NYC Mayor’s Budget Funds Homeless Services, LGBT Youth Programs

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Thursday February 13, 2014

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his preliminary budget plan on Feb. 12, lambasting his predecessor Michael Bloomberg for leaving with more than 150 outstanding labor contracts that could cost the city billions. He also promised increased funding for homeless services including LGBT runaways, and rent offsets for people living with AIDS (PLWAs).

DNAInfo reports, de Blasio unveiled his initial $73.5 billion budget proposal, acknowledging that the city faces an "unprecedented" budget challenge between the lack of union contracts and the $1 billion drained from a trust fund set up to pay for retired city workers' health benefits.

"We've already said before this is unprecedented. To say it is unprecedented only begins to explain the depth of the problem," de Blasio said. "We are very sober about all of these challenges. We are looking each of them in the eye. That does not in any way dissuade us from moving forward with our progressive agenda."

De Blasio added he is conducting his own labor talks in a "very private, respectful way" and has no plan to raise taxes to fund union retroactive pay. He also promised that the city's budgets would be funded for the next two years, while simultaneously warning about a $1.1 billion gap by fiscal year 2016.

The new mayor prioritized restoring $8.3 million for homeless services, plus adding millions more. He will also add $4.3 million for mental health funding and $1.3 million in spending for LGBT youth and runaway prevention.

In a Feb. 12 statement, The Empire State Pride Agenda lauded de Blasio for delivering on his campaign promise to address the crisis of runaway and homeless youth, which disproportionately impacts the LGBT community.

"The proposed budget adds 75 shelter beds at $1.3 million in 2014 and $2.4 million next year," read the statement. "The work of partner organizations in the Campaign for Youth Shelter and the Ali Forney Center underscores the urgent need for more beds for our most vulnerable. We urge the City Council to adopt this budget and consider how much more is still needed until every young person has a warm bed in which to start and end their day."

The Pride Agenda also applauded the mayor for his proposal to offset rent so that those living with HIV/AIDS won't have to contribute more than 30 percent of their income to pay for housing, saying, "We know that keeping people in their homes gives them the best possible chance of a brighter and healthier today and tomorrow."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.