Hear Our Voices: CVH March 2012 Update

CVH's monthly update to members and allies || March 2012




Community Voices Heard (CVH) is an organization of low-income people, predominantly women with experience receiving public assistance, working to build power in New York City and State to improve the lives of our families and communities. We organize to build power and win change on issues that include jobs, housing and a democracy that is responsive to all New Yorkers.



** Weekly actions to close corporate loopholes and make corporations pay their fair share

** March 7: Candidates Forum in Poughkeepsie for Special Election candidates

** March 20: Special Election for Assembly District 100 in Poughkeepsie and Newburgh

** March 25-31: Participatory Budgeting vote in 4 NYC Council districts

** March 30-31: Participatory Budgeting International Conference in NYC



CVH Leaders Chart 2012 Priorities

In early February, about 60 CVH leaders from NYC, Yonkers, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie gathered to review 2011 and map out our priorities for the year ahead.  Among lots of other great work, we reviewed our direct actions in Albany for progressive taxation that saw us undertake our first organized civil disobedience and the Governor’s decision to raise $2 billion from the state’s wealthiest taxpayers – a deal that was not perfect, but was a position he took only after months of organizing by CVH and allies.

This year, members identified public financing of elections, closing corporate loopholes, and the expansion of participatory budgeting as three of our state-wide priorities in addition to our local and campaign priorities. This will include a trip to Albany in March 2012 to raise the importance of these issues and a series of actions on corporate targets. For more information, contact Henry@cvhaction.org.


CVH Goes to The White House!

CVH Board Members Ann Bragg and Afua Atta-Mensah went to The White House in January as part of a delegation of the NYS Civic Engagement Table.  The Common Purpose Project of The White House wanted to meet representatives from non-profit groups from across the country to share policy priorities and connect their base to the center.  At The White House, Ann and Afua spoke with a variety of staff, including Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, about public housing, CDBG-Community Development Block Grants, the reauthorization of TANF-Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and more! Here’s Ann outside the White House!


Participatory Budgeting Breaking New Ground in NYC!

The Participatory Budgeting project in New York City has seen hundreds of New Yorkers from diverse background and from all around the city come together to brainstorm how they would like to invest $1 million of city council funds in their own neighborhood. Groups brainstormed ideas, then reviewed, improved, and priced out those plans and they are now putting their proposals forward to their neighbors for a public vote at the end of March.  That’s right: Participatory Budgeting allows New Yorkers to directly propose, review and then decide on how to invest millions of dollars in their own communities! 

Recently we had Neighborhood Assemblies in East Harlem, the Upper West Side, Manhattan Valley, and Mott Haven for residents to consider how they would like to invest the $1 million put forward by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.  (Check out pictures on our Facebook page!)  Next, assemblies will be in Flatbush, the Far Rockaways/ Broad Channel, and Park Slope with Council Members Williams, Ulrich and Lander before the public vote at the end of March.  After the vote, we’ll be kicking into high gear for next year’s program, which we hope will see new NYC Council Members participating, as well as New York City Housing Authority and maybe even some cities outside New York City! Learn more on our Participatory Budgeting webpage.

We need your help, so please contact Sondra@cvhaction.org to join us for door-knocking, street outreach and more as we build up to the vote at the end of March!  If you're in District 8 (East Harlem, the Upper West Side, Manhattan Valley or Mott Haven) contact Carmen@cvhaction.org. Click here for more and then spread the word through Facebook to help mobilize!

And also, come and join us for the International Participatory Budget Conference on March 30-31 in NYC!


Yonkers, Newburgh & Poughkeepsie Working with New Elected Officials

In Yonkers last week, CVH members met with the city’s new Mayor, Mike Spano, to share with him our local priorities, including participatory budgeting, affordable housing, and job creation. Mayor Spano had what we consider to be positive reactions on all those issues and we will work closely with him to make sure he is using his position to fight for our families and communities! For more information, contact Juanita@cvhaction.org.  

Coming up, we will host a Candidates Forum with the candidates running in the March 20 special election to fill the vacant seat in Assembly District 100, which covers both Newburgh and Poughkeepsie.  The forum will be on March 7th at Poughkeepsie's Family Partnership Center at 6pm. The Center is located at 29 N Hamilton Street in Poughkeepsie. Please join us!

All this comes off our recent electoral efforts, which included our successful effort to win a ballot initiative that will see the creation of city council districts in Newburgh, instead of the current at-large voting system, which will mean elected officials that are more responsive to the needs of our community!  In Newburgh contact Rae@cvhaction.org and in Poughkeepsie contact Edgar@cvhaction.org to get involved in this important electoral work!


Public Housing Campaign tells NYCHA, "Don't Dump on Our Homes!"

This past weekend, the Public Housing campaign worked with residents of Washington Houses in East Harlem to call for NYCHA to stop its proposal to destroy a public picnic area by moving garbage compactors into that spaceCheck out the Fox 5 coverage on the Public Housing webpage.


Welfare/Workforce Campaign Works with TWU on Transitional Jobs in MTA; Releases Exciting New Website Tool

We’ve been working to get Transitional Jobs included in the contract between the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority and Transit Workers Union Local 100.  TWU leaders have been great allies in this fight and we thank them for standing with us! We would also like to thank DC37 who have been great long-time allies on this work, as well as UAW Region 9A, RWDSU and many other allies who are stepping up in this fight against unfair and unpaid Work Experience Program placements. Contact Jennifer@cvhaction.org for more info on how to get involved and to learn more about a letter groups can sign-on to in opposition to WEP and in support of Transitional Jobs! The full letter will be available for circulation shortly.

The campaign has started an exciting new experiment to document abuses or violations at WEP worksites.  A new website at http://cvhaction.tumblr.com/ provides WEP workers with a space to document any health or safety violations they face at their work site.  Be sure to share the link with friends and family members doing WEP assignments and tell them to email EndWEP@cvhaction.org with the stories they want posted to the website.  And send pictures of the working conditions if you can so we can document violations! A flyer is available in our online action center.


Take Action Online with CVH

We recently created a new online action center! You can find our Facebook account (Facebook.com/cvhaction), our Twitter handle (@CVHaction) and opportunities to take online action, including our very first online petition, which calls on Governor Cuomo to keep his word by vetoing the unfair legislative boundaries drafted by the state legislature.  It is important that we not have our voting rights taken from us, and unfair lines would do just that. Click here to check out the online action center, and be sure to sign the petition to defend your voting rights!


 CVH Releases CDBG Report with PUSH Buffalo, SUN & Advancement Project

After many months of work, CVH is proud to release the new report, “Stimulating Smart Investments and Job Creation in Low-Income Communities: A User-Friendly Guide to the Federal Community Development Block Grant Program for Grassroots Organizations and Local Policy Makers.”  The report, prepared alongside allies at Syracuse United Neighbors and PUSH-Buffalo, and the excellent team at Advancement Project, is available at the new website www.CDBGCommunityPower.org.  Check out the site and be sure share it on Facebook! The report is also available in the Reports section of our website.


As always, CVH has been very busy over the last month and there is LOTS more coming up.  Be sure to stay up to date with everything going on by getting emails, following online and (the best option!) get in touch with an organizer directly!


In solidarity,

Sondra Youdelman

CVH Executive Director