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Armed with New Report, Supporters to Push De Blasio on Summer Youth Employment

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Council Member Eugene & advocates for youth summer camps (photo: @CAMBAInc)

When the City Council held its first hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Budget for fiscal year 2017, Council members made it clear that they weren’t satisfied with the level of investment in the city’s youth, one of the top priorities identified in their prior response to the mayor’s preliminary budget.

On Tuesday morning, members of the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, which has 24 members including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and advocacy groups will band together outside City Hall to rally for one particular aspect of youth investment: the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The rally will be accompanied by the Tuesday morning release of a report by the Campaign for Summer Jobs, a coalition of more than 100 community-based organizations, that outlines a plan to expand SYEP while making key programmatic changes.

SYEP provides up to six weeks of paid work to youth between 14 and 24 years old and it received 120,000 applications last year but only served 54,000 young people. This year, Council members and advocates want the city to increase that number to 60,000. “We’re trying to create a roadmap to get to 100,000 spots by Fiscal 2019,” said Andrea Bowen, policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses and co-chair of the Campaign for Summer Jobs along with Justin Hardy, policy fellow at the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition. “This is achievable and possible and necessary,” Bowen said in a Monday interview.

The Campaign for Summer Jobs report, which Gotham Gazette reviewed before its public release, calls for baselining increased funding for the SYEP over the next few years. Adjusting for increases in the minimum wage and accounting for program changes, the report proposes $75 million in city funding in fiscal 2017 for 60,000 summer youth jobs, increasing to $178 million in Fiscal 2018 for 80,000 jobs, $257 million in Fiscal 2019 for the ultimate goal of 100,000 jobs and $288 million in Fiscal 2020.

So far, the de Blasio administration has allocated $36.5 million in city funds for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1 of this year, with an expected state contribution of $15.6 million, for a total of about $52 million. This would fund about 35,000 jobs this summer.

Some of the report’s key proposals include implementing earlier application, enrollment, and orientation dates; earlier release of funding to service providers; recruiting more providers to the program; increasing base funding for providers; and creating an SYEP Expansion and Improvement Fund. With the ultimate goal of reaching 100,000 summer job slots, “funding levels for the next few years need to be known in advance,” said Bowen.

Much of what’s in the report dovetails with the City Council’s priorities. “The issue that we have is that year to year, we have to negotiate for this funding,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who is leading the budget process as the Council’s finance committee chair. “We want it baselined so agencies can properly plan and young people can be informed that they have a job in the summer.”

She stressed that the underinvestment in youth in the executive budget was of “great concern” to the Council and that members will continue to push the administration “aggressively” for more funding. “We want to take an opportunity to overhaul and do an evaluation of SYEP, figure out what works,” Ferreras-Copeland said on Monday, insisting that this was necessary for expanding the program to 100,000 slots. “Using the strategy that we’re using currently, going year by year, we’re not going to get there,” she added.

The de Blasio administration sent a statement to Gotham Gazette that echoed what the mayor has said when asked about the issue: “As announced in May 2015, last year’s additional seats for summer programming were for one year only. We gave parents and providers a year’s notice to plan ahead for this summer. The Department of Youth and Community Development runs the largest summer youth jobs program in the nation, and we increased seats to ensure that more New York City youth have the opportunity to gain valuable exposure and workforce skills over the summer months. We have also extended hours at Cornerstone Community Centers, so both young people and adults can have a safe and supportive environment to be active, learn and develop their skills throughout the summer months.”

A cacophony of voices have been raised in favor of improving the summer youth employment program. Last week, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and New York Congressional Rep. Hakeem Jeffries held a press conference where they called on the mayor to increase SYEP funding. On Monday, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council members, advocates, and others congregated at City Hall to release a new report by the Young Women's Initiative, a $20-million City Council campaign that promotes services for young women, particularly women of color. One of its recommendations is an expansion of the SYEP. Hours later, Council Member Mathieu Eugene, chair of the youth services committee, brought together his colleagues and community advocates to the same spot to push for a related cause, increased funding for youth summer camp programs. He called on all those present to return for Tuesday’s rally.

