The Bronx’s Slow Burn: NYC Budget Cuts Fall on the Most Vulnerable
New York City is not unique in the fact that it’s facing severe budget cuts. In the face of a debt overhang of $112 billion in states across the nation, cities are getting less and less financial support from their capitals. That means mayors have to consider slashing spending where they can. But many have protested Mayor Bloomberg’s cuts in New York as falling on those who are already the most vulnerable. And with a new Google map of where the budget cuts will fall, it’s clear to see that the Bronx is taking more than its share of pain.
The Bronx is already struggling economically. It has a sky-high poverty rate: 28.5% of its residents live below the poverty level, compared to 14.2% of residents in New York State overall. That’s the highest rate for any urban area in the country. It also has the highest unemployment rate in the state, standing at 12.7%. An area like that could use programs that help put people to work, educate the youngest generation so they can get jobs and invest in youth unemployment programs, and take care of those who are struggling to survive.
But that’s not how budget cuts are going to play out. The area is slated to lose 20,166 youth employment slots, leaving those kids without a way to learn skills over the summer. Eleven childcare centers will shut their doors, denying parents the care their children need while they job hunt or try to maintain a job. The area will lose five senior centers, which will put into question the care they normally receive, potentially landing them back into the care of struggling families — or out on the street. And 14 Out of School Time programs will be closed down, which give children a safe place to be after school while parents work or look for a job.
The elderly, the young, the struggling, and the unemployed will be hardest hit by these budget cuts, even though they had nothing to do with creating the mess. Looking at the map, the wealthy area of the Upper West Side of Manhattan appears to coast by almost completely unscathed. The Financial District, home to Wall Street and the source of our economic troubles, isn’t slated to lose any programs. If budget cuts must be made, why should they fall on those who can least afford it?