DMI Blog

Maureen Lane

The Mayor and the Incredible Shrinking Welfare Rolls

Yesterday the Mayor released a statement extolling the decrease in the number of people receiving welfare in NYC. He and Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner Eggleston took full credit for the good development, as they see it, and boasted that 88 percent of the people connected to jobs through HRA programs were still employed after a couple of months.

The New York Times front-page article pointed out that while the welfare rolls have shrunk, income inequality has risen. Radio as well as newspaper media responded to the Mayor's announcement. WNYC's Brian Lehrer had a show devoted to welfare yesterday on WNYC. I was not able to hear much of it but the question of job retention was being mentioned as I tuned in. The Mayor touting people's few months in a job is a bit desperate in using statistics as program justification. Family sustaining jobs last years not months. One New Jersey study showed that median duration of employment for employed former welfare recipients is only 16 months.

Welfare Rights Initiative works with students every day who are earning college degrees to move their families out of poverty. Studies done in the early and mid nineties, there have not been comparable studies since, show that 88 percent of the women allowed to get a bachelors degree moved permanently from welfare and out of poverty. They were studied for years not a few months and were in jobs that had some future not the low wage transient service jobs that so often are filled by the poor.

As far as HRA programs go, recent reports done in NYC by community-based groups FUREE and Community Voices Heard showed that city contractors were not placing people in viable jobs and most people receiving welfare were not told they could access education despite the fact that a vast majority wanted to pursue a GED, Basic Ed, English as a Second Language or college.

Education, from ESL to college helps equip all of us to understand in a deeper way what family life, work life and community life requires of us. Education builds confidence and expands our skills for working in teams. Education does not give us all knowledge. Rather it connects us to the resources and techniques for problem solving in the present and in the future. Education is a choice that can sustain families now and lay the foundation for their children’s future.

Hastily released press statements about welfare faring well does the city no service. Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Eggleston, let's talk.

Maureen Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 07, 2006 in Education | Welfare
Permalink | Email to Friend