Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/richard-buery 2017-12-12T02:48:00+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Deputy Mayor Outlines Accountability Measures for MWBE Program 2017-09-04T04:00:00+00:00 2017-09-04T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7169:deputy-mayor-outlines-accountability-measures-for-mwbe-program Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/29382549283_d828aa0591_z.jpg" alt="Buery de Blasio MWBE" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, left, &amp; Mayor de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Since Mayor Bill de Blasio created the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises last September, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery has been focused on establishing a system of accountability to meet the new targets set by the de Blasio administration for contracting with M/WBE firms and helping those firms to build capacity.</p> <p>Appearing last week <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/podcasts/what-s-the-data-point">on the “What’s the [Data] Point?” podcast from Gotham Gazette and Citizens Budget Committee</a>, Buery, who is Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and led the rollout of de Blasio’s signature universal pre-kindergarten program, explained some of what he and his staff are doing to hold city agencies, officials, and contractors responsible for increasing the city contracts awarded to M/WBEs.</p> <p>A key aspect has been “about changing culture and holding people accountable in a different way,” Buery said, noting that the contracting officers at different city agencies can be stuck in a comfortable pattern of awarding contracts to companies they are familiar with, perpetuating an opportunity imbalance that hurts firms owned by women and people of color. He also described a schedule of meetings somewhat in the mold of the NYPD’s famous CompStat gatherings at which he hears reports from city commissioners and contracting officers and pushes them on meeting targets and making progress.</p> <p>Last year, de Blasio announced the creation of the new M/WBE office in a self-described “<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/775-16/mayor-de-blasio-bold-new-vision-the-city-s-m-wbe-program/#/0">bold new vision</a>” after periods of contentious back and forth with city Comptroller Scott Stringer, who released several reports critical of the administration’s efforts in M/WBE contracting. Setting an ambitious goal of awarding 30% of annual city contract dollars to M/WBEs by 2021, the mayor said that “[w]ith the new Office of M/WBEs and Deputy Mayor Buery’s leadership, we are in a stronger position to continue delivering results for the City’s M/WBEs.”</p> <p>In fiscal year 2016, that number was 14% -- of the roughly $15 billion in contracts the city awards annually. Buery told podcast hosts Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Carol Kellermann of CBC that the administration would soon be announcing its fiscal year 2017 numbers. (The city’s fiscal year begins July 1, with fiscal 2018 now into its third month.)</p> <p>To reach the administration’s new goal, Buery said he has made M/WBEs a persistent topic of conversation in city government. He and his staff hold regular meetings with commissioners, chief contracting officers, and M/BWE officers in each of dozens of city agencies. He also leads a quarterly meeting, he said, during which he addresses citywide trends, celebrates certain agencies, and criticizes others. “If we don’t talk about it regularly, people are not going to look at it and not going to try make changes,” he stated.</p> <p>In addition to overseeing city agencies, his office drives efforts to hold prime contractors accountable. Citing the saying, “If it’s not measured it can’t be managed,” he explained that the city requires general contractors to do business with a stated percentage of M/WBEs if hired, as part of the process of releasing a request for proposals and awarding contracts to bidders. While contractors may have valid reasons for missing M/WBE targets, Buery said, there needs to be a conversation to ensure they expended every effort in their attempts.</p> <p>On the podcast, Buery also stressed that the city is on “a good trajectory,” citing an increase from an 8% inclusion rate when the administration first came into office to the most recent reported figure of 14% in fiscal year 2016.</p> <p>The more aggressive stance, including the new office and the addition of Buery’s leadership came in response to consistent criticism on M/WBE contracting.</p> <p>In 2015, Bertha Lewis, founder of the Black Institute and a one-time de Blasio supporter, <a href="http://observer.com/2015/12/former-ally-bertha-lewis-calls-de-blasio-administration-incompetent-and-immoral/">called the administration</a> “incompetent and immoral” for not awarding more contracts to M/WBEs. <a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/reports/making-the-grade/reports/making-the-grade-2015/">From 2014 onwards</a>, Stringer released critical reports and argued that de Blasio’s investment in M/WBEs was, <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/stringer-speaks/">what he termed in an interview with WNYC</a>, “a disgrace.”</p> <p>Buery’s response has been unfailingly upbeat. “We are well on our way to awarding 30% of the value of our contracts to this important community of businesses,” <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-city-worse-hiring-minority-firms-article-1.2852650">he said to the New York Daily News</a> in response to Stringer’s 2016 criticisms.</p> <p>There is additional reason for optimism courtesy of recent developments at the state level that the city sought. The state legislature <a href="http://cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/new-york-city/new-york-city-praises-state-legislation-minority-women-contracting.html#.WagVVtOGPVo">overwhelmingly voted</a> to grant New York City increased discretion in its M/WBE policy in June. Among multiple measures, the bill allows the city a higher threshold in contract amounts it can award to M/WBEs without going through a full, competitive bidding process. Although the administration is waiting for Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill, Buery said on the podcast he is sure the governor will sign it and that he and his staff are “already figuring out how to implement it.”</p> <p>Giving a wider frame, Buery said he sees his efforts overseeing the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs as part of the administration’s greater quest to “create a city that works for everyone.”</p> <p>“Because the city is such a big buyer of things, part of our power is an engine of economic opportunity by making sure that we give everybody a chance to be a part of doing business with the city,” Buery said, “by giving everyone a chance to share their expertise, their knowledge, their know-how.”</p> <p><em><strong>Listen to the full podcast conversation: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7166-what-s-the-data-point-30-with-deputy-mayor-richard-buery">What’s The [Data] Point? 30% with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery</a></strong></em></p> <p>

