What to Know
- Mayor de Blasio warns that the government shutdown is an unprecedented crisis that's about to directly affect at least 2 million New Yorkers
- De Blasio said the city will lose a half-billion dollars in direct federal funding for New Yorkers beginning on March 1
- The mayor said the city is willing to exhaust its reserves to help those in need
Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a dire warning Thursday that the government shutdown is an unprecedented crisis that's about to directly affect at least 2 million New Yorkers.
"We are now entering nothing less than a full-blown crisis that is about to have massive effects on the people in New York City," he said during a briefing at City Hall. "And it is a crisis with no end in sight. And it's a crisis that will get worse and worse with each passing month."
De Blasio said the city will lose a half-billion dollars in direct federal funding for New Yorkers beginning on March 1. Beginning that day, 1.6 million people won't get their food stamps, and thousands of others won't be able to get vouchers for NYCHA's Section 8 housing.
Then in April, school breakfast and lunch are at risk, and in May, housing assistance will be lost for people with HIV and AIDS.
"When it comes to the shutdown of our federal government, things are beginning to spin out of control and things are happening that no city and no state could possibly compensate for. And this is absolutely uncharted territory," said de Blasio.
"We've never seen a federal shutdown of this length and we'd never seen a federal shutdown with no end in sight," he added. "We have no playbook to look on – look back on. There's no map in the wilderness to tell us how to handle something that's never happened before. We're doing our best to come up with a vision for something absolutely unprecedented."
The mayor said the city is willing to exhaust its reserves and will continue offering food banks and mental health counseling for those affected by the shutdown. The city has set up a website, nyc.gov/federalshutdown, that will offer resources for people in need.
But "even if we get everyone to chip in, we can't compensate for half a billion per day," he said.
"The briefings over the last few days, I’ve never heard anything like it in my life – the notion of losing half a billion dollars in a month," de Blasio said. "I mean there is nothing like that. And also I think for a lot of us we all assumed it would be over by now."
The mayor reiterated several times he wasn't trying to scare people, but wanted everyone to be aware ahead of time. The real danger, he said, begins 44 days away.
"This is not a crisis that hits and then just levels off," he said. "In fact, it starts to cascade for two reasons. The human impact gets worse each month. People's budgets get drained. The possibility of evictions from their homes, the quality of life in their neighborhoods and their housing developments will decline with each month.
"But it's also because the State of New York will have to start cutting off support, because, as it loses federal dollars, it cannot turn around those dollars and help localities. So we're going to be hit by two different problems and each month they will get worse," he continued.
De Blasio said the city will be reaching out to the non-profit and the philanthropic sectors, along with the business community and the clergy, to find ways to help people in need.
In response to the mayor's announcement, the union for federal employees says it is "grateful to any and all support being offered by the mayor and his administration at this time. It is critical for state and local governments to step in and assist federal workers during this difficult period."