Empire Justice Center 2017 State Budget Priorities

Kristin Brown, Eòghann Renfroe February 24, 2017

Promoting Strength, Protecting Justice

As New Yorkers, we unite around the concepts of liberty, equality and opportunity.  Now we face the most significant shift in policy perspective at the federal level that’s been seen in a generation, but opportunities for New York to uphold our shared values are everywhere.  In 2017, Empire Justice Center’s top priorities will be focused on identifying and fostering ways to strengthen New York’s laws, our communities, and each other, to protect justice for ALL New Yorkers.

FORECLOSURE PREVENTION: New York communities are still in crisis.  With nearly 34,000 new filings in 2016, and 72,000 pending foreclosure cases in our courts, foreclosures comprise 26% of the Super Court’s civil caseload.  Without intervention, many foreclosures become zombie properties adding to the vacant and abandoned building problem in our state.  Funding for the Foreclosure Prevention Services Network, comprised of 94 non-profit housing counseling and legal services providing direct services to homeowners in default and foreclosure ends September 30, 2017, putting families, homes, communities, and 545 jobs at risk.
ASK: Fund the Foreclosure Prevention Services Network in the HCR budget. Executive Budget: $0   Legislative Request: a total of $30M for two years.

COMMUNITY HEALTH ADVOCATES (CHA): Sorting through the complexities of health insurance coverage and figuring out how to access needed health care is often daunting. Since 2010 CHA has helped regular New Yorkers navigate those challenges, get the treatment they need, and get it covered.  With shifting health care priorities at the federal level, CHA is needed more than ever to help guide consumers through the changing health care landscape and make sure they are able to access and understand new programs as they emerge.
ASK: Include an overall $1.5M increase over last year in the Enacted Budget for a total of $4.75M. Executive Budget: $2.5M   Legislative Request: $1.75M.

DISABILITY ADVOCACY PROGRAM (DAP): Disabled New Yorkers who are low income are stronger and better able to manage their disabilities when their income is stable. DAP helps people access federal disability benefits when they are denied or terminated.  As a bonus, New York’s state and local governments also share the more than $1 billion in federal dollars leveraged over the history of the program.
ASK: Maintain level funding of $8.26M in the final budget. Executive Budget: $5.26M   Legislative Request: $3M

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS: New York was built by immigrants and its economy, both upstate and downstate, continues to be powered by the vigor and innovation of new Americans.
We must continue to invest in legal services for immigrants, and make sure that immigrants have proper representation by expanding the scope of services from the Office for New Americans (ONA), and make sure the valuable contributions that immigrants make to communities across New York are preserved.
ASK: Expand the state’s investment in immigrant representation by increasing funding for legal assistance through the Office for New Americans to a total of $30M.

CHILD CARE: For working families, affordable child care is indispensable.  Low income working parents require financial assistance to meet the cost, which can be more expensive than rent for many families. Yet only 17% of eligible children receive child care subsidies as New York has reduced the number of children served in order to try and cover rising costs.  Reliable, high quality child care means that the developmental needs of New York’s children are being addressed and results in higher productivity at work as parents are not forced to take unplanned absences, or leave their jobs altogether, in order to make sure their children receive safe and proper care.
ASK: Invest $100 million (in addition to current $805.9 million) to restore subsidies lost by escalating costs, and increase the number of children served.

HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION: Homelessness is an epidemic in New York State, causing harm to families, undermining children’s success in school and costing taxpayers far more than it would to invest in keeping those on public assistance in their homes. Home Stability Support (HSS) would create a statewide housing supplement program to bridge the gap between the existing shelter allowance and 85% of the fair market rent for those facing homelessness, experiencing domestic violence or living in hazardous housing conditions. Importantly, it would also provide a heating differential for those whose heat is not included in the rent.
ASK: Support including HSS in the enacted state budget.

CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES: Equal access to justice is a core value that New Yorkers share.  Civil legal services are essential to ensuring that low income New Yorkers have that access with the necessities of everyday life – housing, safety, public benefits, and civil rights.
ASK: Expand and stabilize the delivery of quality civil legal assistance by supporting:

  • The Office of Court Administration proposed funding for civil legal services.
  • Maintaining Legislative Funding for civil legal services and legal assistance for DV victims from the Legal Services Assistance Fund. 

COMMUNITY BASED LONG TERM CARE: New Yorkers in need of home care are finding it increasingly difficult to secure aides to provide this care due to a growing aide shortage. Relatedly, many home care workers are encountering low pay, wage theft, irregular working hours, and other obstacles that are turning workers away from the industry and contributing to the shortage. As a result of this shortage, New Yorkers who need home care are at an increased risk of being forced into institutionalization, which is both more costly to the State and contrary to its stated commitment to community integration for every New Yorker.
ASK: Develop and implement short and long term solutions to the aid shortage that address both the needs of home care recipients and of home care workers.

MANAGED CARE CONSUMER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (MCCAP): Low income senior citizens and people with disabilities often need help when they encounter problems with Medicare and related programs.  MCCAP provides this critical assistance, while reducing out of pocket costs and maximizing federal prescription drug benefits.
ASK: Fund MCCAP for a total of $1.962 million. Executive Budget: $1.767 million  Legislative Request: $195,000

For more information:
Kristin Brown
(518) 852-5766

Eòghann Renfroe
(518) 935-2856