City Council Speaker Corey Johnson gave a backhanded slap to first lady Chirlane McCray’s “Thrive NYC” mental health initiative on Monday, saying the embattled program needs to do a better job helping the severely mentally ill.
“One of the things I want to look at is how to help the severely mentally ill — people who are really, really, really struggling and you see on the streets and on the subways,” Johnson said on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”
When asked by Lehrer whether Thrive — which has come under fire for failing to report results after spending $850 million the past four years — is not properly assisting enough severely mentally ill New Yorkers, Johnson said bluntly, “Maybe it needs to do a little bit more of that.”
“People who are decompensating in front of our eyes on the streets on New York City,” the speaker added. “How much are we providing to them? And we need to look at that in a meaningful way.”
Johnson’s remarks came while McCray was across the East River in Brooklyn announcing a new $1.7 million Thrive plan to expand mental health services at 25 senior centers in the Big Apple.
Although Mayor Bill de Blasio is asking agencies citywide to tighten their belts to find $750 million in savings to help balance his $92.2 billion budget for fiscal 2020, Thrive NYC is not earmarked for cuts.
During a hearing two weeks ago, Thrive director Susan Herman admitted the program is budgeted to receive $250 million a year over the next four years, including $2 million to cover its 21 office staffers.
Johnson, however, said the council would indeed examine the program for potential cuts as “part of the budget [review] process.”
“Thrive NYC is not different than any other program,” he said. “We have to look at it in a thoughtful, meaningful way.”
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