An Agenda for a NYS Anti-Hunger Task Force Hunger Action Network of NYS

Hunger is a significant and growing problem in NYS. Since the Great Recession started in 2007, the number of people being assisted by the state’s 3000 food pantries and soup kitchens has grown by more 60% to an estimated 3 million a year. Governor Cuomo in 2011, in announcing the end of finger imaging of food stamp applicants in NYC, said that no child should go bed to hungry. In his 2012 State of the State address, the Governor said he would appoint an AntiHunger Task Force. His principal focus was on expanding participation in federal nutrition programs. The mere fact that any New Yorker goes to bed hungry is unacceptable. But we also know that not having enough to eat leads to serious corollary consequences, multiplying the burden on our most vulnerable populations particularly young children and the elderly and increasing long term social costs... And it is not just lack of food, but a lack of quality food that matters. Too often those who can’t afford food also don’t have access to healthy food, including fresh fruits and vegetables... Significant federal and other programs exist to fight hunger but are underutilized or not sufficiently deployed, failing those in need and forgoing millions in federal dollars that could flow into our economy... Only 41.4 percent of New York kids participating in school lunch are also benefiting from school breakfast, ranking New York 40th in the nation. Raising that participation rate to 60 percent (in line with the top states in the country) would bring New York an estimated $53.6 million per year in additional federal funding to help children and their families. This same pattern holds true for other federally funded programs... This year, Governor Cuomo will create a Statewide Anti-Hunger Task Force to work to end hunger in New York by leveraging public - private partnerships to maximize and improve New York’s network of anti hunger services. The Task Force will focus on three goals: - Increasing participation in federally funded anti-hunger programs (to feed hungry New Yorkers while bringing federal money into our state); - Increasing the use of New York farm products and healthy foods in anti-hunger programs; and - facilitating private sector efforts in partnership with the government to meet the above goals. However, a serious effort to end hunger must also address the root causes of hunger and poverty as well. It should also address the related problems of homelessness, which is at record levels in NYC. New York’s recovery from the Great Recession proceeds slowly, and the hardships endured by the poorest New Yorkers continue unabated. As of 2012, the poverty rate in New York State remained at 16% – over three million people – and the child poverty rate exceeded a shocking 22%. Fully one in four African-Americans and Hispanics survive on incomes below the poverty level, and more than 1.3 million people have incomes less than half of the federal poverty level, a condition known as “deep poverty.” The percentage of food insecure households in NYS increased from 12.9% in 2008-2010 to 13.3% in 2009-2012. New York however was slightly below the national average of 14.6% food insecurity. 5.1% of New York households were considered to have “very low food security” – households with the deepest struggles, regularly skipping meals, or cutting the amounts eaten below what is needed. 14.8% of children under the age of 18 are food insecure in NYS, according to a study by Feeding America, a national anti-hunger organization. 1

The Governor's Anti-Hunger Task Force. The Governor's Anti-Hunger Task Force needs a broad representation of groups and organizations involved with food and hunger, including both advocates and low-income individuals. In addition to the three goals addressed by the Governor, it should also address the issues of poverty and income inequality. The State should develop an anti-hunger plan with actionable steps, timetable and assignment of responsibilities. It needs to strengthen its collection and integration of data on hunger in New York State (e.g., number of people using EFPs and federal nutrition programs, number of people eligible for such programs). The data should be used to monitor the state's progress in implementing its anti-hunger plan. It should identify the location of food deserts where residents lack reliable access to healthy, affordable food. We have incorporated recommendations advanced by other organizations such the Empire State Economic Security Campaign, Hunger Solutions of NYS, NYC Coalition Against Hunger, and Food Bank of NYC. There are many changes in federal anti-hunger issues that New York should advocate for, starting with the federal nutrition programs. We have not included them here. Such recommendations are outlined in the NYC Food Policy Agenda developed by Hunger Action Network of NYS and Food