News and Resources

Seniors Protest Cuomo's Budget Cuts for NORCs

Friday, February 17, 2017


For senior citizens and their advocates, this Valentine’s Day was more about activism than chocolate and flowers. They flooded the phone lines of their local legislators to tell them that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget is simply not acceptable.

“On Valentine’s Day we were asking the legislators to have a heart,” says Bonnie Lumagui, director of the Co-op Village NORC, which provides social and health services for senior citizens in a cluster of Lower East Side co-ops. “We are trying to get the word out any way we can.”

The word is that Cuomo's $152.3 billion budget proposal is a blow to the 16 New York City NORCs, or Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, which provide various services for elderly residents who wish to grow old in their own apartments. “Right now NORCs are getting roughly $4 million,” says Lumagui. “That isn’t even enough to fund the current projects in existence. Now the governor wants to cut $700,000 from the NORC budget. Such a massive cut will result in the closure of at least four NORCs.”

According to the population data provided by Cornell University, New York State is home to the third-largest elderly population in the nation. Currently there are more than 2.8 million New Yorkers over the age of 65, and that number is expected to grow to over 3 million by 2020 and to almost 3.5 million by 2025.

“For the first time ever, 20 percent of New York State residents are age 60 or older,” says Nora Moran, a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), an advocacy group for 37 settlement houses and community organizations in the city. “This is the time to invest in programs like NORCs. It’s an incredibly effective model. NORCs promote independence and engage older people before a crisis happens, to avoid nursing homes and hospitals.”

As Lumagui sees it, that model is under siege. “The proposed budget cuts would be catastrophic,” she says. “The final budget contracts will get awarded in May or late June. Until then we have to make sure that the assembly will tell the governor to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new budget, because cutting NORCs is not option.”

Last year, New York State passed laws that modernized the NORC program, which focused on increasing program quality, collecting more data on the effectiveness of NORCs, and allowing expansion across the state. “NORC programs really pushed for these reforms,” says UNH’s Moran. “We knew that these changes were needed to start more NORCs across the state. Unfortunately, Gov. Cuomo’s current budget only planned to support 24 NORCs, though there are currently 29 NORCs in New York State receiving state support. Without more funds, we could see existing NORCs close, and no expansion to underserved older communities that need these services.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron, a Democrat whose district includes the Brooklyn waterfront and lower Manhattan, is all geared up to fight. "Budget cuts that force NORCs to close would leave New York's seniors out in the cold,” he says. “NORCs provide critical housing and services to seniors across the state, and I'm working with colleagues and advocates to ensure the budget protects them."

Mike Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, doesn’t know how many calls came in on Valentine’s Day, but he says volume was heavy. “We got a whole bunch of calls, but there is still hope,” he says. “We are fighting it. We don't think cutting senior programs is a good thing.”


https://www.habitatmag.com/Publication-Content/Legal-Financial/2017/2017-February/NORC-Fight



Poster campaign: In troubled times, Brooklyn folks support Arabic neighbors

Friday, February 17, 2017



An attractive green poster showing the Brooklyn Bridge overprinted with the words “We Support Our Neighbors” in English and Arabic will soon be popping up in windows across Brownstone Brooklyn.

Elected officials from neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, home to numerous Arabic restaurants and shops, are reporting that constituents have repeatedly expressed deep concerns about “anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric” emanating from Washington.

Now, they’ve joined with local activists to launch the We Support Our Neighbors poster campaign, designed to show positivity in this time of Trump.

The poster idea was the brainchild of Brooklyn Heights resident and transit advocate Quinn Raymond.

“I wanted to do something to show our neighbors that we are a caring community and welcome them,” he said in a statement on Monday. “The elected officials and civic leaders responded immediately, which confirmed my faith in our community. I hope other neighborhoods will follow suit.”

“The We Support Our Neighbors poster campaign is a simple way that neighbors can demonstrate both their opposition to these divisive federal policies and their support of all members of our communities,” state Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said in a statement on Monday.

“As neighborhoods which have been home to various Middle Eastern communities for many decades, we have deep appreciation and concern for our neighbors. At the same time, we have the freedom, and one might argue the greater obligation, to stand up for the broader community,” she added.

