Over the last five years, possibly the change that's transformed the spirit of the City more than other - maybe even more than our historic crime reductions and record job gains - is the unprecedented reduction of our welfare rolls. In the early 1990s, more than 1.15 million people were dependent on government. They simply picked up a check every month, and government asked nothing of them in return.
Allowing nearly one in seven New Yorkers to remain on welfare for years or generations was unfair not only to the City as a whole but to the recipients themselves. There is nothing progressive about supporting able-bodied people with potential and talent without demanding that they give something back. A truly compassionate and really progressive philosophy instead gives people their lives back through work, fostering economic and social independence, so that more and more people are able to support themselves and their children.
I believe in the social contract, which states that for every right there is a responsibility. For every benefit, there's an obligation. That's why we've moved more than 424,000 people off the welfare rolls and toward lives of self-sufficiency, and that's why to go further we are replacing welfare offices across the City with Job Centers. This Wednesday, I was proud to open our eighth such center, the Hamilton Job Center in Harlem. By spring of next year, every single income support center in the city will be converted into a Job Center - including an exciting new project that will create a Job Center in the New York City Housing Authority development in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
At Job Centers, people receive meaningful help that enables them to transform their lives, and support themselves and their children with dignity. They are a crucial part of our citywide plan to end welfare by the year 2000, replacing it with a system of work in exchange for benefits.
At Wednesday's opening, I was also pleased to announce that over the past five years, the Human Resources Administration and Parks Department's "Parks Career Training Program" - which recruits volunteers from our Work Experience Program to take on additional responsibilities and learn specialized job skills - has helped 1,141 people find full-time employment. And 79 percent of those full-time job placements have been in the private sector. That's a model of how city agencies can work with private businesses to offer people hope and give people the chance to really transform their lives.
From Gracie Mansion, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.