Building Access NYC in a way to eventually make it accessible to others who are working towards similar goals was a logical addition, according to Hia. Key to this was also continued support from elected officials in New York City.
Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, was a major proponent of the project. Kallos is also a software developer, and he has previously worked on projects with similar goals, including eatfresh.org, which provides healthy recipes to users who are on a budget. Kallos introduced Local Law 60 in 2018, which spurred the city to consider how tech and data could advance access to benefits there.
Kallos said the API is going to be a way for private-sector innovators to avoid having to understand and navigate bureaucracy. Instead, they will be able to focus on creating a new digital means of using data and applications for other services to screen individuals and ultimately determine if they are eligible for benefits they aren’t receiving.
“Now that New York City has finally done the right thing by making its benefits available through an API, the challenge now comes to the private sector for how we can work together to finally end hunger and poverty in New York City,” said Kallos.