When Danny Lopriore was growing up in Yonkers, middle class was a simple concept: It meant you had a car, a home, and one working parent. In other words, “You had a nice life,” Lopriore says.
Although the 63-year-old, who lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, managed to raise five children working as a journalist (with the help of some real estate investments and his wife’s jobs as a nanny), life grew tougher when the newspaper industry imploded and his health deteriorated. Heart problems that required several surgeries forced him to shift his job focus to something less stressful, and after selling some of his family’s properties, he and his wife are cobbling together a living on roughly $60,000 a year, which includes part-time work, freelance assignments, and rental income.
They’ve downsized to a $1,600-a-month apartment rental (“a deal,” he says, by Westchester standards), and several years ago, his 60-year-old wife, Dianne, between taking care of their grandchildren, went back to get a degree in respiratory therapy, which is something that has always interested her and will provide steady work.
“Right now, if I had to support five kids, I wouldn’t be middle class,” he says. “It costs $750,000 for a decent house.”
In one of his jobs, Lopriore delivers food to seniors for Meals on Wheels, which at $12 an hour nourishes his soul more than his savings while giving him a close-up look at how others are struggling. When you look around Westchester, he says, “you’ll notice a lot of senior citizens working part-time jobs at places like Food Town, McDonald’s, and Walgreens. That was unheard of,” years ago.
He’s putting off collecting social security until he’s 67 so that his monthly payment goes up; he figures that with a little ingenuity, he’ll grind it out for a few years. “I consider myself lucky,” Lopriore says of being close to retirement age. “If I were 50 or 55, I would be stuck in the middle.