Mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to pitch himself as the progressive candidate for the presidency, the one who is best suited to tackle income inequality.
"We've made a huge amount of progress in New York," the mayor said last week on MSNBC. "We have lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty."
What you see on the street may say something else, but de Blasio actually is right: from 2014 to 2017, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census, there were 223,392 people no longer living in poverty in New York City.
The number of people at the federal poverty level has, in fact, been on the decline.
Some experts give de Blasio at least some of the credit for that improvement.
"The mayor has gotten hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty. He deserves a lot of credit for raising the minimum wage. That was a game-changer, getting the wages in New York City up to $15 an hour," said Kristin Morse of The New School. "There has also been a really strong economy during his tenure, and those things combined probably really have lifted people out of poverty."
"The mayor, as I said, certainly can take credit, but so can the governor," City Comptroller Scott Stringer added. "Most importantly, so can those labor unions and community advocates who fought to raise the minimum wage to $15."
The minimum wage and de Blasio's universal pre-kindergarten program were major factors.
Still, victory, they say, is far off.
In 2017, 1.5 million New Yorkers were still living below the poverty level. Talmost 15 times the number of people in all of South Bend, Indiana, where Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg is mayor.
Some on the street are not feeling the improvement.
"Look at what he did for New York. How can he manage the country when you haven't even managed the city?" a homeless man named Jimmy said. "Look at NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority]. Look at all those people."
Even with the improvements, some will say de Blasio has a lot of unfinished business when it comes to dealing with income inequality at home.
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