Via Michael Appleton/ Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr
If the federal government shutdown continues into March, the city will lose $500 million monthly, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Thursday. Without funding for federally funded government programs, more than two million New Yorkers could lose access to vital benefits, including food stamps, Section 8 vouchers, and public school lunch. The shutdown, now the longest in history, began last month after Congress failed to reach an appropriations deal and as President Donald Trump refuses to withdraw his request for a $5.6 billion border wall.
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If you are a single New Yorker earning $58,450 or less per year, you fall under the low income category, according to 2018 estimates released last month by the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD). These income limits are established by the government to help figure out if residents are eligible for subsidized and affordable housing. Even though the median family income in NYC and its surrounding area slightly increased this year to $70,300 from $66,200 in 2017, the high cost of living continues to place a significant burden on New Yorkers (h/t Curbed NY).
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For the first time in two years, New York City this week began issuing new Section 8 vouchers, which serve as a rental subsidy for lower-income families. The new vouchers come after the city’s Housing Authority got a boost in funding from the federal government, allowing the authority to dole out 6,200 additional vouchers, according to amNY. Now, NYCHA has started calling possible tenants on its over 100,000-person waitlist and has already distributed 35 vouchers. The city oversees the largest Section 8 program in the country, with roughly 90,000 vouchers currently issued.
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Can anyone, at any income level, justify and sustain paying 80+ percent of their income on rent? Obviously not. According to the Housing and Urban Development website, “If a household pays more more than 30 percent of its gross income on rent and utilities it is considered rent-burdened.” Despite HUD’s claim, amNY highlighted two NYC renters in Section 8 housing who spend over 80 percent of their income on rent. The housing policies peg their rent to their income. Robert Rodriguez, who has lived in his Upper West Side apartment for 41 years and filed a lawsuit last June against the city, now pays a whopping 86 percent of his income in rent. Adding to the problems, on Wednesday HUD Secretary Ben Carson proposed massive changes, which would triple rent for the poorest households and make it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.
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