Policy & Advocacy
We work with local, state, and federal government partners to advocate for effective policy decisions that will impact our neighbors and hometowns.
Coalitions & Grass Roots Organizing
We bring together nonprofits, business leaders, and lawmakers to discuss solutions to our region’s challenges.
We operate a series of programs that connect Long Islanders with the services they need.
Welcome to the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island
At the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI), our work is to ensure that our region is a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone to live. We can set the standard for what an equitable region looks like. That means safe communities, decent, affordable housing, healthy food, access to care and an opportunity to thrive. In our quest for improvements and systemic change, we face a unique set of obstacles. In fact, the poverty rate today is at its highest since 1959. Given the current assault on the country’s most vulnerable communities, our work is more important than ever.
People served in 2022 alone
Years Serving Long Island
June 6, 2023
As Hurricane Season Begins, Red Cross and Partners Urge Long Islanders to Prepare and Volunteer
Posted on: June 02, 2023
Read on American Red Cross
Mineola, NY - The American Red Cross on Long Island joined with county, state and local officials and partners on the first day of the Atlantic Hurricane Season to discuss how residents should and can prepare in the event of a hurricane.
There is a chance of 12 to 17 named storms this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predictions for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season which officially runs from today, June 1st, through to November 30th.
“With the increasing risk of climate disasters, it’s more important than ever for all New Yorkers to follow three steps to help keep their families safe: get a kit, make a plan, stay informed,” said Jose Dominguez, CEO, American Red Cross on Long Island. “You can visit www.redcross.org/prepare for more information on how to prepare your family for this hurricane season and for other common disasters like home fires or floods.
And when making your plan, don’t forget your pets ─ they depend on you for their safety.”
"I want to emphasize the critical importance of hurricane preparedness in our community. Hurricanes can cause significant damage and pose serious threats to our residents and infrastructure. It is crucial that we take proactive measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “The American Red Cross's commitment to preparedness, sheltering, and providing relief supplies is commendable, and we are grateful for their partnership.”
“Today’s weather patterns are much different than they were several years ago,” said Patrick Beckley, Commissioner of Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services. “All it takes is one hurricane to disrupt the lives of millions. In fact, as we have seen with hurricane Sandy, at times it doesn’t even need to be a hurricane to decimate a community. This is your time to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane.”
“Preparedness is our best defense for hurricane season. We at PSEG Long Island are proud to partner with the Red Cross to remind customers on Long Island and in the Rockaways to make their families and homes ready for the upcoming storm season,” said Michael Sullivan, vice president of Electric Operations, PSEG Long Island. “The safety of customers and our employees is our top priority. We also prepare all year long by updating and maintaining the electric infrastructure to provide safe, reliable service, during extreme conditions.”
“HWCLI is grateful for the partnership with Red Cross of Long Island and the planning and preparedness work we collaborate on all throughout the year to make sure we are ready to respond and meet the needs of our Long Island communities during hurricane season and for all impactful disasters. This partnership is always focused on strategy to promote positive outcomes for our neighbors and a bright, resilient future for our region,” said Rebecca Sanin, CEO Health & Welfare Council of Long Island.
“I am proud to partner with the Red Cross to highlight the importance of preparing for hurricane season. Groups like the Red Cross play a crucial role in providing assistance and support during hurricane season on Long Island, ensuring the safety and well-being of residents. Preparedness efforts help communities in anticipating and responding to the impact of hurricanes, reducing the potential for loss of life and property damage. I encourage everyone to make a plan for this hurricane season to prevent being caught off-guard,” said Rep. Nick LaLota (NY-01)
“Long Islanders know all too well the impact that hurricanes and super storms can have on their homes and safety. Hurricane season begins today and the time to prepare is now, before the worst happens. Take the time to understand your risk from hurricanes and learn what you should do to protect your family before, during, and after a storm. I thank the Red Cross for taking the time to raise awareness about this critical safety issue for our coastal community,” said Rep. Andrew Garbarino (NY-02)
“Preparedness is your best defense. Long Islanders know the destructive powers of hurricanes, and at the start of this season, we are reminding the public to remain vigilant and make contingency plans for possible extreme weather emergencies. I applaud the American Red Cross and our local organizations leading the effort to ensure that every Long Islander is informed and prepared every year,” said Senator Kevin Thomas.
