CBN Takes High Road After Being Nearly Skunked by NYCT/RIOC

CBN Takes High Road After Being Nearly Skunked by NYCT/RIOC

It won’t change the botched allocations squeezed out by a strange group of supposedly unbiased, yet well-informed individuals cooked up between RIOC and the New York Community Trust, but the Carter Burden Network‘s Executive Director rose above the insult.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

CBN Executive Director William J. Dionne (R) with City Council Member Ben Kallos. Under CBN’s leadership, the Roosevelt Island Senior Center expanded its service by hosting public events supporting IDNYC, mass vaccinations and others.

After seeing funds for the Senior Center slashed by two-thirds without explanation, CBN Executive Director William J. Dionne publicly responded:

“The Carter Burden Network appreciates the $5,000 award approved by the New York Community Trust from the Public Purpose Funds, as well as all the prior years’ annual support administered and approved by RIOC. 

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“We are disappointed that this year’s support is one-third of its normal level, which represents a significant deficit to CBN’s operating budget, especially at a time where the need is greatest to support vulnerable older adults who comprise over 25% of Roosevelt Island’s population.

“As the Roosevelt Island community continues to gentrify, thereby intensifying food and housing insecurity for older adults, culturally responsive social service and programmatic supports for underserved seniors are needed now more than ever.”

The Intent of Public Purpose Funds for Roosevelt Island

Public Purpose Funds are generated by Roosevelt Island operating income, and the money is supposed to be reinvested back into the community through grants.

However, a large part of the problem seems to be that RIOC, which is in charge of Roosevelt Island, doesn’t really have a handle on what’s going on. They don’t seem to have a good system for vetting the applications or assessing actual needs. Adding New York Community Trust as a surrogate made matters even worse.

This year, for example, NYCT doled out $12K for an out-of-town gardening group, seasonal by nature and with limited outreach and impact. CBN, which operates the Roosevelt Island Senior Center, serving residents daily with lunches and a variety of classes, got just $5K.

It’s not clear why they decided to do this, but it’s possible that they simply didn’t realize how important CBN is to the community. Or maybe they did know and just don’t care.

Either way, it’s a genuine shame as well as a community embarrassment, because CBN does a lot of good work on Roosevelt Island, and they deserve more support, not less.

Bill Dionne showed restraint, but RIOC and NYCT should listen before making even more unforced errors in future years.

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