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a 74470 94460 7
A BURNING DESIRE
For a minute, you could have sworn the man
was channeling Rudy. "If you were to put an
incinerator in the middle of Park Avenue," said
Mayor Bloomberg defiantly, "you would drive
away the revenue base that supports the city."
He was responding to a reporter's provoca-
tive but important question: Would the mayor
accept one of the new garbage incinerators he's
proposing if it were located near his own Upper
East Side townhouse?
Bloomberg actually never did say "No."
What he did say was the following: "The fact of
the matter is that where you tend to site things,
unfortunately, tends to be in areas that are also
in proximity to people who are just starting their
way up the economic ladder. ... You don't have
the option of putting an incinerator in every sin-
gle neighborhood just to share the pain."
The revenue base that supports the city.
Bloomberg's statement was an honest admis-
sion of what has become the one consistently
identifiable policy for his administration: The
city's prospects for revenue come first, even
when other important interests are at stake.
Revenues are, quite literally, the bottom line.
Of course, no mayor can close a $4 billion
budget hole with anyrhing other than brute
pragmatism-the very tack that is leading
Bloomberg to propose incineration in the first
place. In the wake of Giuliani's spending spree
on stadiums and litigation and other items of
dubious economic benefit, the new mayor's
rhriftiness is something to be appreciated.
And Bloomberg is, after all, simply stating a
truth: essential but noxious enterprises have
always been located near the homes of those
who can't afford to live better. (Though it's
worth noting that Upper East Siders clearly tol-
erate the tradeoffs that come with a dense urban
environment: their avenues are virtual com-
muter and truck highways, and Park Avenue
itself is built on top of Metro North tracks.)
No, what is so troubling about his comments
is that one of the few people who has power to
change the course of history insists on pointing
to a legacy of discrimination as a mandate for
future action. No one other than that reporter is
asking him to put a smokestack right on Park
Avenue. But there are a whole lot of people in
the city who are counting Mayor Bloomberg to
consider their environment seriously. Asking res-
idents of Hunts Point or Far Rockaway to pay
for schools and cops with their health because
they don't have the cash is a grave abdication of
what government exists to do. Sometimes, there
are bottom lines other than the bottom line.
Bloomberg's not a CEO anymore, no more
than Giualiani was a ptosecutor after 1993. It's
worth remembering the consequences when
Giuliani refused to accept that his job descrip-
tion had changed. Let's hope Mayor
Bloomberg understands the difference between
running a company and running a city.
Cover photographs by John P. Lawson, Simon Lee and Gregory P. Mango; from top left: Sowore Omoyele, Monami Maulik, Seema Agnani, Marina Shapiro, Jacek Bikowski.
Centel for an
The Center for an Urban Future
the sister organization of City Limits
Not all of the influential writing about policy issues
in NelVYork City today is cotning f rom the Right.
Combining City Limits' zest for investigative reporting with thorough policy
analysis, the Center for an Urban Future is regularly influencing New York's
decision makers with fact-driven studies about policy issues that are important to
all five boroughs and to New Yorkers of all socio-economic levels.
Go to our website or contact us to obtain any of our recent studies:
01 After the Gold Rush: The Ongoing Opportunity in Information Technology (March 2002)
01 Going on with the Show: Arts & Culture in New York City after September 11 (November 2001)
01 Under the Mattress: Why NYC's Jobs System Remains a Work Progress, (November 2001)
01 Sudden Impact: Many of NYC's Vital Sectors Seriously by September 11 Attack (October 2001)
To obtain a report, get on our mailing list or sign up for our free e-mail policy updates,
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FoundatIOn, The New York Community Trust, The Taconic Foundation, L1SC, Deutsche Bank, M&T Bank, The Citigroup Foundation, New York Foundation.
13 DIAGNOSIS: INSANITY
Two years after a judge ordered the city to help the mentally ill
stay out of jail, Rikers Island is still the only place in
New York where they're guaranteed care.
By Robert Kolker
18 TRUTH, JUSTICE
AND THE AMERICAN WAY
They started out in faraway lands from liberia to Egypt,
Philippines to Chicago-and today, they are all New Yorkers.
They're also not just accepting their new home as-is.
Meet 20 of the city's brightest immigrant
stars, rattling not just cages, but old ways of
building a stronger society.
5 FRO NTLI N ES: WANTED: ELECTRIC ROOF GARDENS ... OPENING UP WILLIAMSBURG'S OLD
WOUNDS ... LEAVING CROWN HEIGHTS BEHIND ... GOV SEZ NO MORE BOOTHS: WHAT NOW? ..
THREATENING TAOIST TACTICS ... DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT: QUICK AND DIRTY?
10 HASTA LA VISTA
Ever since they moved their program's office out of New York City last
year, Gotham's VISTA volunteers-staff for the domestic Peace
Corps-have been floundering. By Gillian Andrews
I N ~ ~ ~ GENCE
30 THE BIG IDEA
Opponents to living wage laws claim that raising pay hurts
not just businesses but workers, too. Too bad the newest
data says they're wrong. By lW. Mason
32 CITY LIT
A School of Our Own: Parents, Power and Community at the East Harlem
Block Schools, by Tom Roderick. Reviewed by Eleanor J. Bader
34 MAKING CHANGE
Being a landlord might bring in cash, but it's tough work, in which
disaster is always around the corner. One of the city's most
successful nonprofits is giving it a shot anyway. By Judith Matloff
36 NYC INC.
The city's desperate need for job training is finally getting some
attention, but progress won't come until the suits join bureaucrats
and advocates at the table. By David Jason Fischer
41 JOB ADS
44 PROFESSIONAL DIRECTORY
46 OFFICE OF THE CITY VISIONARY
CUNY CHANGE UNNECESSARY
Thank you for your article about CUNY
Law School [March 2002], which gave a good
overview of the range of political opinions
among students and, for some, a lack thereof.
As a graduate of the class of 2000, however,
I have to point out one glaring omission. Yes,
our class achieved the highest bar passage rate
so far, but our class was also the last one to be
admitted with little regard for our LSAT scores.
Also, our class was graded for two of its three
years under the now-rejected pass/fail system.
Lastly, our class still had more opportunities to
take electives than is currently possible.
Our bar passage rate shows, if anything, that
many of the subsequent changes implemented
by the school may not have been necessary.
I am concerned that many truly progressive
students will no longer bother to apply to
CUNY, because CUNY will not offer them the
non-traditional law school experience they are
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seeking. Ultimately, this effect on the quality of
CUNY's applicant pool may far outweigh any
"improvement" due to increased consideration
of LSAT scores.
AFFIRMING ADULT ED STORY
I want to take a moment to commend Mark
Greer for a superb article in the latest issue on
push-outs ["Learning Disabled," February 2002].
You did a fine job of balancing the nuts-
and-bolts of policy with the flesh-and-blood
impacr of those policies on young people and
adulr ed teachers. The piece has been circulat-
ing throughout the adulr ed community and
beyond, a testament to the work you did in
rackling a complex issue and explicating it both
lucirlly and compassionately.
New York City Professional
Need a Lawyer Who
Nonprofits developing affordable housing in New York
City face legal challenges on issues ranging from pre-
development loans to low-income housing tax credits.
More than ever, they need effective, hands-on legal
support to keep housing projects on track. Today many
leading nonprofit housing developers are getting the
legal help they need - at low cost rates they can afford
- from Lawyers Alliance for New York. Our staff and
volunteer attorneys include nonprofit, real estate and
tax credit specialists with experience handling the legal
issues that can affect nonprofit housing developers.
For information, call Lawyers Alliance for New York
at 212-219-1800 ext. 223.
330 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001
for New York
Building a Better New York
Volume XXVII Number 5
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS'
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Greens Raise the Rooftops
CHICAGO IS OUT AHEAD OF NEW YORK AGAIN. First, the Windy City built
the world's first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, in 1885.
Then last year, Mayor Richard M. Daley began his crusade to make
his city the greenest in the country by installing half a football field's
worth of flowers, grass, vines, and shrubs on the roof of City Hall. So far,
the aerial prairie has saved the city $6,000 in annual heating and cooling
bills, and is inspiring New York architects and environmentalists to take
notice of the untapped potential of the city's miles of rooftops.
"The benefits of this for New York City are going to be exceedingly
wholesome," says Ron Shiffman of the Pratt Institute Center for Com-
munity and Environmental Development, which along with the Envi-
ronmental Business Association of New York State sponsored the first-
ever international conference on rooftop development in early April.
Topping Shiffman's agenda: getting the Bloomberg administration to
recognize the connection between the shortage of affordable housing and
high building-operating costs. Promoting solar power projects, he argues,
is critical to reducing that overhead.
A few pioneers are trying to use New York's sunlight to their advan-
tage. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is installing a solar
glass roof at the Stillwell Avenue subway station in Coney Island. Green-
point Manufacturing and Design Center, home to more than 60 small
manufacturing fums, plans to install solar panels across its North Brook-
lyn roof. And on 23rd Street, along the East River, the Community
Environmental Center will cover the top of its new headquarters with
plants and solar panels.
"This is probably going to cut our building-wide energy costs by 50
percent, " says David Sweeny, Greenpoint executive director.
But replicating these models on a wider scale is difficult. Sweeny plans
to spend $600,000 for technology that will cover just 20 percent of his
massive building's energy needs. Without the ability to sell excess power
back to the grid, which state law does not require utility companies to
allow, he says "You're never going to create a high-efficiency system. " And
on top of those costs, the Department of Buildings' permitting process is
known to create long delays.
Advocates for greener projects are determined to push for administra-
tive and legislative changes to make these projects more feasible. For now,
Shiffman says their hope sits with City Council Speaker Gifford Miller,
who organized a panel on conservation development last August. But
getting the mayor's ear is not our of the question: "The biggest threat to
low-income housing is operating costs, " says Robert Polirzer of Green
Street Construction. "And when you have a building that's leaking water
and leaking energy, that puts pressure on the cash flow, which puts pres-
sure on the landlord-tenant relationship. "
-Matthew l Mitchell
By Matt Pacenza
SPECTACULAR EAST RIVER views, 1 ro 7 BR, roof
gardens, parking, some apts affordable. Avail-
This ad may soon appear in papers across the
city as a developer prepares ro break ground this
spring on Williamsburg's first waterfront hous-
Slated for the former home of the Schaefer
Brewery-which operated along the river from
1918 ro 1976-the development is a welcome
answer ro the area's growing housing crunch.
For years, as East Village hipsters priced out of
Manhattan have streamed into Brooklyn ro find
more affordable places ro live, Williamsburg's
longtime, lower-income residents have clam-
ored for cheaper apartments.
But the city's choice of one local developer
over others has revived some old tensions between
the Hasidic and Hispanic communities which
observers fear could reverse years of mending.
"Our families are practically dying for hous-
ing," says state Assemblyman Viro Lopez, whose
district includes parts of Williamsburg and near-
by Bushwick and is about two-thirds Latino.
"Our people must have input into this project."
The city took input on this development
from only one group, however: the United Jew-
ish Organizations of Williamsburg. The respect-
ed Hasidic developer rook some initiative four
years ago and approached the city Department
of Housing Preservation and Development ro
ask for control of the site. The group spent the
next few years lobbying the city, with strong sup-
port from former City Council member Ken
Fisher, and in late 2000, the city named UJO the
community sponsor for the project.
Today, the details are nearly final: U]O, with
the help of BFC Parrners-a Staten Island-based
contracror owned by Donald Capoccia, one of
former Mayor Giuliani's leading campaign con-
triburors-has planned a $120 million, 350-
apartment mixed-income complex split into two
buildings, one 15 srories tall and the other 25 sto-
ries. The development will include 140 low-
income units, roofrop gardens, rental space along
Kent Street for small businesses, 162 parking
spots in an enclosed garage and a publicly acces-
sible pathway lined with benches along the river.
And the city is pitching in to help make it hap-
pen. According to HPD, the city so far has spent
$6.7 million-$19,000 for each apartment-<ln
demolition and cleanup at the brewery. U]O
expects to open up the apartments for tenants in
early 2004. In South Williamsburg, where the
Census Bureau says about 50 percent of families
spend more than half their income on rent, resi-
dents can't wait.
"This project will fulfill the dreams of hun-
dreds of poor families who live in overcrowded
conditions," says UJO's executive director
Rabbi David Niederman.
No one doubts that UJO and BFC Parmers
are qualified for the job. "Both have a good repu-
tation," says Cathy Herman, director of planning
for Los Sures, a 30-year-old local non-profit
affordable housing developer that manages about
2,000 units. But Los Sures, joined by the neigh-
borhood's Latino politicians and activists, is angry
about a planning process they claim was done
behind their backs. "It's a city-owned site receiv-
ing city subsidies," says Herman. "Public projects
can't be used exclusivelY-<lr even mostly-by
one group." She and others worry that the new
development will cater primarily to Hasidic fam-
ilies and leave the needs of the rest of the neigh-
borhood's poorer residents out in the cold.
Their concerns are in part grounded in histo-
ry: Tensions between the Hasidim and other
groups in Williamsburg, particularly Latinos, are
nothing new, and often revolve around housing.
In 1993, for example, about 250 Hispanics took
control of a new city housing project for two
days, protesting that Hasidic families were being
unfairly awarded apartments. In the end, a judge
ruled in favor of the city's plan for distributing
the apartments, prompting additional protests.
The way the Schaefer project came about
again leaves many neighborhood residents skep-
tical. Until last summer, the proposal was
shrouded in mystery. When HPD introduced its
plan to Community Board 1 last April-as the
first step in the land use approval process-to
change the roning on the property from manu-
facturing to residential use and to get permission
to build a high-rise on the site, the agency's pres-
entation had one gaping hole: it did not include
the community sponsor and the developer, say
board members and others present. The com-
munity board did unanimously approve the
plan, but with two conditions: that HPD tell the
board who would manage the project and guar-
antee that all members of the community will be eligible to
live in the new apartments. At press time, the board was
still waiting for HPD to fill in those details.
In October, the proposal moved to the City Planning
Commission. There, too, it passed, with only one dissent-
ing vote. In her objections, Commissioner Marilyn Gel-
ber of Brooklyn, the former state environmental chief and
current head of the Independence Community Founda-
tion, raised a number of concerns, from environmental
impact to affordability. Before the city gives final approval,
Gelber pleaded, HPD should be required to provide "the
final design of the full development, " including the name
of the developer.
In response, HPD denies it was hiding anything and
says it's not uncommon for the agency to seek approval
for projects before their development team is fmal.
Still, critics of the Schaefer plan argue, even the very
design of the project indicates the Hispanic community
may be left out of the development. Many of the apart-
ments cater to large families, which are more common in
the Hasidic community. Among the low-income units,
about half will have three bedrooms, the other half split
between one-, two- and four-bedroom units. But as for
how the 210 market-rate apartments will be divided, UJO
would not say.
HPD promises that the low-income apartments will be
rented fairly-the agency plans to oversee that process,
including running newspaper ads and holding a lottery to
ensure that 30 percent of the units go to local residents.
But Assemblymember Lopez argues that the large number
of big apartments "totally distorts the applicant pool.
When it comes time for the lottery, [the Hasidim) will
have hundreds more applicants."
Niederman brushes these criticisms aside: "Hasidic and
non-Hasidic families alike have large families." Insulted by
the charges of discrimination, he points to UJO's historic
and hard-fought collaborations with organizations like Los
Sures, with whom his group built a housing development
on Driggs Avenue, now home to 11 Hasidic, eight His-
panic and two black families.
"I believe that anyone who tries to threaten [the Schae-
fer) project commits a crime to humanity," says Nieder-
man. "No one in his right mind would try to kill such a
benefit for poor families."
The plan's main critics-Los Sures, City Coun-
cilmember Diana Reyna, Assemblyman Lopez and sev-
eral neighborhood Latino groups-are not planning to
kill it. They just demand that HPD name another com-
munity organization as a co-developer and manager of
the project. While they organize "mini town hall meet-
ings" and a prayer vigil, Lopez says he plans to push the
issue during upcoming meetings with both Mayor
Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki.
Had the city offered the public a full accounting of the
Schaefer project, the plan's critics say they'd be less suspi-
cious. "The city's giving away this huge public benefit,"
says Herman, "and at no time were [the developers)
required to do even the most basic presentation." •
I LIVE IN CROWN HEIGHTS in a six-floor brick apartment building. My block has a bad rep-
utation, because some guys hang out in front of my building, and they look suspicious, so cops
always are patrolling my block. And there are always some guys on the corner of the next block
selling drugs or trying to sell drugs. Cops come around every half an hour or so because there
is a lot of shooting going on around here. Sometimes guys go up on the roof and start shooting
But my block isn't all bad-it has its good points. When I was a little kid, all the kids in the
neighborhood would come outside around noon in the summertime. We used to play all kinds of
games, like pop up ball-that's when you get a ball and bounce it on the ground and everybody
tries to catch it. And we used to play super suicide-that's when we get five or six balls and the
person near the wall throws all the balls toward the other players. Whoever doesn't catch any of
the balls must run to the wall before the person at the wall grabs a ball and hits him with it.
But I stopped hanging out on my block when I was around 13 or 14, because some guys had
a shootout in my building over some girls, and I started to think it was just too crazy for me to
just chill around there
The people in my building are friendly, and everyone knows everyone. They get along quite
nicely at times, but other times they're at war. A lot of nosy people live in my building, too. The
lady right next door to me is so nosy that if anything happens in the building, she is the first one
to know or want to know.
Most people on my block have lived there for their whole lives and don't want to move. So
there's no room for newcomers to move in, and people on my block don't take well to outsiders
anyway. I don't plan on living in my 'hood all my life, though. I plan to live where it's not too quiet
but not too noisy, in a clean, healthy environment where nobody is in my business at all. I don't
want to be bothered with gossip. I don't want the police to harass me every time I come out of
my house. I want to live in the 'burbs or in New Jersey somewhere. Somewhere I can have work-
ing water all the time, and people who are not trying to scam me, and no crazy tenants, and no
supers who are not doing their jobs. -Jovan Armour
==ltl E CTtO NS==
Cartridges Challenge Chads
FOR THE LAST FEW MONTHS, Governor Pataki's
Task Force for Election Modernization has been
caravanning through the state like a side-show
circus. In January, the members hosted demon-
strations for new voting machines at the Syra-
cuse State Fair. From there, they traveled to
Rochester, Albany and Harlem, and last month,
the team propped its tents under the crystal
chandeliers of Grand Central Station.