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by Ben Weiss, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/29382549283_d828aa0591_z.jpg" alt="Buery de Blasio MWBE" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, left, &amp; Mayor de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Since Mayor Bill de Blasio created the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises last September, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery has been focused on establishing a system of accountability to meet the new targets set by the de Blasio administration for contracting with M/WBE firms and helping those firms to build capacity.</p> <p>Appearing last week <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/podcasts/what-s-the-data-point">on the “What’s the [Data] Point?” podcast from Gotham Gazette and Citizens Budget Committee</a>, Buery, who is Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and led the rollout of de Blasio’s signature universal pre-kindergarten program, explained some of what he and his staff are doing to hold city agencies, officials, and contractors responsible for increasing the city contracts awarded to M/WBEs.</p> <p>A key aspect has been “about changing culture and holding people accountable in a different way,” Buery said, noting that the contracting officers at different city agencies can be stuck in a comfortable pattern of awarding contracts to companies they are familiar with, perpetuating an opportunity imbalance that hurts firms owned by women and people of color. He also described a schedule of meetings somewhat in the mold of the NYPD’s famous CompStat gatherings at which he hears reports from city commissioners and contracting officers and pushes them on meeting targets and making progress.</p> <p>Last year, de Blasio announced the creation of the new M/WBE office in a self-described “<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/775-16/mayor-de-blasio-bold-new-vision-the-city-s-m-wbe-program/#/0">bold new vision</a>” after periods of contentious back and forth with city Comptroller Scott Stringer, who released several reports critical of the administration’s efforts in M/WBE contracting. Setting an ambitious goal of awarding 30% of annual city contract dollars to M/WBEs by 2021, the mayor said that “[w]ith the new Office of M/WBEs and Deputy Mayor Buery’s leadership, we are in a stronger position to continue delivering results for the City’s M/WBEs.”</p> <p>In fiscal year 2016, that number was 14% -- of the roughly $15 billion in contracts the city awards annually. Buery told podcast hosts Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and Carol Kellermann of CBC that the administration would soon be announcing its fiscal year 2017 numbers. (The city’s fiscal year begins July 1, with fiscal 2018 now into its third month.)</p> <p>To reach the administration’s new goal, Buery said he has made M/WBEs a persistent topic of conversation in city government. He and his staff hold regular meetings with commissioners, chief contracting officers, and M/BWE officers in each of dozens of city agencies. He also leads a quarterly meeting, he said, during which he addresses citywide trends, celebrates certain agencies, and criticizes others. “If we don’t talk about it regularly, people are not going to look at it and not going to try make changes,” he stated.</p> <p>In addition to overseeing city agencies, his office drives efforts to hold prime contractors accountable. Citing the saying, “If it’s not measured it can’t be managed,” he explained that the city requires general contractors to do business with a stated percentage of M/WBEs if hired, as part of the process of releasing a request for proposals and awarding contracts to bidders. While contractors may have valid reasons for missing M/WBE targets, Buery said, there needs to be a conversation to ensure they expended every effort in their attempts.</p> <p>On the podcast, Buery also stressed that the city is on “a good trajectory,” citing an increase from an 8% inclusion rate when the administration first came into office to the most recent reported figure of 14% in fiscal year 2016.</p> <p>The more aggressive stance, including the new office and the addition of Buery’s leadership came in response to consistent criticism on M/WBE contracting.</p> <p>In 2015, Bertha Lewis, founder of the Black Institute and a one-time de Blasio supporter, <a href="http://observer.com/2015/12/former-ally-bertha-lewis-calls-de-blasio-administration-incompetent-and-immoral/">called the administration</a> “incompetent and immoral” for not awarding more contracts to M/WBEs. <a href="https://comptroller.nyc.gov/reports/making-the-grade/reports/making-the-grade-2015/">From 2014 onwards</a>, Stringer released critical reports and argued that de Blasio’s investment in M/WBEs was, <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/stringer-speaks/">what he termed in an interview with WNYC</a>, “a disgrace.”</p> <p>Buery’s response has been unfailingly upbeat. “We are well on our way to awarding 30% of the value of our contracts to this important community of businesses,” <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-city-worse-hiring-minority-firms-article-1.2852650">he said to the New York Daily News</a> in response to Stringer’s 2016 criticisms.</p> <p>There is additional reason for optimism courtesy of recent developments at the state level that the city sought. The state legislature <a href="http://cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/new-york-city/new-york-city-praises-state-legislation-minority-women-contracting.html#.WagVVtOGPVo">overwhelmingly voted</a> to grant New York City increased discretion in its M/WBE policy in June. Among multiple measures, the bill allows the city a higher threshold in contract amounts it can award to M/WBEs without going through a full, competitive bidding process. Although the administration is waiting for Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill, Buery said on the podcast he is sure the governor will sign it and that he and his staff are “already figuring out how to implement it.”