The Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center strengthens the impact of grassroots organizations in New York City’s low-income and other excluded communities.
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City Council Approves Bronx Kingsbridge Ice Center
The city has officially given the OK for the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a massive ice-skating facility. Council members voted December 10 to approve the $320 million plan for the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC), which is expected to create 260 permanent jobs and 890 construction jobs, as well as bring in $1 million to the city annually.
The redevelopment will also provide a boon specifically to Bronx residents, thanks to a community benefits agreement (CBA) negotiated by CDP with the KNIC developer on behalf of a coalition of 27 community-based groups, including the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance. Among other things, hiring preference will be given to Bronx residents, workers will be paid a living wage of at least $10 an hour, and money is to be set aside for a free after-school tutoring and ice-skating program.
Daily News Op-Ed by CDP: New City Administration Should Expand/Support Participatory Budgeting
With 21 new City Council members and a new mayor set to start in January, now is a great opportunity to expand participatory budgeting (PB) in NYC, says CDP’s Director of Research and Policy Alexa Kasdan in a Daily News op-ed. The piece, coauthored with incoming Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres, offers suggestions to strengthen and expand the process by which New Yorkers can decide how to spend city funds.
Kasdan and Torres advocate for a greater allotment of the City budget to be determined by PB, additional funding for winning projects, dedicated City Council staff to facilitate the process, and larger citywide proposals. These changes were first elaborated in a memo by Community Voices Heard, the Participatory Budgeting Project, and CDP. With the progressive wave currently sweeping City politics, these are opportunities to make government more transparent and inclusive, and should be seized.
New report shows that Year 2 of Participatory Budgeting built on success of Year 1
CDP is pleased to share our newest report, “A People’s Budget: A Research and Evaluation Report on Year 2 of Participatory Budgeting in New York City.”
Through Participatory Budgeting, community members, instead of elected officials alone, decide how public funds should be spent from start to finish. The second year of Participatory Budgeting in New York City expanded upon the success of Year 1 by bringing together almost 14,000 New Yorkers from eight City Council districts, 6,000 more participants than Year 1. Data collected from over 8,200 surveys, 30 observations, and 63 in-depth interviews show that many of these participants were from diverse backgrounds, and that Participatory Budgeting engaged community members who would not otherwise participate in politics or have contact with government.
See the citywide summary and data from each of the participating Council Districts in Year 2: Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-8), Dan Halloran (R-19), Mark Weprin (D-23), Eric Ulrich (R-32), Stephen Levin (D-33), Brad Lander (D-39), David Greenfield (D-44) and Jumaane D. Williams (D-45). These Council Members allocated almost $10 million in capital discretionary funds to the 46 winning projects selected by community members in their districts.
New Report Shows Need for Clearer Regulations Around Non-Rent Fees
CDP and CASA are pleased to share our newest report, “The Burden of Fees: How Affordable Housing is Made Unaffordable.”
This report shows how landlords are systematically charging tenants non-rent fees–a confusing and oftentimes illegal set of fees added to a monthly rent statement. The data, collected from surveys and rent bills from almost 200 tenants in rent stabilized apartments in the Bronx, show that the problem of non-rent fees is serious and widespread. Although tenants often don’t know why they are being charged, they are paying these fees out of fear of being evicted. The fees add a considerable financial burden for low-income tenants and threaten to make rent stabilized housing unaffordable for tenants. The report offers recommendations to better regulate non-rent fees and protect rent stabilized tenants. Read coverage of the report from the New York Times, El Diario and Bronx News 12.