Residents can use the one stop center to obtain food stamps and myriad of social service benefits
By Stephen Witt
Local residents struggling to get by are quietly learning that tucked away in Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza is an organization authorized to sign you up for food stamps and Medicaid, as well as provide assistance on all kinds of housing issues.
In many cases, a visit to Single Stop on the fourth floor at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration, or a visit to their unmarked storefront office inside the plaza at 1368 Fulton Street could replace the time-consuming task of standing in line at one of the city’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) buildings to obtain these same benefits.
“Along with providing overall case management services on-site, we are capable of completing food stamp applications electronically with immediate submission to HRA,” said Single Stop Social Services Manager Blaine Arthur. “We also do on-site health insurance enrollment, provide knowledge of low-income housing availability, assist in completing applications for many benefits such as HEAP, Section 8, SSI, SSD, unemployment insurance benefits, tax credits, child care vouchers, WIC, one-shot deals, Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE), Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE), as well as home weatherization referrals for energy efficiency and general public assistance.”
According to the state Department of Labor, unemployment in the borough overall is 11 percent, and it’s estimated to being at least double that in pockets of Bed-Stuy. Additionally, the Our Time Press office receives numerous calls from local readers with housing issues.
Established as a public/private partnership in 1967 with the assistance of former New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, Restoration Corporation and its plaza’s original mission was in part to help and empower the local community. Single Stop USA is a national organization with several centers in Brooklyn that is funded primarily through the Robin Hood Fund and other corporate charities.
Arthur said he had asked the Restoration Board on several occasions to put a sandwich board on Fulton Street advertising the Single Stop Center where one can obtain these services, but there remains no signage on the front of the building promoting these services.
“Something as simple as a sandwich board takes so much red tape,” he said. “People come in and out of the plaza and almost no one knows what goes on inside these buildings. I’m from Bed-Stuy all my life and I didn’t even know until I started working here.”
Restoration Corporation spokesperson Jako Borren said the Single Stop program is advertised through e-mail blasts and fliers but admitted that there should be more signage and outreach that these services are available.
Meanwhile, Single Stop also provides referrals, appointments for financial counseling and specific areas of legal assistance.
All these services are free of charge and available to anyone living in the five boroughs. The Single Stop Center is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Additionally, it’s open from 9 am to 8 pm on Thursday and from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday.
The Customer Service contact number is (718) 636-6994.