Research Action Center. End Childhood Hunger Goals include. a. Ensure that all children have access to high quality, nutritious foods, local and regional whenever possible, in their schools and through other child nutrition programs; b. Reduce obesity and diet-related diseases and ensure productive, healthy generations; and c. Make federal child nutrition programs universal and more nutritious while reducing their administrative paperwork and bureaucracy. d. Give programs more resources and technical assistance to serve all children with nutritious food, local and regional whenever possible, produced in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner. e. Make nutrition education available to all children and caregivers through child nutrition programs. f. Ensure adequate funding for child care and after school programs. Child Nutrition Programs: 1. Improve School Food and Nutrition Education a) Continue to strengthen nutritional standards. b) Enact legislation making mandatory a food, agriculture, and nutrition curriculum for K-12 public school students including a home economics course, which involves developing the skills to purchase and prepare raw foods. c) Ensure that every school has access to agriculture, be it a community garden, urban farm, or relationship with a rural farm. d) Provide training to farmers on how to market and sell their products to schools. Educate institutions such as schools about how to use locally grown food. Pilot partnerships between schools and local growers to do light processing of foods that can then be used during the school year. e) Increase state supplemental funding for school meals. 2) Increase access to federal child nutrition programs.


a) Require all schools in New York State to provide nutritious free breakfasts and lunches to all children, regardless of family income, and require no paperwork; and ensure adequate reimbursements to school districts to do so. For schools that have opted out of school breakfast, work with them to identify and resolve barriers. Continue to educate school superintendents emphasizing the link between good nutrition and children’s ability to learn and the ways in which the School Breakfast Program can support good nut rition. b) Mandate (with opt out provision) school participation in in-classroom or grab and go breakfast programs. Provide needed funding support. Allow teachers to count breakfast service time as instructional time c) Ensure maximum effectiveness of state level electronic data matching for direct certification of school meals. d) Provide state matching funds for reimbursements for sponsor agencies for summer meals and after school snacks and suppers e) Require all schools with 40 percent or more free and reduced-price eligible students to operate the Summer Food Service Program, if there are no other SFSP sponsors in the community. Explore innovative approaches to providing nutritious food for children in ways that address the challenges of rural communities and the stigma sometimes associated with participating in a congregate feeding model. Support pilot projects using enhanced EBT cards as a mechanism for increasing children’s access to food in the summer months. Better integrate summer food programs into existing summer programs for children and youth throughout the state. Strengthen public awareness campaigns about SFSP, especially to parents and in communities where existing summer food programs are being underutilized. f) Expand the number of childcare programs that provide nutritious meals and snacks through the federallyfunded Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Provide financial incentives to child care programs to participate (e.g., mini-grants to help child care centers upgrade their facilities to allow participation). Include info re CACFP with licensing and review process for child care centers. g) Conduct a pilot project that encourages co-locating child care/afterschool services with other organizations in order to promote sharing of facilities, administrative capacities. 3. Fully Fund the Women, Infants and Children Program to Meet Need a) Provide increased state matching funds to ensure that all qualifying applicants for WIC receive benefits. WIC is not yet an entitlement program. Restore recent cuts and do not include WIC in a block grant as the Governor proposed last year. b) Eliminate barriers to WIC participation (streamlining program certification/eligibility processes, improve capacity to serve non-English speaking participants, increase outreach efforts, etc.). c) Make it easier for New York State farmers to enroll in, and accept, the WIC Fruits and Vegetables (F&V) check. For example, the State could create a universal application form that permits farmers to simultaneously apply to accept both the WIC F&V check and the highly successful and well-established Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (“FMNP”). The State Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets should also continue to explore innovative methods to provide WIC trainings – mandatory for farmers who wish to accept the WIC F&V checks – and should increase the number of trainings conducted via the web throughout the year. d) Expedite the distribution of WIC on the EBT Card. The New York State Department of Health recently issued a Request for in order to select a contractor to analyze and develop a two-to-three year plan to transfer WIC onto the EBT card. The federal law now requires this transfer to occur no later than October 1, 2020. The sooner it is accomplished the better. e) Ensure continued support to the Peer Counseling Program to sustain gains on the improvement of breastfeeding rates in NYS. Improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly food stamps) Continue to expand upon recent reforms by NYS to increasing access to, and participation in SNAP. Only about half of the guests of EFPs currently receive SNAP benefits though almost all are income eligible. Additional


opportunities are available for the state to reduce hunger by increasing the number of eligible people who receive SNAP benefits. New York State should: - increase state funding to subsidize the purchase by SNAP and WIC participants at farmers markets; - provide a state supplement to federal SNAP benefits, including expanding eligibility (e.g., immigrant status) and income eligibility to reflect NYS' demographics and high cost of living. SNAP benefits often run out by the third week of the month. Investments in SNAP have a multiplier effect of 1.8. Congress determined that increasing food stamp benefits was the best way to stimulate the economy. - following the reauthorization of the federal SNAP program, continue to take advantage of such initiatives as providing nominal LIHEAP benefits to public housing residents to enable them to utilize the standard utility deduction in calculating SNAP benefits. 1) Streamline/simplify program: a) Adopt uniform rules and enforcement of SNAP across the state. b) Establish a seamless inter-county transfer process for SNAP recipients who move across county lines that would maintain their eligibility, ensure continuation of benefits and reduce administrative burdens. c) Create a self-employment standard deduction. d) Align documentation requested with USDA requirements. 2) Increase access to SNAP by eligible people: a) Require all local districts to participate in all available federal waivers that would enhance access. b) Operate a statewide voluntary employment and training program. c) Ensure that local Offices for the Aging assist eligible seniors in applying for SNAP benefits. NAP misses about half of those New York State seniors who are eligible— an estimated 500,000 older New Yorkers d) Promote and ensure, “No Wrong Door” policies that allow sharing of application information from one agency to other agencies to determine applicant eligibility for additional means-tested programs. e) Ensure language access for all participants by expanding translation and interpreting services to more languages and providing language access lines at all SNAP offices. f) Implement a Standard medical deduction. g) Ensure timeliness in the SNAP application/recertification processes. Seek waivers to extend period of time before recertification (e.g., three years for seniors). Pre-fill out the information in recertification from existing data. Waive recertification interviews for seniors and others with fixed economic circumstances. h) Simplify notifications to applicant/recipients (e.g., provide notices targeted to an 8th grade reading level, and in more than the six languages already available). i) Provide education to SNAP recipients to ensure they understand how to utilize EBT to access benefits. j) Authorize and fund an expanded PSA campaign to help families understand the benefits for which they are eligible. k) Increase State funding for the FRESH Connect program that supports bringing New York State farm products into low-income neighborhoods and communities; restore eligibility of CSA programs for such funding. l) Provide additional state matching funds for the WIC and Senior Farmers’ Markets Programs. m) Mandate – and provide state matching funding to support the mandate (the federal government is required to pay for half of these extra funds) – that county social service offices have expanded night and weekend hours to better meet the needs of working families. n) Require that the Office of Temporary Disability (OTDA) issue an annual RFP through which nonprofit organizations can apply to use private and non-federal government funds for SNAP outreach, as well as for federal matching funds through the state SNAP outreach plan. o) Require counties to limit requirements for in-office interviews for SNAP applicants to the fullest extent permitted by federal law.


