A new state report has found both economic progress and persistent problems in the Bronx.
In the “Economic Snapshot of the Bronx” report released July 11, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office reviewed 16 economic indicators that included economic development and the borough’s housing stock.
But in a trolley tour of the borough with DiNapoli, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. put a positive spin on it.
“What the report reflects is that the Bronx’s tough days are behind us,” said Diaz.
Overall, the Bronx withstood lesser damage to 2007’s Great Recession, far better than the country and New York City, according to the report.
Other key findings included:
•A 26% jump in the number of businesses in the Bronx between 1990 and 2011.
•A 75% drop in major crime since 1990.
•An 18% increase in the number of Bronx residents, contributing to its 1.4 million population.
•More big chain stores headed to the Bronx.
•Average private sector-salary of $43,610, better than Brooklyn and Staten Island.
•A gain of 15,300 jobs, with private-sector jobs growing 7.7% between 2007-12
One Step Forward Two Steps Back
But even as the borough continues its rebranding campaign by luring big businesses, their success is countered by what the report featured as a lack of cheaper housing, more folks on public assistance, and high number of shelters scattered about the borough.
To bring those numbers down, Diaz Jr. said he wants to convince big businesses to offer higher salaries.
But he especially took umbrage to the Bloomberg administration’s homeless policy, which has crammed more shelters into the Bronx with virtually zero notice to Bronx officials. There are now 142 shelters in the Bronx, the most in the city.
“We think it’s totally disrespectful,” said Diaz. “What they wind up doing is rarely notify community boards or elected officials.”
Diaz suggested a more equitable approach to fixing the issue: evenly distributing shelters instead of placing them in predominantly poorer neighbors.
But the poverty trend is also seen in the borough’s unemployment figures, which have remained in double-digit territory for the past several years.
“We’re not saying life is perfect and the job is done,” said Diaz. “We’re saying please look at the Bronx for what it is today and stop reporting the negative.”
DiNapoli agreed, seeing the borough’s constant work to improvement as ongoing.
“There is still work to be done,” said DiNapoli. “But the Bronx is moving in a positive direction.”
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383