</p> <p>Giving a wider frame, Buery said he sees his efforts overseeing the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs as part of the administration’s greater quest to “create a city that works for everyone.”</p> <p>“Because the city is such a big buyer of things, part of our power is an engine of economic opportunity by making sure that we give everybody a chance to be a part of doing business with the city,” Buery said, “by giving everyone a chance to share their expertise, their knowledge, their know-how.”</p> <p><em><strong>Listen to the full podcast conversation: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7166-what-s-the-data-point-30-with-deputy-mayor-richard-buery">What’s The [Data] Point? 30% with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery</a></strong></em></p> <p>

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by Ben Weiss, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
What's The [DATA] Point? 30% with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery 2017-08-31T04:00:00+00:00 2017-08-31T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7166:what-s-the-data-point-30-with-deputy-mayor-richard-buery Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/whats-the-data-point.jpg" alt="whats the data point" width="600" height="600" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What's The Data Point? Episode&nbsp;10</strong><strong> -- 30% with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes] </strong></p> <p>This week's data point is 30% -- the share, based on dollar value, of city contracts to be awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses by fiscal year 2021, according to a goal set by Mayor Bill de Blasio in September 2016. This would be an increase from 14 percent in fiscal year 2016. New York City Deputy Mayor Richard Buery joins the podcast to discuss the efforts he is leading and overseeing in order to meet that goal.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (<a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a>), Carol Kellerman of CBC (<a href="https://twitter.com/cbcny">@cbcny</a>), and special guest Deputy Mayor Richard Buery (<a href="https://twitter.com/RichardBuery" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@RichardBuery</a>). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts!</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/340346754&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/whats-the-data-point.jpg" alt="whats the data point" width="600" height="600" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What's The Data Point? Episode&nbsp;10</strong><strong> -- 30% with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes] </strong></p> <p>This week's data point is 30% -- the share, based on dollar value, of city contracts to be awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses by fiscal year 2021, according to a goal set by Mayor Bill de Blasio in September 2016. This would be an increase from 14 percent in fiscal year 2016. New York City Deputy Mayor Richard Buery joins the podcast to discuss the efforts he is leading and overseeing in order to meet that goal.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (<a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a>), Carol Kellerman of CBC (<a href="https://twitter.com/cbcny">@cbcny</a>), and special guest Deputy Mayor Richard Buery (<a href="https://twitter.com/RichardBuery" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@RichardBuery</a>). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts!</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/340346754&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Pointing to Progress, Deputy Mayor Says City Hears Nonprofit Funding Concerns 2017-02-22T05:00:00+00:00 2017-02-22T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6772:pointing-to-progress-deputy-mayor-says-city-hears-nonprofit-funding-concerns Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/14641145470_22064ea746_z.jpg" alt="Deputy Mayor Richard Buery speaking Medgar Evers" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Deputy Mayor Richard Buery (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/meccunyphotos/sets/72157645758341677/with/14641145470/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Medgar Evers College)</p> <hr /> <p>As city-contracted nonprofit organizations continue to call for funding increases from the de Blasio administration, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery insists that the administration is “sympathetic” to those concerns and is doing everything in its power to ensure a “strong and robust” nonprofit sector.</p> <p>Nonprofits in the city that provide a range of contracted services, from mental health care and early childhood education to homelessness prevention, say they are facing a crisis of financial instability brought on by decades of underinvestment by successive administrations. As their costs soar and contracts remain relatively flat, many are cutting staff or whittling down their services to remain afloat. Nearly one in five are insolvent.</p> <p>“There really has been absolutely a history of disinvestment in the sector which makes their work harder,” said Buery, who heads strategic policy initiatives for the administration, in an interview at City Hall. “I think under our administration, there’s really been an acknowledgement of that and I really do believe a real effort to address it.”</p> <p>Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, a first term Democrat, there have been incremental efforts to buoy the sector and those who work in it, particularly by providing salary increases for employees at city-contracted nonprofits. Two years ago, the city gave 2.5 percent cost of living raises to human services nonprofits. The city subsequently announced a $15 minimum wage for all city-contracted nonprofit personnel and, in the mayor's recently-released fiscal year 2018 budget plan, is proposing 2 percent raises annually for three years for the 90,000 employees of human services nonprofits.</p> <p>The city also established a Nonprofit Resiliency Committee last year, to examine structural problems in the sector and “streamline some of the bureaucratic challenges which wind up having a dollar impact, a financial impact on nonprofits that try to get work done,” Buery said.