Community Leaders Serving New Yorkers in Need
Decry Washington’s Austerity Mania
New York, NY; May 31, 2013 — Representatives from agencies across the city serving low- and moderate-income New Yorkers called on President Obama and Congress to cancel the sequester and reject the chained CPI cost of living adjustment formula that will lower the yearly increase for beneficiaries of Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and other federal programs. Speakers detailed the direct impact of the federal budget sequester on their clients and programs at a press conference today on the steps of City Hall.
“As Congress returns to work next week, New Yorkers urge them to abandon the insane politics of austerity that has gripped Washington lawmakers,” said Mark Hannay, Director of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign. “Real world experience in other countries clearly shows that drastic spending cuts do not lead to economic recovery, but rather blunt growth and tip economies back into recession. Putting people back to work is the best way to stimulate the economy while protecting vital programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.”
“The safety net has unraveled, and we need Congress to take steps to repair the gaping holes,” said Michael Stoller, Executive Director of the Human Services Council of New York. “Since 2008, the human services sector has taken enormous financial hits forcing agencies to reduce services and in some instances shutter their doors. As organizations struggle to keep their heads above water, they are now faced with the federal sequester. Head Start, nutrition programs for seniors, and emergency shelter programs will yet again be forced to turn clients away due to these preventable cuts.”
“After the loss of almost $50 million to the NYC Department for the Aging over the past five years due to the recession, older New Yorkers’ access to food will now be hit twice by sequestration,” said Bobbie Sackman, Director of Public Policy for the Council of Senior Centers and Services. “A potential $3.0 million cut to the Older Americans Act and $3.3 million cut to Title XX (Social Services Block Grant) will mean a loss of 150,000 home-delivered meals and 350,000 senior center congregate meals. About 600 homebound older adults could lose Meals-on-Wheels with waiting lists already developing in parts of NYC, and another 1400 senior center participants will lose meals at their local senior center.”
“The Department for the Aging has nowhere to go to make cuts without reducing meals, closing senior centers, cutting case management and home care services for homebound elders, or ending other critical programs,” Sackman continued. “Coupled with looming food stamps cuts, this is a recipe for disaster. We urge Congress to rescind these cuts. Surely, no one was elected to public office to deprive older adults of food and life sustaining services.”
“The sequester will have an inordinate impact on programs like Head Start and early education programs for children in New York, including ones we offer in our community,” said Larry Wood, Family Council Director at Goddard-Riverside Community Center. “According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 75 percent of funding for early childhood education comes from the federal government, and it is estimated that Head Start will now serve roughly 96,000 fewer children, while another 80,000 would miss out on other childcare and development services, including thousands of families here in New York.”
“Critical protections for vulnerable nursing home residents, including the state’s fundamental ability to monitor and respond to abuse and neglect, are dangerously undermined every day that the sequester continues,” said Richard Mollot, Executive Director, Long Term Care Community Coalition of New York State.
“The people with disabilities that our agency serves reacted very strongly to new proposals to lower the annual cost of living increase in Social Security benefits,” said Heidi Siegfried, Health Policy Director at the Center for Independence of the Disabled-NewYork. “One of our clients told us she had called the White House comment line to tell them she depends on her Social Security benefits to maintain a decent quality of life. She also reminded us that for two years recently there was no benefit increase at all, and subsequently there has been an increase of only 1 to 2 percent, while her Medicare premiums go up and utilities go up by 15 percent.”
“The CEOs of major corporations like Con Edison and Cablevision are making millions of dollars each year, while refusing to pay their fair share of taxes, and leaving working families to make up the difference,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “The sequester cuts continue to pose real financial hardships, both for people working hard to make ends meet, as well as for those who worked for years and paid into the system who are now being asked to sacrifice their Social Security and veterans’ benefits. Washington cannot be allowed to balance financial shortfalls on the backs of our workers.”