News and Resources

Why They Last

Friday, November 17, 2017
Former UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein and former University Settlement Executive Director Michael Zisser have combined forces to write Why They Last, The Historic and Contemporary Strengths of the Settlement House Model. 

Settlement houses have existed in America since 1886, representing one of the oldest and most sustainable models for providing a comprehensive community based range of social, educational and cultural services in cities across the country. As we try to account for this longevity, we ask what is it that makes for this success over time and this unique ability to transcend and flourish irrespective of the dramatic shifts in political movements, economic upheavals, major societal challenges, and dramatic historic events?

To read this important piece, click here.

Most New Yorkers back free or low-cost child care even if it means they have to pay more taxes

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Yorkers overwhelmingly support expanded free child care options, even if doing so entails a tax hike, according to a survey commissioned by a child advocacy organization.

The poll found that 64% of 800 general election voters surveyed broadly support expanding access to reduced-price child care, after-school activities and summer programming for children in tandem with a tax hike to foot the bill.

Global Strategy Group, a public relations firm, conducted the poll for the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York.

“People believe the expansion of these services is an important piece of strengthening the education system and really giving kids the best chance at success,” said Jennifer March, executive director of the child advocacy group.

The survey also found 76% of respondents worry about the cost of raising a family in the city.

Many New Yorkers are thinking about saying goodbye to the Big Apple in part because of high child care costs, according to the poll.

All told, 44% of the people queried said they worry about being able to afford to raise kids in New York City.

“As a parent, I can understand why so many New Yorkers are concerned about the rising costs for these services and are calling on the city to invest more in early childhood education,” said Czarinna Andres, whose 4-year-old son attends a pre-school in Sunnyside, Queens.

The poll comes as the de Blasio administration last month announced plans to extend the mayor's key Pre-K for All program to city 3-year-olds.

The plan requires over $700 million to fully fund.

“Early care programs improve performance in schools,” said Susan Stamler, executive director of Neighborhood Houses. “New Yorkers want these additional investments … even if it means raising their owns taxes to do so.”

NY Daily News

Immigrant, advocate groups rally at Borough Hall to protest proposed education cuts

Thursday, May 11, 2017

“Education is a right, budget cuts are wrong,” was shouted from the steps of Borough Hall on Wednesday morning, as students from all across the borough joined elected officials to protest a feared $12 million budget cut in education programs. They lined the steps of Borough Hall holding up signs protesting proposed cuts for English programs that they believe are essential for immigrants to learn the language and find better jobs.

Councilmember and Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca addresses crowd at education budget rally.

According to the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL), a collection of nonprofit community-based organizations, libraries and City of New York (CUNY) branches that provide English language and other adult literacy programs, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2018 Executive Budget contains a $12 million funding cut that will eliminate literacy classes for more than 5,500 students throughout the city, including 1,800 in Brooklyn alone. Advocates say that without these classes, immigrants would not be able to get better jobs.

CUNY students protest feared budget cuts on steps of Borough Hall

Kevin Douglas, co-director of policy and advocacy for United Neighborhood Houses, introduced the elected officials attending the protest including Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna and Councilmember and Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca.

Reyna thanked the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy and the citywide coalition of community-based organizations, including Opportunity for a Better Tomorrow (OBI) for their leadership in organizing the rally, and Councilmember Menchaca.

Elected officials, students and advocate organizations protest the budget cut at Borough Hall

Menchaca told the students and organizations that he was their champion for adult education in New York City. He said the purpose of the rally is to send a strong message to the administration during budget season in order to win back the $12 million they received last year.

He added that as much as children need an education, adults also need to be educated so that they can teach their children. And through education, adults can have access to better jobs. Menchaca received a loud round of applause when he identified himself as a proud “Mexican, hyphen, American,” and the first Mexican-American elected official in the city of New York. “The mayor listened to us last year,” he said. “And he needs to listen to us again.”

“We’re here with hundreds of other people, students and teachers and organizations, with one very clear message: education is a right and the New York City budget should reflect that value of education for everyone,” Menchaca told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“Immigrants and anyone who needs an education should be able to get a high school education in order to get access to the job they want.  So for us, this is a victory.

