News and Resources

Governor's FY2016 Budget: Progress, but still work to be done

Thursday, January 22, 2015
United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) applauds Governor Cuomo for several noteworthy aspects of his FY 2015-16 budget proposal, but remains deeply concerned with the overall lack of investment in human services, and policy proposals that fall short.

We welcome and largely support the Governor’s 10-point Anti-Poverty Opportunity Agenda.  In it, Governor Cuomo proposes dedicating significant resources to address the housing affordability and homelessness crises New Yorkers have been grappling with for years. However, on two other key fronts—addressing the State’s inadequate minimum wage and lack of capital resources for nonprofit human service organizations, the proposed budget does not go far enough. 
 
While pleased that the 10-point plan includes the nonprofit human services infrastructure fund UNH championed with our partners, the $50 million investment represents just a fraction of the $500 million we proposed as necessary to truly begin to address critical sector needs. In addition, while the Governor’s proposal of a statewide minimum wage of $10.50/hr. and $11.50/hr. in NYC appropriately recognizes regional cost of living differences, it falls short of the $13.13 city wage proposal that more closely tracks to the true cost of living in NYC, and was endorsed by the Governor last year. 

There are some bright spots in the Governor’s budget for our communities.  We welcome the $25 million proposal to pilot Pre-Kindergarten for three-year olds living in high need districts, which serves as an important step toward ensuring every child in the State has access to high quality early childhood education. The Governor is also right to continue advancing the concept of raising the age of criminal responsibility to the age of 18 in New York, and we support the $25 million proposed investment in diversion and probation services toward that end. UNH also welcomes the Governor’s support of the NY DREAM Act as an effective means for cultivating and harnessing the potential of all youth seeking a college education.  The passage of the NY DREAM Act should not be linked to the passage of unrelated education reforms.

In terms of the key funding sources nonprofits rely on to deliver services to their communities, the FY 2015-16 budget truly presents a mixed bag. As a result of the Governor’s imposed 2% cap on budget growth, the budget does not recognize the increased costs of providing human services over time— or the demand for them. Cuts to the Adult Literacy Education (ALE) program, Advantage Afterschool and the Youth Development Program (YDP) are harmful to NYC’s communities.  Once again, comprehensive cost of living adjustments to human service contracts were left out at a time when so many workers in our agencies are struggling to make ends meet. 

Further, at a time in which the older adult population in New York continues to rapidly expand and a pre-existing backlog for services exists, the level funding of the Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) program is tantamount to a cut that jeopardizes the State’s ability to help older adults age at home. In addition, while we welcome the Governor’s modest $2.5m enhancement to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), it does not fully reflect the costs associated with the change in the State minimum wage, nor does it allow growth in this highly successful and oversubscribed employment program. 

UNH remains committed to working with the Governor and legislature to ensure the final FY 2015-16 budget fully realizes it potential to support New Yorkers in need of human service programs and policies that promote their wellbeing and advancement.

UNH's Full Statement on the NYC FY 2015 Budget Agreement

Thursday, June 26, 2014

UNH Statement on the NYC FY 2015 Budget Agreement

On Thursday night, Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council reached an agreement for the FY 2015 budget beginning July 1st.  The budget agreement represents the achievement of several long-term goals of United Neighborhood Houses and shows directions we will move in order to better serve New York City’s neighborhoods.

Early Childhood Education and After-School

UNH member agencies are among the highest quality providers of early childhood education and after-school in New York City and have for the last several years been working through Campaign for Children to ensure that every child in New York City has access to high quality early childhood education and after-school programs.  The FY 2015 budget represents a historic expansion of these services.

In FY 2015, New York City will implement Mayor de Blasio’s visionary plan to offer an after-school slot to every middle school student who wants one.  This will entail a 76% increase in the number of middle school after-school slots to 79,600.  Recently, New York City has selected 271 middle schools that will have new after-school programs, including 43 programs that will be operated by UNH member agencies.

Over the next two years, New York City will expand its Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program for 4-year-olds so that Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs can live up to its name and be truly universal.  UNH members will also play a huge role in this expansion offering both UPK programs and a broad range of comprehensive early childhood services.

However, this budget misses the crucial opportunity to stabilize New York City’s early childhood system by investing in equitable salaries for early childhood educators.  With the implementation of UPK for 4-year-olds, teachers of 4-year-olds will receive higher salaries than similarly qualified teachers teaching children 0-3.  This may lead to teachers opting out of serving younger children and destabilize the early childhood system.  UNH urges the City to fund community-based organizations to provide equitable salaries to all early childhood educators before the implementation of UPK in September.

Summer Jobs for Teenagers

For the past 15 years, UNH has co-led the Campaign for Summer Jobs with Neighborhood Family Services Coalition.  Campaign for Summer Jobs has fought successfully at both the City and State levels to maintain subsidized summer jobs for New York’s teenagers through the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).  However, due to lack of funding, most teenagers who apply for a summer job do not get one.  Young people must literally win a lottery to get this crucial work experience.   In most years, nearly 100,000 young people apply for and are turned away from a summer job.

Campaign for Summer Jobs has begun a multi-year campaign to reduce youth unemployment through investment in SYEP.  Campaign for Summer Jobs is calling for 100,000 summer jobs in five years.

Campaign for Summer Jobs is off to a strong start in its new campaign with the FY 2015 budget.  Thanks to a new investment of $15.2 million from the City Council, this summer, the number of summer jobs will increase by 10,700, dramatically expanding the number of young people who participate.

