Non-profit organizations and state lawmakers on Wednesday urged New York officials to release $2 billion in federal aid held in the state's Coronavirus Relief Fund amid growing hunger and financial troubles.
The money, approved as part of the federal CARES Act stimulus legislation, is meant to give a boost to non-profit service providers during the pandemic. The groups provide support services for hunger, homelessness, and other problems that have grown amid the crisis.
There are nearly 1,900 non-profit organizations that are at risk of going out of business due to the pandemic, one of the highest rates in the country, lawmakers said.
"New York State must release the more than $2 billion remaining from the CARES Act to fund critical services and programs,” said Sen. Roxanne Persaud, the chairwoman of the Senate Social Services Committee.
“New Yorkers are in crisis. Our communities are in crisis. We are struggling like never before and the time is now to release that money.”
The pandemic has created significant stresses for non-profit entities: 1.6 million jobs in the sector have been lost between March and May this year. More than two million people in New York have deemed food insecure, many of them people of color. More than 700 child care providers have closed permanently during the 28-week period between April 3 and Oct. 28 across the state.
"The challenges facing our nonprofit service providers have grown exponentially since the pandemic began, with thousands of nonprofits already laying off staff, cutting services, and many shutting their doors permanently," said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi. "Our state must use the remaining billions from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to save this sector."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration in a statement blamed the federal government.
“The Federal government has failed to provide New York and other states impacted by COVID-19 with assistance to offset any of the resulting revenue loss and we agree with the legislature’s frustration with the Federal government’s failure to act," said Division of Budget spokesman Freeman Klopott.
"The State has a $14.5 billion revenue shortfall this year alone, and the funds provided by the Federal government can only be used for narrowly defined COVID-related costs. The State will spend every dollar on eligible costs related to the pandemic response, including personal protective equipment, the MTA, testing statewide, and contact tracing. Their time would be better spent joining the fight for Federal aid.”