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Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a member-led multi-racial organization, principally women of color and low-income families in New York State that builds power to secure social, economic and racial justice for all. We accomplish this through grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy changes, and creating new models of direct democracy.


We are working towards building a society in which the systems that govern us foster racial, social and economic justice not exploitation particularly for low-income people of color. We seek a society in which all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender expression, sexual identity, citizen status, primary language, and ability are treated with mutual respect and when privileges of one group do not exist. We seek a society in which all people are able to work with dignity, have access to a sustainable quality of life, and can obtain unconditional support in their time of need. We seek a society in which governmental structures are transparent and based on community needs. We seek a society in which policies address the needs of all people and strengthen our communities. We believe in a society where experts do not have all the answers but rather a society in which the people most directly affected are the ones making the decisions.

Community Voices Heard (CVH) was founded in 1994 as a member-led organization by low-income people, predominantly women of color, many receiving public assistance and ghting the welfare reform policies that threatened their families. Leading members like Gail Aska worked to build power in New York City and State to improve the lives of our families and communities. From these early beginnings CVH has evolved into a multi-issue statewide organization of low-income people.


In 2012, CVH completed a new Strategic Plan after a year-long Strategic Planning process that engaged over 150 of our core member leaders. The plan sets ambitious goals and objectives for the next 5 years.

CVH will lead campaigns that build statewide power to achieve racial, social and economic justice for lowincome families and communities of color in New York in these areas:

By 2017, we will:

!" Build out fully in at least one of our chapter

counties (Orange, Dutchess, or Westchester).

!" !" !" !" !"

Good Jobs and Access to Them A Just Social Safety Net Truly Affordable Housing A Participatory Democracy A Fair Share Tax System

!" Establish a more regular presence in Albany

during the legislative session.

We will increase electoral and voting power for lowincome people of color by achieving at least a 10% voter turnout increase in targeted precincts.

CVH will develop and launch a new state-level campaign that ties together issues of low-income families across the state.

By 2017, we will have:

!" 1,000 dues-paying members !" 6,000 people moved to action each year !" 300 active core leaders
CVH will explore a pilot project to organize youth or immigrant communities.


Everyone that wants to work ought to be able to work in a job that pays a living wage, allows for self-sufficiency, permits collective organizing and bargaining, and provides workers with dignity and respect. CVH works to ensure that government meets its responsibility to provide jobs for all that need them and to make sure that corporations provide jobs that fully support workers. We work to advance an economic system that supports full employment.

CVH won the restoration of nearly $17 million in New York City funding for the Parks Opportunity Program (POP), a wage-paying Transitional Jobs program for public assistance recipients that CVH got the City to create in 2001. Hundreds of CVH members organized to participate in lobby days, direct action, press events, and Council member calls. 6,000 Transitional Jobs were saved from returning to unpaid workfare assignments by this effort. CVH was active in the successful campaign to raise New Yorks minimum wage over 1 million New Yorkers will benefit from an increase to $9/ hour by 2016.

The Newburgh Chapter won $70,000 for the continuation of Newburgh Builds Newburgh, a jobs training and placement program designed by members that has already placed over 50 low-income residents into employment. In Yonkers, CVH continued to push the City to enforce the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developments (HUD) Section 3 policy, which requires that capital projects supported with HUD funding hire local low-income and public housing residents. Where the city fails to enforce the policy, CVH has worked directly with contractors.


Everyone should be supported in their time of need through health care, income, and other supports that ensure that no human being goes hungry or is mistreated. CVH works to defend and expand the effective social safety net programs that are currently in place and to reform those in need of an overhaul. We work to advance a society that treats all people with dignity and respect regardless of their ability to earn a traditional income; a society that provides a robust safety net for people in their time of need.

CVH continued the push to end the unfair practice of workfare on the state and national levels. Workfare programs force public assistance recipients to work without a paycheck or worker protections. In 2012, we:

!" Filed a complaint with the U.S. and State

Department of Labor (DOL), leading to a meeting between DOL and the Human Resources Administration, the NY City Welfare Agency.

!" Gathered support from many groups and allies

in the form of an End Workfare statement to be used in the City, State and nationally.

!" Connected with people organizing against

workfare internationally; met with organizers and welfare recipients from Hungary, Romania and the UK.

