The New York City council announced Thursday morning that it had reached an agreement with the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg that would restore $35 million in proposed budget cuts, including devastating reductions for runaway and homeless LGBTQ youth services.
According to a council news release, "The Council proposed alternative cuts and sources of savings in order to pay for its proposed restorations. Together, the alternative cuts and identified savings achieve the Council's goal of reducing spending while preventing cuts to programs that serve New York City's most vulnerable groups."
The release cited a period of "extensive negotiations" between city council speaker Christine Quinn, finance committee chairman Domenic Recchia Jr., and the Bloomberg administration.
The restorations prevent mid-year cuts to runaway and homeless youth programs in the Department of Youth and Community Development that would have halved the funding for street outreach and drop-in centers for LGBTQ youths. The agency had proposed reducing expenditures for runaway and homeless youth services by $969,407 in the current 2011 fiscal year and by an additional $700,000 in fiscal year 2012.
Advocates learned of the proposed cuts in an e-mail the day after Thanksgiving, sparking protest over the suddenness and severity of the proposals. As many as 40% of the estimated 3,800 runaway and homeless youths in the city are believed to be LGBTQ, a statistic that prompted Mayor Bloomberg to appoint a commission to study the issue last year. The commission found needs for expanded drop-in center hours and street outreach, or exactly what the city had proposed to cut.
Earlier this week, Carl Siciliano, the executive director of the Ali Forney Center, which serves homeless LGBTQ youths, issued a statement criticizing Mayor Bloomberg for an "It Gets Better" video in which he welcomed LGBTQ youths to New York City while his administration proposed the severe cuts.
Siciliano released a statement Thursday morning in which he thanked the city council, advocates, and homeless youths for the collective effort to restore the funding.
"Today is a great day for the homeless LGBT youth of our city, and for the LGBT community," he said. "The cuts to street outreach and drop-in centers would have been catastrophic. But the fight is not truly over until there are safe beds for the 3,800 youth who are without shelter every night in our city."