Closure of Union Square benefits center leaves vulnerable NYers scrambling

Closure of Union Square benefits center leaves vulnerable NYers scrambling

“It’s up to them if they know how to read or don’t know how to read,” he stated, pointing to the signal on the door telling folks to go elsewhere. “That was probably inconvenient, but they were notified for the past month.”

The abrupt closure brought on a wave of confusion in a system that’s already troublesome to navigate for the roughly 1.8 million New Yorkers struggling to remain afloat on the city-managed Supplemental Diet Help Program. Some folks had been advised their circumstances had been transferred to a SNAP center on one hundred and twenty fifth Road, in accordance with Roxanne Henry, a social employee on the Security Web Venture of the City Justice Center.

Others had been despatched to East sixteenth Road and advised to make use of a self-service kiosk, however weren’t provided assist to function it. The East sixteenth Road location is described as being “self-service,” with a skeleton employees, fairly than a full-service workplace just like the Waverly location.

“They’re really just restricting access to benefits on the people themselves, because they simply don’t know how to use technology,” Henry stated. “They’re ignoring the problem.”

Below Mayor Invoice de Blasio, town shut down three SNAP facilities in 2019, two in Brooklyn and one in Harlem. On the time, metropolis officers argued, reducing the company’s bodily footprint made sense with extra New Yorkers conducting interviews on the cellphone and accessing benefits on-line, the Each day Information reported. However there are perennial complaints a few buggy, difficult-to- use app and cellphone calls that usually go unanswered. Displaying up at an workplace the place you’ll be able to converse to somebody face-to-face, is commonly a final act of desperation, Henry stated.

“When you go into the center, it’s because there is a crisis,” Henry stated. “You wanna know why you can’t feed your kids, or what’s going on with your cash benefits.”

Purchasers typically describe hostile conduct from metropolis benefits employees and say their circumstances are recurrently closed for no purpose, a report from the Security Web Venture of the City Justice Center discovered. These points got here to a head in 2018, when Jazmine Headly, who had been ready for hours for assist at a metropolis HRA web site, was arrested and had her child ripped from her arms. She spent 4 nights on Rikers Island for sitting on the ground of a Brooklyn SNAP center. A video of her arrest went viral and he or she later gained $625,000 in a settlement with town.

Regardless of common issues about service on the Waverly SNAP Center, it was a identified location for a lot of homeless New Yorkers each residing on the streets and people staying in Decrease Manhattan shelters. It was additionally the setting for a 1975 documentary about welfare.

“I don’t think they should close them,” stated Bashiekh Wooden, who stated he was making an attempt to determine why his case had been closed and feared shedding a housing voucher to get out of his shelter as a result of of it. He had no luck addressing the difficulty utilizing the app. “Sometimes you wanna talk to somebody.”

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