3) Expand the number of people who are eligible to participate in SNAP: a) Create a Transitional SNAP demonstration project for income eligible foster youth who have aged out of the Foster Care System to enroll them automatically into SNAP for one year. 4) Improve and expand state-level outreach and education efforts, including: a) Expand the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) so that it can serve all New York State counties and strengthen services in high-need counties. b) Increase outreach and education to vulnerable populations with low participation. Expand public education efforts to address stigma and other barriers to participation. c) Promote innovative collaborations between the aging network and OTDA/SOFA/DOH to improve nutrition education and expand SNAP participation statewide. 5) Strengthen local administration of SNAP: a) Provide local districts with adequate funds to effectively administer SNAP locally to meet the needs of hungry New Yorkers. b) Set appropriate caseload standards for SNAP office workers. Senior Nutrition Programs: Twenty percent of EFP guests are seniors. More than half of the programs reported an increase in seniors in the last year. In eight years, from 2001 – 2009, the number of Americans age 50+ threatened by hunger soared by 79 percent, to nearly 9 million people. Nationwide, just one-third of those 60+ who are eligible for SNAP are enrolled; two-thirds are not. Government funding for senior meals programs, such as Meals on Wheels, should be increased. Simplify notices sent to households, so that they are easier for recipients to understand. W e recommend the 8th grade reading level. Enforce the federal mandate that all Food Stamp offices provide translation services to clients. a) Increase access to senior nutrition assistance programs by eligible people: b) Expand the number of adult day programs that provide nutritious meals and snacks through the federallyfunded Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). c) Ensure adequate state supplemental funding for congregate meals and home delivered meals to align with the rising aging population. d) Expand education and outreach to underserved older populations. Enhance Support for Emergency Food Programs In HANNYS 2012 statewide survey of EFPs, almost 2/3 of the programs reported a decrease in funding in both government funding and private funding in 2012. 89% of the programs reported the need to increase state funding for emergency food (HPNAP). 40% reported wanting more flexibility on how to spend HPNAP operations support. There is also the need for capital equipment and staff. a) Increase funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) by at least $10 million annually. Make the HPNAP application process clearer and simpler, with increased flexibility as to how programs spend their HPNAP funds. Increase funding for EFPs operating and capital equipment costs. Increase the percentage of purchased emergency food that is healthy, locally produced fruits and vegetables. Increase funding to assist EFPs in helping particular populations such as infants, children and the elderly.


b) Require state and municipal agencies, and their contractors, to ensure that surplus food is donated to nonprofit food distribution organizations. c) The state should promote “Grow Another Row’, Seeds and Seedling Distribution, vegetable gardens, gleaning and other practices that increase the amount of locally grown food available to the guests of EFPs. d) EFPs need more technical assistance and support for areas such as fundraising, nutrition, nutrition education, advocacy and client empowerment. This includes the need for funding for additional staff support. Technical assistance can be provided by means of webinars, seminars, conferences, and through site-visits by e) Significant improvements have been made in recent years at the state and city level to improve nutrition standards for emergency food. Stronger standards are still needed. More attention needs to be paid to ensure that the organizations being paid to provide food supplies to the EFPs provide the food choices needed to implement the guidelines. Support is also needed to increase the availability of culturally appropriate foods. Emergency food programs would benefit from increased information about how the various nutrition programs operate and how proposed guidelines on nutrition standards affects and impacts their clientele and the community at large. f) In order to assist food programs in providing assistance to their clients in obtaining federal benefits, direct food providers need access to more educational materials that are easier to understand, and available in many languages. There must be continued efforts to educate food programs through workshops and seminars and webinars about benefit programs. Increase funding for EFP staff to assist with benefit advocacy is needed. Strengthen NYS' Food System The Governor stated the one of the three goals of the Task Force would be to increasing the use of New York farm products and healthy foods in anti-hunger programs. Governor Spitzer re-established the NYS Council on Food Policy to improve coordination among state agencies, community groups, farmers, food processors, food