Rev. Ruben Diaz, who represents Hunts Point in the New York State Senate, will direct $2 million in state funds to Bronx-based and Latino nonprofits, he announced at a breakfast meeting on Aug. 17 that gathered politicians, including his son the Bronx Borough President, and recipients of the money.
The Bronx AIDS Service on Southern Boulevard is slated to receive $100,000, as are neighborhood self-help organization S.H.O.P.P., the environmental justice advocacy organization Sustainable South Bronx, and Soundview-based social service organization Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.
Diaz also pledged $75,000 to the housing advocacy organization H.O.G.A.R., and $25,000 each to the Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Center, and the Word of Life Christian Fellowship International on Prospect Avenue, which serves free meals to the public on Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Legislators call the funds, which are allocated to local nonprofits through state agencies “member items,” and they are often criticized as pork-barrel spending that is unrelated to the priorities of government, but that helps politicians win re-election.
The spending has been the source of corruption, as well; several members of the Legislature have been jailed or are under investigation for routing money through nonprofits into their own pockets.
With that in mind, Diaz called his breakfast meeting an exercise in “transparency in government.” In previous years the Legislature has not made its allocation of member items public at all, or has waited months before doing so.
In previous years, too, most of the Senators’ money has gone upstate, because Republicans controlled the upper house. Diaz told the attendees that because Democrats are now “in the majority, we have more resources to serve our districts.”
Funds were targeted to Bronx organizations and to Latino organizations. Twenty-two non-profits were represented at the breakfast. Top among the recipients was the Manhattan-based Hispanic Federation, to which the senator promised to allocate $875,000.
A version of this story appeared in the September edition of the Hunts Point Express.