Dear Mayor de Blasio,
The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified what the community based organizations (CBOs) in the human services sector have always known about inequities that exist within the institutions that all New Yorkers rely on. The outrage that has been expressed in our city – and across the country – over the last few days is not solely representative of an isolated incident, it is a reflection of the anger and frustration that exists from inequity and injustice being borne on the backs of communities of color, immigrants, and low-income New Yorkers over and over again.
A strong social safety net is the only way that our city survives a crisis. As we experience the unprecedented intersection of a health crisis, a social justice crisis, and an economic crisis that could devastate our city for years, even decades to come, not all City agencies are bearing the burden. We were dismayed to see that the FY2021 Executive Budget makes cuts to crucial programs and social services that serve the very communities who are being hardest hit by COVID-19 — communities of color, immigrants, and low-income New Yorkers — while maintaining funding for the NYPD, an institution that too often fails to protect and serve, and disproportionately harms, these exact communities.
Services like senior food programs, homeless services, youth development, employment programs, public health and others – proven tools that help us protect and serve communities – are experiencing more demand than ever before, but instead of enhancing funding to these programs, the City is proposing more cuts.
Our social services workforce has been designated as essential by the City, and our services will be more essential than ever as more New Yorkers rely on them as we move into recovery. Yet our (mostly women of color and immigrant) workforce is paid poverty wages, sent on the frontlines with inadequate supplies, and is being asked to meet growing community need with less City resources.
Echoing the letter from the City Council released on May 31st, the proposed budget cuts are not equitable. While our social services and discretionary funding (which is a key support for smaller CBOs and CBOs of color) is on the chopping block, funding for the NYPD has been largely maintained. Budgets are a statement of values. When we are facing a budget deficit where the City is emphasizing that difficult decisions must be made across the board, the decision to decrease funding for social services while maintaining funding for the NYPD is the opposite of what our values should be. Particularly in light of the actions of the NYPD over the last few days, it is clear that our city requires diametrically opposite approaches to repair what has been broken.
While this mayoral administration has been working on criminal justice reform, it has also expanded the role of NYPD into human and social services — including putting cops in schools instead of counselors, policing the homeless instead of providing adequate supportive services and housing, criminalizing poverty instead of investing in addressing root causes and uplifting individuals out of poverty, and over-policing young people of color instead of providing summer programming. Cutting funding to social services while continuing to over-police our communities is the opposite of what the City should be doing right now.
As the human services sector is being impacted by budget cuts and as our vulnerable children and families are struggling, it is unjust that the NYPD can maintain its level of funding and not be required to change its harmful policing practices. Police reform must be a mandate for the NYPD in the next fiscal year.
We are proposing a different way, and a new way, to protect our communities – economically, socially, psychologically. Stop over-investing in policing our communities and start to make real investments that serve communities in need. This “new way” is cheaper, it’s proven, it’s just. As community based organizations, we know that it’s not the police that keeps communities safe. It’s the work that we do to support, enrich, and empower New Yorkers that keeps communities safe. Our communities are safe when residents have affordable and quality housing, transportation and food; seniors and people with disabilities are healthy and engaged; individuals have good jobs and worker protections; youth have summer programming and arts education; immigrants have language accessible services; and more.
It’s time to invest in supporting our communities instead of policing them. It’s time to be bold by making targeted cuts to the NYPD. We need to protect investments in human services, the social safety net, racial and economic justice, and the vision that all New Yorkers deserve to thrive.
Comptroller Scott Stringer
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson
First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan
Deputy Mayor Raul Perea-Henze
Deputy Mayor Vicki Been
Deputy Mayor Phillip Thompson
Commissioner Steve Banks
Commissioner Marco Carrión
Commissioner Bill Chong
Commissioner Lorraine A. Cortés-Vázquez
Commissioner David Hansell
Budget Director Melanie Hartzog
MOCS Director Dan Symon
Organizational Sign-ons (166):
Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC)
Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center
82nd Street Academics
Academy of Medical & Public Health Services
African Communities Together
Ali Forney Center
Apicha Community Health Center
Asian Americans for Equality
Bannon Consulting Services
Barrier Free Living Inc.
Beachwold Residential LLC
Black LGBTQ Migrant Project
Boys & Girls Club of Harlem
BRC (Bowery Residents Committee)
Broadway Housing Communities
Brooklyn Community Services
Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
Carroll Gardens Association
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York
Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens
Catholic Migration Services
Center for Family Life
Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY
Center for the Integration and Advancement
of New Americans, Inc. (CIANA).
Chinese Methodist Center Corporation
Chinese Progressive Association
Citizen Action of New York-NYC Chapter
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York
Citymeals on Wheels
Coalition for Asian American Children and
Coalition for Homeless Youth
Community League of the Heights. Inc
Community Resource Exchange
Covenant House New York
Cypress Hills Local Development
East Coast Asian American Student Union
Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities
Emerald Isle Immigration Center
Empire State Indivisible
Empire State Progressives
Faith in New York
Fifth Avenue Committee
Girls for Gender Equity (GGE)
Goodwill Industries of Greater NY and
Northern NJ, Inc.
Grand Street Settlement
Heights and Hills
Henry Street Settlement
Here to Here
Human Services Council
Indochina Sino-American Community Center
Iris House, Inc.
Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement
JCC Staten Island
Kingsbridge Heights Community Center
Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc.
Lantern Community Services
Literacy Assistance Center
Lower East Side Family Union
Lutheran Social Services of New York
Make the Road New York
Martin De Porres Youth and Family Services
Mercy Home for Children
MinKwon Center for Community Action
Mixteca Organization, Inc.
MMCC (Mosholu Montefiore Community Center)
Morningside Heights Resistance
Nazareth Housing Inc.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
New Settlement Apartments
New York City Anti-Violence Project
New York Immigration Coalition
Nonprofit Finance Fund
Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW)
New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC)
NYS Harm Reduction Association
OCA New York Chapter
Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow
OutRight Action International
Partnership for After School Education
Partnership with Children
Providence House, Inc
Queens Community House
Red Hook Initiative
Rising Ground, Inc.
S.T.O.P. – The Surveillance Technology
Sadie Nash Leadership Project
Sakhi for South Asian Women
Samaritan Daytop Village
Sanctuary for Families
Sapna NYC, Inc.
SCO Family of Services
Service Program for Older People, INC
South Asian Youth Action
St. Francis Friends of the Poor
Sunnyside Community Services
Supportive Housing Network of NY
The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
The Center for Anti-Violence Education
The Children’s Village
The Coalition for Behavioral Health
The Data Union
The Fortune Society
The Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services
The Korean American Family Service Center
UJA Federation of New York
Unique People Services
United Chinese Association of Brooklyn
United Community Centers
United Neighborhood Houses
Urban Justice Center
Violence Intervention Program
Vision Urbana, Inc.
Women Creating Change
Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement
You Gotta Believe
Youth Action Programs and Homes, Inc.
Youth Action YouthBuild