</p> <p>Still, nonprofit groups argue that salary increases, though laudable, are not sufficient in the face of rising costs for insurance, rent, infrastructure, and more. “I think it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem,” said Allison Sesso, executive director of the Human Services Council. “The institution itself is financially struggling,” she said, separating the questions of employee wages and organizational solvency.</p> <p>Sesso is one of nearly 200 human services nonprofit leaders who wrote to Mayor de Blasio in December, calling for a 12 percent increase in contracts across the board at an estimated $500 million price tag. “You count on us each day to ensure the wellbeing, safety, and security of our fellow New Yorkers,” the letter reads. “We fully embrace your equity agenda, but are compromised in our ability to help achieve it given the years of City neglect of our work. You inherited this situation, but it has continued to worsen and we need bold leadership now to fix it.”</p> <p>Deputy Mayor Buery stressed that the city is committed to those fixes and is engaged in constant dialogue with the nonprofit sector, but change doesn’t happen overnight. “I think everybody understands that...problems that have taken decades to create, are not gonna be solved in one budget cycle, or two budget cycles,” he said, pointing out that the challenges faced by the sector aren’t a problem specific to the de Blasio administration but one faced by city government at large.</p> <p>Buery also said that the services provided by these nonprofits are particularly critical at a “vulnerable” time for the city, facing a period of economic slowdown and potential federal budget cuts.</p> <p>That vulnerability and uncertainty about the future is precisely why Sesso from HSC said the city needs to invest in nonprofits now, to shore up a sector that serves the city’s neediest population. And while she agrees that the crisis can’t be solved immediately, “It’s important they make a substantial move forward this year,” she said.</p> <p>Sesso commended the administration for creating the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee and ensuring ongoing conversations with nonprofits. But, she said, “As an advocate, until I see the money in the budget, I’m not satisfied. You can’t solve the problem through efficiencies alone.”</p> <p>The city budget cycle recently began with de Blasio’s presentation of his preliminary budget. It will continue with a round of City Council hearings, behind-the-scenes negotiation and lobbying, de Blasio’s executive budget, more hearings and negotiations, and a budget deal between the mayor and the Council by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.</p> <p>The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, one of New York’s largest nonprofit service providers, has been pushing for increased funding not only in the city but also at the state level. And while the state has yet to engage with their efforts, the city’s initiatives are encouraging. “We’re seeing some evidence of interest in addressing the issue,” said Emily Miles, director of policy, advocacy and research for FPWA. Miles cited the minimum wage increase and the cost of living adjustment. “But there’s some ways to go,” she said.</p> <p>Miles and her colleague, policy analyst Carlyn Cowen, praised the administration for tackling structural issues and soliciting feedback from organizations through the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee, something prior administrations ignored. “Having everybody at the table is pretty unprecedented,” said Cowen. But they emphasized the pressing need to strengthen human services nonprofits, echoing Sesso’s warning of how federal policies may impact New Yorkers.</p> <p>For the administration, the fact that nonprofits are voicing their concerns is a badge of honor, Buery said. “The light that’s being shined on the problem is a good thing,” the deputy mayor told Gotham Gazette, “but it is in part a reaction to an administration which has been willing to shine that light and open that conversation.”</p> <p>Buery expects that dialogue will continue through the budget process as the city assesses revenue, and analyzes where best to allocate spending. “The mayor’s really shown his commitment to putting his money where his mouth is and so we intend to move forward with this sector to make sure we continue to do so,” he said.</p> <p>With the city economy humming, and jobs and tourism at record highs, de Blasio has rapidly increased the city budget over his three years as mayor. He has continued to announce new funding initiatives already this year.</p> <p>Asked at a news conference on Tuesday about the funding for nonprofits in his latest budget, Mayor de Blasio said, “I think the issue of how to make sure each preventive service organization does their job as best as possible is a broader qualitative question and to make sure we have enough of these services available when we need them for families in immediate need...we have to make sure the quantity and the quality is right. In the meantime we’re certainly looking for every opportunity to improve the dynamics for those workers and the compensation they get.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/14641145470_22064ea746_z.jpg" alt="Deputy Mayor Richard Buery speaking Medgar Evers" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Deputy Mayor Richard Buery (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/meccunyphotos/sets/72157645758341677/with/14641145470/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Medgar Evers College)</p> <hr /> <p>As city-contracted nonprofit organizations continue to call for funding increases from the de Blasio administration, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery insists that the administration is “sympathetic” to those concerns and is doing everything in its power to ensure a “strong and robust” nonprofit sector.</p> <p>Nonprofits in the city that provide a range of contracted services, from mental health care and early childhood education to homelessness prevention, say they are facing a crisis of financial instability brought on by decades of underinvestment by successive administrations. As their costs soar and contracts remain relatively flat, many are cutting staff or whittling down their services to remain afloat. Nearly one in five are insolvent.