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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."


Campaign for Children Holds Youth Action Day

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Over 300 young people from across New York City traveled to Albany yesterday for the Campaign for Summer Jobs’ 14th Annual Youth Action Day. Their message to top state lawmakers was straight forward.  The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) has tremendous positive impact the program has on the lives of young people.  However, every year huge numbers of youth are denied access to the program due to inadequate funding.  And, this year, even fewer youth will be able to participate unless new funds are added to Governor Cuomo's budget proposals.

Read more>>

UNH's 5th Annual Advocacy Conference: Maximizing the Unique Opportunity of NYC's 2013 Elections

Saturday, January 26, 2013
UNH thanks all of those who attended our 5th Annual Advocacy Conference: Maximizing the Unique Opportunity of NYC's 2013 Elections on January 18. The conference took place at Henry Street Settlement's Abrons Art Center. Ocynthia Williams, a parent advocate, opened the day by sharing her campaigning experiences, encouraging all in the room to continue their advocacy efforts. The conference wrapped up with informative workshops on defining advocacy and understanding the City and State Budget processes, and small group discussions on priorities in the upcoming Mayoral campaign. Below, view documents and photos from the conference.

UNH Responds to Governor Cuomo's 2013-2014 Executive Budget

Friday, January 25, 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 Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2013- 2014 Executive Budget


January 22nd, 2013

Contact:  Annetta Seecharran (212) 967-0322 x 329

United Neighborhood Houses is pleased that Governor Cuomo’s SFY 2013-14 budget makes a number of initial investments necessary to implement the progressive agenda set forth in his State of the State address last week. These investments include:

  • $20 million to extend learning time by at least 25% for students in participating schools,
  • $25 million to fund a competition for full-day pre-kindergarten, a critical component of quality education for children,
  • $1 billion over five years to preserve or create 14,300 affordable housing units, and
  • $36 million for the implementation of the recently enacted NY Safe Act, designed to reduce gun violence across the State.

In addition, we are encouraged by the Governor’s continued commitment to increase the State minimum wage to $8.75/hour as of July 1, 2013. However, we strongly encourage the Governor to take the extra step of indexing future increases to inflation to ensure workers’ wages keep pace with the inevitable increase in the cost of goods and services over time.

Despite these positive elements in the proposed State budget, the Governor’s decision to again withhold Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for non-profit providers will continue to negatively impact our ability to serve our communities. Further, while an increase in the State minimum wage is certainly overdue and will provide welcome relief to struggling families, it is imperative that the Governor appropriately revise the State’s investments to reflect the commensurate increased costs of meeting state contract obligations. For instance, while we are pleased the Governor has continued his commitment to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) with a $25 million investment, without an increase to reflect a higher minimum wage, we anticipate NYC providers will be forced to employ approximately 4,300 fewer youth this coming summer.

Finally, we are greatly concerned that the budget includes cumulative reductions of over $1.1 million for the Expanded In Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) and the Community Services for the Elderly program (CSE). This funding is central to helping older adults maintain their independence and dignity in their homes as they age. Also missing from the budget is an expanded investment in high school equivalency testing, which will be necessary to meet adult learner demand as NYS phases out the GED and implements a new exam in January 2014.

We look forward to working with the Governor and legislature to ensure that adequate investments are made in key human service programs.


The Campaign for Summer Jobs Campaign for Summer Jobs Applauds State Summer Youth Employment Investment; Calls for Minimum Wage Match

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
In response to Governor Cuomo's State FY 2013-2014 Budget, the Campaign for Summer Jobs released this statement