Brooklyn second highest county with barriers to well-being: report

By Matthew Fischetti

A new report found that Kings County has the second highest overall barriers to well-being in all of the Empire State.

Commissioned by the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, the report measures well-being based on 18 different measurements which are grouped into five major “barrier clusters.” The clusters include six major categories like  housing, health, education, youth and community.

Kings County also clocked in as the second highest ranking borough in terms of burdens to housing. The housing cluster was measured by tracking how many severely rent burdened households there are (paying over 50% of income on rent), overcrowding rates and the amount of students in temporary housing. 

Brooklyn was ranked as having above average barriers in the economic security category (11th highest), education (seventh highest), and community (third highest). The only categories where Brooklyn did not rank as “above average” were in health (34th highest) and youth (20th highest.)

While Brooklyn ranked high overall in the state, most of the individual 18 indices to measure barriers to well being decreased from 2018 to 2020. The only measurement that did increase during that time span were the rates of students in temporary housing increased from 10 percent to 10.7 percent.

“Data are essential for informing meaningful actions that build a more equitable future for New York’s children, youth and families”,  Bijan Kimiagar, Associate Executive Director for Research at CCC and author of the report, said in a statement. “Our Child and Family Well-being Index for New York State highlights how barriers to well-being exist in every county across the state, and so do opportunities to overcome these barriers. By focusing where in the state families face multiple, overlapping barriers to well-being, and looking at each county’s unique set of strengths and needs, we hope to spur budget, legislative and programmatic actions to improve child and family well-being both locally and statewide.”

The report indicates support for a number of policies to alleviate the issues that Governor Hochul signaled support for in her State of the State address including indexing the minimum wage to inflation and increasing affordable housing production. But the report also argues that the state most go further and support measure such as funding universal school meals, expanding the Empire State Child Credit to increase credits for lower income families and ensure all who qualify can receive the credit.

“Our state must do more to increase incomes and combat poverty and I urge the Governor to make this a top priority in the upcoming budget,” Queens Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and Chair of the Committee on Children and Families said in a statement.

“Expanding the Empire State Tax Credit will make a real impact on the lives of New York’s families and uplift incomes. So often child welfare involvement begins not because of abuse or neglect but due to poverty. Uplifting incomes will keep children out of the child welfare system, prevent family separations, and prevent generational trauma,” he continued.

Overall, the report found that the Bronx had the greatest overall barriers while Saratago County has the fewest barriers overall. 

The Citizens Committee for Children of New York is a nonprofit that studies childhood welfare throughout the state and releases the report annually.