In addition to defense cuts, other impacts to the state include cuts to teacher and teacher aide jobs, public safety grants, and funding to some social service programs, including for domestic violence and senior assistance.
Widespread cuts to social programs tend to affect low-income communities first and foremost, said Gladys Vega, executive director at nonprofit Chelsea Collaborative. She said that in Chelsea, where some classroom sizes average between 22 to 28 students per teacher and where social programs are vital, the sequester cuts are going to be devastating.
“We’re extremely afraid because we believe we’ll suffer,” Vega said. “Sequester cuts harm communities like Chelsea — inner cities.”
The sequester cuts could indirectly make it harder for already strapped foundations to donate funds to organizations like the collaborative, which offers services ranging from finding summer jobs for teens, to helping the city’s vast immigrant population, Vega said.
For the state’s elderly, federal funds were cut by $421,000 for the current fiscal year, but thanks to rotating funds from last year, the state will be able to absorb the hit, said Al Norman, executive director of Mass Home Care, a network of area nonprofits that provide home-based care for seniors. However, there may be additional sequester cuts to nutrition assistance funding, and fuel assistance programs, he said.
It is the unknown that worries Norman the most.
“I don’t want to alarm seniors, I don’t want to cry wolf, this is a serious situation, but it gets worse in succeeding years,” Norman said. “We still think a lot of the paint is wet here. We don’t know what or when we’re going to be told about the depth of the cuts. . . . We’re trying not to overreact.”