neighborhood news

NYC Welfare Centers Are Way Overcrowded

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 27: People without medical insurance line up before dawn for free healthcare service at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on April 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. More than 6,000 people were given wristbands over the weekend, some of them waiting overnight, to receive the free medical, dental and vision care. RAM hopes to treat 8,400 patients at the event which runs from April 27 to May 3. A Los Angeles-area RAM event in 2009 provided more than 14,500 services to approximately 6,344 patients. Los Angeles is reportedly home to 2.2 million uninsured people. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
A local welfare line. Photo: David McNew/2010 Getty Images

Between five and ten of New York City’s job centers, where those eligible can get food stamps and other benefits like Medicaid, have lines so long that people are missing mandatory appointments. Or as one woman put it, “It’s like everybody is running around with their head cut off, and no one cares.” The mayor is not too concerned:


On Friday, during his weekly radio show, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said advocates for the homeless and low-income New Yorkers tend to focus on the negative: “‘Oh, it’s terrible. The economy is terrible,’” the mayor said, mimicking critics.

Mr. Bloomberg defended his administration. “New York, as a compassionate society, does a better job of taking care of the less fortunate than virtually any other city,” he said.

But Steven Banks, the attorney-in-chief for the Legal Aid Society, says the disorder at the centers couldn’t be more nefarious. “At worst, it’s like the English poor laws, in which the aim was to make the seeking of assistance so miserable that people wouldn’t seek it,” he said.

NYC Welfare Centers Are Way Overcrowded