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Vera House, non-profits, suffering from budget cuts: ‘It’s going to be devastating’

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo
Randi Bregman, the executive director of Vera House.

As government budgets reel from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, so do those of partner non-profit agencies. 

Syracuse’s Vera House is a non-profit that works to end domestic and sexual violence and other forms of abuse. About two-thirds of its funding comes from state, local or federal governments. Onondaga County has already cut back some of its funding due to a looming budget deficit, and the status of some state contracts is unclear, according to Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman.

"We’re living right now on this precipice of whether those state and local dollars are going to be less available,” Bregman said.

For now, Vera House has been able to maintain staff and programming levels through the Payroll Protection Program. And she figures that will hold them through August.

"But after August, if these cuts come, we’re going to have to face really hard decisions about what we’re able to continue to offer in the way we have been,” Bregman said.

Vera House, like most other non-profits, does have a foundation that raises money. But the prime fundraiser this spring was substantially curtailed by the coronavirus shutdown, and now supporters are trying to figure out how to replace the yearly gala, a linchpin of fundraising efforts. Bregman said at this point, organizations like hers can only look to Washington for help.

"If the federal government doesn’t bring relief to state and localities, it’s going to be devastating for non-profits,” Bregman said. "Private dollars are down. Government dollars are being cut and we see a tremendous need. The need is as much as it was before. And in many ways greater. The resources are few and the need is greater.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.