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NYC government Opinion

Email to the public assistance help desk at the CUNY school I attend.

Greetings,

First and foremost, I treat everyone at The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), CUNY, etc., with the utmost respect at all times. That is more important than anything. I understand that everyone is doing their best under the circumstances. I appreciate the consideration I receive from all parties involved. 

I just read the email you sent. I’m in quite a predicament. I have no idea why but for some reason my HRA public assistance recertification date was moved from November 2020 to December 2020. Normally I receive my student loans after my HRA recertification and it doesn’t affect my public assistance case. Now that my HRA recertification has been moved my student loan money is going to land in my account at the same time as my HRA case recertification. 

I’m homeless and I wouldn’t go back to a homeless shelter under any circumstances. I had a horrible experience at two shelters. For the past 5 years, I usually sleep in a chair on the subway platform when it’s cold. Now the subways are closed during my sleeping hours. Additionally, the school is closed. All my go-to places to stay warm are locked up for the winter. 

I need the student loan money to rent access to a coworking space so I have somewhere to go this winter when it’s freezing cold outside. The ATM’s will be filled with my homeless sisters and brothers, so I can’t stay there. Plus the police and bank security are constantly patrolling and clearing everyone out.

I’m going to require my usual $500 per month or so cash assistance and SNAP for food. If I have an issue in the middle of December or January with my public assistance, the coldest months of the year, that is going to be tough. I’m spending hundreds of hours now trying to figure this out so I can avoid a disaster later. Plus there are so many people on public assistance, who knows how long it will take for a glitch in the HRA system to update. 

My HRA public assistance case was already dropped once years ago and I was never given a reason. I do everything HRA asks immediately and I treat everyone with the utmost respect at all times. For the life of me, I have no idea why my case was dropped. 

The HRA approved job program I used to attend would tease us that they were going to drop our cases but that was after my case was dropped and it hasn’t been dropped since. The HRA approved job program would say FTC (fail to comply) over and over for fun. That place was torture. That is why I love the opportunity to go to school and do something productive instead of sitting around the job center from 9 AM to 4 PM 5 days per week doing absolutely nothing for 90% of the time with the staff threatening FTC. There were no computers to use, no WiFi, etc. 

Maybe everything will go smoothly with my recertification but I have a suspicion that $5000 cash from student loans might affect my case if it lands in my account on the same date of my HRA public assistance case recertification. I contacted every single HRA public contact and they refuse to provide an answer. I visited the HRA office on West 14th Street and they were not sure. Thinking about it now, I’m going to go back and try to speak with them again in person. I emailed the financial aid office at school and they are not sure if the money will affect my case. 

I have started contacting financial aid offices at additional New York City colleges, outside of CUNY, trying to find anyone who might have the answer or a contact at HRA. I’m going to contact the public advocate, Manhattan Borough President, Queens Borough President, and anyone else I can think of. 

If you have any additional contacts for me to reach out to regarding this matter please let me know. 

Thank you and have a great day.

Ever upward,

Mark Pine

I love CUNY.

By Mark Pine

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