New York City sets aside hundreds of millions of dollars in discretionary funds for City Council members to distribute to community-based nonprofits in their districts to meet local needs and fill gaps in city agency services.

Council members spend those funds on a range of services, from keeping neighborhoods clean and caring for the seniors, to funding food pantries and afterschool programs. The funds are part of the safety net intended to help the city’s most vulnerable residents thrive.

How council members spend those funds, detailed in the expense fund database on the City’s website, sheds a light on what they see as the priorities in their districts at a time when many are still reeling from the current economic downturn.

BK Reader had a look at where some of our local politicos have spent their funds this fiscal year… 

City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso
City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso represents the 34th District. Photo: Antonio Reynoso

Councilmember Antonio Reynoso (34th District – Williamsburg, Bushwick, Ridgewood)

The program, initially designed to solvage distressed properties, has come under scrutiny for seizing properties from Brooklyn homeowners
Councilmember Robert Cornegy represents 36th District. Photo credit: NYC City Council/ Flickr

Councilmember Robert Cornegy (36th District – Bedford Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights

Councilmember Inez Barron
Councilmember Inez Barron represents the 42nd District. Photo: NYC City Council

Councilmember Inez Barron (42nd District – East New York, New Lots, Remsen Village, Spring Creek, Starrett City)

There are several categories of discretionary funds, including youth, aging, culture and arts, and anti-poverty. Cleanup is amongst those buckets, and it amounts to a big-ticket item for nearly all the council members.

Some local lawmakers spend discretionary funds to enlist the Department of Sanitation to combat illegal dumping in their district. Such is the case with Councilmember Darma Diaz (37th District – Cypress Hills, Bushwick, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, East New York), who recently explained her trash fighting efforts to BK Reader.

Lawmakers also funded nonprofits for similar cleanup services in their districts. 

Nonprofit Wildcat Service Corporation received much of that funding. The organization was the first in the country to design and implement a transitional work program for unemployed workers with a prison record, according to its website.

Councilmember Farah Louis (45th District – Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Marine Park, Flatlands, Kensington) distributed $100,000 to Wildcat for cleanup services that included litter and debris removal, as well as “maintenance of roads and alleyways in the district.” She also sent $60,000 to the Department of Sanitation.

In the 40th District, Councilmember Mathieu Eugene (Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens) disbursed $95,000 to the Department of Sanitation and $43,941 to Wildcat.

Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel (41st District – Ocean Hill – Brownsville, Bedford – Stuyvesant, East Flatbush, Crown Heights) disbursed $40,000 each for cleanup services to the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless, Wildcat Service Corporation, Department of Sanitation, and Pitkin Avenue District Management Association.

To check out where other council members are distributing funds and what is being prioritized in the COVID-19 recovery effort, check out the expense funding record here.

Nigel Roberts

Nigel Roberts is a New York-based, award-winning freelance journalist. During his career, Nigel has written for several newspapers and magazines. He has extensive experience covering politics and was a...

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