News and Resources

Advocates rally at City Hall for $20M for summer programs

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More than 100 advocates and city kids rallied on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday to urge Mayor de Blasio to include $20 million for summer-enrichment programs in his executive budget.

The money would be used for summer camps and classes for 31,000 city middle school kids starting in July.

De Blasio funded the programs last year due to an administrative error in which dozens of community-based organizations that administer the programs were promised the money. But this year, the cash spigot is turned off.

“The need for a safe, enriching place to go where children can thrive does not end when the school year is over,” said United Neighborhood Houses director Gregory Brender.

Mayor de Blasio urged to boost funds for adult literacy at City Hall rally

Friday, April 08, 2016

Dozens of students and activists rallied outside City Hall Thursday to demand Mayor de Blasio hike funding for adult literacy in the upcoming budget.

They want $16 million set aside for classes for people who lack English proficiency or a high school diploma, enough to give the lessons to 13,000 New Yorkers.

This includes restoring programs that lost over 6,300 adult literacy seats during last year’s budget.

“Allowing adults the opportunity to learn is great for our city,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “If an individual learns English, they can communicate with their neighbors, help their children with their homework, get a better job, and call 911 without fear if they’re in trouble.”

Xiu Wen Ou, who is learning English in the Educational Alliance College Access and Success Program, said she hopes to continue her English studies and "give back to this great country."

“It makes me sad to think I may not have an opportunity to do so,” she said.

De Blasio spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin said city agencies are working on a plan to strengthen adult literacy programming.

“The de Blasio Administration has made unprecedented investments to support New York City’s immigrant communities," she said. "We look forward to working with the Council throughout the budget process."

Students Urge $16 million Investment in Adult Literacy Services

Friday, April 08, 2016

Adult literacy students and advocates gathered on the City Hall steps in the rain and wind to encourage Mayor de Blasio to invest $16 million in adult literacy services. Hundreds of other students waited outside of security, but were unfortunately turned away. Students thanked the Mayor for his leadership in pioneering social inclusion for immigrants through programs such as IDNYC and ActionNYC and urged him to build on this legacy and create comprehensive adult literacy program for the 1.7 million adult New Yorkers currently lacking English proficiency and/or a high school diploma. Literacy programs are the pathway to economic mobility, social integration, parent-child engagement, improved health outcomes and improved community safety. Advocates said that strengthening adult literacy programs and building a well-coordinated adult literacy system offers the Mayor a unique opportunity to continue his progress in fighting inequality, improving our workforce, and ensuring long-term success for universal pre-Kindergarten.

Council Member Carlos Menchaca began with rally with a call for inclusion. “The full potential of New York City’s immigrant communities will not be unlocked until we ensure everyone has at least basic literacy skills. Service providers throughout the City need a renewed and expanded financial commitment from this City Council and the Administration. I stand with all immigrant New Yorkers and their advocates calling for adequate funding and support for adult literacy.” 

Council Member Julissa Ferreras- Copeland, Chair of the Finance Committee, offered her support for a $16 million investment adult literacy. “Adult literacy funding is a priority for myself and many other Councilmembers. Our Budget Response called for a $16 million investment this fiscal year. These critical services like ESL classes lead to better paying jobs and improved communication with teachers and doctors, among many other benefits. There is an overwhelming need and an already established infrastructure to deliver these services, if the City is able to provide resources. I applaud Councilmember Menchaca, other councilmembers, and all the organizations lifting their voices to show how essential this is to addressing inequality.” 

Greenline: Let's Not Lose The Best

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Did you know that providers of high-quality education to low-income children earn far less than those at DOE programs. To get the word out elected officials and 150 advocates called for salary parity for NYC early childhood educators on the steps of City Hall.

CBO-based educators, who serve children in some of NYC’s most vulnerable communities, have gone a decade without a raise, and many are forced to rely on public assistance to survive. A certified teacher with five years of experience in a community based organization contracted by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) makes about $17K less than a public school teacher with the same credentials and experience, for those with ten years of experience the gap widens to $34K.

If you wonder whether the quality of education is a factor here, it is but not in the opposite way one would think. Gregory Brender, co-director of Policy & Advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses, unleashed a new report, titled “Losing the Best,” which was developed by his organization and the Campaign for Children. This report uses the City’s own Pre-K program assessment from December 2015 to determine that community based organizations outperform public schools in nine out of ten metrics that indicate high-quality programs. Language reasoning, program structure, classroom organization, and institutional support were among the areas where CBO-based programs exceeded.

