December 2016

Spotlight on: Why Don't Low-Income New Yorkers Seek Help?

Exploring survival fatigue and barriers to access for low-income New Yorkers in need

Contributors: Vicki Lens, Margo Nugent, and Christopher Wimer, Antonina Pavlenko

A recent study of 70 low-income households shows that only 31 have sought assistance from government, family or nonprofit agencies. Even when hardships are severe, many low-income families and individuals do not effectively utilize resources from public agencies and private nonprofits. Interviewees identify multiple barriers to accessing critical resources, including a lack of knowledge about nonprofits, “survival fatigue” or the stress and strain of living with scarcity, and the stigma and loss of pride over not being able to care for self or family. Those who cannot overcome these barriers to get the help they need experience escalating hardship and poverty.