2009-05-13 / Features

Fewer On Welfare Rolls, More On Food Stamps

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

In his budget due in by July 1, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a reduction in spending by city agencies of $3.4 billion. "We're in a pretty difficult budget situation," Human Resources/Department of Social Services Commissioner Robert Doar said.

Even though we are in a recession, Doar said, the number of people receiving temporary cash assistance (welfare) in the city is at a historic low. "There are 344,834 citywide as of April," he said at the May meeting of the Queens borough cabinet.

"The numbers [for cash assistance] haven't risen at all," he said. "Welfare rolls are flat."

Applications for Food Stamps, on the other hand, have risen quite dramatically, Doar said. They are up 30 percent. Citywide, that translates to 1,127,604 persons. "People working need extra support," Doar explained. HRA/DSS has also facilitated food stamp enrollment through outreach at 30 satellite offices where people can apply.

Public health insurance (Medicaid) is up to 2.5 million people enrolled citywide, but is also flat, said Doar. In Queens, 43,520 people are receiving cash assistance, 173,989 get Food Stamps and 626,691 are enrolled in Medicaid.

Doar said HRA/DSS will absorb a $600,000 budget cut and lose 843 staff. "We are not laying off, yet," he said. "And we hope we will not have to do so in the coming months."

Spokespersons for another city agency, Administration for Child Services (ACS) have said they will eliminate funding for 3,300 private day care slots next year. "That's, to me, probably the meanest cut of all," said Borough President Marshall. "Mothers won't be able to work."

Thanks to an infusion of $18.5 million in federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the city Department of Youth and Community Development is expanding its Summer Youth Employment Program this year.

"We hope to enroll 51,000 people," SYEP Director Alan Cheng said. An increase of about 10,000 from last summer. The total budget for SYEP 2009 is $67 million.

"Last year we had 103,000 applications," Cheng said. Through April, SYEP had received 55,000 applications. The deadline to apply is May 15. All city residents

Thanks to an infusion of $18.5 million in federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the city Department of Youth and Community Development

is expanding its Summer Youth

Employment Program this year.

between the ages of 18 and 24 can apply.

Participants can work in a variety of entry-level jobs at government agencies, hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, law firms, museums, sports enterprises, and retail organizations. The program pays $7.25 per hour for up to 25 hours per week and runs from July 1 to August 15.

For information visit www.nyc.gov/dyce or call 1-800-246- 4646.

Dr. Sheila Palevsky, M.D., MPH also gave an update on the H1N1 flu outbreak. Palevsky, chief of the professional education unit in the Bureau of Immunization at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, made a simple statement.

"How do we prevent? Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing and more hand washing," she said. "Any old soap works."

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