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City Limits Magazine, March 1996 Issue

City Limits Magazine, March 1996 Issue

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Cover Story: Holes in the Net, at the threshold of a new era in telecommunications, poor communities look to the promise of a wired future. Powerful forces may be blocking the way by Kim Nauer.

Other stories include Tom Beer on parents' drive for AIDS education in school; Mohamad Bazzi on CUNY student and faculty organizing to stop more than $100 million in planned cuts to CUNY schools; Gene Bryan Johnson on the city's flawed new AIDS plan; Jeremy Quittner on families battling the threat of eviction from the Jewish Theological Seminary; Peter Marcuse on the documented growing inequality in rents and housing conditions; Glenn Thrush on Jonathan Kozol's depiction of life in Mott Haven in his book "Amazing Grace;" Shawn Dove on the need for summer jobs programs for teens; James Bradley on Giuliani and budget problems; William Kornblum's book review of "The War Against the Poor: The Underclass and Antipoverty Policy," by Herbert J. Gans; Rose Marie Arce on her unsuccessful return home to a more conservative family during the holidays.
Cover Story: Holes in the Net, at the threshold of a new era in telecommunications, poor communities look to the promise of a wired future. Powerful forces may be blocking the way by Kim Nauer.

Other stories include Tom Beer on parents' drive for AIDS education in school; Mohamad Bazzi on CUNY student and faculty organizing to stop more than $100 million in planned cuts to CUNY schools; Gene Bryan Johnson on the city's flawed new AIDS plan; Jeremy Quittner on families battling the threat of eviction from the Jewish Theological Seminary; Peter Marcuse on the documented growing inequality in rents and housing conditions; Glenn Thrush on Jonathan Kozol's depiction of life in Mott Haven in his book "Amazing Grace;" Shawn Dove on the need for summer jobs programs for teens; James Bradley on Giuliani and budget problems; William Kornblum's book review of "The War Against the Poor: The Underclass and Antipoverty Policy," by Herbert J. Gans; Rose Marie Arce on her unsuccessful return home to a more conservative family during the holidays.

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Half Right, Rudy


B
ased on experience, it's an easy guess Jww last month's clash
between the police officers' union and the mayor would have
gone if a Democrat was in the driver's seat at City Hall. Think about it.
Mayor Giuliani got the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association leader-
ship so riled up, they claimed they wouldn't back him in the next elec-
tion. (We'll see Jww long that Jwlds. Would the PBA back Messinger?
Ferrer? Albanese? Right.) The dispute was over a new state law that
takes mediation of uniformed services contract disputes out of the hands
of city officials and gives it to a state-appointed arbitrator. City legisla-
tors-most of them Democrats-backed the law almost unanimously.
Don ~ doubt it: a Democratic mayor would have rolled over and said
"Uncle" at the first opportunity, to curry favor with the
law-and-order PBA.
EDITORIAL
In recent years Democrats have sJwwn consistent
weakness when it comes to making tough decisions and
sticking to them, particularly where the cops are con-
cerned. For all the disagreements City limits has with
City Hall when it comes to dealing with poverty issues
and budget policy, there's no denying Giuliani was right on this one.
The same can be said of the mayor's decision to loosen child welfare
privacy regulations. For years, good-government groups and the press
sought to do away with fUles that allowed government officials to hide
their most egregious mistakes behind legally mandated cries of "No
comment." Democratic mayors have never dared do anything about it.
Giuliani did. And now we are learning more about the inner workings of
child welfare than ever before.
As usual, Giuliani's done half the job right. It sJwuldn't be this way.
We sJwuld have a mayor wJw is not only strong-willed and able to abide
by tough decisions, but also compassionate and interested in building
up the standard of living of the millions of New Yorkers living with
incomes below the poverty line. Instead we appear doomed 10 having
one or the other.
What gives? You don't have to remove your heart to keep a spine.
Anyone preparing to run for mayor next year sJwuld learn the lesson well.
Cover photo by Clay Enos
(ity Limits
Volume XXI Number 3
City Limits is published ten times per year, monthly except
bi-monthly issues in June/July and August/September, by
the City Limits Community Information SelVice, Inc .• a non-
profit organization devoted to disseminating information
concerning neighborhood revitalization.
Editor: Andrew White
Senior Editors: Kim Nauer, Glenn Thrush
Special Projects Editor: Kierna Mayo Dawsey
Contributing Editors: James Bradley, Rob Polner,
Robin Epstein
Design Director: David Huang
Assistant Designer: Paul Leishman
Advertising Representative: Faith Wiggins
Proofreader: Sandy Socolar
Photographers: Eric R. Wolf, Gregory P. Mango,
Gary Gelb
Sponsors:
Association for Neighborhood and
Housing Development, Inc.
Pran Institute Center for Community
and Environmental Development
Urban Homesteading Assistance Board
Board of Directors*:
Eddie Bautista, New York Lawyers for
the Public Interest
Beverly Cheuvront, City HalVest
Francine Justa, Neighborhood Housing SelVices
Errol Louis, Central Brooklyn Partnership
Rima McCoy, Action for Community Empowerment
Rebecca Reich, Low Income Housing Fund
Andrew Reicher, UHAB
Tom Robbins, Journalist
Jay Small, ANHD
Doug Turetsky, former City Limits Editor
Pete Williams, National Urban League
"Affiliations for identification only
Subscription rates are: for individuals and community
groups, $25/Dne Year, $35/Two Years; for businesses,
foundations, banks, government agencies and libraries,
$35/0ne Year, $50/Two Years. Low income, unemployed,
$1O/0ne Year.
City Limits welcomes comments and article contributions.
Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for
return manuscripts. Material in City Limits does not neces-
sarily reflect the opinion of the sponsoring organizations.
Send correspondence to: City Limits, 40 Prince St., New
York, NY 10012. Postmaster: Send address changes to City
Li mits, 40 Pri nce St., NYC 100ll.
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City Limits IISSN 0199-0330)
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Copyright © 1996. All Rights ReselVed. No
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out the express permission of the publishers.
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Index and the Avery Index to Architectural
Periodicals and is available on microfilm from University
Microfi lms International. Ann Arbor, MI 48106.
CITY LIMITS
MARCH 1996
THE GRID ~
. ,

FEATURES
Holes in the Net ~
The Web ain't wide enough. Telecommunications refonn and the Internet should be vital
assets to poor communities. But they won't be. A report on who gets wired and who gets
a shock. By Kim Nauer
Mind the Gap ~
Still in the poorhouse. Once every three years the city releases its housing numbers. The
results are in. There's still a housing emergency-and the poor are out in the cold.
By Peter Marcuse
PROFILE
Facing Down the System ~
City teachers and principals are shortchanging their students when it comes to AIDS edu-
cation. A parents group takes on the bureaucracy. By Tom Beer
PIPELINES
Class Axe m.-
George Pataki's latest cuts to higher education could spell expulsion for 11,000 city stu-
dents. So why are CUNY supporters fighting each other instead of fighting back?
By Mohamad Bazzi
Stress Fractures ~
An AIDS agency disintegrates. So does the coalition that wants to put it back together.
By Gene Bryan Johnson
Morningside Lows ~
The Jewish Theological Serninary gives the boot to eight families in Morningside
Heights. By Jeremy Quittner
Appraising "Grace" ~
America loves Jonathan Kozol's new book-but some leaders in the Bronx neighborhood
he wrote about say he missed the gold that gilds the gloom. By Glenn Thrush
COMMENTARY
Cityview
Jobless Summer
The Press
This Time's For Real
Review
Underclass Hype
Spare Change
You Can't Go Home
DEPARTMENTS
Briefs
Legal Services' Bankruptcy?
UNITE's First Fight
People's Budget Office
No-Sin Inn
&,7 Editorial
Letters
Professional
Directory
Job Ads
127
By Shawn Dove
By James Bradley
129
By William Kornblum
By Rose Marie Arce
2
4,30
32
33
-

In Recov.ry
How does a community rebuild and
sustain itself if it does not have residents
who have money? This question was fore-
most in my mind after reading Rob
Polner's essay, "Of Progress and Pain"
(Spare Change, January 1996), in which he
refers ominously to signs of gentrification
in Harlem. For many of us who
............. -".,.._ live and work in Harlem, the
developments that Polner
describes as gentrification are
signs of community revitalization.
recent New York Times report). If housing
opportunities are not provided for these
people, they will leave our community,
and take with them the buying power
that can bring services and benefit
everyone. It is also important to recog-
nize that the moderate income families
who will move into this formerly
vacant housing are not displacing
anyone, and that many of these fam-
ilies are people who have worked
their way up the economic ladder,
beginning their lives in poverty, but
finding opportunities that enabled them
to progress. It would be unfortunate if
these people, who undoubtedly have much
to offer the community in terms of vision
and energy, feel the need to leave as they
begin to experience even modest success.
L E T T E R S
Polner correctly states that "mil-
lions of dollars in city and state
aid have been invested in low
income housing construction" in
Harlem. The housing that he mentions
being built for people with incomes above
$26,000 is being built to complement this
low income housing and strengthen the
economic base of Harlem.
It may come as a surprise to some peo-
ple, but there are many Harlem residents
that do have incomes above $26,000
(approximately 26 percent, according to a
The mission of the Abyssinian
Development Corporation, a nonprofit
community development and social ser-
vice organization, is to play a role in the
revitalization of Central Harlem for people
of all incomes. I believe our mission is
similar to that of other community develop-
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ment corpo-
rations active in Harlem, and it
is based on the perspective that we must
address the needs of low income residents,
but that we cannot ignore the needs of res-
idents with higher incomes if we are to
have a truly strong and vibrant community.
I believe that we must go beyond
focusing on programs that provide "com-
fort" to the poor. As important as these
programs are, I believe it is even more
important for us to expand our vision to
include methods to actually eradicate
poverty. This can only be done by provid-
ing education and training opportunities,
creating private-sector jobs, and, where
necessary, providing the social services
that will enable a person to live with digni-
ty and plan for a future of progress.
Addressing these concerns will also
reduce the potential "haves-vs.-have-nots"
tension to which Polner refers.
I know that these are idealistic goals,
but I believe that, by assuming a person
who is now poor must always be poor, we
do people a disservice and implicitly
assign them to lives without hope. We also
sidestep our own responsibility to not only
rebuild buildings but to help people rebuild
their lives so they can become active par-
ticipants in the community that is being
redeveloped.
Kevin McGruder
Chief Operating Officer
Abyssinian Development Corporation
S.lf-lnt.rHt
In response to "Frying Pan or Fire?"
(Briefs, January 1996), the fact that the
landlord is installing new windows first
before fixing the boiler should not be a
surprise, since he gets to pass that cost
along to tenants in the form of a rent
(Continued on page 30)
CITY LIMITS
R
Stick
Together.

financed ... On Staten Island, housing and child care are n .. n,rit1.il'\II
a transitional facility for homeless families .. . In Brooklyn, a young,
moderate-income couple is approved for a mortgage on their first
home ... In Harlem, the oldest minority-owned flower shop has an
opportunity to do business with Chemical Bank. . .And throughout
the state of New York, small business and economic development
lending generates jobs and revenue for our neighborhoods.
This is the everyday work of
ChemicalBank's Community Development Group.
Our partnership with the community includes increasing home
ownership opportunities and expanding the availability of affordable
housing, prOviding the credit small businesses need to grow and
creating bank contracting opportunities for minority and women-
owned businesses.
In addition we make contributions to community-based
organizations which provide vital human services, educational
and cultural programs, and housing and economic development
opportunities to New York's many diverse communities.
CHEMICAL BANK -helping individuals flOUrish, businesses grow and
neighborhoods revitalize. For more information please contact us at:
CHEMICAL BANK, COMMUNl1Y DEVELOPMENT GROUP, 270 Park Avenue,
44th floor, New York, NY 10017.
Community Development Group
MARCH 1996
w
BRIEFS i
,
UNITE'S
FIRST FIGHT
UNITE, the garment indus- '
try "superunion" formed last
year by the merger of the
nation's two largest textile
unions, is fighting its first major
battle for American workers.
In Canada.
The 300,OOO-member union,
created when the International
Ladies Garment Workers Union
merged with the Amalgamated
Clothing and Textile Workers, is
taking on the continent's
largest men's clothing manu-
facturer, Peerless Clothing of
Montreal. "It's north of the bor-
der, but it's really about keeping
jobs and good wages in places
like New York," says UNITE
organizer Wilfredo Larancuent,
describing an organizing phi -
losophy he likes to call "The
Jersey Strategy."
"An old organizer once told
me that if the companies left
New York for Jersey you went
and organized in Jersey,"
Larancuent explains. "If they
move to, say, Canada, then you
go to Canada. You preserve
jobs in New York by assuring
that companies can't steal your
jobs and give them to low-paid
labor somewhere else.
Stabilize wages over the bor-
der and jobs won't be leaving
New York. Understand?"
Since November, UNITE
has rented offices next door to
the 1,800-worker Peerless
plant in central Montreal. Pay
has been the prime selling
point Peerless workers now
make an average of $1 .43 (in
Canadian dollars) less per hour
than their American counter-
parts. And, although they have
not yet officially signed up any
workers, UNITE officials say
they have gotten enough com-
mitments from Peerless
employees that they could
make the factory a UNITE
union shop any time.
The union is waiting for the
results of a lawsuit it has filed
against Fraternite , a company-
run union that reportedly dis-
criminates against the plant's
foreign-born workers, who rep-
resent 85 percent of the total
work force. The company union
does not allow non-citizens to
run for office, an apparent vio-
LEGAL SERVICES:
BANKRUPTCY?
Short Shots
Following a 30 percent cut
in federal funding to Lega I
'Services for New York and a
devastating series of layoffs,
!the organization has reportedly
come close to defaulting on
several bank loans. Paychecks
for remaining staff have been
repeatedly delayed, and some
attorneys report their bosses
have mentioned a possible
bankruptcy. LSNY management
did not return calls seeking
comment.
REPRODUC11VE RIGHT:
dosed re(ently he <on-
tributed about $15,000 to
pro-(hoi<e Planned
Parenthood over the past
five years. Steve, (are for a
free <ondom?
Unlike most politicians,
Steve Forbes puts his money
where his mouth isn't The
fast-sinking GOP presiden-
tial hopeful waffled queasily
when asked where he stands
on abortion, but it was dis-

