The Post-Pandemic Future of NYC Through the Eyes of Low-Income New Yorkers

Eighteen months since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City is slowly rebounding from the economic devastation. While the city’s current unemployment rate of 10.5 percent[1] is down from the May 2020 peak of 20 percent, it’s still twice the national average of 5.4 percent, and the city has gained back fewer than half the jobs it lost since February 2020. Furthermore, the city continues to experience a steady rise in coronavirus cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, and vaccination rates remain too low to prevent community spread. Many tenants continue to struggle with unpaid rent, owing an estimated total debt of $2.2 billion citywide.[2] While the $2.7 billion federally-funded Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was designed to provide relief to tenants who have fallen behind on their rent, the program has distributed aid to less than 5 percent of applicants since it launched in June.[3]


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