HHS Accelerator Report

This month, the Human Services Council released its report on the initial impact of HHS Accelerator and, as a follow-up to the report, held a focus group meeting that allowed providers to share their feedback directly with the HHS Accelerator team. This is the latest example of HSC’s ongoing commitment to working with providers and government to streamline the way they do business. By improving the business relationship, we strengthen providers’ ability to deliver high-quality services to New Yorkers who need them.

New York City launched HHS Accelerator in 2013 to address the core challenges of the human services procurement process. The result of a detailed dialogue between the City government and the Human Services Council of New York and its members, this technology-driven solution standardizes the solicitation and contracting processes. The well-being of many human services organizations and of their clients in New York City depends on government procurement and contracting.

However, until nearly two years ago, identifying and responding to RFPs was a challenge. HHS Accelerator was launched to address the difficulties in procurement and contracting. Accelerator allows providers to store frequently requested documents, prequalify before competing for funds, apply for and manage contract awards online, and to track and submit financials.

HSC recognizes that HHS Accelerator is a drastic improvement but is also a work in progress. Based on a survey and interviews with our member organizations, HSC has produced a report on the initial impact of HHS Accelerator. Overall, HHS Accelerator has had a positive impact on the procurement process.

Before Accelerator, the process of procurement was overwhelmingly paper-driven, inefficient, and redundant. However, now the majority of providers consider the procurement process to be more efficient and straightforward. One serious problem before Accelerator was duplication of effort. For example, the same agency requesting the same document multiple times, or having to submit the exact same document to multiple agencies. The time spent sending in duplicate documents is valuable time that could be spent on providing essential services. HHS Accelerator has significantly improved on the hassle of duplication. Providers can upload documents to the Document Vault, which are then accessible by many City agencies. Accelerator has reduced the administrative burden of the solicitation process.

In addition, Accelerator has reduced inconsistency among and within agencies. Before the online system was introduced, each agency had its own procurement process. The majority of providers contract with multiple City agencies, however, so they would have to submit the same information in different formats. For example, every provider had to demonstrate its past experience in a service area to be qualified to apply for contracts in that area. With Accelerator, there is a uniform prequalification process that applies to all City human services agencies. Again, any time saved is indispensable in the nonprofit human services sector.

Before Accelerator, each agency also had its own process for publishing and notifying providers of RFPs. Trying to find opportunities meant either spending large amounts of time searching, or missing out on relevant prospects. Opportunities would be communicated in a myriad of ways, from email and mailing lists to private RFP services and word of mouth. HHS Accelerator asks providers to specify what services they provide and then identifies opportunities based on their selections. Accelerator is now the most relied upon source for finding RFPs, and the majority of survey responders indicated that Accelerator has made RFP identification easier.

The report provides much more in-depth analysis of the changes HHS Accelerator has brought about and how they affect providers’ procurement experience. The report also features ways in which respondents believe the procurement and contracting process and HHS Accelerator could be further improved. Overall, Accelerator has made life less stressful for providers, and the suggested improvements will make providing services to communities in need even easier.

To continue the streamlining process, HSC recently convened personnel from our member organizations and the HHS Accelerator team for a feedback-driven focus group. Not only did the entire HHS Accelerator team attend the meeting, but they led the group in an overview of updated features and a discussion about the user experience. Topics examined included the new RFP format, the document vault, file size, alerts, and trainings; those in attendance offered feedback on those and several other areas. The focus group was a success: not only was there a fantastic attendance from service providers and the Mayor’s Office of Operations, but the Accelerator team was incredibly open to feedback. We are looking forward to another focus group meeting and a continued partnership to improve and expand the system.

HHS Accelerator team and HSC members going over Accelerator updates and features

HHS Accelerator team and HSC members attending focus group meeting

Contributed by Elizabeth Yates of the Human Services Council.

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2.5% Cost of Living Adjustment for New York City’s Human Services Workers

HSC launched the 5and5COLA campaign earlier this year to advocate for a cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for the human services sector. It has been seven years since our dedicated workers have seen a raise despite the economic recovery and the increased cost of living in New York. HSC’s 5and5COLA initiative calls for a 5 percent increase this year and 5 percent increase next year for a total of 10 percent by 2016 for the human services sector.

To kick off our campaign, representatives from more than 30 human services organizations gathered in front of City Hall on Monday, April 27th to express the importance of an investment in human services through a COLA. There were speeches from Councilmember Ydandis Rodriguez, Wayne Ho, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA),  Igal Jellinek, LiveOn NY, Angela Gonzalez, Women in Need (WIN), and Gregory Brender, United Neighborhood Houses of New York.  All of them stressed the importance of the human services sector in keeping our communities thriving and what a COLA would mean for the human services workforce.

