New York City nearly resolves delays in benefits to thousands of low income residents, mayor says

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City has nearly resolved the backlogs in government programs providing food and cash assistance that prompted local groups to take legal action last year, Mayor Eric Adams said Monday.

The Democrat said the backlogs that forced low-income city residents to wait weeks and even moths for federal help commonly referred to as welfare and food stamps have been reduced by 97% and 90%, respectively.

Around 400 applications for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and roughly 1,150 applications for cash assistance were still pending as of the end of February, Adam’s office said. The backlog peaked late last summer with more than 50,000 pending applications.

The delays prompted the Legal Aid Society and other groups to file a contempt of court motion in December asking a Manhattan federal judge to order the city to comply with federal and state laws requiring the applications to be processed within 30 days.

The Legal Aid Society, in a statement Monday, said it’s pleased the city met the court’s March deadline, but it wants more details on how the backlog was reduced, to ensure that “any eligible household received the benefits entitled to them by the law.”

Adams cited the hiring of nearly 1,000 new workers in the city Department of Social Services since January and other steps, including technology investments and process improvements, in helping resolve the backlog.

As of January, more than 1.7 million New Yorkers were receiving SNAP benefits and more than 510,000 were receiving cash assistance benefits, according to the mayor’s office.

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