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RTCNYC and TakeRoot Justice conducted a participatory action research project to investigate the impact of Right to Counsel on tenant organizing among low-income tenants. We conducted focus groups with tenants and with housing organizers. Utilizing a participatory action research model, tenants and organizers participated in the development of research instruments, were trained to administer the research, facilitated focus groups, and engaged in opportunities for skill-building and leadership development.Our research shows:* Right to Counsel strengthens organizing in a variety of ways. It serves as a know-your-rights tool, helps build a base of involved tenants, and opens the door to new organizing tactics and strategies.* Tenants feel less stress and fear knowing they have the right to legal representation in court, which helps them navigate housing court with confidence and success and prompts them to take action against their landlords.* Right to Counsel creates opportunities for tenants, organizers, and attorneys to navigate relationships, share knowledge and history and provide trainings, all in the service of building the tenants' rights movement.* The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is deliberate and successful in creating and sustaining a tenant-led infrastructure and movement-building spaces.These findings demonstrate the various ways in which the Right to Counsel meaningfully contributes to New York City's robust tenant movement. These findings also offer insight and inspiration for tenants and organizers fighting for the Right to Counsel in their cities.
For generations, immigrants have been a lifeline for New York State, helping it thrive. From building the Erie Canal, connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, to powering the booming industries of Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and so many towns and cities in between, immigrants have been at the center of the state's economic growth. When industries changed and upstate populations declined, immigrant and refugee communities provided an essential buffer, helping to support and sustain New York's "heartland." In Utica, the significant refugeepopulation (one out of every four residents is a refugee) helped preserve areas facing economic decline and in Buffalo, middle-class immigrants strengthened housing and retail markets in aging suburban neighborhoods.Despite this rich history, New York is not capitalizing fully on what immigrants can contribute to their communities and the state. For example, many immigrants lack access to vocational and technical education necessary to help local and regional economies improve. With unpredictable threats to New York's economy from the Federal government, now is a particularly important time for the state to exercise leadership and pursue leading-edge policies on behalf of immigrant New Yorkers.This Blueprint for Immigrant New York is a vision and plan to help immigrant New Yorkers, and ultimately the state at large, achieve its full potential.
CASA is proud to present our new white paper, Resisting Displacement: Lessons from CASA's Tenant Organizing in the Southwest Bronx!In the last year, CASA has organized or provided technical assistance to over 90 buildings, which are home to more than 7,000 families. In the last year alone, over 4,000 tenants have actively engaged in CASA's work. Our new white paper shares lessons in tenant organizing, explores the forces of displacement that we are up against, and solutions for fighting displacement in the context of an impending rezoning.This is a critical moment for the Southwest Bronx. A potential rezoning is imminent, and could have devastating impacts on low-income tenants of color, their communities, and the state of affordable housing. CASA has drawn on our organizing experience, coalition work, previous research and the experiences of the tenants we work with to draft this white paper.In the report we:Present a clear and accurate definition of displacement and counter the false assertion that most tenants leave neighborhoods by choice;Explain the tactics that landlords already use to exert displacement pressures on low-income tenants of color;Emphasize the risk of increased displacement posed by rezoning, and in particular the Jerome Avenue rezoning, when new housing is not genuinely affordable and there are insufficient protections against displacement;Offer solutions that would protect tenants from displacement, allow them to remain in their homes, and preserve their communities.
No Access: The Need for Improved Language Assistance Services for Limited English Proficient Asian Tenants of the New York City Housing AuthoritySeptember 15, 2015
More than 400,000 New Yorkers live in public housing developments run by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).1 For them, NYCHA is property manager, landlord and super. NYCHA systems and staff are the points of interface for repair issues, rental payments, emergency information and more. For NYCHA tenants with limited proficiency in English, navigating the policies, procedures and paperwork associated with their housing can be fraught with challenges. Issues of language access have serious implications. Tenants whose rents are raised incorrectly may be taken to housing court for non-payment of rent because they were not able to communicate with NYCHA to resolve the error. Tenants may be forced to miss work because they have to schedule repeated meetings in an attempt to communicate their needs. Victims of domestic violence who are in need of emergency housing transfers may not be able to make that need known. The safety of tenants' apartments can be jeopardized by a lack of language access in the repairs process. Crucial housing information, such as emergency protocols, may not reach tenants because they are not translated. Lack of language access impacts the day-to-day experience of tenants in interaction with NYCHA staff and their ability to participate meaningfully in the NYCHA community, perpetuating isolation.
Criminal, Victim, or Worker? The Effects of New York's Human Trafficking Intervention Courts on Adults Charged with Prostitution-Related OffensesOctober 1, 2014
In fall 2013 the State of New York Unified Court System announced the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, an initiative that according to a press release "seeks to promote a just and compassionate resolution to cases involving those charged with prostitution -- treating these defendants as trafficking victims, likely to be in dire need of medical treatment and other critical services."Over the past year, members of the sex worker-led organization Red Umbrella Project have been observing and documenting the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts in Brooklyn and Queens to figure out what happens in the court rooms and how they handle prostitution related charges. The HTICs have the goal of reframing people as victims instead of criminals -- but is that really what's going on?
