|City’s Adopted Budget Cuts $60 Million from Human Services|
|Wednesday, 30 June 2010 02:06|
It is an indication of how bad things are that there appears to be a sense of relief that New York City’s adopted budget for FY2010-2011 features only $60 million or so in cuts to human services. Depending upon who is doing the counting, human services providers had been on the block for as much as $200 million in potential cuts as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Executive Budget. That feeling of relief is wearing off quickly, however, as providers and advocates begin to take stock of what this budget means for programs and funding streams which have been cut substantially – or in certain cases eliminated entirely.
“While we faced nearly $150 million in cuts to human services, we appreciate that the City Council and Mayor have come together to make some crucial restorations to core services,” says Susan Stamler, Director of Policy and Advocacy for United Neighborhood Houses (UNH). “Unfortunately we will still see over $50 million cut from child care, after school, senior services, adult literacy and mental health services. New Yorkers will feel pain from this budget. The City as well as the State and Federal governments must do more to meet the needs of our communities.”
“The capacity of the not-for-profit human services sector is being really hard hit with multiple rounds of budget cuts at a time when demand for services from the hundreds of thousands of jobless New Yorkers continues to rise,” said Bich Ha Pham, Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA). “Many organizations are forced to lay off staff and close entire programs because of the significant reduction of their government contracts.”
The magnitude of funding loss can be seen in a review of budget priorities based on the advocacy of the Human Services Council (HSC) and UNH. These umbrella organizations had requested funding restoration of budget cuts totaling $164 million across a range of human service sectors. Budget negotiations between the Mayor and City Council ultimately restored $103 million, leaving a gaping hole of $60 million, 37% of the restoration advocates had been seeking.
And, this represents only the sector’s top budget priorities – not an all encompassing catalogue of human service budget cuts which would likely raise the total funding loss substantially.
The severity of budget cuts and the relative extent of funding restorations varied markedly by service sector and from one program to another. Here is a brief overview, along with some reactions from providers and advocates:
One area of good news was the narly complete restoration of funding -- $12.1 million versus a cut of $12.8 million -- to avoid a 30% reduction in preventive service capacity, increased caseloads in Beacon preventive programs and other service reductions.
“The preventive funding restoration is a real victory for child safety,” said Jennifer March-Joly, Executive Director of Citizens Committee for Children. “It will ensure that resources are available at the community level to protect children from child abuse and neglect.” She credited Council Member Annabel Palma as well as Speaker Quinn for her work in shepherding this significant issue through an extremely difficult budget process.
The budget picture for Early Childhood Education was mixed, with partial restorations of funding seemingly being provided for two separate proposed cuts.
Approximately $6.7 million was restored “to child care centers slated for closure as part of the Fiscal 2011 PEG Program” – presumably some of those 16 centers operating in high cost buildings directly leased by the City itself, rather than the program sponsors. The original budget reduction target had been $9 million. The centers for which funding would be restored were not identified in the Schedule C.
A total of $11.3 million was also restored to support 72 of the 124 classrooms originally set to be closed following the transition of five-year-old children out of child care centers and into public school kindergartens.
“We are pleased that the City Council is playing a major role in preserving child care services,” said Stephanie Gendell, Associate Executive Director for Policy and Public Affairs at Citizen’s Committee for Children.
Programs for seniors were extremely hard hit in the budget.
An $11.5 million proposed cut which would close a total of 50 small and part-time senior centers -- and impose a 5% across the board cut on all others -- was partially restored with an allocation of $6.645 million. It remains unclear how the funding designated for those centers set to be closed -- $1.645 million – will be allocated.
“While we are relieved that the City Council was able to save at least 6 of the 50 senior centers slated for closing, FPWA remains deeply concerned that the city still stands to lose up to an additional 44 centers,” said Fatima Goldman, Executive Director/CEO at FPWA. “We also have concerns about how other senior services have fared.” Council funding which has been used to assist centers with the rising costs of food, transportation and facilities expenses was cut by 9% to $8 million.
A $10 million cut to the Extended In-Home Services for Elderly Program (EISEP) – which provides homemaking for vulnerable home-bound seniors not eligible for Medicaid-funded services was not restored.
A $2 million The Adult Social Day Services program, which provides safe, therapeutic environments at 11 community locations for disabled seniors, often suffering from Alzheimer’s, was completely eliminated. “This is a very damaging decision,” said Bobby Sackman, Director of Public Policy for the Council of Senior Centers and Services. “These programs are the only source of respite for the family caregivers of these seniors. I don’t know how we can simply close these programs.”
