Monthly Archives: December 2011
Nonprofit providers of services for individuals with developmental disabilities are taking issue with a recent New York Times article that they say inaccurately and unfairly misrepresents their work and motivations. Five associations of nonprofit disability service providers expressed their concerns in a Letter to the Editor of the Times. Signing onto the letter were Seth Stein, Esq., Executive Director of Alliance of Long Island Agencies; Susan Constantino, President & CEO Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State; Peter Pierri, Executive Director of the Interagency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc.; Yvette Watts, Executive Director of New York Association of Emerging & Multicultural Providers, Inc.; and Marc Brandt, Executive Director, NYSARC, Inc.
“The recent New York Times article, ‘Aiding Disabled, Nonprofits Rake in State Money,’ is misleading and unfair to the vast majority of non-profit service providers who work to ensure that they offer quality supports, services and programs for people with developmental disabilities,” the providers wrote. “While the article focuses on one agency, the headline and the story by reporter Russ Buettner use the terms nonprofits and nonprofit providers when referring to alleged abuses of the system by a very few, thus leaving the impression that this is a widespread problem.”
The Times article claimed that reimbursement models for the Community Habilitation program was “creating multimillion-dollar surpluses at some nonprofit agencies and eye-popping salaries and benefits for those who run them.” Buettner reported that direct service employees typically earn $10 to $15 an hour while nonprofits that employ those workers bill the state and “collect three and four times that amount — with some having received as much as $67 an hour.”
Buettner cited the case of Human Care Services for Family and Children in Brooklyn , stating that the agency had recorded a $2.6 million surplus on the $7.4 million it billed the state under the program. As a result, the article claimed, Executive Director had been able to increase her salary to nearly $400,000 per year.
The article included both broad brush charges and language which many provider agency executives found to be offensive. For example, Buettmer quoted NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) Commissioner Courtney Burke as saying that a fee-based reimbursement system had created inappropriate incentives for providers. “They basically try and line their pockets by billing as much as possible — the more people and the more services, the more they line their pockets,” Ms. Burke said in an interview. She said her goal was to change “the incentives in the system, to be focused on not quantity, but quality.”
“The nonprofit provider agencies we represent have adopted a code of ethics and practices to ensure that funds are used to provide the best possible supports for people with disabilities and their families,” said the provider associations. “We have worked in collaboration with government agencies and provide annual fiscal reports of our operations to the appropriate State agencies. There are also annual program surveys to ensure that we meet all regulations and guidelines as required by local, state and federal agencies. We strongly reject any accusation that providers are simply interested in ‘lining their pockets’ by billing as much as possible.”
The Letter to the Editor went on to state that “the vast majority of provider agencies do not maintain large surpluses or pay excessive salaries to their executives. If a provider is able to generate a surplus in one program, it is typically used to offset losses incurred by the many underfunded programs our agencies provide. The salaries of the executives are readily available to the government agencies, and agencies are required to follow IRS guidelines… Most agencies also adhere to the guidelines put forward by the Commission on Quality Care’s ‘Report on Executive Compensation’. ”
The associations expressed support for rooting out individual cases of abusive behavior. “If the practices of one or even a few organizations appear inappropriate, then the facts should be investigated. We like other New Yorkers, support immediate corrective actions when agencies are found to be abusing the system…. OPWDD receives extensive detailed cost reports itemizing both income and expenses every year from the providers. If they have any information that indicates that providers have unethical billing practices they should investigate immediately and not wait for the New York Times to call. However, a headline condemning a community of providers based on the experience of one provider is irresponsible at best. There needs to be a balance in reporting so that the readers are not left to believe all providers operate in a questionable manor.”
Another article in The New York Times series of investigative reports on disability service providers was published today.
The Build NYC Resource Corporation (Build NYC) has announced it is now accepting applications from New York City non-profit organizations for tax-exempt financing that will allow them to build, expand or upgrade their facilities.
Build NYC – a new local development corporation administered through NYCEDC – can now provide access to financing for non-profit organizations across the City after a four-year absence of a city-based tax-exempt bond issuer for non-profits. A portion of the State law allowing industrial development agencies to financially assist non-profits expired in early 2008 and since then at least 16 New York City institutions have sought assistance from out-of-state and out-of-city bond issuers in order to finance and/or refinance projects totaling more than $489 million, according to an NYCEDC analysis. There are now an estimated 20 non-profit capital projects in the pipeline, which since 2008 have been unable to identify a source for access to tax-exempt financing. As is the case with the Industrial Development Agency, financing for eligible entities is subject to approval by a board of directors that is comprised of representatives appointed by the Mayor’s office, all five Borough Presidents, and the Comptroller.
