Jul 22, 2021 Press Release

Robin Hood, The Century Foundation, and Next100 Release Bold Policy Agenda for Next Mayoral Administration to Fight Poverty in New York City

FILE - This May 8, 2008, file photo shows blank checks on an idle press at the Philadelphia Regional Financial Center, which disburses payments on behalf of federal agencies, in Philadelphia. The IRS is delaying tax refunds for millions of low-income families as the agency steps up efforts to combat identity theft and fraud. Starting in 2017, a federal law requires the tax agency to delay refunds until Feb. 15 for people who claim the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit. The IRS says processing times will delay most of the refunds until the end of February. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Agenda includes comprehensive solutions spanning education, child care, housing, human services, the economy, and policing; Features new polling and impact estimates

NEW YORK, NY Robin Hood, The Century Foundation, and Next100 today released “From Crisis to Opportunity: A Policy Agenda for an Equitable NYC.” The policy agenda provides a blueprint for the incoming mayoral administration to rebuild a new New York City by reducing poverty, ensuring a more equitable and sustainable recovery from COVID-19, and putting in place policies to proactively tackle long standing inequities. The agenda provides comprehensive policy solutions across six key issue areas: education, child care, housing, jobs and workforce development, the human services sector, and policing, with a targeted focus on uplifting low-income families and children, people of color, and immigrant New Yorkers.

Prior to the pandemic, one in five adults and one in five children—more than 1.5 million people—lived in poverty in New York City. Research from Robin Hood’s Poverty Tracker found that nearly 60% of Black and Latinx New Yorkers experienced poverty for at least one year between 2015 and 2019, twice the rate of white New Yorkers. As a result of COVID-19, nearly a quarter of renters could not pay their rent and roughly 40% of New Yorkers faced food hardship during the pandemic.

The “From Crisis to Opportunity” agenda proposes policies that range from immediate, urgent responses to acute challenges stemming from COVID-19, to longer-term structural solutions that address pre-existing inequities and which will lead to higher-quality services and jobs for New Yorkers. The report informs critical policy changes for New York City, explaining the factors that have perpetuated the city’s long cycle of poverty and offering community-informed solutions to dramatically reduce poverty rates. Many of the recommendations leverage new federal stimulus money flowing into the city and require little to no new revenue generation, yet their projected impact is substantial. New polling data conducted by Global Strategy Group, also included in this report, demonstrates overwhelming and enthusiastic support for the proposals among New Yorkers of all backgrounds.

“New York City is no stranger to crises, and as we move out of crisis mode and into recovery, we are facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild a new New York that works for all New Yorkers,” said Jason Cone, Chief Public Policy Officer at Robin Hood. “From Crisis to Opportunity offers the incoming mayoral administration a data-driven, evidence-informed, and deeply attainable poverty-fighting roadmap that reimagines our workforce development, child care, education, affordable housing, policing, and human services systems.”

The agenda was developed through a comprehensive, inclusive policy process that combined the knowledge and experiences of New York’s largest anti-poverty organization with that of two leading think tanks with a proven record of effecting policy change at all levels of government. Its recommendations were informed by a series of roundtables that provided insights from diverse New Yorkers with lived experience, local and national policy experts, and grassroots community organizations. The agenda is rooted in evidence, best practices, and lessons learned from across the country, including data from Robin Hood’s pioneering Poverty Tracker, a longitudinal survey of 4,000 New York City households that provides a dynamic view of poverty, hardship, and disadvantage.

“The problems facing our city in a post-COVID environment are vast, but so too are the opportunities that the next mayor has to tackle systemic inequities that the pandemic exacerbated,” said Emma Vadehra, Next100 Executive Director and TCF Senior Fellow. “This agenda is a true New Yorker’s agenda, addressing the issues most pressing to residents, informed by their lived experiences, and supported by people from every corner of the city and walk of life. It is a holistic plan that will advance racial and economic justice while helping New York families move and stay out of poverty. In short, it is a roadmap to finally build the city that New York aspires to be.”