Council Member Stephen Levin urged Mayor de Blasio to, “take swift action to ensure salary parity and comparable benefits for all of the dedicated public servants working in early childhood education. This common sense step will make it easier for programs to attract and retain the outstanding educators we need and ultimately lead to better programs for our children.”

Public Advocate Letitia James mentioned her repeated attempts to call this issue to the de Blasio administration’s attention. She also stated, “Such a pay disparity creates systemic inequality that leaves New York’s poorest preschoolers with the lowest paid child care workers and prevents these care takers from affording basic life necessities.”

Read the entire article here.

Officials Call for Expansion of Summer Jobs Program

Monday, March 07, 2016

Officials Call for Expansion of Summer Jobs Program

By Adrian Ma | March 4, 2016


 INTRO: Every year around this time, tens of thousands of New York teenangers enter the lottery. And no, I’m not talking about Powerball. Instead, it’s the Summer Youth Employment Program. Applications for the city-funded internship program opened this week. And if this year’s lottery is like the last, over half the young adults who apply won’t get in. Now though, a growing chorus of advocates and city officials are working to change that. Adrian Ma has the details.


MA: Last year, a professor from the Wharton school of business did a study on the city summer jobs program. And he found that the teens and young adults who went through the program had much lower chance of being incarcerated or killed four years later than those who didn’t. In other words, he said the program literally saves teens lives. Like 17-year-old Christa Hill.

During the program, like I would hear like a lot of them were shot and a lot of them were killed. And most of them ain’t have nothing to turn to, they ain’t have no family, they ain’t have no jobs, most of them ain’t go to school. So what else was there but for them to turn to the streets? 

MA: She says last summer, while she was working in her placement as a counselor at a community center, some of her friends got involved with gangs.

I would’ve went down the same road as my friends and they’re dead right now. 

MA: And she says, if some of her friends had had a job like hers, they might be here right now.

Like you’re getting paid for something that’s going to benefit your future so why not? It’s going to save your life. That’s saved my life. 

MA: Stories like these are just one reason why many officials are calling for a major expansion of the city’s summer jobs program. According to an NYU study, teens who went through the program also perform better on state regents exams than those who didn’t. Under a so-called “universal” plan, any eligible young adult who applies for a job, would get one. But getting to that point is estimated to cost the city around 200 million dollars. And with hundreds of thousands of adults in New York without jobs why spend more money on program that mainly benefits teens? Andrea Bowen works with an advocacy group called the Campaign for Summer Jobs.

You know, it’s easier to give people a leg up on the way up than to help them if they’re suffering later on.

MA: Bowen says, job aid can have an immediate impact on teens. And the money they make can supplement their parents’ incomes.

It allows them to buy school supplies. It allows them to buy clothes.  It allows them to buy things that would otherwise come out of their parents’ pockets.

MA: So the city’s program keeps young adults out of trouble, and helps their families out with some extra income. But what does it do for them in the long run?

The employment experience per se, is actually not the strongest part of the summer youth employment program.

MA: That’s Lazar Treschan with the nonprofit Community Service Society, and while he’s in favor of the idea of a universal summer jobs program, he says the current model hasn’t really been shown to increase future earning potential or college enrollment. The same Wharton study that shows that kids who went through the program had a lower chance of incarceration and mortality? It also shows that young adults who went through the program weren’t any more likely to go to college, or earn more money, than those who didn’t.

We don’t see huge employment outcomes in the long run.

MA: But that’s the future. In the meantime, young adults want jobs now. Andre White works for the agency that runs the summer jobs program, the Department of Youth and Community Development. And he says he hears from kids all the time who were passed over in the lottery.

They’re difficult conversations, I’m going to be honest with you, especially when you have a young person who’s eager and wants to work.

MA: But White says, getting to “universal” jobs for all youths would require doubling the program’s current budget. And even if the funds were available today, he says the expansion would still take a few years, because employers have to be vetted, and in some cases trained to make sure they can handle the influx of summer interns.

So although we could scale up, you don’t want to give them too much, that they might not survive that year, right?

