June 24, 2022
On June 14, 2022, the City Council and Mayor Eric Adams agreed on a $101.1 billion budget for the City Fiscal Year 2023. This record-high budget included critical investments in housing vouchers, child care, youth services, behavioral health care, and food and income support. As our city continues to emerge from the pandemic, these investments are an essential foundation for recovery. At the same time, the Adopted Budget includes deeply concerning cuts – particularly to the Education budget – as well as other missed opportunities to further support children and families. There is clear promise in the priorities elevated by the Mayor and the Council, and we stand ready to work with City Hall and the City Council to ensure every New York child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe.
The FY23 Adopted Budget includes significant investments in housing supports, many of which advocates have been fighting for years. These new investments include $237 million in additional funding in FY23 to fully fund the CityFHEPS program, which provides rental assistance to help families find and keep housing. The budget also includes $5.1 million in FY23 ($3.3 million in City funding and $1.8 million in federal funding) to fund at least 75 Community Coordinators to support students experiencing homelessness.
These investments will help to promote housing security, prevent family homelessness, and improve shelter conditions for families when shelter is unavoidable. However, the Adopted Budget still falls far short of the $4 billion the Mayor promised to invest in affordable housing infrastructure. With the expiration of the eviction moratorium and over 121,000 eviction filings in NYC, New Yorkers are in desperate need of transformational investments in housing.
For parents seeking child care, a number of city budget investments will help to support them in accessing the child care they need. The budget includes $10 million in FY23 for child care for undocumented families, addressing the unjust exclusion of undocumented families from the state’s childcare expansion. In addition, $46 million in federal funding is being directed to support contract enhancements for wage increases for day care and preschool special education providers in FY23 and FY24. Despite these important investments, more work must be done to address immediate and urgent challenges in the child care system, including expediting background checks for Community Based Organization (CBO) staff; achieving pay parity between CBO staff and directors and their DOE counterparts and preschool special educators; and expanding the system to offer extended day, year-round care for 3 K and UPK as well as greater capacity for infants and toddlers. We look forward to working with the City Administration on these issues as it rolls out its Blueprint for Child Care.
Expanding access to child care remains an essential workforce support, even more important in the wake of the pandemic. The Adopted Budget further supports working families by investing $250 million to deepen the City’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), with the largest enhancement reaching the lowest earners. This marks the first enhancement of the City’s EITC in 20 years and will prove instrumental in ensuring an equitable economic recovery. The City’s investment of $75 million for Fair Fares will also be crucial for low-income New Yorkers struggling with transit affordability.
Collectively, the effects of the pandemic – loss of housing, economic insecurity, death of loved ones – have dramatically impacted the behavioral health of New York’s children. We are therefore grateful for the investment of $5 million to continue the city’s Mental Health Continuum, an evidence-based model for integrating a range of direct services to students with significant mental health needs in high-needs schools partnered with hospital-based clinics. Additionally, the Budget maintains funding for innovative mental health initiatives funded through City Council discretionary funding. The inclusion of a $60 million Cost of Living Adjustment for Human Services workers will also help support the behavioral health system more broadly. As important as these initiatives are, however, they only address a fraction of the need. The City must recognize gaps in mental health access and fully commit to building a continuum of behavioral support for young people and their families, leveraging city, state, and federal dollars to do so.
The budget also makes important investments in youth services and opportunities. In FY23, the Adopted Budget includes $9.7 million for Work, Learn, and Grow Year-Round Employment; $79.4 million baselined for the Summer Youth Employment slot expansion and an additional 10,000 summer jobs; and $101.1 million baselined for the expansion of the Summer Rising program. The budget also includes a total of $120 million for foster care funding and baselines $30 million for Fair Futures, which will help expand services to young people up to the age of 26 and make services available for both foster youth and justice-involved youth. These investments will provide access to mentors, opportunities, and additional supportive services that are particularly important for justice-involved youth and youth in foster care who have experienced hardship, trauma, and instability.
Though these are critical investments, there is more work needed to support youth opportunities, including by fulfilling the Mayor’s promise to dedicate 1% of the City budget for NYC Parks. Furthermore, while Mayor Adams made verbal commitments to fund community based anti-violence programming, greater clarity on the sum of funding designated to non-carceral, community programming is urgently needed. As advocates for sustainable community investments and opportunities for youth and their families, we urge the Administration to ensure resources are available in these communities and to be transparent about their dissemination. In a positive move, the City Council included $100,000 per district (for a total of $5.1 million) for an array of victim services and community investments, including youth programs, housing supports, and community and recreational supports.
As important as these family and youth investments in the budget are, they are undercut by the inclusion of $215 million in cuts to the Department of Education, ostensibly due to enrollment declines. As a result, schools throughout the city have begun laying off educators at a time when educational needs have never been greater, and in advance of a natural increase in enrollment as the educational system rights itself in the wake of the pandemic. These cuts will fundamentally harm students’ educational quality and access, and impede the City’s ability to meet small class size mandates; we urge the City Council and the Administration to use the budget modification process to restore these cuts.
Looking ahead, we are eager to work with the City Administration and City Council to ensure that investments in the budget reach New York families with the highest needs, and to ensure that city leaders continue to build upon these investments to promote an equitable recovery and a thriving future for New York’s 1.7 million children and their families.