“Neighbors coming together to support each other and lift up the community is a part of the settlement house tradition that we are proud to be a part of,” said Joseph Botros, board chairman of the Arab American Family Support Center which provides educational and social services from its offices on Court Street.

He added, “We are humbled to see so many of our Brooklyn neighbors reaching out during these tumultuous times for our communities and we thank all that have made the We Support Our Neighbors Poster Campaign possible.”

Other local officials added their voices.

“Our Middle Eastern neighbors and businesses were here before the Boerum Hill Association began 50 years ago,” Boerum Hill Association president Howard Kolins said in the statement. “They’ve never let us down and we’re not about to let them down.”

"Our country, city and borough have long embraced inclusion as an American value — We Support Our Neighbors is about showing that should never change," state Sen. Daniel Squadron said.

"Our borough, our city and our nation were founded by immigrants. To turn against our fellow global citizens, our neighbors, during these times is to turn against ourselves,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin.

“These are our neighbors, the people we live with and the local businesses that we patronize, that contribute to the great diversity that makes us who we are as Brooklynites,” Cobble Hill Association President Amy Breedlove said.

The idea is also backed by United Neighborhood Houses. Posters were set to be available at the offices of elected officials and other locations late Monday.




Full article: http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2017/2/14/poster-campaign-troubled-times-brooklyn-folks-support-arabic-neighbors

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New York Nonprofit Media: Is ‘Trump bump’ unevenly distributed?

Tuesday, February 07, 2017



Excerpt:

Kevin Douglas, co-director of policy and advocacy at
United Neighborhood Houses, said organizations across the board were bracing for funding challenges. But, with the exception of groups that support the Arab-American community, there was little talk of a dramatic uptick in donations among local community-based organizations. He said he expected nonprofits might directly suffer from budget cuts to federal agencies that contract with social services organizations or from reduced funding for federal programs such as Medicaid. Nonprofits may also be affected if state and local governments have to spend more money on existing services due to potential cuts from the federal government.

“I don’t think there’s a ton of funding at the federal level for after school that Trump is going to cut on day one, but if he cuts health care access, and then the governor and the mayor have to figure out how they’re going to backfill the coverage for almost three million New Yorkers who have health care through the Affordable Care Act, then that means there’s less money to spend on after school and on other services,” he said before the inauguration.

Many nonprofits can’t build a nest egg to steel themselves against budgetary threats because much of their money is contractually bound for services and overhead spending. “Whether it’s funders, or boards or colleagues, people want to know what you’re doing in preparation of what’s coming,” Douglas said. “And no one knows what’s coming.”


Click here to read the full story.


Kevin Douglas, co-director of policy and advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses, said organizations across the board were bracing for funding challenges. But, with the exception of groups that support the Arab-American community, there was little talk of a dramatic uptick in donations among local community-based organizations. He said he expected nonprofits might directly suffer from budget cuts to federal agencies that contract with social services organizations or from reduced funding for federal programs such as Medicaid. Nonprofits may also be affected if state and local governments have to spend more money on existing services due to potential cuts from the federal government.

“I don’t think there’s a ton of funding at the federal level for after school that Trump is going to cut on day one, but if he cuts health care access, and then the governor and the mayor have to figure out how they’re going to backfill the coverage for almost three million New Yorkers who have health care through the Affordable Care Act, then that means there’s less money to spend on after school and on other services,” he said before the inauguration.

Many nonprofits can’t build a nest egg to steel themselves against budgetary threats because much of their money is contractually bound for services and overhead spending. “Whether it’s funders, or boards or colleagues, people want to know what you’re doing in preparation of what’s coming,” Douglas said. “And no one knows what’s coming.”

- See more at: http://nynmedia.com/news/is-trump-bump-unevenly-distributed#sthash.WL4Bf85Y.dpuf

Cuomo plan for federal funds could blow hole in city’s budget for seniors

Monday, February 06, 2017



A transfer of funds in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $152.3 billion executive budget proposal could blow a hole in the budget for the city Department for the Aging, potentially leading to the closure of dozens of senior centers.

