent of its residents living at poverty level.
In Brooklyn, the figure was 21.1 percent, while Manhattan came in at 16.9 percent, Queens at 12.1 percent and Staten Island at 10 percent.
Advocates for the poor say the poverty numbers are actually higher because the homeless are not counted by the census.
“Last year, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, there were more than 110,000 people who spent at least one night in a shelter,” said Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
The report also found 26 percent of Hispanics are at poverty level – the highest of any ethnic group in the city. The Bronx and Queens are the only boroughs that saw the overall number of poor go up between 2007 and 2008. The Bronx came in with nearly 22,000 people.
“One of the reasons that is, is poor people are being pushed out of places like Manhattan and forced to relocate to the Bronx,” Berg said.
The poverty rate is troubling for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Junior who says lawmakers and industry leaders must funnel funds to the borough.
“I think the people of the Bronx have made a dollar out of fifteen cents for so many decades and they will continue to do that. But we want and are looking for government to give us a our fair share,” Diaz Junior said.
“We want programs to give us a hand up, not a hand down. If you teach us to fish, we can better put money into the economy,” said one Bronx resident.
Advocates for the poor say when the numbers from 2009 come out it’s more than likely the poverty rate will have skyrocketed because of the recession.