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HSC Hosts a "Conversation" with Council Finance Chair Recchia PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 June 2012 03:48

City Council Finance Committee Chair Dominic M Recchia Jr. got an earful last night -- something he had been hoping for as part of “A Conversation” about the state of the  nonprofit human services sector presented by the Human Services Council (HSC).

“Every year I meet with hundreds of groups as we prepare the budget,” said Recchia. “I have to tell you that this year, I have come to appreciate nonprofits and the important work they do more than ever.”

“We are honored to have Council Member Recchia join us this evening,” said Joel Copperman,  HSC Board Chair and Executive Director CASES.  “As the City Council continues to engage in budget negotiations it is imperative that they hear from human service providers about the state of the sector, and the role it plays in helping grow the City’s economy.”

As part of a conversation moderated by former City Council Member Ronnie Eldrige, Recchia had a chance to hear from five members of the nonprofit sector, each of whom offered a specific perspective on the challenges being faced by human service provider agencies.

Fred Shack, Executive Director of Urban Pathways, explained how is agency faces a $500,000 structural deficit every year because City, State and Federal contracts fail to cover the full cost of providing services.   Much of this comes in the form of inadequate reimbursement for administrative costs.   As a result, he argued, Urban Pathways and other providers are unable to expand services despite growing need.  “If I want to add new programs, I am going to see my deficit grow from $500,000 to $700,000,” he said.

Steven Choi, Executive Director, MinKwon Center for Community Action, spoke on behalf of small, community-based agencies, particularly those serving rapidly growing immigrant communities.  As a co-founder of the 13% and Growing Coalition, Choi noted that Asian Americans now represent approximately 14% of the City’s population but receive only 0.25% of social services spending.

Marilyn Gelber, President of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, noted that the philanthropic landscape is uneven – and that increasingly, foundations were being asked to make up for cuts in government funding or, alternatively, to fund “the administration’s big ideas”.

“There is a lack of focus on community building on the part of this administration,” she said, noting that in several recent major Requests for Proposals, there had been preferences for larger, well established nonprofit provider agencies who may or may not have ties to the community.

Marla Simpson, Executive Director at Brooklyn Community Services and former Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, discussed the challenges which many nonprofits face in dealing with the City’s procurement and contracting system – despite the significant steps which the Bloomberg Administration has taken to reform and improve a process which still must conform with both State and local laws as well as requirements in the State constitution.

William E. Rapfogel, CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, spoke about the coming challenges of major shifts in the way many Medicaid funded services will be delivered under new arrangements with managed care companies.  He also described the many and sundry obstacles which can stand in the way of new program development, citing on Staten Island housing program which has taken more than a dozen years to complete after winning initial approval in 1999.

“Whether it's an after-school program, a senior center, shelter for the homeless, a food pantry, assistance for domestic violence victims, a mental health clinic, a home for foster children, or a day care center – we must work together to hold government accountable to meeting the needs of all New Yorkers by honoring the commitments made to our communities,” said Council Member Domenic Recchia.

The event was hosted by Pace University.

Comments

avatar Barbara Alston
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Glad to know that Marla Simpson, our new Executive Director of Brooklyn community Services is putting our needs and concerns out in the fore front.
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