Our sector provides over $5.5 billion in services including job placement, community services, afterschool enrichment, and assistance to immigrants. Our sector’s employees dedicate themselves to improving the lives of New Yorkers, making a difference in their communities, and contributing to New York’s economy. This sector’s workforce is the foundation that strengthens New York.

However, as Wayne Ho pointed out at our rally, “The people who work in our sector look like the clients they are serving. They are eligible for the services that we are providing. Over 50 percent of employees in social services agencies earn less than $14 an hour. The mass majority of these are women are and people of color.” As the lowest paid workforce in NY, the lack of a COLA has created a high turnover rate and negatively impacts the clients who constantly have to change their caseworkers. “It has been increasingly hard to fill the positions with the salaries we offer. Invariably that hurts services to the women we serve,” said Bobby Watts from Care for the Homeless.[1]

A COLA would go a long way to strengthen the City’s safety net and promote equality for all New Yorkers. Igal Jellinek explained, “Inequality of wages now leads to a vicious cycle where those that service older adults will then become poor older adults themselves.” Mayor de Blasio has released bold goals and specific targets to contribute to and strengthen the environment and economic stability of New York in his OneNYC Plan.[2] While we support Mayor de Blasio’s efforts in funding programs that fight poverty, we would like to stress the human services workforce are critical partners in helping reach his goal of lifting 800,000 people out of poverty. [3]

The 2.5% increase COLA included in the FY16 Executive Budget, along with a $11.50/hour floor wage increase for social service workers, is a good start towards accomplishing Mayor de Blasio’s goal.[4] Although the change we have seen thus far is not all we proposed, it is still a step in the right direction. As the Administration moves ahead with its plans to fight inequality in NYC, we must remember the importance of providing living wages for the human services workers who play a vital role in helping those in need in New York’s communities. HSC will continue fight for the human services sector and for additional increases in the future to continue to stabilize and strengthen our critical work.

[1] Human Services Council Leads #5and5COLA http://www.humanservicescouncil.org/documents/Human%20Services%20Council%20Leads%20COLA%20Campaign.pdf

[2] Mayor de Blasio’s One NYC Plan


[3]  Mayor de Blasio Releases One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City


[4] Policy Update: 2.5% COLA in FY16 Executive Budget


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HSC’s Joins the Fight for $15

Michelle Jackson speaking at the release of Comptroller Stringers Report: “Raising the Minimum Wage in New York City to $15 Per-Hour Will Put $10 Billion into the Pockets of Nearly 1.5 Million Workers”

Michelle Jackson speaking at the release of Comptroller Stringers Report: “Raising the Minimum Wage in New York City to $15 Per-Hour Will Put $10 Billion into the Pockets of Nearly 1.5 Million Workers”

The Fight for $15 has swept the nation as a rally-turned-movement to raise the wages of workers across the country. The goal of the Fight for $15 is to combat the gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living which creates a growing population of working poor. This increase is needed to improve the lives of thousands of New Yorkers who struggle to provide for their households, even as full time workers.

The lack of a living wage has increased the need for human services as New Yorkers try to make ends meet. More people are coming through the doors of our agencies every day. Many of our programs help New Yorkers reach self-sufficiency by teaching job training skills, helping people find employment, or providing job supports like child-care. However, the gains from these programs are lost when thousands of jobs across New York do not pay a living wage. In addition, years of flat funding by government agencies have left the human services sector hard pressed to keep up with the increased demand of providing for those in need.

HSC came out on the April 15 Day of Action in support of the Fight for $15 because we know that a living wage for New Yorkers would transform our neighborhoods and our City. A new report released by Comptroller Scott Stringer stresses the impact this will have on both workers and businesses. His report found that raising the minimum wage to $15 per-hour in New York City by 2019 would boost wages by $10 billion a year and benefit nearly 1.5 million workers in the City.[1] This boost would also increase household spending, decrease the amount spent on individuals who are eligible for Food Stamps and Medicaid by $200 to $500 million annually, and increase the amount of taxes collected by the City.[2]

The importance of having living wage jobs in our communities cannot be overlooked. Mayor de Blasio has released his OneNYC plan with the goal of lifting 800,000 people out of poverty by 2025.[3] A report by the Center for Economic Opportunity shows that increasing the minimum wage to $15 per-hour will be important to helping him meet his goal.[4] Raising the minimum wage would mean a better way of living in New York City and make it easier for employees to provide for themselves and their families. The Fight for $15 Rally brings us closer to that goal.

