North Brooklyn Nonprofits Suffer Cuts in New York City Budget

By Lincoln Restler with Juan Ramos and Shekar Krishnan

Nonprofit community organizations St. Nicks Alliance and Southside United H.D.F.C – Los Sures at a Stand Up for Tenant Safety Rally at City Hall. Their consistent advocacy inspired the City Council to vote and pass a dozen bills that protect tenants from predatory landlords.

Since the Great Depression, there has been no time when more New Yorkers face the brink of homelessness and more neighbors lack the resources to put food on the table. The pandemic has created unprecedented need for the services of neighborhood nonprofit organizations in North Brooklyn and across New York City, but these dependable nonprofit organizations are facing tremendous financial strain just when they are needed most. Nonprofit organizations from food pantries to tenant services offices are struggling to meet the voracious demand with shrinking resources to sustain their staffing and operations.

As the New York City economy has cratered and unemployment has skyrocketed from 3.5% to over 20% in less than 6 months, the most recent New York City budget, which passed in June, contracted significantly with more than four billion dollars’ worth of immediate cuts. And should Albany and Washington fail to intervene and support the City through this crisis, more pain will be on the way.

For essential nonprofit organizations across New York City, these cuts are not abstractions. Three of the leading nonprofits that provide a range of essential services to residents in Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint took major hits in the most recent New York City budget. Southside United H.D.F.C – Los Sures, St Nicks Alliance, and Communities Resist lost at least a quarter million dollars in City funding compared to the previous year – with potentially more cuts yet to come.

“Many landlords are purchasing properties with clear intent to remove all legal rent paying tenants tenants. The loss of  support for tenant advocacy at this juncture is devastating as we face the fall out of 20% unemployment and the COVID-19 recession.” said Rolando Guzman, Deputy Director for Community Preservation at St. Nicks Alliance.

St. Nicks Alliance and Los Sures both lost critical funding to support tenants at risk of losing their homes during these perilous times.  These cuts come at a peak rise in land values and growing pressure on rent paying low and moderate income residents in rent regulated affordable market housing. “Many landlords are purchasing properties with clear intent to remove all legal rent paying tenants tenants. The loss of  support for tenant advocacy at this juncture is devastating as we face the fall out of 20% unemployment and the COVID-19 recession.” said Rolando Guzman, Deputy Director for Community Preservation at St. Nicks Alliance. The organization is scrambling now to make up for lost revenue.

“We have launched a grassroots campaign to Stop North Brooklyn Evictions at Fight4Tenants.org  and hope our community in North Brooklyn will rally around their neighbors to help prevent mass evictions. Our organizers educate, empower, and protect tenants, and your support will ensure we can continue this vital work.” said Michael Rochford, St. Nicks Alliance Executive Director.  St. Nicks Alliance also lost significant funding for summer camp, summer Jobs and youth services. The organization attempted to hold onto key staff and is planning to reopen for afterschool in the fall.

“Los Sures was organized to save housing for low and moderate income Southside residents. The circumstances have changed and now  protecting families from  illegal eviction, tenant harassment, and preventing  homelessness is made more difficult by these budget cuts.” said Juan Ramos, Executive Director of Los Sures.

The tenant organizing teams from St. Nicks Alliance and Los Sures have been working in North Brooklyn for over 40 years and have decades of experience empowering tenants about their rights and helping ensure they access every tool and resource to not just remain in their home but also to reside in the quality living conditions they deserve. “Los Sures was organized to save housing for low and moderate income Southside residents. The circumstances have changed and now  protecting families from  illegal eviction, tenant harassment, and preventing  homelessness is made more difficult by these budget cuts.” said Juan Ramos, Executive Director of Los Sures.

Communities Resist (CoRe), which was founded in 2019, and is largely comprised of former attorneys and organizers from Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, took a major hit as an emerging organization in this budget. The team at CoRe provides legal services for housing and community justice and is steeped in the tradition of community lawyering in North Brooklyn. The staff at CoRe have represented hundreds of tenant associations and thousands of individual tenants to stop displacement, keep people in their homes, and maintain the dignity of tenants through resistance.

Yadira Dumet (St. Nicks Alliance community organizer), UNO member, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, Rachel Nager of Communities Resist, Council Member Stephen Levin, and Shekar Krishnan of Communities Resist at the end of a rally to keep the tenants of 196 Huron in their homes.

“We are facing severe cuts despite the fact that demand for our services has more than doubled since the pandemic started in March. On a daily basis, we are receiving frantic calls from neighbors crying out for help,” noted co-founder of CoRe, Shekar Krishnan

CoRe lost $67,000 in City funding the most recent budget. As co-founder of CoRe Shekar Krishnan noted, “We are facing severe cuts despite the fact that demand for our services has more than doubled since the pandemic started in March. On a daily basis, we are receiving frantic calls from neighbors crying out for help.” CoRe is providing regular workshops to educate tenants about the shifting protections for tenants during the pandemic.

CoRe, St. Nicks Alliance, and Los Sures are as committed to the North Brooklyn community as ever, but the ongoing reductions in government funding for their work will strain their capacity to provide the services neighbors need.

Author: The Greenline

Your monthly source for North Brooklyn community news covering Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Currently 13,000 copies are distributed throughout the community free of charge.

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