industry, farmers and others to strengthen the state's overall food system. Eating fresh food is good for everyone. Not only does it nourish children, it drives economic development within local communities, helps farmers stay in business and benefits the environment by reducing carbon footprints. Many families are not strongly linked to locally grown food for reasons ranging from the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables, unfamiliarity with the use or preparation of some fruits and vegetables, or the inability to get to locations that offer fresh produce. These barriers lead some families to turn to less nutritious processed foods to feed their children which can contribute to poor nutrition and chronic health conditions. The NYS Food Policy Council needs to provide strong leadership to ensure that state policies regarding hunger, nutrition, health, and agriculture are effectively implemented by state agencies, especially with cross-agency and issue collaboration is need. It needs to be adequately resourced (funded). The Council needs to have a strong advisory committee to increase input and participation. It needs clearer mandates and accountability for its work product. Hunger Action Network of NYS has a separate report on steps needed to strengthen the NYS Food Policy Council. Some specific goals re local and healthy foods include: increasing funding to incentivize the use of SNAP dollars at Farmers Markets; establishment of wholesales farmers markets in at least the largest six cities; assisting SNAP households to participate in CSAs; increasing local and healthy food procurement requirements for state purchased food, including HPNAP, schools meals and senior meals; improving Farm to School and Farm to


Institution (e.g., hospital initiatives); expansion of NYC healthy Bodega initiatives statewide; amending HPNAP to more enable EFPs to purchase from local farmers; increased investments in small-case food processing for local farmers. NY should promote local agriculture in neighborhoods with limited access to fresh foods through new farmers markets, food cooperatives, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), veggie mobiles and local food buying clubs (with universal EBT machine access), as well as community gardens in parks, schools, housing authorities and other publicly owned land. The state should expand and strengthen its Buy Local marketing efforts; Pride of NY needs to be overhauled.

Expanding the local food economy should be a major priority of state economic development programs. NY should develop a job incubator program in conjunction with an urban agriculture education program to connect job training with the food industry, such as urban food production, processing, and entrepreneurial job training. NY should expand state policies to encourage the consumption of healthy food in place of junk food. NY should promote urban food production. The state should review policy obstacles that discourage urban agriculture.
The Governor should sign into the law pending legislation to direct state agencies to increase its purchase of local foods (A5102 / S4061). He needs to direct the Office of General Services and the Department of Health to incorporate the purchase of local foods into their missions. Additional recommendations include: Provide authorization and appropriations for the state to create a grant program to start model “food and nutrition zones,” which would saturate a limited geographical area with every known tool to reduce hunger and food insecurity, bolster nutrition, and fight obesity. The state government should also be required to provide comprehensive technical assistance to, and full partnerships with, the pilot zones. Direct the state to develop and test a comprehensive “food access index” to comprehensiv ely determine the affordability and availability of food in an urban neighborhood or rural community. Expand state programs to bring more food stores, co ops, CSAs, food buying clubs, farmers’ markets and other sources of healthy affordable food into low-income communities and neighborhoods. Support programs such as community gardens that enable households to grow their own food (e.g., strengthen the NYS Office of Community Gardens in Ag and markets.) Fund initiatives to make it easier for low-income individuals to access such programs. Continue to expand linkage of local farmers with Summer Food Programs, “Farm to School,” “Farm to Institution,” and other feeding programs for children and their families including EFPs. Improve the Health Standards of State Food Purchased and Served a) Adopt federal wellness standards and issue comprehensive agency nutrition standards. b) Continue to strengthen standards and bans around particular nutrients (e.g. sodium) or foods (e.g. sugary beverages). Enact a sugary beverage tax, with revenues used to fund nutrition, food, health and agriculture programs. Improve State Response to Food Emergencies (e.g., from severe weather) a) Provide the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) broader authority to operate disaster SNAP in impacted areas. Authorize state funding to fully match federal administrative monies for disaster SNAP so that local administrative funds do not have to be utilized.