</p> <p>“There really has been absolutely a history of disinvestment in the sector which makes their work harder,” said Buery, who heads strategic policy initiatives for the administration, in an interview at City Hall. “I think under our administration, there’s really been an acknowledgement of that and I really do believe a real effort to address it.”</p> <p>Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, a first term Democrat, there have been incremental efforts to buoy the sector and those who work in it, particularly by providing salary increases for employees at city-contracted nonprofits. Two years ago, the city gave 2.5 percent cost of living raises to human services nonprofits. The city subsequently announced a $15 minimum wage for all city-contracted nonprofit personnel and, in the mayor's recently-released fiscal year 2018 budget plan, is proposing 2 percent raises annually for three years for the 90,000 employees of human services nonprofits.</p> <p>The city also established a Nonprofit Resiliency Committee last year, to examine structural problems in the sector and “streamline some of the bureaucratic challenges which wind up having a dollar impact, a financial impact on nonprofits that try to get work done,” Buery said.</p> <p>Still, nonprofit groups argue that salary increases, though laudable, are not sufficient in the face of rising costs for insurance, rent, infrastructure, and more. “I think it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem,” said Allison Sesso, executive director of the Human Services Council. “The institution itself is financially struggling,” she said, separating the questions of employee wages and organizational solvency.</p> <p>Sesso is one of nearly 200 human services nonprofit leaders who wrote to Mayor de Blasio in December, calling for a 12 percent increase in contracts across the board at an estimated $500 million price tag. “You count on us each day to ensure the wellbeing, safety, and security of our fellow New Yorkers,” the letter reads. “We fully embrace your equity agenda, but are compromised in our ability to help achieve it given the years of City neglect of our work. You inherited this situation, but it has continued to worsen and we need bold leadership now to fix it.”</p> <p>Deputy Mayor Buery stressed that the city is committed to those fixes and is engaged in constant dialogue with the nonprofit sector, but change doesn’t happen overnight. “I think everybody understands that...problems that have taken decades to create, are not gonna be solved in one budget cycle, or two budget cycles,” he said, pointing out that the challenges faced by the sector aren’t a problem specific to the de Blasio administration but one faced by city government at large.</p> <p>Buery also said that the services provided by these nonprofits are particularly critical at a “vulnerable” time for the city, facing a period of economic slowdown and potential federal budget cuts.</p> <p>That vulnerability and uncertainty about the future is precisely why Sesso from HSC said the city needs to invest in nonprofits now, to shore up a sector that serves the city’s neediest population. And while she agrees that the crisis can’t be solved immediately, “It’s important they make a substantial move forward this year,” she said.</p> <p>Sesso commended the administration for creating the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee and ensuring ongoing conversations with nonprofits. But, she said, “As an advocate, until I see the money in the budget, I’m not satisfied. You can’t solve the problem through efficiencies alone.”</p> <p>The city budget cycle recently began with de Blasio’s presentation of his preliminary budget. It will continue with a round of City Council hearings, behind-the-scenes negotiation and lobbying, de Blasio’s executive budget, more hearings and negotiations, and a budget deal between the mayor and the Council by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.</p> <p>The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, one of New York’s largest nonprofit service providers, has been pushing for increased funding not only in the city but also at the state level. And while the state has yet to engage with their efforts, the city’s initiatives are encouraging. “We’re seeing some evidence of interest in addressing the issue,” said Emily Miles, director of policy, advocacy and research for FPWA. Miles cited the minimum wage increase and the cost of living adjustment. “But there’s some ways to go,” she said.</p> <p>Miles and her colleague, policy analyst Carlyn Cowen, praised the administration for tackling structural issues and soliciting feedback from organizations through the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee, something prior administrations ignored. “Having everybody at the table is pretty unprecedented,” said Cowen. But they emphasized the pressing need to strengthen human services nonprofits, echoing Sesso’s warning of how federal policies may impact New Yorkers.</p> <p>For the administration, the fact that nonprofits are voicing their concerns is a badge of honor, Buery said. “The light that’s being shined on the problem is a good thing,” the deputy mayor told Gotham Gazette, “but it is in part a reaction to an administration which has been willing to shine that light and open that conversation.”</p> <p>Buery expects that dialogue will continue through the budget process as the city assesses revenue, and analyzes where best to allocate spending. “The mayor’s really shown his commitment to putting his money where his mouth is and so we intend to move forward with this sector to make sure we continue to do so,” he said.</p> <p>With the city economy humming, and jobs and tourism at record highs, de Blasio has rapidly increased the city budget over his three years as mayor. He has continued to announce new funding initiatives already this year.</p> <p>Asked at a news conference on Tuesday about the funding for nonprofits in his latest budget, Mayor de Blasio said, “I think the issue of how to make sure each preventive service organization does their job as best as possible is a broader qualitative question and to make sure we have enough of these services available when we need them for families in immediate need...we have to make sure the quantity and the quality is right. In the meantime we’re certainly looking for every opportunity to improve the dynamics for those workers and the compensation they get.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
