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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.
One of the most widespread tools used to shape our modern towns and cities are zoning rules and regulations that are set forth by local municipalities. Local governments wield enormous power over the use and development of land, which can significantly impact local communities, particularly when zoning laws are changed through a rezoning. Rezoning has been used to protect the needs of residents and businesses, preserve historic communities, encourage affordable housing development, increase neighborhood employment opportunities, and expand transportation options. While rezoning an area will not solve all the complex problems facing communities, it remains a critical way that communities can fight gentrification and promote housing and employment opportunities. When rezoning is undertaken with community residents' needs and priorities at the forefront, it can be a powerful tool to ensure that development is responsive to the needs and interests of residents. Unfortunately, this often does not happen, particularly in working-class communities of color.
A Report Card for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA): Residents' Evaluation of NYCHA and Recommendations for ImprovementAugust 1, 2011
From May 2010 through April 2011, members of five community organizations, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Community Voices Heard (CVH), Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), and Mothers on the Move (MOM), with support from the Community Development Project (CDP) of the Urban Justice Center, collected 1,446 report cards that asked public housing residents to "grade" the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Residents graded NYCHA--using a traditional letter grading scale--on management, the centralized calling center, repairs, and maintenance of buildings and developments. Public housing residents were involved in every stage of the research and participated in the development of report card questions, research findings, and policy recommendations. NYCHA received failing grades in 10 of the 26 categories.
Building the Mekong: Healing the Wounds of War and Forging the Future of the Southeast Asian Community in the BronxMarch 1, 2011
Since 1995, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities has been organizing the Southeast Asian community in the Bronx to fight against systemic injustice. As the only pan-Asian organization in New York City focused on organizing, CAAAV has been successful at building multi-generational community leadership that both works on the local level as well as participates in the broader social justice movement. In the Bronx, CAAAV created the Youth Leadership Project (YLP) to train young people in the Southeast Asian community as organizers. CAAAV members have led several successful campaigns and inspired a generation of Southeast Asian organizations across the country, including Khmer Girls in Action, PRYSM, and Freedom, Inc. Over the years, as vital social services for Southeast Asians in the Bronx have been systematically cut, CAAAV began to engage other community leaders and key stakeholders to strategize how to address these issues.In 2009, youth members of CAAAV's Youth Leadership Program (YLP) worked with the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center to create a survey that would be used to identify community needs and priorities. CAAAV members then spent several months in 2010 conducting those surveys. This report is the result of that survey project.
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