The mayor’s plan to put all welfare recipients to work might be the cornerstone of a national political run, but it’s going to cost New York City taxpayers an extra $600 million a year, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO).
If the city Human Resources Administration continues with plans to require all but the most severely disabled recipients to take workfare assignments, costs will rise by a half billion dollars in 2000 and to $601 million by 2002.
Since 1995, Giuliani has cut the welfare rolls by 253,000, largely by forcing people off the dole who won’t or can’t take workfare jobs. But even though the city is expected to shed an additional 100,000 welfare slots over the next several years, those savings will be drowned by the cost of new workfare programs.
“Everybody on welfare, even the people who have workfare jobs, still gets their check,” says IBO analyst Paul Lopatto, one of the report’s authors. “The ones who have the workfare assignments also need to receive training, placement services and child care services. It adds up to additional cost.”
The cash crunch will be especially tough in 2002, when some 50,000 people are expected to lose the federal share of their welfare benefits under the federal five-year lifetime limits. The state and city have agreed to create a Safety Net Assistance program to help ease the welfare refugees into the workplace. This will tack an additional $124 million onto the city’s budget.
In October, city welfare boss Jason Turner released the results of a phone poll of 126 former public assistance recipients, which showed that only a third had failed to find some kind of job. But the survey’s minuscule sample size and phone-it-in methodology elicited jeers from welfare advocates.