Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
The report compares the number of people receiving public assistance in 1997, and in 2007. Bich Ha Pham is a co-author of the report and says there was a 59 percent decrease in the number of recipients between those years. "It's because welfare applicants face too many restrictions and barriers," she says, adding that the welfare program is not responding to that need. She says that's a big difference from other public benefits programs, like food stamps, where there's been a stronger outreach to those affected by the economic downturn.
Michael Hayes is a spokesman for the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and says, "Just because applications are up, their analysis is not sufficient to draw any conclusion from the data. There are any number of reasons why people don't get welfare grants. People get assistance without going on the rolls, an increase in food stamp benefits..."
He says this website was created to deal with the problem of inter-agency failures in communication.
The authors of the report want Governor Paterson to continue making welfare reforms, like the $253 million dollar affordable housing grants passed this year. They're also calling on him to more closely monitor state welfare agencies.