“Last year, through my leadership, we landed a $12 million initiative that included thousands of new classes across the city. Now we want that back in the budget, so we’re back to make sure the mayor listens to us. He heard us last year and we’re confident he’ll hear us this year. We just need to make sure our voices are loud so that we are heard.”

Student speakers included an adult education student from CUNY who said she was speaking to the crowd for the first time in English, her second language.  A student from CUNY Citi Tech said it was very important to have the opportunity to learn the English language in order to succeed in life.

An educator from the Chinese-American Planning Council said, “We must have adult education in New York City for our adult immigrants to show the rest of the country that immigrants make America great.”

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Advocates Call for Keeping Funding for Adult Literacy Classes On the Books

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hundreds of advocates say they want the city to keep funding for adult literacy classes on the books.

More than 250 students, teachers and advocates rallied on the steps of City Hall to push Mayor Bill de Blasio to re-up $12 million dollars in funding.

The NYC Coalition for Adult Literacy says the mayor did not renew funds for English language and high school equivalency prep classes in his most recent budget.

Critics say the courses are critical for the city's future.

"If New York City wants to be prosperous in the next generation, we have to make sure that everyone, in all five boroughs, in every community, has a chance to contribute," said Tom Hilliard, senior researcher at the Center for an Urban Future.

It's for myself. It's for my daughter. It's for get a better job and contribute to this country," said one person at the rally.

"We're not just talking about our immigrants. We're talking about all New Yorkers getting access to education so that they can unlock their full potential," said City Councilman Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn.

Advocates say more than 2 million New Yorkers are in need of adult literacy classes.

Nora Moran on Fox5: Senior Centers Could Close

Friday, March 03, 2017

Many senior citizens in New York City have serious reason to be concerned. If there are no changes made to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal, 65 senior centers in the city could be forced to close. The budget calls for redirecting $17 million in federal funding for the centers to child care services.

Six-thousand older adults are at risk of losing out on daily meals, social services, health care and other vital amenities including social interaction.

The mayor's office responded by saying: "We are disappointed that thousands of New York City seniors remain at risk of losing vital services. We are committed to working with state legislators to ensure that Title XX funding is restored in the enacted budget."

The final budget is due April 1.

The state Division of the Budget said in a statement: "We are directing Title XX funds to child care while increasing total funding to New York City by $400 million."

To see the story, visit


Nonprofits optimistic about David Hansell’s “strong management”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed KPMG executive David Hansell to replace former Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Gladys Carrion, who officially stepped down earlier this month following a string of deaths and high-profile abuse cases.

At the Feb. 21 press conference announcing his appointment, Hansell said his worldview was shaped while serving as director of legal services and deputy executive director of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in the 1990s as it responded to the AIDS crisis.

“That experience showed what happens when government takes a callous attitude towards those who need its help the most,” he said. “But it also showed me the good that government can do when it cares for the most defenseless among us.”

The challenges facing ACS, which looks into as many as 60,000 cases per year, are daunting. Hansell said that when he begins on March 6, he would review how the agency works to protect children who may be at risk, responds to cases in which children have been mistreated or neglected and collaborates with the NYPD.

Some nonprofit leaders expressed optimism that the former government official, who has worked as a human services consultant since 2012, would help reform the embattled agency.

Jeremy Kohomban, president and CEO of The Children’s Village, told New York Nonprofit Media there were three major benchmarks that he would use to gauge Hansell’s ultimate success: whether the agency implemented reforms backed by the New York City Department of Investigation and other probes, whether it invested in paying preventive workers better wages and whether it supported communities and neighborhoods where children are more at risk of abuse or neglect.

“The current crisis of the past two years is unprecedented in duration and escalation,” Kohomban said, noting that even in some of the most stressful days of the child welfare service in the 1990s, there hadn’t been a state monitor. However, Kohomban said, “I can’t see the monitor being an impediment to success because we’ve got a great track record of working together as a city and a state.”

“What we need at ACS is strong management,” he added. “We need someone to really get us through this crisis.”

After a probe of the circumstances leading to the death of 3-year-old Jaden Jordan, the city Department of Investigation said last month that there were several systemic issues of staffing and training at ACS, particularly with emergency workers on weekend or night duty. That followed numerous reports of agency failures by the DOI and City Comptroller Scott Stringer over the past year. After the state questioned the city’s handling of the agency, the state Office of Children and Family Services selected Kroll Associates to monitor the agency’s response to high-risk cases.

