Trump’s budget plan could hurt LGBT community in Queens

Congresswoman Grace Meng held a roundtable with borough representatives that stand to lose federal funds.
Photo by Gina Martinez
By Gina Martinez

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) held a round-table discussion last Friday to discuss the negative effect President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts would have on Queens. Meng hosted a wide array of non-profit organizations that stand to lose funding under Trump’s budget plan that was announced March 16.

According to participants in the round table at Meng’s offices, housing, education, FEMA and the arts stand to lose millions.

Meng said the budget that vows to put Americans first actually puts them last.

“The plan guts critical funding from virtually all federal agencies,” she said, “and eliminates many important federal programs — cuts that stand to impact Queens. I will do everything in my power to combat these devastating cuts.”

Shelby Chestnut, director of community organizing and public advocacy at the Anti-Violence Project, works citywide with LGBT survivors who experience domestic violence and hate crime violence.

“People are terrified and people are in real need of services at the moment,” Chestnut said. “Many domestic violence services are set to lose millions of dollars and lose the ability to serve some of the most vulnerable populations, many of whom are in Queens. Domestic violence survivors oftentimes don’t report domestic violence.”

Chestnut said because Queens has such a large immigration population, people often do not call the police out of fear of deportation.

“It’s vital we have these services in place to ensure people are safe in their communities. We fear well see an increase in violence.”

David Strauss, deputy director of the Queens Museum, said the museum stands to lose $400,000 a year in funding and grants. Strauss said community-based programs like virtual museum tours for seniors and art therapy programs for children with special needs would be cut.

“These funds allow us to put on art exhibitions that help all New Yorkers understand their world in a different light,” Strauss said. “Also from an economic standpoint, it translates to lost jobs. I’ve heard the president say ‘Put America back to work again.’ Well, these are people that are going to get laid off in addition to the direct services that are going to be canceled.”

Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, said that Trump’s proposed budget cuts would translate into significant losses in funding for Asian-serving social service agencies, which rely on federal funding to provide critical resources for low-income Asian immigrants.

“These cuts will mean that social services for Asian New Yorkers, which are already drastically underfunded, will become scarcer, putting that much more strain on our member agencies to try to meet the needs of all the clients who walk through their doors.” Yoo said.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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