Column | Budget season is upon us — what city funding provides for our communities

marjorie Velazquez
Participatory Budgeting will be returning to Council District 13 this year. Voting will take place between Saturday, March 25, and Saturday, April 2.
Photo courtesy New York City Council

Every year, community based nonprofit organizations across New York City submit their applications for a chance to receive funding from the New York City Council. With a wide range of needs in each district, this is a perfect opportunity for elected officials to invest in critical resources and services that support their individual communities. Through the budget process, we are able to offer a myriad of services, from youth programming to neighborhood beautification projects to supporting local senior centers, and this year is no different. 

As a councilmember, I have the privilege of partnering with different organizations to increase the resources available to our community. Through organizations like Albanian Open Hands, our seniors have access to meal delivery, narrowing the food insecurity gap, while organizations like R.A.I.N. Total Care, provide a plethora of services, including transportation between residents’ homes and medical appointments.

We must also remember our youth, who have gained access to several programs for improved STEM resources, extracurricular activities and more. Organizations like Bronx House, New York City H2O, Hispanic Federation and Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club to bridge the gap, ensuring our youth have access to programming that supports their social and educational development while also allowing them to become leaders in their own right. This is truly a time to put money back into our community, not only to support those in need but to invest in our future. 

Throughout New York City, many of our health care centers are in need of life-changing equipment and resources, which is why I prioritized bridging the health care equity gap here in the Bronx. Last year, I secured more than $10 million for Jacobi Hospital to upgrade its hyperbaric chamber, ultrasound and echocardiography ultrasound machines. For far too long, the Bronx has been left behind when it comes to health care and life sciences, but not anymore. The budget is more than just community events and programs; it ensures that critical, life-saving equipment is available right here when needed. 

During this year’s budget season, my staff and I have met with organizations that have been a part of District 13 in the past while also exploring newer organizations that are eager to serve our community. One organization we’ve worked with, ACE Programs for the Homeless, has done a phenomenal job at removing thousands of pounds of trash across the district. They will be expanding their route to ensure our community gets clean and remains clean, and with the addition of new trash cans, we will continue to see a difference. 

This year I’m happy to share that Participatory Budgeting will be returning to my community and others across our city. During the next week, community members, including our youth ages 11 and up, will vote on several in their respective districts. To learn more about the projects on the ballot in your community, contact your local councilmember for more information. In the meantime, be sure to vote between Saturday, March 25, and Saturday, April 2.

For those residing in Council District 13, you can expect to vote on projects like adding more NYPD security cameras, repaving pedestrian pathways in Pelham Bay Park, street tree planting, technology upgrades at local libraries, building a hydroponic science lab at PS 392 Bronx Delta School, an accessibility project at New York Public Library at Pelham Parkway-Van Nest and facility upgrades at the New York Public Library in Throggs Neck.

I encourage you all to take advantage of the amazing resources available in your communities. From food pantries and holiday meal giveaways to school supply giveaways and critical services for our seniors, our community has the ability to thrive like never before. In my first year in office, I was able to secure a historic amount of funding, and hope to continue that effort this year.

Marjorie Velázquez is the councilmember who represents City Council District 13.

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