Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is taking a questionable approach to assisting illegal families in the Big Apple by launching a groundbreaking program that will issue pre-paid credit cards to those housed in New York City hotels. This $53 million initiative, facilitated by Mobility Capital Finance, aims to provide asylum seekers arriving at the Roosevelt Hotel with essential funds for purchasing food and baby supplies, according to city records obtained by The New York Post.
Scheduled to commence with a cohort of 500 migrant families undergoing short-term hotel stays, the program is poised to revolutionize the city’s support system for its most vulnerable residents. City Hall sources reveal that this initiative will supplant the current food service provided at the hotels, offering recipients greater autonomy and flexibility in meeting their dietary and familial needs.
The pre-paid cards, exclusive to bodegas, grocery stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores, come with stringent conditions. Migrants must pledge in writing to utilize the funds solely for food and baby supplies, under threat of expulsion from the program for non-compliance. This move reflects the city’s commitment to ensuring responsible use of public funds while addressing the pressing needs of its immigrant population.
Dubbed the Immediate Response Card initiative, the program draws parallels to the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. By adopting a similar model, the city aims to streamline assistance delivery, basing fund allocations on family size and income status. For instance, a family of four could receive nearly $1,000 monthly, equating to $35 per day for food, with card replenishments occurring every 28 days.
Wole Coaxum, CEO and founder of MoCaFi, expressed enthusiasm for collaborating with New York City on this groundbreaking endeavor. “MoCaFi’s goal is to expand access to financial resources for individuals excluded from banking, such as asylum seekers, while helping the local economy,” Coaxum stated, highlighting the program’s dual impact on both recipients and the broader community.
City officials anticipate scaling up the program to encompass all migrant families residing in hotels, a demographic totaling approximately 15,000 individuals at present. Notably, the initiative is projected to yield significant cost savings for the city, estimated at over $600,000 monthly, or more than $7.2 million annually, according to statements from Adams’ spokesperson, Kayla Mamelak.
The decision to implement this questionable support mechanism comes amid ongoing challenges in catering to the diverse dietary preferences and cultural backgrounds of asylum seekers. Recent revelations of excessive spending on uneaten meals by the company DocGo underscore the urgency of reforming existing support systems. Migrants, speaking to The Post, expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of provided meals, citing a preference for cooking in their hotel rooms.
This announcement follows hot on the heels of another revelation by The Post, disclosing additional contracts worth $137 million with city hotels to accommodate over 750 rooms for asylum seekers with families. With over 66,000 asylum seekers currently housed in New York City, the ongoing crisis is expected to incur significant costs, projected to reach $10 billion by 2025.
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