[1] Comptroller Stringer Report: Raising Minimum Wage in New York City to $15 Per-Hour Will Put $10 Billion into the Pockets of Nearly 1.5 Million Workers


[2] Comptroller Stringer Report: Raising Minimum Wage in New York City to $15 Per-Hour Will Put $10 Billion into the Pockets of Nearly 1.5 Million Workers


[3] One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City


[4] Report: City’s Anti-poverty Goal Requires $15 Minimum Wage


Contributed by Jovonne Cameron of the Human Services Council


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Major Wins for New York’s Immigrant Communities

This summer has granted major victories for immigrant communities throughout New York City. With the release of the NYC budget, $10.3 million dollars was slated solely for the expansion of programs and services for immigrant communities; programs including Adult Literacy, the Immigrant Opportunities Initiative, and the Cultural Immigrant Initiative all received additional funding in the FY15 City budget. A historic victory for the City is the expansion of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project – allowing NYC to become the first jurisdiction ever with a public defender system specifically for detained immigrants facing deportation. With $4.9 million dollars of funding, this project will ensure families will no longer be torn apart by deportation if they cannot afford a lawyer. Through CUNY Citizenship Now! individuals will also be able to receive free legal services at additional locations like the offices of City Council Members and various community events. These services will ensure all qualified New Yorkers have the ability to apply for U.S. citizenship and other immigrant benefits.

Joining the cities of Los Angeles, New Haven, and more, the City Council voted to institute the country’s largest municipal identification card program, available to all, including the most vulnerable populations. Municipal ID programs from around the country play a positive role, consistently empowering and protecting communities. Furthermore, the program acts as a catalyst for the economy, creating a path to increased spending and entrepreneurship as undocumented immigrants will potentially have the opportunity to open bank accounts, sign leases, and more.

IDs facilitate everyday features of life which many people take for granted, such as driving to work, opening a bank account, or returning an item in a retail store. Merely proving your existence is contingent upon holding a government recognized ID, and yet many individuals in New York City are unable to obtain proper identification – until now.

The new municipal ID program will help entire populations in New York City access a variety of services and opportunities. As Council Speaker Mark-Viverito states, “This landmark legislation will go a long way towards helping New Yorkers access City services while also giving identification to those who have not had one before.” In providing official and accurate identification for all New Yorkers, the ID program will include typical features such as a picture and address, though the most inclusive feature being the option of card holders to choose their own gender.

The program is not just an investment in immigrant services but an investment in services for all New Yorkers. Among those unable to get an ID are: the homeless, runaway youth, and elderly individuals who do not have access to necessary documents like passports, birth certificates, and social security cards necessary to obtain a New York ID; those who have been the victims of a disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy, and have lost documents due to fire or flooding; and undocumented workers and their children who contribute to New York’s economy.

Spearheaded by Council Members Carlos Menchaca and Daniel Dromm with the support of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayo Bill de Blasio, the new system administered by the Mayor’s Office of Operations will empower communities who are often invisible to privileged New Yorkers. New Yorkers will have the opportunity to apply for the card at government agencies as well as a myriad of community-based organizations that provide social services. With so many options and access to apply, New Yorkers everywhere will be able to obtain IDs with convenience, while reducing wait times. The program is expected to roll out in the beginning of 2015. For further information, listen to our interview with Council Member Carlos Menchaca and LSA Family Health Services from our podcast, “Human Services News and Views,” found here!

Contributed by Eve Stern of the Human Services Council.

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Financing the Nonprofit Sector: Meeting with Director of the Office of Management and Budget

The change in administration in NYC has presented a unique opportunity for the nonprofit sector specifically to establish ourselves as a vital part of accomplishing Mayor De Blasio’s goals of reducing inequality in the city. Since the new administration took office in January, HSC has been working to establish relationships with important officials and position the sector as an important partner to the City. These relationships will allow us to progress in empowering our members and the nonprofit sector as a whole to better provide services to New Yorkers.

The New York City budget has a huge impact on many nonprofit organizations, as most receive at least some funding from City contracts. HSC and our Board were able to meet with the Office of Management and Budget Director, Dean Fuleihan along with Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, on June 10, 2014. We were afforded the opportunity to express concerns and discuss issues in terms of finances and budgeting.

