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Pushing Working Families into Poverty: Assessing the New Haven Plan to Privatize the Public Schools’ Custodial Services


  • Jeannette Wicks-Lim


The City of New Haven is considering outsourcing its public school custodial services to a private firm. Outsourcing would cut the cost of services in half, saving the city $8.1 million, or 19% percent of the deficit. But in this analysis of the impacts of the cuts, Jeannette Wicks-Lim finds that the cost of that savings would be severe: the family of a custodian who continues to work in the New Haven Public Schools under the proposed contract would simply no longer be able to make ends meet. Wicks-Lim shows that under the proposed contract, the average custodian would experience a 54 percent fall in total household income, from $68,000 to $31,000. At this level of household income, most families would be eligible for the subsidized programs such as SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) and HUSKY (Connecticut’s Medicaid program), merely shifting costs from the city to state and federal governments. Even taking on second part-time job would only likely raise this household income to $42,000 —still $8,500 short of the $50,543 a household of three would need to even meet its basic needs. She also demonstrates the degree to which the proposed privatization unfairly places the burden of balancing city budgets on a small population. By privitizing these jobs, the city would effectively force the 186 lower-to-middle-income NHPS custodians and their families to bear the burden for fully 19% of the city’s projected budget deficit. Yet, these families represent less than one-half of one-percent of the 46,000 households in New Haven.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeannette Wicks-Lim, 2011. "Pushing Working Families into Poverty: Assessing the New Haven Plan to Privatize the Public Schools’ Custodial Services," Published Studies peri_newhaven_march2011, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:perips:peri_newhaven_march2011

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