|Council Members and Advocates Call for $124 Million in Budget Restorations|
|Friday, 30 March 2012 02:57|
Council Members, human service providers, advocates and clients gathered at City Hall yesterday to call for restoration of millions of dollars for key social service programs, including child care and child protective services, services for the homeless and programs for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Mayor’s FY13 Preliminary Budget proposes approximately $124 million in reductions to the social service programs under the General Welfare Committee, said Council Member and Committee Chair Annabel Palma. Significant portion of these reductions represent cuts from the Mayor’s November Plan, as well funding provided by the City Council in last year’s budget which has been dropped from the Mayor’s proposal.
“Last year, under dire fiscal circumstances, the Council fought hard to protect our City’s social services. The Administration - to its credit - eventually came to the table and worked with Council to negotiate a budget that preserved many of the services for our City’s most vulnerable,” said Palma. “Unfortunately, last year’s budget included many one-year fixes and that’s why we stand here today yet again to rally against those cuts that will directly and negatively impact the already-strained programs that many New Yorkers have to come rely on.”
“The Human Services sector cannot withstand additional cuts,” said Michael Stoller, Executive Director of the Human Services Council of New York. “Instead of proposing deep cuts to a sector that is providing critical services to communities, the Mayor should be considering ways to re-invest in proven, cost-effective programs that are helping families and individuals survive.”
Advocates pointed to significant proposed cuts to the City’s subsidized child care system, noting that the Mayor’s FY13 budget excludes both $82 million for child care that had been added to last year’s budget by the Council and the Administration. That funding had avoided the elimination of 10,000 child care slots and 7,500 vouchers, 256 child care classrooms and 6 day care centers. Without continuation of this funding, those programs are in danger again. The Mayor’s budget also drops $3.6 million in Council funding for Child Protective Staffing and $1 Million for Child Welfare Staffing.
“One out of every three New York City children is living in poverty,” said Stephanie Gendell, Associate Executive Director for Policy and Public Affairs at the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “It is unacceptable for New York City to adopt a budget that cuts 47,000 child care and after school slots, eliminates a teen dating violence program, fails to address the needs of homeless children, and eliminates staff at ACS who keep children safe and families together. We are pleased to stand here with the General Welfare Committee to demand that these services be restored.”
“It is shameful that this is now the fifth straight year that Mayor Bloomberg has cut child care and after-school programs,” stated Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee.
Advocates argued for” baselining” of funding for the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), including $2.7 million which the Council restored last year for HASA caseworker staff and $2.4 million for supportive housing case management.
“We are deeply disappointed that the City has once again cut funding for supportive housing case management services, services that keep 4,500 formerly homeless individuals coping with HIV/AIDS stably housed and healthy,” said Ted Houghton, Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “These case managers don’t just help tenants become more independent and improve their lives, they save the City millions in tax revenue that would otherwise be spent on repeated, high-cost stays in hospitals and nursing homes.”
Advocates also argued against the Mayor’s proposed $3.026 million out-year budget reduction based on aggressive enforcement of "Client Responsibility" rules.
“Record numbers of homeless children and adults are crowding New York City’s shelter system, and Mayor Bloomberg’s budget plan and flawed policies will only make this terrible situation worse,” said Mary Brosnahan, Executive Director of Coalition for the Homeless. “The Mayor should sign on to the forward-thinking, fiscally-prudent plan advanced by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and General Welfare Committee Chair Annabel Palma. This plan would help thousands of homeless families move from shelters to permanent housing by targeting Federal housing resources, would reduce the homeless shelter population, and it would save New York taxpayers millions of dollars in shelter expenses. We hope Mayor Bloomberg will finally stop wasting taxpayer money on policies that have exacerbated the homelessness crisis and instead work with the City Council to include their smart, cost-effective plan in the FY 2013 budget.”