July 29, 2009

What Budget Cuts Really Mean

As you’ve read here, the Mayor’s proposed budget cuts would slash $52 million dollars from services helping people in poverty. These cuts will have a painful effect on our clients, as well as a direct effect on Bread for the City.

In total, we stand to lose $503,408 if the proposed cuts go through. That’s more than the operating cost of an entire month’s worth of Bread for the City’s services.

This has been a tough year for us: we’ve already cut $500,000 from our expenditures, mainly by reducing staff salaries and service hours for clients. These cuts weren’t “fat” from our budget—we lost bone. If there ever was fat to cut, there certainly isn’t now.

Bread for the City could accomplish all of the following with $500,000:
• We could distribute a three-day supply of groceries to 2,874 hungry homes
• We could conduct 2,332 social services visits
• We could conduct 2,243 examinations in our medical clinic
• We could provide 2,332 hours of legal representation

These services save the District real money. If Bread for the City received the full $500,000, we can provide these cash benefits to the City:
• The average BFC medical clinic visit costs $122.60. The national average cost of an emergency room visit is approximately $1,000. 758 patients visited BFC last year who did not qualify for any public health insurance programs, and did not have one provided by their employer. The potential cost savings for these patients to visit Bread for the City over an emergency room is $758,000.
A cot in the average DC shelter costs the government approximately $27,000 a year. Bread for the City prevented 111 evictions last year. If even 10% of these clients had ended up in the shelter system, it would have cost the DC Government $299,700.
The average monthly food stamp benefit is $101 per person. Last year BFC screened 10,095 DC residents for all public benefits, including food stamps, and provided assistance through the application processes. If even just 10% of these residents receive the national average monthly benefit for a single person, that’s $1,222,908 in revenue to spend at DC grocery stores.

In short, Bread for the City is a blue chip investment.

The DC Council faces a very difficult challenge, and I do not envy them. All we’re asking is that the pain of these cuts be spread fairly across the board, and that serious revenue raising actions are taken to minimize the blow.

If you haven’t already signed the Safe our Safety Net petition, do so now: http://www.saveoursafetynet.com/. If you have, Call the DC Council today and urge them to show responsible and humane leadership.

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