b) Provide authorization and appropriations for a pilot State “Build Back Better” program to provide seed money and technical assistance to open or re-open food related businesses in disaster areas and enable them to provide healthier food options. End Hunger through Economic Justice Hunger in NYS is a reflection of the growing income inequality and poverty in NYS. People of color are far more likely to be poor and unemployed. In general, those who are hungry have too little money (from work, public assistance, retirement, social security) to pay bills that are often too high (especially for food, housing, energy, health care). We need to create living wage jobs and strengthen the safety net for those unable to work (children, seniors, disabled) or find a job. Increase access to affordable, high quality child care, transportation, and housing. We need to enact the Women's Equality Agenda and Paid Family Leave. New York should enact a Poverty Commission. This Commission would examine the root causes of poverty in New York, set poverty reduction targets and timelines and adopt promising anti-poverty policies gleaned from research and experience from around the country. More than a dozen states have created bipartisan commissions to narrow the widening gap between the rich and the poor by eliminating barriers — such as lack of education, poor transportation and inadequate child care — that prevent many from finding better jobs and escaping chronic poverty. This agenda only touches a few of the most critical initiatives. For more information, see the Policy Agenda of the Empire State Economic Security Campaign. See New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and the Fiscal Policy Institute for reforms needed to restore progressivity to the state's tax system. Welfare Reform Compounding the difficulties for poor New Yorkers, key pieces of the state’s social safety net remain disturbingly unresponsive to the economic crisis. In the mid-1990s, 80% of New York’s poor families were at least to some degree cushioned against hard times by receiving public assistance. In the current recession, less than one-third of those in poverty receive public assistance. For those receiving welfare, a typical grant brings a family’s income to less than half of the federal poverty level. Thus, in terms of both the number of poor people receiving aid and the amount of assistance provided, the safety net in New York falls well short of adequately helping those in need. Expand Use of IDAs. Expand the number of families using the IDA (Individual Development Account) program to save earned income in special-purpose, matched savings accounts. Families use their IDA savings, including the matching funds, to achieve any of four objectives: acquiring a first home; capitalizing a small business; purchasing transportation; or enrolling in postsecondary education or training. Welfare grant. Should be raised to lift families out of poverty. Shelter allowance should reflect actual cost of housing. NYS should increase or eliminate the basic asset limit for public assistance recipients – New York State’s asset limit of $2,000 is among the lowest in the nation. Raise the Earned Income Disregard to allow welfare participants to earn their way out of poverty. In 2012, there were approximately 150,000 adults receiving public assistance who were deemed employable. More than 40,000, nearly 28%, had earnings from employment, averaging about 27 hours of work per week. New York policy theoretically enables a household with earnings to continue to receive a cash assistance supplement until their earned income brings them above the federal poverty level. Unfortunately, outdated “gross income tests” mean that most families in the state lose all assistance well before their earned income reaches the poverty level. The gross income tests should be repealed.


Authorize and fund a comprehensive assets empowerment agenda to enable low-income adults to learn, work, and save their way out of poverty. New York lags behind the rest of the country with respect to helping people move from welfare to work, especially work that pays a sustainable wage. This problem has gotten worse as individuals with multiple barriers to employment have become more prevalent in the welfare system. NYS has been resistant to providing welfare individuals with access to education (both basic and college) and job training. NYS should fulfill the promise of the 1996 federal welfare reform by greatly improving assistance to help individuals overcome barriers to employment: increased access to education, job training, child care, transitional support. Improve the administration of OTDA, including its oversight of local district to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and policy initiatives. End the epidemic of excessive sanctioning and churning in the welfare system. Ending poverty must be a goal of the welfare system. New York State should strengthen the safety net for those who cannot work by: a) Making sure people can obtain the benefits they need. In the face of a dramatically increased need for public benefits, access to these benefits for low-income households must be protected and should be enhanced. Measures should be adopted to facilitate the timely processing of applications and to