"The goal is to find the best new technolo-
gies to meet the need of all New Yorkers," Pata-
ki said to a roomful of election reform advo-
cates and voting machine salesmen who've been
trailing him in the hopes of winning one of the
most lucrative election reform contracts in the
The city is looking to replace all of its 7,000
voting machines, those 40-year-old devices
patented by Thomas Edison. Florida may have
won the award for electoral bloopers rwo years
ago, but, according to a Caitech/MIT analysis
of the 2000 elections, New York had some of
the highest numbers of "lost" votes.
So now the trick is picking the machine that
best suits the size and shape of the five boroughs.
It must be able to translate ballots into several
languages, have the capability to add others, and
it must be handicap accessible. In short, says
Neil Rosenstein, co-chair of the Citywide Coali-
tion for Voter Participation, it must make voting
errors nearly impossible, particularly given the
city's history of voting fraud and disenfranchise-
Praying for a Temple
A TAOIST TEMPLE whose traditions date back to
the 12th century, the only one of its kind in
New York City, has hosted its final prayers.
As part of the Cooper Square Urban Renew-
al Project, Temple Ma Jou Miu, was evicted
from its chapel at Second Avenue and 1st Street
on March 15. The temple was one of the last
tenants remaining in the cluster of buildings to
be demolished or rehabbed to make way for the
new residential and commercial complex.
"I built a community center here and it was
lirerally rhrown our on to the streets," said Ma
Jou Miu founder Sifu Jai as he sat on rhe side-
walk surrounded by his personal belongings.
The Sequoia could be coming soon to a
polling place near you.
ment of poor and minority citizens. The ideal
machine, he says, would tell a voter if he forgot
to vote for one particular office, or voted for rwo
candidates in one contest, or pressed a button
that would nullify his vote entirely.
At press time, the federal Election Reform
Bill, which would provide $3.4 billion for states
to overhaul their voting systems, was still up for
debate. The governor's task force planned to
release its recommendations for electoral reform,
including its favorite machinery, on April 14.
Some of the technology angling for New
York's favor includes hand-held systems for vot-
ing in the car, on the train or from the hull of a
US battle ship. Advocates for the visually
impaired note the screen's small print. The price,
however, is not so small: at least $5,000.
In the summer of2000, the city sold the tem-
ple's building and several nearby properties for
$40.5 million to Chrystie Venture Parmers, a
parmership of Virginia-based developer Avalon-
Bay Communities, rerail developer Williams
Jackson Ewing and Blackacre Capital, a privare
investment firm. The plan: to construct 618
apartments, about 25 percent of which will be
for low-income tenants, and a shopping center.
Phipps Houses, a local nonprofit developer, will
own and manage the affordable apartments.
In an atrempt to save his worshipping serv-
ices and meditation and Kung Fu courses,
which serve about 45 East Village residents, Jai
has been in and out of Housing Court since
1990. It was then that the city first shut off the
heat, plumbing and electricity in the building
because the building manager, a group called
Cuando, had not paid its bills. And it was only
Automated teller machines have also provid-
ed inspiration, featuring touch screens that
allow voters to scroll down a menu for their
candidates of choice. Votes are stored on car-
tridges, which poll workers collect and tally at
the end of the day. Some politicians worry that
voters will miss the candidates listed toward the
bottom of the screen. But at least one model,
made by Sequoia, has won kudos from Light-
house International for its audio ballot option.
Election reformists also praise it for offering vot-
ers a last look at all their ballot selections before
they are finalized.
Of course cost is also an issue, and for that rea-
son "The Patriot," made by UniLect, has caught
the eye of at least one member of the governor's
task force. The electric octopus, as some fondly
call it, can have up to 16 touch screens connected
to one motherboard, allowing the city to save
money on hardware. It runs for about $3,000.
For any of these machines to make it to the
polling sites, however, at least a few state laws
must be changed. Currently, all ATM, laptop
and hand-held ballots are our of the question
since state law requires that all machines dis-
play every election on one page.
Still, the biggest challenge ahead, says Peter
Johnson, chair of the governor's task force, is
conquering voters' cynicism. Recent events do
not bode well. Using Sequoia's touch screen sys-
tem for the first time in March, Palm Beach
County delayed tallying local election results for
hours because some poll workers forgot to col-
lect the machines' cartridges, and at least one
took a few home with him. (He was fired.)
"Instead of chads," says one local critic, "we
now have cartridges." -Geoffrey Gray
then, after spending four years in the space,
thar the rem pie found our about the city's
plans for an urban renewal project.
So now, Jai and the temple members are
looking for a new home. Community Board 3
has asked the city Department of Housing
Preservation and Development to help with
relocation-even Lower East Side rock legend
Patti Smith recently restified on the remple's
behalf-and the board is considering urging the
developer to include the temple in irs final
plans. Part of the chapel will be rebuilt for a cul-
tural arrs center, for which AvalonBay says ir has
yet to choose a tenant.
Meanwhile, Sifu Jai refuses to disassemble
the ornate alrars: "Anyone who chooses to do
so, including city marshals," he says,"will have
to deal with the karmic consequences."
-Michael I. Schiller
= ~ RH=U It tN=Gi==
Fast Times Downtown
AMID THE RUBBLE of September 11, the idea
that the former site of the World Trade Center
must be redeveloped under speedier-than-usual
environmental reviews quickly became popular
with the louder voices for rapid reconstruction.
Now, as the Lower Manhanan Development
Corporation (LMDC) prepares to release its
development guidelines, civic groups seeking
to influence the rebuilding process are also con-
sidering fast-track redevelopment, and LMDC
members are taking them seriously.
In March, the Civic Alliance, a coalition con-
vened by the Regional Plan Association, debated
proposals to direct any eventual legal challenges
to redevelopment plans directly to the appellate
level of state court, instead of the usual point of
entry, State Supreme Court. CU(ting OU( one
stage of legal review could shave a year or more
off of court battles. (Initial review under the
State Environmental Quality Review Act
[SEQRA] and other laws take several years on
top of that.) Members of the Alliance's working
group on regulatoty maners have also discussed
the idea with LMDC president Lou Thompson
and member Alexander Garvin.
The Bar Association's Special Committee
on Downtown Development is discussing
similar measures within its ranks and with
Proponents of the changes say the intent is
not to degrade environmental planning, but to
make sure lower Manhanan ends up with
something other than a grim hole in the
ground. "Seeing the site vacant for years and
years is very bad from an environmental point
of view," says Jim Tripp, executive director of
Environmental Defense and co-chair of the
Civic Alliance working group. "It's about com-
bating sprawl, making one of the most densely
compact parts of the country livable again. "
Tripp would like to see an early start to the
environmental review process, to promote
open public assessment of plans and serious
consideration of alternatives.
All of that is supposed to happen under
SEQRA, and if done thoroughly would theo-
retically preempt the need for lawsuits.
SEQRA calls for consideration of impacts on
air, water, and the rest of the natural environ-
ment, and subjects to scrutiny a development
project's stresses on physical infrastructure
(such as sewage trearrnent and transportation).
But some urban planners and lawyers with
the Civic Alliance fear that emergency WTC reg-
ulatory changes will set a precedent for fast-track
environmental review, withoU( ensuring mean-
ingful public input up front. While she agrees
SEQRA is time-consuming, Eva Hanhardt of
the Municipal Art Society, a Civic Alliance mem-
ber, adds, ''I'm hesitant about using this kind of
tragic moment to rush major changes to process-
es that will not only affect all parts of a city, but
also over a long period of time. "
Some of the skepticism has to do with the
interests of some advocates for faster review.
The Civic Alliance working group is co-chaired
by Deborah Beck of the Real Estate Board of
New York, whose members could benefit sig-
nificantly from less onerous regulation on their
development plans. The Bar Association com-
mittee is headed by Stephen Kass, who repre-
sented the New York Power Authority in its
law-bending efforts to get permits for tempo-
rary waterfront power generators. And an influ-
ential proposal to speed the review process was
drafted by respected environmental attorney
Michael Gerrard, who has since been hired by
Silverstein to advise the developer on environ-
mental maners related to WTC reconstruction.
"People are watching this process," says Gail
Suchman of New York Lawyers for the Public
Interest, a leading critic of the fast-track proposal.
She's guessing they hope "that whatever process is
chosen for the World Trade Center will spill over
to all other projecrs in the city. " -Alyssa Katz
Sculpture, McGraw-Hili Building, 1988.
Hasta la VISTA
Its volunteers taught New York how to fight for its neighborhoods. Now
the nation's Peace Corps is moving away from them. By Gillian Andrews
BEFORE HE STARTED his AmeriCorps*V1STA
term at Highbridge Community Life Center,
Joe Ryan had never edited a newspaper. But after
discovering that two local groups were meeting
separately about children killed by vehicles in
their Bronx neighborhood, residents decided a
paper would be the best way to improve com-
munication. So Ryan gathered publishing soft-
ware. Then he compiled an editor's note, an
account of "the DOT's lame excuses," and a list
of numbers for residents to call, and the fust
issue of Highbridge Horizon went to press in
December 1998. Neighbors sent copies to local
officials. "Three months later," Ryan recalls, "we
were able to write an article about speed humps
being installed on Anderson Avenue." Today, a
Highbridge resident edits the paper; neighbors
can go to a journalism "boot camp," where they
learn to write articles.
This is VISTA at its best. Founded in the
early 1960s, Volunteers in Service to America
was intended to be a domestic Peace Corps. Its
goal was eliminating poverty in the U.S. through
a mix of "inside leadership and outside skills"-
the latter ftom college students committed to
social justice; the former, from residents who
understood their communities' resources and
needs. VISTA work consists not of
direct service like tutoring or building
houses-that's the stuff of AmeriCorps, its sister
program under the Corporation for National
Service-but community organizing. Its
founders, John F. Kennedy appointees, spoke of
"giving poor people back their citizenship" by
empowering them to change their communities.
Almost 40 years later, this War on Poverty
program is still crucial to low-income communi-
ties. While there is no typical VISTA assignment,
VISTAs today are still performing, for a stipend
of about $9,000 a year, the mix of community
organIZIng and institution-building that
Kennedy's think tanks envisioned. New York cur-
rently hosts 60 VISTA sites, with 135 volunteers
doing everything from setting up adult literacy
programs to teaching people in poor neighbor-
hoods how to become tenant organizers.
At Highbridge, the volunteers are central
to the nonprofit's work. "If we had no
VISTAs," says Highbridge executive director
Ed Phalen, "we would lose a certain amount
of touch with the community. We'd lose the
power to test out programs and see if they
have some promise, meet some need. It's a
major link with our community."
Now, however, that link is increasingly
strained. Sweeping management changes have
hurt VISTA's presence in New York. In Septem-
ber 2000, VISTA moved its New York City
office to Albany, leaving New York one of the
few large cities without a local office; Los Ange-
les, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco all
have them. Regional VISTA directors used to be
closely involved in matching up prospective vol-
unteers with suitable organizations; now, organ-
izations have ro pore through rudimentary
online applications themselves. Together, these
changes have made it harder ro recruit VISTAs
from poor urban neighborhoods.
The ciry is already paying the price. In
2001, the feds gave New York State enough
money ro place 200 VISTAs in communiry
organizations-200 "service-years," ro be used
for new and returning volunteers.
Normally, New York State fills all its slots,
and even takes extras from other states' allot-
ments, with New York Ciry accounting for 60
percent of the state rotal. But that year-the
year afrer the move-New York Ciry's VISTA
postings declined for the first time in more
than a decade, and New York State fell 23 serv-
ice-years shon as a result.
"I don't think it was a coincidence that, all
of a sudden, in the year that they closed down
an office in the largest urban poverry zone in
the U.S., they experienced a serious shortfall,"
says Bruce Pencland, a former New York state
program specialist for VISTA who resigned his
position ro rake a job at the Albany Retarded
Citizens Association a year afrer the move.
When VISTA's state office moved ro Albany,
"we knew New York would lose projects," says
Pencland, "but it was decided that was an
acceptable price ro pay."
Donna Smith, direcror of the state office,
defends the move "for budget reasons,"
explaining that rent in the ciry was too expen-
sive. But when City Limits invited Smith ro
document the savings, Smith said she would
call back-then declined ro return several
phone calls on the topic. To date, neither state
nor national VISTA staff have made any
report on how much money the move saved;
even requests from Congressman Major
Owens, who was furious about the move,
failed ro yield figures.
Pencland and others involved with the move
say it was part of a nationwide mandate ro con-
solidate offices of the different volunteer pro-
grams operating under the Corporation for
National Service (CNS) , including Americorps
and VISTA. "It was an expediency issue," says
Pencland. "It made it easier ro administer.
There was no consideration of the communi-
ties we were serving."
FOR BISI IDERABOUlLAH, executive direcror of
Imani House in Park Slope, VISTA's mandate
ro create self-sustaining organizing projects has
extended her organization's capaciry beyond
anything she could have done alone.
One of Imani House's programs, which
trains neighborhood youth ro run HN preven-
tion workshops, was established entirely through
the work of a VISTA. The volunteer scheduled
classes and trips, oversaw the workshops, and
created certificates for their graduation. Most
importancly, she compiled a handbook derailing
everything she did so that the project could con-
tinue afrer her term of service was over. "It made
me capable of doing this workshop again, " says
Iderabdullah. "I never would have been able ro
do that without her help. "
But while Imani House has a contract for up
ro six VISTAs, Iderabdullah currencly only
employs one. Last year, AmeriCorps, which
manages VISTA's recruitment process, elimi-
nated the use of paper applications ro the pro-
gram. All prospective volunteers must now
apply online. Under this new system, new
applicants are funneled wholesale ro direcrors.
Web recruitment is
"better for white
Oklahoma. It's not
better for Latinas
in Park Slope."
Iderabdullah now has ro hunt through hun-
dreds of applications, identify applicants from
resumes, and request a particular VISTA. With-
out rime ro handle all this, Iderabdullah has only
been able ro find one who was a good match for
her program-a VISTA who was not from the
area. "I always had applicants from the commu-
niry," she says, "and all of a sudden I don't. "
Before the ciry office closed and VISTA
moved ro electronic applications, Pencland and
East Coast VISTA recruiter Donna Palandro
acted as matchmakers, interviewing applicants
and hooking them up with programs that
specifically suited their interests and experi-
ence. Pencland personally helped Iderabdullah
identify volunteers who were a good match for
her program, then dropped by for visits
throughout their terms. "He was so close,"
sighs Iderabdullah. His office "made people
move in my direction."
Jean Somerfeld, director of the Youth Ser-
vices Opportunities Project, says the quantiry of
applicants is no substitute for qualiry. "Many
people who applied online really didn't under-
stand what they were applying for," says Somer-
feld. Many applicants actually think it's a regular
Palandro, who says the change has been a
boon for her office, thinks the problems have
been overstated. Though she was initially "wor-
ried about the human aspect being lost," she
says she has gotten moscly positive feedback
Not everyone is so dependent on help with
recruiting. About one-third of participating
organizations do some or all of their recruiting
from among people who are already involved in
their programs. Many of the VISTAs at the
Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, for
example, are residents in the tenant co-ops that
the group helped form.
But Iderabdullah sees a message in the auto-
mated application system: "We're not interested
in smaller programs anymore. We're interested
in larger groups who can rake more VISTAs."
Computer applications are also a barrier ro
the applicants she's looking for. "It's a pretry
sophisticated system," she says. "It's better for
middle-class white people from Oklahoma,"
Iderabdullah says. "It's not better for Latina
women in Park Slope."
JOSEPH SIMMONS IS A classic example of the
"inside skills" credo from VISTA's founding
mission. Homeless when VIP Communiry Ser-
vices picked him ro be a vocational aide, Sim-
mons interviewed clients, coordinated their
internships and led follow-up discussion ses-
sions on ropies such as workplace confidentiali-
ry. His communication skills, including his
writing, improved during his time as a VISTA:
"I was able to use my creativiry in ways I never
thought I could," he marvels, speaking with
pride of a technique he developed of drawing
participants into discussion using clips from
movies. Still employed at VIp, and confident of
his newfound marketable skills, Simmons now
lives in a studio apartment.
Yet he ran into some minor snags: When
social services insisted on treating his stipend as
a paycheck, even afrer the state VISTA office
called ro explain that they were obligated by law
not ro do so. He lost his housing subsidy, his
rent fell inro arrears, and he had ro go ro court.
Other low-income VISTAs face similar chal-
lenges. Liz Pardo, who recencly finished a VISTA
term at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A,
found me child care voucher she received from
me program was effectively worthless. "A lot of
places don't want ro go through that
bureaucracy," she says. "They'd just like me
cash. " In me end, she found someone to take her
son for free.
Yolanda Ragland ran into a more serious
problem. A momer who wanted to be a com-
munity organizer, Ragland signed up for a
VISTA term at me Bronx organization Banana
Kelly in March 2000. Unfortunately for her, me
nonprofit happened to be going mrough a
management meltdown. When Ragland sug-
gested changes to its VISTA program for the
benefit of future volunteers, her supervisor
refused to sign off on her exit report. "I mought
mat might have helped change things in me
future," she says. "I was just keeping it real."
Normally, these would just be bureaucratic
irritations, easily solved. When me local office
was still in New York, VISTA program special-
ists could easily make site visits. Since me move,
many local supervisors say mey have never been
visited by a CNS program officer, or have had
visits scheduled which men fell through. Many
don't mind-some would prefer not to have
administrators hovering over meir shoulder. But
site visits gave program specialists a chance to
talk to volunteers about how meir work was
going and help them solve problems.
Pardo estimates "75 to 80 percent" of the
VISTAs she talked with during training "said
very negative things about their assignments. I
was one of the few who said anything good. "
Most of them didn't have well-established work
plans, which are supposed to be part of a non-
profit's contract with CNS.
Karen Dahl, who was a VISTA at Jump-
Start, an educational nonprofit, until early last
year, calls her time mere "an amazing experi-
ence. " But her peers in other programs didn't
feel the same way. "It really depended on me
organization you worked with, " she says. "The
amount of support we got from AmeriCorps or
VISTA was minimal, unless a paycheck went
missing, " she says. "You kind of were dropped
into your nonprofit, and if you didn't say any-
thing, you were never heard from again. "
Dahl tried to do something about it. Most
cities have an InterCorps Council, a regular
meeting of volunteers in VISTA and Ameri-
Corps, as well as various other volunteer pro-
grams under me CNS umbrella. Run by the vol-
unteers memselves, InterCorps Councils provide
opportunities for special citywide collaborations,
as well as informal time to share information
about affordable housing opportunities-no
small maner on a sub-poverty stipend-and
successful organizing strategies.