MA: Many on the city council seem to agree that making it better starts with more funding. Councilman Jumaane Williams is one of several members spearheading the initiative.

I think we have a chance to do it. Everyone seems to want to do it. So it’s just about putting our money where our progressive mouths are.

MA: Williams says, while the political will may be there, securing the funding will be a job unto self. Adrian Ma Columbia Radio News.

Listen to the story here:


CEO Corner: Susan Stamler, United Neighborhood Houses

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

United Neighborhood Houses Executive Director came by the NYN Media office to speak about UNH's recent advocacy work on ending Islamophobia, establishing salary parity for nonprofit pre-k providers, and the challenges facing the nonprofit sector.

To watch the video, click here.

War on elder poverty! Struggling seniors focus of Bed-Stuy panel discussion

Thursday, February 18, 2016

“The cry of the baby was heard across the land” almost nine months to the day after World War II ended — resulting in a massive generation of baby boomers now aging past 65 at a rate of 250,000 a month. And facts show many of them struggle to make ends meet.

“The percentage of seniors living in poverty is staggering,” New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado told CityLimits magazine in June. “Too many older New Yorkers make difficult choices about purchasing food, medicine, and paying their rent.”

More than 25 million Americans aged 60-plus live at or below the federal poverty level of $29,425 per year for a single person (or $11,770 for a single senior), but Supplemental Security Income provides just $433 each month for the average elder and may be the individual’s only source of income, according to the National Council on Aging.

Retirement security was a major topic at last year’s once-a-decade White House Conference on Aging, but many seniors don’t realize Federal help is available, according to a civic activist at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, which will hold a panel discussion called “New York Seniors and the Rising Food Insecurity Crisis” at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza on Feb. 23.

“We want to educate them about the possibility of supplementing their income with government subsidies, so they get to keep more dollars in their pockets,” said Blaine Arthur, program manager of social services.

The symposium, which is aimed at seniors whose annual pre-tax income is $23,544, is the result of a partnership between the New York City Department for the Aging and the Aging in New York Fund. Jennifer Goodstein, the President and Publisher of Community News Group — the owner of this publication — will be a guest speaker along with: Caryn Resnick, Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Department for the Aging; Lisa A. Boyd, Chief Operating Officer of the Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation; Terry Kaelber, Director of Community Engagement Projects at United Neighborhood Houses of New York; Maggie Meehan, Associate Director of Nutrition Education at City Harvest; and Jose Luis Sanchez, Program Manager at Citymeals-on-Wheels.

Workers will pre-screen seniors for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). The allowance — based on certain financial factors and immigrant status — has been a lifeline for poor Americans for 40 years as the first line of defense against hunger and a powerful tool for improving nutrition among low-income people. Benefits come to the household via electronic debit Electronic Benefit Transfer cards that recipients can use to buy food at more than 246,000 approved retail stores nationwide.

Gotham’s graying

The golden years of New Yorkers could be tarnished ones:

• More foreign-born seniors live here than in any other American city — with one out of every 10 older immigrants in the country calling the Big Apple home, according to the Center for an Urban Future.

• The city’s 60-plus community will equal Chicago’s current population by 2020, increasing the odds that more seniors will struggle to put food on the table and pay their bills, Mayor DeBlasio informed an astonished American Association of Retired Persons forum in December.

Bridging the gap

The first national food stamp program was instituted in 1939 after the Great Depression. Its chief architects were Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and Milo Perkins, the program’s first administrator.

“We got a picture of a gorge with farm surpluses on one cliff and under-nourished city folks with outstretched hands on the other,” Perkins famously said. “Then we set out to find a practical way to build a bridge across that chasm.”

Panel discussion “New York City Seniors and the Rising Food Insecurity Crisis” at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza [1368 Fulton St. between New York and Brooklyn avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, (212) 602–4460] on Feb. 23 at 3 pm. RSVP by Feb. 20;

For the original article, click here.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Delivers 2016 State Of The City Address

Friday, February 12, 2016


Excerpt: For full release, visit


The Council will act to support New York City’s families and caregivers by:
• Increasing Funding for the Nurse Family Partnership:  The Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) is a nurse home-visit program for low-income and at-risk first-time mothers that begins during pregnancy and continues until the child’s second birthday. NFP is proven to reduce preterm and infant deaths, child abuse and neglect, subsequent unwanted births, and reliance on safety net programs, and has also been shown to improve behavioral, educational, and cognitive outcomes for children. Speaker Mark-Viverito today announced that the Council will increase funding for the Nurse Family Partnership by $8 million. By intervening early, the City can eliminate many of the risk factors and challenges that complicate pregnancy and child-rearing.

