Bad Economy Forces Welfare Agency Hiring Spree

The city’s Human Resources Administration has already hired 100 new employees and plans to hire another 100.

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    Economic woes have forced at least one city agency into a hiring spree -- adding more workers to process the demand for food stamps and other assistance.

    The Human Resources Administration added more than 100 workers last July and plans to hire another 100 to serve the burgeoning number of New Yorkers applying for food stamps and rent assistance at their offices, according to the Daily News.

    About 1.8 million New Yorkers are now on food stamps, which marks nearly a 65 percent increase from four years ago, according to city records. The increase in applicants has led to overcrowding at HRA offices throughout the city, and the agency said at a council hearing Tuesday that it had to hire scores of new workers and supervisors to manage the situation.

    The HRA has also expanded its waiting rooms to accommodate the swell in applicants.

    The city implemented a web-based food-stamp application program last year, but applicants still must be finger-printed at HRA centers before they can become eligible for benefits.

    Advocates for the poor applauded HRA’s efforts to address overcrowding but, citing a survey that found long wait lines prevent nearly half of applicants from receiving welfare benefits, said more needs to be done.

    “HRA faces an overcrowding emergency that is a result of a high level of need resulting from a lagging economy in the wake of the great recession,” said Liz Accles, an analyst for the advocacy group Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, according to the News.

    The HRA’s deputy commissioner said alleviating overcrowding is a top priority. 

    The agency has recently lost $200 million in state funding due to budget cuts.