A New York City budget deal reached on June 11 contains no mention of city contracts or the $200 million in additional baseline spending on city contracts that human services nonprofits say they need in order to fully fund the costs of delivering services such as foster care, homeless services and senior meals on behalf of the city.
But human services nonprofits did secure some last-minute wins in the $89 billion deal reached between Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. This includes $15 million for middle school summer programs, $10.3 million is for the Summer Youth Employment Program, $8.7 million for food assistance programs, and $3 million to fund 60 new shelter beds for homeless youth ages 21 to 24, according to a City Council statement.
“This is my first budget as Speaker, and I am very proud of what it says about this Council’s priorities,” Johnson said in the statement.
He emerged triumphant after the mayor dropped a demand to fund half-priced MetroCards through a “millionaires tax” – which would require the approval of the state legislature. Instead, the city will earmark $106 million to fund Johnson’s budget priority.
The deal also included $150 million to make public schools more accessible for disabled people, $125 million in other funding for schools, and $225 million to boost the city’s financial reserves.
Johnson and de Blasio could not be reached for comment by press time.
The deal was announced in the early evening at City Hall after a day that was dominated by the news of a city cover up of conditions in NYCHA housing, culminating in a deal with federal investigators requiring the city to inject more than $1 billion in additional funding into the city’s public housing.
The City Council had initially supported the human services sector’s push for the $200 million and momentum appeared to be building in recent weeks to pressure de Blasio to go along with it. A May report by the Office of Comptroller Scott Stringer detailed the payment delays that result in nonprofits bearing the cost of city services as they wait months and sometimes more than a year for their contracts to receive final approval from the city.
The report found that ninety percent of new and renewal contracts were approved after their start data – with ten percent approved a full year after nonprofit contractors were required to provide services. While human services advocates have been highlighting delays like this for years, the report pushed the issue into the front and center of city politics, however briefly.
“A lot of nonprofits that do such crucial work in this city, they’re hand-to-mouth in terms of their budgets,” de Blasio said on May 31. “The city of New York obviously is a huge entity. We owe it to them to pay them as quickly as possible – so I’m not satisfied with the state of affairs.”
But a City Council hearing on the issue scheduled for June 21 did not happen soon enough to affect the budget deal announced this week. A final city budget must officially pass the City Council and be signed by the mayor by the end of the month.
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