HELL'S GUARDIAN
ANGELS: San Francis<o
Mayor Willie Brown has
Of 290 union-protected
employees, "close to 40 work-
ers have been either notified or
actually laid off," says Howard
Saum, a LSNY attorney. He
adds that although some attor-
neys have been terminated, the
bulk of the layoffs have been
support workers such as
receptionists, paralegals and
intake officers. ·We are sup-
posed to be community based,
butthe people being laid off are
the people who most identify
ba(ked off on a plan to use
what he (ailed "gang kids"
to patrol (rime-ridden bus
lines in San Francis<o. The
program was reportedly
snapped after a mayoral
minion <onjured up the
image of a (rip es<orting his
grandmother home from the
bank on the day the Social
lation of Canadian law. Calls
made by City Limits to Peerless
executives were not returned.
While the case is argued,
UNITE's 70 Montreal organizers
will continue to lobby workers,
with our clients: says Saum.
According to members of
the Legal Services Staff
Association, LSNY officials
were elusive about the severity
of the agency's financial situa-
tion during a closed-door board
meeting last month. "They pro-
fessed not to know the precise
nature of the financial crisis ....
They professed not to know
how much they needed or what
assurances they would give the
bank in order to get them to
loan us more money: says an
employee.
According to insiders,
employee distrust toward man-
agement is escalating. "LSNY
Se(urity (he<k (ame. "Jeez, it
was only an idea," an
embarrassed Brown aide
said. So was getting rid of
fire-alarm boxes in
Brownsville.
a task that requires them to
print every leaflet in nine lan-
guages: English, French,
Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian,
Bangladeshi, Spanish, Laotian
and Creole. Glenn Thrush
'!fouI'if;ni&nce
OwrJw
was actually on the brink of
default with several loans from
Chemical Bank and was behind
on payments of medical premi-
ums," says a LSNY attorney.
"Our checks have been late
and this Thursday there might
be no check at all."
Union leadership argues
the agency's problems stem
from financial mismanagement.
In mid-February, about 70
employees rallied in front of
LSNY headquarters downtown
and demanded the resignation
of Executive Director Dale
Johnson. Kierna Mayo Dawsey
CITY LIMITS
PEOPLE'S BUDGET OFFICE
The long-delayed Indepen-
dent Budget Office (lBO) final-
ly has a director, following five
years of court battles by good-
government advocates and
dissident members of the City
Council. The office, mandated
by the 1989 revision of the City
Charter, is intended to help the
public participate in the mak-
ing and oversight of city bud-
gets. Mayors Dinkins and
Giuliani and Council Speaker
Vallone held up funding for the
office, but a judge recently
ruled the city had to pay for it
Douglas Criscitello, the
new IBO director, is leaving his
post as chief financial officer
of the federal Small Business
Administration. He was cho-
sen by a committee of four
elected officials: Speaker
Peter Vallone, Comptroller
Alan Hevesi, Bronx Borough
President Fernando Ferrer and
Public Advocate Mark Green.
"This has been a real
topsy-turvy ride for us: says
Sam Sue of New York Lawyers
for the Public Interest, co-
counsel in the IBO case
against the city. "The city had
deliberately failed to follow the
charter mandate and contin-
ued to stonewall the establish-
NO-SIN INN
Sex and drugs are not usu-
ally the firstthings on an archi-
tect's mind.
But a few months back,
Joan Byron was poring over
her blueprints for the East New
York Residence and Day
Treatment Center-the first all-
in-one AIDS housing and med-
ical facility to be designed from
the ground up in the city-
when the twin vices popped up
from the plans. "We realized
we hadn't designed the build-
ing to discourage people from
finding places to have sex or
hide drugs," recalls Byron,
architectural director of the
Fort Greene-based Pratt
Planning and Architectural
Collaborative.
Walls had to be eliminated to
remove potential blind spots for
illicit trysts; toilettanks had to be
redesigned without removable
covers so residents couldn't
hide crack or heroin inside.
From the day the center
opens, it will be a pilgrimage
destination for AIDS caregivers
who wantto see a state-of-the-
art housing and health care
complex. Construction on the
$4.5 million project-which is a
collaboration between Pratt,
Housing Works and the East
New York Urban Youth Corps-
begins this month. The building
is due to open early next year
on a block-sized lot on Pitkin
Avenue between Crystal Street
and Fountain Avenue.
MARCH 1996
On paper, the place bears
an unmistakable resemblance
to an Ivy League dorm.
Downstairs will be a walk-in
health clinic. The two top floors
will be a cozy residence hall for
38 people.
"This is a facility designed
for people, not 'patients,'"
Byron explains. "We wanted to
accommodate the needs of
people in this community-
blacks and Latinos, women as
well as men."
However impressive the
achievement, the center is like-
ly to be a one-shot deal.
Cobbling the money together-
a combination of state grants
and bond revenues-took sev-
eral years. And state housing
money is vanishing under
Governor Pataki's austerity
budgets.
" No one's ever going to
build another one ofthese from
scratch," Byron says. "This is
going to be the first, but it's also
probably going to be the last."
Glenn Thrush
Resources
GOVERNOR PATAKI may be
trumpeting his tax (Uts as
job generators, but
Manhattan Democrat Sen.
Franz Leichter has the num-
bers to prove him wrong.
Leichter, citing the latest
federal labor stats, says that
ment: he says. According to
the Charter, the agency was
supposed to be launched in
August 1990, with a budget
equal to 10 percent of the
mayor's own Office of
Management and Budget
dominated by the political spin
of the administration or the
council leadership.
The IBO will be "the peo-
ple's budget office,· Sue adds.
"We needed an entity that
can assess for the city, for
example, the real impact of the
privatization of hospitals,·
says Sue. "Budget information
is power.· Kiema Mayo Dawsey
The victorious lawsuit was
filed by NYPIRG, the
Association for Neighborhood
Housing and Development, the
City Project and Common
Cause. They argued that the
new agency will provide bud-
get analysis for citizens as
well as borough presidents,
City Council members and
community groups who need
budget information that is not
since December 1994 the
Empire State has lost
144,000 jobs. All this and
more can be found in
"Business Blues, n a report
available from Leichter's
office. Call (212) 397-5913.
WANT TO KNOW the conse-
quences of the drug war?
According to the pro-legal-
ization quarterly The Drug
Policy Letter, 1994 was the
fi rst yea r ever when the
number of black inmates
(683,000) exceeded the num-
ber of whites (672,000)
behind bars in American jails
and prisons-this even
though African Americans
comprise only 12 percent of
the general population. The
main reason? "(The) 100-to-1
disparity between crack and
powder cocaine sentences, n
writes Jefferson Morley in
DPL's Winter 1996 issue. Call
(202) 537-5005 for a sub-
scription.

PROFILE ~
,
George Drayton
Jr., with 14-year-
old George III: For
father and son,
AIDS education
was a back stor-
age room and a
bureaucratic
brush-off.
:M
F
Facing Down the System
Parents are finding ways to get AIDS education out of the closet
and into the classroom where it belongs. By Tom Beer
W
en Michelle Lopez took
her daughter to kinder-
garten at a Brooklyn public
school last September, she
had more than the usual fust-day-of-
school jitters on her mind. Lopez, 28, is
HIV-positive. So is her daughter. And
because she needs to take medication dur-
ing the school day, Lopez decided to dis-
close the girl's health status to school
officials.
After talking to the principal and
vice-principal, Lopez approached her
daughter's teacher. "She stepped back.
She actually pulled back from me,"
Lopez remembers. "She asked if it was
OK for her to be with the other kids. I
said, 'Do you know what universal pre-
cautions are?' She looked at me like,
What is this language coming from a
poor black woman?" Lopez "started a lit-
tle AIDS 101" with the teacher, explain-
ing that HIV was not transmitted through
casual contact but through the exchange
of semen, blood, vaginal fluids or breast
milk. "She realized that this is someone
who knows her rights."
Many parents have discovered that
incidents like this are common and con-
cluded that the New York City public
schools don't know how to deal with kids
who are HIV-positive. The situation is just
as bad with AIDS education, which is
mandated by the Board of Education at
every grade level.
Lopez got the facts she needed to deal
with the shortcomings of her daughter's
school with the assistance of the Parents
AIDS Initiative, a project launched a year
ago by the nonprofit AIDS and
Adolescents Network of New York. The
initiative, funded by the New York City
AIDS Foundation, is designed to educate
parents about the disease, help them talk
with their children about it and train them
to become advocates for better AIDS edu-
cation in the schools.
In the early 1990s, schools
Chancellor Joseph Fernandez champi-
oned AIDS education and condom avail-
ability. But hostile reaction to his propos-
als was partly responsible for his ouster
in 1993. School curricula devised more
recently have removed condom demon-
strations from the classroom and empha-
sized abstinence-but the requirement
remains that every student be educated
about the transmission of the HIV virus
and safe sex alternatives. In the relatively
conservative climate of the past two
years, however, there have been few
repercussions for teachers and principals
who ignore the mandate.
Awareness and Understanding
That's where the Parents AIDS
Initiative comes in. The organization has
worked with more than 100 parents from
neighborhoods throughout the city, recruit-
ing them through community-based orga-
nizations, churches, PTAs, citywide parent
organizations and AIDS groups. It offers
them training workshops, then hooks them
up with school-based projects citywide,
sending many of them to work with teach-
ers and students to promote AIDS aware-
ness and understanding. Most of the par-
ticipants are low income African-
American and Latina women. Some have
activist backgrounds on issues such as
civil rights, police brutality, poverty, drugs
and even AIDS. But few of them have any
prior experience working specifically on
HIV education in the schools.
Erica Zurer, a 43-year-old mother of
two Brooklyn public school children, has
done stints on her local PTA, community
school board and the Board of Education's
HIV/AIDS Advisory Council. She was the
initiative's coordinator from April 1995 to
January 1996; she says she found that the
vast majority of New York parents support
AIDS education but that "it isn't easy for
them to come forward and voice that sup-
port." Indeed, what little research that has
been done on parental attitudes bears out
Zurer's claim. A study published last
March in the American School Health
Association's Journal of School Health
found that, contrary to mainstream media
hype, 88 percent of New York City parents
surveyed wanted lessons on AIDS taught
in the public schools; 69 percent felt that
schools should make condoms available to
students.
The Parents AIDS Initiative encourages
mothers and fathers to prod schools to
address the subject of AIDS openly and
nonjudgmentally. However, Zurer says
CITY LIMITS
some parents are wary about becoming
outspoken on the issue within their own
communities for fear that their activism
could prompt bigoted retaliation against
their children in school. Parents taking part
in the initiative have devised a skillful
maneuver to avoid any personal backlash:
they often swap schools with one another,
focusing their attention on schools their
own children do not attend.
Admlnlstratly. Maz.
George Drayton, father of a 14-year-
old freshman at Boys and Girls High
School in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant
neighborhood, visited his son's school
earlier this year to find out what was hap-
pening with the HIV/AIDS team. The
Board of Education mandates that offi-
cials establish such teams in each high
school-comprised of students, parents,
son's AIDS education is concerned. Her
third-grader (who does not have HIV) has
yet to be taught a single lesson on AIDS in
school, she says. Principal Eugenia
Montalvo at P.S. 106 in the Bronx-the
school Lopez's son attended until last
fall-denies that any student leaves her
school without the required AIDS instruc-
tion and says she personally checks teach-
ers' plan books to make sure the HIV
lessons are being taught. Lopez remains
unconvinced. "I'm very concerned about
these kids. The schools should be teaching
them. And they're not doing it."
Drayton, Lopez and other participants
in the initiative are discovering what many
seasoned parent organizers have known for
a long time about the city's schools.
"You 'Il hit a wall of bureaucracy unless
you are able to navigate the system," says
Ayo Harrington, president of the United
developed AIDS since the epidemic began
are African-American or Latino.
Fac.-to-Fac.
After a year of work, the parents active
in the initiative say they are beginning to
feel their power. They are learning how to
maneuver through the Byzantine structure
of the Board of Education. They are con-
fronting school administrators and PTAs,
asking why AIDS education is at a stand-
still in most schools. And, with an opinion
survey developed by initiative participants
in hand, they are attending Open School
nights and asking other parents to sit down
with them, face-to-face, to talk about
tough, controversial issues.
Any organizing campaign that focuses
on AIDS, kids and schools is bound to be
loaded with complexity, and the initiative
has found that parents need constant nur-
In the conservative climate of the past two years,
there have been few repercussions for teachers who ignore
the mandate to teach students about AIDS.
teachers and administrators-to coordi-
nate AIDS education efforts. But when
Drayton, 40, and his ex-wife Denise
showed up, they found they were the
entire team. Moreover, the room where
they were supposed to meet-and where
students are supposed to receive con-
doms-was hidden in a maze of adminis-
trative offices.
"It was part of a storage room,"
Drayton says, laughing. "It wasn't the type
of room that kids would want to come
right up into and discuss personal issues."
The administration sees things differ-
ently. Mary Dowery, a school social work-
er at Boys and Girls, says the Dray tons are
"misinformed." She adds that there are
more than 20 people-mainly staff and
students-on the HIV/AIDS team, and
when asked about the level of parent
involvement, she answers that "parents
know they can join. You don't involve all
the parents on the team."
Many parents tell stories similar to
Drayton's, however. Lopez says the
school system dropped the ball where her
MARCH 1996
Parents Association, a citywide advocacy
group. "Parents usually don't get good
answers," regardless of the issue, she says.
The Parents AIDS Initiative also faces
more unique hurdles. For example, a les-
bian mother in the group recently came
out of the closet, prompting an uncom-
fortable discussion about the need for
some participants to reconsider their own
homophobia. In addition, many of the
parents are themselves HIV-positive and
are dealing with difficult health issues.
But Nilda Rodriguez, a 48-year-old
mother of five who has emerged as one
of the initiative's leaders, feels that being
mY-positive gives her a more meaning-
ful stake in the issue of AIDS education.
And, she thinks, it's about time that the
Board of Education heard from African-
American and Latino parents who are
living with the epidemic first hand.
''Those are our children," says
Rodriguez. ''And right now we're the major-
ity infected and affected by this disease."
City Department of Health statistics show
that 70 percent of all New Yorkers who have
turing to go forward, Zurer says. "One of
the things we've realized is that advocates
aren't strictly made by training," she says.
"It's basically a constant support system, a
constant information system. We don't
want people to be thrown out there in what
can be a very vicious situation and not be
prepared for it."
With Zurer having resigned in January
to pursue other projects, the Parents AIDS
Initiative has entered a new phase. Teri
Lewis, executive director of the AIDS and
Adolescents Network, says a citywide
search is under way for a new coordinator.
Lewis looks forward to the initiative inten-
sifying its outreach efforts and becoming
more aggressive in its advocacy work dur-
ing the coming year. Zurer-who plans to
stay active in parent advocacy and AIDS
education-is encouraged about the
group's potential. "A lot of parents have
the heart of an activist when it comes to
their kids," she says. "And we need to tap
into that." •
Tom Beer is an editor for Out magazine.


