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Maureen Lane

A New Human Resources Administration Commish for NYC. A New Opportunity

Verna Eggleston is moving on from her position as Commissioner of New York City's Human Resources Administration (HRA). HRA oversees the systems that impact so many of the city's poor because it is usually their first contact for Food Stamps, Medicaid and other important family and income supports.

The HRA vacancy is an opportunity for the mayor to make an appointment that can breathe viable political life into the Mayor's new Center for Economic Opportunity.

Here at Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI) students and staff have some guidance for the Mayor's next steps. I don't know yet who the new commissioner will be but I know that being a good HRA Commissioner will require vision; someone who knows that this city's people (poor, low-income, middle class, as well as wealthy CEO's) have the creativity, heart and smart thinking to make poverty a memory.

The commissioner will best serve NYC and its people by proactively working to simultaneously provide urgent services like food stamps or emergency housing to stabilize their immediate situations while at the same time working to change policy so that people are allowed to move out of poverty through self-determination.

The new commissioner's vision must recognize the long-term benefits of providing poor and low-income families with uncomplicated timely access to the following:

Health care (Medicaid, Family Health Care Plus)
Food stamps
Affordable quality, and yes, subsidized childcare
Access to education and training

The Commissioner must convene federal, state and city lawmakers to work coopertively and collaboratively for families' economic security with programs that make sense.

The intersection of the three levels of government so often clobbers New York City's poor. For example this year like so many others, the federal government offered the city more money for food stamps and the Mayor turned it down. The state and city need to expand access to education and training for people receiving welfare so they can get good, longterm jobs and the federal government pulls the rug out from under them.

We must stop covering the sky with our hand. We need a Commissioner with the leadership, vitality and principled openness to help our city build the city we all envision.

Maureen Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 7:43 AM, Dec 28, 2006 in Welfare
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