What do $400 million in cuts to human services actually look like? What neighborhoods are affected? How many opportunities are lost? The answers can be found on a new online map designed by the Human Services Council of New York (HSC). It offers a detailed, visual illustration of the effects of recent budget cuts on the city’s five boroughs.
Senior centers, housing subsidies, after-school and summer youth employment programs are just some of the human services programs that are threatened by the budget cuts. HSC’s map highlights these and reveals at a glance where the cuts are concentrated. It accomplishes exactly what HSC Executive Director Michael Stoller envisioned: “It presents a clear picture of the impact that the Mayor’s budget will have on real people in our communities and gives New Yorkers a better grasp of the impact on their neighborhoods.”
The map clearly shows that the boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx are disproportionately affected by the proposed budget cuts. Take for example the neighborhood of Mott Haven in the South Bronx. Mott Haven is in a district in which 65% of the population receives some level of federal income support. (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/lucds/bx1profile.pdf) The map shows that this neighborhood’s most vulnerable community members― children, the elderly and the formerly homeless―will bear the brunt of the budget cuts.
Mott Haven is at risk of four crucial after-school programs closing and will be affected by the loss of 3,361 summer youth employment slots in the Bronx. ThePattersonHousesSeniorCenterwill be closed, including two geriatric mental health programs at E. Roberts Moore Senior Center and East Side House Settlement, Inc. In addition, this area of the Bronx is at risk of losing funding for the Advantage program, a short-term housing subsidy program for formerly homeless families and individuals trying to get back on their feet.
As Stoller says, “Human services aren’t frills. They’re lifelines for those of us who count on them for food, safety, housing, and jobs.” Cutting these lifelines is not the answer. The Mayor must consider alternative revenue-raising options like re-establishing a personal income tax surcharge on high-income households, drawing on the city’s $3 billion “rainy day” Retiree Trust Fund and ending tax loopholes and subsidies that benefit big banks and the wealthy.
What can YOU do? Call or write your Council Member today! The City Council is currently in budget negotiations and will vote on a final budget package over the next few weeks. The time to call your Council Member is NOW! Tell them how important these critical services are to our communities and how devastating the cuts will be. You can find you Council Member here and contact information.
Contributed by Joanna Carman of the Human Services Council of NYC