New York City Still Requires Fingerprints for Food Stamps

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NEW YORK - OCTOBER 07: A sign in a market window advertises the acceptance of food stamps on October 7, 2010 in New York City. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing an initiative that would prohibit New York City's 1.7 million food stamp recipients from using the stamps, a subsidy for poor residents, to buy soda or other sugary drinks. Bloomberg has stressed that obesity among the poor has reached critical levels. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 07: A sign in a market window advertises the acceptance of food stamps on October 7, 2010 in New York City. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing an initiative that would prohibit New York City's 1.7 million food stamp recipients from using the stamps, a subsidy for poor residents, to buy soda or other sugary drinks. Bloomberg has stressed that obesity among the poor has reached critical levels. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Photo: Spencer Platt/2010 Getty Images

The woman Mayor Bloomberg is expected to endorse as a successor disagrees with his administration in at least one public battle currently being fought over the city's poor. City Council speaker Christine Quinn is questioning New York City's requirement that food stamp applicants provide fingerprints to sign up and contends, "We’re spending public dollars where there is no crime being committed." The Council estimates that some 30,000 New Yorkers are not seeking aid because of the requirement and claims that would amount to $55.4 million in federal funds, "money they would then spend at the supermarket or at the bodega," Quinn says. A new bill would require more information on the fingerprinting from the city, but a Bloomberg spokesperson counters, "This bill sounds as though it’s asking the wrong question. The right question is how much fraud is there, and the answer is: thanks to imaging, next to none."

The executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger claims the fingerprinting treats "poor people as if they’re basically criminals for trying to access a program to which they’re legally entitled," referring to the requirement as the "electronic stop-and-frisk."

Texas and California recently got rid of a similar requirement, leaving New York City as only the second jurisdiction in the country with such a rule.

Fingerprinting Those Seeking Food Stamps Is Denounced [NYT]