The new state budget will bring $16 million in new money to fight criminal gangs in Suffolk and Nassau counties, much of it targeted for Brentwood and Central Islip, aides to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
Lisa Black, Bellone’s chief of staff, said the new funding grew out of a cooperative efforts between the counties, local communities and the state to battle recruitment by gangs such as MS-13.
The state funding includes:
- $3 million for Catholic Charities during the next three years for case management of unaccompanied children, who move to Long Island from other countries without their parents to help counter efforts to enlist them into gangs.
- $5 million for a summer jobs voucher program administered by state and county labor departments for youngsters at risk in Suffolk and Nassau.
- $2 million for local schools and nonprofits to run after-school programs to keep students engaged in sports, music and educational activities. Officials said the state funding will replace federal funding for after-school activities that was cut several years ago.
- $1.5 million over three years for Empowerment Collaborative of Long Island, a Bohemia nonprofit, to provide training and support in middle schools and high schools to combat gang involvement.
Beyond the anti-gang funding, Suffolk County will get a $522,600 increase in bus aid, bringing it to $26,966,300 for the coming year, county officials said. However, Suffolk was unsuccessful in getting any funding from increased ride sharing fees in the state budget. The money will go to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Suffolk cut nine bus routes in 2016. County officials blamed state formulas for transit that failed to take into account the wide geographic areas Suffolk buses must cover.
Bellone’s office said Suffolk also will get increased funding from the state’s Farm to School Program, which provides aid for school lunches for which local farmers provide 30 percent of ingredients. Funding for the program will rise from $750,000 to $1.5 million.