Democratic Westchester Legislators Call for Increased Funding for Social Services Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)

Democratic Legislators Call for Increased Funding for Social Services Programs

Astorino Administration’s restoring of funding for the Hungry “Not Enough”

White Plains, NY – Democratic caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) expressed their appreciation today at the imminent approval of funding for two programs that aid hungry residents around the county, but renewed their call for the Astorino Administration to increase funding for other social services programs that were cut in the 2013 County Budget.

Thanks to public prodding and the resulting outcry following the BOL’s Democratic caucus presentation on March 14 that showed in detail the need for social services had increased the past three years as the Administration continued to decrease funding for these programs, two agencies that work to provide nutritional assistance to residents, The Food Bank of Westchester and Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless, are expected to both receive approval for $72,000 grants from the County tomorrow in the weekly meeting of the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contract (A&C).

Previously, funding for the two agencies was deleted by County Executive Rob Astorino in the 2013 County Budget.

“I’m grateful that the County Executive has decided to restore the funding for these two vital programs that help the hungry, especially since my caucus colleagues and I have documented that the need for this assistance is growing around Westchester,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). “But it is not enough. The need across the board for the homeless, low-income families looking for affordable quality child care and at-risk youths is too great for anyone to think the job here is completed.”

Yesterday, Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless held a press conference reiterating the key points made by the BOL’s Democratic caucus two weeks ago: The need for social services in Westchester is climbing.

“I’m concerned that the Administration is not doing enough for families in Westchester County that need child care services,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), who noted that daycare slots increased from 3,152 in 2009 to 3,615 last year, even though Title XX applications were frozen and misinformation was abundant, but only 3,477 slots are planned by Astorino Administration for 2013. She also pointed to a $500,000 surplus in the 2012 budget account for day care funding and wondered why County Executive Astorino keeps telling his Town Hall attendees that the program ran out of money halfway through the year.

In 2009, the average March parent share for Low Income Day Care was $91; now, in 2013, the average March expense is projected to increase to $240.

Meanwhile, Eviction Prevention funding in 2013 remains at the same level it was funded at in 2009. An increase in funding for this program was added by the BOL in 2012. In 2013 any additional eviction prevention funding was eliminated by the Administration. After the Democratic caucus added funding back for eviction prevention, Astorino eliminated it.

“With all of the renewed attention on how many homeless individuals and families with children are struggling here in Westchester, the Astorino Administration should increase funding for eviction protection programs right now,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “At a time when many of our residents are still facing financial challenges, the Administration should be doing the most it can to help them instead of reducing its support for social services.”

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=Bazzo 03/28/13

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