Has the Amount of Federal Aid to New York City Changed Over the Past Five Years?

Over the past five years, total federal aid to New York City has declined from $7.9 billion in 2011 to just under $7.0 billion in 2015, a decrease of roughly $933 million, or nearly 12 percent. The change was mainly due to the drop in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal stimulus dollars.

But the picture changes when stimulus dollars and disaster recovery funding related to Hurricane Sandy and other events are excluded: Federal aid to the city has been relatively flat over the five-year period, although with some spikes in individual sources of aid. Excluding stimulus and disaster-related assistance, federal aid increased from $6.3 billion in 2011 to $6.7 billion in 2012, and then slowly declined to $6.3 billion in 2015. When adjusted for inflation, the $6.3 billion received in 2015 is 6.4 percent, or $403 million, below the aid received in 2011. Federal aid comprised less than 10 percent of the city budget last year.

  • Federal aid, excluding stimulus and recovery funding, totaled $32.3 billion, or just over 85 percent of total federal aid received over the years 2011 through 2015.
  • Three city agencies received a combined $22.5 billion, or roughly 70 percent, of federal aid during the five-year period: the Department of Education ($8.4 billion), Human Resources Administration ($7.7 billion), and Administration for Children’s Services ($6.4 billion).
  • Three other departments, Housing Preservation and Development, Homeless Services, and Health and Mental Hygiene, also received a significant share of federal aid ($2.4 billion, $1.6 billion, and $1.6 billion, respectively) during the period.

Just five federal grant programs, excluding stimulus and disaster recovery funds, accounted for $16.8 billion, or over half, of the city’s aid from Washington.


  • The largest source of federal aid to the city is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which provides cash and other assistance to very low-income families. Funding to the city grew from $1.0 billion in 2011 to $1.5 billion in 2013 as the state, which receives the funds from Washington, changed the formula for allocating the funds to localities. Funding then declined to $1.4 billion in 2015.
  • Title I funding, which supports special programs in schools with large concentrations of students from low-income families, decreased steadily over the five-year period and fell from $833 million in 2011 to $705 million in 2015, a decline of about 15 percent.
  • Federal aid to the city through the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which subsidizes preschool and school-age child care programs for lower-income families, remained relatively flat over the five-year-period, rising $22 million, or roughtly 5 percent from 2011 through 2015.
  • Section 8 funding, which provides rental assistance to low-income households, grew from $419 million in 2011 to $437 million in 2015, an increase of about 4 percent. (A separate Section 8 grant of about $1 billion annually goes to the New York City Housing Authority but does not flow through the city budget.)
  • While most federal Medicaid spending in the city flows directly from the state to reimburse health care providers, some federal Medicaid dollars—such as support for school-based health centers—become part of the city budget. Medicaid funding in the city budget went from $349 million in 2011 to $209 million in 2015, a decline of 40 percent. The amount of federal Medicaid funds received by the city each year is partially determined by the number of claims the city files for reimbursement.

Prepared by Frank Posillico and Ana Maria Ventura
 New York City Independent Budget Office

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Do Some City Schools Have an Unusually Large Share of Students Who Live in Public Housing?

In two recent high-profile school rezoning controversies, overcrowded schools primarily serving higher-income students were located in close proximity to underutilized schools largely populated by students in public housing. To shed light on this issue, IBO examined the distribution of students from public housing across New York City’s public schools.1

The New York City Housing Authority provides housing to low- and moderate-income residents throughout the five boroughs. In 2013, public housing was home to 4.8 percent of the city’s residents, but the nearly 95,000 students who lived in public housing made up 8.6 percent of the public school population, including charter school students.

IBO calculated the share of elementary and middle school students in each school who lived in public housing in order to gauge how the students were distributed across schools during the 2013-2014 school year. We chose to look at grades K-8 because high schools tend to be less tied to specific geographic zones.



  • In 123 schools serving grades kindergarten through 8, students in public housing comprised more than 35 percent of enrollment.
  • This 9 percent of schools accounted for more than one-third of all K-8 students living in public housing.
  • Conversely, most schools served few students living in public housing: In 702 schools, 5 percent or fewer of their K-8 students lived in public housing.
  • The average K-8 student attended a school where 8 percent of students lived in public housing.

Prepared by Stephanie Kranes
 New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCE: IBO analysis of Department of Education and New York City Housing Authority data
NOTE: 1“Race and Class Collide in a Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools,”  “For Two Sharply Divided Manhattan Schools, an Uncertain Path to Integration

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How Much Has the City Spent on Overtime Over the Past 10 Years?

