Running for mayor includes myriad brushes with hardship. Last month, Anthony Weiner and John Liu went on the food-stamp diet, living on meager rations for a week to illustrate the difficulties of those on public assistance. Over the weekend, the Democratic candidates spent the night in public housing to get an idea of what those in the NYCHA projects go through. And on Monday, Bill de Blasio, who missed out on the food-stamp thing, announced he would live on minimum wage for the week, along with several City Council members. At $7.25 an hour, that means De Blasio and co. have a budget of $92 for food and transportation for the week.
Late Monday evening, De Blasio tweeted he had spent $12.10 on food and $2.99 on gas for the day. Part of that was a $7.55 turkey sandwich from Subway. By contrast, the New York Daily News reports, City Councilman “Donovan Richards is scrimping a little more: He’s only eaten a $1 buttered roll so far.” But if he took the Subway home that’s a $2.50 trip right there.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 224,000 people in New York State made minimum wage or lower in 2012. But in pricey New York City, you need a hell of a lot more to survive. “The city says a two-adult, two-child family is poor if it earns less than $30,949 a year,” the New York Times reported in April. That works out to about $15 an hour, or more than twice the state’s minimum wage. A city report showed that in 2011, some 46 percent of New Yorkers made less than 150 percent of the poverty threshold, meaning they were not officially poor, but were struggling to get by.
So if more mayoral candidates are looking for further hardship to simulate, there’s no shortage.