Turning Welfare Centers into Job Centers to Build a More Independent New York
by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani
It's all part of our plan to convert welfare offices into job centers, to build on our success in giving true opportunity to people who have been dependent on the government for too long. When people come to the government seeking help, instead of being handed a public assistance check, we're going to make sure that they are given the opportunity to help themselves - the chance to earn their own income, and their own independence, through the dignity of work.
We've come a long way already. Over the past few years, we've transformed the welfare system from one that encouraged dependency into one that increasingly enables people to take control of their own lives. When I came into office in 1993, more than 1.16 million people were on the welfare rolls, with that number expected to reach 1.2 or 1.3 million. Unlike previous leaders of the City, who somehow saw nothing wrong with having one-sixth of New Yorkers dependent on government, we decided to do something about it. Why? Because we know that when more and more people free themselves from dependency, their liberation improves the quality of life for everyone.
That's why, over the last few years, we have moved more than 360,000 people off the welfare rolls toward lives of self-sufficiency. Last month, the public assistance rolls went below 800,000 for the first time since the 1960s - the sign of a City with more people able to take care of themselves and their children.
Our workfare program has given thousands and thousands of New Yorkers valuable work experience, while reasserting the basic American principle that in return for every benefit, there is an obligation. In return for receiving public assistance benefits, able-bodied New Yorkers are obligated to work for the City of New York helping improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.
Today, thanks to these reforms, the number of public assistance recipients working in real jobs has tripled from what it was before, and every day people are experiencing the feelings of independence and self-reliance that only a job can give.
We're returning New York City to what it has always been at its best: a place of unique opportunity and responsibility, where people work hard to support themselves and their families. As more and more New Yorkers are liberated from dependency with the help of the best single social program of all - the one called a job - we will build a stronger future for all of New York.