Listen to the Unheard Third

When it comes to affordable housing in New York, the pool is getting smaller and smaller.

A report issued by the Community Service Society, CSS, this week bring this point home.

The report focuses on what CSS calls the “unheard third” — adults over 18 living in low-income households and with salaries that are twice below the federal poverty threshold.

In New York City, the unheard third is at 1.7 million and accounts for 34% of the voting population for next November’s general election. Of the 1.7 million, 34% are Latinos, which will make them a crucial group that could decide the next mayor.

The mayoral candidates must develop detailed plans to quickly improve the housing situation of low-income New Yorkers. CSS has put the problems, measures and solutions in black and white. Now is the time for the would-be mayors to make the most of the information.

Among CSS’s recommendations are raising the minimum wage, developing an inflation index so that we have a better sense of real-time expenses and improving labor laws in ways that benefit employees. CSS also recommends expand any affordable housing plan to middle-class families so as to create a “trickle down” that helps low-income households.

Michael Bloomberg introduced a housing plan to develop 38,670 units. But of the units the city was able to develop, only 8% were made available to 40% of the households that earned less than the average income in the metropolitan area.

During the campaign, the candidates will try to earn the support of voters. So they must address this crisis in real terms for those struggling to maintain a roof over their heads.