So in true VISTA fashion, Dahl and other
local volunteers tried to set up an Inter
Corps-like program for New York City. They
met regularly with a representative from the
state office to try to develop better support
for local VISTAs. They discussed everything
from getting monthly MetroCards to creating
a web site. Dahl was excited about the proj-
ect, but neither VISTA nor AmeriCorps
offered much support. In the end, the group
of volunteers and supervisors dissolved when
the office moved . •
Gillian Andrews, a former VISTA, is currently an
editorial assistant for the Independent Press
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Two years after a judge demanded a plan to ease t e
mentally ill out of jail, why is Rikers still the biggest
psychiatric center in the city?
By Robert Kolker
"Don't take me out of jail," Alan begged Ruth O'Sullivan. "Don't put
me in a shelter."
Alan (not his real name) is an IV drug user and paranoid schizo-
phrenic from Puerto Rico. His wife is dead, and his two kids are living
away from him. People who know him say he's gentle, nice, smart. But
when he decompensates-that is, when his illness spins out of control-
he starts hearing voices. When he hears voices, he self-medicates with
drugs. And when the drugs don't muffle the voices out, he hurts himself.
Once he even drove a household tool into his head.
"This guy's breaking my heart," says O'Sullivan, Alan's case manager with
Treaanent Alternatives to Street Crime (TASC) , a jail-diversion program
under contract with the city. O'Sullivan tried for more than six months to
find a place for Alan to live that can give him enough care to keep him from
relapsing and heading back to prison. "He has good insight," she says. "He
knows how to take care of his illness. His goal is to get out and get to his chil-
dren. But he's also had several very, very serious suicide attempts. "
It sounds counterintuitive, but compared with what he'd experience
on the outside, life at Rikers Island has at least been more structured for
Alan. He sees a psychiatrist once a week, more often if he needs to. He
has access to a social worker and a discharge planner, whose main job is
to check in on mentally ill prisoners and explain that they have to take
their pills. Of course, it's still jail. "They can be beaten," says one source
who, until this past December, was the psychologist in charge of a men-
tal observation unit at Rikers. "They can be abused." And that's just the
other inmates. "I've seen a lot of patients who complain to me about the
conduct of a lot of officers"--everything from brutal treatment to being
ignored during a conflict with another inmate.
O'Sullivan first met Alan last August in Rikers, where he was being
held for drug possession. Like all of TASC's 450 clients, he was offered
the chance to participate in the program by a district attorney-if he
copped a plea. He agreed. In return, the judge sentenced him to two years
with the program, including a warning that if he violated its terms he'd be
sent away for three or four years. Alan agreed to those stipulations, too,
and O'Sullivan started looking for a place for him to live.
But since then, he's been caught in a
mind-boggling bureaucratic black hole.
They can't find a bed for him. His tick-
et out of jail is a letter of approval from
the city Human Resources Adminis-
tration, which specifies that he
requires 24-hour supervision. Since
Alan has never been homeless, he
doesn't qualifY for NY/NY-super-
vised housing for homeless and men-
tally ill chemical abusers. There are
supportive housing programs besides
NY/NY that could provide the over-
sight he needs, but they generally will
not interview prospective residents
while they're still behind bars.
O'Sullivan has convinced Rikers offi-
cials to send Alan to the Brooklyn cour-
thouse, where he can be interviewed in
the pen. "But a lot of residences won't
even do that," she says sadly. "I've even
told them he can do a video conference
from jail, and they've said no."
Over the winter, a housing pro-
gram on Wards Island had agreed to
visit Alan at the courthouse. He had
an interview that went well. "He'd be
out there right now if he took it, " says
O'Sullivan. But the housing program is located near a place where he
used to get high. "He learned where it was-he knew people in the
area-and he learned he'd have some independence. And he said no.
He's smart. But because he's smart, he's still in jail."
Finally, in March, in order to help get him more interviews, O'Sullivan
found him a spot in a shelter that is its own sort of prison-24-hour super-
vision, with no way to leave the building. If O'Sullivan can't place him with-
in about a month, back to Rikers he goes. The clock is ticking.
As astounding as the city's drop in crime has been, we have yet to
figure out what to do with people like Alan-the volatile mentally ill
who, in our darkest fears, might one day go on the attack. The public's
dominant image of a disturbed street person remains Andrew Goldstein,
who in 1999 shoved Kendra Webdale in front of a subway after years of
revolving in and out of hospitals and jails. But since that tragedy, little
about how government addresses the needs of the mentally ill has
changed. People like Alan are jailed before they're treated, and get some
of their most consistent treatment while behind bars.
Now, as altered police priorities after September 11 leave sidewalks
a visible home for disturbed people once again, New Yorkers are
reminded every day that this is also one of the fronts on which the
quality-of-life war is far from won.
Mental illness, so fluid and elusive and unpredictable, isn't easy for
bureaucratic systems to address. Catering to the needs of people like
Alan has rarely been less politically popular. And so jails have remained
the destination for mentally ill New Yorkers who run afoul of the law,
thousands annually, from petty drug offenders to homicidal Goldsteins.
For years now, Rikers Island has rivaled LA County's prison system as the
largest de facto mental health facility in the United States, with approximate-
ly 800 beds ready to receive inmates who
are diagnosed as mentally ilL The nation's
largest mobile crisis team dealing with
mentally ill meet people is run not by a
hospital, and not by a university, but (by
default) by the NYPD. If someone like
Alan commits a violent crime or other
felony, his next stop after Rikers is most
likely a state prison. But for those who
aren't violent-who commit misde-
meanors like drug possession, or
shoplifting-Rikers is the destination,
for a stay that could last anywhere ftom
a few days to a few years. Turnstile-
jumping, to take one common offense,
has a maximum sentence of one year-
longer than the infraction might
demand, but adequate to keep a danger-
ous-seeming person off the streets, to
make them someone else's ptoblem.
If what happens to the mentally ill
on their way into prison is tragic, the
experience is repeated as farce upon
their release. Once they're done doing
time, inmates are dropped in Queens
Plaza in the middle of the night with
nothing but a $3 MeuoCard. The city
has resisted demands to allow mentally
ill inmates to apply for public aid while behind bars, leaving them tem-
porarily without access to medication, food stamps or Social Security ben-
efits. They receive little to no direction to social services or health care. Not
surprisingly, many wind up becoming a police problem again in no time.
The problem did not begin with Rudy. The revolving door between jail
and the meets first started spinning in the 1980s and early 1990s, when
the closings of state mental hospitals-not necessarily hospitable places for
treatment themselves--created a generation of homeless people plagued
by delusions and hallucinations.
They seemed impervious to care. Most had problems with alcohol or
drugs. The city gave them a name- MICAs, or mentally ill chemical
abusers-and paid to put some of them in supportive housing. But no
neighborhood was particularly interested in hosting new homes for such
people. Overburdened, politically vulnerable nonprofit housing devel-
opers weren't much more interested in taking on the most volatile of the
population-not when so many other people needed the beds. The stage
was set for the police to become the city's first and practically only line
of response to the needs of the severely mentally ill.
The poster patient for the revolving-door phenomenon is Brad H.,
the lead plaintiff in a potentially groundbreaking lawsuit against the city.
Filed by lawyers from the Urban Justice Center, New York Lawyers for
the Public Interest, and Debevoise and Plimpton, the suit demands ser-
vices, or "discharge planning," for mentally ill people leaving Rikers. As
Mayor Bloomberg took office, the judge in the case, Richard Braun, was
pushing city lawyers to settle; the discussions continue.
But at the same time, the city is also fighting a motion for contempt,
which charges that in the two years since Judge Braun issued a prelimi-
nary injunction in the case, it has failed to comply with the court's order
to help mentally ill inmates find care-including Medicaid, food
stamps, and other basic resources-once they're out of jail. The suit
names five agencies: the Department of Mental Health and Department
of Health (soon to be merged into the new Department of Public
Health), the Health and Hospitals Corpora-
tion, the Human Resources Administration,
Hank Steadman, the head of the GAIN Center, a national group that
runs jail-diversion programs for the mentally ill, once called the Brad H
lawsuit the most important court case in the last 25 years for the rights
of people with mental illness. Attorney Heather Barr of the Urban Justice
Center is flattered, but part of her can't stand that the discharge planning
gap has taken so long to be filled. ''I'd like to be working on something a
little more radical," she says. "I look back and I say, 'I can't believe I've
spent six years on this.' It's like filing a big lawsuit saying ice cream is good.
And then you have to actually argue that ice cream is good."
The truth is that she and the other lawyers are operating largely on
their own. When it comes to demanding an adequate government
response to a public health crisis, "the AIDS community has done a much
better job than the mental health community," Barr notes. "They've been
able to get over a stigma-they did a phenomenal job of organizing and
radicalizing and enlisting politicians. In a way, the mental health com-
munity hasn't been advocates for themselves. They're uncomfortable with
the idea of demonstration, much less throwing blood in cathedrals." The
very nature of the mental health cause poses a conundrum: If demon-
strators act too crazy, wouldn't that defeat their very point?
Their battle won't end, either, even with
sincere commitments from government
the Department of Correction, and the jails'
private health care provider, Prison Health
Services. As City Limits went to press, argu-
ments were set to conclude in April.
Slow and serpentine as the litigation has
been, it's nothing compared with Brad's own
saga. Brad first came to Creedmoor Psychi-
atric Center when he was 9; his lawyers have
been unable to find out exactly why, though
Brad himself seems to remember his mother
abandoning him at the hospital. "I think he
feels that she took him there because she
didn't want him," says one of his lawyers.
After nine years of shock therapy, he ran
away when he was 18, became homeless and
alcoholic shortly thereafter, and then
embarked on what's become a 29-year cycle
in and out of Rikers Island, all for nonvio-
After leaving prison, Brad
spent nine months
toothless and without
sight, living in subway
stations, until one day he
was arrested for fare-
beating and ended up
back at Rikers.
authorities to address the psychiatric needs
of the severely mentally ill. How is a cop
supposed to know the difference between
someone who's a danger to himself, and
someone who could be a danger to others?
The missing piece, of course, is a place for
these people to live. We criminalize the men-
tally ill not simply because we fear them. We
criminalize them because the resources aren't
there to give them anything else-a third
way that could keep them safe from them-
selves and from the public. (It's now widely
understood that this would save money, too.
A year in supportive housing costs $12,000
to $14,000. At Rikers, it's $65,000.)
But as it stands now, Barr is battling in
court to get her clients a simple application for
Medicaid. "People acrually go to Rikers Island
now for their mental health services," she mar- lent offenses. He also went to state prisons
four times. Only the maximum-security prisons, it turns out, offer a
high level of mental health care. In his deposition in the lawsuit, Brad
said he spent most of his time in Attica in his cell, fearing for his life.
In 1998, Brad left state prison with two weeks of medication and
instructions to go to Woodhull Hospital if he needed mental health ser-
vices. Left on his own, he drifted to the Atlantic Avenue Shelter, long con-
sidered the worst in the city, and promptly lost his false teeth and eyeglasses
on a sink near a toilet. He spent nine months toothless and without sight,
a homeless man living in subway stations with no psychiatric help, until
one day he was arrested for fare-beating and wound up back at Rikers.
In 1999, an NYU psychiatrist interviewed Brad in jail and declared
that once he was released, he'd need to keep taking antipsychotic medica-
tion, an antidepressant, and a sedative, and see a psychiatrist regularly who
would give him a Breathalyzer. Needless to say, none of that came to pass.
In and out he went, from the streets to the jails. In 2001, Brad was released
from a state prison and went to the 30th Street Men's Shelter, the central
intake center for homeless men. The revolving door kept spinning.
vels. ''Taxpayers are paying an extraordinary amount of money to deal with
the fact that we don't have a health care system."
It doesn't maHer if you were caught jumping a turnstile or throw-
ing a brick. On Rikers Island, every offender is pretty much created equal.
The quality of your medical care depends less on your sanity and
more on where in the prison facility you happen to land, and what time
of day you get there. Everyone who is sent to Rikers Island goes through
a medical check, but not everyone has a psychiatric screening.
Only two mental health units on the island, called C71 and C95, are
staffed 24 hours a day with psychiatrists and social workers. If you come
in any other part of Rikers at the wrong time, you go unnoticed for a few
days until something happens.
What could happen? You might get into a fight. You might decom-
pensate and start having a breakdown. The drugs you've been taking might
wear off, and you might start acting in a different way. Kanie Foster sat
untreated for days on end before getring help. "The last time I was in Rik-
ers, I didn't see a psychiatrist for a week," says Foster, a 46-year-old with
Hepatitis C, a 30-year history of drug and alcohol abuse, and a problem
with depression that has driven rum to lay himself down on train tracks.
Foster has been in and out of Rikers four times; each time it's taken
days to diagnose his various illnesses. After a while in a holding pen, with
no methadone or psychiatric medication, he says he lost track of reality.
"I thought an atomic bomb had fallen and I was in a bomb shelter. I
thought people around me were robots come to life. They say I was talk-
ing gibberish at nighttime, playing cards with no cards."
When anything unusual happens, officers on duty have a psychiatric
checklist to fill out. If they see certain behavior, they check that on the
form and refer the inmate to a mental health unit for a psychiatric assess-
ment. But according to the psychologist who formerly ran an observa-
tion unit at Rikers, more than half the people who get referred to the
mental health units don't stay there.
Often, this is because they're not mentally ill. Services of any kind are so
scarce at Rikers that mental health has become like one-stop shopping for
any type of problem. Even a complaint that someone is threatening an
inmate triggers a visit to mental health. "Mental health is so over-used in the
system that they get overloaded," says the psychologist, who spent 12 years
at Rikers, leaving this past winter (and would like to go unnamed, since he
still does some work there through an outside agency). "They're so over-
whelmed because they see everyone, basically."
fied for his safery. By the time he got to see the psychiatrist, recalls Fos-
ter, the psychiatrist "was overloaded, burnt out."
All of which helps explain how a lifetime of prison visits can take
their toll. The Universiry of Rochester Medical Center has pioneered a
program, called Project Link, to keep track of some of that city's men-
tally ill people as they cycle in and out of the jails. One of the men they
track, whom we'll call Cal, left a group home recently to hit the bottle
and was picked up for loitering. It took three days for a guard at the cell
block to report he was talking to himself at night and disturbing every-
one's sleep. One of his fellow inmates threatened to beat him silly if he
didn't quiet down. Finally, Cal was diagnosed with paranoid schiwphre-
nia and auditory hallucinations.
He couldn't tell them what meds he used to take, so they gave him an
antipsychotic pill, distributed through the bars by a nurse. But it wasn't clear
whether he took it, because she had such a long list of people to serve.
Two days later, the same cell guard was told that Cal was still talking
during the night. They realized Cal was perhaps noncompliant. So six or
seven days out, he finally got observed taking pills. "This is the good sce-
nario," says Dr. Rob Weissman, who runs the program.
Once Project Link tracked down Cal in jail, Weissman and his col-
leagues waited for his release and returned him to his old residential group
So, often you won't end up in the mental
health unit for long because, with medication,
you'll be deemed able of fUnctioning among
the general population. You'll have access to a
therapist once a week, and a daily trip to the
mental health unit to take your meds. "I
would say a good 45 percent are inside the
mental units, and we have a good 55 percent
outside," says the psychologist. For the men-
tally ill left with the general population, things
sometimes get dicey. Pearl Neal, 27, spent
two-and-a-half months in Rikers for shoving a
police officer, before TASC picked her up.
She's openly hostile about her time there, and
it's apparent that whatever anger got her into
jail wasn't tempered much once she got there.
"It's just disgusting," she says of Rikers. "It's
"I thought an atomic
bomb had fallen and I
home. But why did he leave the group home
in the first place? Weissman believes it's part-
ly because "home" simply isn't part of Cal's
vocabulary. He's spent more than 17 years of
his life in jail; walking into the revolving
door is second nature. Once Cal relapsed,
"jail in a way was more predictable for him
than being in the outside world," Weissman
says. "Some of my clients tell me that in jails
they at least know where their next meal is
and where their bed is. We call it 'institu-
tional transference.' When they find support
and thrive as we would with our family in
our own home, it's their version of home.
When they're released to the community
they don't have the skills. They become anx-
ious and turn to drinking or drugs."
was in a bomb shelter, "
recalls Kanie Foster, who
endured jail without his
meds. "I thought people
around me were robots
come to life. "
really horrible. They just keep piling you up like sardines. You've got low-
life girls trying to pick fights with you."
Things aren't that much better inside the mental health units, where you
are often one of 40 or 50 people, sleeping on a cot in a large room with no
walls or curtains, because the half-dozen medical staff members are watch-
ing you at all times. Not that you have much one-on-one contact with
them-maybe once a day. They're too busy tending to the 10 or so beds in
the far end of the room, the ones set aside for people on suicide watch.
This kind of neglect is demoralizing at best; while some people are
stabilized there, it's hard to imagine anyone at Rikers getting better.
"Incarceration, in my view, makes people's problems even worse," says
the psychologist. "Incarceration is stressful. You get a lot of psychologi-
cal problems: insomnia, anger, aggression. " The diagnosis they give it at
Rikers is adjustment disorder with depressed mood. "The stress of the sys-
tem is so great. It's unsanitary, really."
Most of a typical Rikers psychologist's time is spent dealing with
crises. An inmate hears that her mother is dead; another inmate is terri-
When mentally ill people adapt to prison
life, it can hurt them in the long haul . A 1998 study by the Bronx Psychi-
atric Center suggested that mentally ill inmates "learn institutional behav-
iors" so they can cope in jail-behavior that trips them up on the outside.
Sometimes they train themselves to be too passive to deal with the real
world. Other times they become aggressive, manipulative or closed off to
any offers of assistance. Any of those problems make them harder to treat.
Psychiatrist Steven Lamberti, who developed Ptoject Link, has identi-
fied three problems created by the revolving door. There are the ravages of
fragmented medical care: "You see a person who cycles through the system
so rapidly that it's almost impossible for health care providers to catch up. "
You could call this the Andrew Goldstein problem.
