Fighting Child Poverty Through Housing, Service Staffing, and Food Security Budget Investments

Testimony & Public Comments

May 6, 2024

On Monday, May 6, Juan Diaz, Policy and Advocacy Associate, submitted testimony to the joint Committee on Finance and Committee on General Welfare FY25 Executive Budget hearing. On behalf of CCC, the testimony addresses issues in family homelessness, human services, and food security while providing policy and budget solutions to improve systems and outcomes for each issue area.  This includes, increasing housing voucher access for families, adjusting pay for staff retention in human services, and increasing investments in food security programs, and much more. We cannot ignore the way that these areas overlap to influence child poverty rates and must uplift solutions to better the lives of our communities.

Read the Testimony Below


Testimony of Juan Diaz, Policy and Advocacy Associates
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York
Submitted to the FY25 Executive Budget Hearing, Committee on Finance
jointly with Council Committee on General Welfare
New York City
May 6th, 2024

Since 1944, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York has served as an independent, multi-issue child advocacy organization. CCC does not accept or receive public resources, provide direct services, or represent a sector or workforce; our priority is improving outcomes for children and families through civic engagement, research, and advocacy. We document the facts, engage, and mobilize New Yorkers, and advocate for solutions to ensure that every New York child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe.

We would like to thank Chair Ayala, Chair Brannan and all the members of the Finance and General Welfare Committees, for holding today’s important hearing in response to the Mayor’s FY25 Executive Budget.

Family Homelessness

CCC is a steering committee member of the Family Homeless Coalition (FHC), a coalition comprised of formerly homeless mothers and 20 organizations representing service and housing providers and children’s advocacy organizations united to end family homelessness.

The city is facing an all-time historic housing crisis and high cost of living that should be addressed with significant investments in FY25 Enacted Budget. There are ten thousand pending housing court cases unsolved, the shelter system is at full capacity, City Marshalls conducted over 12,000 evictions in 2023,i and lengths of stay in shelter continue to be unacceptably long. In addition, preventive service and shelter providers are struggling with previously implemented contract reductions and delayed payments from the city.

We support the achievement of an enhanced COLA for the human services workforce over the next three Fiscal Years. We also support the restoration of funding to essential programs such as shelter-based community school coordinators in the Executive Budget and the City Administration’s launch of “Project Home,” a pilot program that would provide specialized housing search assistance to domestic violence survivors with children living in city shelters and expanding eligibility for supportive and affordable housing units for survivors of domestic violence. We also support the City Administration’s inclusion of $615 million for CityFHEPS rental assistance in the FY25 Executive Budget. However, more must be done to fully funding and implementing CityFHEPS eligibility expansion, which would remove shelter stay and housing court history requirements, thereby preventing entrance into and expediting exits from shelter.

We also urge the City Administration to advance a budget that invests in homeless prevention, shelter wellbeing, and access to affordable housing in the following ways:

Prevent Homelessness

  • Fund an additional $37.9M annually to enhance contracts of CBOs who administer Homebase homeless prevention programs to make the current workload sustainable by reducing caseloads and improving staff retention.
  • Resolve contracting and budget process issues that delay payment to Legal Services and homeless services organizations that are critical in preventing homelessness, in processing immigration paperwork, and in housing and delivering services to people living on our streets and in shelters.
  • Continue to improve Public Benefit access and retention by address HRA staffing shortage, removing red tape, and implementing technology solutions to ensure CityFHEPS payments and renewals and public benefits are secured and are not disrupted in transition to permanent

Promote Well-being in Shelter

  • Restore the 5% reduction to DHS, HRA and non-profit contracting agencies that were implemented in the November 2024 Budget Modification.
  • Fund previously adopted initiatives including the prevailing wage for security guards, behavioral health services and operation backpack.
  • Invest $6.2 million to fund an additional 100 DYCD Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) and young adult beds (DYCD).
  • Restore and baseline $1.6 million for the Housing Navigator positions to assist and connect homeless youth with safe housing (DYCD).
  • Restore $1.6 million to maintain funding for the 16 Peer Navigator positions in the DYCD-RHY System (DYCD).

