BY JASON COHEN
New Yorkers are outraged that the city axed 75,000 jobs for kids this summer when it cancelled the Summer Youth Employment Program on April 7.
This cost cutting move will save the city $124 million. However, a few days ago, creators of a petition were hoping the administration would change its tune. So far, more than 23,000 people have signed up.
Comptroller Scott Stringer also spoke against the cancellation and sent a letter to the mayor.
“At a time when low-income families across New York City are in crisis, the government needs to use every opportunity it has to put cash directly into the hands of young people and families,” the petition states. “That’s why we are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) this year.”
The government is not sure how long COVID-19 will last and since there still is no cure, they deemed it unsafe to have these jobs start in a couple of months. There is uncertainty over how COVID-19 will continue to affect social distancing guidelines, worksite availability and provider and site staffing.
Since 1963, the Department of Youth and Community Development has sponsored the nation’s largest youth employment program, Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for people ages 14 to 24 with career exploration opportunities and paid work experience. Each employer gains part-time staff without exhausting any revenue
With the recent stimulus package set to provide help for small businesses, the electeds are calling for a “Summer Youth Stimulus Package” to be amended to the budget. The hope is those who had already applied for the summer program will be aided financially, they said.
The pols proposed that the kids receive a one-time payment equal to one-fourth of what they would have earned from working in the Summer Youth Employment Program.
“Families around the city are in financial crisis,” the petition says. “A paid summer job for a young person helps the whole family. If we can shift a 1.1 million student school system to remote learning in a week, we can certainly find a way to offer meaningful summer jobs to a fraction of that number of young people in three months, whether those jobs will be remote or in person.”
Volkan Halilov, SYEP job development supervisor, hopes the city reverses course on this decision.
The Department of Youth and Community Development gave contractors less than 24 hours’ notice to wind down the program after the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services provided assurances that all human service contractors would be paid through the end of the fiscal year.
“We are urging the city to reconsider its decision by opening a dialogue with its SYEP providers to set up programs and options for young people for the summer of 2020 that can operate safely and remotely while still providing the positive effects of SYEP for young people,” Halilov said. “The petition to save SYEP has over 20,000 signatures and has gained traction and gotten the attention of elected officials. The press can help us amplify this movement.”
This story first appeared on bxtimes.com.