Kiryas Yoel, a Hasidic town in upper New York state, has now earned the dubious distinction of being the fastest growing place in the region as well as the poorest city in America and the one with the greatest number of food stamp recipients according to the US Census.
It has a higher percentage of people on welfare than Harlem, the Black ghettos of Detroit, Newark, NJ, and the poorest parts of the South. For many of the residents, welfare and living off public funds paid by non-Kiryas Yoel residents has become a life style.
Forty percent of the inhabitants receive food stamps. Few of them pay taxes. The trend is increasing day by day. This is not only the case in this town. As one writer put it, speaking about the Satmar Hasidic group that dominates the town, “While Satmar is very good at making babies, it is very bad at providing those babies with skills and educations needed to earn enough money to support large families.
In other words, without massive amounts of charity, Kiryas Joel and communities like it– Borough Park, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, New Square and Monsey – are not sustainable.”