Then there's the way that being in jail prevents formerly incarcerated
people from getting the Medicaid or food stamp or Social Security bene-
fits that could have kept them from decompensating in the first place.
"When mentally ill people are incarcerated, their benefits are typically sus-
pended until their release," Lamberti notes. Navigating and accessing the
safety net is hard enough for a sane person. For many, it's just easier to look
for drugs than it is to find a place to apply for benefits that take, under the
best circumstances, 45 days to kick in.
Finally, there's the obvious loss of morale. "Many lose hope that they'll
be able to break free and able to accomplish their personal goals," he says.
"Such individuals are an increased risk for suicide, and many do that
Jesus Garcia, 48, is HN-positive and suffers from acute depression. He's
been to Rikers more than five rimes in the last 10 years, always for drug pos-
session; his last visit lasted rwo-and-a-half years. "All the rime, I stay alone,"
Garcia says in broken English. "No friends, no nothing. You make a friend,
you turn your back, they do something to you." A psychiatrist offered help
every two weeks or so, but beyond that he was on his own. What hope does
a depressive who spends all his time alone for years on end have? "Maybe
the reason I get so depressed," he says, "is I was so alone."
Garcia currencly lives in a residence hotel on Lexington Avenue while
TASC finds him a long-term residence with on-site therapy. His life out-
side of jail isn't terribly different from the time he spends in jail. "Any
place I go, I try to be by myself, not
bother anybody," he says.
He has a program ro go to duting
the day, and some more people to talk
to, but admits to being locked in his
own psychic institution: "In jail I try
to make as much like home as possi-
ble. I try not to bother anybody. I'm
by myself, nobody bothers me."
Every borough has a program like
TASC, funded by the city's Department
of Mental Health to work with discharge
planners inside Rikers Island to make
sure people get help on the outside. Sraff
test former prisoners for drugs, in com-
pliance with the court agreements all of
the clients have signed in order to come
here. But more importancly, the case-
workers function as a gateway to the
resources each will need to survive,
including housing and medical services.
Getting to TASC isn't easy, even afrer
a judge has agreed to allow an ex-inmate
into the program. While some get bused
almost door-to-door, prisoners released
at Queens Plaza more typically have to
fmd their own way to TASC's sruflY
offices on Court Street in downtown Brooklyn. "We can help someone, but
only if they come to us," says Ruth O'Sullivan. "If they're out on a Friday
at 3 a.m., by Monday morning when we'd see them, they'll be high."
These programs appear to be underutilized. Dr. Jack Carney of the New
York City Federation of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alco-
holism Services was curious to see whether TASC and the other programs,
known collectively as LINK, were gening more or fewer referrals since the
Brad H case heated up. He conducted a brief phone survey and learned
that they received fewer than half of the prison referrals they expected to
get-a scary statistic, considering that the capacity of these programs dwarfs
by a long shot the esrimated number of mentally ill people in the jails.
Prison Health Services, the private health care provider at Rikers, isn't
completely ignorant of the fact that a mentally ill person needs more
anention than the average inmate. Rikers is staffed with discharge plan-
ners who are supposed to keep tabs on anyone who is disturbed, make
sure they're taking their meds, and serve as a contact to outside agencies
that might help them once they're released. The problem isn't just that
these discharge planners are overwhelmed, which they most certainly
are. It's that the jail's walls keep all other help out.
Last fall, the judge in the Brad H case asked the city to prove it had
adequate discharge planning. Since then, the city has claimed in court,
there's been more anention paid to tracking mentally ill people in the sys-
tem. Some sources say there are more discharge planners working now
than ever before. (The city won't comment, refusing even to testifY at a
March City Council hearing on discharge planning, ostensibly because of
the Brad H litigation.) But there's still no mechanism within the prison to
make sure inmates have essential services in place once they get out. "At
one point, the city had planned to help inmates apply for Medicaid, food
stamps and public assistance benefits while in jail," Heather Barr says. "But
then they abandoned that. Now the
plan only refers to Medicaid."
The linchpin of the city's plan is the
state's Medication Grants Program,
authorized by Kendra's Law, which sent
$6 million to the city specifically to sup-
ply psychiatric medication to uninsured
mentally ill inmates released from
prison. But from October 2000
through October 2001, the program
enrolled only 639 inmates, and just 20
of them actually got the benefits. O'Sul-
livan and other workers say that since
the Brad H court order last &11, more
inmates are gening seamless access to
Medicaid. Barr and others who testified
at the City Council hearing say they
haven't seen an improvement.
Brad H., for one, not only contin-
ues to struggle to get health benefits,
but also continues to cycle through the
system. He spent a good part of last
year bouncing between jails and the
streets. "He was a great poster child
when we flied the lawsuit," says Barr.
"And the experiences he's had since
then continue to be very typical ones."
So where does the revolving door stop? At home, in theory-except
that there's still nowhere for most mentally ill people to go once they're out
of jail. "One of the things we've learned so clearly from our work on Brad
H is you could have the best discharge planning in the world, but you still
wouldn't have any housing," says Barr.
Looking to create housing and services that will be tailored for men-
tally ill people coming out of jail, Barr is helping the Center for Alter-
native Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) plan the Clayton
Williams Residence, a new 65-bed transitional home in the Bronx. The
state's Homeless Housing Assistance Program has just commined $3.3
million for its construction.
continued on page 39
NEW YORK lIAS BEEN A efIY OF IMMIGRANTS fNef since the ~ cut
a deal with European merchant-speculators wearing funny hals. But ~ after
generation of old immigrants have never made it a priority to make the flMirig city
more tolerable for new ones. For centuries now, we've crammed into tiny aP3rtJ11ents,
squirmed in inadequate schools, succumbed to epidemic diseases, worked around
the clock for pitiable wages. At our lowest points, we've also been beaten in' unfa-
miliar streets by people we've never met for reasons we cannot fathom, or indentured
to criminals who've rented us out for others' delight (often with the support of police).
order-Emma Goldman, the Young Lords-or, in the case of settlement houses,
praised for the promise of gentle assimilation.
This being America, the story of immigration to New York has a happy ending. of
course. It also has heroes. In most tellings, these are lone entrepreneurs, who arrive
with pennies in their pocket and through smarts and diligence transform themselves
into prosperous, enfranchised Americans. Those people have always existed and are
indeed extraordinary; they keep blood pumping through New York City, keep it growing.
The experiences and goals of the 20 activists, professionals, curators, business-
people, politicians and troublemakers profiled on the following pages suggest a meld-
ing of these two traditions-of agitation and self-help, of critical assessment of their
place in American society and the development of practical institutions. They aren't
the first; community groups like Asian-Americans for Equality and Alianza Dominicana
paved the way decades ago. But these leaders thrive at an auspicious moment, fol-
lowing the largest wave of immigration in a century and many of them coming from
places with highly developed cultures of dissent and grassroots institutions.
The easy shorthand would be to call immigrant activists the leaders of New
York's future-some imagined city that is familiar but colored with newly recombi-
nant customs, ideas, food, languages, things no one is yet asking the assimilated
or elite to be part of. But the reality is that city is here now-and these are some of
the people who are writing their own history, instead of letting it happen, so pre-
dictably, in the painfully old ways. -Alyssa Kaiz
But we rarely hear about collective efforts to give all immigrants in New yop the
chance to participate in the American way. When they've surfaced in the con-
sciousness of the New York establishment, it's to be excoriated as a threat to its
WHEELS OF JUSTICE
Chaumtoli Huq, Bangladesh via Bronx
The people Chaumtoli Huq works with have this in
common: they tend to be immigrant, multilingual,
low-waged, temporary, on-call, short-term, con-
tractual or day labor, and they usually work long,
tedious hours on grueling jobs.
Huq is at home with them. Born in Bangladesh
and raised in the working-class Bronx neighbor-
hood of Parkchester, class is her first identity. "I
came to my consciousness through economics,"
says Huq. "I knew poor is poor is poor."
Huq's mother, Saqui, raised her singlehand-
edly, working at minimum wage jobs until she got
a position as a research assistant in molecular
biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Her
mother's unionized job gave Huq financial securi-
ty: In addition to health benefits, the hospital
workers' union 1199 gave Huq a scholarship to
study political science at Columbia. "I realized
early on the importance of a strong labor move-
ment for working families," says Huq, "especially
in the immigrant community."
When Huq decided to become a civil rights
attorney, her mother stood behind her. "Chaum-
toli could have been a corporate lawyer, but she
was sensitive to working-class issues," says Mrs.
Huq, "and I supported her choice."
Huq had just started out as a staff attorney
with the Asian American Legal Defense and Edu-
cation Fund (AALDEF) in November 1999 when
the Taxi and Limousine Commission launched
"Operation Refusal ," a draconian crackdown
and sting operation seizing vehicles and revok-
ing licenses of taxi drivers caught refusing to
pick up passengers.
Huq filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the
New York Taxi Workers Alliance and four drivers,
crafting a difficult argument to establish that the
TLC infringed drivers' constitutional rights,
exceeded its statutory authority and flouted
established administrative and regulatory proce-
dures. If successful-she's still waiting for a deci-
sion-this first federal lawsuit for taxi drivers
could set a precedent so that independent con-
tractors' associations can represent their mem-
bers in federal court.
But the Huq action formula involves much more
than just litigation. She made headlines in 2000
when she blended education, organizing, and law
to tackle the case of a domestic worker who
worked for a diplomat from Bahrain. The worker, a
Bangladeshi woman, was being held in virtual slav-
ery, forbidden from leaving the house and paid well
below minimum wage. When she sued her employ-
er, he invoked diplomatic protection.
So Huq and others waged a p.r. campaign,
holding protests that garnered coverage in
Bahraini and Bangladeshi media, as well as here
in New York. "The law was not really in our favor,"
says Huq. "It wasn't a slam-dunk, but we made
many good arguments."
It worked. Not only did the worker get a set-
tlement, but the U.S. State Department
promised to prepare a detailed new memoran-
dum spelling out the obligations of UN diplo-
mats to the 800 foreign women they employ as
domestic workers in New York.
In September 2001, Huq got a fellowship from
George Soros' Open Society Institute to do simi-
lar work for both yellow cab and car service dri-
vers. Since September, she's spent most of her
time helping drivers fill out forms and claim ben-
efits, as well as speaking out against racial pro-
filing and detention of immigrants. But ultimately,
she hopes to create a replicable model for using
law, policy, education and organizing to help "not
just drivers, but all contingent labor who are
excluded from traditional labor protection. " She's
calling it the "Wheels of Justice. "
Rufus Arkoi, liberia
On a recent Sunday afternoon, a group of teenage
boys scattered across a Brooklyn soccer field. It
was their first game of the season, and as they set
up their first play, it was hard to believe that just a
couple of years ago, more than half the members
of the team were spending their afternoons with
machine guns draped across their chests, fighting
the civil war in Liberia.
Now these teens and their families are trying to
make new lives for themselves on Staten Island.
Thanks to the work of Rufus Arkoi , soccer has
become these boys' main outlet for an otherwise
"Many of these kids here now actually fought
war," says Arkoi from his makeshift office in the
back of the storefront community center he
opened in Park Hill, Staten Island, in 1999.
"They've experienced killing people, they've experi-
enced the worst of violence." For that reason, he
adds, "nothing here was hard for them to do."
Arkoi, now 39, first moved to New York in the
early 1990s as a fashion designer-turned-engi-
neering student and saw teenage boys and girls
from Liberia try everything: drugs, prostitution.
After gunshot wounds put three young friends in
wheelchairs, he felt he had to return to work he
had done for years before coming to the U.S. "In
Africa, the number-one way to attract a youngster
is through sports. " It certainly worked for him: He
played soccer as a child and, until he left Liberia
at age 25, managed teams that produced some
of the world's top players, including No. i-ranked
So in 1994, he founded the first American
branch of Roza ("survivor") Promotions, a service
organization he started as a soccer league in
Monrovia in 1981. Since then, his oldest boys'
team has won the New York state championship.
Arkoi has also won the trust of older Africans
around the city, who now go to the center for
help finding jobs, securing public benefits, learn-
ing English and computer skills, or just adjusting
to American life.
"Many of these people lived through at least
seven years of war," says David D. Kpormakpor,
who was acting president of Liberia from 1994 to
1997, and now sits on the board of Roza. "This is
an indispensable service."
With about 6,000 Liberians in Richmond Coun-
ty alone, there is certainly a lot of demand. And as
civil war and revolution continue to be a threat
back home, more refugees are likely to arrive very
soon. In February, President Charles Taylor
declared a state of emergency as rebel groups
increased their <' ttacks on him and forced thou-
sands from their homes near the capital. Arkoi
hopes to get the president on the phone-it would-
n't be the first time-to urge him not to cancel
upcoming elections. Depending on what happens,
he says, a two-year stint in Liberian government
may be in his near future.
In the meantime, when not teaching special
education at I.S. 27 or coaching soccer, Arkoi
spends a lot of his time in Housing Court and hous-
ing management offices. "Housing is the number-
one issue," he says, noting the change from a
decade ago, when affordable apartments first
drew Liberians to Staten Island. Now, he says,
refugees bring many relatives, and pile up to 15
people into three bedrooms.
He is also going for his Master's degree in spe-
cial ed, a field he first encountered while fighting
to keep prinCipals from funneling new African
immigrants into those classes. As an aide at P.S.
57 on Staten Island, he says he saw too many
teachers taking kids out of regular classrooms
because they were misbehaving. "I knew some of
those kids," he says. "I coached them." He con-
vinced the principal to place them with other
teachers, and talked to the students about Amer-
ican customs-you have to listen to instructions,
and you can't urinate in the playground.
He'll do anything, he says, to get these kids
educated. He gives older Liberians $25 for sign-
ing up for the GED, $100 for registering for col-
lege. "Being black is already a curse, being
African is adding insult to injury," he says. "The
way out is education."
SOUTH BRONX POLITICAL AND
Victor Toro, Chile
"There is no way the average police officer can
understand the complexities of what it means to
be a Latino immigrant in New York City today," says
Victor Toro. He has plenty to say about the police
because they've been trying to shut down La Pena,
the Bronx community space Toro founded 15 years
ago for migrants from Latin America.
Like 24-year-old Humberto, who earns $300 a
week working for a grocer in midtown. After a 12-
hour shift, Humberto and his friends have no
place to chill. Latin nightclubs don't cater to their
musical tastes-heavy metal, rancheras, hip hop.
They're often denied entrance anyway. "People
come to the U.S. because of economic and pOlit-
ical hardships in their home countries, but when
they get here and ask for help, most community
institutions are closed by the time people get
home from their jobs," observes Toro. "There has
to be a place where people can feel free to rejoice
and be political at the same time."
Tucked behind the parking lots of Lincoln Hos-
pital, La Pena appears to be a rusty auto-body
parts garage. But inside lies a haven. La Pena is
filled with pockets of people-some admiring art
dangling from the ceilings, others perusing Latin
American newspapers. Older patrons share a bottle
of Chilean red and stories of work, politics and life,
while youngsters wait for a Mexican band to hit the
stage. One recent evening featured both a strategy
session for a deli workers' strike and preparation for
an International Women's Day event )n weekends,
STUDENT LEADER, COUNSELOR
TO TORTURE SURVIVORS
Sowore Omoyele, Nigeria
Ask Sowore Omoyele what involvement he intends
to have in next year's elections in Nigeria, and he
sounds nothing like the numerous Nigerian-Amer-
ican civic leaders who plan to finance campaigns
and even run for office in their country of origin. "I
don't have enough trust in the democratic process
there," he says. "We walked away from militocrats,
and walked into a moronocracy."
Omoyele is entitled to be cynical. As the former
leader of a national student organization critical of
Nigeria's military rulers and the subsequent admin-
istration of democratically elected Olusegun Oba-
sanjQ-€ach presided over declining standards of
living, corrupt dealings with oil companies, oppres-
sion of minorities and epidemic violence-he was
repeatedly jailed and tortured by government police
and hired thugs. Democracy, he points out, goes
nowhere without strong civic institutions; it's with
that in mind that Omoyele, at 31, continues to help
operate a human rights school in Lagos, which
families frorn Mexico and EI Salvador host parties.
But police see something different: They have
determined that the activities at La Pena pose a
threat to the neighborhood. After September 11,
Toro received a letter from the 40th Precinct stat-
ing that La Pen a was one of 10 organizations in
the South Bronx under the scope of police intelli-
gence, and indicating concern with the group's
"potentially threatening content" (Precinct offi-
cials did not return calls from City Limits.)
On three occasions last fall , plainclothes offi-
cers entered La Pena and shut it down. "All the
police see are young Mexican men dressed in
black attending a heavy metal party in the Bronx,
and they do not comprehend that such a thing is
possible," contends Toro. In all, the cops have
issued more than 50 summonses for loitering,
inadequate lighting, even noise pollution (the
closest residences are nearly five blocks away). In
trains young people to be government watchdogs.
But now, he's in a very different place. In 1999,
he carne to the torture survivors program at Belle-
vue, and successfully obtained asylum in the U.S.
Currently a student at Columbia's School of Inter-
national and Public Affairs and lecturer for
Amnesty International, Ornoyele also works as a
case manager for other torture victims through
Solace, a project of Safe Horizon. Government here
doesn't make recovery any easier. "New York City
treats refugees as welfare recipients," he notes.
"They want to put you on the back of a trash truck. "
Safe Horizon is currently working with the city to
find alternatives to workfare for refugees.
For Africans in New York, there are churches,
restaurants and markets, but not, Omoyele
laments, a larger shared community; there are like-
wise few connections with African Americans. Fill -
ing those gaps is also the rnission of the magazine
The African, where Omoyele is a contributing writer.
Though he doesn't plan to go back to Nigeria
anytime soon-he wants to work in support of popu-
lar movements intemationally-his experiences there
both plague and inspire hirn. "It fires my activism,"
he says. "There's something very central about tor-
March, La Pena was padlocked for unpaid fines; It
reopened once a judge threw the charges out
Toro believes he's being singled out for political
reasons. Some protesters of February's World Eco-
nomic Forum passed through La Pena, and the
center has also staged a rally in response to the
police killing of Anthony Baez. Then there's Toro's
own history as a founding member of Chile's revo-
lutionary MIR party. After helping win election for
socialist Salvador Allende, Toro was commissioned
to reappropriate assets from foreign banks and
Toro, now 61, hasn't wavered from his ideals.
