Tag: poverty

A Message from HWCLI’s Board Chair, Bob Detor

It is with mixed feelings that I write to announce Gwen O’Shea’s departure from the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island.

Fifteen years ago this month, Gwen O’Shea joined the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island. Ten years ago this year, she was selected as its President/CEO.  During her tenure, she expanded and diversified the organization’s revenue infrastructure.  She reshaped the organization’s governance structure, by-laws, and mission to achieve greater efficiency, transparency, and enhanced active community partnerships.

Gwen oversaw the establishment of the Unmet Needs Roundtable after the Economic Downturn in 2007/2008, Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.  This effort brought more than $10 million in financial support to Long Island individuals and families struggling with their disaster recovery.

During these responses and other initiatives, her work with community partners and government officials at the local, State and Federal level, ensured the voices and concerns of those most at-risk were heard.

I think anyone who has worked with Gwen has found her to be dedicated to the mission, professional and a tenacious advocate for Long Island’s most vulnerable and at-risk.

Gwen’s leadership has been a great benefit to this organization and, undeniably, she will be deeply missed here.

Gwen’s last day with the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island will be on Friday, March 24th.

We will begin the search for her replacement over the next few weeks. Please click here for a copy of the position profile.

On behalf of HWCLI’s Board of Directors, please join me in thanking Gwen for her caring service and wishing her all the best as she assumes her new position as President/CEO of CDCLI, a long-standing partner of HWCLI and a critical part of the Long Island community.

Preparing Taxpayers for Refund Delays

According to a new change in tax law passed by Congress in December 2015, the IRS cannot issue refunds before February 15, 2017 for all tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The IRS must hold the entire refund — not just the portion with the credits — until at least February 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

Many low and middle income families that are eligible for these tax credits rely on filing and receiving their refund as early as possible and often plan to address pressing financial needs with these refunds. Although information is widely available about the refund delay, many households may be surprised by this change which could make them more likely to turn to predatory lenders promising early refunds that are actually payday loans. As advocates, it’s important to spread the word of these changes so taxpayers are aware and can properly prepare, if necessary. Here are some facts and tips to help prepare taxpayers:

  • Taxpayers should go ahead and file as soon as they have all of their tax information. There is no advantage to waiting until closer to February 15.
  • The delay only applies to taxpayers eligible for EITC and/or additional CTC. Tax payers not receiving these credits will receive their refund within normal processing time frames.
  • There are no exceptions. No paid tax preparer can get one of the affected refunds from IRS any faster. Tax payers should be wary of any paid preparer that claims the tax payer can access their refund before February 15
  • Encourage tax payers to plan now for the delay. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a set of tools designed to help individuals, families, and tax preparers deal with dilemmas like mounting bills, responding to debt collectors and effectively planning a schedule to pay outstanding balances
  • Taxpayers should NOT file without the EITC/ACTC just to get withholding back and then later file an amended return to get the credits. Filing an amended return requires additional tax preparation and can take months to process
  • Encourage tax payers to avoid potential predatory preparers and complete their taxes for free through a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Households with incomes less that $54,000 in 2016 may be eligible and can call 516-505-4424 for more information or to schedule an appointment

Support HWCLI on #NYGivesDay and #GivingTuesday

During the holiday season, the word ‘giving’ comes up a lot. Giving thanks, giving the perfect gift, and hopefully you are hearing a lot about giving back. The magnitude of community philanthropy and kindness that we see during the holidays is heart-warming. And just like all of you, we want to continue to give to our community: we aspire to give things like social justice and equality-access to basic necessities like health care access, safe housing and nutritional supports.

For almost 70 years, the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island has been the voice for Long Island’s working families, low income individuals, the elderly, the sick and the poor.  We know that nearly 1 in 4 Long Islanders are struggling to put food on their tables, pay utilities, find affordable child care and access healthcare.  Long Island families are having to choose between which basic human necessities they can afford.  HWCLI and our partner health and human service agencies have been and will continue to be here– providing services, advocating and supporting.  But we need your help and we need your support to make sure our collective Long Island voice is loud enough to be heard in Albany and in DC. In the non-profit sector, we rely on your giving. We rely on your generosity and support so we can continue to pursue our mission of improving the lives of Long Islanders. In the spirit of #GivingTuesday and #NYGivesDay, please donate to HWCLI’s advocacy for Long Island’s at-risk and vulnerable families.

