Blocks Away, Worlds Apart

9 miles apart, Tribeca and Central Harlem might as well be continents away. These two, iconic NYC neighborhoods house some of the city’s most cherished monuments; the Apollo Theater, the World Trade Center memorial, Abyssinian Baptist Church, Wall Street.

But the residents who live there have vastly different life outcomes.

  • A baby born in Tribeca can expect to live 10 years longer than one born in Central Harlem.
  • A household in Tribeca brings in on average $86,000 more a year than one in Central Harlem.
  • 82% of adults living in Tribeca hold a bachelor’s degree. Just 32.6% of adults in Central Harlem do.

Measure of America of the Social Science Research Council, has been instrumental in bringing these disparities front-and-center with its Data2Go tool. The tool provides maps and data visualizations by NYC neighborhood for over 360 indicators, many of which are not publicly available elsewhere or are not available in a consistent geographic unit: the community district.

Of the many data points recorded, Measure of America created one to serve as a composite of overall wellbeing, the American Human Development Index. The AHDI is a composite score of health, education, and income indicators, scored from 1 to 10.

To quickly grasp how different it is to live in Tribeca versus Central Harlem one need look no further than the AHDI score: in Tribeca it is 8.77 out of 10 while in Central Harlem it is 4.47 out of 10, or roughly half of what it is in Tribeca.

Being able to quickly identify the most vulnerable populations and neighborhoods in NYC, can speed the process of addressing disparities.

Increasingly policy makers are viewing economic, educational, health, and housing disparities through the lens of neighborhoods. At a recent Johns Hopkins discussion on how the White House is fighting poverty, the Director of the White House’s Office of Budget and Management, Shaun Donovan, discussed shifting strategies and funding to tackle poverty at the community level. This “place-based policy” approach is a reversal from previous programs that focused on a “top-down” approach.

“If the local community is not leading,” Donovan said, “we’re going to fail.” Programs the White House is banking on to improve conditions in the country’s worst neighborhoods include TechHire, Promise Neighborhoods, and Choice Neighborhoods.

Place matters.