• Increasing Funding for  Elementary School After-School Programs: After-school programs provide children with enrichment opportunities and a nurturing place to go after school, while allowing hundreds of thousands of parents to balance jobs with family responsibilities. This year, the City’s Comprehensive Afterschool System (COMPASS) has offered 42,540 free slots for elementary school students. But across the five boroughs, programs still have waiting lists that leave thousands more parents struggling to find alternative childcare options. To address this, Speaker Mark-Viverito and the Council will work with the Administration to increase COMPASS funding and add at least 5,000 more slots for elementary school students.

• Continuing the Fight at the State Level for Paid Family Leave: The Family and  Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees working at firms with fifty or more employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a twelve month period for specified family and medical reasons. However, many employees either are not covered or cannot afford to lose the pay even if they qualify. New York State provides partial wage replacement through its Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program, but only in the event the employee becomes temporarily disabled. If an employee’s child becomes seriously ill, TDI provides no protection.

• Working to expand the City’s child care tax credit: The Council will work with its State partners to increase the maximum eligible income from $30,000 to $45,000, increasing the maximum benefit from 75% of the State child care tax credit to 100%, and for the first time extending the credit to caregivers of adults who cannot care for themselves. Expanding the credit for children alone is estimated to increase the number of recipients by 18,700.

• Establishing a Plan to Address the Needs of the City’s Informal Caregiver Population: The Council will pass legislation requiring the Department for the Aging (DFTA), in consultation with the Human Resources Administration, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, and other relevant agencies, to develop a comprehensive plan to address the needs of the City’s informal caregiver population. This plan will include an assessment of the City’s caregiver population, including demographics and the amount of care they provide; an analysis of whether they are being reached by the City’s existing caregiver support programs; and discussions of how cross-agency collaboration can address the needs of caregivers of both seniors and non-senior adults with disabilities. DFTA will receive input from informal caregivers, service providers, academic experts, and others to make recommendations on how programs and services can be improved to effectively serve and support the City’s caregivers.

• Creating a Division of Paid Care within the Office of Labor Standards: The Division will research workforce issues related to homecare and childcare workers to ensure that workers in the caregiver industry have the supports they need to provide the best care for our seniors, children and disabled family members. The Division will also educate workers, clients, and their families about their rights and responsibilities. Greater oversight of this industry will improve working conditions for tens of thousands of paid care workers, decrease turnover, improve the continuity of care, and enhance the cost-effectiveness of existing City programs.




“Parents throughout New York City are clamoring for high-quality programs for their children after school and during the summer. After-school programs are essential for working families and they provide children with activities and recreation that support their growth and education.  We applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for proposing an expansion of year-round after-school programs for elementary school students and look forward to working with the Speaker and the City Council to ensure high quality after-school programs for every child and youth in New York City,” said  Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses.

Statement of United Neighborhood Houses of New York on Islamophobia and Xenophobia

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
We, the undersigned Settlement Houses and members of United Neighborhood Houses of New York, strongly oppose the escalating Islamophobic and xenophobic atmosphere that has resulted in hostility, discrimination, and fear. 

In the wake of horrific violence both in the United States and across the world, the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities have been subjected to hatred that is both misguided and bigoted.

Throughout the pain of senseless tragedies and the fear that arises in such turbulent circumstances, we hope that our fellow New Yorkers uphold our shared American values of inclusivity, diversity and tolerance. This is what makes our City strong and our nation great. And this is why, when fleeing war-torn homes, so many immigrants, who are our neighbors, our friends, our families and our clients sought out the security of the United States. 

Hate cannot be defeated by hate. We must remember that, above all else, we are all members of the same neighborhoods, the same city, and the same country. We work together, eat together and depend on one another to keep our neighborhoods safe and strong. As Settlement Houses, we choose to respond to this disheartening atmosphere with the work we pride ourselves in – lending a hand to our neighbors in need and ultimately building more peaceful and vibrant communities. 

We choose to respond with compassion. 

