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July 1, 2020 – At last night’s Stated Meeting of the New York City Council, which ran into the early hours of this morning, Council Members voted to pass an $88.19 billion budget for FY 2021 — 32 in the affirmative, and 17 in the negative.

The COVID-19 health crisis and related economic downturn; coupled with wide-spread calls for police reform and racial justice all played a significant role in shaping this year’s budget priorities. Also, Personal Protection Equipment expenses; the uncertainty of timing and amount of a federal stimulus; as well as the city not being able to borrow money from the state, all led to what the City Council deemed “the worst fiscal crisis that the city has seen since the 1970s.”

Budget Priorities
Given the current health, economic and racial justice climate, the city sought to prioritize funding to address public health, food insecurity, senior services, housing and homelessness, human services and small businesses.

As such, resources were shifted to ensure funding for related programs and services, including:

  • Saving Summer – Restoration of $115.8 million for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP); Work, Learn, Grow; and Compass, Beacon, Cornerstone and SONYC summer programs. This will ensure the participation of approximately 35,000 youths in SYEP, and that access is available to 70,000 summer camps.
  • Promoting Public Health and Mental Health – $18.6 million in health initiatives and $16.5 million in mental health initiatives to deal with the health and emotional fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Preventing Food Insecurity – In addition to the $25 million that the Council had previously negotiated to prevent food insecurity, the adopted budget includes $11.5 million in food initiatives.
  • Restoring Education Spending – Restoration of $100 million in Fair Student Funding, $11.6 million for the Single Shepherd guidance counselors, $4.8 million for 38 social workers, and $1.8 million for other social-emotional supports for students.
  • Strengthening Small Businesses and Workers – $1.6 million to Chamber on the Go, $3 million for Worker Coop Business Development, $1 million for Construction Site Safety Training, and $2.8 million for the Day Laborer Workforce Initiative.
  • Promoting Criminal Justice – $11.9 million for Alternatives to Incarceration, $2.2 million for diversion programs, $7.3 million to Combat Sexual Assault and related services, and $2.9 million for the Crisis Management System.
  • Preserving Youth – The Fair Futures campaign for foster youth received $2.7 million, childcare vouchers got $4 million, and discretionary childcare contracts received $8.7 million.
  • Maintaining Culture and the Arts – $20.2 million for cultural programs and Cultural Institutions Groups, $14.3 million and $1 million for the CASA and SU-CASA initiatives, respectively, and $3.7 million for the Coalition Theaters of Color initiative.

DHC’s Advocacy
This year, each Council Member was allocated a base $400,000 in expense funding. Council Members were further allocated an additional $25,000; $50,000; $75,000; or $100,000 depending upon the level of poverty in the district. Against the backdrop of the city’s economic crisis, the Administration and City Council were forced to make several adjustments that impacted some of our city’s most beloved community organizations. DHC worked collaboratively with our not-for-profit clients and champions in government to secure funding in the expense budget; and also secured some important wins in this year’s capital budget.

We salute the impactful work of our not-for-profits and will continue to strongly advocate for their growing needs to ensure city residents have access to the vital services provided through their platforms.

Despite cuts in the expense budget, there’s still an opportunity for clients to pursue post-budget funding, and during the ensuing months, DHC will go after such funding particularly in the areas of education, social services, and environmental programs.

NYPD Reallocation
Over the past month, police reform advocates have called for the NYPD to be defunded, and a reallocation of such funds to operate programs in communities of color, which led to a $1 billion shift in NYPD resources. However, some critics, including business owners have voiced public safety concerns. The immediate plan is to cut $352.2 million in overtime spending; $55 million by cancelling this July’s Police Academy class; $5 million by instituting a hiring freeze on non-safety positions.

This shift in resources will also move School Safety Officers, School Crossing Guards, and homeless engagement staff out of the NYPD’s jurisdiction. It is important to note that the overtime reduction may not come to fruition. However, funding will keep youth focused on jobs and activities. Given the details of these changes, it is not expected that businesses will see an immediate impact.

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