"Most of us leave our countries because of poor
economies and repressive governments," he says.
"But when we get here we realize that the promise
of making it comes with a price, and no one
should be stripped of their humanity just to make
a living." -Vee Bravo
ture-its single purpose around the world is to
silence the fighting human spirit What I'm doing is
to remove the blindfold."
IMPRESARIOS OF ARAB AND
Alex Khalil and Ahmed (ssawi (right),
Lebanon and Egypt
Alex Khalil says he's not a film junkie. "No, no,
I don't care," he shrugs, folding his arms and
leaning back in his chair at Veniero's cafe. "I'm
not a film buff. Seriously."
"No, no, he is a film buff, but he-he doesn't
like to say it, but he is a film buff," cries his hor-
rified friend, Ahmed Issawi, waving his spoon.
"He's keeping the focus on the community! "
Khalil maintains, deadpan, that film is simply
the easiest means to an end-helping Arab and
Persian culture to flourish in the city of New York-
while Issawi shakes his head hopelessly.
If he really doesn't care about film, Khalil has
found an odd way of showing it. In 1998, he cre-
ated Alwan, an organization that shows screen-
ings and festivals of hard-to-find films from Arab
countries and Iran. Alwan, which means "colors"
in Arabic, started out small : an occasional film
series, and a listserv that announced cultural
events. But with the help of Issawi-who, for the
record, is a "great film buff'-Alwan has gradual-
ly created a thriving underground film scene, at
FOUNDER, CHHAYA COMMUNITY
Seema Agnani , Chicago
In 1995, after getting a Master's in Urban
Planning and Public Policy from the University of
Illinois at Chicago, Seema Agnani saw an ad in
the classified pages of City Limits.
The job was Housing Development Associate for
Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), the China-
town-based housing developer. "In Chicago, I did
not live in an ethnic enclave," says Agnani , "and I
never imagined that there could be an Asian orga-
nization doing housing development."
Though Agnani, 31, grew up in Libertyville, Illi-
nois, her parents are from pre-partition India, and
she's fluent in Hindi and Urdu. When AAFE
offered her the job, she imagined it in South
Asian terms: that "it would be like serving your
uncles and aunts."
In her first two years at AAFE, Agnani-after
quelling "initial concerns within the organization
about a woman going off to approve inspections
at construction sites"-did a little bit of everything.
She coordinated a land use study, supervised the
development of housing in Chinatown and the
Lower East Side and tried her hand at advocacy
and fund raising. For a year, Agnani coordinated
an intensive Child Health Plus and Medicaid out-
reach and enrollment process by a coalition of
health care agencies in lower Manhattan.
There was just one problem. When she started,
AAFE had no South Asian clients. She convinced
the group to hire South Asians for fair housing advo-
cacy and health care outreach. But when these
employees left, the projects-lacking staff with the
requisite language skills-withered away. So in Octo-
ber 2000, Agnani founded an offshoot of AAFE:
Chhaya Community Development Corporation.
Chhaya-which means "shelter" in several South
Asian languages-is the first citywide, ethnically
based community development corporation. Most
CDCs address the housing and social service
needs of a particular neighborhood; Chhaya serves
South Asian neighborhoods throughout the city.
The first thing Chhaya undertook was a Com-
munity Needs Assessment Survey, interviewing
500 South Asians to figure out which neighbor-
hoods to target. By July 2001, Chhaya was offering
direct services in its Flushing office, starting with a
workshop series covering tenant rights, homeown-
ership, fair housing and civic participation.
"The South Asian community is young and its
infrastructure is still developing," says Parag
Khandhar, assistant director of policy and plan-
ning at the Asian American Federation of New
York. "Chhaya is a pioneering project-no one else
has attempted this before."
the same time feeding a growing renaissance of
Arab and Persian culture.
"It's a very low-profile community, the Arabs,"
says Inea Bushnaq, who helped coordinate an
exhibit on Arab Americans in New York City cur-
rently showing at the Museum of the City of New
York. "But in the last 10 years there's been an
active consciousness-like Alwan."
For people from Arab countries, the chance to
see a film from home is rare. Abdeen Jabara, an
Arab-American civil rights attorney, remembers
when the film West Beirut came out; he bought a
tape, made copies and gave them to everyone he
knew. Likewise, for a serious film scholar, seeing
movies from the heyday of the Egyptian and Syri-
an film industries-at one time, the Bollywoods of
the Arab world-is a treat.
Originally, Alwan's audience consisted of film-
makers, film students and "Arabs in the city," as
one longtime fan put it. But with time, word of
mouth, and post-September 11 interest in all
things Arab, Muslim or just plain foreign, Alwan's
audience has evolved: At first a way for people
from Arab countries and Iran to see films from
home, it's now taken on the role of cultural
ambassador to unhyphenated Americans. "It
helps to keep the members of our community in
contact with portrayals of life in that region, and
COFOUNDER, FLUSHING HUB
OF EDUCATION AND ACTMSM
Seung Dye Suh, California
An ancient Korean legend tells the tale about
two long-separated lovers united across a
bridge, built of stones called nodutdol. Both an
entryway and an overpass, the bridge symbol-
izes yearning in separation and joy in unifica-
tion. Nodutdol, explains Seung Hye Suh, was an
obvious choice for the name of the group she
cofounded to bridge divides within the Korean
imrnigrant community, between Koreans and
other immigrants, and even between the two
It's not incidental that Suh, raised in Califor-
nia by Korean-born parents, came into aware-
ness about their homeland and the power of
protest at the same time. "People who were
older than me, but not that much older, were
burning themselves to death in political protest,"
Suh remembers of the demonstrations against
Korea's military rulers. "It had a huge impact on
me because I had no knowledge of Korean his-
tory or politics. It got me really interested in what
was going on."
Today, Nodutdol , based in Flushing, offers Eng-
lish and Korean language classes, a youth group,
and events like film festivals to promote cultural
and political awareness among Korean Americans.
But with members boasting professional skills as
well as activist experience in groups like the Com-
mittee Against Anti-Asian Violence, Nodutdol aims
it helps to introduce our fellow Americans to the
culture of that region," says Jabara. "So it's both
a source of maintaining contact, for those who
are Arab-American or Iranian-American, and a
source of information and exposure for those who
are not. "
At their late February film festival, Issawi worked
the line, greeting friends, as hundreds of people
packed the lobby of New York University's Cantor
Film Center trying to get tickets. Even after the film
began, latecomers waited outside, hoping others
would leave. One Algerian woman, in her seventies,
came all the way from Connecticut, only to be
turned away because the Algerian film she wanted
to see, The Perfumed Garden, was sold out. (NYU
nixed Khalil 's attempts to let people stand.)
"You know Alex and Ahmed-it's like their
whole life," laughs Annemarie Jacir, a Palestinian
filmmaker doing graduate studies at Columbia.
"In the beginning, people didn't really know about
it. As time has gone by, you see people from all
over the city:
Their newfound visibility does have its strains.
Khalil has always made a point of keeping Alwan
apolitical, confining his l80D-member listserv to
announcements of events that are strictly cultur-
al-even excluding good friends. "If you look at the
way the community works, there is an overflow of
to build much more: local institutions that, in Suh's
words, "can help transform the Korean community
in the long term. "
So a proposed clinic will care for the unin-
sured, using both Eastern and Western medicine.
A charter school is in the planning stages-bilin-
gual, so children won't forget Korean the way Suh
did before deciding to learn it all over again.
The relationship between language and iden-
tity is important to Suh, who commutes weekly
to Duke University to teach Asian American lit-
erature. But while she's considering a teaching
job in Los Angeles for next fall , Suh feels a deep
grounding in Nodutdol and its quest to combine
issue-based activism with essential neighbor-
[politics] , and nothing but," says Khalil. "And a
good part of that community is a bit turned off,
because no matter which event they go to, some-
how it ends up having a very strong political
color-eventually they end up just refusing to go
out. So you see them a bit estranged. And what
we're trying to do is provide events that are just
culture, plain culture. "
For years, they avoided religion, too. But after
September 11, they scrapped a previously
planned retrospective of Egyptian and Iranian cin-
ema and scheduled a series of films about Islam.
It was tremendously popular.
The ultimate goal is to someday have a cultur-
al center where they can host other forms of
expression, too, such as music. But it's slow
going: Both have day jobs-Khalil, who has a
degree in electrical engineering, fixes computers
for Chase Manhattan Bank, while Issawi, who
studied philosophy and literature, does curricu-
lum development for international schools. Nei-
ther has much time to chase down funding.
So far, they get by on "little pockets of help":
mostly their own money, donations from friends
and one-time grants. "Our proudest accomplish-
ment, at least as far as I'm concerned," says
Khalil, "is that we exist."
hood resources. "We feel like this is a commu-
nity that we're making a permanent commit-
ment to, regardless of where we live," says Suh.
"It's where your heart is and it's where your com-
mitment is. "
There's more to it, she notes, than making
sure people are schooled and healthy. "In
America, we have all of these pressures on us
to succeed as individuals, but there's also this
whole other dimension to our lives which is
about collective, about building community,"
says Suh. "I find that many, if not all , people
have what one of our members calls 'a longing
for collective life.'"
Carolyn de Leon, Philippines
Slight of build but not of spirit, Carol de Leon
has been through more than she lets on.
Originally from the Philippines, she came to
the United States in 1991 employed as a domes-
tic worker with a well-to-do family of executives in
Westchester. Little by little, she realized that
working for a wealthy family did not guarantee
living well: Though she had a contract stating
that her employers would provide health insur-
ance and winter clothing, she soon discovered
the only way she would get either was if she paid
for it herself.
She couldn't. At just over $2 an hour for more
than 12 hours of work each day, six days a
week-cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, walking
the dog, tutoring the children, grocery shopping
and shoveling snow, even though she couldn't
afford a sweater and coat-almost a year passed
before she could pay for her own visit to a doc-
tor. Worst of all, 8,500 miles from her family and
friends, she felt isolated and alone.
Ten years later, de Leon can talk about this
experience, but just barely. Normally quick to gig-
gle or beam a smile, she fights back tears when
talking about her first year here. She doesn't dis-
cuss it much, not even with other members of
Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV),
where she became a full-time organizer last year
to head its Women Workers Project.
But on May 3, 2001, de Leon took the stage
at the New York Women's Foundation's annual
breakfast to describe that first year, and succes-
sive years spent learning of other domestic work-
ers' low wages and abusive working conditions,
to almost 2,000 people. Her short but impas-
sioned speech was more than just descriptive-it
was a challenge.
She recounted the story of that first job. And
then, de Leon rebuked the wealthier members of
her audience: "In New York City the CEOs, doc-
tors and diplomats would not be free to focus on
their career without us," she said. "Without us,
this city would stop in its tracks."
It wasn't what well-meaning funders, many
of whom employ housekeepers and nannies,
wanted to hear. De Leon's speech prompted
some to wonder aloud if they were part of the
problem. "She made a lot of people in the room
uncomfortable," remembers Miriam Buhl, exec-
utive director of the NYWF. "I .was very grateful
for her personal strength. She isn't a natural-
born rabble rouser, but when things are impor-
tant to her, she gets over it and says what
needs to be said."
At the tail end of her transformation from
babysitter to organizer, de Leon is still shy and
sometimes nervous when she speaks; her family
can barely believe she lives in New York, she
jokes, because she was always a clingy crybaby.
But as staff coordinator of the Women Workers
Project, de Leon is "totally fearless," says Ai-jen
Poo, who used to hold de Leon's current posi-
tion. "She gets right to the point."
And sticks to it. Once, a domestic worker won
a court case against her employer, a doctor who
had paid her with five bounced checks in a row
and owed her thousands of dollars. Even after
the court ordered him to pay up, the doctor still
refused. "Every day she would call his office or
go by," Poo says of de Leon. After a couple of
weeks, he paid in full.
Other workers "see her fighting back, talking
to employers, demanding respect and dignity,"
says Poo, "and I think it really gives them the
sense that 'Hey, I can do this too. '"
If you praise her for this or anything else,
however, de Leon gets embarrassed. Nahar
Alam, co-founder of the South Asian worker's
rights group Andolan, has watched de Leon
slowly overcome her fears. "I found she's chang-
ing a lot," says Alam. "I believe she's going to be
a great leader."
Now, she speaks out often-on panels, tele-
vision, at press conferences and meetings. She
helps run a justice clinic for workers, a health
care program for undocumented women and
training courses for nannies. Domestic Workers
United, which she and Poo work on with
Andolan, recently introduced a bill into the City
Council that would give nannies some work-
place legal protections. The NYWF invited her
to join its prestigious Allocation Committee,
which visits potential grantees. And she was
even interviewed for a documentary film shown
at the UN World Conference Against Racism
Sometimes, though, she misses the kids. She
keeps in touch with the last family for whom she
babysat, occasionally volunteering to pick up
their two kids from school, then take them to the
park and dinner. Their mother sends her pictures.
De Leon even delayed going full time in early
2001 in order to wait for one of the children's
birthdays-and because she didn't want to bur-
den CAAAV with finding her replacement if she
couldn't do the job.
Her shyness has not, underneath it all, eased.
Even with her newfound exposure and responsi-
bilities, she feels she has to question everything,
"whether it's putting on makeup or high heels,
whatever I say or do, or wherever I go."
"It's still hard for me to get out from my Shell,"
she adds, "but when my pOSition or the organi-
zation's pOSition is on the line, I have to put on a
strong face and do what I have to do."
GAY RIGHTS AND "IV
Andres Duque and
Daniel Castellanos, Colombia
Last month, a slate of gay activists ran for nation-
al and local offices in Colombia. A few years ago,
five candidates promoting the needs of the gay
Colombians would have been unheard of in this
South American nation, where civil rights normal-
ly take a back seat to a decades-long civil conflict.
But that was before Andres Duque and Daniel
Castellanos came on the scene, from thousands
of miles away in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Both bom in Colombia, each moved to New York
at very different times in their lives-Duque with his
family as a young boy, and Castellanos as an adult
looking to live as an openly gay man. Over the
years, many of their gay and lesbian friends from
back home followed them, fleeing persecution or
seeking treatment for AIDS. In their war-torn coun-
try, discrimination against people with the virus still
makes headlines, like last October, when a group of
Marxist rebels forcibly tested an entire town for HIV
and tossed out anyone who tested positive.
When their friends got to New York, however,
they found that services were spotty. Many felt
isolated; other than a handful of bars, there were
no places to congregate or get information.
So in 1996, Duque and Castellanos founded
the Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association, or
COLEGA, to connect gay Colombians to services
and to one another. "A lot of people came here
because they couldn't be out in Colombia, either
Jacek Bikowski, Poland
In the last 10 years, about 5,000 tenants have
turned to Jacek Bikowski. They had to-he's their
only option, the sole Polish-speaking tenant advo-
cate in Greenpoint, a once sleepy but now hip
immigrant neighborhood where rents have tripled in
the past decade. Landlords eager to jump on the
gentrification bandwagon have tried every trick in
the book to empty their apartments.
But when they do, they'll likely have to reckon
with Bikowski. Uke the landlord who tried to kick
out 90-year-<>ld Antonina Modzelewski last August,
raising her rent from $440 to $1,400. Legally,
there was nothing Modzelewski could do-her
apartment isn't rent-stabilized-so Bikowski con-
tacted the press and staged a small demonstra-
tion. It worked: the landlord, a prominent local
businessman, decided the extra rent wasn't worth
the public price for evicting a great-grandmother
who uses an oxygen machine.
Only Jacek could have saved that woman's
apartment, Greenpoint observers say. "He's the
only person-in the largest community of Poles out-
side of Chicago in the U.S.-dealing with the con-
about being gay or being HIV-
positive," says Duque. "They
came here in need of food, com-
panionship and assistance."
One June afternoon in
1997, the group marched
through the streets of Queens
as part of the borough's gay
pride parade. COLEGA's public
debut made headlines in the
city's Spanish-language press
and in newspapers across
Colombia. A year later, activists
in Bogota organized the first
sizable gay pride parade in
their nation's history. "It's not
that we changed life in the cap-
ital city," says Castellanos. "But
people were afraid to march
before because of repercus-
sions. We created some visibility." Since then,
their group in New York-home to about 77,000
Colombians-has grown from 30 members to
more than 200.
Duque has also founded Mano a Mano, bring-
ing together 15 gay Latino groups and 400-plus
activists to share information-includingjob listings
and legislative updates-on the web. "It brings a
broader perspective on the day-to-day issues that
people are facing," says Doug Robinson, cofounder
of the Out People Of Color Political Action Commit-
tee. "A lot of these issues aren't looked at by the
established gay organizations."
Castellanos, meanwhile, joined Gay Men's
Health Crisis to create Proyecto Papi, dedicated
cerns of tenants," says Robert Peters, director of
the North Brooklyn Development Corporation,
which sponsors Bikowski's work.
Bikowski, an unassuming father of three,
came to New York from Poland a dozen years
ago. His first job was as a maintenance man.
Within a year, he shifterl 'rom fixing boilers to
showing tenants how to oemand that landlords
He filled a void: Information on tenants' rights
to HIV prevention among gay and bisexual Latino
men. But they have not forgotten their roots.
When COLEGA member Eddie Garzon died last
September after a brutal attack outside a gay bar
in Jackson Heights, Duque organized a massive
candlelight vigil that successfully pushed the
NYPD to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
Back in Colombia, none of the openly gay can-
didateswon, but the issues they raised have taken
hold. A same-sex civil union bill was introduced in
the Senate, and the main newsweekly polled pres-
idential candidates about their views on gay rights.
"They made the issues be considered seriously,"
says Duque. "As a nation, gay rights became an
issue to be discussed." -Daniel Jlendrick
for non-English speaking Poles still barely exists.
Neither Legal Services nor Legal Aid has a Polish
speaking attorney, and only recently did Brook-
lyn's Housing Court hire a Polish interpreter.
The timing of Bikowski's arrival was fortuitous.
One-bedroom apartments that rented for $400
when Bikowski first reached the neighborhood
are now up to $1,000 and up. Where he once
fought overcharges and demanded repairs, he
now fights evictions.
Bikowski mumbles bashfully when pressed
about his motivations, saying only he considers it
"a mission, a moral obligation." His work is partly
about preserving a way of life, as Poles leave
Greenpoint and scatter to more affordable neigh-
borhoods. "When people lose an apartment, they
lose a home here," he says. "It's not only their
apartment, it's their church. It's their doctor. It's
that friendly grocer. "
But soon, Bikowski might not be available at all.