One Step Forward Half a Step Back: A Status Report on Bias-Based Bullying of Asian American Students in New York City SchoolsSeptember 1, 2013
In September 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced Chancellor's Regulation A-832, which established policies and procedures on how New York City schools should respond to bias-based harassment, intimidation, and bullying in schools. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the Sikh Coalition, and many other community organizations had long advocated for such measures and we applauded the city for taking a foundational step to ensure the safety of all students.However, as the five-year anniversary of the anti-bullying Regulation approaches, our survey found a significant gap between the promise of bias-free public schools and the day-to-day reality of Asian American students.
A new report released today documents the astonishing number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg's tenure. The report finds that NYPD used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years. These are hours that police officers might have otherwise have spent investigating and solving serious crimes.The report was prepared by Dr. Harry Levine, Professor of Sociology at Queens College and recognized expert on marijuana possession arrests, at the request of members of the New York City Council and the New York State Legislature.Additionally, the report estimates that the people arrested by NYPD for marijuana possession have spent 5,000,000 hours in police custody over the last decade. The report includes a compendium of quotes from academics, journalists, law enforcement professionals and elected officials attesting to the wastefulness, consequences and racial disparities inherent in these arrests.
Local Law 2011/6 means that New York City will no longer hand over its residents to federal immigration authorities if they meet several criteria: they have not been convicted of a crime, they have no criminal cases, criminal warrants, or outstanding deportation warrants or orders pending against them, and they are not listed on federal gang and terrorism databases. In other words, New York City will not hand over immigrants who are found not guilty, have their charges dropped, or obtain a non-criminal outcome (such as a violation or "youthful offender" conviction) in their case. This manual helps community members to undertand new protections for immigrants in the Department of Correction Facilities.
Given the increase in the number of complaints to CAIR alleging airport profiling of American Muslims, it is important that all those taking part in Hajj, or other holiday travel, be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities. As an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel. You have the right to complain about treatment that you believe is discriminatory.
After hearing numerous complaints of police abuse and misconduct against LGBTQ people in Jackson Heights, Queens, Make the Road New York (with help from the Anti-Violence Project) surveyed over 300 Queens residents about their experiences with police in the neighborhood. The survey findings and individual testimonies reveal a disturbing and systemic pattern of police harassment, violence, and intimidation directed at LGBTQ community members. The discriminatory use of "stop and frisks" in the policing of communities of color has been well documented -- the 110th and 115th precincts that are responsible for policing Jackson Heights had 90%-93% rates of stop and frisk activity towards people of color in 2011. Our survey reveals, however, that within this community LGBTQ people of color are particularly targeted.
In order to capture the ongoing effects of profiling on the daily lives of South Asians in New York City, seven organizations ("New York City Profiling Collaborative" or the "Collaborative") embarked on an initiative to document community members' experiences. Members of the Collaborative included six organizations based in New York City that serve, organize, or advocate on behalf of South Asian community members, particularly in Brooklyn and Queens: DRUM- Desis Rising Up and Moving; The Sikh Coalition; UNITED SIKhS; South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!); Coney Island Avenue Project (CIAP); and Council of Peoples Organization (COPO); and also included the national organization, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). The Collaborative's objectives were to understand and illuminate the impact of ongoing profiling by attempting to answer three primary questions:How does profiling -- specifically in the contexts of law enforcement interactions, immigration, and airport security screenings -- continue to affect South Asians in New York City over ten years after September 11th?What are the human impacts and costs of profiling on the daily lives of South Asian individuals, families, and communities in New York City?What measures can federal, state, and local policymakers and stakeholders take to address and eliminate profiling?The findings and recommendations of this report are based on the analysis of 628 surveys, 25 interviews, and four focus groups conducted with South Asian community members primarily in Brooklyn and Queens between August 2010 and August 2011. The report also draws extensively from secondary data sources. It is important to note that the documentation project does not claim to be a statistical analysis of profiling. Rather, the purpose was to gather qualitative evidence of the impact of profiling on South Asians in New York City, to document individual stories, and to make recommendations to policymakers and stakeholders.
The Human Right to Paid Sick Leave: How the United States and New York City Fail Low-Income Women of ColorOctober 1, 2011
Paid sick leave - the right to paid time off when a worker is too ill to work or to enable a worker to care for an ill family member - is enshrined under human rights law. Yet the United States fails its people in not mandating the human right to paid sick leave in its policies. This briefing aims to provide policy makers and advocates with an overview of: 1) the current situation in the United States and the disparities suffered by low-income women of color; 2) relevant human rights standards to advance this issue of economic and social justice; 3) recommendations and models to implement a paid sick leave policy on the local, state, and/or national level, and; 4) how the popular demand for paid sick leave policies override the minimal costs of implementation.
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