As Council Begins Oversight, McCray Reports Progress in Mental Health Roadmap Implementation 2016-02-02T02:52:43+00:00 2016-02-02T02:52:43+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6134:as-council-begins-oversight-mccray-reports-progress-in-mental-health-roadmap-implementation Carmen Russo <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/24679524205_e13ed97409_z.jpg" alt="chirlane mccray richard buery mental health" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Chirlane McCray &amp; Richard Buery testify (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">At a Jan. 28 oversight <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=454979&amp;GUID=DBE54376-A45E-44D6-B82D-7EB09343F2C4&amp;Options=info&amp;Search=" target="_blank">hearing</a> held by the Committee on Mental Health, First Lady Chirlane McCray testified before the City Council for the first time, updating the Council on the city’s progress implementing its new “mental health roadmap.”</p> <p dir="ltr">ThriveNYC, as the roadmap is called, is spearheaded by McCray and entails a comprehensive effort involving over 20 city agencies, 54 initiatives, and $850 million allocated over the next four years to improve access to quality mental health care.</p> <p dir="ltr">McCray, joined by Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and Dr. Gary Belkin, executive deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, emphasized the ThriveNYC focus on creating more points of entry into the mental health care system for New Yorkers, the importance of early intervention, and eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness. Buery has been named by Mayor Bill de Blasio and McCray as the City Hall point person for the implementation of <a href="https://thrivenyc.cityofnewyork.us/" target="_blank">ThriveNYC</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">During the hearing, Council members praised McCray, who is the Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, for her role in making mental health a priority for the city, and were generally impressed by the progress that has been made so far.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The roadmap was only released at the end of November, and the fact that the ball is rolling on some of them bodes well for how this is going to go,” Council Member Andrew Cohen, chair of the Committee on Mental Health, told Gotham Gazette in a post-hearing interview. Cohen added that he was “very pleased” with the hearing and thought it went “very, very well.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Cohen conceded that the McCray, Buery, and Belkin were not “100 percent certain” about what benchmarks or metrics would be best to measure the success of each of ThriveNYC’s initiatives, as one metric may be appropriate for one initiative, but different standards may be needed for another initiative.</p> <p dir="ltr">“But, I think as they start rolling them out and as they start providing these services, we’re going to be very interested in seeing that there’s some way to quantify that the programs are successful, that the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth,” Cohen added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though Council Member Joe Borelli, who represents the South Shore of Staten Island, told Gotham Gazette he was “happy to hear that the First Lady has made [mental health] a priority and that it’s actually resulted in the city administration looking at mental health as a priority,” Borelli did take issue with ThriveNYC’s lack of resources and plans to address the opioid epidemic on Staten Island.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Deputy Mayor, in your testimony you made a point to highlight a number of different ethnic and community groups that have specific needs, and what is potentially going to be done to address it...the number one county in the entire state [for heroin and opioid addiction] is Richmond County,” Borelli said during the hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">And in Richmond County, the problem is primarily concentrated on the South Shore of Staten Island, Borelli continued, “and yet, I look on the map and I see only three blobs that have any substance abuse counseling in this area - one of which is about to be closed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ideally, Borelli said in an interview after the hearing, he’d like to see more SAPIS (Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialist) counselors in Staten Island schools. Tottenville High School, for example, has “almost 4,000 students, and it only has one counselor. There’s a real need,” said Borelli.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some community-based organizations also expressed frustration during the hearing. Alan Ross, executive director of Samaritans of NYC, a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, took issue with the fact that several ThriveNYC initiatives are being touted as “new,” yet organizations that already carried out such work in New York City had seen their funding cut and programs terminated.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There are apparent contradictions in the plan that warrant further examination,” Ross said. “You’ve got these goals, but four years ago they terminated several programs and they said LifeNet was going to pick up all the service and then last year LifeNet couldn’t handle the weight,” Ross continued, looking to the de Blasio administration to address changes made under its predecessor.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We need to acknowledge the tremendous efforts currently undertaken every day by community agencies,” added John Kastan, chief program officer of Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. “For ThriveNYC to work, it must...build on the existing infrastructure of services, rather than create a parallel system.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Cohen expressed agreement on that point, saying in an interview after the hearing, “ultimately the strength of that community is going to drive how successful the roadmap is going to be.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The RFPs have to meet the service-provider network that we have,” Cohen added,” I think these service providers need to be a part of developing the specifics of these RFPs so we get a lot of responses and so there’s a successful, not-for-profit program implementing these measures.”