Empowered Cities

Nearly one million people in New York City live with a disability, and approximately 35 percent of New Yorkers with disabilities live in poverty. Yet, trustworthy and accurate financial services were unattainable for these New Yorkers.

To change that, the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Office of Financial Empowerment, and National Disability Institute partnered to develop EmpoweredNYC with funding from Citi.

Through EmpoweredNYC, eligible New Yorkers receive free and confidential financial counseling, as well as help managing their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, tackling Social Security Administration (SSA) overpayments, and transitioning to work. By the close of 2020, EmpoweredNYC had engaged more than 900 New Yorkers in 1,650 financial counseling sessions.

The impact of EmpoweredNYC was the catalyst for the creation of a new national initiative, Empowered Cities. Under the leadership of MOPD, Empowered Cities expanded to include the Municipal Offices of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Empowered Cities enables municipalities to expand financial empowerment for people with disabilities and their families. In 2018, with support from the Mayor’s Fund, New York City became the first in the country to join Empowered Cities. When COVID-19 emerged, Citi enabled leaders to reallocate funding to include emergency management, financial empowerment, equity, employment, and affordable and accessible housing. Empowered Cities elevates the voices of municipal disability leaders from across the country and brings a disability lens to the national discussion.

“Understanding the intersections of access, equity, and financial empowerment for people with disabilities is a critical component to making sure that policies best serve their needs,” said Commissioner Victor Calise of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “This new initiative will lead to developing and sharing best practices that will greatly improve how to deliver quality and accessible services to the disability community.”