About This Event

•At present, in New York City, for every 100 households classified as “extremely low-income,” just 14 units of affordable housing are available. Federal housing policy has never fully met the demand. Today, only one fifth of America’s 22 million eligible households in extreme poverty actually receives assistance. Access to affordable housing has become a lottery—and, with the 2018 budget, deep cuts are imminent. In other words, the situation is about to get much worse. New York City stands at the top of the list in this crisis: Lack of housing is already the leading driver of poverty in our City. RIVER FUND’s response starts now! Please join us at this milestone event and help us launch our most powerful poverty combat endeavor yet.

The home-challenge must be answered.

•It’s bad enough that one in every seven elementary school children in New York City is living in a shelter, and even worse that 20% of our high-schoolers are homeless. These are the very ones our society is counting on to break their family’s multigenerational cycle of poverty. We all want them to excel so that they can get into college or trade school. How can we expect such performance of these kids when they have no place to study? No stability. No home.

As painful as it is for us to admit that we have far too many children documented as homeless by City officials, they are still just a small part of the total number of children affected by the overall problem. Housing has become so unaffordable in New York City, that families are now forced to “double-up” and “triple-up”—both official expressions that show how the organic family has all but disappeared for some two thirds of our City’s population. Most households are now a mix of parents and children, uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws and grandparents—all crowded into a single apartment.

Six years ago, in 2012, the average family size served by the RIVER FUND was 1.8 members. Today, that average is 3.7—more than double! Back then, a household with more than six members was rare. Now, every month, we meet dozens of families with ten or more members. The challenges of living in poverty, which have always existed, are now compounded by the fact that support programs for elderly seniors to “age comfortably in place” have been reduced to useless levels by legislative cuts.

Here is where our new battle begins... It requires new tactics.

•As things now stand—with grandparents, uncles and aunts ‘doubling- and tripling-up’ with their families, young people in these households are delivering the bulk of all eldercare services in the home. Why? Like every other form of housing in New York City, there is simply not enough Senior Supportive Housing for the elderly. But, these seniors still need care every day. As a result, the kids in the home have become the main caregivers. Families cannot afford to sacrifice any of the parents’ income, so children must rush home—or even skip school—to feed, bathe, dress and/or take their grandparents to doctors’ appointments. There’s no time to study, attend after-school programs, go to the library, or get help from tutors and mentors—even if it’s free! If the children are old enough to work, there’s additional pressure to help the family carry the costs associated with housing, feeding and paying for the utilities used by their oversized household.

The way our society is treating the elderly is having the side-effect of sabotaging the children’s ability to break the cycle of poverty. By exacerbating the plight of poor families who are struggling under a load that our social structures normally bear for more affluent families, the rapid expansion of multigenerational poverty into the next generation is practically guaranteed—and with each passing day, our young people are losing hope.

Let's pour our hearts into breaking the cycle of hopelessness.

•This year marks a milestone for the RIVER FUND: We are seeing that the three traditional channels of our Family-by-Family Advancement Model—Food Access, Benefits Access and Cradle to College—are no longer sufficient to break the cycle of poverty. We are the largest food-distribution program in New York City—both in terms of people served and volume of product distributed. We also enroll and recertify more families in the benefits and services that they’re eligible for than any other community site in our City. Our Cradle to College Initiative is unique in New York: No other program accepts kids while they’re still in the womb, or at whatever age they come to us—and then supports them, year-round, all the way through school, into college or trade school, and through graduation into above-average gainful employment.

As comprehensive as our poverty-combat approach has been—compared to other experiments that have been tried over the past three decades of escalating poverty—the situation in New York City has reached the point where housing is absolutely the new battle line.

RIVER FUND must fight for the home front.

Taking Poverty Personally--person by person... that's how we fight poverty, here on the frontlines.

© 2012 The River Fund New York - All Rights Reserved