Senior citizens advocates are planning a trip to Albany this week to meet with state officials and ask Cuomo to amend a proposal that would redirect funds from adult care to child care services, removing the flexibility the city has had in the past to allocate the funds at its own discretion.

Buried deep on page 368 of the governor’s Aid to Localities bill in his executive budget proposal there’s an allocation for Title XX funds — also referred to as the Social Services Block Grant, a capped entitlement program from the federal government. The proposal states that the funds will be used only for child care services.

Caryn Resnick, deputy commissioner for the Department of the Aging, said the agency estimates the transfer of funds would result in a $17 million cut to services. That could force the city to consider shutting down at least 65 senior centers.

“For now we do interpret this as a potential cut to our agency which would have pretty dramatic effects on our programming and our ability to fund senior centers and all the services they deliver,” Resnick said. “It’s really pretty dramatic — 65 centers is about a third or 30 percent of the senior centers.”

The Cuomo administration argued that redirecting the funding toward child care will not amount to a funding cut or reduction in services.

“We are directing Title XX funds to child care while increasing total funding to New York City by $400 million,” said Morris Peters, a spokesman for the state budget division.

The proposal will be a tough sell for the Democratic-dominated Assembly, given that most members come from the New York City area.

“We don't think cutting senior programs is a good thing and localities should have the flexibility they've always had,” said Mike Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Bobbie Sackman, director of public policy at LiveON NY, a senior citizen advocacy organization, said the Cuomo proposal would lead to a cut in the number of meals served to the city’s aging population as well as a reduction in services, including social activities, eviction assistance and help with health care.

“Imagine that one day 6,000 seniors across the city will wake up to learn their senior center is closed because the state budget was cut,” Sackman said. “They will be not only upset but very confused about why anybody would do that, so it’s disturbing that the governor’s office and the office of budget management would do this change to the budget language.”

The transfer of funding to child care services is particularly frustrating for advocates who say the move pits two basic services against each other.

Susan Stamler, executive director for United Neighborhood Houses, an organization which operates several settlement houses that provide a range of services including senior and child care, said the governor’s proposal will take away the city’s funding flexibility.

“It can be used for child care, senior services, it’s flexible," she said of the previous procedure. Now, she said, the governor is telling the city how it must use "these discretionary dollars" which could lead to a "hole" in the city's budget.

While the Cuomo administration says that it’s increasing total funding to New York City, the executive budget proposal has a few measures that would cut funding for the city.

For example, the state would cut $50 million in Medicaid funding from the city unless Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration comes up with a plan in the next five months to receive $100 million more in federal Medicaid dollars for preschool and school supportive health services.

The governor, who has feuded with de Blasio since 2015, also proposed cutting $11 million in state aid to the city's health department, arguing that the city is more readily able to access federal funds compared to the state's county governments.

The state’s proposal also is likely to complicate the City Council’s budget process.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who chairs the chamber's Committee for the Aging, said she’s already working to have the city include funds in the city's executive budget which de Blasio did not include in his preliminary financial plan.

Resnick said the city is working to have the language in the budget adjusted.


Read the article here

“The commissioner intends to have meetings with the key elected officials in Albany, the head of the aging committee, and we intend to talk to them about the impact, and ask that the language gets changed back,” Resnick said.

UNH Statement on Mayor de Blasio's FY2018 Budget

Friday, January 27, 2017

New York City’s neighborhoods, like others throughout the country, face fear and uncertainty. It is now more important than ever that New York City’s budget reflect our values by investing in the human services that support our diverse communities. United Neighborhood Houses is thrilled to see new investments in summer jobs for teenagers and Beacon Community Centers. And after working intensively over the past two years to advocate for stable funding for summer camp programs, we are relieved and grateful to see this investment included in the FY 2018 Preliminary Budget.  We look forward to working with the Mayor’s administration and the City Council to strengthen the budget over the next several months.

Investing in Youth

UNH applauds Mayor de Blasio for investing in services for youth. By including funds at this point in the budget cycle, youth serving organizations can now design and prepare quality programs for this summer and next school year. UNH is thrilled that the FY 2018 budget proposes to

  • Increase Summer Youth Employment Program to serve 65,000 youth;
  • Create 10 new Beacon Community Centers; and
  • Restore funding for 22,500 middle school summer camp slots.

