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Significant Progress: NYC Addresses Backlog, Clears Food Stamp and Cash Assistance Applications


The Adams administration shared on Monday that it has significantly decreased the backlogs that previously caused low-income New Yorkers to face extended delays in receiving food stamps and cash assistance.

The city’s inability to distribute public benefits within a court-ordered timeframe has led to requests by the Legal Aid Society and other organizations to hold the city in contempt of court.

In a recent announcement, Molly Wasow Park, the city’s Department of Social Services commissioner, shared that the backlogs in cash and food stamp grants had been significantly reduced.

Park credited the improvements to several changes:

  1. Individuals are now able to fill out their paperwork via phone and contact city employees at their convenience.
  2. Local authorities were granted permission by the state to discontinue sending a “6-month letter” to new recipients six months after benefits were activated.

    Park mentioned that the letter requested recipients to confirm that everything remained unchanged and had no other use.

    However, not replying to this letter led to the termination of benefits for numerous families.

    New York State granted a waiver allowing the city to eliminate this unnecessary obstacle.

According to the city’s records, around 600,000 applications have been processed since last summer, with the assistance of almost 1,000 new employees hired at the start of last year.

In late summer, the number of applications awaiting approval reached over 46,000, causing a peak in the cash assistance backlog.

Mayor Adams: Clearing SNAP and Cash Assistance Backlogs

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 01: New York City Mayor Eric Adams attends a memorial for the 30th anniversary of the killing of teenager Ari Halberstam on the Brooklyn Bridge on March 01, 2024 in New York City. In 1994 a Lebanese-born terrorist fired at a van carrying 15 Hasidic teenagers in what was one of the city’s worst pre-9/11 terror incidents. Halberstam was killed while several others were wounded.

As of the end of February, the city had approximately 400 SNAP applications in the backlog, along with about 1,150 cash assistance cases pending.

“Our administration has made significant progress in reducing the cash assistance and SNAP backlogs, processing over 50,000 applications to support vulnerable New Yorkers,” stated Mayor Eric Adams.

Park points out that the increase in the number of New Yorkers receiving public benefits is due to the simplified application process and a growing need, partly caused by the end of special COVID-19 rental assistance programs.

“After a court injunction set a deadline for the City to comply with the law, the Adams Administration corrected the backlog of applications filed by low-income New Yorkers for benefits,” the Legal Aid Society said on Monday. 

In the future, we will ensure that the City is held responsible for any delays that negatively affect our clients.

Finally, we are looking forward to receiving more information from the City on how the backlog was reduced to make sure that every eligible household received the benefits they are entitled to by the law.

According to Commissioner Park, the city is keeping track of the amount of migrant families currently receiving public benefits.

She mentioned that the amount of asylum seekers receiving public benefits is minimal, but did not provide a specific figure.  

According to city data, around 1.7 million New Yorkers are receiving SNAP benefits, while over 500,000 are receiving cash assistance.

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