NYC Launches $53M Program to Hand Out Pre-Paid Credit Cards to Migrant Families

NYC Launches $53M Program to Hand Out Pre-Paid Credit Cards to Migrant Families

February 02, 2024   280

To ensure that the $53M program's aid is directed towards those in greatest need, New York City has established specific eligibility criteria centered around the economic status and residency conditions of migrant families. These criteria are designed to identify families that are most in need of financial assistance due to their current economic hardships and to ensure that the program supports those who have recently arrived in the city and are struggling to find their footing.

Economic Status

The economic status criterion is aimed at migrant families who are experiencing financial difficulties. This includes families without a steady income, those below a certain income threshold, and families that are unable to afford basic living expenses such as housing, food, and healthcare. The city aims to prioritize families who are in urgent need of financial support to stabilize their situation. For example, a family of four earning less than $25,000 per year would likely qualify under this criterion, given the high cost of living in New York City.

Hard-up residents of city housing were given the same type of cards last year to pay for holiday dinners.

“MoCaFi looks forward to partnering with New York City to disburse funds for asylum seekers to purchase fresh, hot food,” said MoCaFi CEO and founder 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.”

“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,” Adams spokesperson Kayla Mamelak said.

Residency Situation

The residency criterion focuses on migrant families who have recently arrived in New York City and do not have a stable place of residence. This includes families living in temporary housing, shelters, or those who are at risk of homelessness. The intention is to assist families in transitioning to more stable living conditions and to support their integration into the community. For instance, a family that has been living in a shelter or a temporary housing facility for a few months since their arrival in the city would meet this criterion.

Streamlined Application Process

Recognizing the diverse backgrounds and needs of migrant communities, New York City has streamlined the application process to make it as accessible as possible. The application process has been simplified to ensure that families who may not be fluent in English or who may not have easy access to technology can still apply. Assistance is provided in multiple languages, and there are options to apply in person at designated centers around the city. Furthermore, the city has partnered with community organizations to reach out to migrant families, inform them about the program, and assist them with the application process.

For example, a migrant family can visit a local community center where staff members assist them in filling out the application form, provide necessary documentation, and submit their application. This hands-on approach ensures that families who are eligible for the program do not miss out due to language barriers or lack of information.

The city is home to just over 66,000 asylum seekers after 1,500 more arrived last week. The crisis is expected to cost $10 billion by 2025.


By setting clear eligibility criteria and streamlining the application process, New York City aims to ensure that the $53M program effectively reaches and assists migrant families in need. These measures reflect the city's commitment to supporting its newest residents, recognizing the challenges they face, and facilitating their successful integration into the urban fabric of NYC.


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