MANHATTAN (CN) – Due to “legislative inaction,” New York State does not provide poor people with enough public assistance to do anything but starve, a class action claims. Plaintiffs say the maximum grant for a mother and child is $218.50 a month. “That amounts to $3.64 per person per day – not even enough, for example, to cover the cost of one round-trip ride on public transportation in New York City.”
The class action in New York County Court adds: “The Legislature last adjusted the amount of New York’s basic assistance grant in 1989. …
“The woeful inadequacy of the current grant has resulted in a class of citizens whose lives are bleak and precarious. They regularly endure hunger, cold, and extreme deprivation. They are consumed by the impossible task of stretching yesterday’s dollars far enough to meet today’s prices. The anxiety associated with the relentless pursuit of survival compounds the debilitating depression they experience. Put simply, these citizens need more help than they are currently getting.
“The defendants have taken no meaningful action to determine what the appropriate grant amount should be.”
Defendants include the state, Gov. David Patterson, the state Senate and its Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and the Assembly and its Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Plaintiffs’ lead counsel is Marc Falcone with Paul, Weiss & Rifkind. Co-counsel includes the Urban Justice Center, and the Economic Justice Project Main Street Legal Services at the City University of New York School of Law.