“As another hurricane season approaches, it is important for us not to become complacent,” said Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-10th AD). “As an Island, obviously we are subject to storm surges, flooding, severe erosion and resultant property damage. Planning on the run is never a good idea. I urge my neighbors to prepare necessary supplies, including flashlights, water and non-perishable foods, discuss plans with family members, and ensure that our most vulnerable family members have accommodations ready in case of an emergency.”
PREPARE YOUR FAMILY NOW With the increasing risk of climate disasters, it’s more important than ever to follow the three steps below to help keep your family safe. Plus, download the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed and the free Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and more safety tips. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.Build an emergency kit with bottled water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and battery-powered radio. Also include medications, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers and emergency contact information. Make an evacuation plan with what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you have to evacuate. Make sure to coordinate with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans — and don’t forget your pets. Know how to stay informed by finding out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.
BECOME A RED CROSS VOLUNTEER The need to help during disasters has never been greater. Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday for more information. Our most-needed disaster positions include:SHELTER SUPPORT: Help at a shelter during a large disaster by welcoming and registering residents, serving meals, setting up cots, distributing blankets and personal hygiene kits, and providing information and other assistance to people in need. HEALTH SERVICES: We also need volunteers who can use their professional skills as a licensed health care provider to deliver hands-on support, including care and education to people staying at a shelter during a large disaster. Qualified licenses include RN, LPN, LVN, EMT, Paramedic, MD, DO, PA, NP and APRN. DISASTER ACTION TEAM: While big hurricanes get the most news coverage, smaller disasters, such as home fires, are no less devastating to those affected. Join your local Disaster Action Team to help families in need by providing food, lodging, comfort, recovery assistance and other support.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, visit us on Twitter at @redcrossny
June 6, 2023
New work requirements for SNAP benefits not expected to be felt yet, Hochul aide says
By Olivia Winslow
Updated June 4, 2023 7:53 am
Read on: NewsdayA sign outside a Brooklyn grocery store alerting customers about SNAP food benefits. One of the hotly contested aspects of the debt ceiling debate centered on imposing work requirements under SNAP on certain individuals up to age 54. Credit: Getty Images/Scott Heins
The part of the debt ceiling deal that imposes new work requirements on an older segment of the population seeking food stamp benefits apparently will not impact New York residents this year, because of a waiver the state received earlier in the year, a spokeswoman for Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday.
One of the hotly contested aspects of the debt ceiling debate to try to rein in federal spending centered on imposing work requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, on certain individuals up to age 54. Those work requirements already affected some people ages 18 to 49.
In normal circumstances, childless adults in the 18-to-49 age group are subject to a time limit rule. Under it, SNAP benefits "are limited to three months within a three-year period, unless the individual is working or enrolled in a work program for 80 hours each month," according to a fact sheet from Hunger Solutions New York.
But the federal government granted New York a waiver of the work requirement and time limit rule, first from Oct. 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2023. The state got an extension earlier this year, through Feb. 29, 2024, according to a "General Information System message" from the state's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance issued in February.
"New York State residents will continue to be exempt from SNAP work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents based on a federal waiver granted earlier this year," Aja Worthy-Davis, the governor's deputy communications director, wrote in an email. She added, "we are closely monitoring the changes being discussed at the federal level."
A spokeswoman for the Suffolk County executive's office referred questions about the work-requirement regulations to the state. A spokesman for Nassau County didn't respond to requests for comment.
Republicans argue that expanding work requirements for government assistance programs result in more people returning to the workforce. “We’re going to return these programs to being a life vest, not a lifestyle,” Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the vice chair of the House Republican conference, told reporters, according to The Associated Press.
But some nonprofit officials said imposing work requirements on older adults places more barriers on a vulnerable, food-insecure population.
A Washington, D.C.-based policy research organization, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, was critical of the work requirement in a story published on its website.
"SNAP’s existing work-reporting requirement has proven to be a failure," it said, citing the time-limit rule. "Numerous studies have shown that this requirement does not improve employment or earnings, but it does take away SNAP’s food assistance from a substantial share of people who are subject to it."
The center, which did a state-by-state look at the number of people ages 50 to 54 who were at risk of losing SNAP benefits under the new regulation, estimated 45,000 New Yorkers could lose them.
