HRA Center To Get $1.4 Million Makeover
By Miriam Rosenberg
The $1.4 million makeover of the center, located at 219 Beach 59th Street, is part of a $40 million citywide Model Office Initiative meant to enhance the delivery of services to HRA clients by means of greater efficiency and modern technology.
“Each day, in communities across our city, an increasing number of New Yorkers continue to beat the odds. Overcoming many obstacles to move from a state of dependence to self-sufficiency. Our Model Offices serve to ensure that we are effectively utilizing our resources by tailoring services to the specific needs of clients and to help people where they live.”
In addition to changing to more open and spacious office areas, computers will play a big part in the revitalized building.
Computerized informational kiosks will be available to print out forms, answer questions on such issues as benefits, job listings and childcare. Another computerized system will keep track of clients as they go from one area of the center to another along with the progress during their visit. All these improvements will reduce wait times for those visiting the center.
There will also be employment services and staffed day care where clients can leave their children.
The center will become “one-hub for the community to come to get help,” explained the mayor.
The changes reflect the new ideals at the HRA.
“Dignity, respect, compassion and efficiency are the principles that drive our reform of the HRA,” said Bloomberg.
HRA Commissioner Verna Eggleston commented on one such reform – using colors instead of numbers or written word to let clients know where to go.
“To someone who cannot read or write, a purple paper that tells them where to go…those of us who don’t know what it is like not to be able to read or write [cannot understand],” she said.
Renovations are scheduled to begin in October, and are expected to take three months. During that time, all services normally taken care of at Beach 59th Street will be relocated to other HRA centers.
Applications and emergencies will be accepted at the Food Stamp Office at 520 Beach 20th Street in Far Rockaway. Undercare Services, including recertifications and employment services will be taken care of at the Euclid Job Center at 404 Pine Street in Brooklyn.
Medicaid applications will also be available at the Food Stamp Office on Beach 20th Street. The following offices in Queens will take care of Undercare cases for Medicaid – The Jamaica Medicaid Office at 90-75 Sutphin Boulevard and Elmhurst Hospital at 79-01 Broadway.
State Senator Malcolm Smith believes that the renovations are long overdue.
“It has been clear for some time that this building needs to be modernized so that the [Human Resources] Administration’s clients and community can be better served,” said Smith.
“This [new] building will be worth the wait.”
Also at the ceremony were Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Assemblywoman Michele Titus, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Councilman James Sanders, Jr., and JoAnne Page (the executive director of The Fortune Society in Manhattan).