Eugene chairs the Council’s youth services committee, which will hold its executive budget hearing on Tuesday morning, right after the City Hall rally calling for more SYEP funding. Council members will question de Blasio administration officials about their funding decisions.

“Those young people that are looking for a job are begging to do positive things,” Eugene told Gotham Gazette shortly after Monday’s summer camp rally. “They want an opportunity and I believe it is our moral obligation as elected officials, as people who serve New York City, to provide them with the opportunities that they are looking for.”

[Related: First Executive Budget Hearing Sets Stage for Final Negotiations]

by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Note: this story has been updated with comment from the de Blasio administration.

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 16

New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

As has been the case for weeks, we enter this week looking for more information on the investigations into Mayor de Blasio, his administration and allies, and into Governor Cuomo's administration and allies. [Read: Buffalo Billion Probe: Bad Apples or Broken System?]

On Thursday, de Blasio is expected to testify at the second of two state Senate hearings on mayoral control of city schools, this one in New York City - the first one was held earlier this month in Albany [Read: In Albany, De Blasio Argues for Mayoral Control Extension]

Neither the mayor nor the governor has a public event scheduled for Monday as of the Sunday evening releases of their schedules.

In Albany, the state Legislature is due to be in session on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Including those days, there are just 15 scheduled session days remaining before legislators leave the capital for the rest of 2016. There is still a lot on the agenda, though it is unclear whether more than a small number of high-profile issues will see legislation.

The City Council will continue executive budget hearings this week.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - see our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.***

The run of the week in detail:

At 8 a.m., the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee will host a breakfast honoring City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Larry S. Bulman, of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will attend.

At 10 a.m. Monday at City Hall, “Progressive Caucus members and the City Council are kicking off National Bike to Work Week in partnership with leaders in cycling advocacy and engagement. This 3rd annual event aims to bring representatives from across the City to share their local perspectives and priorities for supporting the “exploding popularity of cycling with more than 750K New Yorkers riding regularly, a growth rate of 49% in last five years.,” according to the NYC Department of Transportation.” Participants include “Council Members Reynoso, Kallos, Rosenthal, Rodriguez, Lander, Menchaca, Cornegy and advocates from Bike New York, StreetsPAC, Citi Bike and Transportation Alternatives.”

At the City Council on Monday at 10 a.m: the executive budget hearing for the education committee.

On Monday at 10:30 a.m. in Albany, the Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs will hold a hearing “To explore tax policies, housing programs and consumer protections aimed at assisting our current service members and our veteran population.”

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer will deliver remarks at the New York City Office of the Actuary Centennial Dedication. At 5:30 p.m., Stringer will deliver the keynote address at the Union Square Partnership annual meeting.

On Monday at 11 a.m. at City Hall, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and partners will "announce policy and budgetary recommendations" for the Young Women’s Initiative. Speakers will include Mark -Viverito, City Council members; Ana L. Oliveira, President & CEO of The New York Women's Foundation; Joanne Smith, Founder & Executive Director at Girls for Gender Equity (GGE); Danielle Moss Lee CEO of YWCA of the City of New York; and others.

At 1 p.m. Monday at City Hall, City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, chair of the Youth Services Committee, is hosting a rally “to urge Mayor Bill de Blasio to restore crucial summer camp program funding for more than 34,000 children in neighborhoods all across the city. In less than two months, School's Out New York (SONYC) summer programs are scheduled to start--but these programs have still not received funding in Mayor de Blasio's Executive Budget.”

At 1:15 p.m. Monday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will be the keynote speaker at Generation Citizens “Civics Day” at The National Museum of the American Indian. Mark-Viverito will also appear on Inside City Hall on NY1 Monday evening.

