2005-09-09 / Community

Weiner: Help Those ‘Struggling To Make It’

With new census data showing poverty in the five boroughs on the rise, today Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens & Brooklyn) unveiled his plan to help New Yorkers struggling to make it. Weiner detailed an integrated approach bringing together city resources, non-profits, and the faith community in a concerted effort to fight poverty.

According to census data released yesterday, New York City is the only large city in the United States where the number of people living in poverty increased from 2005—rising from 19 to 20.3%. 

Since 2002, the rise is more substantial:  108,797 more New Yorkers living in poverty, an increase of 7.3%.

And too many children live below the poverty line in New York—581,324 or 36.3%. That’s 39,339 more than in 2002.

On Wednesday, Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is running for mayor in the upcoming election, issued a statement about those who are “struggling to make it.”

Weiner outlined his plan to lift New Yorkers struggling to make it out of poverty.

Eliminate the Food Stamp Fingerprinting Requirement – There are 390,220 fewer New Yorkers enrolled in the city’s food stamps program than 1995, when the program was at its peak.  Part of the reason: the city has placed unreasonable barriers between food stamps and those who need them, in particular the fingerprinting requirement implemented during the Giuliani administration.  As Mayor, Weiner will do away with the requirement that food stamp recipients be fingerprinted.

Create a Non-Profit Czar – As Mayor, Weiner will establish a Mayoral Office of Assistance to Non-Profit Organizations and a Non-Profits Czar, to provide a wider and more effective safety net for all New Yorkers. The Czar will coordinate efforts with religious institutions and other non-profits to address social ills like poverty, drug abuse, hunger, and homelessness. 

A Tax Cut for Middle and Low Income Individuals — As Mayor, Weiner will cut income taxes for every New Yorker making $150,000 or less a year, by 10%.

Help Small Businesses Create Jobs — As Mayor, Weiner will create new $100,000 to $200,000 seed loans to encourage the creation of new, innovative businesses—promising emerging businesses that don’t qualify for venture capital investments would be primary beneficiaries. And Weiner will end the ticket blitz on small businesses and help them afford health care for their employees while expanding the Business Improvement District program to help them thrive and grow the economy.

Use School Lunch Program to Deliver Health Care to Uninsured Kids – Every child that qualifies for the school lunch program is also eligible for public health insurance. Under the Weiner plan, application for the lunch program during annual school enrollment would automatically trigger outreach designed to provide families with the various health coverage options available to their child.

Build Health Networks Between Hospitals and Churches – The Institute for Urban Family Health used a federal grant to create Bronx Health REACH: a program that brought together 14 churches, NYU, health care organizations and others to increase awareness in the Bronx about preventative care and the treatment of diseases like Diabetes. The City should take an active role in facilitating networks modeled on Bronx Health REACH in all five boroughs.

Use Medicaid Fraud Damages to Help Subsidize Troubled Hospitals – Each year the State spends more than $44 billion dollars on Medicaid, a quarter of which comes from the City, but there is virtually no fraud oversight. To improve oversight, Attorney General Spitzer wants to give the State authority to recover treble damages where fraud is proven. A portion of the revenue generated from increased penalties should be used to help subsidize the City’s financially troubled hospitals.

Implement Electronic System to Enroll New Medicaid Recipients — Currently, Medicaid applicants must wade through a paper based, redundant application process that requires information to be entered by hand, and then be sent for a range of bureaucratic approvals. Weiner would implement an electronic system to automatically save basic data, streamline approvals and eliminate redundancies.

Fight for State Housing Funds — Under the “New York, New York” program, the State is supposed to provide matching funds for supportive housing for the homeless in the City. But the state hasn’t been living up to its end of the bargain. As Mayor, Weiner will demand that the state provide matching funds.

“In a city with the heart and resources of New York, there is no excuse for having 500,000 children visit a soup kitchen for food,” said Weiner. “But that’s what happened last year, and the new census numbers are not encouraging. Lifting New Yorkers struggling to make it out of poverty will take the combined efforts of the non-profit and faith communities. That’s the kind of leadership I’ll bring to City Hall.   

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