Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
Poor in Wealthy Neighborhoods Miss Out on Services: Report
Monday, April 16, 2012
As the city targets where to keep subsidized child care and after school programs, public housing developments in wealthy neighborhoods are getting overlooked, according to a report by United Neighborhood Houses.
The report estimates 77,000 public housing residents are living in what the city has deemed as low-need areas for subsidized child care and after school programs. The developments in wealthy districts include the Eliot Houses in Chelsea and the Amsterdam Houses near Lincoln Center.
“We're talking about subsidized childcare and subsidized after school [programs]. They cannot afford to pay market rate for these services even if they happen to be living in a wealthy area,” said Nancy Wackstein, executive director of United Neighborhood Houses. The group advocates for settlement houses which hold some city contracts for after school and child care programs.
Wackstein argues that someone living in public housing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is just as needy as someone living in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
The city is slated to cut 8,200 childcare subsidies and 24,000 — or nearly half of all —after school slots in fiscal year 2013.
Last year, funding was restored at the last minute for many programs.
Wackstein said this year the dimensions of the problem are much larger, especially when it comes to after school programs.
The Administration for Children’s Services, which oversees the city’s subsidized child care, said in a written statement that its priority is to place subsidized child care where most low-income families live making it easily accessible for them. The agency said beyond looking at child poverty rates in an area, it also considered concentrations of subsidized housing.
The Department of Youth and Community Development said when deciding where to fund after school programs, it considers data on youth in poverty, as well as the number of non-English speakers. The agency said 30 percent of funding would still go to neighborhoods deemed as low priority.