Human Services Funding

The City took an important step in the right direction by investing in a 2% COLA for staff in human services agencies. However, this investment does not adequately address the financial crisis faced by human services providers- nearly one in five are insolvent and nearly half have zero cash reserves. UNH joined over 200 organizations to call on the Mayor to include a 12% across the board increase for human service providers to address issues such as the underpayment of staff, deficits faced by contracted organizations, and rising occupancy costs of insurance and space.

Adult Literacy

In light of the anti-immigrant rhetoric New Yorkers have been exposed to over the last year and a rise in xenophobic attacks in neighborhoods throughout our city, the City must do all it can to both safeguard the security of immigrant New Yorkers as well as create pathways of opportunity that foster their ability to succeed and thrive. We applaud the Mayor’s commitment to keeping New York a sanctuary city, as well as his expansion of immigrant legal services. However, UNH is deeply disappointed that the Mayor’s budget fails to include ongoing support for ESOL and other adult literacy programs as provided for in FY2017. Last year we heralded the City’s new $12m investment in adult literacy services and are concerned that the Mayor’s budget does not renew these services.

The ability to read, write and communicate in English is essential for immigrants who are supporting their children in school, obtaining good jobs, and participating in the civic life of their communities. The elimination of these funds threatens the chance that thousands of immigrants will learn English. We urge the Mayor to renew and baseline this $12m investment so that the City can establish a stable and robust adult literacy program that promotes immigrant opportunity in the years ahead.

Services for Older Adults
 
UNH is also disappointed that the preliminary FY 2018 City budget fails to restore more than $13 million in services for older adults that were funded by the City Council in FY 2017. These critical services are trapped in a budget dance and forced to depend on one-year allocations from the City Council to fund core services such as DFTA Core Services Enhancement, NORCs, Elder Abuse Enhancement, Social Adult Day Care, Senior Centers, Programs and Enhancement, 6th Congregate Weekend Meal, Homecare, and Case Management Waitlist. This instability comes at a time when waitlists for case management services continue to rise and glaring disparities in senior center funding leave many neighborhood centers barely surviving. UNH urges the Mayor to baseline funding for cores services for older adults so that the programs they depend upon have the stability to remain strong in order to continue providing vital services for the sometimes vulnerable population.

 

UNH talks homelessness on Bronxtalk

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


UNH Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy Gregory Brender appeared on BronxTalk to discuss how settlement houses are addressing the homeless crisis in the Bronx. Watch the interview here: http://www.bronxnet.org/tv/bronxtalk/8443-bronxtalk

UNH on BronxTalk

Monday, June 13, 2016




UNH Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy was featured on BronxTalk along with our report, “Losing the Best.”

Watch the video here: http://www.bronxnet.org/tv/bronxtalk/7538-bronxtalk-june-6-2016

Are New York's Community Schools at Risk?

Monday, June 13, 2016




UNH Policy Analyst Andrea Bowen was recently on BRIC Live to talk about Community Schools. Watch the video below and visit BRIC Live at http://bkindiemedia.bricartsmedia.org/category/bklive/

NYN Media Podcast: Surveying the nonprofit operating landscape

Friday, June 10, 2016


UNH Executive Director Susan Stamler was interviewed for City and State's podcast along with Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s former deputy mayor of health and human services; Jeremy Kohomban, executive director of Children’s Village, which serves struggling families throughout Southern New York state; and Lew Zuchman, executive director of SCAN NY, which serves high-risk families in East Harlem and the South Bronx.

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

Excerpts:

Susan: "The first thing to keep in mind is that government often talks about being a partner with the nonprofit community but it’s really no way to treat a partner if you expect them to fully provide a service and yet you only pay part of the funding. So the first thing that needs to happen is to rebalance the relationship and recognize that we’re actually more than partners – we’re the reason why the City functions. The first thing to do is looking at the risk relationship and the answer is very simple – just pay the full cost. Pay what it costs to not only run the program adequately but making sure that the sector that is delivering is able to do so and not go bankrupt."

