The UNH Blog

United Neighborhood Houses Says No to a Constitutional Convention

Thursday, November 02, 2017

UNH urges New Yorkers to oppose the constitutional convention and vote no on Proposal 1 on the back of the ballot on November 7. A New York State constitutional convention opens the door for delegates to  amend or rewrite any provision they choose, which puts every part of the constitution in jeopardy, including those that protect the most at-risk New Yorkers.

New York’s constitution is unique in that it carries stronger social welfare protections for low-income New Yorkers than the U.S. Constitution.

At a time when immigrants are increasingly disenfranchised on the federal level, the New York State Constitution’s protections which bar withholding services due to citizenship status are vital.

As the federal government puts forth proposals to cut funding for health care, hunger relief, homeless shelters, and other social services, we must protect our state constitution’s mandate that New York serve these vulnerable populations.

We cannot allow these provisions to be put at risk. It is the role of all New Yorkers to protect our neighbors. As New Yorkers and as human services advocates, we’re voting no.

UNH Statement on DACA

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

United Neighborhood Houses of New York and its network of 38 member settlement houses, serving more than 750,000 people each year, are deeply concerned about the federal administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program.

The significant contributions of immigrant families continue to be irrevocably woven into the fabric of our city and our nation as they have been since the nation was founded. Each day, immigrant New Yorkers contribute their gifts, talents, and energy to building our communities, city, and country. The rescinding of DACA spreads a fear of deportation which can paralyze immigrant communities and fuels a false narrative that America can be reshaped into a country where immigrants have no place. 


We will do all we can to combat the toxic effects of this fear narrative

through information sharing and advocacy.


We will ensure the contributions of our immigrant neighbors are acknowledged.


We commit to continuing to work so all who wish to call this country home

can realize their goals and achieve their dreams.


We are deeply concerned about the thousands of DACA recipients in our City and reaffirm our commitment to support and recognize the talents and contributions of these young DREAMers and their families. We are proud that settlement houses and partner organizations remain committed to ensuring people have legal representation and counsel. We call on Congress and the federal administration to create a meaningful opportunity for DREAMers to continue to live, work, and pursue their dreams. In addition, we urge Congress to pass immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers and their families. 

UNH's SYEPers Look Back

Thursday, August 24, 2017

This year, UNH hosted two Summer Youth Employment Program workers. To learn more about SYEP, click here

By Annie Huynh, SYEP

I’m Annie Huynh and I will be starting my second year at Mount Holyoke College. I’m currently at United Neighborhood Houses as a Summer Youth Employment Program Participant for the summer of 2017. I am at UNH because I love being able to contribute to the community and improve lives. I was never quite knowledgeable about advocacy and policy and UNH provided the opportunity for me to gain an insight on just some of the things that are done. Being able to be a part of UNH this summer was a learning experience. Throughout the 6 weeks here, I’ve attended various meetings with the UNH staff and with youth services providers. I’ve also participated in the Advocacy Institute trainings which were so informational and taught me a lot about advocacy and policy. There was so much that I didn’t know, and having the opportunity to learn was rewarding. While in the office, I’ve worked on creating spreadsheets and several projects such as inputting Voter Contact Information, researching the City Councils who are running for each District, and organizing the questions posed by and responses from Settlement Houses Members.  

UNH wishes Annie the best of luck!

Fall 2017 EMM Scholars

Thursday, August 03, 2017
Congratulations to the 39 settlement house staff members who have been awarded the UNH Emily Menlo Marks Scholarship! These staff members work hard to support their communities and further their educations, and we are proud to support them. This scholarship is named for UNH's former Executive Director in honor of the contributions she made to social justice and community building. Learn more about the EMM scholarship here. To support the scholarship so we can continue to offer this opportunity, please click here!

