Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced that the Assembly’s budget includes an increase in the public assistance grant to help New York’s neediest families. The adjustment is the first increase in 18 years. The plan raises the amount of the public assistance grant by 10 percent for each of the next three years, effective Jan. 1, 2009. The Assembly's proposal includes state assumption of the local share of the grant increase.
“With the state’s growing poverty level, a public assistance grant increase is long overdue,” said Jacobs. “Families on welfare are the poorest of the poor. For example, a family of three living in New York State is forced to survive on a cash allowance of $291 a month. It is virtually impossible for families living in this state – especially New York City – to survive on such a stipend, let alone succeed.”
The last public assistance grant increase occurred in 1990. Since then, the cost of food, transportation, energy, and housing have dramatically increased, leaving public assistance recipients in dire straits. For example, a family of three living in New York City receives a monthly amount of $691 – $400 of which is a shelter allowance, which almost always goes directly to the landlord. This leaves the family with only $291 to cover all other monthly expenses.
The struggling economy and strict federal work requirements are crucial factors when addressing the effectiveness of the public assistance grant.
“The goal of public assistance is to help families get back on their feet so that they may obtain permanent employment. We can’t expect recipients to focus on skill development and job training when they are constantly worried about their family’s survival,” said Jacobs.