City housing officials have proposed cutting the
Community Consultant Contract, a $1 million pro-
gram which supports tenant organizers at about 50
agencies citywide, including Bikowski. That infuri-
ates Peters. "To save a million bucks," he says,
"they'll cut 49 Jaceks. "
DEFENDER OF DETAINEES
Monami Maulik, India
This past January, Uzma Naheed desperately
needed help. Naheed's brother and husband
had both been picked up by the U.S. Immigra-
tion and Naturalization Service, leaving her with
no legal assistance, no way to see them, and no
source of income for herself and her four young
sons. So she called the hotline number of Desis
Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), a Queens-based
community group for working-class South
Asians. Naheed spoke to Monami Maulik, co-
founder and organizer of DRUM, who helped her
get legal representation and moral and mone-
Born in Calcutta 27 years ago and raised in
the Bronx, Maulik managed, in her words, to "hus-
tle" her way into Cornell University. She calls her
time there a "politicizing moment"-she took
classes in Third World and Women's studies, and
minored in South Asian studies.
But her real awakening came after her fresh-
man year, when she took a trip back to India. The
journey turned her entire concept of social justice
work on its head: When she returned to school ,
she realized that she had learned more in the
couple of months she spent with family in India
than she ever had at the Ivy League institution.
Maulik credits her ability as an organizer work-
ing in traditional and male communities to her
mother, a non-traditional woman with a "spiritual
understanding of resistance." After finishing col-
lege and returning to New York City, volunteering
with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance drove this
concept home for Maulik.
"It was like hanging out with people I had
grown up with, but now for the purpose of fighting
for justice," recalls Maulik. "It was like organizing
with my uncles."
At the Taxi Workers Alliance, says founder
Bhairavi Desai , Maulik was able to "discover her
own voice" by working in her own community. In
1999, Maulik founded DRUM with other young
desis-people whose country of origin is in the
Indian subcontinent-hoping to seed a "radical
South Asian working-class tradition. " Originally
run out of Maulik's apartment, DRUM protested
anti-immigrant policies, particularly INS deten-
tions, from the start. So on September 11, they
knew exactly what to do: by September 13, 2001,
only two days after the terrorist attacks, DRUM
had set up its hotline, printed flyers about it in
English, Bengali , Urdu, Gujarati, and Punjabi, and
started distributing them to hundreds of South
Asians in mosques, stores, and on the street.
"Here you've got a whole ethnic population
targeted by the U.S. government," says Martin R.
Stolar, who became Naheed's lawyer as a result
of Maulik's intervention. "Monami and DRUM are
an absolute lifeline of support."
BRIGHTON BEACH BID
Marina Shapiro, Ukraine
Marina Shapiro wants to bring New York to Little
Odessa-to make Brighton Beach the next Little
Italy or Chinatown, with a preserved identity and
ethnic cuisine. The one missing ingredient: tourists.
As director of the neighborhood's Business
Improvement District, Shapiro, 24, has spent the
last four years trying to change that. "We want to
present Brighton Beach to Americans in such a
way that they will want to come here to see it just
the way it is," she says from her office, a cubicle
in the back of the Dime Savings Bank on Brighton
The idea has received mixed reviews from local
merchants, most of whom are part of a wave of
Soviet Jews who fled persecution in the former
Isabel Gonzalez, Brooklyn
Growing up in Bed-Stuy as the oldest in a family
of five, Isabel Gonzalez assumed the big-sister
responsibilities typical in single-parent house-
holds-taking the kids to school, making sure they
were fed. But she had little say in her own destiny.
Early on, teachers removed her from bilingual
classes. "In English classes, everything I learned
was from the American perspective," she remem-
bers. "I began to devalue Spanish and Latino cul-
ture. The shift from one class to another made me
feel like I was now an American. It took me years
to relearn who I was and where I came from."
Gonzalez has since been on a journey to figure
out how to help other Latina women stand up for
themselves. Now 23, she works with a budding
Bushwick collective, Sista 2 Sista, organizing
young women to defend themselves against
harassment, sexual and otherwise.
They have to do it themselves, Gonzalez says,
because official law enforcement is part of the
problem. "The working-class Latina community
cannot look at cops as the solution," says Gonza-
lez. "There's too many examples of cops being
perpetrators of violence against women." Cops
hitting on young women, sometimes on school
grounds. Cops violently breaking up family dis-
putes. Cops leaning on female relatives of crimi-
nal suspects to extract information from them.
Last summer, 15 young women from Sista 2
Sista interviewed about 400 others in the neighbor-
hood, and what they heard was startling. "Nearly 65
percent felt that their community was not safe for
them, 57 percent knew someone who had been
raped, and in 90 percent of such cases, young
women were not helped before and during the inci-
dent," says Isabel. Demonstrations and letters didn't
seem to make sense as a response; instead, Sista
2 Sista offers classes in self-defense and boxing.
Soviet Union. That makes Shapiro's job that much
harder. "Making the older Russians reach out to
Americans is a very difficult task," Shapiro admits.
"You're sort of trying to turn the movement of a
very heavy and loaded train around."
But with one foot in a trendy life of yoga and
sushi in Tribeca, where she lives, and the other with
friends and family in Brighton, she keeps pushing.
She certainly understands immigrants' experi-
ences: In 1992, when Shapiro was 13, she and her
family escaped anti-Semitic attacks in their remote
village of Kharkov and moved to New York.
Shapiro quickly embraced American life. At 16,
she set out to live on her own while finishing up at
Midwood High School. Two years later, she took a
job as a stockbroker. She quickly tired of the long
hours, though, and fell into an administrative
assistant job at the BID. Since then, she has
applied her business sense-which she continues
Even as she promotes self-direction for others,
though, Gonzalez has fought hard to find it for her-
self. As a teen she joined the leadership group
Global Kids, where she learned to facilitate meet-
ings and produce video-skills she still uses. But
she was convinced they were missing the point.
"Having the option to travel to Germany, Ireland
and Croatia and running a workshop was a great
idea, but personally, I needed more emphasis on
organizing and dealing with the issues we were fac-
ing in school and on the streets of New York."
A later stint at the Bushwick group Make the
Road by Walking convinced Gonzalez that picking
the right issues wasn't enough, either. With women
from the Dominican RepubliC, Mexico, Nicaragua
and elsewhere, she organized protests outside wel-
fare centers, demanding translation services and
basic respect for clients. But Gonzalez felt that
members consistently shaped their own ideas and
plans to conform to the agenda of the group's
leadership: namely, to support lawsuits fighting
those same injustices. Says Gonzalez, "They look
to hone as an economics student at Baruch Col-
lege-to bring out Brighton Beach's potential.
Previous BID directors laid groundwork, trans-
forming the shopping strip from a string of boarded-
up storefronts to a bustling mall full of fur coats and
chain stores like Rite Aid. In 1998, Shapiro went fur-
ther with a campaign to get every store on the
avenue to post signs and print restaurant menus in
Russian and English. This year, for the first time, she
is publishing a shopping and restaurant guide
entirely in English. "If Americans are going to come
here, they need to be able to communicate in the
language they know," she says.
While resistant at first, many merchants have
come around. When Joseph Berov first opened
Sankt Peterburg, a Russian-language book and
music store, four years ago, he refused to trans-
late his signs. "I thought we were in a Russian
community, so everything should be in Russian,"
at white men with law degrees and assumed that
their opinions and ideas were more valuable.
Somehow, the legal strategy was normalized, and
they became intimidated to the point where they
begin questioning their own analysis of the issues
they've defined for themselves." (Characterizing
Gonzalez as a "domineering, patronizing" and
"destructive" force within the organization, Make
the Road codirector Oona Chatterjee adds that
"since her departure and even beforehand, I have
attempted to dialogue with her about her con-
cerns .... She has made it clear, in as many words,
that she does not want to dialogue with me.")
These days, Gonzalez has what she's long want-
ed: a group where members' views are not just
respected, but all-defining. They elect their own lead-
ers and decide what issues they'll tackle, and how.
Many of the young women are now getting their
mothers involved in their anti-harassment work.
"This was never an objective," says Gonzalez. "It just
happened. And it's now up to the families to figure
out where they want to take it" -Vee Bravo
he says. He has since watched American shop-
pers fill the area, and says he may soon post
signs in English.
For merchants who continue to resist, Shapiro
brings around a reminder that someone else has a
say in the matter: the city's Commission on Human
Rights. Three years ago, after many non-Russians
complained to Shapiro that they felt unwelcome in
Russian stores, she toured commission represen-
tatives through the area looking for signs of dis-
crimination against non-Russians. To date, no mer-
chant has been fined, and she continues to invite
the commission to make surprise visits.
By many accounts, she is helping business in
Brighton. "Old people know us, butthe new people
come in and talk to us in English," says Boris
Gugilev, an employee at B+G Gifts and Housewares.
"We need their business and we need to leam more
and more about them." -Lindsay Faber
CML RIGHTS CRUSADER
Jean-Claude Compas, HaW
When he started his Crown Heights family practice
20 years ago, Dr. Jean-Claude Com pas remembers,
his role as interpreter of patients' symptoms was
more than medical. "One way we express ourselves
when we are in pain, is to use the word "gaz."
Haitians say, M'gen gaz. M'gen gaz nan tet. Can you
imagine to an American, or anybody else, who's
been trained scientifically in quote-quote Occiden-
tal medicine? Hearing somebody say they have gas
in his head-so that for him, that person is crazy."
There are an estimated 600 Haitian doctors
practicing in New York State, or about one in one
thousand Haitians here. It's a profession of status
and security. But instead of seeking a comfortable
affiliation with a hospital , Com pas, 53, works
exclusively in his own private clinic. There, he has
the flexibility to address the often undertreated
health needs of his Haitian patients, who see
more than their share of hypertension and dia-
betes. He tries to spend close time with patients
with chronic illnesses, such as HIV and cancer
and, if necessary, give them a break on fees.
Term limi/S, public campaign financing, voter
registration-they were aU supposed to \'auIt
immigrants into political power. Aside from
Councilmember John Liu, what have New York's
immigrants gained from last year's elections?
Three losers explain what they won.
Kwong Hui is happy about the historic wave
of Asian Americans who ran for City Council last
year, but it wasn't the sort of revolution he was
looking for. "Changing faces doesn't mean
change," he says.
Hui , the son of a garment worker and a labor
activist since his days at Brooklyn College, went
into his own campaign with an old-fashioned
agenda: He wants government to respond to the
needs of communities. Unlike those activists
who refuse to sully themselves in electoral poli-
tics, Hui is adamant that however corrupt the
system might be, standing apart from it makes it
worse. "[Progressivesllike to draw a line: Here's
us, here's the politicians," he says. "Wealthy
people understand the importance of govern-
ment. That's why they spend so much money
Hui's intensity is surprising, considering his cur-
rent job title: bureaucrat. He has been working at
the Federal Emergency Management Administra-
tion's disaster relief center since October and was
recently promoted to assistant manager. Hui sees
no contradiction between his two roles. "I'm here.
I'm management. But I'm still fighting for the appli-
Com pas' medical mission has long reached
beyond his clinic. In 1985, he helped secure the
removal of Haitians from the Centers for Disease
Control's notorious "4-H" list of likely carriers of
AIDS. Five years later, he rallied thousands to cross
the Brooklyn Bridge in protest of a federal adviSOry
asking blood banks to reject donations from Haitian
immigrants. More recently, he has served as the
personal physician for Abner Louima. Following the
recent reversal of police officers' convictions in
Louima's brutalization, Compas manned a mega-
phone in front of the 70th PreCinct, pleading for the
police to "serve us-not destroy us. "
cants. So what's the difference?" he asks.
He took the same approach to his campaign,
with a strategy colored by years in the private sec-
tor. "There's a Chinese saying-you don't go into
battle admitting defeat," Hui says. "That's what
they do in the progressive circle. That's not what
we do in the corporate world. We made that deci-
sion early on." With no patience for the Democrat:-
ic establishment, and not wanting to become
beholden to Chinatown's powerful ethnic organiza-
tions, Hui launched a door-tCKloor campaign with
the help of about 200 volunteers.
But on the day of the primary his campaign
strategy was put to an entirely unexpected use.
The district was hit hard by the World Trade Cen-
ter attack; most residents lost phone service,
and the sick and elderly were left without their
His vocal presence isn't admired by everyone.
The left-wing newspaper Haiti-Progres has charged
that the doctor, as well as the Haitian-American
Alliance, a civic group on which he sits as a board
member, have "repeatedly sought to present them-
selves to the U.S. establishment as the 'leaders of
the Haitian community: seizing on any opportunity
to parade in front of microphones and television
cameras. " The paper has also attacked him as a
"rightist" who keeps "putschist" company for his
criticism of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aris-
tide-the democratically-elected leader who suc-
ceeded the Duvalier dictatorship-as more of a
health care workers, who were turned away at
security checkpoints. So Hui turned his volun-
teers into relief workers, carrying stretchers and
distributing supplies. He picked up campaigning
again only shortly before Election Day, winning
12 percent of the vote as an independent.
Hui says the FEMA job has reinforced the les-
son that elected officials playa critical role in a
crisis. As billions of public dollars get allocated
for rebuilding, Hui says, with a hint of frustration,
"I wish we had that voice."
INDER IT SINGH
Inderjit Singh's failed bid for City Council might
have demoralized a less resilient candidate. He
was booted from the Democratic primary ballot
after losing a petition challenge; he spent the last
three weeks of the postponed race taking reports
of bias attacks against his fellow Sikhs, rather
than campaigning; and, running as an indepen-
dent, he won only 2 percent of the vote.
Instead, Singh has emerged determined to
run again, more committed than ever to his guid-
ing principle: that immigrants must work with the
political establishment to secure their fair share.
"They're not going to give us anything on a silver
platter:' he says. "We have to find ways of getting
the system to be responsive to us."
For proof, he points to the 102nd Precinct in
Richmond Hill. After years of feel ing ignored by
police, Singh started bringing other South Asians
to meetings of the precinct community council.
The first time they packed a meeting, cops told
them they were a fire hazard. "I told them, 'We'll
charismatic figure than a manager to solve the
country's entrenched problems. Com pas doesn't
ignore the political chasms-"we're divided, it's
true"-but prefers to think pragmatically. "In reality,
it's not a leader that we need-we need better orga-
nizations and better institutions. If you have better
institutions, then you have better leaders."
PATRON SAINT OF THE
Joel Magallan Reyes, Mexico
On December 18, International Migrants Day,
Brother Joel Magallan Reyes spoke at a press con-
ference in lower Manhattan about the fate of
undocumented immigrants post-9/11. But Magal-
Ian had more to say: After the conference was over,
he leaped on stage, grabbing a microphone in
each fist. They didn't work, so he started shouting.
As he screamed for a translator, a flock of about a
hundred mostly Mexican workers gathered round
him, dragging him out of the auditorium.
From 1990 to 2000, the metropolitan area saw
a 239 percent increase in Mexican immigrants.
Magallan's ability to marshal raw energy and
pay for a bigger room,'" he recalls. Eventually,
several South Asians joined the council, and the
NYPD later highlighted the 102nd as a model
precinct in a cultural sensitivity training video.
After September 11, that effort paid off; the
police department quickly picked up suspects in
racist attacks on Sikhs in Richmond Hill. But
good will wasn't enough to prevent the NYPD from
firing a Sikh recruit who wanted to keep his tradi-
tional beard and turban. Prabhjot Singh of the
Sikh Coalition, a group representing the fired
recruit, says he sees Inderjit Singh's political work
as a complement to his own advocacy efforts.
A 3D-year veteran of the Housing Authority,
Inderjit Singh hopes to run for an Assembly seat
this fall or for council in 2003. Some say he'll need
to shift tactics if he wants to win: Jamal Baksh, a
banker active in Richmond Hill civic affairs, says
Singh relied too heavily on the Sikh community for
media attention have made his organization, As6-
ciacion Tepeyac de Nueva York, synonymous with
their struggles. By being anointed as the voice for
New York's undocumented Mexicans, Magallan has
demanded-and won-a host of crucial services.
"He's a very charismatic man, a very dedicated
man, and he has helped to mobilize and organize
the Mexican community in a way it had not been
before he came," says sociologist Robert Smith.
But other organizers take issue with such
his support, and didn't build strong enough ties
with locallndo-Caribbeans and African-Americans.
Singh says the issues he has raised, educa-
tion and housing, resonate with everyone in Rich-
mond Hill, but his main focus remains claiming
South Asians' place at the political table. "The
only way you will get what you need," he main-
tains, "is if you're part of the system. "
won ess percent
vote, Sidique Wai isn't shy about calling his run
for Brooklyn's 35th City
Council seat "historic." As
the first continental African
to run for office in New York,
Wai credits his candidacy
with "debunking the myth
among Africans that you can-
not be involved in politics in
New York City." Wiry and well-
dressed, Wai made a pOint of
being interviewed in the Man-
hattan headquarters of the
United African Congress, an
umbrella group for African
But Wai was in no position to run an identity-
focused campaign: Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and
Crown Heights include only small pockets of
African immigrants. Even the Bronx, with the city's
largest concentration of continental Africans,
doesn't have enough to make a voting bloc.
Instead, Wai promoted himself as an expert
claims. When Magallan founded Tepeyac in 1997,
he set it up as an umbrella group to coordinate
New York's Mexican groups-and "insulted all the
people who were here before and working for a
very long time," says Jerry Dominguez, who runs
the Asociacion Mexico-Americano Trabajadores.
Even though Dominguez is quick to acknowledge
Tepeyac's accomplishments, he and others com-
plain about Magallan's "holier-than-thou" attitude
and aggressive approach to organizing. "I'm very
conscious about that I use that feature of my per-
sonality," responds Magallan, speaking of his blunt-
ness, "mostly during meetings with authorities."
After September 11, Tepeyac's offices on West
14th Street became a headquarters for undocu-
mented immigrants. Volunteers fielded desperate
phone calls and visited hospitals, morgues and
Ground Zero. National media coverage soon put
the struggles of undocumented workers in the
public eye-and garnered Tepeyac hundreds of
thousands of dollars in grants.