!" Met with key NYS Ofce of Temporary and

Disability Assistance (OTDA) staff to encourage them to use a federal waiver that could give states exibility to exempt public assistance recipients from doing workfare.

!" Engaged with the United Workers Congress a

national coalition of unrepresented workers to lift up the issues and concerns of workfare workers. In Yonkers, members organized a community response to County Legislator Virginia Perezs vote to defund several social service programs in the county budget. The Poughkeepsie Chapter stopped Dutchess County from closing the Department of Social Services (DSS) ofce for one day each week, as the county executive had proposed in its budget.


Everyone should have access to safe, affordable housing - housing is a human right. CVH works to create and preserve affordable housing, including public and subsidized housing. We work to advance communities that allow for people to live in the neighborhood of their choosing without discrimination.


Due to our work organizing public housing residents for better repairs in their crumbling buildings, NYC Mayor Bloomberg and the Chair of the City Council Public Housing Committee announced an allocation of $10 million towards addressing the backlog of repairs in public housing. The funding will result in 175 public housing residents being hired to do the work. CVH organized the residents of Washington Houses in Harlem after finding out that NYCHA planned to replace public space with garbage compactors. We were successful in decreasing the number of garbage compactors and ensuring better cleanup, resident notification, and apartment repairs in the two adjacent buildings. Met with top NYC Housing Authority staff to present the CVH proposal for Participatory Budgeting in NYCHA, so that residents can have a voice in determining funding priorities within public housing.

CVH held a march with over 80 people to occupy a vacant, foreclosed home in Poughkeepsie to raise visibility about the foreclosure and affordable housing crisis. Members identified and documented the conditions of over 60 vacant buildings in 2 city wards as part of a campaign to get the city to rebuild vacant properties into affordable housing. By organizing Dutchess Countys homeless residents, CVH got the management of the only emergency shelter in Poughkeepsie to reverse course and eliminate new policies that would have instituted fees and evicted shelter residents after 60 days.

CVH worked to encourage the passage of an Affordable Housing Ordinance that will require all new housing developments to include some housing for lowincome residents. We got three of seven City Council members to agree to: 1) increase the percentage of affordable units, 2) decrease the income levels required to live in that housing, and 3) give preference to people receiving Section 8 or Public Assistance, or living in Public Housing. CVH was chosen as a community partner in the Choice Neighborhood Initiatives Planning Grant group with the Municipal Housing Authority of City of Yonkers to remake Cottage Place Gardens and transform the Croton Heights neighborhood.

Surveyed over 300 tenants about housing conditions and property owners. Got commitments from the Newburgh Mayor and City Council to enact a new Rental Property Registry and Vacant Property Registry that will hold landlords and owners of vacant properties to higher standards. Secured seats on the board of the newly created Newburgh Community Land Bank, that is tasked with redeveloping city-owned vacant properties. Three members also sit on the Land Banks Resident Advisory Committee. CVH plans to direct that the Banks redevelopment projects include truly affordable housing and job opportunities for low-income residents.


A truly participatory democracy allows people to define their needs and actively develop the solutions that meet those needs. CVH works to re-imagine the notion of democracy in New York and beyond by developing new ways for people to directly shape the direction their community takes.

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. CVH members first learned about the PB process when delegations went to its birthplace - Porto Alegre, Brazil to attend the World Social Forum in 2002, and have since been figuring out how to implement it in New York. When trailblazing NYC Council Members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, and Jumaane Williams agreed to pilot a PB initiative in NYC with at least $1 million in capital discretionary resources each, they made NYC only the second place in the United States to implement a PB process. CVH served as the lead Community Engagement partner for the process and focused on target outreach to ensure that the diversity of communities were represented. The process proved successful, engaging over 6,000 residents. In District 8, covering East Harlem and the South Bronx, where CVH did focused outreach work, half of the PB budget delegates were African American, much higher than the 23% of the residents African Americans represent in the district. Likewise, PB voters that identified as Latino made up 50% of all PB voters, a much higher portion of the voters than in the 2009 NYC elections, where Latinos only made up 39% of the voters in District 8.


4 City Council Districts 250 people volunteered to serve as budget delegates 2,000 residents attended 27 neighborhood assemblies 2,000 ideas were submitted for capital projects 6,000 total people voted in PB processes $5.3 million allocated to 26 projects based on
residents votes

In the years ahead, CVH intends to lead efforts to expand this process to more City Council districts, to various City agencies and authorities (including the NYC Housing Authority!), to the overall city budget, and more.


