City budget applauded, booed



The nearly $101 billion city budget that Mayor Eric Adams and the city council agreed to  and eventually approved last week got accolades and at least one criticism for not going far enough for the homeless.

Adams, city council Speaker Adrienne Adams, council finance chair Justin Brannan, and many of their colleagues announced the agreed-upon spending plan protects the city’s fiscal health by building record levels of reserves — more than $8.3 billion — and making prudent investments that support an equitable recovery and that make New York City safer, more prosperous, and a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

“At this critical moment for our city, this budget delivers early on the issues that matter most and makes the investments that will improve the lives of millions of our fellow New Yorkers,” Adams said. “With upstream investments to promote public safety, give young people real opportunities, provide relief for working families, improve our public spaces, boost affordable housing, combat food insecurity, and so much more, this budget promotes an equitable recovery for New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs.”

The agreement includes a number of new and expanded investments, including investments in low-income and immigrant childcare vouchers, as well as in adult literacy. To help keep public spaces clean, the budget adds resources for additional litter basket service, a waste containerization study, lot cleaning, and rat-resistant litter baskets. And out of a mutual commitment to parks equity, the agreement funds additional Urban Park Rangers, tree stump removal, and improvements to the city’s community gardens and forested areas.

The budget additionally includes an annual contract adjustment to help human and legal services providers who were on the front lines of the pandemic, a property-tax rebate, and funding for the city’s Cultural Development Fund and Cultural Institutions Group.

Advocates for the homeless and New York City foster children were pleased with the budget news.

The Fair Futures Campaign, which is a coalition of more then 200 child welfare agencies, non-profits and foundations for young adults working to help foster children, was quite happy with the $30 million in funding for the program. “The city’s monumental decision to baseline full funding for Fair Futures and fund the program up to age 26 in FY23 is a tremendous victory,” the organization said in a statement.

“Fair Futures will now be available to New York City youth in foster care and also to those who have left care, giving them support they deserve.”

The Family Homeless Coalition was thankful for the funds given to helping homeless find a place to live, including those with children. “At a time when thousands of New York City families are experiencing homelessness or on the brink of losing their homes, we applaud Mayor Adams and the City Council for advancing a budget,” according to a statement, “that prioritizes rental assistance and helps ensure that more families with children will have the support they need to survive.”

The organization went on to state that as it awaits more details on the budget agreement, it commends the mayor and Speaker Adams for committing to fund the CityFHEPS voucher program and combat chronic absenteeism for students in shelters by hiring more coordinators. FHEPS is a supplement rental assistance program.

However, Jacquelyn Simone, policy director with the Coalition for the Homeless, believes the city did not go far enough in funding affordable housing and addressing the homeless crisis.

“Based on today’s announcement, we are dismayed that the city’s FY23 budget does not include sufficient housing capital funds to even start to address the true scale of New York City’s affordable housing and homelessness crises,” she said on Friday. “Mayor Adams’ housing budget leaves those most in need of housing assistance treading water while both rents and the costs of production skyrocket.”

She added the city needs at least $2.5 billion annually to create 6,000 apartments for homeless households and 6,000 apartments for extremely low-income households every year to meaningfully address housing insecurity.

The administration and City Council also partnered this year to secure first expansion of the New York City and State Earned Income Tax Credit in 20 years and $4 billion in childcare funding.

Given the importance of planning for the future, the administration and city council have agreed to deepen their commitment to building reserves. This budget adds $750 million to the Rainy-Day Fund, $750 million to the Retiree Health Benefits Trust, and $500 million to the General Reserve. There is now $1.9 billion in the Rainy-Day Fund, $4.5 billion in the Retiree Health Benefits Trust, and $1.6 billion in the General Reserve, as well as $250 million in the Capital Stabilization Reserve.

Separately, almost $3 billion has been added to the Labor Reserve over the financial plan in anticipation of negotiating labor agreements with the entire represented workforce. In total, the Labor Reserve has been replenished by nearly $4.7 billion over this budget cycle.

Driven primarily by growth in personal income taxes related to a record level of Wall Street activity, the city’s tax revenue forecast has been revised upward over the executive budget estimate by just under $3 billion in fiscal year 2022 and nearly $1.5 billion in FY23.