The recent adoption of the $98.7 billion FY22 budget for the City of New York marked the turning of a page to focus on the many new facets of a post-pandemic era. An unprecedented $6 billion in federal stimulus funding was added to support what was labeled “The Recovery Budget,” while citywide economic renewal and stability for those surviving in the margins remained central to the City’s messaging. The administration’s rhetoric, however, failed once again to align with investments ultimately made in support of the human services sector.
Despite being identified as “essential” and relied upon to navigate a public health crisis with too few resources, as well as limited coordination and support from City government, the human services workforce – comprised overwhelmingly of people of color and women – did not receive the critical investments required to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers and restore communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This budget is stark reminder of the historical and deeply troubling partition between city government and the human services sector – whose public purpose is ironically the same. Further, it is antithetical to the equitable revival of our City, puts the next Mayor at a significant disadvantage to reshape the City’s relationship with a sector that, for over a century, has always uplifted those too often left behind, and harms a workforce that has consistently sacrificed for the greater good.