News & Resources

News and Resources

Statement on NYCHA Deficit Reduction Actions

Monday, June 17, 2013

Statement of Nancy Wackstein, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses

On NYCHA Deficit Reduction Actions

June 17, 2013

The drastic actions that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced last week to reduce its $205 million budget deficit will have a real and troubling impact on thousands of New Yorkers and their neighborhoods.  Essential human service programs, including community centers and senior centers, will be closed in NYCHA developments.  Rent increases to keep up with inflation for tenants subsidized by federal Section 8 vouchers will be eliminated.  Some NYCHA developments will have neither NYCHA nor nonprofit supported services available to them, likely increasing the numbers of low-income households at risk of spiraling into homelessness. 

New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development and Department for the Aging are to be applauded for quickly taking positive steps to fund services for many of the neighborhoods that will be affected by the closing of NYCHA community centers and senior centers.  However, many neighborhoods and NYCHA developments still will completely lose these services.  There is no relief for Section 8 tenants facing rent increases.

These cuts are the tragic result of the decades-long abandonment of public housing by all levels of government manifested most recently in the cuts made through the blunt and wrong-headed federal sequestration process.  Public housing is an important investment and represents essential support for New York City’s low-income and working communities.  The federal government has all but said “drop dead” to NYCHA, and it is shameful.  

Junior Board - Board Development Committee

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Board Development Committee has been busy finalizing the updated structure and expectations for Junior Board membership. This includes various levels of UNH Junior Board involvement, from being a “JB Friend”, a “JB Committee Member”, or a “Full JB Member”.  

Special thanks to Joanna Crispe, Board Development Co-Chair, for attending the UNH Board of Directors meeting on June 4th to report out about the latest activities of the Junior Board. Jaclyn Green-Stock, fellow Board Development Co-Chair, and Evan Seiler were able to attend UNH’s Annual Meeting that followed (pictured). 


Do Not Throw the Good Out with the Bad

Thursday, May 09, 2013

This opinion piece, by UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein and Policy Analyst Carin Tinney, was originally printed in the May 9, 2013 issue of the New York Nonprofit Press. Read the original piece here. 

 Until very recently, most New Yorkers hadn't heard of something called social adult day care. If they did, perhaps it conjured up images of frail seniors on small plastic chairs, drinking from ½ pint milk cartons while having a story read to them by a teacher.  That is why the attention now being paid to this program - due to the recent scandal involving two Bronx Assembly Members and the resulting articles in the New York Times about alleged abuses by “pop up” social day care providers-  is bittersweet.

The unfortunate impression is that this program is at best unnecessary and at worst riddled with fraud, political kickbacks and unscrupulous operators.  But the attention, however negative, does give us a chance to highlight the benefits of this program, which when done the right way by credible and professional providers, has helped thousands of genuinely frail seniors remain independent in their communities and has given their family caregivers essential support and respite.

 The social adult day care model has been around for decades. In many cases, there is a dual focus on providing supervised care and support to seniors while allowing family caregivers a few hours of relief. Social adult day care specifically supports seniors who would have a difficult time adapting to a bustling environment of a traditional senior center  because of their frailty or dementia. These seniors are dependent on continuous care and need extra supervision, usually with eating, using the bathroom, or walking.  The benefit of the social adult day care model is that it allows otherwise homebound older adults to get out and socialize with their peers through art, shared meals, exercise and music.

