Last week the NYC Council voted to adopt a budget for Fiscal Year 2021 that made deep cuts in NYC government. The NYC Department of Veterans' Services was cut, as was the amount of discretionary funding for veteran-serving nonprofits provided by NYC Council members. Here is what happened:
Last year's adopted budget for NYC DVS was $5.36 million. The adopted 2021 budget for DVS is $4.2 million, a reduction of approximately 22% from last year's adopted budget of $5.36 million. The agency's personnel headcount has been reduced by 5 positions.
This is concerning for many reasons; among them:
1) DVS is just now transitioning to having the capability of processing VA claims for veterans and representing veterans in those claims. This has not been an agency function until staff were recently VA accredited to perform this as an official function. Reducing the budget now has the potential to disrupt this needed growth and functioning for the veterans community, which has seen a reduced capacity in VSOs providing this service to veterans
2) DVS's vital function of coordinating rapid rehousing and assistance for homeless veterans and those at risk for homelessness may be strained or jeopardized. From 2018 to 2019, veteran homelessness increased by 13% in NYC even as other areas of the state and country continued to see declines. Progress in solving veteran homelessness is fragile and needs to remain fully resourced--especially as masses of veterans and families in NYC are contending with job loss, unpaid bills and debts, and landlords who may force them out if government protections for tenants fail.
Incoming revenue for DVS has also decreased. The amount provided to DVS by New York State has been reduced to $327,442, a reduction of 21% from the $415k originally budgeted. Also, a grant from the VA for adaptive sports programs was cut by $19k.
Discretionary funding by the NYC Council was reduced overall by 19% in the new budget, to include amounts provided by individual Council Members to community organizations providing services to veterans. The Speaker's program dedicated to veterans' services for FY 2021 is $2.73 million, representing only a 5% reduction from last year's amount, which was $2.87 million. These funds are dedicated to homelessness prevention services, job placements services, legal services, mental health services, and veterans community development.
Funding in previous years is listed HERE; we will update this page reflecting FY 2021 amounts soon.