To begin, Kristin Giantris of the Nonprofit Finance Fund presented recent findings from the 2014 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey, which detailed the problems that nonprofits are facing both in New York and around the country. The findings were significant, and proved the need for changes in how governments as well as the public view nonprofit organizations.  Over 80 percent of New York health and human services organizations reported that demand for services increased in 2013, however 57 percent were unable to meet demand. A big problem facing nonprofits is financial sustainability, with 42 percent of New York nonprofits reporting long term financial sustainability as their biggest concern. [1]

As most nonprofits are funded at least partially by government contracts, those contracts have a big impact on the financial situation of the organizations. Only 25 percent of New York health and human service organizations receive State contract payments on time, and even less receive local contract payments on time. To manage these delays, nonprofits rely on some type of debt, use reserves or are forced to delay payment to vendors or creditors. Over 50 percent of nonprofits utilizing a loan or line of credit are doing so to manage delays in payment from government contracts. Additionally, 31 percent of respondents reported spending over 300 hours per month managing government grants or contracts.[2] The time and energy spent managing the contracts, as well as the frequent delays in funding, impact an organizations’ ability to run its’ business effectively and serve clients successfully.

This report demonstrated the need for change, and set the stage for other members to discuss problems and potential solutions. The need for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was emphasized, as many organizations struggle with employee retention. The nonprofit sector in New York have not received a COLA in six years, which puts the sector at a severe disadvantage in competing for the talented individuals who could be running many of these vital programs in NYC.

Members also noted that many government contracts do not cover the full cost of the services contracted for. Many contract awards have remained constant for years, even as the cost of doing business rises. For example, if a higher minimum wage is enforced, without taking into account the fact that most nonprofits have consistent revenues, nonprofits have to find the money in their already strained budget in order to comply. These financial constraints impact an organizations ability to deliver the outcomes it desires, and negatively affect those served by the organization.

Director Fuleihan and Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli were receptive to the ideas presented throughout the meeting. Both were focused on realistic and actionable solutions, and members were appreciative of their acknowledgement and feedback. With a new, change-oriented administration, meetings such as this one can go a long way in making officials aware of the issues nonprofit organizations face, establishing the sector as an important partner of the government, and creating action plans to drive positive change.


Contributed by Kristin Kelsch of the Human Services Council.


[1] Nonprofit Finance Fund 2014 State of the Sector Survey,  http://survey.nonprofitfinancefund.org/

[2] Nonprofit Finance Fund 2014 State of the Sector Survey,  http://survey.nonprofitfinancefund.org/

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Close to Home: The Importance of Supportive Housing to the Human Services Sector

Supportive housing is the label applied to more than 30,000 New York City residences that come with live-in professionals providing support services to their tenants. These residences are operated by nonprofits, and the services they provide include employment services, individual and family therapy, and treatment for the mentally ill, to name a few. The primary goal of supportive housing is to house the chronically homeless, however, supportive housing programs have positive impacts on a variety of populations, the effects of which reverberate back to the nonprofits that serve them.

People who lose their homes are exposed to a horde of other challenges. For example, let’s assume that people who lose their homes spend more time outdoors, exposed to the elements. Exposure to rain and cold make it more likely that people will get sick, increasing their need for emergency or nonprofit medical care. Sickness, as well as the logistical inconveniences of not having a home (no shower access, no place to keep and maintain clothing), can make it impossible to hold down a job, which increases the need for employment services. Without a job and steady income, paying for food can be a struggle, leading to more people using soup kitchens and food pantries. In desperation, some people may turn to crime, like shoplifting or drug dealing. This group runs the risk of arrest or addiction, two conditions that reinforce unemployment, sickness, and homelessness, and introduce a need for legal assistance and substance abuse treatment. At any point in this chain, people may lose or give up their children, increasing the need for child care and foster care services. To review, the chronically homeless can be chronic users of child care, foster care, medical care, substance abuse treatment, employment services, food pantries, soup kitchens, and legal assistance, in addition to basic shelter services.

The chronic nature of the homeless’ use of these services deserves special emphasis because it is contrary to the goals of the nonprofit sector. Unlike every other sector of the economy, many organizations in the nonprofit sector work to put themselves out of business. Their services are designed not only to satisfy their clients’ needs, but to eliminate them altogether (e.g. substance abuse treatment). Only in this unique market is a return customer (i.e. chronic user) a bad thing. A chronic user defeats the purpose of these services and pinballs from service to service without addressing the root cause of the person’s need for assistance.