Fall 2017 Winners:

Name Settlement House Title
Corina Pintor Bronx House Chief Operating Officer
Yiesel Familia BronxWorks Grants & Contracts Accountant
Chenel Luten CAMBA Case Planner
Finola Burton Cypress Hills LDC Program Director
Jessenia Chapin Cypress Hills LDC Family & Community Partnership Manager
Jahania Pizzini East Side House Settlement Student Advisor
Maxwell Griffith East Side House Settlement Program Director
Melissa Perez East Side House Settlement Case Manager
Adetola Oloruntoba Educational Alliance Youth Advocate
Isabel Tejada-Salazar Educational Alliance/14th Street Y Preschool Assistant Teacher
Keithie Lawrence Educational Alliance Behavioral Supervisor
Yessica Breton Green Goddard Riverside Assistant Teacher
Monica Martinez Grand Street Settlement Assistant Teacher
Sonia Lugo Grand Street Settlement Program Assistant
Sophia Candice Brown Grand Street Settlement Human Resources Assistant
Laura Marceca Greenwich House Admin. Coordinator of Senior Centers
Tasha Atkins Hamilton-Madison House Lead Teacher
LaGene Wright Henry Street Settlement Admin. Asst. Supervisor
Zhiming Liang Henry Street Settlement Program Associate
Billy Rivera Hudson Guild Assistant Teacher
Cara Aloisio Hudson Guild Connections to Care (C2C) Manager
Arely Hernandez Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement Senior Group Leader
Iftikhar Mahmud Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement Program Director
Alyssa Lenihan Kingsbridge Heights Community Center Teen Education Coordinator
Jennifer Bartlett Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Supportive Housing Coordinator
Judy Sanchez Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Science and Math Coordinator
Samantha Chau Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Assistant Teacher
Cecilia Morello Mosholu Montefiore Parent Family Community Engagement Coordinator
Avril Guzman New Settlement Apartments College Advisor
Christina Medina New Settlement Apartments Supervisor
Tasheema Lucas New Settlement Apartments Asst. Coordinator-Program for Girls & Young Women
Jessica Liriano Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers Administrative Assistant
Katherine Kehs Shorefront Y Head Counselor Special Needs Program
Adriana Jadan Sunnyside Community Services Budget Analyst/Payroll Specialist
Victor Dominguez Sunnyside Community Services Case Manager
Vivian Karol Morales Sunnyside Community Services Caregiver Support Specialist
Gladys Stambakis University Settlement Family Worker
Lauren Nye University Settlement Grants Coordinator
Shamek Johnson University Settlement Supervisor of Training and Internships

Bronx House Joins UNH

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), the membership organization of settlement houses in New York City, is thrilled to welcome Bronx House as a new member. At their June meeting, the UNH Board of Directors voted to welcome Bronx House as an Associate Member, making them the 38th settlement house in the nearly century-old organization.

Settlement houses serve more than a 750,000 New Yorkers annually by offering services directly related to the needs in their communities. They provide early childhood education, after-school programs, college readiness, job skills training, English classes, housing and immigration legal support, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation facilities, home health care, meals-on-wheels, senior centers, arts and fitness programs, and much more.

Bronx House was founded in 1911 and serves an average of 20,000 area residents each year in programs ranging from after-school, summer camp, music classes, senior programming, fitness classes, and more. They exemplify the settlement house model with innovative and unique programming, including a movement class for people with Parkinson’s Disease and resources for children with special needs.

Membership in UNH will connect Bronx House with the 37 other settlement houses in New York City. They will have access to peer workgroups to share best practices, capacity building programs that focus on program development, scholarships and trainings for staff members, and will join the unified voice of settlement house advocacy. Associate Members enjoy the benefits of membership without voting privileges and have two years to apply for full membership.

“Bronx House is a clear example of an organization rooted in the settlement house model and we are so glad to welcome them to the UNH family. We are looking forward to supporting their organization and community as well as bringing their expertise to our other members,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses.

“Bronx House is proud to join the exemplary settlement houses and community centers in New York City that are part of UNH. We are thrilled to be working with one of the finest membership organizations in New York City and look forward too many years of collaborative efforts on behalf of all of New York City's great communities.,” said Howard Martin, Chief Executive Officer at Bronx House.

By supporting Bronx House, UNH is supporting the community they serve. We are proud to have them as a new associate member.

Ocean Bay CDC Joins UNH

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation Joins

United Neighborhood Houses as Associate Member




United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), the membership organization of settlement houses in New York City, is now stronger by one member. At their March meeting, the UNH Board of Directors voted to welcome Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation in Far Rockaway, Queens, as an Associate Member, making them the 38th settlement house in the nearly century-old organization.


Settlement houses serve more than a half million New Yorkers annually by offering services directly related to the needs in their communities. They provide early childhood education, after-school programs, college readiness, job skills training, English classes, housing and immigration legal support, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation facilities, home health care, meals-on-wheels, senior centers, and much more.


