The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Program provides flexible federal funding to states and localities that support community-based programs. In New York City, CSBG funding allows: 5,500 youth to enroll in leadership; employment and educational support programs; 3,500 older adults to age in place with dignity and independence; 3,000 adults to attain literacy instruction and their GED; 6,500 immigrants to access English classes and other resources for cultural adjustment; 4,500 families to address their health and safety challenges through case management; 2,000 non-custodial fathers to reassert their relationship with and responsibility for their children; and 5,000 people to pursue safe and supportive housing. It is redundant to elaborate how these funds revitalize low-income communities, combat poverty, and empower New Yorkers to achieve self-sufficiency. CSBG funding is clearly an important catalyst for community development.
The New York State Department, Division of Community Services administers the New York State CSBG Program. In New York City, the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) holds this responsibility. In Fiscal Year 2011 New York City has received approximately $31.9 million, and contributed $7.98 million in matching tax levy funds. This support makes the work of over 200 community-based organizations possible.
Fiscal Year 2012 will be a different story. The President has proposed a 50% cut to CSBG funding and that these funds be administered on a competitive basis. This will leave municipalities in the dark as to what they will be awarded and when they will receive it. This uncertainty leaves New York City with insufficient information to plan for the future of its social services. The consequences of these potential cuts, on the other hand, are easily foreseen.
CSBG is the only federal program focused on comprehensive services to fight poverty. Its dismantling threatens to erode the social service infrastructure that provides low-income families with the resources to become self-sufficient. In New York City, the elimination of federal CSBG funding will deprive each of New York’s Congressional Districts of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in funding for critical social services. New York’s 15th Congressional District, in upper Manhattan, will lose as much as $3.7 million. New York’s 12th Congressional District, in Queens, Brooklyn, and lower Manhattan, follows closely behind, projected to lose $2.9 million. New York City’s aggregate loss of funding will endanger the work and viability of more than 200 community-based organizations, and deprive between 800 and 4,000 low-income New Yorkers of the services they depend on. As we know, this short-term measure to reduce federal spending will only impoverish our nation in the long-term.
Now is the time to speak out against these cuts. Community organizations are making huge efforts to lobby for the restoration of CSBG funding before the FY12 budget is set in stone. DYCD worked with community partners to set up meetings in March across all five boroughs to capture the public’s attention. Elected officials, including Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, Congressman Robert Grimm and Congressman Charlie Rangel, were in attendance as well as representatives from social services organizations. In total, 2000 people came to hear presentations, stories and sign their name to a petition and letters to Congress.
To add your voice, please send letters and make calls to your members of Congress. You can find your Member’s contact information at www.house.gov. You can also make calls locally to your state elected officials and New York City Council Members. To find them, visit the Who Cares? I Do. website. Learn more about CSBG from the National Community Action Foundation at www.ncaf.org.
Contributed by Zan Margolis
of the Human Services Council of NYC