For many chronic users of these support services, homelessness is the root cause of their need. Homelessness acts as an anchor, holding them in place, whether that place is unemployment, imprisonment, sickness, or addiction. Nonprofits whose purpose is to fix an issue rather than treat it would be better served using resources on other clients whose issues they can fully address. By offering the chronically homeless a stable, safe living environment, we can kill the chronic nature of their use of other services, positively affecting the work of every nonprofit involved. Supportive housing is also an extremely good investment, as it addresses the chronic nature of homelessness while saving millions of dollars each year. For every person that leaves the streets to live in supportive housing, the City saves an average of $10,100 per person, per year.[1] For every psychiatric patient that moves into supportive housing from a state-run psychiatric facility, the City saves $77,425 per patient, per year.[2]

Contrary to the character of the preceding text, homelessness is not a hypothetical problem. Some of our neighbors suffer its effects every day. Collected here are stories of several New Yorkers’ battles with homelessness that include how their lives improved after they became tenants in supportive housing.


–          Alberto committed a robbery as a teen and spent five years in prison. Four days after he was released, he committed another crime so he could go back to prison, rather than being on the street. For the next 14 years, Alberto’s life would be dominated by homelessness and addiction. He was arrested at least 60 times, making frequent stops at Riker’s Island. In 2008, Alberto sobered up and began living in supportive housing run by the nonprofit Palladia. Since then, Alberto has trained in building maintenance and boiler repair, remained drug-free, and lived a healthy, safe life with Palladia.[3]


–          Jacqueline spent ten years with her son, Mark, shuttling between prisons, court hearings, interventions, and shelters as she struggled with drug addiction. In 2003, Jacqueline persuaded a judge to let her go into inpatient rehab and supportive housing rather than prison. Her supportive housing program, Sojourner House at Pathstone, helped Jacqueline move past her addiction. Her son Mark flourished, winning one scholarship to a prestigious all-boys high school, and then another to St. Lawrence University.[4]


–          As a young man, Jamie was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His mother, a New Yorker who emigrated from Barbados, was overwhelmed and felt unable to care for him. Jaime then became homeless, splitting time between shelters, hospitals, and the streets. In 2004, Jaime moved into the Institute for Community Living’s Myrtle and Lewis Residence. With help from the staff, he enrolled in support groups and rehabilitation training. He picked up a job, saved enough to move into his own apartment, and enrolled part-time at a local college.[5]


Supportive housing programs do good work for the people and nonprofits of New York. They help individuals with seemingly intractable problems achieve a higher quality of life. Their services address the root cause behind the needs of chronic service users in many different areas. Supportive housing programs strengthen the entire nonprofit sector by resolving the problems of chronic service users.


To learn more, Ted Houghton, executive director of Supportive Housing Network of New York, was on our radio show Human Services News and Views on June 19th, WVOX 1460 AM. You can listen online here: http://www.humanservicescouncil.org/podcasts.php 


Contributed by Zack Manley of the Human Services Council.



[1] City Government Evaluation of the NY/NY III Supportive Housing, p. 2 http://shnny.org/images/uploads/NY-NY-III-Interim-Report.pdf

[2] Ibid.

[3] Supportive Housing Network, Tenant Profiles, http://shnny.org/learn-more/real-stories/albertos-story/

[4] Ibid, http://shnny.org/learn-more/real-stories/jacqueline/

[5] Ibid, http://shnny.org/learn-more/real-stories/jamies-story/

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NYC Human Services Official Welcome Reception – Great start for the people of New York

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

With a new Administration for the first time in twelve years, New York City’s human services sector is excited to form new partnerships, share new ideas, and tackle our most pressing issues. On March 5, 2014 Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Human Services Council of New York, UJA Federation of New York, United Neighborhood Houses, and United Way of New York City hosted a reception to welcome New York City Human Services Officials and hear from them how they will work with the sector and share ideas for a stronger collaboration. New York City’s human services sector still faces the effects of the Great Recession, and as the partner in the delivery of services to those in need, maintaining and building a strong network of providers and programs is crucial to healthy communities.

The event hosted over two hundred people, including seventeen officials from City government – Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor of Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations Mindy Tarlow, Commissioner of Human Resources Administration Steve Banks, Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of Youth and Community Development Bill Chong, Chair of New York City Housing Authority Shola Olatoye , Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of Homeless Services Gilbert Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of Coordination and Integration of Services Eric Brettschneider, Deputy Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Florence Hutner, and Assistant Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Tracy Weber-Thomas.

The new Administration will face many challenging issues, and there is a clear need for collaborating between the City and community nonprofits to sustain vital community programs throughout every borough. We were thrilled to hear tonight about the new Administration’s policy agenda, new ways we can collaborate, and a passion for bettering the lives of all New Yorkers.

The event kicked off with remarks from Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, who has extensive experience in both City government and served as the Commissioner for the Department of the Aging since 2008. Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli addressed how the nonprofit sector plays a critical role in the Administration’s agenda.

Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, who has been a partner with Human Services Council since coming to Children’s Aid Society and has dedicated his career to protecting children and eliminating poverty, spoke about the importance of continued collaboration with the sector.