CVH joined the campaign for Fair Elections in New York, pushing for legislation that would limit campaign contributions and provide public funding for state-level elections. We participated in events in Albany, NYC, and Poughkeepsie. We also continued to participate in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) Advisory Committees and public hearings in Yonkers, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh.


CVH fights to adequately fund the programs and services our communities rely on through progressive taxation and ensuring that corporations operating in our communities pay their fair share. This includes providing quality direct employment opportunities, as well as support for other community needs.

CVH joined with allies from New York and around the country to take action in support of increased taxes and closing loopholes for the rich and corporations, including:

!" Organized an action in Albany against members

of the Committee to Save New York, at which we brought piggy banks to the Taxholes at the Business Council of New York and others who fail to pay their fair share in taxes due to corporate tax loopholes.

!" Newburgh members participated in an action at

Representative Nan Hayworths office calling out her support for the Ryan Budget along with MidHudson Valley 99%.

!" 2 days after the November elections, Mid-Hudson

members visited outgoing Congresswoman Nan Hayworth and incoming Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney to demand they fight for low-income people when negotiating and voting on Fiscal Cliff and budget issues.

!" A demonstration on Tax Day on the Upper East

Side to get support for the Buffett Rule.

!" Held Tax Day Actions in Newburgh and NYC

calling out corporations like Verizon for paying no taxes and calling for an end to corporate tax loopholes.

!" Organized a caroling action at Macys in

December, against their CEO who was one of the leaders of Fix the Debt, a group of CEOs pressuring Congress to cut Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security in return for lower taxes.

!" A cheerleader-themed action with VOCAL-NY at

Senator Schumers office after he went back on his commitment to increase taxes on incomes over $250,000, calling on him to raise taxes on the rich to protect Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

!" Mobilized a bus of members with allies to D.C.

in December to a rally and legislative meetings demanding higher taxes on the rich and stopping Fiscal Cliff cuts.


Afua Atta-Mensah, Co-Treasurer Stephen Bradley Ann Bragg, Co-Secretary Pat Diaz Keith Gamble Ketny Jean-Francois Walter Lipscomb, Co-Chair Loretta Manning, Co-Treasurer Anne Marcelline Brenda McPhail Valerie Pearson Brooke Richie, Co-Secretary Agnes Rivera, Co-Chair Janet Rivera Linda Williams

Monique Mo George Public Housing Partership Director & Special Projects Blair Goodman Poughkeepsie Organizer Jennifer Hadlock Welfare and Workforce Organizer Chris Keeley Political & Communications Director Ku Ku Public Housing Organizer Rae Leiner Newburgh Organizer Juanita Lewis Yonkers Organizer Jenny Loeb Regional Lead Organizer Michelle Perez Director of Administration & Institutional Giving Carmen Pieiro Sustainable Communities Organizer Henry Serrano Senior Organizer Vincent Villano Participatory Budgeting & Policy and Research Coordinator Sondra Youdelman Executive Director

Community Voices Heard 115 East 106th St., 3rd Fl. New York, NY 10029 P: 212.860.6001 Yonkers Ofce 28 N. Broadway, 2nd Fl. Yonkers, NY 10701 P: 914.751.2641 Newburgh Ofce 98 Grand St Newburgh, NY 12550 P: 845.562.2020 Poughkeepsie Ofce 29 North Hamilton St., Suite L03 Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 P: 845.790.5945



Atlantic Philanthropies Bend the Arc Center for Urban Pedagogy Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Citizen Action/Fair Elections Civic Engagement Table Daphne Foundation Dyson Foundation Elias Foundation F.B. Heron Foundation Ford Foundation Elizabeth M. Gitt Charitable Foundation Glickenhaus Foundation Hill-Snowdon Foundation Lily Auchincloss Foundation Mertz Gilmore Foundation National Peoples Action New York Community Trust New York Womens Foundation The City of New York

New York Foundation Oak Foundation Page & Otto Marx Foundation Moses L. Parshelsky Foundation North Star Fund Project Vote Pushback Network Right to the City Robert Sterling Clark Foundation Scherman Foundation Self-Development of People Shannah Ley Foundation Solidago Foundation TD Charitable Foundation Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock United Way Community Leaders Impact Rose & Sherle Wagner Foundation