News and Resources

Advocates Urge City to Add Adult Literacy Funding

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Over 100 students, teachers, and advocates rallied outside of City Hall yesterday to urge Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to restore funding for adult literacy, High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation, and English classes. Students and supporters from across the City, joined by a number of City Council members and other city officials, were brought together by the New York City Coalition of Adult Literacy (NYCCAL), an umbrella advocacy group dedicated to preserving and promoting access to literacy services across the City.

“After years of the City failing to include funding for community-based literacy programing in the baselined budget, this year represents a critical opportunity for Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to break from the past and create a new and robust learning infrastructure," said Kevin Douglas of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), one of the rally’s organizers.

Full article here.

The Daunting Logistics of the Pre-K Plan

Friday, February 07, 2014
UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein comments on the need for Universal Pre-K in New York City's communities and addresses some of the logistical challenges to implementing the Mayor's plan. 

“There’s hardly any community you go in that doesn’t have a big need for pre-K,” said Nancy Wackstein, the executive director of United Neighborhood Houses, a coalition of 38 community organizations, many of which currently provide pre-K and are willing to increase their capacity under the mayor’s plan. "What it will require is all the city agencies pulling together to make it happen, and to expand in many cases. We in the nonprofit sector are sometimes the victim of slow city processes.”

Read more here>>

Letter to the Editor: Don't Taint All Charities

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Don’t Taint All Charities

To the Editor:

Re “A Whistle-Blower’s Letter Led to a Charity’s Firing of Its Chief Executive” (news article, Sept. 16):

The troubling allegations surrounding the recently departed head of the nonprofit Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty are sad and unfortunate. But what would be more unfortunate is if the entire nonprofit sector — the many thousands of mission-driven organizations serving New York City — were tainted as well.

Legitimate and honest service organizations must not be penalized because of the negative publicity surrounding a single individual. New York City’s vulnerable people depend upon a robust and vital social service infrastructure of agencies in our city.

And these agencies in turn depend upon the generosity and trust of donors whose belief in the integrity of our organizations must not be shaken by this regrettable incident.

Executive Director
United Neighborhood Houses
New York, Sept. 16, 2013

Explore Your Future in partnership with Hudson Guild

Thursday, June 27, 2013

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.  

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! 

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.