City legislators in New York City passed a vote on Wednesday to offer quality services to low-income recipients of public benefits, months after the mistreatment of Jazmine Headley, a young Black mother whose toddler was ripped from her arms in December as she waited in a Brooklyn SNAP benefits center.
“These bills cannot change what happened to Ms. Headley or how she and her son were treated, but we’re aiming to improve our public benefits system to better serve all New Yorkers,” Johnson (D-Manhattan) said before the vote, according to the New York Daily News.
Legislators approved a total of 11 bills which would document the number of times participants were arrested, issued summons, forcibly removed from benefit centers and would also include the number of times use of force was used by police.
Johnson also proposed to create an Office of Constituent Services at the Department of Social Services, where participants would have an advocate to file complaints and concerns.
“Jazmine’s arrest was seen by the whole city as an example of government at its worst, but these reforms attempt to show government at its best,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Williams backed a bill that would ask the Department of Social Services to report on the number of people who were denied public assistance or were terminated from receiving assistance.
Another bill would require the Human Resources Administration office to audit operations and procedures and improve upon any current procedures that would inhibit a streamlined experience.
Headley received a public apology at a city council meeting in February, but earlier this month Headley filed a civil suit against New York City.
“Such mistreatment and abuse of HRA clients at New York City HRA offices is not a new problem,” the suit states. “The City of New York has permitted HRA peace o cers to treat HRA clients with violence and contempt for far too long. And NYPD officers continue to arrest parents in front of their children in ways that are needlessly traumatic.”