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Public Benefits - Policy Related News

Empire Justice Center Statement on Governor Cuomo's Hate and Human Rights Laws Expansion

The horrifying events that transpired in Charlottesville this past weekend showed us all that we have a long road ahead of us to reach a place where hate has no home in our hearts. We all have a responsibility to stand for what it right. Read More

Empire Justice Stands with Immigrants & Their Families

Empire Justice Center is proud to be one of more than 180 organizations across the country to stand up and speak out against the completely un-American attack on immigrants proposed by Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), and championed by President Donald Trump. Read More

Empire Justice Press Release: 2017 Legislative Session

Empire Justice Center achieved one notable win that will have a huge impact on disabled New Yorker’s access to disability benefits, but were keenly disappointed by being unable to get legislation that would allow victims of wage theft to get paid what they are owed, and a bill that would have ensured that crime and domestic violence victims’ right to call 911 is not impeded in communities where there are local nuisance ordinances, passed in the Senate. We came so close. It’s a shame New Yorkers will be without these critical protections until 2018. Read More

Empire Justice Press Release: New York State Delivers a Tight Budget with Several Notable Wins for Low Income New Yorkers

Upon the finalization of the 2017-2018 state budget, Empire Justice Center was excited to announce that several of its legislative priorities were included, including a new $1 million investment that will allow the organization to dramatically increase the amount of assistance it can provide to immigrants in need of legal representation, as well as two notable policy changes. At the same time, other important programs and proposals sustained losses that will be acutely felt by hard working New Yorkers in the coming year, causing much concern Read More

Empire Justice Statement on Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget Proposal

After the release of the Executive Budget Tuesday night, Empire Justice Center expressed appreciation that funding is included in Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal for several key programs that assist New Yorkers living at or near the federal poverty level. Read More

We Stand with ALL New Yorkers (Nosotros estamos unidos con todos los Neoyorquinos)

The outcome of this election has shaken us all to the core. (El resultado de las elecciones nos ha sacudido a todos.) Read More

Empire Justice Press Release: 2016 Legislative Session: Great Strides and One Huge Disappointment

Upon the completion of the 2016 Legislative Session, Empire Justice Center was excited to see significant strides in addressing wage theft, and two huge victories that will impact the ongoing effects of the forclosure crisis on homeowners and communities. At the same time, the organization also expressed incredible disappointment that, for the third year in a row, essential protections for crime and domestic violence victims were not enacted by the New York State Senate. Read More

Press Release: NYS Budget Delivers Mixed Outcomes for Low Income New Yorkers

Upon the release of the final 2016-2017 state budget, Empire Justice Center is excited to announce that several of its legislative priorities were included in the budget, but notes that it falls short on a number of other critical priority issues. Read More

Court Orders New York State to Provide Assistance to Immigrants in “Temporary Protected Status”

In a recent decision in the lawsuit Karamalla v. Devine, Erie County Supreme Court Justice Nugent-Panepinto declared that the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s (OTDA) refusal to provide Safety Net Assistance (SNA) to immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) violates both the New York State and United States Constitutions. Read More

Study: Heating, Shelter Assistance Not Enough, Leads to Homelessness (Public News Service)

New York officials agree, the state has a homeless problem. The reasons behind the state's growing homeless population however, are constantly debated. Read More

Empire Justice Center Statement on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State and Budget Address

Empire Justice Center reactions to Governor Cuomo's 2016 State of the State and budget address. Read More

TURN UP THE HEAT: New Report Calls for Updates to Obsolete Shelter and Fuel Allowances

The report, titled “Turn up the Heat: It’s Time to Raise New York’s Shelter and Fuel Allowances,” compares the low and vastly out of date levels of the shelter and fuel allowances to the much higher market costs of rent and fuel today, and finds that both clearly fall short of what is needed to support a warm and stable home. Read More

Empire Justice Center: Housing and heating allowances aren’t adequate (Times Union)

The Empire Justice Center is out with a report urging an increase in public assistance housing and heating allowances. Read More

Empire Justice Center Statement on Chief Judge’s Creation of Permanent Commission on Access to Justice

