Post Lockdown Poverty in New York

Poor in New York: Survival and the City Lockdown

DW (2021)

Film Review

This documentary profiles two New Yorkers who lost jobs as a result of the Covid lockdown, as well as volunteers at local charities that provides regular meals to new unemployed workers struggling to make ends meet.

The first worker, a single mother of four, lost three of her four prior cleaning jobs. Because the single job is insufficient to support her kids, she spends most of her time collecting bottles and cans to sell to recyclers. Emigrating to the US 34 years ago, she is one of 0.5 million illegal immigrants presently living in New York City. She has paid income taxes regularly, thinking it would help her qualify for a residency permit. Although New York state has newly created a $2 billion fund to provide Covid relief to its illegal immigrants, she now plans to return to Mexico as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.

The second individual profiled is a former x-ray technician who lost his job and home during the lockdown. At the time of filming, he was in a temporary hotel placement, as most of New York’s homeless shelters closed during lockdown. He gets free take-out meals at the Bowery Mission,* which is mainly staffed by volunteers. Their dining room is closed due to distancing restrictions.


*Founded in 1879, the Bowery Mission is the oldest Christian rescue mission in New York City. It is well-known for its history as a soup kitchen and men’s shelter located .

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