Adding to the concerns, average caseloads for front-line workers rose from 9.2 cases to 13.8 cases over several months at the end of last year following high-profile child deaths that prompted many to call the agency and report potential problems, according to the Daily News.

Despite the present challenges, both City Hall and advocates said there have been some successes. The number of children in the foster care system now is about 10,000, one-quarter of what it was 20 years ago, and it is providing 46,000 children with preventive services. De Blasio also said it has recently hired more than 600 child protective specialists to respond to and investigate reports of child abuse or neglect.

Hansell comes to the position with a wealth of government experience. He worked for the city’s health department in the 1990s and, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he was chief of staff for the city Human Resources Administration. In 2007, he was appointed commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, overseeing a $5 billion agency, according to the mayor’s office. He served in former President Barack Obama’s administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2009 to 2011, where he managed child welfare, economic support and early childhood education programs. He also worked as a consultant for Case Commons, where he helped adopt a case management system for child welfare work.

“He has a personal strength to understand that no matter how daunting a social problem he deals with, it’s his job to make a difference, and he knows he can,” de Blasio said, noting that Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Herminia Palacio made the initial selection of Hansell.

The mayor’s office released a statement with positive reactions from nonprofit leaders including Jess Dannhauser, president and CEO of Graham Windham; Bill Baccaglini, president and CEO of the New York Foundling; and Susan Stamler, the executive director of United Neighborhood Houses.

Jennifer March, the executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children, who first encountered Hansell when he worked at the HRA, thought that his experience across different levels of government could serve ACS well. One important element, she said, was to continue the progress the agency has made in early childhood education and juvenile justice.

“In terms of the child welfare work, I think it’s a real opportunity to take a deep breath and really try to strategically plan what needs to happen in the short term, to bring calm, and really create a sense of support and morale that is needed across the system,” she said.

Jim Purcell, CEO of Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies – an umbrella organization for more than 100 child welfare service providers – said the general consensus from numerous providers was that Hansell was a good listener and manager.

“Child welfare is an extremely challenging arena where both public and private agencies must work closely together to both protect children and strengthen families,” he said. “We look forward to working with David Hansell, who some of us know as a smart, committed leader, who listens well and cares deeply for the children and families of New York City.”

See more at:
Nonprofits optimistic about David Hansell’s “strong management” - See more at:

A recently launched philanthropic venture is leveraging a small set of donors to make a large impact on local grassroots nonprofits.

Avoiding what can sometimes be a glacial grantmaking process – and the bureaucratic rules and laborious metrics that can accompany foundation funding – 100 New Yorkers Who Care has decided to make grant-making a participatory affair. The recently launched group engages young professionals to vote on where to focus their donations. It first met in December and has about 40 members to date, according to a founding member, Kevin Douglas. But it won’t stop at 100 if interest continues to grow.

Douglas, who is also co-director of policy and advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses, was inspired by an Albany-based chapter of the 100 Women Who Care Alliance, which pools together members’ donations and leverages consensus to decide where to donate.

“It was really after the election when I was, like many people, thinking, OK, the world has changed and it requires a different level of sustained engagement and commitment and actions to try to make things better and preserve community,” he said.

The participatory framework dates back to 2006, when a Michigan woman started a 100 Women Who Care group. Since then, dozens of loosely affiliated female- or male-led groups have sprouted up across the U.S. and Canada, including a 100 Women Who Care group in New York City.

Sandy Myers, another co-founder of 100 New Yorkers Who Care, said the idea is still a relatively novel one for New York because there are already so many nonprofits and philanthropic organizations.

“My gut says that it might be because New York is such a service-rich environment that people already have these connections to nonprofits that they want to support,” she said. “And that we do also see a new generation of people who are liking to give in a different way, and I think that’s very different from past generations.”

Of particular value to the grantee organizations is that the contributions are given with no strings attached, allowing them to put the funds toward programs or overhead. That’s a significant gift for nonprofits whose grant and contract dollars usually come with specific usage limitations.