PIPEliNE ~
Activist Robert
Hollander says
many CUNY
students distrust
traditional
political lobbying
strategies.
[ ..
,
Class Axe
Strategies for survival: with financial aid on the block and
tuition rising, CUNY is split over how to fight Albany.
By Moharood Bazzi
S
tudents and faculty agree they
need to organize to stop the more
than $100 million in state cuts to
the City University of New York
planned by Governor George Pataki this
year. They are dangerously divided,
however, over how best to fight off this
assault on CUNY's coffers.
For years, CUNY supporters have
fought budget cuts with broad appeals to
social justice and fairness, but their cam-
paigns have failed to halt deep reduc-
tions in fmancial assistance and steep
increases in tuition. This year, a group of
professors has vowed to take a new
approach and play power politics on
CUNY's behalf.
"We came to the conclusion that one
of our problems last year was we didn't
play hardball like most other political
interest groups," says Ken Sherrill, a
political science professor at Hunter
College and chairman of the newly
formed Higher Education Political
Action Committee. Sherrill's PAC is rais-
ing money to support the reelection of
state legislators who go to bat for CUNY;
it will also seek to unseat reps who sup-
port cuts to the public university system.
It's still a small effort, but it symbol-
izes the growing anxiety at CUNY over
a preservation strategy. Not everyone is
enamored of Sherrill's idea, or of any
lobbying efforts. In fact, many students
say they don't want anything to do with
what they describe as insider politics.
"There's a deep distrust among stu-
dents toward politicians," says Robert
Hollander, a graduate student activist.
"Students don't want their grassroots
efforts co-opted by political opportunism."
Forced to Quit
Whatever the debate about tactics, the
CUNY crisis is real.
For the second straight year, the gover-
nor's proposed budget for CUNY contains
deep reductions in financial aid and state
contributions to public universities. If the
legislature upholds Pataki 's proposed cuts
for the 1996-97 fiscal year, CUNY
Chancellor Ann Reynolds estimates that
11 ,000 of the system's 110,000 full-time
students will be forced to quit school.
Last year, CUNY officials hiked the
annual tuition an unprecedented $750,
resulting in the loss of 6,000 students who
couldn't afford to pay. Tuition could rise
another $250 this year, to $3,450 for a full-
time student.
This year, activists are most concerned
about Pataki 's plan to cut $50 million out
of the state's $131 million Tuition
Assistance Program, which gives financial
aid grants to low income men and women.
The cutbacks would mean smaller grants
to 145,000 needy full- and part-time stu-
dents-or nearly 70 percent of CUNY's
total enrollment. Many CUNY students
could be facing as much as a $1 ,200 cut in
aid, with the lowest income students facing
proportionately the deepest cuts.
"The TAP cuts serve as a back-door
tuition hike for the students who can least
afford it," says Steve Kleinberg, executive
director of the United Student Senate
(USS), a coalition of student government
leaders from the system's 19 campuses.
"For many of them, that money is the dif-
ference between attending college and
dropping out."
CUNY's administration is seeking to
blunt the impact of the budget shortfall by
offering early retirement to some staffers
and streamlining administration-mea-
sures that are expected to generate $50
million in savings. But the cutbacks could
still translate into faculty layoffs, more
crowded classrooms, fewer course offer-
ings and shorter library hours at most
schools, CUNY administrators say. "Most
of our departments are already running on
a skeleton budget," Kleinberg says. "These
cuts will mean the loss of more faculty and
class sections and make it even more diffi-
cult for students to graduate."
Bad news begets even more hardship.
In January, Reynolds told state legislators
attending a joint Senate-Assembly hearing
that the anticipated drop in enrollment
resulting from financial aid cuts would
cost the system an additional $31.2 million
in lost tuition revenue.
lobbying Campaign
CUNY lobbyists have responded to the
latest attack by mustering all the weapons
in their good-governrnent arsenal.
The Professional Staff Congress, the
university'S faculty union, joined USS to
sponsor a series of "CUNY Awareness
CITVLlMITS
B
Days" on each campus during February.
The events featured speakers, write-your-
assemblyman sessions and voter registra-
tion drives. Campus-based groups like the
Hunter College Faculty Senate have also
taken up the torch, lobbying powerful
Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon
Silver and influential Senate Republicans
like Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and
Higher Education Committee Chairman
Ken LaValle.
In addition, the New York Public
Interest Research Group (NYPlRG),
which has chapters on seven CUNY cam-
puses, has launched its own lobbying and
letter-writing campaign.
But is all this clamor enough to reverse
the cuts? Ken Sherrill doesn't think so. "In
the past, we didn't raise money to reward
our friends and punish our enemies," says
Sherrill, a former Democratic district
leader from the Upper West Side. "We didn't
get engaged in a media campaign. We didn't
enlist a wider community for support."
In the four months since it was formed,
Sherrill's PAC has raised only about
$15,000. But the money is already flowing
to allies in Albany, he says. And he isn't
above contributing money to candidates
who oppose anti-CUNY legislators in this
year's legislative elections. "In a Clinton-
Dole presidential race, some upstate
Republicans will be in trouble" because the
Democratic Party turnout may be especially
heavy, he predicts. "Some well-targeted
contributions may make a difference. We're
going to do old-fashioned politics. If we give
people enough trouble this year, they will be
less likely to hit CUNY in the future."
He also plans to use this carrot -and-
stick approach with the city's six
Republican state senators, many of whose
constituencies reflect a broad cross-section
of working-class New York.
Mass D.monstratlons
Yet all this talk of power politicking is
a hard sell to CUNY students who are sus-
picious of any form of close contact with
establishment politicians---even the direct
lobbying tactics of NYPlRG, the
Professional Staff Congress and USS.
"Letter writing and lobbying are usual-
ly done by student governments and the
administration. It doesn't require much
grassroots organizing," says Hollander,
who favors mass demonstrations and civil
disobedience as protest tools. Hollander is
a member of the Coalition for Public
MARCH 1996
Education, an ad hoc group similar to the
now-defunct CUNY Coalition Against the
Cuts, which held a massive demonstration
in front of City Hall on March 23, 1995.
Despite mobilizing 20,000 people for the
rally, the earlier coalition quickly col-
lapsed, beset by internal bickering.
The new coalition plans to hold a simi-
lar rally on March 21 this year at City Hall
or on Wall Street. So far, they have been
working together with NYPlRG, the stu-
dent senate and the faculty union on plan-
ning the demonstration.
But the same problems that doomed
the coalition in 1995 seem to be crop-
ping up this year. At a recent coalition
meeting, debate between students veered
from concrete strategizing to broad phi-
losophizing. Arguments ranged from
how to conduct the tuition fight ("The
rally should represent...the radical poli-
tics present on the campuses") to long-
term crusades ("restoring open admis-
sion and free tuition at CUNY") to
amorphous social justice goals ("redis-
tributing society's wealth and power in a
just and equitable manner").
Although coalition organizers are try-
ing to maintain a unified front, some pri-
vately express concerns that the protest
drive could self-destruct again.
Th. Sam. Coals
For his part, Sherrill is seeking to
widen the pro-CUNY camp. To bolster his
PAC's fundraising, he plans to seek contri-
butions from college supply vendors, cam-
pus bookstores and other retailers whose
customers are CUNY students. "There are
a large number of businesses that make a
lot of money off the existence of the uni-
versity," he says. "Delis, pizza parlors and
clothing stores are all dependent on having
a student population. They all lose money
as a result of the cutbacks."
Michael O'Loughlin of NYPlRG is
optimistic that CUNY's coalition will be
strong enough to accommodate all the
divergent voices. "People can choose dif-
ferent strategies," he says, "But we share
the same goal of restoring funding and
opportunity for higher education. I don't
necessarily see a conllict between tactics
when people share the same goals."
A lot of nervous CUNY students hope
he's right. •
Mohamad Bazzi is a staff writer for New
Youth Connections.
Manhaffan
Neighborhood
Network
Manhattan
Neighborhood
Network
wants to put you
on Public Access
Television
Manhattan Neighborhood Network is
looking to train community-based orga-
nizations in Manhattan that are inter-
ested in creating programs for public
access television. All of our services are
free including: workshops in studio and
camcorder production; videotape editing
workshops; and air time to cablecast
your program on public access channels.
In the past year Action for Community
Empowerment, Chinese Staff and
Workers Association, Alianza
Dominicana, EI Barrio Popular
Education Project and the Upper
Manhattan Task Force on AIDS have
taken television production workshops
and produced dynamic community-based
television programs about the issues
and concerns of these organizations and
the people they represent.
For more information about Manhattan
Neighborhood Network, call
Victor Sanchez at
212-260-2670 ext. 303
B
Stress Fracture
The city's new AIDS plan reveals deep divisions within the advocacy and
service community. By Gene Bryan Johnson
Amy Herman.
executive director
of the New York
AIDS Coalition.
worries that HIV-
positive clients
will fall through
the cracks.

