New York State has not raised its basic payment for people on welfare since 1989, forcing many recipients to skip meals, wear hand-me-downs and spend many days confined to their homes because they lack the $4 needed for a subway trip, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday.
Lawyers representing a group of welfare recipients filed the class-action lawsuit, accusing the state of violating a Depression-era constitutional provision that requires it to provide adequate financial assistance for its neediest residents.
Known as the basic welfare grant, the payment is a benefit of last resort for poor people who do not receive other assistance, like unemployment or disability insurance or workers’ compensation. In New York, it is available to families and single adults, and it is meant to cover the cost of essential expenses like clothing, toiletries and transportation.
Although the state has one of the most generous welfare policies in the country, allowing certain recipients to opt out of work requirements and providing benefits indefinitely, many people are still struggling, the lawsuit says. They cannot afford a telephone or a trip to the library to use a computer, according to the suit, so they have a hard time getting work because employers cannot easily contact them. And because they are ashamed of their predicament, they isolate themselves from relatives and friends, the lawsuit says.
Lawsuit Aims to Increase State’s Basic Welfare Grant
I will never understand why we pay people not to work. Oh, that's right...tweeding.