Just a handful of subway stops from City Hall, where democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio appears set to win office on Tuesday, lies the neighborhood of Mott Haven. Located in the heart of the hardscrabble South Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the United States, Mott Haven is a world away from Manhattan's bustling downtown.
The poverty rate here is 36.9%, with 16.6% earning less than $9,255 per year for a family of three. Overcrowding, rent burdens, and poor housing conditions drive thousands of residents, who are mostly black and Hispanic, to homeless shelters. According to locals, gang-related crime is still a frequent occurrence, as are instances of police "stop and frisk" searches on the streets.
Mott Haven epitomizes the growing income gap between neighborhoods that led De Blasio to call New York "a Tale of Two Cities." But for all that de Blasio's campaign did to promote awareness of poverty-related issues in the outer boroughs, milennials' attitudes here range from skeptical to uncaring.
"I don't think the mayoral candidate will have a major impact in the South Bronx," said Mike Ramos, 35, who has lived in Mott Haven his entire life and works as a hospital security guard. "It's more up to the local representatives" like Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. and City Councilwoman Carmen Arroyo, he stated, adding that City Hall seemed "more focused on the economic development of Manhattan."
Accordingly, many of the neighborhood's young adults feel discouraged about voting. "Sometimes I feel like I have no power... it's really hard to change other people's opinions," said Rosalba Rojaz, 18. Though she is a registered voter, Rojaz was not familiar with either de Blasio or his opponent, republican candidate Joe Lhota, and said she was not planning to go to the polls.
I don't really pay attention to politics. All I think about is working. All I think about is survival."