P
or many AIDS advocates, it
seemed the fate of New York
City's Division of AIDS Services
(DAS) was sealed the day
Rudolph Giuliani became mayor-elect. His
early proposal to do away with the AIDS
agency-and his appointment of school
board member and AIDS-education oppo-
nent Ninfa Segarra as a deputy mayor-
unified his opponents in a vocal campaign
around the slogan, "No cuts to DAS,"
heard loudly and frequently amid the
whirlwind of Giuliani's public appear-
ances across the city in early 1994.
The slogan stuck, and today, while
DAS has fewer staff than it did in 1993, the
city is spending more on services for peo-
ple with AIDS than ever before. Even so,
the administration has reduced some ser-
vices and officials are moving forward
with a restructuring of DAS that distributes
greater responsibility for AIDS care to
nonprofit community groups.
While advocates and service providers
have long agreed the agency is in desper-
ate need of repair, news of the restructur-
ing has not brought the AIDS community
together. To the contrary: advocates and
service providers are deeply divided over
the change, and as a result stark contrasts
within a rapidly evolving sector of the non-
profit community are coming into relief.
At the core of the dispute is a clash
between groups interested in collaborating
with city officials and others bent on direct
action and litigation against the Giuliani
administration. "Some of my colleagues
seem more interested in fighting Giuliani
than figuring out a way to make DAS
work," charges the leader of an organiza-
tion that provides services to people with
AIDS. Like this advocate, many partici-
pants in the internecine debate wish to
remain anonymous for fear of exacerbat-
ing the rift in the movement. Almost all
say the split is undermining development
of a more effective city policy.
DMplyFlawH
Former Mayor Ed Koch created DAS, a
division of the city's Human Resources
Administration (HRA), in the mid-1980s to
help low income people weakened by the
fatal disease find their way through the
city's complicated welfare, health care and
housing bureaucracies. The agency
assigned a caseworker to each client to
ensure access to government benefits,
determine counseling needs and coordinate
services. At the time, people with AIDS
had a life expectancy of about six months.
The system was deeply flawed from
the start, providers say, primarily because
DAS workers had no direct control over
the payment of welfare benefits to their
clients. That responsibility fell to the larg-
er income support bureaucracy in another
division of HRA. What's more, following
staff cuts in 1994 and a rising caseload of
men and women surviving for years with
full-blown AIDS, the ability of DAS work-
ers to manage casework and housing refer-
rals dropped precipitously. By early 1995,
morale was so low within the agency that
DAS supervisors in neighborhood centers
were urgently reporting the crisis to City
--.. - - - ~ - - , .... ",.-
PIPELINE
Limits (March 1995).
Everyone in the AIDS community
agreed that something had to be done. The
question was what.
Rifts first became apparent more than a
year ago during meetings of a restructuring
task force of officials and nonprofit leaders
put together by Fran Reiter, deputy mayor
for planning and community relations.
After what participants describe as a series
of stormy meetings, Reiter summarily dis-
banded the task force, accusing some advo-
cates of being more interested in "protest-
ing, grandstanding and making non-nego-
tiable demands than in helping to find bet-
ter solutions," as she recalls it today.
Privately, several participants from
AIDS organizations agree with Reiter's
description of the task force meetings.
Targeted for most of the blame: Housing
Works, the multimillion dollar AIDS hous-
ing and services provider that emerged
from ACT UP in 1990.
Housing Works is famous for its litiga-
tion and advocacy efforts and for its strong
rhetorical denunciations of city and state
policies that harm low income people with
AIDS. "Housing Works serves a good pur-
pose with their in-your-face advocacy,"
says Sterling Zinsmeyer, director of
Episcopal Action and a leader in the AIDS
housing community who has worked
extensively with both govemment officials
and neighborhood activists.
Yet the organization's strident criticism
of city officials has gone too far, says
Zinsmeyer. "They also undermine a lot of
quiet advocacy work. They torpedo things
that are moving along."
Others who speak only anonymously
are more blunt: "They made it impossible
to have any kind of constructive dialogue
with the city," says one provider. "They're
more interested in positioning themselves
as the ACT UP of the 1990s," says another.
Distrust and Hostility
Attorney VIrginia Schubert, a board
member and former head of the advocacy
program of Housing Works, says the criti-
cism of her organization is misdirected.
She describes a restructuring planning
process riddled with distrust and hostility.
"We simply asked for there to be by-laws
to govern how the task force would oper-
ate, to make sure that decisions were made
by democratic vote," she says. "We were
Sitting at that table representing the 18,000
people that depend on DAS for their lives
CITY LIMITS
and we had an obligation to be accountable
to those people. The only way we could
meet that obligation was to insure that we
would not be used in a bogus process."
Schubert and Housing Works joined
with the HIV Law Project last year to file
a class action lawsuit demanding that a
court-appointed monitor take control of
the whole restructuring process. She says
it is naive to assume that the Giuliani
administration has the best interests of
people with AIDS in mind, given the
harassment many poor people, including
DAS clients, have faced in simply trying to
maintain welfare benefits during the last
year. More than 40,000 men and women,
including some with AIDS and HIV, have
been removed from Home Relief welfare
rolls since 1994, thanks in part to an
aggressive city recertification and eligibil-
ity verification program that Schubert says
is stripping benefits from those in need.
The city has since moved forward with
its own restructuring plan, which it
announced late last year following spo-
radic contacts with a few service
providers, including Gay Men's Health
Crisis, members of the New York AIDS
Coalition and others. The plan has already
been implemented in Queens, and the rest
of the city is slated to adopt the new design
by mid-summer. Clients will no longer
have an individual city caseworker.
Instead, they work with a team of city
employees to set up public assistance pay-
ments, Medicaid, food stamps and home
care and to find apartments for those who
need them. Agency staff also now has the
power to issue public assistance checks.
"Once the benefits are stabilized, we turn
them over to a community-based organiza-
tion" for ongoing case management ser-
vices, Reiter explains.
Housing Works is critical of the plan. "I
think the restructuring is blatantly racist
because the city's premise is that the most-
ly poor people of color suffering from the
disease today do not require the same case
management and assistance that the white,
middle-class men needed when this epi-
demic started," says Schubert. ''The city
should be doing more today, not less."
Schubert also questions why adminis-
tration officials have such a hard time
working with people who disagree with
them. "We had bitter fights with previous
administrations, but I always felt that it
was safe to disagree," she says. "With
Giuliani, though, there's a fear in the com-
MARCH 1996

II Housing Works serves a
munity that if you take advocacy positions
counter to government, your ability to
deliver services may be threatened."
Schubert charges that many AIDS organi-
zations have been intimidated into silence.
Clarifying th. Rol.
Yet many service providers are pleased
to see the DAS restructuring finally taking
place. "We were always duplicating their
work anyway," says Alan Sutherland,
executive director of the AIDS Service
Center of Queens County, which is partic-
ipating in phase one of the restructuring
plan. Sutherland says clarifying the role of
community groups as case managers can
only be an improvement. He cautions that
there are kinks to be worked out, however,
and says citywide implementation should
be delayed at least six months until techni-
cal problems are resolved.
Zinsmeyer agrees. "If the city does what
it says it will do, and if some more money
is put into it, I think it's a very viable plan.
It's a chance for groups to come on board
and do some work. Condemning it out of
hand is not productive."
Most leaders in the AIDS community
are not publicly supporting Housing
Works and the HIV Law Project in their
lawsuit to take oversight of DAS out of the
city's hands. The New York AIDS
Coalition (NYAC), which represents more
than 200 organizations statewide, has long
sought to influence policy from the inside.
While the coalition is not entirely comfort-
able with the current shape of restructur-
ing' members say they hope to work out
the problems as the process unfolds
through discussions with agency managers
and officials.
"We've looked at the restructuring
process as a way to make some improve-
ments," explains Amy Herman, NYAC's
executive director. But there are problems,
she says. "For instance, what does the term
'case management' mean? What citywide
quality assurance mechanisms exist? How
do we make sure clients don't fall through
the many cracks among community
groups and DAS and the hospitals?"
While Housing Works' roots are deep
in the activist tradition of ACT UP, many
members of NYAC are service organiza-
tions staffed by men and women who have
been in and around government and social
services for years. Even as NYAC has suc-
ceeded in affecting policy from the inside,
Housing Works and others have won sig-

good purpose with their In-
your-face advocacy. They
also torpedo things that
along."

