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Mayor Adams Announces Cash Assistance and SNAP Application Backlogs Nearly Eliminated, Bolstering Access to Benefits for Low-Income New Yorkers

March 4, 2024

WATCH: Mayor Adams Talks About How NYC Has Nearly Eliminated Full Backlogs of 46,000 Cash Assistance and 4,000 SNAP Applications

Adams Administration’s Staffing, Technology, Process Improvements Have Bolstered Benefits Access for Low-Income New Yorkers

Since Launching Fully-Remote Process Under Adams Administration, Over 90 Percent of New Yorkers Have Applied for Cash Assistance and SNAP Online

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Molly Wasow Park today announced that the Adams administration has nearly cleared the backlogs of cash assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications — that peaked at more than 50,0000 — ensuring low-income New Yorkers can quickly and easily access the federal benefits they qualify for. While over 46,000 cash assistance applications and over 4,000 SNAP applications were pending on-time processing last summer, the Adams administration’s investments in staffing, technology, and process improvements has eliminated the backlog of cases by 97 and 90 percent, respectively. In total, the city processed more than 600,000 cash assistance and SNAP applications during this period. Faced with a record number of applications as federal pandemic-related support expired, the city deployed a robust plan to process applications quickly and make it easier for low-income New Yorkers to access critical benefits. DSS hired nearly 1,000 new staff since January 2023 to process cash assistance and SNAP applications, doubled down on training for staff, and strengthened remote application processes to make it easier to apply for benefits. DSS worked closely with Chief Efficiency Officer Denise Clay and the Mayor's Office of Efficiency to identify application process enhancements to eliminate bottlenecks that contributed to the backlog. They also developed and implemented plans to expedite the processes going forward. 

“As a child, I watched my mother struggle to put food on the table, as she worked three jobs to care for me and my five siblings. The city wasn’t there for us when we needed help — we won’t let that practice continue under our administration,” said Mayor Adams. “Our administration is putting working-class New Yorkers first, and ensuring they have full access to the benefits they are entitled to receive in a timely manner. Thanks to our investments, our administration has nearly eliminated the cash assistance and SNAP backlogs — processing more than 50,000 applications and building on our work to ensure vulnerable New Yorkers can get the support they need. A more just and equitable New York City is a city that works better for everyone, and that is something our administration is committed to and will continue to deliver on every day.”

a trend down line graph from Jun 2023 to Feb 2024 about the backlog of Cash Assistance applications.

The Adams administration has nearly cleared the cash assistance backlog since last summer. Credit: New York City Department of Social Services

“Today’s announcement shows this administration’s work to streamline processes and find technical solutions to deliver for New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Whether it’s support for children and families facing mental health issues, those needing food assistance, or those accessing cash assistance, we are committed to uplifting individuals and families in need so they can thrive, not just survive.”

“The Adams administration has made critical progress strengthening access to benefits for low-income New Yorkers and we are reaching a record number of New Yorkers today,” said DSS Commissioner Park. “We acted with urgency to address historic increases in the volume of applications, deploying all agency resources and doubling down on efforts to process a significantly higher number of applications over a very short period of time. As a result of technological enhancements, investments in staffing, and strategic process changes, DSS is on track to eliminate backlogs impacting processing delays for cash assistance and SNAP benefits, and the agency is better positioned to handle unprecedented caseloads in the future. We are incredibly grateful to this administration and our tremendous staff for getting us to this point as we continue to build on key efficiencies and implement innovative solutions while ensuring that we are reaching every New Yorker who is eligible for these critical benefits.”

"Our office is committed to making sure New York City government is delivering for working families, especially those most in need," said Chief Efficiency Officer Clay. "We continue to look for ways to combine process improvements and technology to better serve the needs of all New Yorkers."

The Adams administration has made important progress strengthening access to critical benefits for low-income New Yorkers, helping more than 510,000 New Yorkers receive cash assistance today — the highest number of recipients since 2003. The city also continues to strengthen access to SNAP for New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity, with more than 1.7 million New Yorkers receiving SNAP benefits — reflecting the highest percentage of low-income New Yorkers receiving SNAP since the city started reporting the figures annually in 2006.

The Adams administration has also made it easier for New Yorkers to apply for benefits by implementing remote capabilities for every step of the application process. As a result of these investments, more than 90 percent of New Yorkers applying for benefits are opting to do so online. Additionally, DSS continues to retain a comprehensive network of brick-and-mortar locations with Benefits Access Centers and SNAP Centers located in every borough for New Yorkers who prefer to apply in-person, while also working closely with community-based organizations across the five boroughs to conduct outreach and support applicants.

The Adams administration is delivering public benefits to more New Yorkers than any other administration over the past few decades. As DSS continues to build on key efficiencies and implement innovative solutions, the agency is better positioned to continue to address such unprecedented increases in applications over the long term. As of February 29, 2024, DSS has 411 cases of SNAP applications pending on-time processing and 1,154 cases of cash assistance pending on-time processing. As of January 2024, a total of 1.73 million New Yorkers were receiving SNAP benefits and more than 510,000 New Yorkers were receiving cash assistance benefits.

"As Shams DaBaron, also known as 'Da Housing Hero,' my journey from experiencing homelessness to becoming an advocate for housing and social justice is a testament to the power of community support and resilience," said Shams DaBaron, housing and homelessness advocate. "The remarkable efforts by Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner Molly Wasow Park to nearly eliminate the backlog of cash assistance and SNAP applications resonate deeply with me. Having personally benefited from SNAP during my toughest times, I understand the critical difference these services make. The Department of Social Services, bolstered by nearly a thousand new hires and significant technological advancements, has not just improved access to these essential benefits; it has reignited hope for over 510,000 cash assistance and 1.7 million SNAP recipients. This milestone is more than an administrative success—it's a reflection of our collective commitment to a New York where no one is left behind. As we celebrate this progress, let us continue to advocate for policies that ensure support is swift and accessible for every New Yorker in need."


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