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August 5, 2020; Patch “New York City”

Late last week, NPQ covered some of the contracting problems plaguing New York’s nonprofits as the state struggles with its own rapidly worsening budgetary problems. In that case, we were talking about late payments of contracts for substance abuse problems, with some contracts being five or more months in arrears. Yesterday, the state’s nonprofits serving immigrants in detention revealed that not only were their contracts cut in late June, but that came on top of the state not reimbursing contracts from last fiscal year.

Those programs, if they provide legal services, are required to complete all cases they are working on now even if they have to lay off staff, according to Elise de Castillo, who heads the Long Island, New York branch of the nonprofit Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN). She says that the current trap is far more than a cash flow problem, and where the problems extend too long, it could potentially signal the end for the agency.

The state of New York, which has a history of these kinds of maneuvers when its own coffers run low, is reportedly waiting in hopes that a federal stimulus bill will filter money down to cash-strapped cities and states. Right now, though, there are no such provisions in the proposed bill. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that if that money does not come through, immediate cuts in the tens of billions may be necessary.

Freeman Kloppott, the spokesman for the state’s Division of the Budget, seems to believe the nonprofits they are currently strangling should be a lobbying force for the state.

“We hope our nonprofit partners will continue to call on the federal government to act,” Kloppott says. That’s about as close to actual extortion as he is willing to go…at least for now.

“Immigration is always complicated, but immigration under the Trump administration is nightmarish, to say the least,” says de Castillo. “A case that used to take, let’s say 50 hours of representation, is now taking 150. How do you do that if you have half the staff to do the work?”—Ruth McCambridge