Ocean Bay is deeply rooted in their Far Rockaway community. They are best known for their workforce development program which trains unemployed or underemployed youth and adults in academic and vocational skills. They offer community engagement initiatives, community service opportunities, and identify job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated – an important program to reduce recidivism. Ocean Bay is helping the Far Rockaway community become a healthier, more vibrant neighborhood.


Membership in UNH will help Ocean Bay connect their geographically isolated community to the broader settlement house community in New York City. They will have access to workgroups to share best practices, capacity building programs that help with program development, scholarships and trainings for staff members, and will join the unified voice of settlement house advocacy.


“We are thrilled to welcome Ocean Bay into the UNH family. We are looking forward to supporting Ocean Bay as they expand their services and begin serving more community members, including older adults. In addition, we are learning from them how to best develop newer settlement houses,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses.


The development of Ocean Bay into a settlement house is made possible by a grant to UNH from Citi Foundation, which aims to support the Rockaway community in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Through this grant, UNH has been working with Ocean Bay to strengthen their organizational structure and programming to help them fit into the settlement house model.


“Working with UNH has been a wonderful way to meet our goals of providing more support in our community. We are looking forward to working with UNH and other settlement houses as we develop our programs and expand the number of people we serve,” said Pat Simon, Executive Director at Ocean Bay CDC.


By supporting Ocean Bay, UNH is supporting the community they serve. We are proud to have them as a new associate member and look forward to learning from them and supporting their goals.




UNH, founded in 1919, is the membership organization of 38 New York City settlement houses and community centers. UNH member agencies comprise of one of the largest human service systems in New York City and provide high quality services at more than 600 sites to more than a half million New Yorkers each year.

Spring 2017 Emerging Leaders Program

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Congratulations to the 25 settlement house staff members accepted into the Spring 2017 UNH Emerging Leaders program! Run in partnership with Baruch College, this program provides leadership training for the next generation of settlement house executives. The Spring class includes:

Settlement House


Job Title


LaShonne Greene

Program Director

Center for Family Life

Jennifer Wittlin

Foster Care Coordinator/Preventive Services Supervisor

Chinese American Planning Council

Steve Mei

Interim Director, Brooklyn Community Services

Cypress Hills Local Development Corp.

Barbara Moronta

Community School Program Director of Multicultural HS and Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep HS

East Side House Settlement

Aris Johnson

Director of Facilities

Educational Alliance

Jonah Schwartz

Clinical Supervisor

Grand Street Settlement

Marcia Jordan

HR Generalist

Greenwich House

Robert Bledsoe

Accounting Manager

Hamilton-Madison House

Fan Jiang

Director of PROS

Henry Street Settlement

Rachel Hughes

Program Director, Senior Companion Program

Hudson Guild

Christine Dey

Director of Social Services

Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement

Iftikhar Mahmud

Program Director

Kingsbridge Heights Community Ctr

Noris De Jesus-Petrone


Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Monique Ford

Director of Visual and Performing Arts

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp.

Ivelisse Urena

Academic Counselor


Warren McDowell


Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Ctr.

Raye McCollum

Quality Improvement Director

Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Ctr.

Kwame Mensah

Manager of Sector Training & Development

Sunnyside Community Services

Jennifer Silverman

Manager of Institutional Giving

United Neighborhood Houses

Nora Moran

Policy Analyst

Union Settlement

Melinda Barr

Educational Center Director

University Settlement

Christine Rivera

Deputy Director of Middle School

University Settlement

Marilus Castellanos

Director, Healthy Families & Family Enrichment Program


Elizabeth Ghunney

Project Coordinator, Citywide Homes Inspections


Jamie Yellen

Program Director

Reflecting on Youth Action Day 2017

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

On January 25, 2017, United Neighborhood Houses brought staff, allies, and nearly 300 youth to Albany for the 17th annual Youth Action Day, where youth spoke (sometimes sang, sometimes laid down verse) about the importance of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) in their lives. Then, youth and chaperones went from office to office, meeting with more than 160 legislative offices and explained how summer jobs helped their family make ends meet, how summer jobs showed them new career possibilities, how summer jobs showed them whole new ways of interacting with their communities.

SYEP is a statewide program that funds summer jobs for youth between the ages of 14 and 20. In New York City, state funds supplement City, federal, and private funds for a program that is open for 14- to 24-year-olds. The jobs are wide-ranging: youth work in summer camps, offices of elected officials, chain stores, parks, the fashion industry, cultural institutions, health care, and more.