The challenge to the model, as it was designed, began about a year ago. Many senior center operators located primarily in immigrant communities began noticing a decrease in daily attendance.  As a general rule, the number of seniors served varies on a daily basis, but this was not normal fluctuation.   Seniors were being lured out of senior centers and into “adult day care programs” with cash and other incentives.  This was alarming on many levels.  First, the seniors leaving for adult day programs were not physically or cognitively frail, which is the main eligibility criterion of social adult day care.  Second, this exodus jeopardized funding for traditional senior centers because reimbursement partially depends on the number of meals served daily.  Third, it was clear that these new “social adult day care” programs were unregulated and were not using precious Medicaid dollars in the way it had been intended:  to help frail seniors remain in their communities.  The new centers called into question the integrity of the entire model and cast a shadow on the longstanding history of many quality-driven programs

United Neighborhood Houses, the federation of the city’s settlement houses and community centers, has within our membership some of the finest and most experienced providers of social adult day care.  UNH members helped pioneer the concept and some of their adult day care programs have been operating for over a decade.  It would be a horrible shame for these legitimate and important programs to be swept up in an enforcement reaction meant to shut down the Medicaid cheats.

Legitimate social adult day care programs are one of the components of a comprehensive continuum of care for older adults in their neighborhoods. They greatly benefit a population in need of specialized and supervised care, and contribute to a better quality of life for both seniors and their caregivers through constant emotional support. This program deserves not only to continue but to expand in order to accommodate the dramatic increase in the number of older adults who are projected to need this kind of care.  Let’s not allow a vulnerable population to become the victims of a few dishonest program operators. Don’t throw the good out with the bad.

Nancy Wackstein in Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses.  Carin Tinney is a Policy Analyst with UNH.

Carin Tinney on BronxTalk

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
UNH Policy Analyst Carin Tinney appeared on BronxTalk to discuss the social adult day care industry and how it differs from traditional senior centers or medical centers.  View the video here! 

Current Minimim Wage Deal Too-Little, Too-Long-To-Wait

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

United Neighborhood Houses
70 West 36th Street, New York, NY 10018

March 20, 2013
Memo of Opposition:

Current Minimum Wage Deal Too-Little, Too-Long-To-Wait

United Neighborhood Houses, an association of non-profit settlement houses and communities centers employing over 10,000 individuals and serving over 500,000 New Yorkers annually across the five boroughs, is deeply disappointed with the direction that negotiations over an increase in the state minimum wage has taken. With our member agencies working daily on the front lines- many for over 100 years- to meet the needs of the New York’s low-income and vulnerable residents, we know that a fair increase in the minimum wage for working families is not just a matter of social justice, but of economic necessity.

If New York’s leaders wish to continue to grow the economy and generate real opportunity for all, we call on them to reject the current phased minimum wage proposal as too-little, too-long-to-wait, and instead implement a forward looking minimum wage of $9.00/hr., effective January 2014, with future increases tied to inflation.

Too Little: Failure to Index
Failing to tie future increases in the minimum wage to inevitable increases in the cost of living guarantees that workers will perpetually be left behind until politicians decide to take up the issue again. New York State has not seen an increase in the minimum wage since 2009, and that increase was just $.10/hr. to bring the State in compliance with federal law. Prior to that, the last State-generated increase was in 2007. Indexing the minimum wage will ensure that the value of worker’s labor is not held hostage to political whim, but reflects the reality of increasing living expenses.

Too-Long-To-Wait: Delayed Implementation
State elected leaders have recognized that the current minimum wage of $7.25/hr. is inadequate, citing the reality that a full-time worker employed year round will earn just over $15,000/yr. To propose then that this same worker, should wait until 2014 to only see a $.75 cent increase to $8.00/hr., and an additional two years to reach $9.00/hr. is seemingly at odds with the recognition that the wage today is already insufficient.

UNH recognizes that there are many sides to the minimum wage debate, and that arriving at a compromise is a difficult task. However, at this critical juncture, we call on the leadership of the state to consider that the FY2013-14 budget is a reflection of priorities. We hope that securing the economic future of New York’s working population is high on that list of priorities and the final budget agreement will increase the minimum wage to $9.00/hr. effective January 2014, and index future increases to inflation. It is the right thing to do for New Yorkers and the time to do so is now.


