New York City unveils benefits screening API

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New York City announced a new application programming interface Tuesday that officials say will make it easier for other organizations to screen residents for their eligibility for public assistance programs.

The API, announced as a joint project between Mayor Bill de Blasio’s economic opportunity and operations offices, along with the software company WebIntensive, makes the screening rules used by the city’s benefits screening portal accessible to other applications. The online tool gathers data from users by asking a series of questions to see if they are eligible for more than 30 assistance programs, such as those for food, housing or work benefits.

According to a press release, third-party organizations can use the API to develop their own tools alerting residents of benefits they may be eligible for, without needing to track changes to the city’s programs because they will be updated automatically through the API.

The API’s introduction follows several recent upgrades to the technologies offered by the city supporting its social services programs, including an upgrade to Access HRA, the city’s online portal for food stamps.

“The Benefits Screening API reflects the commitment of our office to harnessing technology and data to help address poverty-related challenges,” Matthew Klein, executive director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, said in a press release.

The API’s release is in line with similar efforts underway in other large cities around the country to make government data and processes more broadly accessible. Seattle’s Innovation Advisory Council announced a handful of technology projects last week that includes new tools that make it easier to assess and distribute social services to eligible residents.

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API, New York City, public benefits system
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