Testimony: The New York City Council Committee on General Welfare Oversight Hearing - Public Benefits Processing Delays at HRA

Topacio Nunez, Senior Paralegal in the Civil Justice Practice at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) testified before The New York City Council Committee on General Welfare Oversight Hearing regarding Public Benefits Processing Delays at HRA.


As a provider of legal services for low-income New Yorkers, the majority of the people we serve are eligible for some form of public assistance. As a result, we routinely hear about problems obtaining and maintaining public assistance. In my role as Senior Paralegal, I help BDS clients apply for public benefits, and advocate with HRA and in administrative hearings in cases where essential benefits have been terminated or denied.

As HRA reported in the Mayor’s Management Report for FY2023, the Cash Assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) application timeliness rates declined by 53.5 percentage points and 20.4 percentage points, respectively, compared to FY22.1 While these figures are shocking and disturbing, the numbers alone do not capture the complete scale of the impact on New Yorkers who are attempting to access benefits.


Swift access to public benefits is paramount for low-income New Yorkers and helps provide critical stability. Benefit access may help the people we serve favorably resolve their criminal cases and reunite with their children after ACS involvement, maintain jobs and allow children to remain in school. Unnecessary delays contribute to community and family instability.

Read the full testimony here.

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