Deputy Mayor of Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery

Mindy Tarlow, Director of Operations, has been executive director of the Center for Employment Opportunities for nearly twenty years before she was appointed by Mayor de Blasio. She introduced her new role and how she would integrate human services into other parts of government.

Mindy Tarlow, Director of Operations

Mindy Tarlow, Director of Operations








Commissioners Steve Banks, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Bill Chong, Shola Olatoye, Rose Pierre-Louis, Gilbert Taylor, and Deputy Commissioner Eric Brettschneider, all addressed some of the most urgent issues the City is facing today and expressed that now is the best time for sharing new ideas for the people of New York.

Thank you to all the attendees, City Officials, and our partners for an inspiring event. We are confident that good things will come from our joint efforts and we look forward to working together!

From left to right: Deputy Commissioner of Coordination and Integration of Services Eric Brettschneider, Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of Youth and Community Development Bill Chong, Chair of New York City Housing Authority Shola Olatoye

From left to right: Deputy Commissioner of Coordination and Integration of Services Eric Brettschneider, Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of Youth and Community Development Bill Chong, Chair of New York City Housing Authority Shola Olatoye

Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Executive Director of the Human Services Council Allison Sesso

Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Executive Director of the Human Services Council Allison Sesso

Contributed by Yuan Zhou of the Human Services Council of New York.

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To Tax or Not to Tax? How to Fund UPK in New York

Universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) and after-school programs are essential to a child’s future success in school and in life. Research shows that full-day UPK reduces income inequality and increases social mobility.[1] Free, universal, high-quality prekindergarten would greatly benefit children from low-income families, who encounter numerous barriers to learning, but expanding full-day UPK and afterschool programs in New York City would be costly and require a significant amount of funding. The overall expansion plan would cost $2.6 billion over five years, State Education Commissioner John King has said, and full-day UPK could cost $1.6 billion a year to implement.[2]

The Mayor and Governor agree on the importance of these programs, but differ in how to fund them. Mayor Bill de Blasio has released a proposal to increase the personal income tax rate on City incomes over $500,000, from the current 3.88 percent to 4.41 percent to provide stable funding for universal pre-K.[3] Governor Andrew Cuomo has his own plan to fund statewide universal pre-K classes through the State budget without raising taxes. The battle over the schooling of four-year-olds and afterschool programs for middle school students between the Mayor and the Governor lies in their different funding choices. It is not a winter’s talk, but it is definitely going to be a tale of two ideologies in this case.

Overall, taxing the rich may help fulfill his “a tale of two cities” campaign, but it is also a smart political strategy given the Mayor’s political constituency that leans progressive. The political climate in the State, however, is a little more conservative and it is an election year for Governor Cuomo. Additionally, to pass Mayor de Blasio’s tax plan, it requires State authorization. But, the nature of the problem should not be about politics; instead Pre-K funding is an issue of smart public policy.

Comparison between the two plans

Funding sources:        

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to increase the personal income tax on incomes over $500,000, from the current 3.88 percent to 4.41 percent would guarantee $500 million in revenue in Fiscal 2015.[4]
  • As part of Cuomo’s $138 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins April 1, Governor Cuomo calls for $1.5 billion in State spending over five years for UPK and middle school expansion from the State budget.[5]

 Per Child cost for UPK:

  • Under Mayor de Blasio’s plan, the per child cost for UPK would be approximately $10,239, and the current average cost per child is $7.207.[6]
  • Governor Cuomo’s plan does not specify.

New seats created under the full-day UPK:

  • New York City would require 73,250 seats to meet the plan, including 13,845 new seats and 27,241 half-day seats to be converted to full-day.[7]
  • Governor Cuomo’s plan does not specify.

Additional Funding for afterschool programs and classroom infrastructure:        

  • Mayor de Blasio’s tax plan would use $190 million a year for after school programs in the City.[8]
  • Governor Cuomo wants to separately fund the addition of pre-K classroom space through a $2 billion education technology bond act, and will propose another $720 million over five years in revenues generated by new casinos to fully fund after-school programs statewide.[9]

There is always a trade-off between efficiency and equality when it comes to policy making. The Mayor’s approach focuses on the idea of efficiency; he suggests that New York City children need pre-K more than upstate children. “By the way, the children we would reach are amongst the poorest in the United States of America, let’s be clear,” said de Blasio.[10]  By taxing approximately 48,000 wealthy residents in New York City, the plan creates a stable and consistent revenue source and funding mechanism without relying on the State budget. Governor Cuomo, however, argues that this plan would potentially divide the State and emphasizes State funding for a statewide pre-K program to ensure all communities in New York receive funding and equitable treatment.  

