Safety for LGBTQ Survivors of Violence During COVID-19 Requires Shrinking the NYPD
What Budget Justice for LGBTQ Survivors Looks Like and How to Get There
The combination of the COVID-19 health crisis and police violence against Black people has put many LGBTQ and HIV-affected people, especially Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, at greater risk for infection than the general population, and in even greater financial precarity than times of relative economic prosperity.
The New York City Anti-Violence Project serves low-income LGBTQ and HIV-affected people (including the unhoused and homeless); transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people and youth; undocumented immigrants including those seeking asylum; people of color (including Black and Latinx New Yorkers who have some of the highest COVID-19 related fatalities in the city); individuals who are incarcerated or entangled in the criminal legal system; sex workers; and those at the intersections of these identities.
During this crisis as needs deepen for communities of color, Mayor de Blasio has proposed a budget for New York City that drastically cuts millions of dollars that should go into services and resources for communities of color, while leaving the New York City Police Department (NYPD) virtually untouched.
We know there is a better way forward during this moment of crisis: New York City must defund the NYPD by at least $1 Billion and reinvest that funding in health care, housing, education, and workforce development programs that affirm LGBTQ and HIV-affected people’s sexuality and gender identities.
THE FY21 BUDGET & #NYCBUDGETJUSTICE CAMPAIGN
New York City’s fiscal year for 2021 starts on July 1, 2020 and ends June 30, 2021. The budget will be finalized over the coming week by the City Council, and our communities are fighting to ensure that funds are redistributed from the NYPD to services.
The New York City Anti-Violence Project, as a member of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), is calling for a budget that includes significant cuts to the NYPD’s nearly $6B budget in order to protect and strengthen crucial services, programs and infrastructure the actually keep LGBTQ survivors safe and secure in the COVID-19 crisis.
Black LGBTQ survivors are most affected by state violence and police violence. Black and working class and poor LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of color include people with prior arrests and records, people with unstable immigration status, people who work in illicit street economies for survival, including sex work and those who sell and/or use illegal substances. These LGBTQ people are disproportionately criminalized, arrested, and/or detained. Policing does not create more safety for survivors, but instead, often leads to more trauma and harm.
The uprisings led by Black people and Black LGBTQ people and survivors have created the conditions for a transformative shift in the way we envision safety, and have drawn attention to the ways in which Black communities in particular are under attack by state violence. The City can use this opportunity to invest in real safety for Black LGBTQ communities and LGBTQ communities of color instead of continuing to pour billions into policing and corrections. The City’s budget is a moral document, and those with budgetary power must reflect the priorities of our communities instead of protecting powerful interests and property over people.
As an organization that serves and works to empower LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities, we’ve heard first-hand experiences of the harms of increased policing. The community we serve has historically been profiled and targeted by law enforcement, and we believe in a different approach to create safety, one that doesn’t include policing as the means to achieve safety. We need an adopted budget that prioritizes the safety of all New Yorkers, especially Black LGBTQ survivors of violence, and therefore a budget that defunds the NYPD.
We demand the following cuts, aligned with CPR’s #NYCBudgetJustice Campaign:
- #DefundNYPD by at least $1 billion in the FY21 expense budget – and for those monies to be redirected to core needs in Black, Latinx and other communities of color. This means the following cuts should be considered:
- NYPD hiring freeze – Many City agencies are facing hiring freezes in FY21, but there is no freeze proposed in the executive budget for policing.
- Cancellation of cadet classes – There is no justification for cadet classes when schools are understaffed in nurses, guidance counselors, and social workers.
- Cuts to NYPD’s expansion into non-police activities/social services – Cuts should prioritize getting cops out of schools, homeless outreach, mental health response, the new “youth initiative”, and social distancing outreach/enforcement.
- Cuts related to abusive policing – The NYPD routinely keeps officers who have brutalized and even unjustly killed New Yorkers on payroll for years after incidents without any movement on disciplinary processes.
- Cuts to other non-essential areas, including NYPD public relations/media budget and expansion of costly (& legally dubious) surveillance infrastructure.
