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LAS: Unhoused and Homeless New Yorkers Cannot Easily Access Relief Funds

The Legal Aid Society called attention to the rules and conditions that prevent many vulnerable New Yorkers from accessing COVID-19 stimulus money, as reported by The New York Times.

Attorneys blame a lack of outreach by City officials to raise awareness with New York’s homeless population about the process, as well as the lack of official documentation prevalent among the unhoused and homeless themselves to prove their identity. Many homeless people have no phone or internet access, let alone bank accounts or mailing addresses. Moreover, some have never or not recently filed income taxes, which is a key component to access.

“There’s this great intention to lift people out of poverty more and give them support, and all of that’s wonderful,” said Beth Hofmeister, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project. “But the way people have to access it doesn’t really fit with how most really low-income people are interacting with the government.”