Mayor and City Council Agree on Budget for FY 2012

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Mayor and City Council Agree on Budget for FY 2012
Funding Restored for Many Services that had been Threatened
The Momentum Project "Saved"

 

 

New York City Council and Mayor Bloomberg have announced that they reached an agreement on a City budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. When details of the agreement were made public, advocates and supporters of various government programs that had been threatened with significant cutbacks recognized that a significant makeover had taken place. The agreed-to budget struck back many of the Mayor’s proposed cuts.

 

The original scenario of massive teacher layoffs, closed senior centers, firehouse eliminations and major cuts to HIV and public health services have fallen by the wayside, replaced, instead, with a number of restorations of funding.

 

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a press release: "Those New Yorkers can rest easy...knowing that our children will still have great teachers, our seniors will still have great centers to visit, and our neighborhoods will still have great firehouses to keep them safe."

 

For the HIV, Mayor Bloomberg had proposed severe cuts to HIV services that are funded through HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA). Forced to comply with a federal court judge’s decision to enforce provisions in Henrietta v. Bloomberg (initially known as Henrietta v. Giuliani), which prevented reductions of HASA case worker staff, the Bloomberg Administration instead had proposed $10 million in cuts to other HASA programs. It was this "robbing Peter to pay Paul" approach that was in the end, rejected by City Council.

 

The Momentum Project, which is part of VillageCare’s array of HIV services, was targeted by the Mayor for complete elimination of City funding – nearly $1 million. This threatened the ability of the 25-year-old program to continue to operate. The City’s Human Resources Administration’s HIV nutrition program funds go entirely to The Momentum Project to provide congregate meals and take-home pantry bags. Without this support from the City, which makes up the only significant funding for the program – more than 70 percent of current year resources, Momentum would have had to severely cut back its services, if not shut down completely. In each of the past two budget years, the Mayor proposed cutting funding in half, but this met with opposition on City Council, which restored HIV nutrition funds. This marks the third year in a row that the City Council has shown its support for Momentum’s work and chosen to restore cuts to HIV nutrition.

 

HIV supportive housing providers throughout the City were also spared the budget ax; the Mayor’s proposed budget would have cut $5.1 million from HASA supportive housing programs. Housing providers stated that a cut of this magnitude would have taken the "support" out of supportive housing, relegating providers to mere landlords, with no resources to address the needs of clients struggling with substance abuse, mental health or other challenges. The negotiated budget will fully restore funding for this service.

 

A financial management contract held by GMHC was also partially restored. The program helps clients who are struggling to pay their rent by providing, among other things, representative payee services to HASA clients who receive Social Security benefits. The grant supports help for HASA recipients to better manage their funds and apply for Social Security benefits.

 

Two other programs were spared any budget cuts:

 

HIV/AIDS faith-based initiative remains funded at $1.5 million

Rapid HIV testing remains funded at $2 million

 

Some HIV services did experience a cut, they include:

 

HIV prevention and health literacy for seniors – reduced by $100, 000 cut, going from $500,000 to $400,000.

HIV/AIDS Communities of Color – a $375,000 cut, going from $1.5 million to $1.25 million

Injection Drug Users Health Alliance - a $200,000 cut, going from $1.2 million to $1 million

 

And, two of the Mayor’s proposed cuts were enacted:

 

HASA rental assistance – reduced by $1,257,000. How this cut will be implemented is not clear, but advocates say this may result in clients not securing independent apartments in some situations.

HASA client eligibility – reduced by $150,000

 

In addition, an HRA-wide change in policy that reduces by 50 percent the brokers fee for finding clients an apartment, along with elimination of a security deposit for landlords (replaced by a voucher), were both enacted. Advocates feel this will result in HASA clients and others having a more difficult time locating and securing a new apartment.

 

For senior programs, a proposed 30 percent cut of $6.6 million for case management was partially restored, although a $3.6 million cut remains. In addition, the original proposal to slash funding for senior centers was fully restored, along with funding for meals on wheels and some other services. This is a significant win for programs serving needy and vulnerable elderly New Yorkers, who would have been left with few options for socialization and assistance.

 

VillageCare notes that the restorations to many of these services would likely not have been successful without the HIV community coming together to advocate with one unified voice. City Council heard loudly and clearly from the community of the importance of these programs. Many providers came together, particularly Housing Works, VOCAL-NY, GMHC and Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA).

 

Also, it’s important to recognize that City Council has once again demonstrated its broad support for HIV services and its continued commitment to fight the AIDS epidemic.