reduce unnecessary and often punitively administered requirements. b) New York should also adopt a Crisis Stabilization Program for welfare applicants that states such as Delaware, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina have developed to provide specialized assessments and case management for families that need additional time and assistance to address their barriers and become work ready. c) New York should move to a system of online facilitated enrollment such as the Benefit Bank program for all government benefits. d) To adhere to Article XVII of the NYS Constitution – the State obligation to provide care for the needy – DSS offices should have sufficient staffing, hours and operations to process applications and serve existing clients in a timely and efficient manner. Disabilities. Nationally, individuals with disabilities are twice as likely to experience hunger and poverty. Greatly improve the delivery of services and support to individuals with disabilities. Develop a New York State Americans with Disabilities Act complaint policy to require that all Departments of Social Services offices and Human Resources Administrations offices reasonably accommodate disabled and limited English speaking applicants and beneficiaries. Jobs. Unemployment in New York State has been around 8% or higher for the past three and a half years, the longest stretch since the mid-1970s. The average duration of unemployment is currently nine months. To lower the state’s unemployment rate to the 4.3% level it was at the beginning of 2007, NY needs 512,000 more jobs. Among the lowest income households, unemployment rates reached levels exceeding the worst unemployment rates of the Great Depression. It is especially high for people of color and young persons. a) NYS should invest at least $100 million of TANF surplus funding to the job creation related TANF Initiatives: Career Pathways, Transitional Jobs, the Green Jobs Corps and the Wage Subsidy program. b) Set low-income / community job hiring targets for publicly funded jobs c) Launch a WPA style public works initiative, creating half a million public jobs at a living wage. Phil Harvey of Rutgers, a WPA style jobs program to create 500,000 jobs would cost about $14.3 billion (equal to the size of the rebate of the stock transfer tax). Wages would pay in the mid-teens per hour. Jobs would be tailored to


meet the unmet needs of the community, such as child care, construction work (e.g. the rehabilitation of abandoned or sub-standard housing), conservation measures (e.g. caulking windows and doors in private dwellings), the construction of new affordable housing units, and parks improvements. The program also could expand and improve the quality of public services in areas such as health care, child care, education, recreation, elder care, and cultural enrichment. d) Authorize and fund a state food jobs initiative to launch and expand businesses that grow, process, manufacture, and retail food. e) Reform the state's $6 billion economic development program to ensure that living wage jobs are being created for community residents; establish strong hiring goals for low-income New Yorkers, including people of color, the poor, the unemployed, victims of domestic violence, and ex-offenders. For example, “corporate subsidies” and public contracts should be tied to the hiring of public assistance participants and other low income New Yorkers to fill entry-level positions. The Governor’s office and the NYS Departments of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Labor should increase statewide county-by-county Equal Employment Opportunity hiring targets as a starting point. Wages. a) Increase the minimum wage to $12 to $15 an hour and then index to inflation. Provide full minimum wage to tip workers (i.e., no deduction for tip credit).. b) Increase state enforcement of laws against wage theft. Strengthen enforcement mechanisms in the law, such as allowing for wage liens to be filed against companies and owners. c) Expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit that gives tax refunds to working poor families. d) Create a State-funded young worker Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) (A.2617) for low-income workers without children ages 17-24 who are currently ineligible for the EITC until they turn 25 to provide a financial benefit for these workers and an incentive for unemployed youth to enter the workforce. e) Reform the Unemployment Insurance system to increase the maximum benefit, increase benefits at the bottom of the income distribution and establish dependent allowances. The Governor’s willingness to address needed reforms to the U.I. system is welcome, but the proposed measures (A.3007/S.2607), in terms of improving the system’s solvency and increasing weekly benefits, are seriously deficient. In addition, onerous job search and verification requirements, diminishing access to crucial benefits in a continuing period of high unemployment should be opposed. Housing Increase subsidies for tenants and low-income New Yorkers. New Yorkers are facing increasingly unstable housing situations at a time when New York State is disinvesting in housing programs that are proven effective and cost efficient. In New York City the number of individuals residing in emergency