“The idea of unrestricted grants is so critical for the sector,” said Myers, who is also the director of government and external relations at Selfhelp Community Services, noting that money for electricity, toiletries or supplies is often badly needed. “I very much support the idea that our money has this flexibility for the nonprofit to make the decision to apply it to where the need is greatest.”

The giving group joins another recent effort at more direct and democratic philanthropic giving. The New York Women’s Foundation is co-hosting the New York City Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color, whose participatory review committee is comprised primarily of young women of color who get to vote on which programs to fund.

The 100 New Yorkers Who Care meetings will generally be capped at an hour and the contribution is relatively low – $50 – to keep it attractive to young professionals. The effort to draw 100 members is for now, primarily an aspirational milestone.

Douglas said 100 New Yorkers Who Care may formalize its rules as it grows, but currently the ground rules are simple: During the quarterly meetings, each member will bring a check and can nominate a local nonprofit. (Those who don’t attend can also contribute.) After three of these are randomly selected, the nominators defend their selected nonprofits and answer questions, then the group votes. The organization with the most votes receives the full one-time contribution. Members are discouraged from nominating organizations with whom they have a financial or personal stake.

Most of its participants learned of the group by word-of-mouth and participation is open to anyone who supports the overall goals of the nonprofit sector, Douglas said. That includes city government workers, some in the financial services industry and others in far-flung professions.

The first meeting was held in a United Neighborhood Houses conference room, but the group is still seeking community or meeting spaces for its next meeting, scheduled for March 9.

The first one-time donation of $1,000 went to the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, which helps defend immigrants from deportation. It was nominated by Maria Lizardo, the executive director of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp., who said it was essential to contribute to local causes.

“I think it’s also important for me to come out of my little bubble and everyday work that I do and get to meet other people throughout the city that are committed and coming from different walks of life,” Lizardo said.

- See more at:
100 New Yorkers Who Care: A more democratic giving model - See more at:

Nonprofits still "taking a loss" despite budget’s pay hike

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

 Feb 21, 2017

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year contains salary increases for staffers at nonprofits that contract with the city, but several advocates warn that the sector could face insolvency if the mayor’s plan doesn’t address cost-of-living increases and growing overhead costs.

The mayor’s proposed $84.7 billion budget included adjustments to the beleaguered homeless and children’s services efforts – which are partially carried out by some of these nonprofits – and de Blasio promised in last week’s State of the City address to share more details. The spending plan is certain to change during negotiations with the New York City Council before the June budget deadline. However, many organizations were disheartened that the budget could resemble last year’s, when the budget failed to include a $25 million increase.

Fears of federal budget cuts have become more acute with the uncertainty of future funding under President Donald Trump.

There is some relief for these nonprofits in the mayor’s budget proposal. Last year, the mayor announced a phased-in minimum wage increase for city workers and human services contractors to $15, and funds to pay for those hikes were included in the city’s spending plan. The city’s spending plan also contains a 2 percent pay increase for nonprofits, the first of three annual increases, effective July 1. Advocates have been lobbying Albany to fund a similar support program in the rest of the state for the minimum wage increase, as well as more money for Medicaid reimbursements and the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program.

The city still has “a ways to go” to assist nonprofits, but made a “good faith effort” in doing so, according to Emily Miles, director of policy, advocacy and research at Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, an anti-poverty and advocacy network.

But, the city hasn’t followed federal guidance issued in late 2013 by the White House Office of Management and Budget that said states and local governments receiving federal funding should reserve 10 percent of a contract to reimburse nonprofits for overhead or administrative costs. “Right now the indirect rates on city contracts are frequently lower than that,” she said.

Miles said that the issue has been discussed at the city-led Nonprofit Resiliency Committee, which is made up of a few dozen nonprofit leaders.

She said FPWA was also seeking more support for senior citizen services, which she said have long been underfunded. According to Susan Stamler, executive director of United Neighborhood Houses, senior services may be further threatened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s most recent budget proposal that included cutting $17 million for senior centers, which could put 65 centers in danger of closure.

