New report from Robin Hood reveals direct cash aid acted as a lifeline for millions of New Yorkers during pandemic



NEW YORK, Oct.6, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Today, Robin Hood, in collaboration with Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy, Columbia Population Research Center and Vicki Lens of Hunter College – CUNY, released their latest report Poverty Tracker that shows how the direct cash payments provided by the CARES Act, including stimulus payments and expanded unemployment insurance benefits, helped New Yorkers cope during the COVID-19 pandemic .

This new qualitative report, “Spotlight On Direct Cash Benefits during the Pandemic”, builds on preliminary findings from another Poverty Tracker report, predicting that cash benefits and government transfers, including those provided by the CARES Act , lifted a million New Yorkers out of poverty. in 2020 and prevented a much greater increase in poverty than New York City would have seen without these policy interventions.

These qualitative results provide a detailed look at how cash benefits have helped New Yorkers make ends meet amid unprecedented unemployment.

Even though 49% of all workers and 57% of low-wage workers in New York City lost employment income during the COVID-19 pandemic, preliminary estimates show that policy interventions based on the moneys mitigated a historic increase in New York City’s poverty rate.

The report finds that cash assistance was primarily used to cover basic needs, such as rent, mortgage payments, utilities and food. Once basic needs were met, New Yorkers used cash assistance to bolster their overall financial health, either by paying off their credit card debts or boosting their savings to help ease future economic shocks. And while some have questioned whether cash assistance has acted as a deterrent at work, this data revealed that finding work remains a priority for underemployed New Yorkers, with many looking beyond their occupations and typical areas.

“Direct cash payments provided New Yorkers with a lifeline, keeping millions of New Yorkers fed, housed and safe as people continued to look for work during an evolving pandemic,” said Richard R . Buery, Jr. CEO of Robin Hood. “Our data from Poverty Tracker shows not only that government policies and cash assistance have helped prevent a massive increase in poverty in New York City, but also dispel a disturbing myth suggesting that direct cash assistance was a deterrence for returning to work. In fact, the dilemma most unemployed New Yorkers faced was the question of when and how, not if, to return to work. This report demonstrates the power of direct cash payments, providing people with dignity and empowerment while serving as a prudent tool to fight poverty. “

“Our study demonstrates the resilience and financial management skills of suddenly jobless New Yorkers, who have used their UI benefits and stimulus payments to secure their current and even future economic survival while seeking a way to go back to work, “said Vicki Lens, professor. of Social Work at Hunter College – CUNY and Principal Investigator on this report.

Since 2012, the Poverty Tracker has surveyed a representative sample of New Yorkers every three months, providing essential information on the dynamics of poverty and other forms of disadvantage in the city while tracking employment data, assets and debts, and health. The Poverty Tracker has been monitoring the impacts COVID-19 and the associated economic downturn have had on life in New York City since the start of the pandemic. The results discussed in this report come from a series of qualitative interviews conducted between June 2020 and May 2021.

You can read the highlights and the full report here.

About Robin Hood:

Robin Hood has been fighting poverty in New York since 1988. Since Robin Hood’s board of directors covers all overhead costs, 100% of every donation goes directly to poverty reduction. Robin Hood last year awarded $ 172 million in grants, filling a critical void during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing cash assistance, meals, shelter, health care, education and support. other urgent needs of one million New Yorkers affected by COVID-19, such as funding for a range of programs and initiatives developed to lift families out of poverty in New York. Follow the organization on Twitter @RobinHoodNYC and learn more at

About the Center for Poverty and Social Policy (CPSP): The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia School of Social Work conducts cutting-edge research to advance our understanding of poverty and the role of social policy in reducing poverty and promoting opportunity, economic security. and individual and family well-being. The Centre’s work focuses on poverty and social policy issues in New York and the United States.

About the Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC):The Columbia Population Research Center supports population health researchers at Columbia University, galvanizing new interdisciplinary and inter-campus collaborations, fostering the professional development of junior scientists, and empowering members to do more innovative and impactful work. The interests of our members encompass four main areas of research: children, youth and families; Reproductive health and HIV / AIDS; Immigration / Migration; and urban planning, with a transversal attention to inequalities and to policies aimed at reducing these inequalities.

CONTACT WITH THE MEDIA: Alaina Berner, [email protected]

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SOURCE Robin Hood



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