Lilliam: "The City essentially has delegated to the not-for-profit world the actual delivery of services. So it’s even beyond a partnership. The not-for-profit world is the service delivery arm of government. So it needs to be funded that way."

Susan: "It’s not a level playing field whereby people say, “here’s the problem let’s get the best possible thinkers around the table with this pot of money and figure out how to get there.” Rather we find ourselves playing this bizarre game of very complex systems to have a delivery system that looks at dollars that doesn’t always look at neighborhoods and doesn’t always measure the same kinds of outcomes we might think needs to happen to get you to the best place."

Susan: "It’s important to recognize that philanthropic dollars could never supplant government dollars. Period. That’s important to say again and again. I think that philanthropy has an important role to play but it should not be to bail out the government and help the government fund what they want to fund. Because every time there’s a program that requires a match they’re basically picking the pockets of private foundations. So whereas in the past foundation funding would go to be innovative, would be as people would call the icing on the cake. Now it’s the lights in your office. So that whole formula is not working. And my favorite little pet peeve is that every government agency has a 501c3. I unfortunately cannot collect taxes. I have to rely on foundations. I’m just shocked that government can easily go to the same funders that support nonprofits and ask for money – the money that should be going to the human services not for profit community. That to me is completely shocking."




UNH Statement on the Adopted Budget

Thursday, June 09, 2016



United Neighborhood Houses applauds the City Council and Mayor de Blasio for an early budget agreement that makes significant improvements in services for New York City’s neighborhoods. Yesterday’s agreement takes important steps to expand access to core social services and reverse cuts for programs serving low-income New Yorkers.

Youth Employment

We are thrilled that City Council leadership supported UNH’s recommendations in our report, “Summer Jobs for NYC’s Youth: A Plan for Expanding NYC’s Summer Youth Employment Program to Meet Demand by FY 2019.” In this budget, the City will expand SYEP and lay the groundwork for future expansion to serve 100,000 young people by the summer of 2018. The administration has baselined $38.5 million, which brings the total number of SYEP slots to 60,000 this summer—the largest investment in SYEP ever made by the City.

United Neighborhood Houses is also pleased to see a continued investment in Work, Learn & Grow, an innovative year-round youth employment program for 14-24 year olds.

Youth Services

We are greatly relieved that the City Council has restored summer camp for 26,000 middle school students. Without this needed restoration, thousands of children would have missed out on summer learning opportunities and would have been without the safe and enriching experiences their summer camps provide.

Many families face long waitlists when applying for after-school programs for their elementary school children. We commend the City Council for expanding access to year-round elementary after-school programs. We will continue to work with the City Council and the Administration in the coming year to achieve greater stability for and access to after-school programs.

Adult Literacy

We are very pleased that, thanks to the leadership of City Council, the budget agreement contains a $12 million investment in community-based adult literacy services. This funding is an important down-payment toward guaranteeing universal access to adult literacy programs for the 2.2 million New Yorkers lacking English proficiency and/or a high school diploma.

Older Adult Services

The baselining of $1.8 million to address case management waitlists is a step toward stability for older adult service providers. However, older adults deserve more security for the programs in their neighborhoods. The City relies too heavily on one-year allocations from the City Council instead of baselining investments for programs like senior centers and Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities. We call on the City to recognize the value and importance of older adults in every aspect of City life. We must invest in and plan for New York City to be a good place to grow old.

Mental Health Services

While we won’t know the status of several initiatives until the formal adoption of the budget, United Neighborhood Houses urges the City Council to restore the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative, Children Under Five Mental Health Initiative, and Autism Awareness Initiative. Without these restorations, many neighborhoods will lose longstanding quality programs community members have come to trust and depend upon.

Early Childhood Education

It is not yet clear the level of funding this budget makes available for salaries for early childhood educators in community-based organizations. However, the City must, in this budget, take action to achieve parity between the teachers, staff and directors in community-based early childhood education programs and their counterparts in Department of Education. The programs which most effectively educate the youngest New Yorkers are struggling to retain staff who cannot afford to live on inadequate salaries.