Today, Empire Justice Center applauded Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann’s July 22 announcement that the Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Services in New York will become a permanent Commission. Read More

Empire Justice Press Release: New Yorkers Driven into Poverty by Shortsighted Policy

Today, Empire Justice Center released “Driven into Poverty: How New York’s Asset Tests Keep People Poor,” a report documenting the problems with various “asset tests” imposed by New York State on public assistance applicants. Read More

Under local laws, 911 calls turn domestic abuse victims into ‘nuisances’ (Al Jazeera America)

Nuisance ordinances, designed to curb illegal activity in rental properties, punish survivors of violence, critics say Read More

Immigrants to Mangano, county agencies: Speak our languages (Newsday)

Members of the language-advocacy coalition pressed the administration to deliver on executive orders 67 and 72 from 2013, in which Mangano required departments to translate vital documents into six languages other than English and provide "competent interpretation services." Read More

Advocates Demand Action from Mangano on Language Access (Long Island Wins)

A coalition of advocates stood before the Nassau County Legislative and Executive building in Mineola on Monday to demand County Executive Ed Mangano fulfill his promise to meet language access requirements for all county residents. Read More

Nassau County Misses Deadline for Language Access Programs (Long Island Wins)

Last year, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano signed two executive orders aimed at providing greater access to county services to an increasingly diverse population with various language needs. However, more than a year later, few of the promises contained in those orders have been fulfilled. Read More

Immigrant advocates criticize Nassau over translation deadline shortfall (Newsday)

Immigrant advocates are criticizing Nassau County for slow implementation of executive orders that require translation of vital government documents into six languages and available interpreters for non-English speakers seeking key services. Read More

Empire Justice Center & Legal Services of Central New York Applaud Oneida County Department of Social Services for Successful Completion of Court-Mandated Monitoring

Empire Justice Center and Legal Services of Central New York are pleased to announce the conclusion of a three year period of supervised monitoring involving the Oneida County Department of Social Services (“OCDSS”), which was ordered as part of a settlement agreement in the case of Howard v. Soldato, a class action filed in December of 2010 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. Read More

Empire Justice Center Applauds the Governor and State Legislature for Several Budget Outcomes Helping Low Income New Yorkers

Upon the release of the final 2014-2015 state budget, Empire Justice Center is pleased to see several of its legislative priorities contained within the budget, as it provides additional funding and resources for low income New Yorkers. Read More

Empire Justice Center Statement on Governor Cuomo Announcement that New York State Will Preserve $457 Million in Snap Benefits for 300,000 Households

Empire Justice Center wants to thank Governor Cuomo for his decisive action in ensuring that over 300,000 low income New Yorkers do not lose access to critical nutrition assistance. Read More

Empire Justice Center Paralegal Discusses Farm Bill and Food Stamps (State of Politics)

Cathy Roberts, a Senior Paralegal at the Empire Justice Center, joined us to talk about cuts to SNAP benefits. Read More

Empire Justice Center Elects Officers and Re-Elects Board Members

Empire Justice Center, a statewide leader working to achieve social and economic justice in New York State, is pleased to announce the election of two new members to its Board of Directors. Read More

Homeowners fight to end mortgage liens for those receiving public assistance (TWC News)

As some New Yorkers face tough financial times and seek public assistance, social service districts have sought to recover funds paid to homeowners by taking a mortgage lien against their property. Read More

Empire Justice Center's new report on public assistance mortgages (TWC News)

Empire Justice Center's new report on public assistance mortgages Read More

Advocates question ‘welfare liens’ (Time Union)

A group of advocates for the poor are looking to overhaul the little-known system of ”welfare liens” that still exist in New York, which they say is one of just two states (Connecticut being the other) that still has such a policy. Read More

New Report Documents the Costs of Public Assistance Liens on Low-Income New Yorkers and the Critical Need for Repeal or Reform

