New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long insisted on reserving the right to require childless food stamp applicants to work for their benefits — even turning down the offer of a federal hardship waiver that 46 states have been granted. And now, according to interviews with poor New Yorkers and their legal advocates, he’s apparently putting that threat into practice:
When Brownsville resident Robert Rodriguez went to the city’s Pine Street food stamp center in East New York last month to recertify his eligibility for food aid, he was brought up short by what he saw in the waiting room.
“There’s a big sign in there telling everybody they gonna have to start working for the food stamps,” he recalls. “Last time I noticed, you had to work if you get cash money, but I never knew no shit about no food stamps.”
It’s a story that is increasingly being repeated among the city’s 1.8 million people receiving food stamps: With no public announcement, the city has begun requiring them to either prove that they hold down jobs, or enroll in city work programs — and face having their benefits cut off if they don’t comply… [read more]