Late on Sunday, the Mayor and leaders of City Council announced a “handshake” agreement on a $70 billion city budget that included no tax increases, restored most of the spending cuts proposed in this year’s original Executive Budget Proposal and spends approximately the same amount as last year. Some called it a status quo budget, which isn't surprising for the final budget in an outgoing city administration.
The good news for those concerned about poverty issues and homelessness in New York City is that the most egregious cuts were restored. It’s a usual part of budget negotiations for the city administration to cut programs in their proposed budget that they know City Council will fight for – and that’s what budget negotiations are often about. Restored in this year’s budget was $58 million to NYCHA to make up for federal sequestration cuts to programs like Section 8 housing dollars, and funding that would have cut the already insufficient 252 city shelter beds for unaccompanied homeless youth. It restores funding to libraries. The budget also has about $250 million in capital projects for Hurricane Sandy related projects and repairs.
The bad news, of course, is that this budget doesn't adopt the kinds of homeless prevention projects or homelessness ending programs proposed in the Care for the Homeless Agenda to End Homelessness. We know those programs, like funding for adequate primary and preventative health care for every homeless person, more affordable housing for very-low income New Yorkers, supportive housing for those who need it and a workable rental subsidy to move homeless people from shelter to permanent housing will produce far better outcomes and save tax dollars over time.