Today, Empire Justice Center published a report describing and quantifying the hidden costs of public assistance for recipients who own homes. The report, “Don’t Lien on Me: How New York’s Public Assistance Mortgages Undermine Homeownership and Financial Stability,” provides an comprehensive analysis of New York’s use of Social Services Law §106, which allows Social Services Districts to recover public assistance paid to individuals who own their own homes, by taking a mortgage against the recipient’s property. Read More

Capitol Pressroom- November 25, 2013 (WCNY- Capitol Pressroom)

Ken Stephens of the Legal Aid Society and Bryan Hetherington of the Empire Justice Center discuss an $80 million class action settlement that will help offset federal cuts in SNAP. Read More

Settlement helps offset fed food stamp cuts (The Daily Record)

Tens of thousands of low-income households across New York state that were improperly cut off or denied food stamps are now being issued retroactive benefits as a result of a federal class action lawsuit filed against the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Read More

Food Stamp Settlement a Windfall For Man (

The windfall is part of a settlement of a class action lawsuit over improper work sanctions. Read More

Extra money headed to some food stamp recipients (

Some food stamp recipients might notice extra money in their accounts this week. Read More

Extra SNAP payments resulted from class action suit (Buffalo News)

Some Erie County residents who were reported to have received larger than usual allotments of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – or “food stamp” – benefits were entitled to the payments, county officials said today. Read More

Area residents get $8.2 million in food stamp settlement (Democrat & Chronicle)

Nearly 14,700 low-income households in the Rochester region are expected to collectively get a one-time boost in food stamp assistance of over $8.2 million after their benefits were improperly denied. Read More

$80 Million Class Action Settlement Helps Offset Federal Cuts In Food Stamps Just in Time for Thanksgiving Holiday

Tens of thousands of low income households across New York State who were improperly cut off or denied Food Stamps are now being issued retroactive benefits as a result of a federal class action lawsuit filed against the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). Read More

Advocates Warn of “Hunger Cliff” (Capital Tonight)

Senior Paralegal at the Empire Justice Center, Cathy Roberts, sat down to tell us more about what the risks are and what the advocacy groups are planning to do about it. Read More

AARP Releases New Policy Recommendations to Help Estimated 70% Likely Eligible Capital Area Older Adults Not Receiving Aid (AARP)

AARP New York joined with Hunger Solutions New York, the Schenectady Inner City Ministry, and the Empire Justice Center today to release new recommendations aimed at helping the estimated 70 percent of Capital District older adults who may be eligible but are not receiving nutrition assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP and formerly called Food Stamps). Read More

Save social services (LI Herald)

Village resident Grace D. Moran, a partner at Moran Karamouzis LLP, has been appointed to serve as special master overseeing Nassau County’s food stamp, Medicaid and other public assistance programs. Read More

Our Views: The poor can wait (The Island Now)

Nassau County cannot be proud that a federal court judge has deemed it necessary to appoint a special master to oversee the county’s food stamp, Medicaid and other public assistance programs. Read More

Court appoints overseer of county programs (The Island Now)

Nassau County’s food stamp and Medicaid programs will receive additional federal oversight by order of a federal court judge, in the latest chapter of a class-action lawsuit filed by two social justice nonprofits. Read More

Special master to oversee Nassau public assistance programs (Newsday)

A federal court judge has appointed a special master to oversee Nassau's food stamp, Medicaid and other public assistance programs following complaints from local social service advocates that the county repeatedly violated state and federal deadlines on processing aid requests. Read More

Press Release: Empire Justice Center Applauds the State Legislature for Passage of Key Bills Affecting Low-Income New Yorkers

Two domestic violence bills, one child care bill and a critically important foreclosure bill passed both houses at the end of session last week. Read More

People's Budget Hearing to Urge Leaders to Get Some CLASS (Close Loopholes Aid Social Services) (readMedia)

Hundreds of low-income New Yorkers, community activists, union members and faith leaders gathered at the State Capitol today for a People's Hearing on the State Budget. The hearing is part of the annual legislative action day by Hunger Action Network of NYS, Empire State Economic Security Campaign, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, and many others. The People's Hearing was designed to highlight the need to restore millions in lost funding to programs and services for struggling New Yorkers that have been left out of the budget. Read More