are moving
nificant victories through lawsuits and
advocacy, such as last year's cancellation
of a state and city plan to move people
with AIDS into Medicaid managed care.
Extr.m. Position
Reiter says she sees no way for
Housing Works to have a place at the
policy-development table. "There are
those advocates that see their mission-
and I'm fully accepting of this-as try-
ing to get more and more. They don't
want to hear about limitations on gov-
ernment," she says. "That's their role
and I understand it, but it's counterpro-
ductive to try and negotiate with some-
one who takes an extreme position and
views working with you as capitulating
and accepting the status quo."
While relations between Housing
Works and the Giuliani administration
may be irreparable, Zinsmeyer says that all
is not lost. "We disagree about strategy but
the long-term goal for all of us is to
improve services," he says. "Housing
Works' piece of the advocacy effort is
important. But it has to parallel quieter,
behind-the-scenes stuff at the same time."
''They have been divisive and difficult
but they've also been incredibly effective,"
says another service provider. "The same
traits that make them good advocates make
them difficult when trying to build coali-
tions. It's a double-edged sword.
Sometimes when we work with them, it
cuts us."
Anyway, says Amy Herman, "That rift
is old hat. The real issue is what's on the
table now, how we move forward with
restructuring DAS and figuring out how to
provide services to people with AIDS."
Gene Bryan Johnson is a reporter for
National Public Radio and WNYc.
Me
5
Morningside Lows
Educational institutions have the right to give the heave-ho to longtime tenants.
Eight families battle the lewish Theological Seminary's threat of eviction.
By 1 eremy Quittner
W
en Jocelyne Daniel
received the letter in the mail
last November, she couldn't
believe what she was read-
ing. "You are hereby required to vacate or
surrender possession of the premises," it
said. She and her husband had raised two
children in their rent -stabilized apartment
on 122nd Street, but after more than 17
years of paying the rent on time, they had
been asked to leave. Her landlord said the
lease was up, and the family had to move
out within three months,
In all, eight families living in two rent-
stabilized apartment buildings owned by
the Jewish Theological Seminary of
Morningside Heights were asked to leave
by January 31, 1996. So far, none of them
has moved out, and a large group of ten-
ants from the two buildings, including a
few current seminary students, are fighting
the schooL
rug pulled out from under you. All of the
sudden, you have to look for apartments
that cost two to three times what you are
paying, and you are only two or three years
away from your first child's graduation
from high school with plans to go to col-
lege, It's like shattering your family's and
your children's dreams,"
Close-Knit Community
The tenants of the buildings, which
house a total of 63 apartments, say their
close-knit, stable community is well worth
saving. They are solidly organized as a
group, resolved that none of them should
be forced to leave,
"Members of this community are being
directly threatened with homelessness,"
says Vajra Kilgour, the other co-chair of
the tenants' association. "[The seminary
is] violating the principle of the law: As
long as you uphold your end of the bargain
All of a sudden you have the rug
h
· pulled out from upder you .. .It's like
OM
S atterlng your family's areams.
Seminary officials say they need the
apartments for their growing student body,
and they intend to demand that at least 12
more families-in addition to the eight
already notified-move out of 515 and
521 West 122nd Street. Thanks to a loop-
hole in the state's Omnibus Housing Act of
1983, which governs rent stabilization law,
a nonprofit may refuse to renew the leases
of tenants in rent-regulated buildings if the
organization intends to use the apartments
for "educational purposes." If the tenants
refuse to leave, they can be evicted-a
possibility spelled out in the seminary's
letters to its tenants. The only restriction in
the law is that, to be evicted, the tenants
must have moved into their apartments
after July 1, 1978.
"I was so mad I felt like screaming,"
says Daniel, a high school teacher who is
co-chair of the West 122nd Street Tenants
Association. "All of a sudden, you have the
and pay your rent on time, you can't be
asked to leave." Kilgour has lived in the
building for 24 years, and moved in before
the 1978 cutoff date, so she is one of the
few tenants who cannot be evicted.
Some of the tenants charge that the
seminary is looking to make more money
off their apartments by getting rid of rent-
regulated tenants.
Currently, tenants pay between $500
and $750 for two- and three-bedroom
apartments. Kilgour estimates that compa-
rable apartments in Morningside Heights
currently rent for between $900 and
$1,200.
Anne Pasmanick, executive director of
the Community Training and Resource
Center, which provides technical assis-
tance to community housing groups, says
some nonprofits that take advantage of the
educational loophole might be looking to
boost their income. "As nonprofits, they
--_ .. ----, . . , ... -
PIPELINE
have an obligation to be a little more char-
itable," she adds.
Shira Dicker, a spokeswoman for the
seminary, concedes that the students the
seminary hopes to move into the apart-
ments will pay higher rents. "One or two
apartments may double in price," she says.
"The apartments will reflect the current
rate of the neighborhood." She denies that
profit is a motive, however.
Officials at the seminary, which
acquired the property in 1968, say it has
always been their intention to move stu-
dents into the complexes. "We kept the
parcels with the explicit purpose that we
would need them," says Rabbi Michael
Greenbaum, vice-chancellor of the semi-
nary. "Housing stock is so limited in
Morningside Heights."
Religious Requirements
The conflict arose this year, he says,
because the seminary is growing rapidly.
Six hundred students now attend the
school, up from about 500 last year, and
the seminary expects to enroll more than
650 students next falL Greenbaum
explains that the religious requirements of
Orthodox students demand that the semi-
nary provide more student housing in the
neighborhood. Many Orthodox students
need to be in close proximity to the insti-
tution because they are forbidden to ride in
cars or buses on the Sabbath.
"We're cognizant of the impact this
action has on the families," he adds. "We've
said from the beginning that we would try to
help. We have a responsibility to be helpful
and have to be prepared to be helpful in a
variety of different ways." He says the sem-
inary is willing to locate new apartments and
offer some limited financial assistance to
help tenants relocate. So far, however, none
of this has been done, tenants say.
The tenants have met with seminary
representatives regularly to try to negotiate
a resolution to the situation. In fact, during
the month of February, the tenants agreed
not to contact the press about the standoff
in exchange for a goodwill offer from the
seminary to extend the departure deadline
to February 29. City Limits learned of the
situation only after the tenants sought
information about their rights from a local
community organizer.
"The help that they are offering is con-
ditional on our giving up and agreeing to
leave," Kilgour said shortly after a
CITVLlMITS
p n ..
February 8 meeting with seminary officials and
an attorney. ''The seminary is offering housing
they don't have in return for us agreeing to leave."
Seven of the eight families asked to leave are
Haitian, a fact that has sparked a few scattered
charges in the surrounding neighborhood of
racist motives on the part of the seminary. A
December article in The Jewish Week described
the potential danger of a landlord-tenant dispute
between blacks and Jews so soon after the
killings at Freddy's, the Jewish-owned depart-
ment store on l25th Street.
The tenants themselves are seeking to dis-
tance themselves from the race issue. "Maybe it
is because I'm from Haiti, but I refuse to allow
the poison of racism to get into my system," says
Jocelyne Daniel. "This is a straight-up landlord-
tenant dispute," Kilgour adds.
Many students who are already tenants in the
buildings have added their voices to the cam-
paign against the evictions. ''The non-student
tenants provide a very safe, familial environ-
ment, which adds a nice balance to the homo-
geneity of the general student population," says
Leah Garrett, a 29-year-old Ph.D. student in
Yiddish literature. "I am hopeful that the semi-
nary will be able to offer them very strong assis-
tance for any hardship they may cause them,
because it's the humane thing to do." •
Jeremy Quittner is a Manhattan-based freelance
writer.
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MARCH 1996
4TTIIE
1IF4
,
TO TIlE I'I&1ISE
Imagine .. .
You're unemployed ...
Job listings, available on your television screen, allow
a position becomes available.
You will.
And AT&T will bring it to you.
Unless, of course, you can't afford their new
In which case you'll need a job ...
To afford AT &T. ..
To have a hope of competing against those
new tech ...
!J
(311£K.
This is an uneasy moment for the
With the President's signing of the TelejomrrlUnilcatJions
month, the news became official: the
tronic revolution.
First telephone, then radio, then all had profound effects on
way people communicated and the in which they took part in
cultJure and democracy. If the . to be believed, the next medium
be interactive, allowing people to as they do over the
engaging, summoning the and commercial power of L[;t[;.V 1>l,UI"
computers and the Internet; offering a wealth of new
media products integrating of both text and video.
Today, most homes . hookups for their phones and, if
are cable television they have wide-band coaxial
Interactive television .nfil'f,,1'11rP computing will likely require something
digital fiber-optic or perhaps even wireless communication.
Federal and must decide whether to encourage
j(chncilogy, as President Clinton and public interest
must also decide if the technology is important
dollars retooling education and job-training nrn,ilTlIrno
Few doubt that this medium will profoundly
communicate with one another. But figuring out
and working-class people can participate in the revlolulJOn·-'tnd
another matter entirely.
The question cuts to the heart of a seminal debate: Will
eventually produce a new era of business and job nm'nrt .. n;lt; ..
CITY LIMITS
L
ply allow companies to shed more man-
agerial and living-wage jobs? Most impor-
tantly, what can policymakers do today to
ensure that telecommunications will
strengthen the workforce rather than, as
some predict, rip it apart along stark new
lines of class and education?
In the wake of the Telecommunications
Act-which largely deregulates the coun-
try's mammoth telephone, cable and
broadcast companies-it's tempting to
take a grim view. The law wipes out some
60 years of communications statutes laced
with public interest safeguards, leaving a
vacuum of uncertainty in their place. The
hope among the law's supporters is that
corporate competition will encourage innovation and keep prices low, allow-
ing most Americans to benefit. The more sober among them concede, how-
ever, that this is unlikely without new regulations forcing companies to pro-
vide universal service and access for low income communities. And that, pub-
lic interest advocates say, demands a long, hard fight.
Just the same, there is a new school of organizers and education advocates
running hundreds of small pilot programs nationwide who are certain the
struggle is worthwhile. Typical is Robert McClintock, director of the Institute
for Learning Technologies, whose New York-based nonprofit runs several
experimental education programs using computers and the Internet to teach
low income children research skills, critical thinking and teamwork-skills
many believe will be the true job requirements of the next century. "This tech-
nology," he argues, "could be a tremendous equalizing force."
The Telecommunications Act requires companies to provide low-cost
access to schools and libraries. Right now, he adds, thanks to all the
Superhighway hype, people from the President down to school principals are
talking seriously about investing in computers and Internet wiring. Moreover,
the industry is already investing in education and community computing, if
for no other reason than public relations. Suddenly there is a new tool that
MARCH 1996
could, if accompanied by the right train-
ing, help students and their parents vault
past all those outdated textbooks and
neglected libraries. "This is a major oppor-
tunity-and a major risk," he maintains.
"If the poorer neighborhoods get left
behind this time, we will miss what may
be the last major opportunity to address
today's inequalities."
oW IOIElETTE W&k" ;, trying
to take advantage of these new opportuni-
ties. Thirty years old, a mother of three, liv-
ing in a low income housing development
in Newark, she is one of 20 women and men slowly dragging their neighbors
into the information age with the help of Macintosh computers and high-speed
modems. Using her own computer, provided by a federally funded experiment
known as Linking Up VIllages, Walker is hooked in to a "bulletin board" net-
work of other computers scattered around the neighborhood-some in the
homes of her neighbors, others at the local library, elementary school, hospi-
tal, and college. Walker, like the program's other "captains," brings friends, and
friends of friends, into her home to teach them how to use the computer's
game-like software, developed for the project by MIT Media Lab graduate
Alan Shaw. The software, called "MUSIC," gets them hooked on things like
electronic mail and chat rooms. Soon, the bulletin board system will be linked
to the Internet with all of its opportunities for research, writing and communi-
cation with others around the world.
Walker credits the network with giving her a chance to meet dozens of
people in her community with whom she would never have otherwise con-
nected. There are also lots of useful things on-line, like local job postings and
medical advice. There is a bigger picture here too, she says. The software,
which is fun and requires only the most basic reading and computer skills, has
turned her friends on to information and activities that they would have oth-
.' 17
erwise never discovered. "A lot of people just can't pick up a book
and, literally, read that stuff and get a good understanding of it. A
lot of people are visual-not everybody is text," she says. ''The
system is so graphic, people are just more receptive. It makes
them want to know more and quench their thirst for knowledge
about a lot of different things."
It is this ephemeral moment of understanding-the "ah-ha" as
scientists call it-that community computing advocates talk about
when they argue that computers and the new telecommunications
services will be as important to the future of inner cities as job
training or adequate housing.
There is something about the power of technology and all of
its potential that pries open the imagination, says Antonia Stone,
a founder of the community computing movement. Stone dis-
covered this herself as a math teacher in the late-1970s. Working
for a well-funded private school here in New York, she was able
to introduce her students to personal computers almost as soon as
they were available to the public. The kids immediately took to
them, she says. The concepts of math and logic suddenly took on
new life when applied to the art of programming things like com-
puter games.
Stone realized that, unless something was done, these comput-
ers and their educational potential would be hoarded by the elite.
She opened Playing to Win, the country's first low income com-
munity computing center, in the basement of an East Harlem hous-
ing project in 1983. It evolved into the Community Technology
Centers' Network, a national organization that supports communi-
ty nonprofits using technology to further their social missions.
Playing to Win is still a neighborhood resource, now based in
Central Harlem and serving some 500 people a week.
Most people come to the center to design a sharp-looking
resume or learn the latest spreadsheet technology. But there is a
committed group, most of them young, who linger on the fringes
and understand the real promise of the computer chip and coaxi-
al cable. "Who's out there dreaming up the new technologies that
are going to change our lives?" Stone says. "These are the kids
who are going to ask: How did is technology come to be? I think
this second group is really imp rtant. And, for them, perhaps neigh-
borhood access will make the fference."
who will design the cutting-edge
music, and video and gamew for the net. So far no one, includ-
ing those who will eventually the next industry barons, knows
exactly what the new teleco unications services will look like.
Many, however, predict that it likely to be heavy on entertainment
and cultural applications. Here, young entrepreneurs in urban
neighborhoods have a potenti y vast new market to cash in on-
that is, if they are given the tim to grow comfortable with the medi-
um. "Being charged per hour, ou don't have the luxury of sitting
and experimenting and makin istakes," says Coralee Whitcomb,
executive director of Virtually ired, a free computer drop-in cen-
ter in downtown Boston. "Peop e need an environment where they
can take the time to let their c ativity bubble to the surface. Only
then will they come up with t ideas-and who knows what they
will create."
"You've got to get this
cofounder of the Central B
Union in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
r;;;;;;,
lace wired," adds Errol Louis,
Idyn Partnership Federal Credit
en it will all make sense."
wired, will be easier said than done.
under 20 percent among those earning less than
Even among higher-earning city residents, only 35
families polled owned computers. The survey also
about half the people who bought computers chose
modem, the gateway to the technological revolution.
The Commerce Department did not poll largely
cations industry, which tracks such
affluent markets to be the most likely
advanced family." Married with 3.2
according to a
home with an
Problem is,
try will seek to
byist for the
cations watchdog
the civil rights mnluprrlPnt
Historicall y,
the wealthiest customers fust, getting
rural communities last, Ofori explains.
income urban neighborhoods lagged far
TV hookups. While some in the in ' tdmitr,l_H ..... ja
missed this as a trivial issue-merely a distinction
haves and the have-Iaters," as one Wired magazine
Ofori argues that wiring delays will create an ali-toof ru1lllJ.ar
advantage for poor communities.
Even if schools and libraries and community
arrange to get direct wiring or install other services
the technology gap, the community will still be a
water by those looking to start or relocate businesses,
Moreover, middle-class residents who add an element of stability
many poor neighborhoods would have one more incentive to leave
if, indeed, this interactive revolution turns out to be as important as
billed. Imagine, for example, having the money to buy a TV but
lacking a local signal to make it work.
"I have no doubt that, yes, eventually these new communica-
tions services will be made available in low income neighborhoods,
but it will be four, perhaps five years later," Ofori says. "The jump-
start affluent communities get will make a big difference.
Businesses will have already decided where they want to be locat-
ed. Economically, the mold will have been cast.
"And that," he maintains, "is going to do nothing but exacerbate
economic inequalities;'
America is only at the cusp telecom revolution and already
there are ominous signs that neighborhoods and people of n
color are going to get stiffed. !J HE bill that became the Telecommunications Act of 1996 had
According to a federal DUIJ<,;i!I,lUII Department survey released in been kicking around Washington in one form or another for more
mid-February, an impressive of the nation's public schools than a decade, and few deny that its passage was long overdue. The
offer some kind of Internet whether in classrooms, labs or Ill-page document consolidated a number of laws regulating the
libraries. However, just 31 of schools defined as low country's telephone, broadcast and cable companies and eliminated
income-where more than 7 of students are eligible for many of the outdated barriers preventing strategic corporate
free or reduced-price
with survey results from
where 62 percent, or two-thirds, have access to the net and the
resources it provides.
At home, the picture is equally bleak. A November 1994 U.S.
Census survey commissioned by Commerce Department's National
Telecommunications and Information Administration found that
one-fifth of poor urban residents didn' t even have phones, let alone
computers or modems. The percentage owning computers was at or
MARCH 1996
pumping millions of dollars into Washington campaign coffers to
drive home the point. Policymakers eventually allowed deregula-
tion because, for the first time in communications history, they
believed there was the potential for fierce competition between the
various well-heeled conglomerates-as well as an army of entre-
preneurial upstarts-to force innovation and keep prices in check.
But public interest advocates weren't convinced. They fought
required telecommunications
conlP'd!lles to continue what is as "universal service"-a
ty!clltJemal tenet of phone regulation _._ ...... _., ____ companies to
those who may not be able to pay cost of service.
Some good-govemment advocates also fought that
would have forced telecommunications
their cable-installing schedules to counter the mlve-llarer--
To its credit, the Clinton administration, led by Vice V.P'Mpnt
AI Gore, stayed in the comer of public interest advocates long
they expected to be abandoned. Through the final months of inten-
sive negotiations, the White House threatened a veto if the bill did
not reflect at least some sense that the poorer communities would
have a shot at equal access. The administration, clearly wanting to
pass some piece of landmark legislation during an otherwise grid-
locked budget year, ultimately backed the bill after congressional
negotiators agreed, among other things, to insert an amendment
requiring telecommunications companies to provide low-cost
access to schools, libraries and rural hospitals.
Both Congress and the administration, however, punted on
universal service and the issue of electronic red-lining. The final
bill included only vague language that acknowledged the prob-
lems and, at least in principle, outlawed them. But it is now up to
the federal and state communications regulators to decide if the
provisions have any teeth.
The deregulation law is also expected to result in price
increases for many residential phone and cable customers. An
intricate system of cross-subsidies that has long benefited resi-
dential phone customers will now suddenly be exposed to seri-
ous revision [see sidebar, page 18] "It was a bloodbath," sighs
Audrie Krause, executive director of Computer Professionals for
Social Responsibility. "This bill was bought and paid for by
to invest in technology. It's
a money-loser for the cred-
anion is working with the Urban
Cuter. a Manhattan-based nonprofit,
Family Services. Opea ...
her contention. According to the Center
which tracked the congressional
tele:cornmumcatJ<\1s companies contributed more than
they need to make a
contributions to Congress over the
1995 alone, tele-PACs gave some
~ l p a l l ~ funds, notes CME project
millions spent on personal dona-
advertising that dominated the
before the final vote. 'They
an investment in billions."
the forces of deregulation
n"olpl't,pt1 communities? That's a
policy for a new telecommu-
what's coming. "Our under-
face is, naturally, only partial,
thing we have to go on-
Daniel Burstein and David
W<I,rri",c<: ' Dreams and Nightmares
They argue that neither the
access to technology a key
nor Newt Gingrich, who
eaqlme\nal10n into the post-industrial
U,\,"U,"l,'UdJ leadership on tech-
expected, they concede.
visible, is it any sur-
ers they need to praCUlHt1
puter in the ho ....
CITY LIMITS
It is a view from Plato's cave. Already there are conflicting
predictions about the potential economic impact of telecommuni-
cations-and technology in general-on the workforce. Take just