De Blasio’s proposed budget also reallocates homeless spending as the shelter system has swelled to house more than 60,000 people, a record high. Though spending for the New York City Department of Homeless Services is expected to dip from $1.69 billion this year to $1.43 billion, Frederick Shack, the CEO of Urban Pathways, said that reflects the administration spreading homelessness prevention efforts across various other agencies. Still, that spending may not match the demands of the nonprofit sector.

“Even with that, our concern is that we contract with the city, so while the number of shelters have increased, the number of homeless individuals have increased, the numbers of programs has increased, every time I add a new program I’m taking a loss because I’m not being fully funded,” Shack said.

He spoke following an early February press conference urging Cuomo and the state Legislature to help shore up the sector, particularly by funding the minimum wage increases that organizations are mandated to pay. While nonprofit organizations say they’re happy to help their workers, some argue that without additional state funding, the pay raise equates to an unfunded mandate. 

While Shack said City Hall was more responsive than Albany in funding the minimum wage increases, there were still the issues of flat salaries for the sector’s increased staffing and overhead costs. “This is a very progressive mayor,” Shack said. “Love that, but you’ve got to put dollars in.”

He said the pay issue means that his organization has such a high turnover rate that many social workers with a Master of Social Work degree won’t stay for longer than a year or two.

Mayoral spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said the de Blasio administration made “tremendous investments” in the sector. The proposed budget includes three annual 2 percent pay raises for workers. She said the administration has also increased salaries for city Department for the Aging case managers by 40 percent, affecting 340 social workers.

“Last year, we put hundreds of millions of additional dollars into the pockets of these employees when we invested in a $15 minimum wage, and this year, we’re providing raises for 90,000 more workers in the nonprofit community,” Goldstein said.

Helen Rosenthal, the chairwoman of the New York City Council’s Committee on Contracts, applauded de Blasio in a statement “for tackling the long-standing question of wages in the human services sector. But we must address the two structural problems that are confronting these essential organizations,” she said, pointing to the lack of funding for increasing costs, while making the organizations pay for the increase in hourly wages. 

“We are calling on the governor to step up and increase state funding to New York City's human services organizations, and are asking the mayor to consider a major increase in (non-personnel) funding to social service providers," Rosenthal said. 

De Blasio’s spending plan includes more resources for ThriveNYC, a program to expand behavioral health services. The city’s spending on the 54 services in the umbrella initiative is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2015 and 2019 to $1.2 billion, according to an estimate by the New York City Independent Budget Office.

The ongoing overhead, staffing and programmatic funding issues were a predominant concern for Good Shepherd Services. According to the organization’s estimates, the city-funded portion of the wage increase would cover roughly half of the $1.1 million needed to pay for the higher minimum wage. That’s because some employees aren’t directly covered by a city contract – such as those who are privately funded – and the city’s increase in funding doesn’t include them.

Michelle Yanche, Good Shepherd Services’ associate executive director for government and external relations, said she was pleased de Blasio’s proposal included about $14.9 million to fund 22,800 free summer camp slots, some of which are run by Good Shepherd. Though less than last summer, which was about $17.6 million for 26,000 slots, it was comforting, Yanche said, to have a baseline to negotiate back toward the 31,000 slots from summer 2015.

It also would provide some much-needed stability to the free summer camp program, after uncertain funding left some camp slots unfilled at Good Shepherd last year because the money was restored too late.

“That’s certainly one of the reasons why we say it really is a relief to at least have this restoration, partial restoration as it may be, so early because we have planning time,” Yanche said. “But, ideally, Good Shepherd would really like slots for all of our participants.”

De Blasio has also been under pressure to reform the city Administration for Children’s Services, whose commissioner, Gladys Carrion, recently resigned after several high-profile child deaths. “On ACS, this is not – from our point of view – a money question, first and foremost; it’s about deepening reforms,” de Blasio told reporters during his budget address in January.

Citizens’ Committee for Children Executive Director Jennifer March credited de Blasio for creating 10 new Beacon community centers, maintaining summer programs and addressing overcrowding. But the city could put more social workers in schools with lots of homeless children and include free school lunch. “The preliminary budget also baselines an increased shelter re-estimate of $123 million, yet there are no new initiatives proposed to prevent homelessness, eliminate the use of hotels to shelter families and/or help families secure permanent housing,” she said in a statement.