Organizing Youth Action Day is a lot of work. Before the main event I was joined by colleagues as we trained hundreds of teens so they could be prepared to tell their personal stories, speak with elected officials, and explain the program. Hundreds of meetings were scheduled for the teens with elected officials as schedules were balanced and organized. Then, on Youth Action Day, it all came together. Youth explained to legislators that their jobs taught them how to handle adult responsibility. They talked about using their SYEP money to pay for school supplies. Teens elaborated about how they discovered passions for education, healthcare, and community service in general.

Statewide and citywide, demand for the program is higher than the supply of jobs. The State funded 18,746 SYEP jobs last year. New York City used its funding for 10,777 jobs, which combined with other funding sources to create 60,113 jobs in the summer of 2016. Approximately 6,000 youth outside of the City, however, were turned away from the program in the summer of 2015 (the year for which the most recently available statewide statistics are available). In 2016, while a record number of NYC youth took part in the program, 79,506 youth applied but didn’t get to take part. The program is not funded to allow every youth who wants a job to get one.


UNH has been successfully advocating for increases in SYEP funding for 17 years. Until the beginning of this century, the federal government funded the majority of summer jobs. That funding ended in 1999, giving birth to UNH’s tradition of Youth Action Day—nothing builds support for a program quite like hundreds of youth descending upon the State capital and making impassioned arguments directly to their lawmakers that the government support their desire to be productive in the summer.

With the support of thousands of youth through nearly two decades, UNH and allies have created reliable funding for SYEP from State and City funding sources. In 2012, the program was funded to provide 29,416 jobs to NYC’s youth. This summer, the City is projecting enough funding for 65,000 jobs.  


Each year I find Youth Action Day inspiring. It is one of many signs that, with some organizing and trust in the ability of young people to do serious advocacy work, we can make serious social change.


UNH Statement on Executive Orders

Friday, January 27, 2017

As our nation’s new President begins to translate his vision into policy via the use of Executive Orders and the bully pulpit, United Neighborhood Houses stands with New Yorkers in rejecting attacks on our shared values of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance. In particular, the President’s Executive Orders on immigration and his anticipated actions regarding refugees are an affront to the contributions millions of immigrants have made and continue to make each day to strengthen this nation. We support the promise made by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to keep New York City a sanctuary for our families, friends, and neighbors. Scapegoating any group of people for the challenges our nation faces is unacceptable and dangerous. Separating families and refusing refugees will not make us safer. Our nation is at its best, and its strongest, when we use our diverse talents, experiences, and ideas to build a future that works for all. New York City’s settlement houses do this by welcoming and strengthening people and families of every background, nation, and religion. We are honored to represent these organizations which have been doing this work for more than a century, and together we will be here for all New Yorkers throughout the next.

Continuing our Committment to Immigrants and Refugees

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The end of the year is a time many people go on vacation, see family, and celebrate the holidays. It’s frequently when we look back upon the year behind us and make resolutions for the year ahead.

To take a break from the buzz of New York City and enjoy some sun in the midst of a northeast winter, my wife and I recently took a trip to Key West. It was on this vacation that I was reminded of the important work waiting for me back home.

At the end of our trip our catamaran came across a migrant, bundled up in a sleeping bag, paddling a tiny inflatable mattress with a broomstick. Just three miles from the shore of the United States, our captain radioed the Coast Guard who came and picked him up. The closest land was the island nation of Cuba 90 miles away, but who knows from where he ventured, how many days he fought ocean currents, thirst, and hunger in the hopes of reaching our shores.

From what life he was escaping I don't know, but my heart broke twice as this drama unfolded before us. Once for this man, who undoubtedly will be brought to a detention center before being sent back to his home country, and a second time for the lack of humanity in my fellow travelers. For the most part they seemed indifferent to his suffering, happy to simply snap pictures without reflecting on the broader implications they were witnessing as a fellow human being with nothing but an air mattress and a broom floated near a boat carrying vacationing Americans.

I know countless tragedies like this play out daily across the world, but there is something about seeing it in play out in front of your eyes that is truly humbling. With this experience I approach 2017 with a renewed commitment to fight for all New Yorkers, and particularly our immigrant and refugee neighbors.

by Kevin Douglas, UNH Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy.
Contact Kevin at