August 20, 2012

Task Force on the New York City Crisis

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 12:33 pm

Sanford Solender, executive vice-president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies from 1970-1981, served as chairman of the Community Council of Greater New York’s Task Force on the New York City Crisis in 1976.  This task force was a “coalition of the executive heads of the major voluntary human service agencies in the City”, according to the press release issued by the Council on February 25, 1976, and pictured below.

Task Force press release, February 25, 1976

Based on the financial plan recently issued by the city, members of the task force were concerned about a possible collapse of human services in New York.  In an effort to lobby the city government to restore some of the funding to these agencies, the Task Force launched a campaign aimed at public officials throughout New York City and New York State.

The letter below from Solender to Mayor Abe Beame and dated the same day, has a note at the top that copies were “also hand-delivered to:  Governor Carey, First Deputy Mayor Zuccotti” and Deputy Mayor Axelson, among others. “Copies were also sent to all members of the New York City Congressional Delegation.”

Letter to Honorable Abraham D. Beame, Mayor, February 25, 1976

Not unlike today’s discussions on what to fund with shrinking city budgets, the Task Force generated a huge amount of correspondence and reports over the next few months in an attempt to retain as much funding as possible to all social services agencies in New York City.  With unconfirmed support from the state, President Gerald Ford essentially abandoned New York as summed up by the classic New York Daily News headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead“,  and New York City struggled along with every other municipality in the country through the difficult years of that long recession.

It appears that although Sanford Solender was already working a full workday as executive head of Federation of New York, he felt it was in the interest of the agencies Federation supported to ensure the financial security of the safety net that these agencies provided to all of the ethnic, religious and community groups in New York.

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