The New York City Self-Sufficiency Projects

The Self-Sufficiency Projects promote policies and programs that help low-income women and their families achieve economic self-sufficiency. The Women's Center helps low-income families from the New York City metropolitan area move out of poverty and achieve economic self-sufficiency through direct services to clients and the development and dissemination of resources that assist families, policy makers, service providers and employers to plan for self-sufficiency.

Please note that the NYC Self-Sufficiency Calculator is being updated and will be available by January 2019

New York City Self-Sufficiency Calculator

The Self-Sufficiency Calculator for New York City was developed by the Women's Center with the support of the United Way of New York City and enhanced with the support of the Robin Hood Foundation, to help working adults or adults just reentering the labor market get the work supports they need to stay in the workforce. The Calculator is a computer-based tool that:

  1. screens income eligibility for a variety of work supports and tax credits
  2. estimates benefit amount for work supports
  3. gives individuals information on how to access these supports
  4. calculates how well a given wage meets a working individual's real expenses
  5. screens immigrant eligibility

New York City Self-Sufficiency Calculator Training

Please join us for free training on The Self-Sufficiency Calculator for the City of New York. Registration will open on September 4, 2019. Check back here for training dates and details.

Learn how it can help low-wage workers get the benefits they need to stay in the workforce. The half-day training session includes introduction to the Self-Sufficiency Standard, overview of work supports and public benefits, hands-on computer training and case examples. All three hour trainings are held in Manhattan.

Please contact us at if you have any questions or if you would like to organize a specialized session for a larger group.

New York City Self-Sufficiency Standard Reports

In November 2019, the Women's Center for Education and Career Advancement, in collaboration with the United Way of New York City, The New York Community Trust, the New York Women's Foundation and City Harvest will, unveiled the 2018 New York City Self-Sufficiency Standard Report. Previous editions were released in 2000,2004,2010 and 2014. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for New York City charts what it costs to live, work and make ends meet in New York City. The Standard defines the income working families need to meet their basic necessities without private or public assistance. Basic minimum needs include: housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, miscellaneous expenses (clothing, telephone, household items), and taxes (minus federal and state tax credits). The Standard is calculated for 78+ different family types in each of New York City's five boroughs. Note that Manhattan is divided into Manhattan North and Manhattan South; Brooklyn is divided into Northwest Brooklyn and the balance of Brooklyn.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard documents the income required for families to live independently, without public or private assistance. The Self-Sufficiency Standard shows that, for most parents, earnings that are well above the official Federal Poverty Level are nevertheless far below what is needed to meet their families' basic needs. The Standard tells us that families have a hard time meeting basic expenses not because they lack responsibility, work ethic, or budgeting skills, but because they lack enough income to cover the cost of basic needs. The rising costs of housing, child care, and health care; the lack of education and skills; welfare time limits; and restrictions on training and education all add to the problems faced by many parents seeking self-sufficiency. Reaching Self-Sufficiency involves many stakeholders, not just parents working or employers paying adequate wages and benefits, but also policies and programs that help reduce costs and/or raise resources.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard is currently being used to better understand issues of income adequacy, to analyze policy, and to help individuals striving for self-sufficiency. Community organizations, academic researchers, policy institutes, legal advocates, training providers, community action agencies, and state and local officials, among others, are using the Self-Sufficiency Standard.


Standard Reports:

  • Overlooked and Undercounted: The Struggle To Make Ends

                  Meet In New York City (2014)

  • Overlooked and Undercounted: The Struggle To Make Ends

                  Meet In New York City – Key Findings & Recommendations (2014)