Monday, July 5, 2010

City’s Adopted Budget Cuts $60 Million from Human Services

The NY Nonprofit Press reported that City’s Adopted Budget Cuts $60 Million from Human Services

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.