Albor Ruiz, who covers Mexican immigrants
for the Daily News, says he hasn't seen anyone
as effective as Magallan. "Even if you sometimes
disagree with him, you have to respect that he's
on health care. A health policy analyst for the
Housing Authority, Wai built his career as a com-
munity organizer in Crown Heights, where he has
lived for 30 years. Although it's difficult to imag-
ine Wai, who has the polished air of a diplomat,
leading a protest, he proudly recalls organizing a
demonstration against poor quality of care at
Kings County Hospital.
Power, he points out, operates beyond electoral
politics, too. "If you look at a community that's
new, they have to start someplace," he says. "It
gives them a chance to believe in themselves."
By lW. Mason
LAST FAll, THE CITY of Santa Monica, California,
passed a living wage ordinance, one of at least 70
now law across rhe nation. The proposal, pre-
dictably, was fought birrerly by local business,
especially rhe hotel and restaurant owners who
were irs particular targers; and supporred, not
quite as predictably, by a coalition rhat included
rhe major local unions as well as rhe more usual
progressive and communiry organizations. In its
expansive scope--and in rhe fierceness of rhe
debate over irs economic effecrs-Santa Monica's
ordinance is one of rhe closest precedenrs for rhe
living wage bill now being considered by rhe
New York Ciry Council.
THE BIG IDEA
If passed, rhe New York law would require
most ciry contractors and businesses that get
municipal subsidies, including tenants of sub-
sidized buildings and the quasi-public Business
Improvement Districts, to pay their employees
a living wage of $8.1 0 an hour. The bill is spon-
sored by Council Speaker Gifford Miller, and
cosponsored by a majoriry of the Ciry Council.
But given the impressive intellectual firepower
being deployed on borh sides of the debate,
rhat hardly assures its passage.
In New York, rhe batrle lines have already
begun to be drawn. "We're talking abour a so-
called living wage of $8.10 an hour, " says Bob
Masters of the Communications Workers
union, which is supporting the bill. "Ie would
be outrageous for business to come out against
chis-it's hard for me to believe rhat rheir
opposition wouldn't be embarrassing to rhem."
Not so. Before rhe bill was even introduced,
rhe New York Ciry Partnership and Chamber
of Commerce started circulating a memo to
rally opposition to the law, claiming it would
hurr businesses--especially small and minori-
ry-owned businesses. (The Partnership
declined to comment for rhis article.)
Though each ciry's law is different, the
debate tends to follow a predictable parretn:
Business opposes rhem, on economic grounds;
labor and communiry activists support them.
But while rhe proponents of living wage bills
have stuck wirh a pretry consistent argument-
rhat raising wages helps lifr low-wage workers
our of poverry-rhe opposition's arguments
have followed a fascinating evolution.
At first critical of such bills on principle,
opponents from rhe business camp soon ran up
against a political wall: The idea of raising liv-
ing standards for low-wage city workers has a
powerful populist appeal. So in recent years,
business groups have changed course, taking
rhe savvy and original tack rhat living wage
laws actually hurt rhe poor.
"They worsen the plight of rhe lowest-
skilled people, rhose trying to get into rhe
workforce, " says Employment Policies Institute
staff economist Richard Toikka. "Our position
is that rhese laws are generally a bad idea."
E.]. MacMahon of the Manhattan Institute
goes even further. "Even if it raised rhe incomes
of low-wage workers, it would be bad policy,"
he says, asserring that a mandated $8.10 wage
poses a rhreat to the economic recovery of rhe
city and, especially, lower Manharran.
"Labor economisrs have long studied how liv-
ing wage laws hurt rhe people rhey are intended
to help," warned rhe lead editorial in Crain's New
York Business rhe week rhe bill was proposed, pre-
dicting rhat affected businesses "would take rhe
only step available to rhem. They would reduce
rheir staffs and cur back on rhe services rhey pro-
vide. Higher wages for some; no jobs for orhers. "
AS PROOF OF THIS dire prediction, rhe Crain's
editorial cited a study done by Toikka's
Employment Policies Institute. The most
prominent institutional critic of rhe living
wage movement, rhe institute sponsors and dis-
seminates studies claiming massive job losses
from any form of minimum-wage increase.
It also devotes considerable resources to ques-
tioning the motives of living-wage advocates. The
institure's basic handbook has a special section on
Robert Pollin, a Universiry of Massachuserrs
economist who has worked on a number of living
wage studies and aurhored, wirh Stephanie Luce,
rhe book The Living wage. "Who is Robert
Pollin?" the guide asks, suggesting that his affilia-
tion with the now-defunct New Party and, worse,
with the Union of Radical Political Economists,
demonstrates that his views on living wage laws
cannot be trusted. The Employment Policies
Institute has even bought placement on major
Internet search engines like Google, so that their
site comes up when Pollin's name is typed in.
More generally, the institute paints living
wage laws as an expression of "union self-inter-
est," pushed by labor bosses and their fellow
travders-such as the "labor-funded" Econom-
ic Policy Institute, whose name it has co-opted,
even reserving domain name epionline.org.
While about one-quarter of the Economic Poli-
cy Institute's budget does come from unions, all
of its living wage research is foundation-funded.
But the Employment Policies Institute is
more coy about its own connections: It was
founded by the restaurant
lobby. Executive Director
instead. Thus the poorest workers are hun, not
hdped, by such bills.
"Compared to, say, job training, the living
wage seems to say, ' Raise the wages, and skill
devdopment will take care of itself,'" says Toik-
ka. "But wages, " he explains-and this is the
crux of the anti-living wage argument-"are
ultimatdy a matter of skills; you can't mandate
a higher market wage. If wages are raised to a
high enough levd, employers will reduce jobs-
although I'm not sure if $8.10 is that level."
Even 10 years ago, few in the economics
profession would have disagreed. Recent
research, however, has painted a very different
picture of minimum wages. Since the mid-
1990s, economists have studied the effects of
minimum wage laws (including living wages)
on incomes, employment and poverty, and
with few exceptions this work has shown the
fears of the living wage
pessimists to be exagger-
Richard Berman, once an
executive for restaurant
chains including Benni-
gan's and Burger King, is a
registered lobbyist for the
food and beverage indus-
try. He was also a close
political ally of former
House Speaker Newt Gin-
grich. After meeting with
Berman, a Gingrich staffer
wrote a memo saying "I
think there is a very real
possibiliry here of
ated, if not basdess.
The decisive event in
contemporary research on
minimum wages was the
1992 publication in the
Review, the premier jour-
nal of the economics pro-
fession, of an article by
David Card and Alan
Krueger on the effects of
an increase in the New Jer-
sey state minimum wage
$20,000-$25,000" if Gin-
grich could "incorporate some of the ideas"
Berman advocated--chief among them that
low-wage food-service jobs were not necessarily
a dead end-in his tdevised college course.
Gingrich denied that the money influenced
his lectures. But after EPI donated $25,000,
the Speaker described fast-food work as "the
entrepreneur's great learning opportunity," and
praised several fast-food chains by name.
"When you hear someone say, 'Well, that's a
hamburger-flipping job,'" Gingrich told his
students, "you know that's somebody that
doesn't understand America."
THE ARGUMENT AGAINST living wage laws-
which the Employment Policies Institute calls
"a kind of super-minimum wage"-is simple:
Workers earn low wages because that is all they
are worth in the marketplace. If their wages are
raised by fiat, employers will no longer find it
worthwhile to hire them and will cut jobs
on fast-food employment.
Fast food was chosen as
a competitive industry with a very large propor-
tion of workers earning the minimum wage. To
the surprise of economists, there appeared to be
no additional unemployment as a result of a sub-
stantial state-mandated increase in wages; if any-
thing, employment in New Jersey fast-food
restaurants appeared to go up as a result of the law.
Card and Krueger's work spawned dozens of
critiques, replications, and extensions, but when
the dust had settled, the consensus was clear. In
the words of Richard Freeman of Harvard, per-
haps the country's foremost labor economist, "the
entire literature on the minimum wage [now
agrees] that employment losses are modest. "
(Nor surprisingly, one of those unconvinced
by Card and Krueger's work was EPI's Berman,
who attempted his own srudy of the effeCts of the
New Jersey law. To put it gently, he was a little
out of his league: While Card and Krueger used
a tange of government data to conduct a com-
prehensive survey of fast food restaurants in New
continued on page 41
THE BIG IDEA
While it dutifully documents that fewer immigrants
rely on public benefits than prior to welfare reform (no
surprise there), this report's real strength is the broad
statistical portrait it offers of new New Yorkers. After
interviewing some 1,500 families from 109 coun-
tries, the report finds that 30 percent of the city's
immigrants are poor; nearty 80 percent work; nearty
one-third go hungl)' at least sometimes; and 38 per-
cent have no health coverage.
"How are Immigrants Faring After Weffare Refonn?
Preliminary Evidence from los Angeles and New Yorlr City,·
1M IJrlJan InstituIB and the
U.S.1Jepartment of Health and Htman Setl'ices
Here's the skinny on the New York powers who will
guide the rebuilding of lower Manhattan, as com-
piled by a local project monitoring post-September
11 reconstruction. Before Mayor Bloomberg was
allowed to add three members to the Lower Manhat-
tan Development Corporation in March, Generalissi-
mos Pataki and Giuliani had appointed a powerful
board of 11-mostly real estate developers, corpo-
rate execs and political fundraisers, save a labor
leader and a community board member. The report
profiling the 11-and the politicians they've given
money to--could be subtitled "Profiles in Privilege."
"Profiles of the Members of The Lower Manhattan
Development Corporation: Who Are These People and
Where Did They Come From, "
Good Jobs New York
www.reconstnJctionwatch.net or 212-414-9394
Chicago embraced community policing in 1995,
training civi lian crime fighters and promoting reg-
ular meetings between cops and neighborhood res-
idents. It's not the only reason that crime then
dropped sharply, but at the vel)' least, police-neigh-
borhood relations improved. Yet according to this
new report, Latino residents-particularly those
who speak Spanish exclusively-were more likely to
report that crime worsened, and think that relations
with cops weren't improving and the least likely to
participate in any community policing activities-
or to even have heard of the efforts at all.
"Community Policing and The New Immigrants:
Latinos in Chicago, •
Institute for Policy Research: Northwestern University
The 1-2-3s of ABCs
By Eleanor J. Bader
A School of Our Own: Parents, Power and Community at
the East Harlem Block Schools
by Tom Roderick, Teachers College Press, 180 pages, $21.95
PARENTS, COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS, teachers and
the federal government coming rogether ro cre-
ate and control a school seems like the stuff of
fairy rales. Bur once upon a time in East
Harlem, such a thing came ro pass.
The year was 1965, and several parents had
formed a babysitting co-op on East 105th Street.
Months later, reports Tom Roderick in A School
of Our Own, the group decided ro create some-
thing bigger: a parent-controlled nursery school.
In consultation with Aspira, then the most influ-
ential social welfare agency in the Puerto Rican
community, the parents asked the federal Office
of Economic Opportunity (OEO) ro fund two
schools "ro overcome the environmentally
induced handicaps of children in East Harlem."
What's more, they rold the funders that they
would urilize both Spanish and English, "ro help
the child develop as an effective, bilingual per-
son." They also promised ro involve parents as
board members and educarors.
Shorrly thereafter the group received word
that $65,411 had been awarded. By the end of
Augusr a contract was signed and the parents were
given unrilJanuary 1966 to create a preschool.
It's an amazing srory, and Roderick-a for-
mer teacher at the schools-beautifully captures
the spirit of their founders. Part memoir, part
expose, and part plea for progressive pedagogy,
the book is an important social hisrory, particu-
larly resonant for those who believe that people's
"The Latin American Workers Prqject benefited greatly working with Public
Allies. They helped one of our organizers to learn different aspects of
organizing, to be more committed, disciplined, and to develop his mind
and his ideas. " Oscar Paredes, Executive Director
Publ ic All ies New York
Seeks Nonprofit Agencies for
2002-2003 Apprenticeship Program
Public Allies (PA) is seeking nonprofit and government agencies to
serve as Partner Organizations for ten-months-September 2002-
June 2003. PA's mission is to provide opportunities for diverse
young leaders, ages 18-30, to strengthen communities, non-profits
and civic participation. To achieve our mission, we partner with non-
profit organizations to provide diverse young adults with ten-month
paid apprenticeships. The partnerShip helps agenCies improve their
own programs while providing a young adult with a transformative
learning experience. Allies serve at their Partner Organizations full-
time four days a week, receive training from PA and work on
community projects. To host a Public Ally full-time costs $12,400.
For an application and more information,
contact Public Allies New York at 212-244-5335 or send an e-mail
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.publicallies.org.
Applications are due by Friday, May 17, 2002.
justice is integral to educational reform.
For the Block Schools parents, hiring staff was
the first of many obstacles. Although they had
picked one of their own-a Caucasian, Spanish-
speaking teacher and community resident named
Tony Ward-to be executive director, filling
other slots proved daunting. "We were scared as
hell," board member Rosie Gueits tells Roderick.
"We felt, 'Damn, these are professional people,
and we're just housewives.'" Scill, by the end of
September, four were hired: two African Ameri-
cans, one Filipino and one white. Next came the
hiring of the parent staff-four became assistant
teachers; one opted to become a clerk-typist.
Staff enrolled in a three-week course, run by
the Bank Street College of Education, on group
dynamics, child development, and the teaching
of art and literature. This was followed by field
visits to some of the city's most prestigious pri-
vate schools. "When we'd come back, we'd give
feedback about what happened, what we saw
that we liked, what we didn't like, and what-
not .... Then we'd say, 'Let's make sure this does-
n't happen in our school,'" recalls Gueits.
The recruiting of students came next, and the
parents began a door-to-door campaign to ensure
that everyone in the neighborhood knew about
the program. What they discovered was surpris-
ing. "Some of the people really opened up to us,"
says board member Connie Arevalo. "They told
us all kinds of personal things-about their
health problems, about what they were going
through with their husbands, and about how des-
perate they felt sometimes with their children ....
They had no one to talk to, no place to go .... We
saw that we couldn't just be a nursery. We real-
ized that we had to help the whole family."
Meanwhile, Ward was grappling with find-
ing a decent, affordable space, scrambling until
just a few weeks before the nursery schools were
scheduled to open. The staff hunkered down to
clean, tile, and fUrnish what had been a fUthy set
of rooms, just in time to open in late December.
Two months later, a second school opened.
Behind the initial euphoria, tensions lurked.
Ward knew that he and his staff had broken a
plethora of rules. According to Roderick, OEO
regulations about nepotism and conflict of
interest had been ignored, and neither facility
met Health Department requirements. "Most
risky, though, " writes Roderick, "was the matter
of the ' revolving fund,' cash advances totaling
$40,000 that OEO gave the Nurseries to meet
ongoing expenses." Ward had used these funds
to pay for clean-up and school supplies.
For the first two years, the East Harlem Block
Schools operated with adequate revenue and rel-
ative freedom from bureaucratic meddling. But
then shifting political winds gave power to con-
servatives hostile to the War on Poverty. Repub-
licans spent most of 1967 anempting to disman-
tle the Office of Economic Opportunity; by
November they succeeded in temporarily stop-
ping all appropriations. The Block Schools were
Ward appealed to the city Division of Child
Care for funding, a step he did not take lightly.
"Ward knew, n writes Roderick, that its "budgets
for educational materials were stingy, and
money for training was nonexistent. Casework-
ers did detailed investigations of the 'clients' to
determine their eligibility.... Parents were not
eligible to serve on the boards of their children's
Although the OEO was ultimately reautho-
rized, the Block Schools were threatened again in
January 1968. The feds were demanding receipts
for the $40,000 spent in 1965. While Ward
scrambled to document his expenditures, the rest
of the staff attempted to cope with a financial
shortfall that put materials in scant supply. Many
doubted the schools would survive.
In hindsight, Ward bemoans the schools'
political isolation. Yet neither he nor the East
Harlem parents would concede defeat. Pledg-
ing to fight for the program, they developed a
multifaceted organizing campaign, including
sit-ins and demonstrations. Ward also spear-
headed the Committee for Community Con-
trolled Day Care, which brought dozens of
advocates together. Eventually, compromises
were reached and funding was secured for new
initiatives, including a college tuition plan to
enable paraprofessionals to earn their degrees.
A happy ending? Sort of. While the schools
are now in their 37th year, they function in
somewhat diminished form. As a result of city
policies, eligibility is now stringently con-
trolled. "Parents must be either working, look-
ing for work, involved in job training, or be cer-
tified by a doctor to have a special need for
care, " Roderick writes. According to Block
Schools' current executive director, Vivienne
Dyce, "It's not like years ago when you could
get day care simply because you wanted your
child to have an education."
But schools alone change community
dynamics themselves. Many students and staffers
have benefited from Block Schools, but the
neighborhood remains ravaged by poverty, inad-
equate housing and joblessness. For the bulk of
East Harlem, the dream remains deferred .•
Eleanor j. Bader is a journalist, social worker and
teacher. She is the co-author ojTargets of Hatred:
Anti-Abortion Terrorism (St. Martin's Press).
NOW READ THIS
Almost Home: America's love-Hate
Relationship with Community
By David L Kirp
Princeton University Press, $18.95
Through 13 rich essays that paint a vision of commu-
nity that's neither Pollyannaish nor apocalyptic, jour-
nalist and professor Kirp captures modem American
neighborhoods as they achieve real victories-but
also as they fracture and fail. Each tale is relevant, but
a chapter on East Harlem's public schools has the
most direct local connecti on. He argues that innovative
educati onal leaders there transformed a local educa-
tional system by encouraging a school choice model
that nurtured dozens of new, small el ementary and
junior high schools where teachers and administrators
became more accountable.
It Takes a Neighborhood:
Strategies to Prevent Urban Decline
By David J. Wright
The Nelson A. Rockefeller
Institute of Government, $34.95
Take working-class urban neighborhoods. Consult with
local groups. Add $6.6 million, a smattering of advice,
and watch communities improve! That's the message
of this dry evaluation of housing and social services
projects funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts in 10 U.S.
neighborhoods (none in New York). One problem with
the book's self-congratulatory tone is that Pew's pro-
jects operated from 1995-97, a boom period, when vi r-
tually every American neighborhood improved. Did
Pew's money make a difference? Who knows, but this
book offers some insight for development practitioners.
Can We Put an End to Sweatshops?