</p> <p dir="ltr">City funding of $62 million has been allocated to ThriveNYC in the fiscal year 2017 preliminary budget unveiled by Mayor de Blasio on Jan. 21. According to McCray and Buery, some of the recent progress that has been made in implementing ThriveNYC and upcoming benchmarks for this year include:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">NYC Health + Hospitals and Maimonides Hospital have committed to reach universal screening for maternal depression in women both during pregnancy and after giving birth within two years. -NYC Health + Hospitals will expand and standardize their current screening process for maternal depression in three facilities beginning this February, and Maimonides will begin training for maternal depression screening in February as well.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr">Hiring has begun for a network of 100 school mental health consultants, who will provide advice and referrals to schools currently without onsite mental health services. The first cohort of about 40 consultants is expected to be on staff in DOE support centers beginning in April.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr">Since the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene first began mental health first aid training a few years ago, 6,000 New Yorkers have been trained in mental health first aid. According to Buery, the city is on track to have 10,000 trained in mental health first aid by the end of ThriveNYC’s first year, with a total of 50,000 by the second year. Training spots are currently open three times a week to the general public. About 30 mental health first aid instructors have been trained since ThriveNYC launched, and 500 more are expected to be trained in the next five years. Mental health first aid classes in Spanish will begin to be offered in mid-to-late February, and classes in Mandarin will be offered later this year.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr">The RFP for NYC Support, an initiative which will give New Yorkers 24/7 access crisis counseling and schedule appointments with mental health providers via phone, text, or website, was released in January, and a contract will be in place by spring in order for service to begin later this year.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">On February 23, a Mental Health Council comprised of the leaders of more than 20 city agencies will meet for the first time, in an effort to ensure effective planning and coordination across all agencies.</p> <p dir="ltr">In March, the city will announce the community-based organizations that will participate in the Connection to Care program, a public-private partnership that aims to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health services by integrating mental wellness supports into existing social services agencies.</p> <p dir="ltr">By this summer, the city, in partnership with schools and social workers, will have its first cohort of 130 new clinicians in the mental health workforce seeing patients. Starting in fiscal year 2017 (which begins July 1), the city will contract a community-based organization to train 200 peer support specialists per year.</p> <p dir="ltr">To McCray, the mental health roadmap may just be the “tip of the iceberg...ThriveNYC is not intended to be a cure all - it wasn’t intended to fix the problem, it’s intended as a first step, as a conversation starter, and it’s intended to deal with those things that are in front of us right now that we can actually treat and address.”</p> <p dir="ltr">

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by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/24679524205_e13ed97409_z.jpg" alt="chirlane mccray richard buery mental health" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Chirlane McCray &amp; Richard Buery testify (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">At a Jan. 28 oversight <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=454979&amp;GUID=DBE54376-A45E-44D6-B82D-7EB09343F2C4&amp;Options=info&amp;Search=" target="_blank">hearing</a> held by the Committee on Mental Health, First Lady Chirlane McCray testified before the City Council for the first time, updating the Council on the city’s progress implementing its new “mental health roadmap.”</p> <p dir="ltr">ThriveNYC, as the roadmap is called, is spearheaded by McCray and entails a comprehensive effort involving over 20 city agencies, 54 initiatives, and $850 million allocated over the next four years to improve access to quality mental health care.</p> <p dir="ltr">McCray, joined by Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and Dr. Gary Belkin, executive deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, emphasized the ThriveNYC focus on creating more points of entry into the mental health care system for New Yorkers, the importance of early intervention, and eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness. Buery has been named by Mayor Bill de Blasio and McCray as the City Hall point person for the implementation of <a href="https://thrivenyc.cityofnewyork.us/" target="_blank">ThriveNYC</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">During the hearing, Council members praised McCray, who is the Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, for her role in making mental health a priority for the city, and were generally impressed by the progress that has been made so far.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The roadmap was only released at the end of November, and the fact that the ball is rolling on some of them bodes well for how this is going to go,” Council Member Andrew Cohen, chair of the Committee on Mental Health, told Gotham Gazette in a post-hearing interview. Cohen added that he was “very pleased” with the hearing and thought it went “very, very well.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Cohen conceded that the McCray, Buery, and Belkin were not “100 percent certain” about what benchmarks or metrics would be best to measure the success of each of ThriveNYC’s initiatives, as one metric may be appropriate for one initiative, but different standards may be needed for another initiative.</p> <p dir="ltr">“But, I think as they start rolling them out and as they start providing these services, we’re going to be very interested in seeing that there’s some way to quantify that the programs are successful, that the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth,” Cohen added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though Council Member Joe Borelli, who represents the South Shore of Staten Island, told Gotham Gazette he was “happy to hear that the First Lady has made [mental health] a priority and that it’s actually resulted in the city administration looking at mental health as a priority,” Borelli did take issue with ThriveNYC’s lack of resources and plans to address the opioid epidemic on Staten Island.