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Politics

Gianaris on Contracts for Settlement Houses and Absentee Ballot Reforms

NEW YORK – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced on January 8 that the State of New York is renewing contracts with neighborhood settlement houses, local organizations that provide essential social services in their neighborhoods. Contracts will be renewed for one year, retroactive to September.

“Neighborhood Settlement Houses provide critical services for communities, which is why even in difficult financial times the legislature funds these programs,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “I am pleased the state has agreed to keep these programs up and running and I will continue to fight for the services New York’s neighborhoods need and deserve.”

The state legislature allocated $2.45 million during the FY 20-21 budget, which is administered by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). The funding was slated for 48 different settlement houses across the State. Funding for the Settlement House Program ceased in August 2020, despite the fact it was funded for the full year in the budget. Senator Gianaris wrote to the Governor urging a restoration to these programs.

Programs available at each settlement house may vary with the needs of their neighborhoods, but often include job training, early childhood education, after school programming, arts and cultural events, English language training and citizenship test instruction, and senior services.

Western Queens is home to several such programs, including the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House and Sunnyside Community Services.

Senator Gianaris also on January 8 released the following statement on Governor Cuomo’s announcement he will include some absentee ballot reforms proposed by Senator Gianaris as part of his State of the State agenda:

Gianaris said, "As our Democratic supermajority continues to reform the way elections are run, fixing our latest-in-the-nation vote counting status will go a long way towards restoring faith in election results. I am proud to have authored this important legislation so we are never again still counting votes into the new year."

Senator Gianaris has authored the legislation to enact two of the reforms mentioned by the Governor:

Earlier Counting of Absentee Ballots: S.1027 which would require absentee ballots to be canvassed prior to Election Day with results to be announced after polls close on election night.

Earlier Processing of Absentee Ballot Applications: S.516, which would require absentee ballot applications to be processed and approved faster pursuant to a specific rolling calendar.

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