State owes Bronx LGBT center $200K
Things cannot get much worse for the Bronx Community Pride Center.
The state owes the BCPC $200,000-or roughly 30 percent of the group’s annual budget of roughly $900,000-in grant reimbursements. These payments have not arrived because state lawmakers and Gov. David Paterson did not agree upon a budget until more than four months after the April 1 deadline.
"We’re still waiting payment for our April vouchers," noted BCPC executive director Dirk McCall.
The BCPC, which is the only LGBT center in the Bronx, has eliminated two staff positions, instituted furloughs and imposed a 10 percent pay cut (15 percent for senior staffers). Con Edison turned off the power to the organization’s East 149th Street office last month.
"We’re hurting incredibly bad," said Dirk McCall. "We’re still spiraling downward."
The federal government has awarded the BCPC a $10,000 smoking sensation grant. City officials have processed one of the two contracts the organization has with the Department of Youth and Community Development.
McCall said the BCPC is looking for corporate donations; holding house parties and other events, such as a bachelor auction at Escuelita in Midtown on Tuesday, Oct. 5, to raise desperately needed funds.
"We’ve had 45 days without a single check coming in the door from the state," he noted. "You can’t meet payroll; you can’t pay rent; you can’t pay your utilities if you’re not getting your funding in."
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.,’s office and other officials have tried to spur Albany bureaucrats to release the funds to the BCPC, but the organization is not the only LGBT group that became caught up in the state budget stalemate.
As EDGE previously reported, the Queens Pride House laid-off half its staff, curtailed its operating hours and slashed expenditures because of an $80,000 funding shortfall.
The Jackson Heights-based organization has since formed a fundraising committee-Will Clark hosted the Queens Pride House at Pieces in the West Village on Wednesday, Sept. 29. The organization has also hired two full-time interns from Queens College. And members of the school’s Gay, Lesbian and Straight Alliance (GLASA) have begun to volunteer.
"If we can recruit, train and coordinate a corps of volunteers for various tasks, that will significantly reduce our costs," said Pauline Park, president of the Queens Pride House’s Board of Directors.
LGBT organizations must diversify funding sources
Both the BCPC and the Queens Pride House are among the more than 50 organizations the state funds through the LGBT Health and Human Services Network.
Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, told EDGE getting contractually obligated reimbursements to the groups and helping them secure additional funding remain top priorities.
"We are working on both those tracks and looking for every opportunity to secure additional funds, even during these tough economic times," he said.
The Pride Agenda continues to offer workshops on financial management and networking opportunities through the LGBT Health and Human Service Network, but Levi stressed the current situation in which many organizations find themselves comes as no surprise.
"I don’t think anyone is immune to the tough economic situation we’re in," he said. "These are very scary times, which is why we need to work as hard as we can to get our community the resources they need."
It remains uncertain whether legislators would debate a new appropriations bill if they return to Albany for a lame-duck session between the election and Jan. 1. Levi further stressed the takeaway for the state’s LGBT organizations is simple: diversify funding streams.
"If that message had not gotten through clearly before, it definitely came through clear now," he said.
Park described herself as "quietly hopeful" the Queens Pride Center can rebound from the financial precipice. McCall, however, remains frustrated.
"We’re not closing our doors, but the situation couldn’t be more dire," he said. "We have no cash flow right now. It’s humiliating; it’s embarrassing, but it’s not our fault."