New York is launching a $53 million pilot program to hand out prepaid credit cards to migrant families living in hotels, the New York Post reports.
The cards can only be used at grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and bodegas. Migrants must also sign an affidavit swearing that they will only use the funds for groceries or baby supplies.
Run by Mobility Capital Finance (MoCaFi) of New Jersey, the city’s Immediate Response Card program will give a migrant family of four an average of $35 per day for food, or nearly $1,000 a month.
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration will initially roll out the program for the roughly 500 migrant families living at the Roosevelt Hotel. If it is successful, the city will expand it to the 15,000 migrant families living in New York City hotels.
It is similar to New York State’s food stamp credit cards, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), for lower-income New Yorkers.
“MoCaFi looks forward to partnering with New York City to disburse funds for asylum seekers to purchase fresh, hot food,” said Mobility Capital Finance CEO Wole Coaxum. “MoCaFi’s goal is to expand access to financial resources for individuals excluded from banking, such as asylum seekers, while helping the local economy.”
Migrant families from many countries, including Central and South America, Africa and Europe, had been complaining of poor-quality meals being served to them at the hotels where they have been housed, at the cost of $11 per meal.
Adams spokesperson Kayla Mamelak says the program will provide food suitable for people from different cultures and potentially save the city $7.2 million a year.
“Not only will this provide families with the ability to purchase fresh food for their culturally relevant diets and the baby supplies of their choosing, but the pilot program is expected to save New York City more than $600,000 per month, or more than $7.2 million annually.”
On Thursday, New York committed an additional $137 million in contracts with city hotels for 750 rooms for migrants.
New York projects it will cost it $10 billion through 2025 to host asylum seekers, currently totaling 66,000 and growing.
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