Posted on July 26, 2011
Kenneth J. Dudek
President, Fountain House
Fountain House just received a large cut in funding from New York State and New York City. Across the board, the government people said that it’s not because the affected project isn’t necessary, and it’s not because the dedicated staff aren’t doing a good job. These are the times we live in; everyone is getting cut.
Well, not all cuts are created equal.
To begin, the people at the state level, operating at 40,000 feet, decided certain categories should be protected - housing support, peer programs, case management, and a few others services. Seems reasonable enough, right? Then they referred further decision to the people at 20,000 feet - mental health officials in the city.
With the view from 20,000 feet, this group said, “We need to preserve certain things, like our jobs. What’s left?” They came across a contract called Outreach. Though not exactly sure what Outreach encompassed, it wasn’t a category protected by the people at 40,000 feet, so they cut it.
But that contract is $371,000 - 15% of the $2.5 million that the state handed down for mental health cuts throughout the whole city, which is a very large blow for one little program. So down on the ground, six people will lose their jobs, and 140 people living in the community will go without housing support.
You may be thinking, “Wait! Did you say housing support? Isn’t that one of the protected categories?” And the answer is yes, but the program is identified as Outreach, because New York City doesn’t have a category for housing support.
The moral of the story is that messages get muddled and good people get hurt when decision makers’ views are clouded by great heights.