Over the past 10 years, New York City’s overtime spending has increased from $928 million in 2006 to $1.659 billion in 2015, an increase of $731 million, or close to 80 percent (about 40 percent after accounting for inflation). While the increase in overtime spending over the 10 years appears sizable in dollar terms, as a share of total city spending the increase looks somewhat more modest: growing from 1.7 percent in 2006 to 2.2 percent in 2015.


  • Uniformed personnel including police, fire, correction, and sanitation accounted for roughly 70 percent of total citywide overtime spending, with the cost increasing from $635 million in 2006 to $1.190 billion in 2015, an increase of $555 million, or close to 90 percent (about 45 percent adjusted for inflation).
  • The city’s civilian workers, roughly three-quarters of the municipal labor force, accounted for the remaining increase in overtime spending. For them, overtime spending grew from $293 million in 2006 to $469 million in 2015, an increase of $176 million. About half of that increase, $89 million, was for civilian workers in the police, fire, correction, and sanitation departments.
  • The agency with the largest increase in overtime spending over the 10-year period was the police department. Overtime spending for uniformed and civilian staff in the police department grew from $412 million in 2006 to $716 million in 2015, an increase of $304 million, or 74 percent. Uniformed staff accounted for $252 million of the increase and civilian staff $52 million.
  • Though the dollar amounts were less, the fire department also had a 74 percent increase in overtime spending during the 2006-2015 period. Overtime spending grew from $194 million in 2006 to $337 million in 2015, an increase of $143 million ($124 million for uniformed personnel and $19 million for civilians).
  • At the Department of Correction overtime spending increased by 180 percent, rising from $70 million in 2006 to $196 million in 2015, an increase of $126 million ($116 million for uniformed staff and $10 million for civilians).

Prepared by Frank Posillico
New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCE: New York City Financial Management System

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Where Are Funds Going Under the Mayor’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice Plan?

Before the recent announcement of ThriveNYC, the de Blasio Administration’s initiatives to improve access to mental health programs for youth, adults, and seniors, the Mayor had previously launched measures to boost behavioral health programs for the city’s inmate population. With an increasing share of inmates in the city’s jails struggling with behavioral health issues—from about 30 percent in 2010 to nearly 40 percent in 2014—the Mayor appointed a task force in June 2014 to develop a plan to improve the way the criminal justice system addresses the needs of this population. Six months later, the task force issued a plan with five key components and a price tag of $134 million over four years, all but $40 million of it is funded by the city itself. While the task force report identified the total amount of spending, there was no breakdown of the spending for each initiative. IBO has obtained detailed spending plans from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, which are shown below.



 Prepared by Nashla Salas

New York City Independent Budget Office


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Do Some Schools Have a Disproportionate Share of Students Living In Homeless Shelters or Doubled Up in Another Household?

About 75,000 students—or over 7 percent—of the city’s 1.1 million public school students lived in the city’s homeless shelter system or were doubled up in the home of a friend or family member at some point during school year 2013-2014.  A disproportionately large share of temporarily housed students were concentrated in a relatively small number of city schools.


  • About four hundred schools (close to 25 percent of the total 1,669 schools examined) served a population where at least 5 percent of students enrolled were identified as living in shelters and at least 7 percent of students were identified as living in doubled-up housing during all or part of school year 2013-2014.
  • One hundred and twenty schools served a population where more than 10 percent of students were identified as living in shelters; there were 12 schools in which more than 20 percent of students were identified as living in shelters.
  • Two hundred and eighteen schools served a population where more than 10 percent of students were identified as living in doubled-up housing. There were 34 schools in which more than 20 percent of enrollment was identified as living doubled up.
  • More than 560 schools, or roughly 34 percent, have less than 1 percent of their student population living in a shelter. Nearly 280 schools have virtually no students identified as living in doubled-up housing.


  • Analysis of student data from 2013-2014 shows that students living at least part of the school year in homeless shelters were absent from school far more frequently—about 18 days more—than their permanently housed peers as well as those who were doubled up.
  • Students who resided in homeless shelters were suspended from school at more than twice the rate of students who lived in permanent housing.
  • State test scores for 3rd through 8th graders were also significantly lower for both students living in homeless shelters and those in doubled-up housing situations compared with their permanently housed peers.

 Prepared by Liza Pappas

New York City Independent Budget Office


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How Many Rent-Regulated Units Are Rented at Preferential Rates and Where Are They Located?