two examples that show how differently the technological age can
be viewed. The first is cited in Burstein and Kline's book:
A March 1995 study commissioned by the WEFA Group, a
respected econometric consulting firm, estimated that communi-
cations deregulation would spur a decade of remarkable growth,
creating 3.4 million new jobs and $298 billion worth of growth in
the American economy.
A second, far grimmer perspective appears in an article by
Jeremy Rifkin in the February 26, 1996, issue of The Nation:
Author of "The End of Work," Rifkin argues that technology,
though not specifically telecommunications technology, will all
but eliminate the world's manufacturing jobs. By the year 2020,
Rifkin predicts, less than 2 percent of the entire global workforce
will still be engaged in factory work. The service sector too would
shed many of its jobs as computers take them over. About the only
growing area will be the "knowledge sector"-communications-
but its workers would have to be creative and thoughtful , an elite
rather than a mass workforce.
These two seemingly c!isparate visions are not mutually exclu-
sive. Economic growth can coincide, at least for a time, with
major corporate downsizing. But how do activists prepare for this,
knowing that the mass workforce is already ill-educated, under-
employed and underexposed to the technology that Rifkin's elite
"knowledge sector" will require? The answer for the moment is
still access and education.
!J:ZuJ.E it is true that the Telecommunication Act of 1996
represented a ringing victory for industry, public utility activists
note that the passage of this law is just the beginning of a long
and potentially productive fight.
It is inside the state legislatures, the courts and various feder-
al and state regulatory boards that victories can be won as offi-
cials pore over the fine print-and the social implications-of the
law. At the local level, testimony by activists and community res-
idents is bound to generate significant interest and attention from
public service regulators.
There is already good reason to be hopeful. In Ohio, for
example, public interest lawyers brokered a settlement with the
local Baby Bell, Ameritech, after the company had been accused
MARCH 1996
by the state public utility commission of charging
says Ellis Jacobs, an attorney with the Legal Aid
Dayton. Ameritech, feeling the heat of new
its market, was also asking the commission to cede its luthorltvllllll
to review and control the company's profit margins,
ing its ability to set rates. In hopes of settling the mattetl.9.ulckly,l
Ameritech struck a deal with the public interest
reduced its rates for all residential customers, created
first-ever "life-line" program offering cheap phone
very poor, created an $18 million educational technol
and contributed $2.2 million to set up 14 community
In Washington, D.C., the Federal
Commission must write nearly 80 new sets of rules mdtrPlretLngl
the Telecommunications Act over the next year. One
be to come up with a working model for universal
During the congressional debate, industry leaders 'III!.I!""VU';;U
there would need to be some new mechanism to
residential customers as the existing monopolies erode.
interest advocates fought to get a specific plan into lJiI!III"eHlbo..-
Congress opted instead to tap a panel of state and
munications regulators to study the matter. The FCC
of state regulators will name the seven-member board
Its members will have nine months to meet with the
industry lobbyists before offering the FCC its
mendations, says Mindy Ginsburg, an FCC spolCeSIDeIl!on.
FCC intends to accept these recommendations for uuc,..vuul,,,a··.
tion without seeking further public comment, she
activists should be sure to lobby the panel while they
Of course, universal service does not guarantee a.u' ....... u11l
ty to individual customers. Activists are also pressing for
ing to support new community technology centers and educa-
tional services.
Already, notes CME's Wright, many public utility commis-
sions are grappling with public service communications issues.
As the telecommunications giants come before the commission
seeking permission to expand or open new markets, community
organizers can press for various types of quid pro quo. Early bat-
tles inc!icate that the companies, eager to protect their public
image, can be convinced to fund a variety of technology access
and education initiatives. "If you are interested, there are large
opportunities for grassroots organizing," he says.
Finally, activists must keep in mind that pressing for educa-
tion and access is only the first step in dealing with much larger
issues to come. If it is true that computers and communication
innovation will replace the bulk of today's living wage jobs, orga-
nizers better begin talking about new ways to ease the workforce
into the post-industrial age.
The first step, however, is to make sure low income commu-
nities don't get left behind by the rest of America, yet again.
In Newark, Michelette Walker is preparing to go back to
school this fall to train to be a paralegal. With experience on
both mMs and Macs, for now at least, Walker can count the
computer as her friend. "You have a lot of paperwork to do in
law," she laughs, "and you'll need knowledge of the computer
to get it done." 0
The latest Housing and
Vacancy Survey reveals a growing
inequality in rents and
housing conditions. Mew York's
wealthy thrive while
the majority goes wanting.
By Peter Marcuse
,.
Political leaders at all levels of govem-
ment act as though there is no longer a housing problem in the
United States. Congress and President Bill Clinton are slashing
the federal housing budget to its lowest level since the Eisenhower
era. Local leaders are withdrawing city and state supports. The
politicians seem to believe that most Americans already have
decent, affordable homes to live in and that the private market will
provide for those who do not.
Maybe the housing crisis has passed for some people. For
those with the resources to afford luxury, there are plenty of
vacant New York City apartments available from $1,000 a month
on up according to the recently published New York City Housing
and Vacancy Survey, a digest of data gathered by the Federal
Bureau of the Census in 1993.
The same survey reveals, however, that the crisis has worsened
for many more New Yorkers-in fact, for the majority.
Every three years, the city hires the Census Bureau to survey a
carefully selected sample of households and apartments to deter-
mine the vacancy rate for all rental housing. The survey is
required by the state rent stabilization law, which mandates that
rent regulations remain in effect only so long as there is a "hous-
ing emergency," defined as a vacancy rate of less than 5 percent.
There is still an emergency: as of 1993, the vacancy rate was
only 3.44 percent, worse by a few tenths of one percent
from 1991.
This figure hardly tells the whole story. The exten-
sive data presented in the survey make it clear that
housing differences are becoming increasingly stark.
Housing inequality is growing between rich and poor,
between African Americans, Hispanics, and whites,
between men and women, between boroughs and quar-
ters of the city. The city is becoming more divided,
more quartered.
CITY LIMITS
The vacancv rate for apartments renting
for less than $700-that is, t&e price that more than three-quarters
of all New York tenants currently pay-is at emergency levels,
well below 5 percent. Nearly half of this city's renters live in
apartments that rent for $500 or less a month. Yet the vacancy rate
for such apartments is only 1.1 percent, which means that at the
time of the survey there were only 9,318 of them available on the
open market. For those seeking apartments costing less than $300,
the vacancy rate shrinks to .58 percent-and in tallying up the
number of units available at this rent level, the published report
says simply, "Too few to report."
"The housing emergency became progressively more, not less,
severe in the bottom 40 percent of rent distribution over the last 12
years," is how the report's author, Anthony 1. Blackburn of
Speedwell, a Boston-area consulting firm, sums up the situation.
Since 1981, he writes, the total number of apartments renting for
less than $450 (in inflation-adjusted dollars) declined from 1.17
mi1IIion to 691,285. In the same period, the number of tenant
households with incomes below the federal poverty level
increased by more than 100,000. This is not some small minority
of the city's population. Those households living below the pover-
ty level constitute one-quarter of all city residents (24.4 percent,
to be exact-up from 21.2 percent in 1990).
The median rent in New York City has more than doubled in
12 years, to $551. If the dollar figures are adjusted to account for
inflation, it is still a tremendous increase of nearly 20 percent in
rental costs for the average tenant.
Yet even as people are paying more for shelter, they are mak-
ing less. The survey shows that the median family income for ten-
ants was only $19,005-lower than it was in 1980, in inflation-
adjusted figures.
And the portion of income that most tenants devote to rent has
been rising precipitously since 1960. That year, tenant house-
holds, at the median, spent roughly 19 percent of their total
income on rent. By 1991 that number was up to 28.5 percent. And
in 1993, the median New York City tenant household was giving
30.8 percent of its income to the landlord.
ThinQs haven't gottenworseforthe
upper middPeclass and the wealthy, however. Those who can most
afford it aren't spending any greater percentage of their income on
rent. The ones feeling the crunch are the 60 percent of New York
tenants with incomes below about $22,500. And the gap at the
extremes is dramatic. In 1981, the poorest 20 percent of New York
households spent about 60 percent of their income on rent. Today
this figure is close to 80 percent, an increase the author of the
report labels "extraordinary."
What happens when rents go up for poor people and their
wages go down? Tenants cram themselves into whatever available
space they can find. Families double- and triple-up in small apart-
ments. The report shows that overcrowding is bad and getting
worse. Twelve years ago, the survey reported 123,000 households
as overcrowded, a designation defined as more than one person
per room; today that figure is 202,000. The number of "severely
overcrowded" households (more than 1.5 persons per room) has
more than doubled, from 31,000 to 68,000. Overcrowding espe-
cially affects people of color. More than one-quarter of Asian
households were overcrowded, 11 percent of black, and less than
5 percent of white. On this topic, no numbers are provided for Latinos.
The geographic distribution of housing inequality is also
becoming plainer.
MARCH 1996
Look at Mott Haven and Hunts Point in the South Bronx: the
area has the lowest median income in the city and virtually no
home owners. Two-thirds of all households have incomes below
the federal poverty level. Half of the residents surveyed reported
not having finished high school.
Although they can scarcely afford it, people in these neighbor-
hoods pay nearly half their annual income for rent (the median
annual income for this community is the lowest in the city, at
$6,912). Moreover, the people in Mott Haven and Hunts Point are
not getting very much value for their housing dollar. One in five
residents report that buildings on their street have boarded-up win-
dows; one in three report at least three maintenance "deficien-
cies," including inadequate heating, holes in the walls and ceil-
ings, rodent infestation and plumbing leaks.
Compared to the South Bronx, renters on
Manhattan's Upper East Side-an area often singled out for its
excessively high rents-are getting a much better deal . Thirty per-
cent of the residents own their own apartments, with an average
value of $275,000. Tenants devote only one-quarter of their medi-
an $100,000 incomes to pay rent. The number of apartments rated
by their occupants as in "poor" condition is too small to report,
while more than 92 percent are rated "good or excellent."
Of course, Mott Haven and Hunts Point have "too few
[white 1 individuals to report," and are almost completely
African-American and Hispanic. Nearly 60 percent were born
outside the continental United States. On the Upper East Side,
4 percent of households surveyed are African-American, 4
percent are Hispanic, and 22 percent were born outside the
continental U.S.
So what is government -doing about the housing crisis? There
are more than 1.5 million low income New York City households
technically eligible for federal rental assistance. That means 57
percent of all households, by the government's own standards,
have such low incomes that they ought to be able to get help from
government. But in 1993 only 414,000 were getting any such
help, barely a quarter of those eligible. Meanwhile 116,000 house-
holds are on the waiting list for federal rent subsidies, and about
as many are awaiting apartments in public housing. This is the
context in which federal, state, and local political leaders are cut-
ting housing budgets-reducing public housing subsidies, elimi-
nating new rent supports, slashing development funds and even
threatening the demise of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, an
incentive for private sector investment.
And a final word on rent control: "Decontrol" is a guiding
principle of Governor Pataki's housing policy. The Housing and
Vacancy Survey shows that, between 1991 and 1993, when ten-
ants left their rent -controlled units and the apartments were decon-
trolled, landlords more than doubled the rent on average.
Meanwhile, about one-third of all previously rent-stabilized units
turned over to new tenants increased in price by more than 20 per-
cent, although such an increase on its face flouts the rent regula-
tion laws. As the author says: "A substantial portion of the rent
stabilized inventory may not have been constrained by rent guide-
lines between 1991 and 1993."
Clearly, there is still a housing crisis. Its effects are distributed
very unequally, but it affects a majority of city residents. As the
situation gets worse, government aims to do even less. It is not an
auspicious picture the Housing and Vacancy Survey paints. •
Peter Marcuse is professor of Urban Planning at Columbia
University's Graduate School of Architecture and Planning.
-
_._------' . . "".-
.............. ------.......... ---
Appraising "Crace"
Matt Haven turns a mirror on Jonathan Kozol's book-and the author reflects,
By Glenn Thrush
"There's no sense
of hopelessness
here, " says St
Jerome's Father
John Grange,
I
t's a funny thing to open a double-
bolted door and walk right into anoth-
er man's book, But there is the poet
Johnnie Castro, the Puerto Rican bard
of Mott Haven, standing on the threshold
of his apartment There is his kind, cal-
lused handshake, the sofa with the clear
slip-cover, the old bookcases crammed
with Shakespeare, Robert Graves, Will and
Ariel Durant and Castro's own unpub-
lished works. And there above them all-
the only horizontal volume on the shelf-
is a new book with an off-white dust cover:
Jonathan Kozol's "Amazing Grace."
Johnnie's parlor appears on page 74 of
Kozol's book: "Behind Mr. Castro's back
is a bookshelf packed, two-deep, with
rows of old hardcover books.. .. In this
room, during a period of three years that
concluded in the spring of 1991, the
poet...translated his favorite work,
"Paradise Lost," into Spanish-El
Paraiso Perdido.
Kozol's book about Mott Haven could
be titled "Paradise Never Found." It is an
elegiac portrait of the neighborhood's for-
gotten children-and an indictment of the
powerful people in our society who have
forgotten them. He profiles several chil-
dren and their families, documents their
lives and deaths, underlines their strength
in the face of withering poverty, unre-
sponsive bureaucracies and an indifferent
nation. With this book, Kozol has struck a
resonant chord in a way that few bad-
news messengers have done since Jacob
Riis. By early February, his book had
made it to number 13 on The New York
Times bestseller list.
But does the world of "Amazing
Grace" really reflect life in Mott Haven?
"I think it's a very good book but it
paints a very bleak picture of the commu-
nity that isn't entirely true or three-dimen-
sional," says Edwin Lorenzo, leadership
training director of Mott Haven's East Side
Settlement House. "Yeah, things are very
bad, but he doesn't talk at all about the
day-to-day things we're doing to survive
and to actually succeed."
The power of Kozol's stories, of
course, is that they are not about success.
Bernardo Rodriguez plunged to his death
down an elevator shaft because city
inspectors failed to make sure the 8-year-
old's building was safe. A neighborhood
teenager, born on Riker's Island, will prob-
ably die there of AIDS this year. Mott
Haven mothers also die of the disease,
peddling their bodies away under the
PI PEL IN E
Cross-Bronx Expressway for a few last
hits of crack. Their children are ground
down by bad schools and fall asleep to the
sound of rats gnawing through their walls.
"There is a tension between hope
and despair in Mott Haven and some
people would like a little more hope and
a little less despair," Kozol says in an
interview with City Limits. "But this is
the reality I know."
Johnnie Castro puts it a little different-
ly: "A journalist like Jonathan is also a
novelist, and a writer that does not exag-
gerate a little bit is not really a writer. It's
not just because I'm part of the book, but
this man is the only fellow who's giving
you a true picture. There is always a little
place for exaggeration. Sometimes things
have to be placed in bold type."
Then he draws out a glass of chilled red
wine, just as he did on page 76, and adds:
"You know, they say 'beauty is in the eye
of the beholder.' Ugliness too!"
Back to Molt Haven
Since the book was published last fall,
Kozol has split his time between press
interviews, speaking engagements and
trips back to Mott Haven. During these
neighborhood reunions, Kozol has been
warmly met, but he has also been com-
pelled to answer tough questions.
"I wrote him a letter saying I thought
he hadn't given space to some of the
things we were doing to help," says Lee
Stuart, lead organizer of South Bronx
Churches, a group that has built hun-
dreds of new homes in the community
and founded its own alternative high
school. "There's very little in the book
about South Bronx Churches, which has
done a whole lot to deal with the prob-
lems he writes about. You would have
thought he would have included the
work of thirty churches, but for some
reason he didn' t."
The headquarters for SBC is St.
Jerome's Catholic Church, a neo-Gothic
sanctuary that sits between the stolid 40th
Precinct House and the massive, faceless
Mitchell projects on 138th Street. At about
5:30 on a dreary winter afternoon, Father
John Grange prepared himself for the
Spanish-language mass and tried to keep
himself warm in the church's cavernous,
unheated nave.
"I'm a big reader and I liked his other
books," he says, stepping into the confes-
sional, which doubles as an impromptu
CITY LIMITS
conference room. "But I had to put it
down after reading it for a while. I said
I'm not going to read this. This is not an
accurate portrayal of my community. It
was too despairing, too depressing. It
didn't report the good things that people
are doing around here to make things
better. He didn't look in the right spots."
As he speaks, the organist is practic-
ing on the pipe organ for Sunday, a fune-
real strain that fits the father's mood. "I
picked up this sense of victimization,
like 'Look at how sad we all are,' like no
one's doing anything to help them-
selves," he says.
"There are huge problems here, my
God. There are tremendously difficult
lives. I'm not saying everything is great
around here. But there's no sense of hope-
lessness. There's no hopelessness here," he
adds, pointing a finger into his own chest.
Other Mott Havenites take issue with
one of the book's central themes-that the
"little miracles" of community-based rede-
velopment are futile if the government
doesn't undertake a massive antipoverty
campaign.
"Grassroots community stuff is the
solution. We need help, but it's our com-
munity," says Father Luis Barrios, an
Episcopal priest who was ousted two years
ago from the pulpit of St. Ann's Church,
the parish that provides the backdrop for
much of Kozol's reporting. Barrios says he
was replaced because the Episcopal
Archdiocese objected to his progressive
social agenda, including his creation of a
gay and lesbian ministry and his support
for a local needle exchange program,
which he housed in the church.
White MI •• lonarl ••
The pastor's successor, Martha Overall,
is a central character in Kozol's book-a
fact Father Barrios believes indicates
Kozol's "missionary complex."
"What's the message here? That all
these white missionaries should come in
here to rescue us?" Father Barrios asks,
referring to Kozol and Overall, who are
both white. "I've read the book and the
Hispanic leadership is invisible. Kozol is
a very intelligent man. He knows all
about the Latino leadership in the South
Bronx. But in making Mother Martha
look like Mother Theresa, he makes it
look like only white people are doing
good things down here."
Kozol, who started his activist career as
MARCH 1996
a teacher in the predominantly black
Roxbury section of Boston, denies that
was ever his intention. "White people, rich
people need to have a stake in the lives of
Mott Haven's children," he says, speaking
over the phone from his home north of
Boston. "That's the point."
And while he admires the work of
groups doing community development, he
questions its potential impact in the broad
context of severe poverty. "The leaders
who work very hard to accomplish these
things believe that good things are happen-
ing. But I don't know too many ordinary
people in the South Bronx who would
agree with them.
"Sure, it's important to make the argu-
ment" that these local things work, he
adds. "But we have to be careful not to let
the powerful off the hook by taking the
local, piecemeal renovation of a ghetto and
holding it up as a real solution."
He continues: "I wish I'd spent more
time in some of the Catholic churches and
schools and that's why I'm doing it now.
But I want to make this very clear: I don't
think of this book as a series of compre-
hensive interviews about the neighbor-
hood. I didn't feel like a reporter. These
were a series of involvements with people
who became my close friends. I regret not
being able to go everywhere, but that was
not what I set out to do."
Unlike Kozol 's eight other books about
poverty and inequality, "Amazing Grace"
doesn't end with a chapter outlining pre-
scriptive solutions for Mott Haven's eco-
nomic, educational and social problems.
Instead, he concludes with a list of 23
neighborhood children who died of AIDS
or were killed in accidents, shootings, fires
or beatings since 1990.
Kozol says he adopted this approach to
leave his readers with the sense of the
numb despair and unredressed injustice he
encountered in the neighborhood. As a
result, "Amazing Grace" is embraced with
more fervor outside of Mott Haven than
inside it. One reason is that community
leaders in the South Bronx already know
about their dead children; they would have
preferred a book that provided encourage-
ment or, better still, practical assistance.
Instead, Kozol's tale is targeted for a
wider, more abstract, audience-"the con-
science of a nation," as the subtitle on the
front cover reads.
Sympathetic Ear
Whether it will help reverse the
increasingly conservative national mood
or not, the book is already having a mod-
est impact on the lives of people in the
neighborhood.
Kozol says the book has already
spurred $250,000 in direct contributions
to nonprofits. And Edwin Lorenzo of the
East Side Settlement House says that
representatives from city agencies have
been regarding his grant requests with a
more sympathetic ear since reading the
book. "It may be a temporary thing, but
they're beginning to see the urgency in
Mott Haven."
So, for that matter, is Lee
Stuart's family.
"What's happened to me personally is
that my brother, my cousins, have read the
book, called me and said, 'So that's what
you're all about,'" she relates. Before, she
says, they never quite understood what she
did in the South Bronx. "I guess until they
read Jonathan's book they thought I had
always been making it up." •