A series of 14 Intergenerational programs which provide opportunities for older adults and youth to participate in joint activities were also eliminated to generate $850,000 in budget savings.
Funding for Elder Abuse Prevention ($800,000), NORC Supportive Services ($900,000), Extended Services for Information and Referral ($1.2 million) and Borough Presidents’ Discretionary Aging grants ($4.1 million) were all partially restored with cuts ranging from 10-33%.
The most significant proposed cuts to youth development programs were restored, either in whole or in part.
A proposal to close 33 Out of School Time Option I programs in “low priority” zip codes was fully restored, while a planned $6 million cut to OST Option II flexible funding proprams was restored by approximately half. Similarly a planned $8.5 million cut to Beacons program funding also was restored to almost half its original level.
Several other youth service cuts, including a $5.99 million reduction to runaway and homeless youth shelter beds and a $3.8 million elimination of The After School Corporation (TASC) program, were restored in full.
“By saving after-school programs across New York, the Council sent out a life-line to families who are striving to shield their kids from the dire effects of this recession,” said Lucy Friedman, CEO of The After School Corporation. “Given tough budgetary circumstances, city leaders made a choice to keep investing in youth, and in a citywide after-school system that’s a model for the nation.”
One longstanding youth development program, the $1 million Neighborhood Youth Alliance/Street Outreach, was eliminated entirely.
Services to prevent homelessness, shelter those who have become homeless and provide long term housing for those with disabilities who have been chronically homeless saw funding restorations -- and some painful budget cuts.
A proposal to cut medical services in adult shelters by $1.7 million was partially restored with an allocation of $1.2 million. Other cuts to shelter programs, including employment specialists and the provision of shelter for adult couples, were not restored at all. Several programs aimed at preventing homelessness were partially restored, including Anti-Eviction/SRO Legal Services ($2.0 million, down from $2.250 million), the Housing Preservation Initiative ($1 million, down from $1.5 million) and Community Consultants ($415,000, down from $830,000).
“The restorations contained in the budget agreement that assist the homeless or those at risk of homelessness … represent a strong show of leadership and wisdom by City leaders for assuming responsibility for those New Yorkers in dire need,” said Christy Parque, Executive Director of Homeless Services United. “Although many vital programs were not restored or partially restored we are grateful for the initiative shown to not completely abandon poor people in these terrible economic times of budget deficits and slowed revenues.”
On budget cut which drew strong criticism was the failure to restore $1.786 million in funding for on-site Supportive Housing Case Managers. “Just one week after President Obama announced the first federal strategic plan to end homelessness, the City Council negotiated a budget that dismantles programs the Obama administration cites as models that should be expanded,” said Sean Barry, Director of the New York City AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN). “With 1 in 20 clients of the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) already homeless in the emergency housing system, it’s unfathomable that City Council would cut funding for programs that show the most success in keeping people stably housed and connected to medical care.”
Immigrant Services/Adult Literacy
Adult Literacy providers, who had been threatened with a complete loss of City funding, were gratified to win a significant restoration of funding. The City Council’s own $1.5 million adult literacy initiative, spearheaded by Council Member Sara Gonzalez, was completely restored. At the same time, the Department of Youth and Community Development which had been targeted for a $5.2 million cut to its core adult literacy programs, received a $3.5 million restoration.
“This is an important victory,” said Bruce Carmel, Deputy Executive Director at Turning Point. “We had great support. When people heard that the Mayor was cutting funding to zero, they knew they had to act. We are very grateful to Council Member Gonzalez and to the entire Council for their support.”
The $5 million Immigrant Opportunities Initiative (IOI), which provides ESOL classes, immigrant legal services and citizenship assistance, was ultimately restored by the Council, although with a $500,000 cut.
Health and Mental Hygiene
It appears that a $10.5 million budget cut to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the areas of outreach, advocacy, non-reimbursable case management and medically supervised drug and alcohol treatment programs was not restored.
Funding for the Council’s HIV/AIDS Communities of Color Initiative, Autism Awareness Initiative, Infant Mortality Initiative, Geriatric Mental Health Initiative, Children Under Five Mental Health Initiative, Domestic Violence and Empowerment (DoVE) Initiative were all partially restored with cuts ranging from 9% to 22%.