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July 2nd, 2014

Was This by Design or Was It by Default?

Lillie Howard

I recently stumbled upon the January 29th, 2006 Times Herald Record Report entitled "The Promised Land" and Chapter Three is entitled "By design or by default, Newburgh has become a corral for Orange County’s poor." In this report a family who was homeless stated that the Department of Social Services kept telling them that they have to go to Newburgh and that it’s Newburgh or nothing. The article states that "For years that’s been the choice faced by hundreds of families tossed into homelessness. And, for even longer, it’s been the story of Newburgh for the city asked to make room for those with nowhere else to go. The article also stated that the city has built up a $130 million economy around poverty, it’s because Newburgh has become Orange County’s repository for the poor. It’s a department store for the poor and troubled, and whether by design or default, that means lots of the region’s poor and troubled find their way to Newburgh. Taking into consideration what we see at 280 Broadway in 2014 it would lead one to believe that this was all by design. 280 Broadway houses prison release programs, some social services programs, mental health and lots more. WOW! Now that the city of Newburgh has a new vision blooming via The Greater Newburgh Partnership and the Landbank what’s going to happen now? Are all those programs for poverty going to be eventually dismantled in the city and that building returned to housing a bank? What’s up?

Also in that Promised Land Report "Newburgh by the numbers"(1) 52% of families earned less than $35,000 a year, roughly the local poverty line for a family of four; (2) 25.8% of families were earning $19,350 which was below the federal poverty line for a family of four;(3) 39% of the adult population was not in the work force. Another 5.4% were looking for work but couldn’t find it;(4) 38% of adults had no high school diploma;(5) 47% of I.C.’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families (999) lived in Newburgh;(6) In Census Tract 4 (which includes much of the East End), 81 percent of residential units were in need of significant repairs or renovation;(7) 38% of households were paying at least 35% of their income in rent;(8) 55.9% of the city’s housing was built before 1939; 17% was built since 1960;(9) Homeownership rate was 30.7% in Newburgh;(10) 12% of housing units were vacant or abandoned;(11) The city of Newburgh had a teen pregnancy rate that was three times the county’s average;(12) There were 4 commercial bank branches located in the City of Newburgh. Sources: City of Newburgh Draft HUD Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan, Orange County Department of Social Services, Census 2000, NYS Department of Labor, FDIC.

Also in this 2006 report was The Poverty Number: A $130 million economy? How did we get that number? It includes the budget of 23 non-profit health and social service agencies that are headquartered in the city; $59.8 million. It also includes money received in 2004 by several major city health providers from Medicaid, the state and federal health programs for the poor; $21.1 million. We also tallied Newburgh’s receipts from several federal public assistance programs - food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers and Temporary Aid for Needy Families-plus budgets for the city’s job training grants, Housing Authority and Youth Bureau; $10.4 million. And, for a conservative estimate of the city’s low-income rental economy, we took 57 percent of city households that earn $35,000 a year or less- roughly the local poverty line as estimated by one Orange County social service agency- and subtracted an estimated 20 per cent who own their homes. That gave us 4,155 low-income renters, at a median rent of $815 a month; $40.6 million. Add them up, and you get $131.9 million. That figure doesn’t include the social service efforts of the city’s 64 churches, nonprofits that work in the city but are based elsewhere, or the Newburgh offices of county, state or federal agencies that help the poor. (Tim Logan and John Doherty).

Wow! If all of the monies sent into this city for poverty was eliminated the city of Newburgh would go down the drain. Could this be the reason why things are kept the way that they are? The poor are the financial lifeline for the city of Newburgh and that’s why things remain the same. Is this by design or is it by default? Wow! This is Lillie’s Point of View and I’m just having my say!

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