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Deputy Mayor, in your testimony you made a point to highlight a number of different ethnic and community groups that have specific needs, and what is potentially going to be done to address it...the number one county in the entire state [for heroin and opioid addiction] is Richmond County,” Borelli said during the hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">And in Richmond County, the problem is primarily concentrated on the South Shore of Staten Island, Borelli continued, “and yet, I look on the map and I see only three blobs that have any substance abuse counseling in this area - one of which is about to be closed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ideally, Borelli said in an interview after the hearing, he’d like to see more SAPIS (Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialist) counselors in Staten Island schools. Tottenville High School, for example, has “almost 4,000 students, and it only has one counselor. There’s a real need,” said Borelli.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some community-based organizations also expressed frustration during the hearing. Alan Ross, executive director of Samaritans of NYC, a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, took issue with the fact that several ThriveNYC initiatives are being touted as “new,” yet organizations that already carried out such work in New York City had seen their funding cut and programs terminated.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There are apparent contradictions in the plan that warrant further examination,” Ross said. “You’ve got these goals, but four years ago they terminated several programs and they said LifeNet was going to pick up all the service and then last year LifeNet couldn’t handle the weight,” Ross continued, looking to the de Blasio administration to address changes made under its predecessor.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We need to acknowledge the tremendous efforts currently undertaken every day by community agencies,” added John Kastan, chief program officer of Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. “For ThriveNYC to work, it must...build on the existing infrastructure of services, rather than create a parallel system.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Cohen expressed agreement on that point, saying in an interview after the hearing, “ultimately the strength of that community is going to drive how successful the roadmap is going to be.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The RFPs have to meet the service-provider network that we have,” Cohen added,” I think these service providers need to be a part of developing the specifics of these RFPs so we get a lot of responses and so there’s a successful, not-for-profit program implementing these measures.”</p> <p dir="ltr">City funding of $62 million has been allocated to ThriveNYC in the fiscal year 2017 preliminary budget unveiled by Mayor de Blasio on Jan. 21. According to McCray and Buery, some of the recent progress that has been made in implementing ThriveNYC and upcoming benchmarks for this year include:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">NYC Health + Hospitals and Maimonides Hospital have committed to reach universal screening for maternal depression in women both during pregnancy and after giving birth within two years. -NYC Health + Hospitals will expand and standardize their current screening process for maternal depression in three facilities beginning this February, and Maimonides will begin training for maternal depression screening in February as well.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr">Hiring has begun for a network of 100 school mental health consultants, who will provide advice and referrals to schools currently without onsite mental health services. The first cohort of about 40 consultants is expected to be on staff in DOE support centers beginning in April.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr">Since the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene first began mental health first aid training a few years ago, 6,000 New Yorkers have been trained in mental health first aid. According to Buery, the city is on track to have 10,000 trained in mental health first aid by the end of ThriveNYC’s first year, with a total of 50,000 by the second year. Training spots are currently open three times a week to the general public. About 30 mental health first aid instructors have been trained since ThriveNYC launched, and 500 more are expected to be trained in the next five years. Mental health first aid classes in Spanish will begin to be offered in mid-to-late February, and classes in Mandarin will be offered later this year.</li> </ul> <ul> <li dir="ltr">The RFP for NYC Support, an initiative which will give New Yorkers 24/7 access crisis counseling and schedule appointments with mental health providers via phone, text, or website, was released in January, and a contract will be in place by spring in order for service to begin later this year.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">On February 23, a Mental Health Council comprised of the leaders of more than 20 city agencies will meet for the first time, in an effort to ensure effective planning and coordination across all agencies.</p> <p dir="ltr">In March, the city will announce the community-based organizations that will participate in the Connection to Care program, a public-private partnership that aims to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health services by integrating mental wellness supports into existing social services agencies.</p> <p dir="ltr">By this summer, the city, in partnership with schools and social workers, will have its first cohort of 130 new clinicians in the mental health workforce seeing patients. Starting in fiscal year 2017 (which begins July 1), the city will contract a community-based organization to train 200 peer support specialists per year.</p> <p dir="ltr">To McCray, the mental health roadmap may just be the “tip of the iceberg...ThriveNYC is not intended to be a cure all - it wasn’t intended to fix the problem, it’s intended as a first step, as a conversation starter, and it’s intended to deal with those things that are in front of us right now that we can actually treat and address.”</p> <p dir="ltr">

***
by Meg O'Connor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>