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Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill S5490B earlier this week, which aims to aid individuals applying for unemployment by providing them with a streamlined source of available programs.
The details are as follows:
According to the bill, this legislation “requires the Commissioner of Labor to provide notice to unemployment applicants of rental, mortgage, food and utility assistance programs available through the Division of Housing and Community Renewal and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. In addition, the bill also requires the Commissioner to provide a link to such programs on the Department’s website. The web portal will include information on programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and the Home Energy Assistance Program as well as federal mortgage relief.
New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D – 46th District), who sponsored the bill in her chamber, stated that “instead of making New Yorkers scour the internet for the range of state programs that provide these essentials, we need to make it easier for people to access the full scope of funding available to them in one easily accessible spot.” She added that “this legislation ensures that any New Yorker who files an unemployment claim will also have the opportunity to review information on a variety of other state funding programs that can help with rent, mortgage, food, and utilities — right there on the DOL’s unemployment portal.”
This legislation comes as the unemployment rate remains high, though fluctuating over the course of the last year. According to state statistics, the unemployment rate in New York peaked at 10.1% in June of 2020, but dropped to 7% last month; despite this drop, it remains significantly higher than the 3.4% jobless rate recorded in February of 2020.
Both Senator Hinchey and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, the measure’s Assembly sponsor, have cited increased calls for help from the public on this matter – which precipitated the bill’s passing. Senator Hinchey stated that “she saw record numbers of people needing more help… and thus it’s on us to make government work better and more efficiently for people.” Assemblywoman Gunther concurred, stating that “her office assisted hundreds of people navigating the unemployment system, and many of them would benefit from other state programs. Therefore, assisting them with additional information on programs such as HEAP, SNAP, and ERAP, can help New Yorkers stay warm, fed, and in their homes.”
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