It is commonly assumed that rent regulation limits the amount owners can charge tenants, keeping rents below what the market would otherwise command. Yet for thousands of apartments across the city, landlords charge their tenants rents that are lower than the maximum allowed under rent-regulation rules. This is known as a preferential rent. While landlords will sometimes forgo additional permissible rent to retain a reliable tenant, in neighborhoods where there are large shares of tenants paying preferential rents, it is an indication that local market rents are not constrained by rent regulations.

Using apartment registration data from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, IBO found that of the 765,354 state-registered units subject to the traditional rent-regulation rules in 2013 (the most recent data available), 23 percent—more than 175,000 apartments—were rented at a preferential rate.

Share of Regulated Units Rented at Preferential Rates

Click on a neighborhood to see number of rent-regulated apartments and share with preferential rents.


  • Neighborhoods with some of the highest shares of tenants in regulated units paying preferential rates were Oakwood in Staten Island (62 percent), and Fresh Meadows and Bay Terrace in Queens (61 percent and 60 percent, respectively). The overall number of regulated units in these areas, however, was small.
  • In neighborhoods with large numbers of regulated units, those with high shares of units receiving preferential rents include Flushing (38 percent), Astoria (35 percent), and Hunters Point-Sunnyside (34 percent).
  • Some of the neighborhoods with substantial numbers of regulated units and the lowest shares of apartments with preferential rents include the West Village (10 percent) and the Upper West Side (10 percent). Outside of Manhattan, Borough Park (15 percent) and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens (17 percent) in Brooklyn had low shares of preferential rents.


  • The prevalence and extent of the rent preference varies among the boroughs. Brooklyn had the largest number of regulated units receiving preferential rents, followed by Queens.
  • In terms of the median preferential rent discount—the difference between what the tenant pays and the maximum legal rent the landlord could charge under rent regulation—apartments in Manhattan had the largest median discount, while units in Brooklyn had the smallest.

The fact that in some parts of the city more than a quarter of units receive preferential rents indicates that rent regulation is not always the most important factor in determining a tenant’s rent. Barring substantial increases in market rents in the neighborhoods with large shares of regulated units with preferential rates, continued regulation might not make much difference in determining the cost of housing for tenants in those areas.

 Prepared by Sarah Stefanski

New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCE: IBO analysis of data from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal
NOTES: A total of 862,254 regulated units were registered with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal in 2013, approximately 84 percent of the total estimated number of rent-regulated units in the city. A total of 96,900 units added into rent regulation after 1974 in exchange for certain financing benefits, such as the 421-a and 421-g tax incentive programs, were excluded from this analysis.

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How Much Do Public School Budgets Vary Across the City’s School Districts and Boroughs?

There is a great deal of variation in average per pupil allocations across community school districts. In 2013-2014, the last school year in which budgets were set by the Bloomberg Administration, school district allocations averaged $8,255 per student in grades pre-k through 8. The difference in per pupil allocations between the district with the highest average allocation (district 16, Bedford-Stuyvesant) and the lowest (district 24, Corona/Elmhurst) was $3,800.

This variation is not unexpected. Schools recieve funding from a variety of state, city, and federal sources, many of these funding streams attempt to direct resources to students deemed to have greater needs. Moreover, per pupil spending is also a function of school size, with large schools generally receiving less funding per pupil than schools with fewer students.

Average Allocation: $8,255

  • Some part of the difference in allocations relates to the relative socio-economic status of the communities within each district.
  • The largest per pupil allocations are found in the South Bronx (district 7), Central Brooklyn (district 16), Upper Manhattan (districts 4 and 5), and the Lower East Side (district 1). The lowest per student allocations are found in Queens (districts 24, 25, and 26) and Manhattan (district 2).

The results displayed by borough and funding source shed more light on these differences.

  • The three largest funding streams for schools, Fair Student Funding, other city funds, and Federal Title 1, drive the major difference across boroughs. Schools in Queens receive, on average, $1,310 less per pupil from these combined sources than schools in the Bronx.

School size also contributes to the differences in per pupil allocations across districts and boroughs. Generally, large schools receive less funding in per pupil terms than small schools. This is likely because schoolwide costs are being shared over a greater number of students. Queens, with the largest average school size, had the lowest per pupil allocations, while Manhattan and the Bronx, with the two smallest average school sizes, had the two largest per pupil allocations.


 Prepared by Ray Domanico

New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCE: IBO analysis of Department of Education data
NOTES: Excludes high schools and schools in the citywide special education district (district 75) because they are not evenly distributed across community school districts. Spending allocated to school budgets exclude fringe benefits.

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Has the Distribution of Cultural Development Funds Shifted Over Seven Years?