Improve Timely Access to Affordable Housing

  • Invest $45 million for the Vacant Unit Readiness program, to make available the 5,040 vacant NYCHA apartments for families and individuals facing housing insecurity.
  • Invest $4.4 million to increase the New York City Commission on Human Rights budget to $18 million in Fiscal 2025, to support voucher-holding households that experience income
  • Invest in streamlining the approval process to fill vacant affordable units by reducing repetitive paperwork and hiring the necessary staff at HRA and all City housing related agencies.
  • Prioritize meeting the intention of Local Law 19 of 2020 that set aside targets for units within affordable housing to meet homeless families’ needs.

Human Services

New York families across the city face significant barriers accessing a wide range of health and human service supports due to severe and widespread city agency and non-profit workforce shortages . Until we address this central workforce crisis, families will continue to go without essential services and supports, and children will continue to suffer the long-term effects.

We are grateful that the City Council and the Administration negotiated an enhanced COLA for the human services workforce. However, we remain deeply concerned about the impact of staff vacancies across city agencies that process essential public benefits as well as vacancies at non-profit contracts that provide a wide range of health and human services to communities across the city. We are particularly concerned about staff vacancies in DSS and DHS, which we know has resulted in families unable to access food stamps, cash assistance, or housing assistance on time. Families are at risk of losing their homes, facing longer lengths of stay in shelter, and experiencing hunger because city agencies are understaffed and under-resourced. The city’s focus should be on filling vacancies rather than eliminating them; the benefits of filling vacancies are multiple. Public benefits bring stability and supports to households in need, and enable households to spend in local communities on food, transportation, and housing, resulting in an economic benefit for the city at large. Similarly, timely non-profit payments are essential to ensure non-profit businesses can meet community needs, to ensure we are equitably compensating the providers who have been the backbone of our human services system, and to stably employ a workforce that earns and spends locally.

With respect to the nonprofit human service workforce, we believe annual cost of living (COLA) increases must be made permanent to address the workforce crisis facing human service providers, including mental health and substance use services. Without an inclusive COLA, nonprofits struggle to retain their staff and provide key services – and workers will continue serving our city on poverty-level wages. Furthermore, the city must establish a wage floor for the health and human service workforce, tied to the true cost of living, to lift incomes in the sector and ensure that no worker is paid poverty level wages.

Food Security

New York leaders must continue to address the widespread hunger crisis that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the expiration of federal hunger programs, children and families continue to struggle to afford healthy meals and groceries. As the City’s poverty rate increased to 23%, the demand for SNAP is also on the rise.ii The backlog of SNAP applications has resulted in households waiting more than 30 days for their benefits. While we commend the administration for addressing the backlog of pending SNAP cases, we know that more needs to be done. With food and grocery prices at all-time highs, low-income households continue to struggle with not only food, but also housing, childcare, transportation, and utilities. It is imperative that New York continue to invest and fund resources that are vital to the health and well-being of children and families.

Therefore, CCC recommends the following:

  • Increase and baseline HRA’s budget to support community-based organizations in benefits outreach and streamline benefits applications.
  • Restore $32.6 million in for Community Food Connections and baseline at $60 million to address rising costs, accommodate the influx of asylum seekers and migrants, and include fresh food.
  • Invest an additional $150 million in the Chancellor’s Capital budget for funding for the continued redesign of middle and high school cafeterias.
  • Restore $60 million to the DOE’s Office of Food and Nutrition

Thank you for your time and consideration.


i Brand, David. “NYC evictions surged in 2023, with legal lockouts nearing pre-COVID levels”. January 11, 2024. levels
ii “Is New York City Back? Not for Everyone.” New York Times 3/5/2024:

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