City budget offers road to recovery in Queens neighborhoods most impacted during COVID-19 pandemic

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Councilman Daniel Dromm oversaw his final city budget negotiations as Finance Committee Chair. (Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

When Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council agreed to a historic $98.7 billion budget — the largest in city history — it restored funding to agencies like the Sanitation Department, the Parks Department, cultural institutions and public libraries.

The budget includes more than $426 million in citywide initiatives that allowed the council to not only restore programs to pre-pandemic levels, but also launch new initiatives and increase support for key programs in areas such as alternatives to incarceration, housing, foreclosure prevention, senior services, community development and help for small businesses.

“I’m very proud of this budget and what it will do to help NYC recover from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “This budget will help fortify our health care systems and allow our local nonprofits to continue serving those in need.”

Dromm represents two of the hardest hit neighborhoods of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst and he oversaw the budget negotiations as the chair of the Council’s Finance Committee.

“I am also proud of the funding I was able to secure in the budget for LGBTQ organizations which for years have been overlooked and underfunded,” Dromm said. “Most importantly, we put $500 million in the new Rainy Day Fund to offset any future crisis.”

Dromm, who is term-limited, took a moment to acknowledge that this will be his last budget as finance chair and thanked Speaker Corey Johnson for “all the faith” he placed on him.

Councilwoman Adrienne Adams secured key investments for schools, parks, public safety, social services, youth and senior programming in her southeast Queens district.

“With New York City on the road to recovery, the City Council passed a historic budget with significant investments that will help New Yorkers get back to work, live in safer and cleaner neighborhoods, and receive the programming and services they need to thrive,” Adams said. “I am incredibly proud to have secured over $26 million in capital funding for critical projects in District 28, a remarkable win for our community and all of the residents, youth and seniors who will benefit from these investments.”

Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers was especially proud to pass her first budget as a member of the City Council representing Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and the Rockaways.

“COVID-19 unleashed both a public health crisis and a fiscal crisis, which required the city to make many serious and painful cuts. Our vital service providers operated on shoestring budgets, and our communities had to fight to survive with minimal support,” Brooks-Powers said. “This budget makes significant investments towards gun violence prevention, senior services, education equity and small business revitalization.”

While celebrating the investments in the 31st District, Brooks-Powers also set a cautionary tone.

“The pandemic is not over, and its continued effect on our health and economic stability varies widely across neighborhoods. There is still much work to be done,” Brooks-Powers said. “Even after this budget is enacted, we need to ensure that its program funding is distributed equitably, to make meaningful and targeted impacts in the communities that need it most. Outer-borough communities and communities of color have faced consistent disadvantages in terms of job opportunity, health care access, safe streets, and those inequities have only been widened in recent years. Our district has some of the lowest vaccination rates in New York state. I look forward to overseeing that process and fighting for fairness.”

As New York’s local economy slowly rebounds from the pandemic, the budget will support small businesses in low and moderate-income neighborhoods with $100 million in rental assistance and grants.

“The past year has been devastating for small businesses in Queens. As our city gets back to normal and New Yorkers return to their pre-pandemic routines, it is important to remember that many small businesses that survived COVID are still hanging on by a thread,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Grech said. “These businesses add character to our neighborhoods and create jobs and opportunity in every community in our city. We look forward to continuing to work with our government leaders to ensure that we continue to support our small business community.”