We ask you to stand with us in solidarity with the many Arab, Middle-Eastern, Muslim and South Asian immigrant communities in New York City, New York State and across the United States.

 We will find our strength in unity.

In Solidarity,

Arab American Family Support Center

Broadway Housing Communities


Center for Family Life in Sunset Park

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation

East Side House Settlement

Educational Alliance

Goddard Riverside Community Center

Grand St.  Settlement

Greenwich House

Hamilton Madison House

Hartley House

Hudson Guild

Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center

Mosholu Montefiore Community Center

New Settlement Apartments

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation

Project Hospitality

Queens Community House

Riverdale Neighborhood House

SCAN New York

Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach

Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Center

St. Nicks Alliance

Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center

Union Settlement Association

United Community Centers

University Settlement Society



UNH Response to Preliminary Budget

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Mayor de Blasio’s Preliminary Budget contains several laudable investments that seek to address the growing inequities in our city. However, the Mayor’s budget proposal falls short in funding many key priorities for New York City’s communities. United Neighborhood Houses looks forward to working with both the administration and the City Council to arrive at a budget that will be a win for New York City’s neighborhoods.
Policy Wins
We are gratified that the City is taking action to address the very low salaries of many staff in city contracted human services agencies. With a commitment to increase non-profit funding incrementally in order to implement a wage floor of $15 per hour by the end of 2018, the administration has started a process that will lift many hardworking New Yorkers out of poverty. Community based organizations funded by city contracts are doing on-the-ground work to implement the Mayor’s agenda of combating inequality. To do this effectively, we must address the inequalities that impact our own workforce. We look forward to continuing to work with the City to ensure that the tireless staff in the City’s non-profits receive compensation that reflects the incredible importance of their work.
UNH is also grateful for the increase in funding for elder abuse prevention programs. Elder abuse is often a hidden crisis, with only one case out of every 24 cases of abuse reported in New York. This investment will ensure that more older adults can access these vital services to remain safe in their communities.
Additionally, investments made as part of the ThriveNYC program, funds which support the expansion of mental health services, are an important step in connecting more New Yorkers to needed mental health services.
Areas in Need of Correction
Summer Programs
UNH is disappointed that this administration, which has been a champion of after-school programs, has made such a harmful cut to summer after-school programs. Working parents who need a safe and positive place for their kids after the school day need the same support in the summer when schools are not in session. Moreover, summer activities are essential to preventing summer learning loss and keeping kids on track to succeed in school. If action is not taken, approximately 34,000 kids will lose summer programs. Last year, when this same cut was proposed, more than 60% of City Councilmembers signed a letter urging the Mayor to restore funding. Since summer programs begin just days after a budget is passed, the Administration must not wait for a prolonged negotiation process to address this proposed gap in service. We urge the City to restore and baseline funding for summer programs for 34,000 middle school youth.
Adult Literacy
UNH is also disappointed that the preliminary FY 2017 City budget failed to restore critical adult literacy programming for thousands of New Yorkers who lost services in the last budget. English language proficiency and other services provided by adult literacy programs are essential for helping New Yorkers find better and higher paying jobs. We urge the Mayor to commit funding for community-based adult literacy programs to ensure families and hardworking New Yorkers have an opportunity to fully engage in the civic and economic opportunities of the City.
Youth Employment
UNH urges City leaders to use this budget to invest in the youth workforce both through the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and Work, Learn & Grow. Last year, SYEP provided summer jobs to 54,263 youth ages 14-24 in New York City. Work, Learn & Grow was successfully piloted last year and provided 8,000 paid jobs during the school year for SYEP participants. Unfortunately, the Preliminary Budget does not contain funds to expand SYEP despite the program receiving more than 130,000 applications for 54,000 slots and does not continue Work, Learn & Grow despite its success this year. We urge City leaders to invest in expanded employment opportunities for young people in this year’s budget.
Early Childhood Education
Finally, the City should not, yet again, let a budget season pass without addressing the crisis of salary disparities in the early childhood education system. Teachers, directors and staff in community based early childhood programs are paid far less than their counterparts in public schools. This leaves the people who are responsible for the education of many of the poorest young children in New York City fighting to escape poverty themselves. Furthermore, it leads to a loss of quality staff in community based organizations as teachers, directors and staff leave jobs they care about just to make ends meet.