The rollback of welfare reform under New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, has begun in earnest.
The city's Human Resources Administration just informed able-bodied, childless adults that they no longer need to do anything in exchange for their food stamps. Sitting at home and watching TV while you collect your benefits is just fine with de Blasio and his new welfare chief, former Legal Aid Society chief Steve Banks.
Until this Monday, New York City required able-bodied adults without dependents to work or to participate in a work-placement program for 20 hours a week in order to maintain their food-stamp eligibility. (Mothers with children are exempt from the work requirement.)
Federal law limits healthy, childless recipients who refuse to seek work to three months of food stamps over a three-year period. That same law, however, allows states and cities to request a waiver of the food-stamp work requirement, if their economies are less than robust. The Obama administration grants those requests as a matter of course.
To the fury of the city's welfare activists and then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, however, the Bloomberg administration refused to request a waiver from Washington, in the belief that the best way out of poverty is work.
Now the activists are back in the saddle. The city has just sought a waiver, effective immediately, and joins jurisdictions that treat food stamps as an unconditional entitlement, for which nothing can be asked in return.
HRA is not only banning the placement of any able-bodied food-stamp recipient into a city workfare assignment, starting this summer it will also forbid recipients from voluntarily seeking assistance from the city's most successful job-placement agencies.
De Blasio and Banks undoubtedly believe they have struck a blow for the poor in lifting the work requirement. The opposite is the case. Approximately 40,000 childless, healthy adults (predominantly male) were engaged in the city's food-stamp work programs.
Veterans and convicts returning after imprisonment made up a large portion of that caseload. These two populations are particularly vulnerable to homelessness and other social dysfunctions.
The work requirement was often the only lever the city had to teach them basic work skills, such as promptness and reliability, and to connect them to the world of employment. Someone who signs up for food stamps for the first time will likely soon end up on cash welfare as well if not quickly placed in a job.
Now, however, these at-risk populations are all but unreachable to job-assistance efforts.
The food-stamp work waiver is part of a larger agenda. Poverty advocates have long sought to convert food stamps into a no-strings-attached entitlement.
Incessant media campaigns funded by taxpayer dollars aim to teach the public to think of food stamps as an ordinary accoutrement to modern life, not as welfare. Those PR blitzes try to snuff out any remaining stigma attached to food-stamp use, lest potential recipients actually attempt to support themselves on their own.
De Blasio has previously declared the city's already high number of food-stamp users — nearly 1.9 million, or 21 percent of the population — at least a quarter million too low. He is now well on his way to correcting that alleged imbalance.
Next on the agenda: gutting sanctions for noncompliance with welfare rules and the decimation of work requirements for cash-assistance recipients.
Original Source: http://nypost.com/2014/05/15/the-de-blasio-stamp-moving-to-boost-dependency/