Budget cuts hurt Bronx social service agencies

The Jewish Community Council, a social service organization which operates sites throughout the borough, serving thousands of Bronxites last year, will likely need to eliminate many vital services and programs if city budget cuts go through. 

The Extended Service Programs funded through the NYC Department for the Aging were taken out of the mayor’s recent budget plan that starts July 1, while other city programs received a 3% reduction in funding.

Since 1973, ESP has funded five Jewish Community Council sites in the borough that serve less-fortunate, elderly Bronxites.

The organization receives contracts for social services obtained through the city’s standard competitive process. Past positive performance has led to contract renewals over the years. 

“The mayor’s office is saying that these services are already provided by 311,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca, “but the last time I checked, 311 operators weren’t sitting down with seniors and sorting through past-due bills or reaching out to negligent landlords.”

ESP is a unique city-funding program that provides short-term case assistance, much of it crisis intervention, through its partner organizations.  BJCC claims it’s more cost effective than “full-blown” case management services, which may decide not to accept a client or may overextend resources.

The program leverages hundreds of thousands of dollars from private sources, such as New York Times Neediest Case Funding and UJA-Federation funding, also receiving $351,148 through the Extended Services Program contract.

The program getting hit the hardest will be the food pantry based out of the organization’s 2930 Wallace Avenue office. 

In addition to providing food, counselors can aid clients with a variety of concerns. Staff members make appropriate referrals for client aid to various outside agencies appropriately equipped to deal with unique concerns.  The only kosher pantry in the Bronx, it is open five days a week during regular business hours.

City ESP funds provide for half the funding that contributes to the salaries of the personnel at locations including JCC of Pelham Parkway, at 2157 Holland Avenue; Concourse North Bronx JCC, at 1175 Findlay Avenue; Concourse North Bronx JCC, at 3176 Bainbridge Avenue; Co-op City Jewish Community Council, at 177 Dreiser Loop; and the Bronx Jewish Community Council, Inc. administrative offices at the Pelham Parkway site. 

A representative of the organization stated that with the cuts, at least two of the sites would need to close.

In a letter to City Council speaker Christine Quinn, Brad Silver, MSW, executive vice president of the BJCC, wrote, “Since we have had this contract through the regular (non-discretionary) city contracting processes since 1972, it is a major building block of our operations and will severely impact our capacity to access and administer other philanthropic and government resources currently available to us, as we have continually sought over the years to extend our services to meet the needs of the Bronx through public/private partnerships.”

Vacca contacted the mayor and the speaker in support of the social support programs, whose loss he feels will be a blow to the most needing seniors.

 “Our extended services programs have provided a lifeline to tens of thousands of seniors, and they have done so without breaking the bank,” said Vacca.  “They’re one of the last programs we should be considering cutting.”

Jewish Community Council, Extended Services Program, Department for the Aging, budget cuts, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Bronx Jewish Community Council, food pantry, 311

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