With a population of over 190,000 Yonkers is the 4th largest city in New York State. Southwest Yonkers, the section we serve, is home to 80,000 residents. The area has a fascinating history. For over a century, immigrants have settled here. In the early part of the 20th century people came primarily from Europe. Many from this older generation still live in the community. In recent decades, the area has changed again, with new immigrants particularly from the Carribean and Central America. Indeed, the Hispanic population has increased dramatically over the past 25 years. In the 1980’s, Hispanics made up about 26% of the population of Southwest Yonkers and now they account for 50% of the population. 27% of residents are African American, 14% are white, and 9% are from other groups.
Over the past few decades, Southwest Yonkers has gone through a rapid socioeconomic decline. It has one of the highest crime rates in Yonkers and recent statistics reflect a community with significant economic and educational challenges. Unemployment is high at 11%, and fully 50% of the working-age population is unemployed. The median household income for the area is $30,883. 46% of all households have incomes under $25,000, and 29% of the population lives below the poverty level. Educational levels, an indicator of job opportunities and earning power, are very low. For instance, 37% of young people between the ages of 18-24 do not have high school diplomas. While these statistics paint a concerning picture, there are some potentially positive developments in the community. The downtown district is going through a $3 billion revitalization with other sections of Southwest Yonkers scheduled to follow. We have been working closely with the City to ensure development lifts all boats, and there is a real opportunity for increased employment in the next few years, especially in the green sector, and our educational programming will help young people seize these opportunities.