Office of Empowerment

The mayor just announced the creation of an Office of Economic Empowerment within the Department of Consumer Affairs. The announcement was made along with news of $150 million in funds to support initiations outlined by his anti-poverty task force.

According to today’s release, “The Office of Financial Empowerment’s work will focus on five interconnected priorities: financial capacity, financial education, watchdog protection, strategic partnerships and best practice.”

Mayoral spokesman Jason Post said the office does not come with any new powers, but rather, an ability to concentrate on a specific area of consumer protection.

The announcement is another step in Bloomberg’s effort to address poverty, a topic that according to his 2005 election opponent, the mayor hardly mentioned in his first term.

– Azi Paybarah

UPDATE: Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum is not entirely happy with this development. Here’s what she said about City Hall’s latest initiative:

“Given the new office’s stated mission, I hope it will be an energetic supporter of my bill to allow advocates to set up help tables in Job Centers and other benefits offices. Unfortunately, the Administration opposes the legislation, though vital supports for families living below the poverty line and the working poor are underutilized because of the often insurmountable obstacles put up by City bureaucracies.”