New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday defended a reported $53 million pilot program to hand out pre-paid credit cards to migrant families housed in hotels despite public outcry.
Appearing before a state legislative budget hearing in Albany on Tuesday, the Democrat mayor said he sought to dismiss “misinformation” about the program.
“We’re not giving people American Express cards,” Adams said. “We found that the food delivery service that we set up during the emergency – we could find a better way to do it in our belief that we want to cut 20% of the migrant costs. So we have a pilot project with 500 people that we are giving them food cards, so instead of a debit card, instead of having to deliver food, and have people eat food – we were seeing wasting food – they’re now able to get their own food, that is going to be spent $12 a day.”
“So we are going to save money on delivery, we’re going to save money on people wasting food, and this is a pilot project we’re going to use that is going to save us $6.7 million a year,” Adams said. “And if the pilot turns out to be successful, then we’re going to expand it not only with the migrants and asylum seekers, we’d look to do that expansion throughout the entire system – trying to find smarter, more cost-effective ways to deal with this crisis that was dropped in our lap.”
Under the pilot program, migrants will be getting 40% more than the state gives to low-income and elderly New Yorkers under SNAP benefits.
Each migrant would receive about $350 a month to spend on food and baby supplies. As noted by Newsweek, that’s more than the maximum allotment that low-income New York residents receive in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. According to the state’s website, single households are eligible for up to $291 a month in SNAP benefits aimed at providing “low-income working people, senior citizens, the disabled and others” money to buy food products.
The migrant pilot program also hands out more than two times the amount the state gives monthly in services for single veterans, Fox News’s Bryan Llenas reported.
The mayor’s explanation came during an annual hearing, known as “Tin Cup Day,” when mayors make budgetary requests before the state legislature.
Adams, who testified that the Big Apple’s shelter population has tripled since he took office, asked the state to cover 50% of the costs to handle the migrant crisis in New York City.
New York City’s government has projected it will spend at least $10.6 billion on migrants by summer 2025. New York state has already vowed to contribute about $2 billion in the current budget cycle to the migrant crisis, but Adams told lawmakers on Tuesday that the state pledge would only cover one-third of the city’s migrant costs.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, another Democrat, has suggested the state earmark $2.4 billion to go toward migrant services in the next budget cycle, but the details have not been ironed out before the state legislature. Adams’ office said even that allocation proposed by Hochul would be $600 million short of what the city needs in its next budget cycle, the New York Daily News reported.