Polls conducted last week show that voters appear to favor Governor Cuomo’s plan, but questions remain to be answered: is Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 billion enough for implementing the program? What is the real effect of a tax hike on the New York City economy? When the Mayor and the Governor are still bickering over how to pay for UPK, it is important to remember that free, universal, high-quality prekindergarten will result in a stronger New York.  These two leaders in New York must come together to ensure the ultimate plan achieves its objective: that every child and working family in New York deserves a chance at success.

Contributed by Yuan Zhou of the Human Services Council of New York.

[1] Yoshikawa, Hirokazu, “Testimony to the New York City Council, joint hearing of the committees on education and women’s issues, on the city’s proposal for universal high-quality prekindergarten.” February 11, 2014, p2.

[3] The New York City Council, “Resolution supporting the City’s plan to establish high quality universal pre-kindergarten for all eligible four-year olds and a high-quality after school program for middle-school-aged youth.” February 11, 2014. p5.

[4] Id.

[6] The New York City Council, “Resolution supporting the City’s plan to establish high quality universal pre-kindergarten for all eligible four-year olds and a high-quality after school program for middle-school-aged youth.” February 11, 2014. p5.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

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HSC Releases Recommendations to Achieve a Healthier Nonprofit Human Services Sector

When I moved from Chicago to New York City, I remember one day realizing the immense economic disparity that exists here. I was shopping on Madison Avenue, wearing relatively expensive clothes, when I saw many homeless people living on the street, sometimes with their equally homeless dogs. There are also poor and even homeless people Chicago, but nowhere had I seen such a striking contrast between the luxury enjoyed by the rich and the awful conditions of the poor, illustrated on the very same street. I didn’t expect to see so many homeless people in the richest city in the richest country in the world. At this moment, I realized that most of humanity remains at the bottom of society. Even the most fortunate of us share the same world, both literally and morally, with the most downtrodden.

Given that the nonprofit sector is the lifeline to people in need, and is crucial in helping families move into and stay in the middle class and reducing social problems such as homelessness,  I wanted to work in the sector, which lead to my internship with HSC. HSC, as a coordinating body, mobilizes a diverse group of nonprofits and stakeholders to educate policy makers and the community on how budget and policy decisions affect New York’s social service providers and the poor and vulnerable individuals and families who depend on them for services. I learned about the limitations of what government can do, and the possibility for human services organizations to bring about policy change. By advocating for issues important to different human services organizations, I am doing something tangible for New York City’s homeless population. I feel proud to join those addressing the “tale of the two cities” problem identified by Bill De Blasio in his successful campaign to become the City’s new Mayor.

HSC developed recommendations to strengthen the nonprofit human services sector’s ability to improve the lives of New Yorkers in need. On January 14, 2013, the Human Services Council of New York convened nearly 200 leaders of government, philanthropy, media, academia, and the nonprofit sector to have a frank conversation about the strategic significance and economic health of the sector, how to change the culture and practices that keep the sector from realizing its full potential, and what can be done to ensure that nonprofits are meeting community needs. The Summit, Doubling Down: How Recommitting to the Nonprofit Sector can Achieve Real Change in Communities, elicited many potential solutions that – if implemented – would build a stronger nonprofit sector that can more effectively and efficiently serve New Yorkers.

The document outlines fifteen recommendations for public policy reforms, which are broken down into four key areas: procurement, performance, pay, and new ideas. The goals of our recommendations are to achieve a healthier nonprofit human services sector in New York. They also offer significant relief to organizations that deliver a wide array of critical services to communities and will substantially improve its ability to provide quality services to the most vulnerable New Yorkers. They will move the sector forward on a path to sustainability, a step necessary to ultimately achieving greater, more audacious outcomes. See the attached detailed information regarding the recommendations’ four key areas.

Overall, the recommendations address the dire need to build and recommit to trusting and engaging partnerships between nonprofits and policy makers and to reform the flow of money and communication processes between the two.  Nonprofits are a strong economic force in New York’s economy, accounting for 33 percent of City contracts and over $5.5 billion in annual spending.[1] The sector also employs over a tenth of the City’s workforce [2] and spends an estimated $2.5 to $5 billion annually on goods and services.[3]   Ensuring the health of this significant sector is in the interest of government and the overall economy.

These recommendations are crucial to building a healthy nonprofit sector that can continue to serve people in New York, and work to alleviate the disparities I see every day walking in New York City.

Contributed by Yuan Zhou of the Human Services Council.

