Mayor Eric Adams wouldn’t immediately commit on Tuesday to the amount of funding that Queens City Council Member Tiffany Cabán is seeking for a new program providing survivors of domestic violence access to low-barrier housing grants that he signed into law.
The program – established through Intro. 153-A – directs the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV) to establish a program that offers micro-grants to survivors of domestic violence that can be put towards paying for housing, medical and legal expenses.
“This first in the nation piece of legislation, put forth by a city,” Cabán said. “This grant program, this low-barrier, life-saving and urgently accessible grant program will directly address one of the most significant barriers survivors face in leaving dangerous situations.”
“But all of this only happens if the program is fully funded,” Cabán added.
While giving remarks at the bill signing ceremony Tuesday morning, Cabán estimated that in order for the program to be successful, the city would have to pour a minimum of $3 million into it. Cabán said she based her rough estimate off of a previous ENDGBV grant program launched at the start of the pandemic that distributed nearly $500,000 to 377 individual survivors over two months, which comes out to $3 million annually.
“At the start of the pandemic [they] distributed almost $500,000 to 377 unique survivors in just two months,” Caban said. “And so, by that math, for one year of effective programming, we should put a minimum $3 million into this fund.”
But Adams didn’t commit to the $3 million sum Cabán called for, in response to a reporter’s question. He said there will be negotiations between his office and the City Council over how much funding the program will get, but that it’s in the hands of his Budget Director Jaques Jiha to determine how much money the program will get.
“Anytime the council and the mayor’s office, we sit down and we use the budgetary process to determine how we allocate funding,” Adams said. “We have a great partnership with them on items like this that we agree on, so we’re going to identify the dollars to make it happen.”
But “it’s not up to me,” he added. “I’ve got a budget director. The speaker (Council Speaker Adrienne Adams), she has her budget team. They’re going to sit down and hash that out.”
The mayor’s comments come as his administration sent a letter to city agencies Monday calling for them to make further spending cuts, including eliminating half of the empty positions at city agencies that weren’t filled as of Oct. 31 and saying the mayor’s office won’t be allocating funds for new agency programs.
Adams also signed Intro 154-A, a bill requiring ENDGBV to create an online portal and written resource guide for survivors of domestic violence.
“These bills will save lives,” Cabán said. “The online portal and written resource guide available in all major languages, and in Braille, will make it much more likely that survivors will know about, and take advantage of, the life saving programs that are already available.”