School Lunches

UNH and many of its member agencies are engaged in the Lunch 4 Learning a campaign to offer free, universal school lunch in New York City public schools.  Lunch 4 Learning recognizes that when children and youth have a nutritious meal they are better equipped to concentrate and succeed in school.  The campaign also recognizes that there is often a regrettable social stigma attached to receiving a free school lunch because of its association with poverty.  In other cities across the country, and in New York State, the adoption of free, universal school lunch has increased participation in the school lunch program significantly. By offering free, universal school lunch, New York City can ensure that every student, regardless of family income, can have a nutritious lunch without stigma.

The FY 2015 budget starts off Lunch 4 Learning by offering free, universal school lunch in middle schools.  We believe that the implementation of this program will not only benefit 170,000 middle school students and their families, but will be an effective demonstration of the value of free, universal school lunch so that New York City can move toward expanding it to all students. 

Services for Older Adults

A majority of UNH’s members offer programs for older adults, spanning a range of services and activities that enable them to age in place and continue to thrive in their communities. Starting with the baselining of many of these services at last year’s levels, and extending to the additional investments in meals and case management that were added in the Executive Budget, we are encouraged by the recognition of the growing older adult population, and the acknowledgement of the need for new investment in this area following a decade of cuts. We will continue to work toward securing the funds community-based organizations need to provide the whole spectrum of services to older adults.

Adult Literacy

UNH has been a longtime leader in the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL) as both a member of the steering committee and advocacy committee. NYCCAL has played a key role in shaping New York State’s response to the new high school equivalency (HSE) examination, and, in the City, has led the charge to secure additional resources to meet the challenges associated with the introduction of the Common Core.

In an attempt to reverse the trend of declining investment in community-based literacy services over the past decade, NYCCAL recruited new Council allies and fought to expand the City Council’s adult literacy initiative. The initiative funds critical Adult Basic Education (ABE), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation classes. As a result of these efforts, the initiative was expanded for the first time since its inception, and hundreds of additional immigrants and adult learners will be able to improve their English literacy and/or study to earn their HSE diploma

Advocates Urge City to Add Adult Literacy Funding

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Over 100 students, teachers, and advocates rallied outside of City Hall yesterday to urge Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to restore funding for adult literacy, High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation, and English classes. Students and supporters from across the City, joined by a number of City Council members and other city officials, were brought together by the New York City Coalition of Adult Literacy (NYCCAL), an umbrella advocacy group dedicated to preserving and promoting access to literacy services across the City.

“After years of the City failing to include funding for community-based literacy programing in the baselined budget, this year represents a critical opportunity for Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to break from the past and create a new and robust learning infrastructure," said Kevin Douglas of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), one of the rally’s organizers.

Full article here.

UNH Gives New Leaders a Blueprint for Neighborhoods

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
In June, UNH released the Blueprint for Neighborhoods, a series of recommendations for the next Mayor to comprehensively strengthen neighborhoods. Through the Blueprint, UNH advocated for quality human services that meet the needs of all New Yorkers. Based on the settlement house core belief that community residents know what they need best, the Blueprint was built on a series of visioning sessions, where UNH learned of their concerns and what would make a difference in their lives. UNH released the report at a policy briefing attended by 80 advocates and policy makers and spread the Blueprint's message throughout the 2013 City election races, including co-hosting a Mayoral forum attended by 250 businesses and community leaders. 

NY1: Budget Cuts To Hit Adult Literacy Program

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Though last week’s budget deal spared a number of people and programs from cuts, adults who rely on literacy programs that teach them how to read and write are now about to lose vital financial support from the city.

 View video>>

Gotham Gazette: Budget Cuts Reduce English Classes for Immigrants

Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Being a beautician is all Jong Ae Shul knew. She ran a beauty salon in Flushing for 25 years, serving mostly Korean-speaking customers six or seven days a week. She didn't need to speak English, and she had no time to learn it.

"I wanted to learn English so I can go to other places by myself," said Shul. "I was scared. I couldn't even take the subway because I didn't speak English."

English classes for immigrants in danger of being cut

 Retired four years ago, she is making up for lost time.Shul now studies English at the Queens Library's Flushing branch. And she loves it. She goes there for about three hours three or four times a week to attend classes, reads the textbooks, listen to CDs and get help from the tutors.

 Read full article>>

The Epoch Times: Cuts to Adult Education May Hurt NY Economy

Tuesday, April 06, 2010
The Adult Literacy Education program will be taking a big hit due to drastic budget cuts proposed by lawmakers, according to a coalition of adult literacy advocates, teachers, students, and City Council members. Cuts were also proposed for GED (General Education Development) testing sites across New York.

 The program would lose approximately $2.6 million during the next fiscal year on top of a $612,000 cut during the 2009-2010 Fiscal Year. GED testing sites would suffer a $1.15 million cut.

 

 Anthony Ng, deputy director of Policy and Advocacy at the New York Coalition for Adult Literacy, stands in front of city hall on Tuesday in opposition to cuts proposed by lawmakers that would remove $2.6 million from the state's Adult Literacy Education p (Aloysio Santos/The Epoch Times)

 “Education is a right,” said Antony Ng, the deputy director of Policy and Advocacy at the New York Coalition for Adult Literacy. He added that the cuts would deprive people seeking to take the GED test throughout New York City and will negatively impact the local economy.