Kozol's "Amazing
Grace" sits promi-
nently on the
bookshelf of
Johnnie Castro,
the Puerto Rican
bard of Mott
Haven.
Wf
aM
~ ...
~ ,
CHASE
Community
Development
Corporation
The Chase Community Development
Corporation Finances Housing and
Economic Development Projects,
including:
New Construction
Rehabilitation
Special Needs Housing
Homeless Shelters
Home Mortgages
Small Business Loans
Loan Consortia
For information, call the
Community-Based Development Unit
(212) 552-9737
We Look Forward to Your Call!
CITY LIMITS
I
was 14 years old when I joined a summer jobs program
that changed the course of my life. Now, 20 years later, I
fmd myself fighting to save similar summer programs from
extinction because of skewed congressional priorities. If
these programs are lost, tens of thousands of New York City
children will never have the opportunity I had to learn how to
make it on my own.
I met John Simon, then-director of an Upper West Side
nonprofit called the DOME Project, in 1975. I had just fin-
ished reading "Helter Skelter," and Simon looked a lot like
Charles Manson. But appearances were deceiving. He was as
interested in basketball as I was, and he was organizing a team
of local youths.
Before I knew it, Simon had persuaded me to participate in
an after-school program and other activities. I didn't mind as
long as the hoops were included and, besides, all of my friends
were down with DOME. Naturally, I wanted to be down, too.
Jobless Summer
By Shawn Dove
The following summer, Simon also made
sure everyone on the team signed up for
the Summer Youth Employment
Program.
Shawn Dove
is director of
the Countee
Cullen
Community
Center. a
program of
Rheedlen
Centers for
Children and
Families.
MARCH 1996
His plan was this: our basketball
team, a crew of IS teenage boys, would
be charged with clearing out a vacant
lot on West 84th Street near
Amsterdam Avenue and transforming
it into a community garden. Actually,
the lot wasn't completely vacant.
There were bricks-lots of them--
broken glass and literally a ton of
garbage. When we got out there we
looked at each other in disbelief.
Common Coal
Simon pumped us up to take on the
challenge. Our initial motivation was the paychecks, which
allowed us to go down to Delancey Street and buy the latest
double-knit pants and mock-neck sweaters. It felt good just to
have cash in our pockets. We were working and getting paid,
even if it was only minimum wage.
It was also a transforming experience. Folks around the
neighborhood began to recognize us as "the boys building the
garden." It was the first time I remembered working with my
friends towards a common goal other than scoring more points
than our opponents.
It took two weeks to rake out all the garbage. There were
arguments, calluses, splinters and constant complaints about the
heat. After the lot was cleared, we rented a truck and drove to a
train yard in the Bronx to pick up
old railroad ties to put around the
CITYVIEW
garden beds. Then we went to Long Island to pick up special
dirt and fertilizer, which turned out to be horse manure.
The garden took root and for the next 20 years I showed it
off. Last year it was destroyed so the city could put up hous-
ing-but not before the neighborhood rallied to try to save it.
We had created something valuable. Although the garden is
now gone, the seeds of its creation will always be with me.
Twenty years ago, I realized I would do the same kind of work
as my mentor, John Simon.
32,000 Jobs
When I became executive director of the DOME Project in
1988, the organization's Summer Youth Employment Program
was still going strong, employing more than 50 young people.
Now I preside over a summer jobs program at the Countee
Cullen Community Center that employs 80 kids.
But these transformational work experiences for young peo-
ple are about to disappear. Congress is pushing to completely
eliminate the federal summer jobs program or, at the very least,
turn it over to the states with block grant appropriations that
would result in huge cuts. As it stands now, with Congress and
the President locked in a budget impasse, there isn't even a pro-
posal for funding summer jobs in 1996.
Without the federal funding, we face the loss of 32,()()() jobs
for New York City youth. Yet nothing is being done about it.
Clearly, the decision makers in Washington, Albany and City
Hall have not adequately considered the consequences of their
actions-or they just don't care that young people are looking at
a jobless summer.
I can't help thinking about the federal government's move-
ment to tum prison management over to private corporations.
Under the incarceration-for-profit system, prisons must be
filled to capacity to make money. Eliminating summer jobs
would serve to increase the customer pool for this growing
industry. Overwhelmingly, young people opt to make an hon-
est dollar rather than earn money illegally. But what do we
expect them to do when the positive choice is not an option?
For many young people, the summer jobs program is the
only training ground for future employment. Summer jobs
allow kids to work in their own communities, often contribut-
ing to the redevelopment of streets, lots and buildings that
would otherwise rot. Their paychecks provide much-needed
economic relief to families struggling to make ends meet. They
help local businesses who benefit from the increased cash flow.
And community-based organizations are often dependent on
summer youth employment personnel to run their day camps
and recreational leagues.
Most importantly, a summer youth employment program is
an incubator for the next wave of community leadership. It was
in my case. And there are plenty of gardens out there that need
to be built. •
-I
............. -' ... "._.
THE PR ESS
I
t's budget season in New York; in other words, time for
another one of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's patented press con-
ferences announcing the latest round of budget cuts. You
know how it goes: a glum mayor, tortoise-shell glasses
enlarging his piercing eyes, stands before a group of reporters
with charts and graphs at the ready, blaming everyone but him-
self for the city's budget problems. He informs us that this
time-he really means it now-his spending cuts will bring
genuine fiscal balance to the city's beleaguered treasury.
Clearly, there's something wrong with this picture. Cutting
remodeling simply because the man said he was going to be a
nicer guy. "After two years of hacking away at the budget," the
Daily News February I editorial read, "[the mayor] now
promises a careful pruning that spares services to children, the
sick and the elderly. Abrupt though it is, the change is welcome
and necessary." As usual, The New York Post's editorial on the
same day blamed the poor and elderly for the city's budget
problem.
The trouble is the media have allowed Giuliani to set the
terms of the debate. Hence the inordinate amount of attention
paid to his supposed personality transformation. The mayor
would rather not confront the roles of poverty, inequality and
declining wages in the city's budget imbroglio; without stable,
This Time's For Real
well-paying jobs, people can't contribute
to the city's revenue base and must resort
to government services for assistance-an
obvious analysis that somehow never
By James Bradley
--
spending, conservative ideology tells us,
is what really closes budget gaps. If you
raise taxes, the rich will either flee town
or put their money in a Cayman Islands
account. So how come year after year,
it never works? The budget gap only
widens. Don't look to the media for
answers. Most of the press choose to
obsess over the new, softer Rudy
Giuliani rather than offer any sub-
stantive analysis that might actual-
ly enlighten people.
This sophistry was highlighted
by David Firestone of The New
York Times, whose February 4
article declared that Giuliani's
"calculated decision to turn up
the warmth has sent a clear signal to
political circles around town: the mayor is getting wor-
ried." Worried about what? His poll numbers. People were
turned off by right-wing mean-spiritedness. Fair enough, but
how about people being turned off by inequitable budgets that
disproportionately burden poor, working-class and middle-class
New Yorkers?
Still, Firestone was one of the few reporters to punch holes
in the mayor's kinder-gentler shtick, noting that despite the
rhetoric, Giuliani's latest budget was as harsh as ever on the
city's most vulnerable citizens. Unfortunately, the same cannot
be said for the tabloids, who fell for Giuliani 's fuzzy image
makes it into the mainstream media.
The tragedy in the press's narrow cov-
erage of budget issues is that it sends politicians the message
that they can get away with ignoring substantive issues. They
know the press will not put pressure on them to do better, so
slogans and buzzwords will do.
People remain uninformed about the alternatives to
Giuliani's slash-and-burn budgets. But there are alterna-
tives, as evidenced by the wide array of work from watch-
dog groups, independent fiscal monitors, academics, and a
handful of current and former public officials. Both the
City Project and the Citizens Budget Commission have
advocated property tax reform, arguing that minor raises on
undertaxed one- and two-family homeowners, mostly in the
outer boroughs, could bring in anywhere from $300 to
$900 million a year in new revenues. Manhattan Borough
President Ruth Messinger has been outspoken on the need
to address the skyrocketing costs of fringe benefits for city
employees, now rising at three times the rate of inflation.
(Unions are no longer the bad guys for the administration,
however, since their leadership is now in the Giuliani
camp.) Mark Green has pushed for cleaning up the city's
ineffective procurement process. A small band of City
Council dissidents has proposed an alternative budget,
proposing tax increases for stock transfers, lobbyists, elite
nonprofits and commuters.
The receent creation of a city-sponsored independent
Budget Office, designed to be free of mayoral spin control,
should help make all of these ideas-and more-readily acces-
sible (see Briefs, page 7). The information is out there; it is the
media, for the most part, who choose not to report it. •
CITY LIMITS
"The War Against the Poor: The Underclass
and Antipoverty Policy" by Herbert J. Gans,
Basic Books, 1995, 195 pages, $22.
R
adio talk shows and daytime TV bleat a steady bar-
rage of negative stereotypes about welfare cheats,
teen moms with gold nose rings and loose morals,
addicted and delinquent fatherless kids. The air is
filled with a litany of racially-coded abuse. That the war against
the poor is being waged in the media and in the legislative cor-
ridors is not new. What is new, at least in terms of the post-
World War II period, is the intensity of the attack and the rout
of compassion and reason.
A counteroffensive against this cruelty is building.
Fortunately we can look to veterans of previous poverty wars
like Herbert Gans, professor of sociology at Columbia
University, for ammunition.
Gans' new book is a detailed critique of the concept of the
Underclass Hype
By William Kornblum
MARCH 1996
underclass and its use in the war against
the poor. The first four chapters move
through an analysis of how the term
"underclass" was transformed from a
largely economic concept to a label
fraught with assumptions about bad
behavior (illegitimacy, crime, drug
use, school failure and so on). Gans
argues that as the underclass label has
become ever more common in popu-
lar discourse, its use has served to
reinforce widespread notions about
the "undeservingness of the poor."
Gans reminds us that Gunnar
Myrdal, the Swedish economist
and author of ''The American
Dilemma," first used the term
"underclass" in a purely economic context to
refer to the "victims of deindustria1ization and what would later
be called the postindustrial economy." Yet, by the early 1970s,
in the aftermath of urban ghetto rioting and such influential
publications as the Moynihan Report, the term "underclass"
began to be used in conjunction with behavioral labels like
"culture of poverty" and "tangle of pathology." These were used
to describe not the economic situation, but the supposed behav-
ioral dysfunctions of poor people--especially the black poor.
A 1977 Time magazine cover article on "The American
Underclass: Destitute and Desperate in the Land of Plenty"
focused primarily on young blacks involved in a world of street
hustles. As behavioral notions of the underclass replaced older
and more objective economic ones, the "rules of journalistic
objectivity had been relaxed." Gans writes.
It is not altogether clear to Gans why this
change occurred so markedly, but he is con- REV lEW
that sociological writing helped legit-
imate the underclass label. Vernon Jordan
and Robert Hill of the National Urban League "attempted to
persuade joumalists that the term was invalid," he writes. But
the work of black social scientists, such as William Julius
Wilson, completed the transition from the economic to the
behavioral uses of the term with reference to "illegitimacy" and
"chronic" welfare recipiency.
Gans understands that among the poor there are some who
are insane, addicted, cheats and all the rest. He also knows that
such people are found in other classes, but those more favored
classes are not characterized by their least socially attractive
members. For Gans, "being on welfare is a disease of the job
market." Until there are enough jobs and dwelling units for the
poor, he argues, "someone will have to be homeless and on wel-
fare. Whether intentionally or not, the most vulnerable are
almost always 'selected' for deprivation ... because they are the
least able to protect or defend themselves."
To counter the offensive, Gans recommends a
strategy to debunk labels and stereotypes. Social
scientists, he believes, have a responsibility to do
some of this work. In many instances they are
equipped with the methods and opportunities for
research. Their work becomes useful for those jour-
nalists who realize their responsibility to unmask the
vicious half-truths about poverty.
Along these lines, Gans urges a "yet-to-be-invented
method" that he calls "popular ethnography: stories that draw
on the social science method to report how people live and
why they live this way." He fails to recognize that this method
already exists in the work of ethnographers like Terry
Williams, whose fUm with Jonathan Stack, "Harlem Diary,"
is a good example of what Gans advocates. In the powerful
documentary-style films of the English director, Ken Loach,
such as "Riff Raff' and "Ladybird, Ladybird," Gans would
[rnd another model of anti-elitist work.
On the economic front, Gans advocates the use of more
conventional weapons: job creation through government inter-
vention, public works, work-sharing programs and higher
minimum wages. To advocate these traditional strategies of
the liberal left, as Gans vehemently does, takes some nerve,
since all around us there is a frenzied slashing of public funds.
But Gans is looking at the longer prospect. As poor families
on welfare are forced into the streets due to drastic cuts in
their montlliy income, and as cases of abuse increase, there is
likely to be a renewed interest in such old fashioned econom-
ic and social policies. Middle-class employees downsized out
of the economy will look more favorably on such proposals
than anti-government boosters might suspect. The construc-
tive policies Gans proposes are certainly more worthy of
respect than those of laissez-faire and "malign neglect" that
are presently doing such damage to our communities and our
national spirit. •
William Kornblum is a professor of sociology at the City
University of New York Graduate School.
.-IB& ••••
B
increase.
Here are a few lines from my latest
song, "Budget Cut Blues":
No money for health care. No money
for schools.
Guess what? The mayor got a raise,
They hiked the price of a subway
token.
We're gettin' less service and more
delays.
But I hear the stock market's up.
So someone's making some dough,
How come so many of us is suffering
Is what I wanna know.
I don't want no more bad news
I've got the I -hate-these, had all I can
take of these
Budget Cut Blues.
Bev Grant
Brooklyn, NY
Unquenchable
Just wanted to say that I thought Glenn
Thrush's piece on East New York
(February 1996) was wonderful. I only
wish it had been longer. You all are doing
terrific work.
Rob Gurwitt
San Francisco
WNklyMotes
I am a student at the Columbia
University School of Social Work and we
have a student group called the Action
Coalition for Social Justice. I have created
a World Wide Web home page and have
been putting the City Limits Weekly e-mail
broadcast on it. The address is
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/ssw/acsj/.
From there you can get to City Limits. I
just thought you may be interested in
knowing that you are now on the Web.
Laura Wernick
Columbia University
Editors' note: Thanks to everyone for all
the valuable comments and interest in our
new City Limits Weekly fax and e-mail
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CITY LIMITS
HOUSING AND COMMUNrTY DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST. The Affordable
Network of New Jersey seeks a highly qualified Housing and
Community Development Specialist. Responsibilities include assessing
non-profit development organizations' technical assistance needs and
providing in-depth, on-site assistance in organization development,
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PlllGRAM DIRECTOR. Summer camp in Northern New Jersey seeks a high-
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Room and board provided. Salary based on experience. Also possibilitY
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HGF, 270 Stanhope Road, Andover, New Jersey, 07821, Re: Program
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PROGRAM DEm.OPMENTJPURIC RBA11ONS, full or part-time. We are seek-
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issues. We are also someone to coordinate our public relations
efforts. QualifICations: Knowledge of social issues and good contacts with
communitY and social issue organizations important Previous public rela-
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MARCH 1996
apply. Salary: full-time - mid-$20's; part-time - negotiable. Send resume
and cover letter to: Alliance, 324 Lafayette Street, 7th Roor, New
'\brk, New York 10012, Attention: Job Opportunities.
DEm.OPMENT OFFICER for progressive network of communitY funds/
national grantmaking organization. Seeks experienced development
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Send resumes to: Funding 666 Broadway, New York, New
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HOUSING SPECIALIST. Organization seeks person to administer a home
improvement program aimed at upgrading one to four-family homes in
the northwest Bronx. Must have ability to coordinate with communitY
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develop workscopes; and prepare proposals and reports to funders.
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Bilingual a plus. Salary: low to mid-$30' s plus benefits. Fax a letter list-
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to Andrew White, City Limits, 40 Prince Street, NYC 10012.
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wS /!tis Own

