Rallies expressing opposition against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Executive Budget proposals, including plans to close 172 Out-of-School Time (OST) after-school programs and eliminate significant numbers of early childhood program slots are continuing to take place in communities across the city.
13% and Growing
The 13% and Growing Coalition gathered more than 200 community members, advocates and allies at City Hall for the 4th Annual Asian Pacific American (APA) City Advocacy Day to protest budget cuts and demand equitable funding for the Asian Pacific American community. The 13% and Growing Coalition, co-led by the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families and the MinKwon Center for Community Action, unites over 45 Asian-led or serving organizations in the City to fight for a fair budget that protects the most vulnerable Asian Pacific American New Yorkers including children and youth, women, seniors, immigrants and low-income individuals.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s Executive Budget does not preserve the core city services needed to support the increased demand of the social safety net programs that he stated are crucial to this city,” said Wayne Ho, Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. “In the Asian Pacific American community, where 1 out of 4 live in poverty, agency programs and City Council Initiatives such as Out of School Time, Immigrant Opportunities Initiative, and Domestic Violence and Empowerment Initiative, are essential to providing services to those most in need. We urge the Mayor to work with the New York City Council to restore these necessary programs in the Adopted Budget.”
“The Asian Pacific American community currently receives an exceedingly low share of city social service funds that does not recognize the striking increase of our population and our growing needs,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “These drastic cuts will exacerbate this disparity and disproportionately impact the Asian Pacific American community.”
“With the growing population of Asian Pacific Americans throughout the city, the massive cuts to vital services for low-income children and families are outrageous,” said Chhaya Chhoum, Executive Director of Mekong, a new non-profit serving the emerging Southeast Asian community in the Bronx. ” With 21% of all Asian Pacific American children living in poverty, we urge the City Council to create jobs through the Summer Youth Employment Program to give our youth the competitive skills they need to join the job force. We also urge you to restore Immigrant Opportunities Initiative funding to provide the critical services needed in our growing immigrant and refugee communities.”
“Cuts to after-school programs harm our communities by eliminating both valuable services to our youth and jobs in our communities that provide much needed income,” said Udai Tambar, Executive Director of South Asian Youth Action.
“Adult literacy is fundamental to any job training and job placement work,” said Hong Shing Lee, Executive Director of Chinatown Manpower Project. “We have to recognize and provide for this most basic foundation to help immigrant job seekers to become contributing members of society.”
“The Asian American senior population has grown 64% since 2000, the largest increase among major racial and ethnic groups,” said Linda Lee, Associate Executive Director of the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York. “Asian American seniors also have the highest rates of suicide, and their poverty rates have increased while those of seniors of other racial and ethnic groups have declined. These numbers are alarming and indicative of the vast need to protect our seniors and improve their quality of life by providing comprehensive programming. We urge the city to restore Senior Center Funding and Elder Abuse Prevention services to prevent these alarming statistics from rising over the next ten years.”
“Domestic violence is increasing city-wide but funding is being reduced. City Council (DoVe) funding of domestic violence agencies saves lives and should be restored and increased,” said Larry Lee, Executive Director of the New York Asian Women’s Center. “New York City should give extra credit to community based organizations that provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate services. Then Asians would receive the first quality human service assistance they deserve.”
Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens
Last week, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens joined with children, parents, teachers and community leaders at an Emergency Town Hall Meeting at the P.S. 106 21st Century/ Out of School Time (OST) After-School Program in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Among the speakers present were Councilman Erik M. Dilan, Nadine Whitted, District Manager for Community Board 4, and Margaret Kelley the Borough President’s Education Policy Analyst and Principal Robert Flores of P.S. 106.
OST/ P.S. 106 is one of two Catholic Charities programs with 300 children who will be left on the streets if funding is not restored. The other Catholic Charities OST program is at P.S. 50 program in South Jamaica, Queens—serving 250 children.
“These cuts are a devastating blow to the 600 families we serve in Bushwick, Brooklyn and South Jamaica Queens,” said Mary Hurson, Administrator of Family Services, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. “There is no other alternative for many low-income families. An essential part of their support system has collapsed. Te CCBQ Out-of-School Time programs are essential to helping children succeed academically and to develop positive social skills. Afterschool programs are an alternative to the streets for many children and the only safe option for hard working parents.”
Tonight at Riis Settlement
Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House will be joining with Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to host its own Emergency Town Hall Meeting this evening. Two of Riis’ OST programs are on the chopping block. Tonight’s event is scheduled from 6:30-8:00 at Riis’ headquarters in the Queensbridge Houses at 10-25 41st Avenue in Long Island City.
City funding supports Riis Settlement after-school programs in the Queensbridge Houses and at P.S. 166. If funding is not restored 217 elementary school children will lose their afterschool programming, says the group which is also fighting to maintain slots for 150 adults enrolled in its English classes.