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STATEMENT: 2024 Executive Budget

Alex Dery Snider January 18, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Alex Dery Snider, 202.641.5124

 

Empire Justice Statement on the 2024 New York State Budget

 

January 18, 2024 

 

Empire Justice Center President and CEO Kristin Brown offered the following statement on the Executive Budget. 

“Empire Justice Center applauds Governor Hochul on crafting a thoughtful budget while facing a significant revenue deficit, with two glaring omissions. In particular, we are incredibly grateful to the Governor for her support of services to crime victims through the inclusion of a multi-year commitment of funding to support victim assistance programs through the Office of Victim Services.  At the same time, we are deeply disappointed that the Governor did not include any funds for foreclosure prevention in the budget. Advocates with the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) have helped over 130,000 New Yorkers avoid foreclosure. We urge the Governor to include funds for HOPP in her 30-day amendments. 

Federal VOCA funds, which support the Office of Victims Services grants for Victim Assistance programs, are not being generated at the levels necessary to support the services crime victims need. We need a federal solution for that. In the meantime, we are grateful that Governor Hochul and New York state will not let victims down. These funds support legal services that help domestic violence victims rebuild their lives, including obtaining divorces and orders of protection, secure the safety and custody of their children, legally terminate joint leases, and assisting in maintaining employment while victims address their immediate needs.   

Additionally, Empire Justice Center appreciates continuation of funding for important programs that provide legal assistance to low-income New Yorkers like the Disability Advocacy Program, Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program, and Community Health Advocates. We look forward to working with the legislature to increase the level of funding for these important critical services.  

Empire Justice also applauds Governor Hochul for delivering on her promise to modernize New York’s consumer protection law, including banning unfair and abusive business conduct. We look forward to working with the governor, the attorney general’s office, and the legislature to enact even strong consumer protections in the final budget. 

We note that the executive budget does not include long-overdue increases in the completely inadequate public assistance grants. The Basic Needs Allowance, which has not been updated since 2012, was intended to pay for necessities like clothing, hygiene products, and transportation. The Shelter Allowance, which has not been updated since 2003 for families with children and since 1988 for households without children, is so low that most New Yorkers who rely on public assistance live on the edge of homelessness month after month. New York must  increase the grants that support low-income New Yorkers to a level that stabilizes families.  

Finally, Empire Justice Center is deeply concerned about the omission of the Homeowner Protection Program from the executive budget. Given the governor’s focus on housing and deed theft, we are do not understand the omission of funding for the only program in New York state that preserves existing homeownership – at a time when New Yorkers across the state face foreclosure and a housing affordability crisis. Eliminating HOPP would be devastating for struggling homeowners and their communities, especially Black and Brown communities that are historically targeted for predatory lending. 

Any comprehensive housing proposal must include efforts to retain New York homeowners. We respectfully ask Governor Hochul to restore funding in a 30-day amendment and to ensure full funding of $40 million in the final budget to support this crucial program.”