NYC Council uses $1.2M in leftover youth agency cash to launch migrant aid fund — without involving Mayor Adams
City Council leaders announced Wednesday they will use $1.2 million in leftover youth development funding to launch a migrant aid initiative — without involvement from Mayor Adams’ team.
The cash was earmarked in this fiscal year’s city budget for the Youth and Community Development Department, which invests in nonprofit organizations and programs that provide work and educational opportunities for low-income New Yorkers.
With just four months left in the fiscal year, the $1.2 million remains unspent, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens) said at a Wednesday news conference.
The Council will divert the dough to launch “Welcome NYC,” a program designed to funnel money into nonprofits providing a range of services for recently arrived asylum seekers, she said.
“The Council saw an opportunity to shift this funding to support organizations that are on the ground, that have been on the ground for months and months and months,” said the speaker, who was joined by several Council members and nonprofit reps.
The Council’s contribution will be paired with a $1 million investment from philanthropic organizations, including the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust, for a total price tag of $2.2 million, according to the speaker’s office.
Adams, who’s not related to the mayor, stressed that while the money is being reallocated to help migrants specifically, it will be spent on efforts in line with “its original purpose.” That covers “workforce development, literacy services, mentoring programs, youth leadership, food services, social and educational programs,” she said.
The news conference was not attended by anyone from Mayor Adams’ administration, which has shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars so far on housing and providing services for the more than 47,000 migrants, most of them Latin Americans, who have arrived in the city since last spring.
The “Welcome NYC” launch also comes amid friction between the mayor, a Democrat, and the Council over how the city’s migrant crisis should be handled.
Some of the Council’s progressive members, including Immigration Committee Chairwoman Shahana Hanif (D-Brooklyn), have accused the administration of treating migrants in an “inhumane” way by housing them in tent-style facilities instead of hotels and not providing enough amenities, like cell phones and MetroCards.
Pushing back against those Council members, the mayor told the Daily News Editorial Board in December that they should use their own discretionary funds — money they’re allotted each year for community initiatives in their districts — to bankroll such services for migrants. “Give us half of your member items,” the mayor said at the time.
Asked if she consulted with the administration before Wednesday’s budgetary shuffle, Speaker Adams would only say, “We definitely are plugged into the administration as we are with all budget items.”
But she added, “This is an announcement by the New York City Council. This is our initiative.”
Spokesmen for the mayor did not immediately return a request for comment.
The funding switch didn’t need to involve the mayor’s side because the money in question came from the Council’s own allocations in the 2023 fiscal year budget, Council Finance Committee Chairman Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) said after the news conference.
“It’s got nothing to do with them,” he told The News. “We don’t need their permission to do it.”
The Council plans to pass a resolution Thursday that officially reallocates the $1.2 million for migrant-related services.
An unofficial breakdown provided by the speaker’s office shows that the largest chunk of the Council’s funding, $420,000, will be earmarked for nonprofits providing “literacy services” for migrants.
Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, which includes groups that will benefit from “Welcome NYC,” said the initiative poses “an amazing opportunity for a lot of organizations that have been doing the work day in and day out.”
“It’s been eight months at this point where this work has been done and continues, and for the most part has been sustained by community-based organizations with virtually very little support,” Awawdeh said.