A new report shows that 20 percent of Jewish households in the New York metropolitan area are poor, a figure only marginally lower than the rate in the general population.
The report released Thursday by UJA-Federation of New York found more than 560,000 people living in 200,000 poor or near-poor Jewish households, a figure that represents a doubling of the number of people living in poor Jewish households since 1991, despite only a 14 percent increase in the Jewish population. The report also found nearly half of children in Jewish households live in poor or near-poor conditions.
Among all residents of the New York area, some 25 percent live in poor households, the report said.
“The sheer scale of Jewish poverty in the New York area is immense, and the Jewish community has a sacred responsibility to care for those in need,” said John Ruskay, UJA-Federation’s executive vice president and CEO.
The report found that the largest group of poor Jewish households in New York is Russian-speaking seniors, followed by Hasidim and non-Russian-speaking seniors.
Though the report acknowledges that contemporary American poverty does not typically result in “extreme deprivation,” it does note that 14 percent of poor and 9 percent of near-poor say they cannot make ends meet.
“In the most affluent society in history, this should not be acceptable,” the report said.
The report defines poor households as those earning less than 150 percent of the 2010 federal poverty guideline.