Together, we can make a difference. On November 29, your donation of any amount will help. Click here to view our New York Gives Day profile.

We hope you all have a happy and safe holiday season.

HWCLI’s #Forthe24 Twitter Chat

On October 13, Newsday published an article titled, “LI’s Shrinking Middle Class”, here is an overview:

According to a recent study, 17.8% or 165,758 Long Island households are making more than $184,657 annually.  This is a 60% increase since 1990.
While this seems like wonderful news, the study also states an increase in the number of Long Island households earning less than $46,165 a year from 179,879 (21% of all households)  in 1990 to 227,914 (24.4% of all households) in 2014. 
What this article re-enforces, is the message we, as a collective having been saying for years. Long Islanders are struggling! It takes almost 2x that amount to survive.
The survival budget standard for a family of 4 is approx.$85,000
Almost 25% of all Long Island households are experiencing significant daily challenges in meeting the basic human needs of our families- housing, food, clothing, transportation, and health care.
Since  the release of this article brought greater visibility to the issue, we were prompted to create a plan of action. A plan of action that continues to bring visibility to the needs of Long Islanders. A plan of action that must include all of Long Island’s elected officials.
Join us in HWCLI’s Twitter Chat on November 4th at 1 PM as we ask ourselves and our elected officials what we can do to support the 24%. 
Simply use the #Forthe24 to join the conversation.


How to join:

  • Log on to Twitter
  • Make sure you are following @HWCLI
  • Use the #Forthe24 along with your tweet

Making a difference starts with a conversation!

Home Energy Assistance Program Opens November 14

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a federally funded energy program intended to provide assistance to low income households in meeting their immediate home energy needs. Eligible households can receive a one time benefit toward their home heating costs and may also be eligible for an additional emergency benefit. The program will begin accepting applications on November 14, 2016 and end on March 15, 2017, or when funding is exhausted. The HEAP application will be available through http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/ beginning November 14, 2016. Applications can also be completed through My Benefits. Eligibility for benefits is based on income, household size, type of heating and composition of household members. Additional benefits may be available to households with children under 6, adults over 60 or a permanently disabled household member.

The HEAP Emergency component will be available beginning January 3, 2017.

Income guidelines, 2016-2017 benefit amounts and Emergency HEAP eligibility guidelines can be found here

Lifting Millions Out of Poverty: SNAP Works

In 2015, 13 million children lived in families that had trouble putting food on the table. According to a report done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the development, health and well-being of children depend on access to a safe and secure source of food. Poverty and extreme poverty during childhood show especially detrimental outcomes, increasing children’s chances of cognitive and behavioral problems when they reach adulthood.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has helped lift millions out of poverty and deep poverty with the modest benefit of just $1.35 on average per person per meal for households with children. This year SNAP will help about 20 million children, or one-fourth of all U.S. children, receive the nutrition that they need to improve food security, and contribute to better health and academic achievement.

SNAP is the nation’s largest nutrition program providing around $30 billion in nutrition benefits over the course of this year and reaches more at-risk children than any other nutrition or income assistance program. Research shows that SNAP can have significant impacts on children:

  • SNAP kept about 10.3 million people out of poverty in 2012, including about 4.9 million children.  SNAP lifted 2.1 million children out of deep poverty (defined as 50 percent of the poverty line), which is more than any other government assistance program.
  • An adequate, healthy diet during childhood is critical for school success. SNAP participation can lead to improvement in reading and math skills and help with memory and behavior as well. SNAP also helps families during the summer months when children are less likely to have access to the free meal programs they receive during the school year.
  • Mothers exposed to SNAP were less likely to give birth to low-weight babies. Some evidence also suggests that children receiving SNAP are less likely to be in fair or poor health compared to low-income non-participants.

With SNAP’s ability to lift families out of poverty, studies show that half of all families with children leave SNAP within the first year of entering. Food insecurity among children enrolled in SNAP fell by roughly a third after their families received SNAP benefits for six months.

Although the numbers of households struggling with poverty and food insecurity are still high, SNAP has significantly impacted food insecure Americans. The CBPP says, “Efforts to reform or enhance SNAP should build on its effectiveness in protecting the well-being of America’s children, and preserve the essential program features that contribute to that success.”

For more information, read the full report SNAP Works for America from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.