Contact: Annetta Seecharran, Director of Policy & Advocacy, 212.967.0322 x329

UNH Releases "PEG'd Away: The impact of NYC PEG plans on New York City, its people and its communities"

Tuesday, March 05, 2013
PEG'd Away is a issue brief by United Neighborhood Houses, detailing the impact of PEGs to City agencies that provide core community services, such as Department for the Aging, Department for Youth and Community Development, Administration for Children's Services, Department of Homeless Services, and others. 

Twice a year, in order to close gaps in the City's budget, City agencies face the task of cutting spending; in City-speak, these budget reductions are known as Programs to Eliminate the Gap (PEGs). Over the last several decades in NYC, Peg'd has become the most unlikely of verbs, as in "this program just got Peg'd," meaning the City budget proposal includes a program that will be restructured or eliminated for cost savings.

PEG'd Away also explores the changing role of the City Council. Once, the Council was able to use its discretionary funding to support innovative initiatives and meet emerging community needs. Now, this one-year discretionary funding is used to keep core human services afloat. Learn more by downloading PEG'd Away or viewing it online

UNH Responds to Federal Sequestration Cuts

Friday, March 01, 2013

70 West 36th Street, Fifth Floor, New York, NY 10018
tel: 212-967-0322    fax: 212-967-0792

Statement of Nancy Wackstein
Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses
On Federal Sequestration Cuts

The Federal sequestration cuts that will cost New York State at least $275 million in this year alone will have a devastating impact on communities throughout New York City and impede our economic recovery, risking another deeper, financial crisis.  These cuts will impact the neediest New Yorkers the most by cutting child care and Head Start for 6,600 children, meals on wheels for 500 homebound seniors and heat and utility subsidies for 3,000 families.  These cuts are not born of fiscal necessity- this is a manufactured crisis that will have real dire, consequences.  As providers of human services know, even temporary disruptions in services can lead to the loss of infrastructure and lasting damage to communities.   Congress must act immediately to prevent this undermining the economy of community life.  

UNH Summary of NYC's FY 14 Preliminary Budget

Friday, February 22, 2013
UNH breaks down NYC's Fiscal Year 2014 Preliminary Budget. Find out what is being cut from the following Departments:

Administration for Children’s Services (Child Care and Head Start)
Department of Education 
Department of Youth and Community Development (Services for Youth) 
Department of Youth and Community Development (Literacy and Immigrant Services) 
Department for the Aging 
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene 
Department of Homeless Services 
Department of Housing Preservation and Development 
Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator

Download it here. 

Beyond Profits

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Beyond Profits

January 30th, 2013

This week on Business Matters, we talk about what it means for businesses to go beyond profits.  What can happen when businesses decide to give back to the community?  What benefits do companies perceive may arise from philanthropic work?   How can “doing good” affect employee retention rates?  In what ways do philanthropies themselves benefit from corporate involvement?  What are the preferred ways for companies to be involved in community organizations?

We discover some surprising statistics about the amount of money, investment in volunteerism, and the number of corporations involved in giving back to their communities, and the reasons “giving back” is important to business.  We hear the interesting story of a philanthropic project offered by Hewlett Packard to economically depressed areas, noting the many benefits and some pitfalls of this corporate-community collaborative project.  Then we discuss the benefits to communities and businesses when corporations offer support to local not-for-profit organizations, including employee retention, community resiliency, and long-term interactions with consumers.  We also hear suggestions for business leaders who are interested in offering such support.

UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein spoke to Business Matters Radio about corporate responsibility from the perspective of non-profit organizations.

Listen to her 13 minute interview here! (bottom of the page)

Minimum wage hike could pose problem for summer jobs program

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

"While an increase in the state minimum wage represents welcome progress for the millions of low-wage workers across the state, we want to be certain that the value of the state's investment in [SYEP] is not diminished," said Kevin Douglas, a co-chair of the Campaign for Summer Jobs. "Since the vast majority of SYEP funding goes directly to participant wages, any increase in the minimum wage must be met with a commensurate increase in funding for the program, or ultimately we will be able to serve fewer youth."

Read more>>