Income gap most extreme in Morningside, Hamilton Heights

By Naomi Cohen

Columbia Daily Spectator

Published December 2, 2011

The Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights neighborhoods have the highest income disparity in New York City, with the top fifth of the population making more than 30 times that of the lowest fifth.

The median household income of the highest fifth of the population is $207,053—34 times $6,073, the median income for the lowest fifth, according to a report by the Census Bureau released in November. The metropolitan area of New York City and northern New Jersey already sees the greatest national gap in income between the wealthiest and the poorest.

Walter South, a preservation architect on Community Board 9, which represents West Harlem and Morningside Heights, cited the simultaneous increase in the salaries of educational administration and stagnation in the salaries of the working class as the main reasons for the inequalities in Morningside.

While the region has seen an influx of upper-middle class families, he said, it also features the highest concentration of public housing in the city.

“People that have lived here the longest have much lower incomes than people moving in here the past five or ten years,” South said.

As of 2010, 34.9 percent of residents are receiving income support, up from 27.4 percent in 2000. The local poverty rate, at 25.9 percent, is over ten points above the national level.

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