If this isn’t irony, you’ll have to look the word up in the dictionary again. If you’re out of work in New York, you just might be able to join the 100 other workers who are being hired – to help New Yorkers applying for food stamps.
The HRA offices throughout New York City are finding themselves overcrowded and understaffed as New Yorkers come there to apply for food stamps and rent assistance. Approximately 1.8 million New Yorkers are using food stamps now, which shows a 65% increase from just four years ago, as reported in the city records.
Bringing on Staffing
At a recent council hearing, the HRA offices explained that, as a result, they’ve had to bring on a great deal more staff and they’ve added to their waiting room space. They plan to add 49 food stamp eligibility workers and another 50 job opportunity specialists, even in the face of a recent $200 million loss in state funding. Certainly, the added job opportunities are wonderful, but the fact that these jobs are needed to dole out to the poor is not.
As if those applying for food stamps didn’t have it bad enough, a recent survey showed that the lines at HRA are so long that half of all applicants actually don’t receive their welfare benefits. Part of the problem is that all applicants have to be fingerprinted at the government assistance centers. Both Governor Cuomo and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have urged the city to rethink those screening requirements.
As Liz Accles, an analyst for the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, said,
“HRA faces an overcrowding emergency that is a result of a high level of need resulting from a lagging economy in the wake of the great recession.”
HRA is well aware of the overcrowding issues, and their deputy commissioner has acknowledged that alleviating this problem is their number one priority.