This year, the Human Services Council of New York urged the de Blasio administration to fund an unrestricted 12 percent across-the-board increase to contracts to give nonprofits the flexibility to spend where they need. The organization also asked for “cost escalation” clauses to help cover any unexpected cost increases and a systematic plan for giving workers cost-of-living adjustments.

Allison Sesso, the council’s executive director, said an investment to stabilize existing programs would be more fruitful than expanding programs. She said she frequently confronts the misconception that government is subsidizing the work of nonprofits, but because many of the organizations fundraise from donors and other sources, it’s really the other way around. But it seemed to her that wasn’t always understood by the de Blasio administration.

But discussions at the Nonprofit Resiliency Committee have their limitations, “especially when you’re talking about these issues about how the nonprofit, government relationship is structured,” Sesso said.

“Money clearly comes up in those conversations,” she said, “and you kind of get at a stopping point if you don’t know what the city’s willing to invest.”

- See more at:



Seniors Protest Cuomo's Budget Cuts for NORCs

Friday, February 17, 2017

For senior citizens and their advocates, this Valentine’s Day was more about activism than chocolate and flowers. They flooded the phone lines of their local legislators to tell them that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget is simply not acceptable.

“On Valentine’s Day we were asking the legislators to have a heart,” says Bonnie Lumagui, director of the Co-op Village NORC, which provides social and health services for senior citizens in a cluster of Lower East Side co-ops. “We are trying to get the word out any way we can.”

The word is that Cuomo's $152.3 billion budget proposal is a blow to the 16 New York City NORCs, or Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, which provide various services for elderly residents who wish to grow old in their own apartments. “Right now NORCs are getting roughly $4 million,” says Lumagui. “That isn’t even enough to fund the current projects in existence. Now the governor wants to cut $700,000 from the NORC budget. Such a massive cut will result in the closure of at least four NORCs.”

According to the population data provided by Cornell University, New York State is home to the third-largest elderly population in the nation. Currently there are more than 2.8 million New Yorkers over the age of 65, and that number is expected to grow to over 3 million by 2020 and to almost 3.5 million by 2025.

“For the first time ever, 20 percent of New York State residents are age 60 or older,” says Nora Moran, a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), an advocacy group for 37 settlement houses and community organizations in the city. “This is the time to invest in programs like NORCs. It’s an incredibly effective model. NORCs promote independence and engage older people before a crisis happens, to avoid nursing homes and hospitals.”

As Lumagui sees it, that model is under siege. “The proposed budget cuts would be catastrophic,” she says. “The final budget contracts will get awarded in May or late June. Until then we have to make sure that the assembly will tell the governor to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new budget, because cutting NORCs is not option.”

Last year, New York State passed laws that modernized the NORC program, which focused on increasing program quality, collecting more data on the effectiveness of NORCs, and allowing expansion across the state. “NORC programs really pushed for these reforms,” says UNH’s Moran. “We knew that these changes were needed to start more NORCs across the state. Unfortunately, Gov. Cuomo’s current budget only planned to support 24 NORCs, though there are currently 29 NORCs in New York State receiving state support. Without more funds, we could see existing NORCs close, and no expansion to underserved older communities that need these services.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron, a Democrat whose district includes the Brooklyn waterfront and lower Manhattan, is all geared up to fight. "Budget cuts that force NORCs to close would leave New York's seniors out in the cold,” he says. “NORCs provide critical housing and services to seniors across the state, and I'm working with colleagues and advocates to ensure the budget protects them."

Mike Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, doesn’t know how many calls came in on Valentine’s Day, but he says volume was heavy. “We got a whole bunch of calls, but there is still hope,” he says. “We are fighting it. We don't think cutting senior programs is a good thing.”

Poster campaign: In troubled times, Brooklyn folks support Arabic neighbors

Friday, February 17, 2017

An attractive green poster showing the Brooklyn Bridge overprinted with the words “We Support Our Neighbors” in English and Arabic will soon be popping up in windows across Brownstone Brooklyn.

Elected officials from neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, home to numerous Arabic restaurants and shops, are reporting that constituents have repeatedly expressed deep concerns about “anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric” emanating from Washington.

Now, they’ve joined with local activists to launch the We Support Our Neighbors poster campaign, designed to show positivity in this time of Trump.

