The village of New Square has been ranked as the poorest municipality in New York state, Lohud reported on Wednesday, according to an analysis by 24/7 Wall St. published in USA Today.
In the Hasidic Jewish community, founded in 1954 along Route 45 in Ramapo, the poverty rate is 70 percent, with a median income of $21,773, compared with the state median of $60,741.
Only four towns in the entire United States had median household incomes lower than New Square: South Tucson, Arizona, East Cleveland, Ohio, Brownsville, Florida and Ville Platte, Louisiana.
New Square’s 70 percent poverty rate far surpassed the second highest in the nation – Centerville, Illinois which has a 50.1 percent poverty rate. The study defined poverty as annual income of less than $25,100 per year for a family of four.
New Square’s median annual household income stands nearly $5,000 below that of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Jewish village in Orange County that was ranked the second poorest municipality in New York State.
Many of New Square’s 7,804 residents depend on social service programs to put food on the table, pay rent and medical bills.
New Square had the highest rate of SNAP (food stamp) recipients in the country, with 77.1 percent of the village’s residents relying on the supplemental aid to feed their families.
Interestingly, the report found towns with a significant population of low income residents typically have relatively low housing prices. New Square was the exception to that rule, with median housing prices higher than that of the state average.
New Square’s residents qualify for benefits based on income and family size, with applications checked by Social Services department specialists, Commissioner Joan Silvestri said.
Lifestyles and religious tenets could explain why some Hasidic families fall below the poverty level and qualify for federal rent subsidies, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other programs for low-income families.
Read More: Lohud