NYC launches $53M program to hand out pre-paid credit cards to migrant families
The Post learned that the administration of Mayor Eric Adams will start issuing pre-paid cards to migrant family members staying in Big Apple hotels.
According to city records, the $53 million program, run in New Jersey by Mobility Capital Finance, provides cash to asylum seekers who arrive at the Roosevelt Hotel to buy food.
According to City Hall, the project will begin with 500 families staying in hotels for short periods of time. The current food service there will be replaced.
The cards are only valid at supermarkets, bodegas and convenience stores. Migrants must also sign a sworn affidavit stating that they will spend their funds only on baby and food supplies.
Immediate response card initiative is similar to the state food stamp program SNAP. This program provides low-income New Yorkers a credit cards to cover the cost for meals. The funds will be provided on the same scale.
According to the contract, the amount of each card will depend on the size and income of the family. For example, a family of four could receive nearly $1,000 per month. This is equivalent to $35 a day in food. The cards will be refilled once every 28 days.
Last year, the cards were given to residents in city housing who had difficulty paying for their holiday meals.
Wole Coaxum, CEO and founder of MoCaFi, said: “MoCaFi is looking forward to partnering up with New York City in order to distribute funds to asylum seekers for the purchase of fresh food.” MoCaFi wants to increase access to financial resources to those who are excluded from banking such as asylum seekers while also helping the local economy.
Officials said that if the program proves to be a success, it will be expanded to include all migrant family members staying in hotels. This currently amounts approximately 15,000 families.
Kayla Mamelak, Adams spokesperson, said that the pilot program will save New York City $7.2 million per year or $600,000.
The city spends about $11 for each meal in order to feed migrants in hotels. This has long been a problem, as asylum seekers may want a taste of their home in Central America, Africa, and Europe.
Last month, it was discovered that the controversial company DocGo had wasted thousands of dollars in uneaten food.
The Post reported that Migrants admitted to The Post days later that they preferred to cook their own meals in hotel rooms, because the food provided was so “bad.”
The Post reported on the pre-paid cards program a day before, revealing another $137 Million in contracts with hotels for more than 750 hotel rooms to be provided to asylum seekers and their families.
After 1,500 new asylum seekers arrived in the city last week, the city now houses just over 66,000 people. The crisis is estimated to cost $10 billion by 2025.