Budget Handshake: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office
Every year, the Progressive Caucus works to ensure a fair budget that maintains a commitment to strong core City services while supporting programs that protect the most vulnerable. With these goals in mind, Caucus members identified and advocated for several priority investments earlier this year, many of which were secured yesterday with the City Council’s vote to approve a balanced FY 2019 Budget with many progressive victories for marginalized and low income New Yorkers.
Our members appreciate the critical partnership and leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson and Finance Committee Chair Danny Dromm, whose negotiations with Mayor de Blasio made these achievements possible, as well as the Council Finance staff, lead by Latonia Mckinney. We also would like to deeply honor the critical role that City Council Chief of Staff Ramon Martinez has played in these budget negotiations, and in all Council matters, over the past two decades. The crucial and historic investments made in innovative public services this year would not be possible without these key leaders.
The Progressive Caucus advocated for the following budget items that were included in the FY19 Budget:
Fair Fares: $106 million for Fair Fares, a program that cuts the price of MetroCards in half for low-income New Yorkers. The Speaker’s advocacy along with the rest of Council was crucial in securing this funding in the Mayor’s FY19 budget.
Youth Jobs: $10.3 million to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program from 70,000 to 75,000 slots. Council Members Debi Rose and Jumaane Williams especially went to bat for this program which was baselined in the Mayor’s FY19 budget.
NYCHA Repairs: Robust investments in NYCHA repairs to improve housing, health, and safety for public housing residents, including $200 million in capital to upgrade heating systems at NYCHA developments and $13 million for short-term heating upgrades for next winter. We thank Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel for her leadership on this issue.
Mental Health Resources & Social Workers in Schools : The Progressive Caucus and others in the Council fought to add additional social workers and resources for students, especially those living in shelters. These funds were provided both by the Mayor’s budget and the Council to the Bridging the Gap program to fund a total of 73 social workers, adding 30 more social workers than last year, who will focus on assisting students living in shelters. The Council will also continue to support Child Mind Institute at $500,000; their programming provides mental health support for students.
Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) : The City will increase and baseline funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) to meet projected demand bringing the EFAP budget to $20 million annually. We thank Council Member Stephen Levin on his advocacy on this issue.
School’s Out New York City (SONYC) : For the School’s Out New York City (SONYC) program, the Caucus and Council advocated and secured one-time funding of $15 million. The Caucus and Council also advocated for the COMPASS program and as a result, the Administration baselined $8 million and provided $6.2 million in one-time funding for Fiscal 2019. The Council funded portion of COMPASS is $1.8 million bringing the total funding for this program to $16 million. We thank Council Members Debi Rose and Carlos Menchaca on their advocacy on this issue.
Children and Families in NYC Homeless System : The Council will fund $1.35 million to aid an innovative program addressing the mental health and emotional needs of families in shelter as well as providing wrap-around aftercare services to families. Thank you to Council Member Stephen Levin for his leadership in this issue.
Stabilizing NYC : The Council allocated $2,500,000 to support programs to combat the loss of affordable housing at the hands of predatory equity companies, and to defend low-income tenants in predatory equity buildings from harassment and eviction.
Community Housing Preservation Strategies : The Council will provide $3,651,000 to fund neighborhood-level programs that combat the loss of affordable housing. These programs include, but is not limited to: tenant organizing; code enforcement advocacy; housing court assistance; apartment repossession; and other housing-related public education.
Alternatives to Incarceration : Reconfirming the City’s commitment to closing Rikers, the City will increase funding to ATIs by $1.75 million to a total of $8.1 million. Council will provide funding of $5.6 million to support ATI programs that provide individuals involved in the criminal justice system with intermediate sanctions, such as community service and substance abuse counseling, as an alternative to pre-trial detention, sentence to jail, or prison.
Crisis Management System (Anti-Gun Violence) : As the recent national conversations on gun violence prove, more investment in gun violence prevention programs is needed. In this spirit, the Council secured $9.4 million for the Crisis Management System in baseline Mayoral funds. The Council will continue to fund our portion of the CMS commitment, which uses a community-based approach to reducing gun violence, with a $2.6 million allocation.
Cultural After School Adventure (CASA) : The Council will support arts enrichment offered to students through after-school programs with funding of $15 million.
Worker Cooperatives : The Members of the Caucus advocated for the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative this budget cycle, and Council was able to secure $3.5 million in funding to support the creation of jobs in worker cooperatives by coordinating education and training resources and by providing technical, legal, and financial assistance. We thank Council Member Rosenthal for her continued advocacy on this issue.
Cultural Immigrant Initiative : This Council initiative will fund $6.4 million to support programming focused on the cultural history or traditions of an immigrant community in New York City, and help increase access to unique cultural offerings that focus on immigrant heritages.
Access to Food & Nutritional Education : Council’s allocation of $1 million will support programs that will expand access to healthy food and improve understanding of nutrition and healthy food choices, while engaging communities to make positive changes related to food and nutritional choices. Of the $930,000, $430,000 awarded to Grow NYC and Harvest Home supports farmer’s markets and the use of EBTs at farmer’s markets and $750,000 supports five community based organizations to foster healthier communities.
Food Pantries : This initiative supports $4.6 million to about 260 food pantries and soup kitchens as well as 25 food and hygiene pantries located in high-need schools.
Legal Services for Low-Income New Yorkers : The Council will provide $5.3 million to support services that include direct legal representation, which includes a range of matters such as class action cases, unemployment, SSI, consumer/finance, family, juvenile, health, housing, income maintenance, individual rights, hotline-based services and other miscellaneous benefits.
Court-Involved Youth Mental Health: In Fiscal 2019, the Council enhanced this initiative by $800,000, to $2.85 million. This allocation supports programs that utilize risk assessment tools to identify juveniles in the arrest process who require mental health services and that provide family counseling and respite services to families of court-involved youth. We thank Council Members Rose and Ayala for their advocacy on this issue.
Day Laborer Centers: The Caucus advocated for Council funds towards the operation and development of day laborer centers, that provide dignified physical space for day laborers to meet, support and legal services, as well as workforce training and development. We are grateful to Council for funding this initiative at $1.97 million. The initiative will also include $125K in funding to aid laborers for site safety trainings (Construction Safety For All). Thank you to Council Member Menchaca for his leadership on this issue.