On May 24, 2006, New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and New York City Council Members Eric Gioia and Bill de Blasio introduced the Ready Access to Assistance Act (REAACT), which aimed to provide New Yorkers seeking public benefits at city offices the opportunity to obtain access to advice and representation from knowledgeable community-based organizations. The Brennan Center and its coalition partners work with the City Council to help low-income New Yorkers navigate the often complex bureaucracy of public benefits programs.
This legislation would provide a no-cost, common sense way to help government function more efficiently and ensure that low-income New Yorkers can obtain the assistance they need. REAACT would allow low-income New Yorkers to obtain advice from community-based organizations in offices where New York City administers public benefits, including food stamps, housing subsidies, and Medicaid, thus improving the quality of agency decision-making and bring fairness to what is often an extremely complicated process.
Currently, some city offices bar community-based organizations from their public areas unless they are accompanying an individual benefits applicant or recipient. REAACT would allow such organizations to set up help tables and walk around public areas offering assistance.
Unfortunately, the City Council failed to pass the legislation before the end of the legislative session and the bill will now need to be reintroduced in order for it to be enacted.