The poster idea was the brainchild of Brooklyn Heights resident and transit advocate Quinn Raymond.

“I wanted to do something to show our neighbors that we are a caring community and welcome them,” he said in a statement on Monday. “The elected officials and civic leaders responded immediately, which confirmed my faith in our community. I hope other neighborhoods will follow suit.”

“The We Support Our Neighbors poster campaign is a simple way that neighbors can demonstrate both their opposition to these divisive federal policies and their support of all members of our communities,” state Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said in a statement on Monday.

“As neighborhoods which have been home to various Middle Eastern communities for many decades, we have deep appreciation and concern for our neighbors. At the same time, we have the freedom, and one might argue the greater obligation, to stand up for the broader community,” she added.

“Neighbors coming together to support each other and lift up the community is a part of the settlement house tradition that we are proud to be a part of,” said Joseph Botros, board chairman of the Arab American Family Support Center which provides educational and social services from its offices on Court Street.

He added, “We are humbled to see so many of our Brooklyn neighbors reaching out during these tumultuous times for our communities and we thank all that have made the We Support Our Neighbors Poster Campaign possible.”

Other local officials added their voices.

“Our Middle Eastern neighbors and businesses were here before the Boerum Hill Association began 50 years ago,” Boerum Hill Association president Howard Kolins said in the statement. “They’ve never let us down and we’re not about to let them down.”

"Our country, city and borough have long embraced inclusion as an American value — We Support Our Neighbors is about showing that should never change," state Sen. Daniel Squadron said.

"Our borough, our city and our nation were founded by immigrants. To turn against our fellow global citizens, our neighbors, during these times is to turn against ourselves,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin.

“These are our neighbors, the people we live with and the local businesses that we patronize, that contribute to the great diversity that makes us who we are as Brooklynites,” Cobble Hill Association President Amy Breedlove said.

The idea is also backed by United Neighborhood Houses. Posters were set to be available at the offices of elected officials and other locations late Monday.

Full article:


Op-Ed: Governor’s Budget Proposal Puts 6,000 Seniors at Risk

Friday, February 10, 2017

If nothing changes in Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal, 65 senior centers in New York City will close this year due to a funding shuffle that pulls $17 million from these vital programs. This cut will cause 6,000 older adults to lose out on meals, social services, and the opportunity to be with their friends and neighbors every day – as 30 percent of the overall Neighborhood senior center network would disappear. Annually, seniors across New York City will lose 1.5 million meals and 24,000 hours of help and care from dedicated social workers and staff – most of whom will also find themselves out of a job. The impact will be far-reaching as senior centers are often the first place older adults go when they need help.

Historically, New York City annually received $17 million in discretionary federal funding which was used to support Neighborhood senior centers. With the Governor’s proposed change, the City will no longer have authority to decide how that money can best support our communities. Instead the Governor will require the City use the money for child care services. It is seniors who will bear the brunt of this decision.

Community-based senior centers located in neighborhoods across our city are incredibly effective at helping older adults live healthy and vibrant lives. Those who attend and rely on senior centers are often those with the lowest incomes, the poorest health, the highest social isolation, and are most in need of food, resources, and assistance. According to the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA), Neighborhood senior centers serve 26,000 people each day. They are hubs for the older adults in their communities and coordinate health and mental health services, provide healthy meals, and become cooling centers in the summer. Centers offer social activities, exercise and educational classes, and housing and eviction prevention assistance, all aimed at keeping older adults healthy and in their own homes, rather than in hospitals, nursing homes, or homeless shelters. A recent study by DFTA and Fordham University found that senior center participants reported they had better physical and mental health, were exercising more, and were less lonely over a 12-month period. The value of these centers far exceeds the $17 million they stand to lose.

This budget proposal forces the most vulnerable New Yorkers to compete against each other for resources. Thankfully, advocates for both older adults and child care services oppose this change and are fighting the cut rather than each other. As Governor Cuomo said so poignantly in his State of the State address in New York City, “when we are at our best…we focus on commonality.” New Yorkers are united in working together to support our neighbors of all ages, and the Governor and our State Legislature must find room in the budget to help all New Yorkers in need.

Susan Stamler, Executive Director
United Neighborhood Houses