Under the debt ceiling bill that Congress passed last week, changes to the SNAP work requirements would affect 50-year-olds 90 days after its enactment. By the beginning of fiscal year 2023 in October, the work rule would apply to those age 51 to 52; and by October 2024, it would apply to those 53 and 54. Republicans agreed to new exemptions to the rule, such as for veterans and homeless persons, among others. President Joe Biden signed the bill Saturday.
"Arbitrary SNAP time limits don’t increase the workforce, they simply take food off the table from folks who are struggling," said Rebecca Sanin, president and chief executive of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. "These time limit restrictions will impact people’s life outcomes and health outcomes and reinforces the notion that access to food is a privilege rather than a human right."
Kathy Rosenthal, senior vice president for programs at the Family Service League, a nonprofit social service agency based in Huntington, had a similar view.
"So we’re putting older people who may have more barriers in that same bucket," Rosenthal said.
"Of course it’s going to be harder for a 54-year-old to get a job than someone under 50. ... What’s happening is we’re putting more vulnerable people in a position to be more food insecure because of this work requirement for those older people," she said.WHAT TO KNOW The debt ceiling deal imposes new work requirements on an older segment of the population seeking food stamp benefits. The impact on New Yorkers apparently would not be affected immediately, a state official said, because of a federal waiver of the work requirement that the state received through Feb. 29, 2024. Republicans say that expanding work requirements for government assistance programs results in more people returning to the workforce. But some nonprofit officials said imposing work requirements on older adults places more barriers on a vulnerable, food-insecure population.
May 2, 2023
Settlement expands NY's Medicaid coverage for medically necessary dental procedures
By Tiffany Cusaac-Smith
Updated May 2, 2023 10:07 am
Roughly 5 million low-income New Yorkers who are on Medicaid will get expanded dental coverage, thanks to the settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit brought against the state Health Department.A lawsuit that contended the state's Medicaid rules denied basic dental care has been settled, expanding coverage for 5 million. Credit: Getty Images/David McNew
Crown placements and root canals were among several dental procedures the state routinely denied residents who use Medicaid, which provides health care to millions of low-income people. But the settlement, announced Monday, will make those procedures and others, such as replacement dentures, more readily accessible.
“We've reached a settlement that will change the rules and really drastically expand, I would say, the coverage around those specific benefits that will allow for necessary and basic dental care," said Belkys Garcia, staff attorney with the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, which brought the lawsuit.
The Health Department said Monday, “This settlement recognizes the importance of oral health and affirms the state’s commitment to those individuals.”
Before the settlement, people could be denied coverage for a root canal if they had at least eight back teeth, according to Legal Aid. Crowns and root canals will now be covered when deemed medically necessary and it will be easier to get replacement dentures, dental implants, and related services, attorneys said.
The settlement comes after 10 original plaintiffs and others in the class "whose expenses associated with medically necessary dental services are not reimbursable by New York’s Medicaid program … because of the Program’s illegal limitations" brought the litigation in 2018, court papers say.
The suit argued that the state's Medicaid program restricted coverage necessary to maintain overall health. It contended that adequate dental care was vital not only to a person's physical and mental well-being but their ability to work and function in society.
The settlement includes the firms of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which also represented the plaintiffs.
On Long Island, healthcare officials say the settlement is promising.
“I think that this is a very important achievement for folks when it comes to accessing dental care because there have been historically so many strict limitations, and many Medicaid recipients have received denials for things that are really necessities,” said Rebecca Sanin, president and CEO of the regional nonprofit Health and Welfare Council of Long Island.
Sanin said many of their clients on Long Island have to go through an appeals process only to end up being denied restorative dental care.
Audrey Smith, CEO of Long Island Select Healthcare, a federally qualified health center that serves many low-income clients, said dental procedures are one of the most challenging areas in health care because coverage doesn't always align with what people need.
At the health center, what typically happens when a person can't pay for a crown or other restorative care is that they could be placed on a payment plan or a sliding scale.
The settlement, she said, would be a benefit for many of the people the health center serves, but that there are also other pressing needs, mainly the lack of dentists on Long Island who care for people on Medicaid.
“The availability of dentists is our biggest issue right now,” she said.
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