- Require increased NYPD budget transparency – by including transparency-related terms and conditions in the budget that is passed for FY21. The NYPD’s budget is arguably the most secretive and opaque of any New York City agency.
- Block increases of any NYPD expense budget lines in FY21 – and deny and cancel any new policing-related initiatives in the NYPD expense budget, other agency expense budgets, NYC general fund budget and in the capital budget plan.
We recommend investment in the following areas:
- Increased funding to community-based organizations that promote the safety of LGBTQ people of color through discretionary funding. This includes increasing funding of the Hate VIolence Prevention Initiative, with a priority on funding community based organizations focused on non-carceral solutions like community-based reporting, outreach and bystander/upstander intervention, counseling and support services, and restorative approaches to healing the impacts of hate violence in communities.
- Increasing funding to programs that serve LGBTQ youth of color. This includes fully funding DYCD’s Summer Youth Employment Program as well as Unity Works, a workforce development program announced in October 2019 that would support deep investments in workforce development for LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth.
- Increase funding for TGNC immigration legal direct services. There is a lack of free legal services providers that are affirming of TGNC people, and understand the complexity of TGNC peoples’ immigration cases. These organizations have seen an increase in their client loads of TGNC people seeking immigration legal services over the last several years. Council Members have been provided with plans for funding five organizations to serve this community, which has been especially hard-hit by COVID-19.
- Provide LGBTQ people, and people all around New York City, housing with dignity: increase the value of rental vouchers, fund supportive housing at the model level set by State policymakers, and ensure creation of LGBTQ and especially TGNC-affirming supportive housing service providers. COVID-19 emphasized the need to stop warehousing populations and provide private settings, for homeless peoples’ dignity; to guard against the violence that homeless people, and especially homeless LGBTQ people face in the shelter system; and also provide for improved public health. Unfortunately, current rental vouchers provided by the City are not equal to the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for apartments in the NYC metropolitan area. Given the increased homeless rates faced by LGBTQ people, especially TGNC BIPOC, the City has an obligation to house people, and it can provide more deeply affordable housing that is both linked to supportive affirming services by (1) funding rental vouchers for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,951, at all vouchers at FMR; (2) raising the budget for supportive housing scattered site locations to the rates set by the State’s NYC 15/15 program; and (3) ensuring that there are supportive housing providers who are particularly affirming of LGBTQ and (given their especially high homelessness rates) TGNC people.
- Fund worker coops, which allow under-resourced and highly-discriminated against people an opportunity to create their own jobs. NYC has some of the most advanced infrastructure for creation of worker cooperatives in the US. Worker coops, where workers both work, own, and manage their companies, are a great model employment and resource-allocation model for people–such as BIPOC TGNC people–who lack resources and are frequently targets of employment discrimation. This can be accomplished by fully funding the existing Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative. Worker coops are also a means of spreading knowledge about business development and ownership to youth and adults alike, and thus is a means of meeting a need that the City has yet to fulfill: programming to connect adult TGNC people with jobs.
- Assistance for undocumented workers. The LGBTQ community includes undocumented workers, and we need to push every opportunity to provide resources to our community. Undocumented people are blocked from receiving public benefits, whether due to legal limitations or strong disincentives (e.g., recent public charge rule changes). Thus, we join a call to provide cash assistance to every undocumented worker who lost a job during the COVID-19 crisis.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
The unprecedented economic and health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has put ordinarily marginalized communities into even greater precarity. LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities are disproportionately represented in informal and gig economies, including sex work and other illicit work, because of the discrimination they face in mainstream employment.
- Contact your City Council Member today and demand that they commit to $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD budget for FY21.
- Look up your City Councilmember here: https://council.nyc.gov/districts/ and then check to see where they stand here on the #DefundNYPD Public Commitment Tracker.
- Call, tweet, or email them before June 30 to let them know where you stand as their constituent.
ABOUT NEW YORK CITY ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT
For 40 years, the New York City Anti-Violence Project has worked to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy. AVP is the largest anti-LGBTQ violence organization in the country. We are deeply trusted within the LGBTQ communities and by survivors of violence, and we have earned that trust by showing up for our community day in and day out.