Empire Justice’s 2013 priorities (The Daily Record)

The focus is driven by the state’s continuing recovery from the impact of the financial services meltdown and subsequent recession, as well as the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. Read More

New York policy hurts New Yorkers seeking jobs (Democrat and Chronicle)

Rather than wasting struggling families’ time and equity by forcing them to get rid of reliable cars to qualify for assistance, New York should join the majority of other states in removing this unnecessary barrier for those applying for public assistance. Read More

New York Times Editorial Mentions Empire Justice (The New York Times)

The average wait for Medicaid applicants fell to 29 days last year from 83 days in 2007, but that is still bad. One of the groups that brought the lawsuit, the Empire Justice Center, is planning to go back to court to force the county to meet its obligations. Read More

N.Y. fingerprinting for food policy was wrong (Democrat and Chronicle)

There has been considerable media coverage about fingerprinting for food stamps since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York State will be eliminating the practice. Much of the focus has been on the stigmatization associated with fingerprinting that prevents families from applying for food stamps. Read More

Governor Cuomo Announces New York State to End Finger Imaging Requirement for Food Stamp Recipients ()

Governor Delivers on State of the State Promise to Remove Barriers to Participation in Food Stamp Program. New Anti-Fraud System Less Costly and More Effective at Preventing Abuse than Finger Imaging. Read More

Squadron, De Blasio, Advocates Rally for Passage of Bill to End Food Stamp Finger Imaging (NYS Senator Daniel Squadron)

Squadron Legislation to Come to Senate Committee Vote on Tuesday as Governor, Electeds Continue Fight to End Practice Read More

Food stamp fingerprinting ensnares thousands of applicants (The New York World)

This week, four state senators from New York City – Daniel Squadron, Liz Krueger, Tom Duane and Kevin Parker – have moved for a hearing on a bill that would forbid any requirement for finger-scans as a condition of receceiving food stamps. Read More

Empire Justice IDs key issues for 2012 (The Daily Record)

One of Empire Justice Center’s top issues of 2012 received Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s support when, in his state of the state address earlier this month, the governor announced he wanted to stop the practice of fingerprinting those who apply for food stamps. Read More

Bringing the Mayor to Heel (City & State)

Choose your metaphor: When Gov. Andrew Cuomo roused a crowd in Albany last week by promising to stop fingerprinting food stamp applicants, was he stepping on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s toes or kicking him in the shin? Read More

Empire Justice Statement on Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address

Read More

Cuomo Urged to “Clear Red Tape” for New Yorkers Seeking Food Help in 2012 (Public News Service)

Not quite the holiday spirit. That's what a new report says about New York's fingerprinting requirement for food stamps, which it says is causing the wrong people to go hungry. Read More

AARP and Empire Justice Center Press Release: Time to Leave Finger Prints Behind

Announcing the release of "Time to Leave Finger Prints Behind, Fair Hearings in NYC Show How Unfair Finger Imaging is for New Yorkers Read More

Empire Justice Joins with Better Choice Budget Campain in Calling for State to Balance Budget by Raising Revenues, Not Cutting by Critical Services (A Better Choice for New York)

Campaign launches TV ads focused on closing corporate tax loopholes and asking wall street to help bail out Main Street. Read More

Empire Justice Joins Advocates to Decry Mid-Year Cuts

Press release announcing the press conference organized by New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, the Fiscal Policy Institute, Empire Justice Center and others to talk about alternatives to Governor Paterson's proposed DRP. Read More

Spitzer State of the State Message Brings Message of Hope and Unity

Advocates from the Empire Justice Center expressed optimism as they watched Governor’s Spitzer’s State of the State address today. Read More

Advocates Applaud Governor Spitzer

Advocates Applaud Governor Spitzer Proposing Needed Improvements in Health Coverage, Housing and Increasing Child Support to Low Income Children in a Difficult Budget Year. Read More

Children in Poverty: Statewide Numbers Mask Local Realities

The State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance recently announced that childhood poverty is at its lowest level since 1980. While the statewide data is accurate, they potentially mask disturbing county-by-county trends in child poverty. Read More