[1] Agency Procurement Indicators Fiscal Year 2013, City of New York Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, page 27

[3] Negotiated Acquisition Solicitation for Group Purchasing Organization for Goods and Services for Human Service Providers 2010


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HSC’s 2013 Leadership Awards Reception

December 11, 2013 marked the Human Services Council’s (HSC’s) 18th annual Leadership Awards Reception at the 320 Park Avenue space graciously provided by Mutual of America. Over 250 close friends of HSC attended and helped us raise over $110,000 to support HSC’s advocacy efforts to improve human services for New York City.

The evening began with Michael Stoller, our Executive Director, introducing Tyrone Golatt, Senior Field Vice President, and welcoming the attendees. Tyrone spoke about the value of HSC’s work and how Mutual of America is happy to partner with, and support us. We are grateful for the continued support of Mutual of America.

The first special honor of the night, presented by Michael Stoller, went to Elliot Pagliaccio, Deputy Comptroller of the New York State Comptroller’s Office, for his work in highlighting the important role of nonprofits in NY and strengthening the sector. Angela Dixon, also Deputy Comptroller at the Office of the New York State Comptroller, accepted the award on behalf of Elliot who was unable to attend due to severe illness.


L – to – R: Ellen Rautenberg, Michael Stoller, Angela Dixon, Allison Sesso, Richard Altman

Next, Joel Copperman, HSC’s Board Chair, presented the Leaders of Influence Award to Dr. Peter Campanelli, Reg Foster, Frank Mauro, Carolyn McLaughlin, and Wanda Wooten in recognition of the important contributions they have made to the human services sector. Their hard work and dedication have made the communities and people of New York stronger. Dr. Campanelli then, “passed the torch,” by presenting the Next Generation Leadership Award to Zachary Blodgett and Katherine Eckstein, who are emerging leaders in the sector that have already made exceptional contributions. We look forward to their future accomplishments.


L – to – R: Michael Stoller, Wanda Wooten, Carolyn McLaughlin, Reg Foster, Joel Copperman, Peter Campanelli, Frank Mauro


L – to – R: Michael Stoller, Zachary Blodgett, Katherine Eckstein, Peter Campanelli

Marla Simpson, HSC Board Member, presented our next special honor to Louisa Chafee, former Executive Director for Management Innovation in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and recent appointee of Governor Cuomo to the position of Deputy Secretary for Human Services and Information Technology. HSC has worked in partnership with Louisa to develop and implement HHS Accelerator, a new system designed to streamline the contracting process for nonprofits in NYC.  We are grateful to Louisa and the rest of the Accelerator team for their innovative work and partnership.


L – to – R: Ken Jockers, Jeremy Kohomban, Louisa Chafee, Marla Simpson, Michael Stoller

In honor of an organization that has always supported the human services sector and HSC, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, HSC Board Member, presented the Friend of the Human Services Community award to IBM, accepted by Stan Litow, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of IBM’s Foundation. For many years, IBM has provided grants to HSC for technology support and workshops for our members, greatly increasing the capacity of our sector to serve greater numbers of people more efficiently and effectively.


L – to – R: Michael Stoller, Stan Litow, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan

Our final special honor of the night was presented by Sister Paulette LoMonaco, HSC Board Member, to Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services. Her visionary leadership changed the face of human services nonprofits in NYC and created an extraordinarily collaborative partnership with our sector. We are thankful for her years of collaborative work with our sector and many years of public service.


L – to – R: Fred Shack, Sr. Paulette LoMonaco, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, Gordon Campbell, Michael Stoller

The last, but certainly not the least, of our honorees was Jennifer March, who received the HSC Advocacy Champion Award, presented by Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, and Jim Purcell, HSC Board Member. Jennifer’s tireless advocacy efforts have contributed so much to NYC – most recently, in the Campaign for Children, which helped restore funding to programs for more than 47,000 children. We are grateful to have Jennifer on our Board of Directors and know she will continue fighting to make NYC a better place for children.


L – to – R: Michael Stoller, Jennifer March, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, Jim Purcell

Special thanks to our platinum sponsor, IBM; our gold sponsors, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, The Children’s Aid Society, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, and UJA-Federation of New York; our patrons, Baruch College School of Public Affairs, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, Institute for Community Living, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Phipps Community Development Corporation, Project Renewal, Public Health Solutions, Urban Pathways, and YMCA of Greater New York; and our supporters, Jewish Child Care Association and Lighthouse International; as well as Mutual of America, who helped make the reception a success.

We would like to thank everyone for their continued support of HSC and the work we do. We look forward to the coming New Year with new beginnings!

Contributed by Jason Wu of the Human Services Council.

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