Last year, NatWest was one of only two
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You n'teo Home
By Rose Marie Arce
suppose all of us left-leaning New Yorkers have the kind of experience I had recently at breakfast with my
family back home in Washington, D.C. You think you are returning to the nest, the place where everyone is just
like you. And the next thing you know it's Morning in America.
I'll tell this story the same way I plan to spin it to my thera-
pist. I was preparing breakfast with my mom and big brother.
They are somewhat conservative, despite their reputedly
Democratic pedigrees. Mom is a full-blooded Peruvian (as in
Inca), a middle-class immigrant with three kids and a divorce.
Big brother, also 100 percent Hispanic but an American citizen,
married an undocumented store clerk with two children, pro-
duced a third, and puddle-jumped from one blue-collar job to
another until recently setting up his own small business.
Even so, they take the following positions on today's burn-
ing issues. On immigration: "Pete Wilson is just saying what's
not P.c." On abortion: "What's wrong with children? We each
have three." On taxes: "They'd be fine if they spent them more
wisely." On health care: ''That Clinton plan was too complicat-
ed for me."
On me: We love you except that you're an evil, liberal, pro-
choice New Yorker, and worse, you're gay.
Breakfast began with a unified effort to assemble a Spanish
omelet and operate my mother's new juicer. Older brother, as he
handed off chopped vegetables to mom, informed me, as I
juiced, that he frequently attends church, an environment he
suggested was foreign to me. My mother leaned back from the
stove to listen.
"My, haven' t you become religious," I responded.
"You should be sophisticated enough, coming from New
York, to recognize that hidden special interests controlling the
media have made it seem like religion is a bad thing," he said
with authority. "People with real conservative values who know
better get their information from unfiltered mediums, like tele-
vision or church."
"I go to church for weddings, baptisms and funerals," I said.
''Tell me if you're planning any of these."
His face tightened and he began to chop hard. "You are
immoral," he stated bluntly.
''That's a very big word," I said. "Where did you read that?"
He ignored me. "Did you read the profile of Bob Dole in the
Sunday Washington Post?" he asked. "His hand was withered
but he had faith and now he is leading this country. You know
why? I'll tell you why. He can adapt to all the competing agen-
das but still believe in God and church."
"You need me to get hit by shrapnel so I can be more
moral?" I asked. No one laughed so I started juicing everything
left in the refrigerator.
"What your brother is saying," my mother screamed over
the appliances in her heavy Spanish accent, "is that religion
improves your calidad de vida." That's "Quality of Life." Could
my mom and Rudy Giuliani be secret pals?
"I've got a quality life. Really. You just don't visit enough,"
I said.
My mother stopped frying and switched back to English,
my family's official language when discussing truly important
matters. "Too many people in this country believe they can do
whatever they want with their lives," she said. If she could have
pronounced "caucus" without sounding vulgar, she would have
started talking about Iowa.
The juicing and chopping and frying sounds took over as I
began to feel trapped. Pat Buchanan was dicing mushrooms for
my omelet. Bob Dole was beating my eggs. I thought me and
mine had averted the conservative landslide. Newt's contract
never mentioned my mom! But my family is the "them" in the
"them and us," those call-ins to talk-TV. They are the rest of
America, conservative Christians who vote.
The omelet is soggy. The juicer is burned out. The safest
thing, I know, is to say nothing more. There's still lunch and
dinner, then breakfast again, before American Airlines flies me
back to my little island of Manhattan, my only true home. •
Rose Marie Arce is a local television news producel:
CITY LIMITS
mBankersUust Colllpany
Community Development Group
A resource for the non .. profit
development community
• • •
Gary Hattem, Managing Director
Amy Brusiloff, Vice President
280 Park Avenue, 19West
New York, New York 10017
Tel: 212,454,3677 Fax: 212,454,2380
LET US DO A FREE EVALUATION
OF YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS
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wp
At The East New York Savings Bank,
we put our moneg
where our neighborhoods are.
We are now accepting applications for our Community
Action Assistance Plan (CAAP) Grants Program.
We believe that the continued success of the East New
York Savings Bank is tied directly to the quality of life in our
neighborhoods. That's why, for the eighth year in a row, we're
renewing our commitment to community organizations that
are striving to make our neighborhoods better places in which
to live and do business.
We're offering grants of $500 to $5,000 to eJjgible organi-
zations which provide essential neighborhood services,
including housing preservation and improvement, youth,
senior citizen, anti-crime, substance abuse, neighborhood
organizing, arts and cultural and commercial revitalization
activities.
In 1996, prospective appJjcants should be aware that the
Brooklyn:
East New York (Atlantic and Pennsylvania Avenues)
Park Slope (Flatbush at 8th Avenue)
Bay Ridge (5th Avenue & 78th Street)
Manhattan:
Sutton Place (East 55th Street & 1st Avenue)
Lenox Hill (East 75th Street & 2nd Avenue)
Forty-Second Street (41 West 42nd Street)
Peter Cooper (East 20th Street & 1st Avenue)
Kips Bay (East 31st Street & 2nd Avenue)
bank will be focusing its commllJlity financial support efforts
on projects related to housing and economic development ini-
tiatives. Therefore, CAAP appJjcations featuring such activi-
ties will receive priority consideration.
In the past seven years, over 200 organizations throughout
our service area were recipients of CAAP grants.
The East New York Savings Bank's CAAP Grants
Program for 1996 is open to community-based, not-for-profit
tax exempt organizations located in Brooklyn, Manhattan,
Queens and Nassau County. To obtain an appJjcation or fur-
ther information, stop by anyone of our branches or mail your
request to the address below. Applications must be submitted
by April 12, 1996 for consideration.
Fifth Avenue (West 32nd Street & 5th Avenue)
106th Street (1925 3rd Avenue)
135th Street (498 Lenox Avenue)
Nassau County:
Great Neck (23-25 North Station Plaza)
Oceanside (12 Atlantic Avenue at Long Beach Road)
Queens:
Forest Hills (101-25 Queens Blvd. & 67th Drive)
fAsTfiEWYORK
THE EAST NEW YORK SAVINGS BANK MEMBER FDIC
THE EAST NEW YORK SAVINGS BANK Community Action Assistance Plan Grants Program
350 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10022, 5th Floor

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