NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The likely Democratic mayoral nominee is using some new census data to back up his “tale of two cities” campaign theme.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, Bill de Blasio’s narrative about a tale of two cities seems to have gotten a boost from a U.S. Census Bureau report.
“It’s very bad news,” de Blasio said at a labor breakfast in Harlem on Thursday. “So I will keep talking about the tale of two cities because it must be talked about if we’re going to fix it.”
New numbers for 2012 show the city’s poverty rate is rising.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others have called de Blasio’s theme divisive.
“It’s never divisive to acknowledge people’s pain and suffering,” said the presumptive Democratic nominee.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey shows the median household income stayed flat from 2011 to 2012. The survey also showed the income gap has continued to grow.
A recent estimate shows the mayor’s net worth has ballooned to $31 billion.
“I think the mayor has never understood what the everyday struggling New Yorker is going through,” de Blasio said. “People all over the city are having more and more trouble making ends meet.”
The census figures show 1.7 million New Yorkers – 21.2 percent of residents – live below the poverty line.
“There is a big tale of two cities and this is what’s causing a lot of crime, to be honest,” Manhattan resident Mark Pruitt told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “It makes us very depressed. It’s hard to live out here now, it’s not anything like it was 20 years ago.”
Pruitt lives in the Amsterdam Houses, a NYCHA project near the luxury high-rises around Lincoln Center, Sandberg reported.
“The disparity between the wealthy and the lower class, of course there is some resentment at times,” another Amsterdam Houses resident said.
One man told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock that he was doing everything he could to make ends meet.
“I work odds and ends jobs. Make a little money here and there,” Robert Darienzo said.
Community Service Society of New York President David Jones called the numbers problematic.
“We’re three years into recovery with great gains on the stock market and we still see persistent levels of poverty in New York which are well above the national average,” he said.
The bottom 20-percent of the city earned just under $9,000 according to the latest reports. The top 5-percent brought in roughly $400,000.
Jones said that the problem was not just for the poor.
“It means the hwole city is gonna have to be dealing with the problem of too many people who can’t afford the basic requirements of life,” he explained.
The poverty problem has impacted hard working people.
“The security guard or car wash worker. These are really hard working people,” Jones said.
But New York City Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar called the numbers misleading.
“This number does not count the things we do to shore up low income earners. Food stamp benefits, earned income tax credit,” he said.
De Blasio said as mayor, he’d work to find the tools to help those in need.
Joe Lhota won the Republican mayoral nomination in last week’s primary against billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis.
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