CNY Human Services Agencies Call on Gov. Cuomo to Allocate Funding for Capital Improvements

Feb 20, 2019

Yusuf Soule with the Northside Learning Center says their building needs many repairs and upgrades that they can't afford with their small $250,000 annual operating budget.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

The dozens of human services agencies that serve the most vulnerable Central New Yorkers are telling Governor Cuomo that they need help, too.  They were joined by a pair of state lawmakers today to call for $100 million to be set aside for infrastructure investment in the state budget.   

Yusuf Soule is with the Northside Learning Center, which is packed every evening with 200 people.

"Many have significant disabilities, many have prosthetics.  There's a man from Syria with no arms or legs and cannot enter the building.  It's built in the '50s style split-level.  You either have to go up or down as you come in."

Soule says they also need to replace their roof and make repairs to their floors.  Assemblymember Pam Hunter spent many years in the human services field before going to Albany, and knows their infrastructure needs firsthand.

"I have been in your buildings, on multiple occasions.  I have worked with you for many many years, and I know what your buildings need.  We're in a crisis."

Fellow assemblymember Al Stirpe agrees.  He would like the Cuomo administration to be more receptive to setting aside money for non-profit capital projects.

"Evey year we go in to talk about funding, we talk about capital, and we all complain that we can't give it to not-for-profits.  Last year, we were promised we were going to be able do that.  It didn't happen." 

Stirpe understands why the Cuomo administration is reluctant to provide funding for operations, but capital improvements are different.  Loretta Zolkowski with the Human Services Leadership Council says the improvements are not only needed, but also present opportunities for contractors and other small businesses. 

"The infrastructure need of the human services non profits here, when we've added it all together amongst our 70 agencies, is estimated to be about $20 to 25 million.  The need is real."

Most buildings need new roofs, parking lots, and heating and cooling equipment, items that most non-profits can’t afford with their small operating budgets.