family shelters has reached over 50,000 a night for the first time in the shelter system’s history, with more than 20,500 children. Once in emergency shelter, families are finding that there is currently no path out -to secure permanent affordable housing - for themselves and their families because neither NYC nor NYS is supporting any type of rental assistance program for families unable to cover the cost of a market rate apartment. Most vulnerable are low-income communities already facing myriad obstacles including: high underemployment and unemployment rates and less access to vital resources that can help them build a better future for themselves. But parents can’t work and children are not able to thrive in school if they do not have a place to call home. The shelter census began to climb in NYC when the Bloomberg Administration stopped referring homeless households to the NYC Housing Authority and eliminated the preference granted by prior mayoral administrations that provided roughly one in three Federally subsidized units for homeless households. The failed series of experiments in time limited rental assistance that were supposed to make up for the loss of federally


assisted units led only to a revolving door that returned families to shelter, and once the programs were canceled altogether, to a rapid increase in recidivism. Homeless households exiting shelter through the now canceled. Advantage subsidies are 18 times more likely to return to shelter than those placed in public housing, and ten and a half times more likely than those exiting to apartments with Section 8 assistance. NYS must address the front end of this housing crisis by fully investing in eviction prevention services; evictions lead to 30% of shelter stays -this does not, however, count the large number of families who double-up with family and friends after an eviction in an attempt to avoid the shelter system but who, ultimately, wind up at shelter’s door. For a full agenda, see the Coalition for the Homeless. Below is a summary of the four key solutions. (Well the Coalition for the Homeless focuses on NYC, the solutions apply statewide.) 1. Affordable Housing Assistance Reduces Family Homelessness. In particular, Federal housing vouchers (known as Housing Choice Vouchers or Section 8 vouchers) -- which allow low-income households to rent modest market-rate housing -- provide a flexible subsidy that adjusts with the family's income over time. The State needs to provide needed supplemental funding. 2. Permanent Supportive Housing for People Living with Mental Illness and Other Special Needs. Permanent supportive housing combines affordable housing assistance with vital support services for individuals living with mental illness, HIV/AIDS, or other serious health problems, and thus enhances housing stability for individuals and families with special needs. Permanent supportive costs less than other forms of emergency and institutional care. The landmark 1990 "New York/New York Agreement"-- which has since been renewed twice, most recently in 2005 -- is an example of a successful permanent supportive housing initiative. 3, The "housing first" approach to reducing street homelessness involves moving long-term street homeless individuals -- the majority of whom are living with mental illness, addiction disorders, and other serious health problems -- directly into subsidized housing and then linking them to support services, either on-site or in the community. 4. Create and Preserve Affordable Housing. The fundamental cause of homelessness is the widening housing affordability gap. In NYC that gap has widened significantly over the past two decades, which have seen the loss of hundreds of thousands of units of affordable rental housing. At the same time that housing affordability has worsened, government at every level has cut back on already inadequate housing assistance for low-income people, and has reduced investments in building and preserving affordable housing. Finally, the weakening of rent regulation laws -- which help keep half of all rental apartments in NYC affordable -- has accelerated the loss of low-cost housing. To address the housing affordability gap, the Federal, State and City governments must significanlty increases investments in affordable rental housing, with a significant portion targeted to homeless families and individuals. strengthen rent regulation laws to preserve affordable housing and protect tenants. Improve Food System Working Conditions a) Guarantee health benefits, such as paid sick days and access to health care, to food system workers. Enact a standard of workers earning seven to nine job-protected, paid sick days each year. b) Ensure that procurement policies, government subsidies and loan programs require that contractors and recipients engage in fair labor practices and provide worker protections. c) Increase employee wage theft penalties, guarantee food syst em workers’ right to organize, and protect against retaliation for organizing. d) Tie the state's liquor licensing process to labor standards and incentivize good labor and food practices by giving some small benefits through the licensing process to businesses that go above and beyond what the law requires.


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