Reporting Stan Brooks
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Demonstrators chanted “put it back” Thursday morning as they gathered on the steps of City Hall protesting cuts of $300 million to social service programs set forth in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s preliminary budget proposal.
“We’re here because we need help,” Nicole Rizzo, a single mother, said. “I didn’t do anything wrong, I didn’t steal anybody’s food, I didn’t go to jail. My situation in life happened, the recession happened, look at me – this means that losing everything could be for anybody.”
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Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and council members pledged to fight to restore the funds warning that the cuts take away critical resources to help children and the homeless.
Shawn Thomas said she received a letter from the Administration of Child Services last month stating that in September, due to service cuts, her seven children will no longer be able to attend child care.
“I can’t go to work if my daughters and sons have nowhere safe to go during the day,” Thomas said. “I can’t take my child to work with me and I won’t be able to afford food and rent if I don’t have a job.”
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Annabel Palma, Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on General Welfare, called the cuts an “assault on our working families and our most vulnerable citizens.”
“These cuts are atrocious, these cuts dig into the core of what we need to do as New Yorkers to survive,” Palma said. “We need shelter, we need to make sure that our families are kept safe…The cuts to child care are devastating.”
She warned that the cuts could cost lives and promised an all out fight.
Ianthe Cupid, of Brooklyn, acknowledges that ACS Homemaking Services have been vital to keeping her family together.
“I used to work as a school bus driver, but have been unable to work since losing my leg in an accident about two years ago,” said Cupid. “Since the accident, I’ve had trouble getting around and caring for my three children, forcing me to rely on ACS Homemaking Services. If these cuts go through and I lose my Homemaker, I don’t know how I’ll be able to care for my kids.”
Under the proposed budget plan, ACS would be forced to close 197 classrooms and eliminate 2,800 family provider slots.
The Department of Homeless Services and the HIV/AIDS Services Administration will also lose several programs and millions in funds according to the preliminary budget proposal.
Student, labor and community groups were to hold a “State Of Emergency Protest: Day Of Rage Against The Cuts” rally Thursday afternoon outside City Hall.