This policy platform recommends multiple policy interventions to comprehensively lift New Yorkers out of poverty across six key focus areas. Some of the highlights include:

Child Care

Child care is unaffordable for the majority of New York City families, especially for those with children under age four. The COVID-19 pandemic upended an already fragile child care system, leaving families scrambling to make child care arrangements and forcing parents and child care workers out of their jobs. This platform puts families back on their feet with policies that seek to restore New York City’s child care supply, ensure that every family unable to afford child care assistance can receive it, and that children have equitable access to high quality child care and early learning experiences. According to researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy, our child care recommendations would decrease the poverty rate for children under age three in New York City by five to eight percent.


Even before COVID-19, New York City’s education system offered inequitable opportunities that resulted in inequitable outcomes for students, especially for Black, Latinx, and multilingual learners, students with disabilities, and those experiencing homelessness. The pandemic and school closures have worsened these inequities. This platform aims to support school-age children getting back on track through expanded high-impact tutoring and acceleration academies, greater emphasis on high-quality, culturally relevant instructional materials, expanded mental health and social emotional support, and more diverse learning and career opportunities for students.

Economy & Jobs

New York City lost more than half a million jobs during the pandemic. This agenda proposes a new wage subsidy program that would promote the speedy rehiring of 30,000 New Yorkers—and at least 24,000 New Yorkers of color—and help thousands of impacted small businesses reopen. In total, it will empower 150,000 workers who have been permanently displaced by the pandemic to find new and better paying jobs.


New York City’s decades-long housing crises have only intensified in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent economic fallout. More than a quarter of all New Yorkers missed at least one rental payment since March 2020, and when eviction moratoria expire, the city risks a massive uptick in evictions and homelessness. This agenda expands eligibility for the city’s main rental assistance program (CityFHEPS) and expands other eviction prevention programs like Right to Counsel and One-Shot-Deal to promote housing stability for New Yorkers and their children.


In New York City, communities with the highest poverty rates are also among those with the highest incarceration rates, and are disproportionately communities of color. This platform calls for public investment in community-driven prevention programs to end violence and crime, tackling the school-to-prison pipeline, and greater oversight and accountability of racially-biased police practices.

Human Services

Nonprofit organizations are responsible for the vast majority of the city’s social services. New York City cannot reduce poverty, expand economic mobility, and improve equity if the organizations that support low-income communities do not have the resources they need. This agenda seeks to overhaul how and when our vital nonprofits are contracted, paid, and included in future disaster and recovery planning, including recommending a wage floor of $21 an hour for the sector’s predominantly female and Black and Latinx workforce.

The full policy agenda can be found here.

About Robin Hood

Robin Hood has been fighting poverty in New York City since 1988. Because Robin Hood’s board covers all overhead, 100% of every donation goes directly to the poverty fight. Last year, Robin Hood awarded $172 million in grants, filling a critical void during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing cash assistance, meals, housing, healthcare, education, and other urgent needs to one million New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19, as well as funding an array of programs and initiatives developed to elevate families out of poverty in New York City. Follow the organization on Twitter @RobinHoodNYC and learn more at www.robinhood.org.

About The Century Foundation

The Century Foundation (TCF) is a progressive, independent think tank that conducts research, develops solutions, and drives policy change to make people’s lives better. We pursue economic, racial, and gender equity in education, health care, and work, and promote U.S. foreign policy that fosters international cooperation, peace, and security. TCF is based in New York, with an office in Washington, D.C. Follow the organization on Twitter at @TCFdotorg and learn more at www.tcf.org.

About Next100Next100 is a startup think tank for and by a new generation of policy leaders, based in New York City. It is built as a different type of “think and do” tank, empowering new types of policy leaders to drive change in new ways. The organization aims to make the policymaking space more inclusive of diverse, next generation voices by helping emerging leaders translate their creative ideas into tangible policy change and piloting new approaches to policy talent development and policy development and implementation. Next100 is powered by The Century Foundation. Follow the organization on Twitter at @theNext100 and learn more at www.thenext100.org.