By Rebecca Henely
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s (D-Sunnyside) $556,000 in discretionary funding this year largely went to nonprofits that provide a wide range of services, although some money went to public housing associations, LGBT groups and a private park.
“State and federal funding in some cases has been decreased or dried up entirely, and they really need this funding to stay open to keep providing the services that they do,” Van Bramer said of his recipients.
Most of the councilman’s funding went to nonprofits which provide across-the-board services. The largest recipient was the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House Inc., which got $70,250 in two grants to provide after-school and summer programs for kids and healthy meals, exercise and health education for seniors.
Other recipients to receive large amounts of Van Bramer’s funds provide similar services. Sunnyside Community Services Center got $40,000 for education programs for children and adults, as well as an internship program and a community center in Elmhurst.
The YMCA, which has a Long Island City location, received $50,714 for a baseball program for 4-to-14-year-olds similar to Little League. The East River Development Alliance got $36,975 to provide services to teens and seniors in public housing. Samaritan Village Inc., which is in Briarwood and runs the Woodside Senior Center, received $36,050 for physical exercise programs, day trips and food at the center.
“Senior centers are obviously very, very important,” Van Bramer said.
The Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce also received $39,500 for a graffiti-cleaning program the chamber runs via a hotline through the councilman’s office.
Van Bramer also gave funds to associations based around the public housing in his district, giving $10,000 each to Queensbridge Tenants’ Association, Ravenswood Residents Association and the Woodside Houses Tenants Association.
“I’m proud to support all the residents associations and the tenants associations because those organizations allow those residents of public housing to have a voice,” Van Bramer said.
The money that Van Bramer sent out-of-district tended to go to LGBT groups. Astoria’s Queens Community House received $7,857 for its LGBTQ youth center, Manhattan’s Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders received $5,000 and Jackson Heights’ Make the Road New York got $5,000 for an anti-discrimination project. The councilman said that while these services were out of his district, they serve those in the district.
Friends of Sunnyside Gardens Park received $47,600 of Van Bramer’s funds for operating its private park. Van Bramer’s office said that despite being private, the park is often open to the public and $2.4 million has been given to public parks across the city this year.
Van Bramer said this year’s budget was a tough one.
“No budget is ever perfect,” the councilman said, “but it was a budget that protected the core vital services of the city.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.