Hear Our Voices: CVH January 2014 Update


Community Voices Heard January 2014 Newsletter!

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Community Voices Heard

CVH Building a Movement in Westchester

CVH’s work is expanding throughout Westchester County. We’ve held well-attended public meetings in Yonkers and White Plains already, with upcoming meetings planned for Port Chester, Peekskill and Mount Vernon. Julia Solow, the latest addition to CVH’s organizing team in Westchester, has been doing targeted outreach in the Latino/a community. We are also happy to be hosting Maureen Darras, the new organizer for the Envisioning Westchester collaboration from our Yonkers office. Maureen will be helping to tie together the elements of the progressive movement present throughout the county.

Meanwhile, deep work continues in Yonkers, where Juanita Lewis and local members are the lead community engagement partners with the City of Yonkers, the Yonkers Municipal Housing Authority, and HUD for the Choice Neighborhood Initiative, which we hope will bring $30 million of federal funds to the city for housing, employment, education, crime and health. And while the City recently passed an affordable housing ordinance, it fell short of ensuring adequate affordable housing will be available for all residents of Yonkers. 

Contact Juanita@CVHaction.org for more information about CVH's work in Westchester.


Is this the moment to end the Work Experience Program?

CVH leaders statewide certainly think so!

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly pledged to end WEP at a public forum during the mayoral campaign (at 1:15 in this video) and Assemblyman Keith Wright and Senator Diane Savino have introduced legislation in Albany (A7119/ S5120) to bring an end to state-mandated unpaid labor for welfare recipients.

NYC leaders and campaign organizer Jennifer Hadlock (Jennifer@CVHaction.org) will be leading this charge in the months ahead. Email Jennifer to get involved.



For NYC Council Speaker Race, CVH Co-Hosts Public Forums

In November, we partnered with dozens of organizations and incoming and returning NYC Councilmembers to hold the first-ever series of public forums so that New Yorkers could hear from the contenders for the City Council's top position. There were 5 forums. We helped to host the Bronx and Staten Island events, and CVH was a primary anchor of the Manhattan event, which was ultimately co-hosted and brought to New Yorkers live on NY1. The moderators noted CVH on-air as one of the primary sponsors and asked a question about Participatory Budgeting of all the Speaker contenders. Watch and read more on NY1's website.

The members of the NY City Council will elect their Speaker at the Council's first meeting of the year, on January 8, 2014. Contact Chris@CVHaction.org for more information.


Poughkeepsie Members Fight for Quality Public Transportation

To get to their schools, shopping, and medical appointments, quality and affordable public transportation is critical for low-income CVH members that do not have their own cars. That is why members have been standing up to fight back against Dutchess County's undemocratic effort to take over the City of Poughkeepsie's public bus system, a move that would likely lead to greatly reduced service in the low-income neighborhoods of Poughkeepsie.

Local members and organizer Blair Goodman have been leafletting at bus stops, rallying with labor union allies, testifying at city council hearings and more to help build awareness of the County's dangerous proposal.

Contact Blair@CVHaction.org to get involved.


Participatory Budgeting Going Big in NYC, White House Gets Involved

While CVH members and organizer Carmen Piniero continue to work with Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito to deepen the PB work in East Harlem and the South Bronx, we are looking at more than 20 Councilmembers taking on PB processes in their districts starting in the summer of 2014. We are hopeful the next City Council Speaker will support Councilmembers and community partners to do robust community outreach in these local PB efforts, as leading Speaker contenders have discussed. 

During an opening day workshop at the Talking Transition tent, we discussed what Mayor de Blasio could do to expand PB and we are optimistic that Mayor de Blasio will "pilot expanding participatory budgeting to broader pools of city grant funding and engage New Yorkers more deeply in setting priorities for their communities," as Mayor de Blasio discussed during his campaign.

And, adding to these exciting developments, the White House recently announced that it will be working with cities around the country to support PB processes in the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative. We released a report a few years ago alongside the Advancement Project, Syracuse United Neighbors, and PUSH Buffalo, that included a recommendation to bring PB to HUD funding such as SC/SI. This announcement from the White House the potential to bring millions upon millions of dollars through locally-controlled PB processes around the country!

We now need volunteers to help with community outreach throughout the city for the current PB process already underway, so if you are available, please contact Christopher King, PBNYC Community Engagement Strategist, at CKing@CVHaction.org to get involved. For more on the advocacy efforts, contact Sondra@CVHaction.org.


Rental Property Registry to Help Thousands in Newburgh

After years of work from Newburgh members and organizer Rae Leiner, the Newburgh City Council recently passed a rental property registry that will help renters in Newburgh to better understand who their true landlord is, moving the city a step closer to having quality housing for all.

This will be a critical resource in a renter-heavy city like Newburgh, where many members are dealing with severe issues ranging from bed bug infestations to carbon monoxide poising.  

CVH members are working hard to talk with their neighbors to make sure that people are educated about this resource and are using it to deal with issues in their rentals.

For more information, contact Rae@CVHaction.org.



Defending public housing in nyc

CVH's public housing campaign has been working alongside other members of the NYC Alliance to Preserve Public Housing to ensure that the proposed NYCHA Infill/ Land-Lease plan would not move forward as constructed under the Bloomberg Administration.  Under the proposal, private developers would be given the right to build on 11 plots that are currently parking lots, sports fields and other open spaces in 8 public housing developments, 3 of which are in Upper Manhattan where CVH has a strong base.  CVH organized a number of walk outs of "public hearings" on the subject, lifting up the frustration of residents that rightfully felt the process was not truly incorporating the opinions and priorities of the residents themselves, and that other less controversial revenue-raising options had not yet been implemented.  CVH also supported legal challenges to the plan.

Right before the holidays, the New York Times reported that the Bloomberg Administration would ease off the land lease proposal and leave it to the de Blasio Administration. Success!  In 2014, CVH members are committed to finding ways to address the revenue shortfall in public housing, ensuring that residents have a say in how things are handled, and working with the new Administration to make public housing the priority it needs to be.

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