Both houses of the state Legislature are in session in Albany Monday afternoon.

At 6 p.m., the New York League of Conservation Voters will hold its annual Spring gala, a fundraiser which supports the NYLCV’s mission to protect and improve New York’s environment. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will speak. Comptroller Scott Stringer is among the other elected officials who will attend.

Both houses of the state Legislature are in session in Albany Tuesday.

At 9 a.m., the New York Law School will hold its 22nd Annual Citywide Seminar on Ethics in City Government. Topics to be offered include Emerging Issues in Chapter 68; Enforcement; Transparency and Open Data in the Information Age; Discussion of Recent Criminal Cases in NYS Legislature; Political Activities; and Training: Engagement Strategies for Your Compliance Content.

At the City Council on Tuesday: the executive budget hearing for the committees on youth services and immigration at 10 a.m.; and for the transportation committee at 11:30 a.m. There will also be meetings of the zoning subcommittee at 9:30 a.m. and the planning subcommittee at 1 p.m.

At 12:30 p.m., City & State will host its annual luncheon honoring Albany’s "Power 100," which will debut a special publication ranking the Power 100 and gather leaders in politics, media, business.

The next public meeting and hearing of the New York City Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC) will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Lower Manhattan. “We want to hear from you. New Yorkers are invited to testify on the following topics: The problems city voters experienced on the April 19th presidential primary; Your experience advocating for election reform as part of the Vote Better NY coalition; Other improvements to elections in New York City; Comments on the 2015–2016 Voter Assistance Annual Report. RSVP through Eventbrite.”

Also at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the city Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy contracts committee will meet, Tweed Courthouse.

Both houses of the state Legislature are in session in Albany Wednesday.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday at Long Island City High School, the city Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy will meet.

At 8 a.m. Thursday, City & State will host its annual “On Health Care” event, which will feature a variety of panels on the state of the health care sector. Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio will give keynote remarks. Panelists will include Dr. Ram Raju, president of NYC Health + Hospitals; Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, chair of the Committee on Health; Yevgeniy Feyman, health policy scholar from The Manhattan Institute; Jill Furillo, executive director of New York State Nurses Association; and others.

At the City Council on Thursday: the executive budget hearing for the committees on technology and land use at 10 a.m.; the executive budget hearing for the cultural affairs committee at 11 a.m.; and the executive budget hearing for the public housing committee at 2 p.m. There will also be meetings of the land use committee at 11 a.m. and the rules committee at 1:30 p.m.

On Thursday at 11 a.m. at 250 Broadway, the state Senate education committee will hold a hearing on extending mayoral control of New York City schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Carmen Farina are expected to testify, as they did in Albany earlier this month. Groups and individuals who did not testify in Albany are expected to testify afterward.

Friday and the weekend
At the City Council on Friday: the executive budget hearings for the parks committee, the higher education committee, and the veterans affairs committee.

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Ben Max

NYCHA's 'Core Challenge'

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Council Member Torres & "VP Nelson" at Twin Parks West (photo via NYCHA on flickr)

In a special edition of "Max & Murphy on Housing," our weekly discussion of New York housing politics, City Council Member Ritchie Torres joined Jarrett Murphy and me to discuss the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, which Torres has oversight of as chair of the Council's public housing committee. Torres also grew up in NYCHA housing in the Bronx. The Democratic first-term Council member talked with us about the challenges facing the system that houses at least half a million New Yorkers, saying that NYCHA's "core challenge is not funding a funding challenge...ultimately, it's a political challenge." With more political support, Torres says, funding and many other NYCHA-related services would improve.

Why is NYCHA so lacking in political support even considering that Mayor Bill de Blasio is giving it more attention than his predecessors? Listen to our discussion of that question and several others, including whether NYCHA should be phased out, if the City Council is giving enough prioritization to public housing, and more. Listen (find prior episodes of Max & Murphy on Housing here):

by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette

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