“Through the creation of Build NYC, the City will once again be able to address the significant financing challenges that the City’s non-profit organizations so often face,” said Build NYC Chairman Seth W. Pinsky. “Non-profits are a critical piece of New York City’s economy, and Build NYC will help them reduce the costs of capital projects, thereby allowing them to expand their operations and bring much needed services to New Yorkers across the five boroughs.”
“Build NYC will provide critical financing options to our City’s non-profit organizations, a sector that plays a crucial role in the growth of our City’s economy. This new funding opportunity will help allow much-needed projects to move forward, and I looking forward to working through the Build NYC program to strengthen our not-profits not just in the Bronx but across the City,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“The name of this bond issuer says it all – Build NYC Resource Corporation – an entity focused on building and brightening our city’s future,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “I welcome its return and thank EDC President Seth Pinsky and all those who helped to restore this valuable resource for non-profit organizations. I urge all those qualified to apply for these tax-exempt bonds that can play an important money-saving role in their future plans. During this challenging economy with its attendant rising needs, Build NYC’s return is most welcome.”
The inability of the City to assist these non-profits has in some cases needlessly raised the non-profits’ costs or forced them to forgo projects that would create jobs and offer additional educational, health or artistic resources to New Yorkers. Approximately 470,000 people are employed at more than 42,000 health, human services and cultural nonprofit organizations in New York City.
New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City’s primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC’s mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City’s competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City’s many opportunities. Find us on Facebook to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.
The Build NYC Resource Corporation (Build NYC) is administered by NYCEDC and assists qualified not-for-profit institutions and other entities in obtaining tax-exempt and taxable bond financing. As a conduit bond issuer, Build NYC’s primary goal is to facilitate access to private activity tax-exempt bond financing for not-for-profit institutions. To request information on Build NYC, call (212) 312-3600 or e-mail email@example.com.
A new report by The National Center on Family Homelessness finds that more than 1.6 million children – or one in 45 children – are homeless annually in America. This represents an increase of 38% during the years impacted by the economic recession. The 124-page report, America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010, ranks the 50 states from best (1) to worst (50), and offers specific policy solutions. Read the full report and find out where your state ranks.
Andrew Goodman, 27, who worked for Jewish social-service agencies, is charged with sexually abusing two Orthodox boys for years in Flatbush — one from age 11 to 15, the other from age 13 to 16. Read more in the New York Post.
The Rev. Al Sharpton’s nonprofit paid him nearly $242,000 — even as it carried $1.6 million in debt, according to documents obtained by The Post. In all, the controversial activist and his empire, including the National Action Network and two for-profit companies, were $5.3 million in the red, public records show.
Mayor Bloomberg came to Brownsville Thursday to tout a new city probation office that quietly began operating last month. The NeON office – Neighborhood Opportunity Network – is geared to help adult offenders who are its clients get assistance from local education, health and social-services providers that are partnering with it. The choice of location, however, has riled neighborhood activists, who protested outside the Mayor’s press conference. Read more in the Daily News.
Human services charities across the city are being forced to reinvent their fundraising strategies, demand more from their boards, and learn how to appeal to individual donors—who account for the vast majority of private giving—if they want to survive. The shift comes at a time when demand for services has reached an all-time high and many individual donors are finding that they have less to give. Read more in Crain’s New York Business.
The United States Census Bureau reports that there are 42.6 million Americans living in poverty today. This number is the highest in 52 years and it increased by 2.6 million just last year. These numbers represent 15.1% of the population. For African-Americans the poverty rate is an alarming 27%! This means that almost one out of every seven Americans and more than one out of every four African-Americans lives below the poverty line (which is an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four). The primary reason for this increasing level of poverty is unemployment. The fact is that 48 million Americans worked less than one week in 2010. More at GoBlackAmerica.com
A community group that feeds more than 10,000 people in the Bronx through two food pantries plans to shut its doors at the end of the year. The Muslim Women’s Initiative for Research and Development has been distributing halal groceries to needy Bronxites since 1997. The tough economy has shrunk donations at the same time that residents’ need is surging, says Executive Director Nurah Ama’tullah. Read more in the Daily News.