A recent report from Bloomberg revealed that the Bronx’s 15th Congressional District has the worst economy for 18 to 34 year-olds in the country.
In fact, according to the data for youth disenfranchisement, 16.2 percent are unemployed, 32.9 percent are below poverty, 20 percent are without a high school degree and 50 percent live with a parent.
“By contrast, the district with the second-best prospects is just a few miles away: New York’s 12th, which includes parts of eastern Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn,” the article states. Data for the Bloomberg Disenfranchised Youth Index come from 2018 U.S. Census statistics, the most recent available.”
Councilman Fernando Cabrera and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson are deeply disturbed by these numbers.
“I thought that the Bronx was doing better,” Cabrera said. “It caught me by surprise that young people were so far behind.”
The councilman noted what makes this data even more painful is the fact that it’s pre-COVID-19, which means things will only be worse in the future.
He explained it is becoming pricy to live in the Bronx, but the city doesn’t focus on young people in the borough. The councilman added that there is only one YMCA in the area, yet numerous liquor stores.
“There’s an inequity in funding for our schools here,” he said. “For so many years that has been a problem. The city has to come up with a plan. We have to create career paths for young people.”
Pouring gasoline on the fire, the city then axed the Summer Youth Employment Program this year, which many youths rely on for jobs.
Furthermore, Cabrera was a big supporter of Amazon coming to Queens because it would have brought thousands of jobs to the borough.
The councilman noted the Bronx has been fighting for years to be on the same playing field as the other boroughs. In the 70s it was on fire and since then, there have been baby steps towards its revival.
“It’s taken the Bronx a longtime to fight itself out the hole,” Gibson said. “It’s still going to take a long time to catch up.”
Gibson told the Bronx Times one reason youths have such a hard time finding jobs in the Bronx, especially in the 15th District, is intergenerational poverty.
She explained there is a “systemic cycle of poverty,” where grandparents and parents have lived in the same impoverished neighborhoods for decades.
The councilwoman also addressed the disparity in businesses. Like Cabrera, she agrees there must be more safe places for kids to go to after school and the borough needs to find a way to offer subsidies to big corporations like Whole Foods and bring them here.
“It’s going to take a complete turn and shift in government,” Gibson said. “We have to do a lot of education for young people so they know what’s out there.”