In 2009, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs concluded a multiyear initiative to reform the Cultural Development Fund, the primary source of city funding for hundreds of arts and cultural organizations throughout the five boroughs. (The 33 cultural institutions located on city-owned property receive other support and are ineligible for these grants.) From fiscal years 2009 through 2015, the city has awarded a total of $210.5 million in Cultural Development Fund  grants. An average of 886 organizations per year received funding.

NOTE: Includes grants from City Council member items and Borough Arts Councils.

  • Total annual Cultural Development Fund grants (including City Council member items and Borough Arts Council grants) have increased from $29.0 million in fiscal year 2009 to $33.2 million in 2015. There is $33.5 million budgeted for the fund in 2016. Average funding per organization increased from $32,858 in 2009 to $37,340 in 2015.
  • Groups based in Manhattan receive by far the most funding, with awards totaling just under $20 million in 2015; organizations in Brooklyn, the borough with the second-highest share, received $6.5 million in funding that same year.
  • Manhattan’s share of total funding has decreased somewhat, from 63.7 percent in 2009 to 60.1 percent in 2015, while Brooklyn’s share has increased from 15.7 percent to 19.5 percent over the same time span. Shares for the other three boroughs changed very little.
  • Average funding per organization in 2015 ranged from $29,079 in Staten Island to $59,224 in the Bronx.

Organizations receiving grants can focus on single disciplines such as folk art, dance, or literature or be multidisciplinary. Multidiscipline organizations have received the highest percentage of total funding, over one-quarter of all funding each year. There has been little change in the distribution of funding across all disciplines since the revamping of the cultural fund in 2009.

NOTES: *Chart excludes funding for Borough Arts Councils because many of them do not categorize recipient groups’ disciplines. **Combines Botanical, Crafts, New Media, Photography, Science, and Other categories. ***Combines three different multidiscipline categories.

  • Music has seen the biggest decrease in its share of funding over the past seven years, a drop of 2.9 percentage points from 17.0 percent of total funding in 2009 to 14.1 percent in 2015.
  • Visual arts has seen the biggest increase in its share of funding over the same time period, from 4.5 percent in 2009 to 6.4 percent in 2015.

 Prepared by Katie Hanna

New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCE: Department of Cultural Affairs

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Does City Spending on Antismoking Efforts Affect Smoking Rates?

A recently released American Cancer Society annual report says that based on federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines New York State failed to invest sufficient funds last fiscal year on antismoking efforts. IBO’s review of New York City’s own spending on antismoking programs finds that spending levels have varied widely in recent years—and that after trending downward the local adult smoking rate has been increasing.

In 2002, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched its tobacco control plan for reducing smoking among city residents. The plan included: hiking taxes on tobacco products; distributing cessation aids for current smokers; advocating for and enforcing antismoking legislation; and running public education campaigns on the consequences of tobacco use. Spending rose steeply in 2007, with the increase driven by advertising, media campaigns, and nicotine replacement therapies, rather than agency staffing. Tobacco control spending jumped again in 2008—reaching more than 10 times the 2001 level—even as spending on agency staff barely grew. A three-year decline in spending followed in 2009 through 2011, with all of the cuts coming from sources other than health department staff.


  • The impact of the tobacco control plan on smoking behaviors occurs with a lag because of the time it takes individuals to  cut back or quit—and particularly for spending programs, the time it takes to launch new initiatives.
  • In calendar year 2002, the city and state each hiked their excise taxes on cigarettes to $1.50, for a total of $3.00 per pack. With additional state increases in 2008 and 2010, the combined state and local tax is now $5.85 per pack, plus an additional $1.01 per pack federal tax.
  • The big increase in city spending on antismoking programs, along with the tax increases, have been credited with reducing the smoking rate in the city during a period when the U.S. smoking rate barely declined. In 2010, the city’s smoking rate fell to 14.0 percent, a 15-year low and 5.3 percentage points below the U.S. rate.
  • After 2010, smoking rates in the city began to rise, reaching 16.1 percent in 2013 (the latest data available), just 1.7 percentage points below the U.S. rate. The increase in the city’s smoking rate occurred in tandem with declines in spending on tobacco control programs. City spending on antismoking campaigns in 2011-2014 averaged about a third less than during the 2007-2010 peak spending period.
  • Health department officials have cited the decline in spending on tobacco control as a cause of the increase in the share of adults who smoke. With $5.0 million budgeted for tobacco control in the current fiscal year, less than half the amount spent in 2014, there is concern that the smoking rate could continue to rise.

Prepared by Erin Kelly
New York City Independent Budget Office

SOURCES: Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Community Health Survey 2002-2013; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Health Interview Survey, 2013

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