By Archon Fung, et al., Beacon Press, $12
Exposes of barely paid workers who make clothes, elec-
tronics and apparel in dreadful conditions spurred the
new anti-sweatshop movement over the past decade.
Implementing fair standards has proved difficult, and
not just because of corporate recalcitrance: There is no
single standard that can be reasonably applied to San
Salvador, Zhongshan and Bushwick. This book offers a
sol ution, through the hideously termed "Ratcheted
Labor Standards": locally contextualized code that will
be monitored by independent accounting firms and
made available to consumers, activists and unions.
INTELL I GENCE
By Judith Matloff
IN ITS 11 YEARS AS one of the country's leading
AIDS services organizations, Housing Works
Inc. has combined its mission-housing and
caring for homeless people with HN and
AIDS-with an extraordinary entrepreneurial
panache. Housing Works is an industry leader
in "social purpose business ventures" -busi-
nesses run by nonprofits to fill a social need,
often linked to their mission, and simultane-
ously make money for the organization. In its
used bookstore in swanky Soho, collectors
browse for rare fust editions, while homeless
people learn job skills. Fashion houses like
Chanel donate new clothes to the organiza-
tion's thrift shop boutiques, which gross $7.5
This spring, Housing Works is venruring
into a business that's a lot less glamorous, yet
far more risky: the high-stakes world of resi-
dential property management. For this, Hous-
ing Works will need all of its capitalist flair.
Housing property management is the
Achilles' heel of community development
non profits, spelling many a high-profile crisis
over the past 30 years. There's a long list of
those stricken: Flatbush Development Cor-
poration, Interfaith Adopt-a-Building,
Pueblo Nuevo, Oceanhill-Brownsville Ten-
ants Association, Harlem Restoration Project,
East Harlem's Nerve, Inc., Banana Kelly,
West Harlem Community Organization.
Some almost went bankrupt; others got
mired in messy public relations problems.
Most of the community groups that have
tried it have, in the end, had to drastically
scale back operations.
The problem, say most housing experts, is
that most nonprofits go into the management
business thinking of it as an extension of their
community service work. "Low-income hous-
ing management is not considered a profit-
making endeavor by any of the neighborhood
housing groups which do it," says Irene Bald-
win, executive director of the Association for
Neighborhood and Housing Development, an
association of community-based nonprofit
housing and social service groups, many of
whom have lost money in the field. For most
community service nonprofits, housing cannot
be separated from mission.
But this is precisely what makes property
management such a minefield. Unlike propri-
etors of a coffee shop or a used bookstore, non-
profit housing managers confront situations
that require them to act like a business--or go
under. Tenants go on rent strikes. Buildings fall
apart. People sue. Managers face piles of paper-
work, staff burnout and grumpy clients who
sometimes withhold rent.
"Here you are in a not-for-profit organiza-
tion, but you have to have the mindset of a
business, " says the head of one community
group that is currently struggling with the con-
tradiction. "You've got to run the best possible
business, from a business point of view-which
almost no nonprofit can ever claim it does--or
else the whole organization can go down for
one minor point of your social purpose."
SO IF PROPERTY MANAGEMENT is such a night-
mare, why would Housing Works-which,
after all, has a burnished reputation to lose-
want to touch it? For that matter, why do hous-
ing groups go into such a tricky field at all?
It's simple: for the money.
Finding a stream of cash that's not tied to
any particular spending requirement-that has
no strings attached-is the holy grail of non-
profit management. "We try to squeeze out as
much from the dollar bill as we can," says
Robert Collins, president and CEO of the
organization's new property management arm,
Collins, who has been restructuring Hous-
ing Works' operations for the past three years,
pitched Gotham to the organization as
another entrepreneurial venture--much like
the organization's venture into Medicaid
billing, which proved to be profitable. To
Collins, Gotham is the perfect marriage of
Housing Works' "energetic entrepreneurial
spirit" and its "eclectic militant objective."
But long-term observers, who have seen the
fall of many a property management scheme
since the 1970s, warn that anything above
breaking even may be difficult, even for an out-
fit with a business ethos like Gotham's.
Unless there are very high management fees
and rents-something uncommon for non-
profits, which generally have low-income ten-
ants-property management tends not to gen-
erate much income. And rent collection needs
to be as close to 100 percent as possible; some
non profits, which tend to be slacker about col-
lections, tip as low as the 70s and 80s.
To do all this, housing managers need a
large concentration of staff. For example, a
building of25 apartments needs a super onsite,
a financial person collecting the rent and
depositing checks, and someone to supervise
the super and coordinate outside workers like
electricians and plumbers. If a management
company is handling geographically dispersed
properties, it will need more than one team to
carry out these duties.
Personnel has proved to be a problem for
nonprofits whose business ventures double as
job-training programs. Housing Works has
been successful in using its retail ventures to
train clients; it plans to use Gotham to pro-
vide additional job training opportunities for
them. But for David Pagan, executive director
of Los Sures in Williamsburg, training per-
sonnel on the job kept his operation from
Housing property managers have to be on
top of everything every minute: Operating mar-
gins can vanish if back rent piles up. Cash out-
flow and staff must be scrutinized minutely to
guard against mistakes. Things can quickly fall
apart if there is a sudden change in top man-
agement. One housing analyst likened building
management to trading commodities: "If you
don't pay attention for a day or rwo, you can
lose a large amount of money. "
West Harlem Group Assistance Inc., which
has been in the housing business since the mid-
1980s, slipped into the red after spreading staff
and management over too many housing man-
agement projects. When Donald Notice took
over as executive director in 1997, he had to
radically cut back. For starters, he picked only
projects for which he was sure his organization
had the capacity and expertise. He reset priori-
ties, putting more resources into training and
maintaining staff, and aggressively sought grant
funding. One thing that turned West Harlem
around, says Notice, was outsourcing rent col-
lection, which the office computers were
poorly equipped to handle.
But for Notice, all this restructuring was the
easy part. The major quandary, he says, was
trying to straddle rwo things: eyeing the bot-
tom line while serving the community. This
contradiction has been a key problem of other
neighborhood-based groups, such as Los Sures,
which started out doing tenant organizing,
then branched into development, and soon
after that took on management-only to find
itself in the odd position of being the very
landlord tenants complained about.
"It's a conflict," agrees Los Sures' Pagan.
"You're set [up] to do services for free, and sud-
denly you're charging for services. You're orga-
nizing on one side, then on the other side
you're dealing with the tenants as a landlord."
To reconcile this dilemma, nonproflts need to
find-and keep--especially good managers.
Housing managers need to have good communi-
cation skills, to placate wiliappy tenants and
What's a nice
doing in the
world of residential
negotiate with contractors. But they also need the
skills to stay on top of the business end, too. "It
can be hard to find that sort of person, and main-
tain the intensity without bumout," says Pagan.
COLLINS, WHO HAS MORE than 20 years experi-
ence as a nonprofit executive, hopes to avoid a
lot of these pitfalls by starting out easy.
Gotham's first client will be Housing Works
itself, for which it will manage 95 units of sup-
portive housing and 87,000 square feet of facil-
ity space. Over the next 18 months, Gotham
plans to bring on 70 more Housing Works
units. Outside the group, Gotham projects to
end its fLCst year of operation managing 195
private residential units and 60 owned by non-
profits. "By the second part of the second year,"
says Collins, "we hope to break even."
After that, the plan is to quickly build up a
portfolio of good private-sector clients. To be
viable, property management companies need
at least several hundred units; some experrs
estimate over 1,000. Gotham is looking at pri-
vately owned small buildings on the Lower
East Side, which by virtue of being close
together would be easier to manage than those
spread out. Most importantly, Collins will try
to focus on new developments and gut-reno-
vating old buildings, to avoid the trap of main-
taining decaying properties.
Trying to get a high volume, though, could
trip Gotham up. Housing Works' experience
so far is with brand-new buildings that require
little maintenance. It chooses its tenants care-
fully, and closely monitors their lifestyles. But
New York is a city of aging properties and can-
tankerous tenants-people who, unlike the
AIDS agency's clients, won't have any particu-
lar reason to be kind to Housing Works.
Even so, says Maureen Friar, executive
director of the Supportive Housing Nerwork of
New York, all this can be done. Friar believes
that Housing Works has the benefit of hind-
sight, having studied the poor records of other
organizations. "It's an evolution that's gotten
better," she says. "Some of the pioneers took
over buildings where they could only do patchy
repairs. A group like Housing Works, however,
knows what it needs in terms of appropriate
financing. They bring good management skills
to the table."
As for the contradiction berween the social
mission and landlord role, Collins hopes that
Gotham Assets itself can serve as a buffer
berween Housing Works and clients. Clearly
defining separate staff should help. Trainees-
who will learn carpentry, plumbing and electri-
cal skills-will be carefully supervised and cho-
sen from the pool of more functional clients.
This is the formula Housing Works
successfully applied in its other programs.
If all goes well, Collins even hopes to teach
the private sector a lesson: He wanrs to pick up
buildings from private landlords who
foundered as property managers. "Every once in
a while, you hear of small landlords really strug-
gling," says Collins. "They get into this think-
ing they're going to make a get-rich-quick
scheme, and fmd out that it's really difficult." •
Judith Matloff is a Manhattan-based freelance
By David Jason Fischer
WHEN FRENCHMAN Alphonse Karr wrote, "The
more things change, the more they remain the
same," he was probably talking about work-
force policy in New York.
The federal Workforce Investment Act
(WIA), passed in 1998, was designed to be a
clean break from previous failed job training
programs, bringing order and efficiency to
scattered systems across the nation. But in New
York City, the first few years of WIA bring to
mind another famous French phrase: It's deja
vu all over again.
Take the city's Workforce Investment
Board. This federally mandated steering body
was designed to ensure that employers would
be at the heart of the new workforce develop-
ment system. Chaired by and composed main-
ly of business leaders, the WIB was supposed to
guarantee that the new training system was
responsive to employers' needs in a way previ-
ous systems had never been.
So how's it going? At a meeting of the city's
board this past December, fewer than half of the
40-plus board members showed up at all. Those
who did endured a series of extended reports
from city agencies engaged in workforce activi-
ties-updates on performance benchmarks,
program revisions and collaborations with
neighborhood groups seeking grants. The afrer-
shocks from September 11 were still being felt
acutely, and an imminent mayoral changeover
and looming budget crisis were certain to have
major impacts on workforce policy, but there
was little discussion or debate.
Toward the end of the meeting, someone
tried to call a vote--only to be notified by
another member that the board could not tech-
nically take any action, as business members
constituted well less than 51 percent of those
present. Added the member: "If we continue to
drag on like a government meeting, they'll
never come back. "
Veteran observers might ask: What else is
new? When the previous federal workforce
directive, the Job Training Partnership Act
OTPA), became law in 1982, Congress made
Private Industry Councils (PICs) a require-
ment for every community receiving funding.
Like the Workforce Investment Boards, these
councils were designed to bring business into
the equation, and to give the private sector
some control over how the JTPA money was
spent. New York fought the PIC concept from
the start, and successive mayors battled to keep
the federal training money under their control.
Without backing from City Hall, business
leaders lost interest and began to send subordi-
nates to the PIC meetings in their place.
Lacking input from the business commu-
nity, job training in New York drifted. At the
micro level, training providers occasionally
connected with individual employers or
industry groups to crafr good programs that
addressed real labor needs and improved the
lives of participants. More ofren, however,
programs trained workers for jobs in shrink-
ing or stagnant fields, while jobs in growing
industries, such as information technology,
went begging. There was simply no good
source of research to help trainers match up
supply with demand.
"A big part of the problem has been getting
accurate labor market information at the occu-
pational level," says Bonnie Potter, executive
director of the New York City Employment
and Training Coalition and a veteran of the
city's job training battles. "Providers need to get
a sense of what employers' hiring needs are, not
just today, but months down the line."
The Workforce Investment Act sought to
address this problem by charging boards com-
posed largely of members of the private sector
with designing, implementing and overseeing
the entire local system. Even better, the law
mandated that the mayor appoint business
owners, CEOs, COOs, executives or other
employers with "optimum policymaking or
hiring authority" to the Workforce Investment
Board-in other words, no more minions at
the meetings. It was time, the federal govern-
ment seemed to be saying, to get business
involved in a serious way.
The law went into effect in July 2000-two
years afrer President Clinton signed the bill.
This should have given the city plenty of time
to determine how to respond to the new law,
and to build a strong, vibrant board to lead the
charge. Instead, the city did next to nothing,
only narrowly avoiding sanctions by hastily
putting together a "preliminary board" -with
former PIC Chair Stuart Safr as acting chair-
just before the deadline.
Since then, Safr has kept up the fight to
make workforce policy relevant in New York,
but it has been an uphill struggle. "It's really
been a continuation of business as usual," Safr
admits. ''And that's really unfortunate. You
have to have senior businesspeople on the
board, and the mayor has to indicate that this
is really important to him. Why should people
give up time from their busy day to hear that
we've met 78 percent of our performance stan-
dards for the month of July?"
Other cities have taken a different
approach, and have had far greater success.
One element common to cities that have creat-
ed strong workforce development systems is
that they have top figures in the driver's seat. In
Chicago, a deputy mayor has operating control
over the city's workforce programs. In Boston,
the head of the local Federal Reserve Board
chairs the city's Workforce Investment Board.
Other cities, such as Houston, boast CEOs and
other executive-level private-sector leaders at
the heads of their boards.
Once they've drawn such luminaries into
the arena, these cities have been sure to give
them substantive work to do. In Boston, the
board never hears agency reports of the type
that took up much of New York's most recent
WIB meeting; members make presentations
themselves, afrer being briefed beforehand by a
highly professional staff. Then the members
debate: What are the growth industries right
now, and what will they be in two years? What
kinds of skills will these industries need?
Which partners should be involved in provid-
ing training and support services?
Connie Doty, director of Boston's Office of
Jobs and Community Services, explains that
Boston has been able to keep top business offi-
cials involved because the meetings are both
lively and substantive. "If you don't give them
real, meaty work to do, they won't come. When
the board is making important policy and
funding decisions, then it's much easier to ask
a busy, over-committed CEO or COO to step
up to the plate," she adds.
Boston has developed customized training
for employers in hospitality, health care and
other fields, resulting in hundreds of successful
job placements--even for foriner welfare recip-
ients. Using federal welfare to work money that
went largely untouched in New York, Boston's
board helped connect Massachusetts General
Hospital and Brigham and Woman's Hospital
with community-based organizations to put
together a job readiness program for individu-
als coming off of welfare. After eight weeks of
training, partici pan ts tested for certification as
nursing assistants; those who passed were
offered full-time jobs with benefits.
"Employers were hugely enthusiastic about
this," says Doty. "We had a bunch of them saying
that their workers who came through the welfare
to work program had a much better retention rate
long-term than applicants as a whole."
Finally, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has
made Boston's job training and employment
system a clear priority for his administration.
This year, Menino made workforce develop-
ment one of the two themes of his annual
address to Boston's Chamber of Commerce.
Members of the chamber weren't surprised; the
mayor had been talking about job training
issues with them for years.
Back in New York, there have been some
signs of progress in this long-deadlocked area
of policy. The Human Resources Administra-
tion's sponsorship of four Job Expos at Madi-
son Square Garden after September 11 brought
the agency into contact with hundreds of city
employers, some of whom will now be working
more closely with the agency to meet their spe-
cific workforce needs. Through a $5 million
deal with the city's Economic Development
Corporation, HRA plans to develop cus-
tomized training programs for city businesses
that commit to hiring trainees who complete
those programs successfully. HRA has also
begun an initiative with Local 1199/SEIU and
the labor-affiliated nonprofit Consortium for
Worker Education to train hundreds of
workers for jobs in health care, a field in which
vacancies persist even in the face of higher
But the biggest reason for optimism in this
area is the businessman who now calls the shots
in City Hall. Mayor Bloomberg has already sent
a strong signal to the business community by
announcing plans to move HRA's WIA-related
workforce responsibilities back to the Depart-
ment of Employment, from whence they came
in 1998- a move that could help change the
private sector's perception of government train-
ing programs as inextricably linked to welfare.
His new DOE commissioner, Berty Wu, also
hails from the private sector, and she has made
an extremely favorable impression on key play-
ers in the city's workforce community. TestifY-
ing before the City Council on February 21,
Wu declared that working with private industry
would be her agency's foremost mission.
are supposed to be
reform. So why is
the city making
it so hard for them
to get on board?
To achieve that admirable goal, she'll need
a stronger Workforce Investment Board and a
plan for really engaging the business commu-
nity. All Workforce Investment Board mem-
bers serve at the discretion of the mayor, and
changes in composition are likely-and, if the
new members are more capable and engaged,
welcome. Here are some other things the city
can do to help our:
Unleash the mayor. New York has never had a
chief elected official with anything like the
credibility Bloomberg has in the business com-
munity. His stamp of approval alone would go
a long way toward assuaging the traditional pri-
vate sector fear that government-backed pro-
grams inevitably do more harm than good. The
sooner Wu and other leaders can get him
involved, the better.
Pump up the board. The city's Board currently
has upwards of 40 members. Saft wants more.
"I've asked City Hall to appoint additional
members," Saft says, "key people from busi-
ness, as well as a senior person from the Board
of Education. I've never understood how you
can talk about job training and not have the
public education system represented. " Saft and
other officials also are intent on increasing the
number of representatives from key industries
such as health care and telecommunications.
Get serious about sectors. WIB Executive Direc-
tor Dorothy Lehman says that the board plans
to stage focus groups, consult with economists
and take other steps to provide real labor mar-
ket research and identifY the areas most likely to
grow over the next several years. The city's next
step should be to work directly with multiple
employers in each of these sectors to figure out
how best to meet their mutual needs. In cities
such as Houston and Austin, Texas, this sector-
based strategy has paid big dividends for local
employers and job seekers alike.
Get to the bottom line. Business leaders must take
a more active role in workforce development,
because it is in their interest to do so. The city
should dump tired rhetoric about civic responsi-
bility, giving back to the community or anything
else that smacks of charity, and get to the point:
More business participation in workforce devel-
opment will translate into more skilled workers
for the industries that need them.
* * *
Despite his longstanding frustration with
the pace of change, Saft is still optimistic about
New York's ability to turn its workforce system
around. He's also prerty sure he knows what the
city needs to do to get there. "I've had a vision
since 1999 as to what our workforce investment
system should look like," he said earlier this
year. "It seems to me that I'll know that I have
succeeded in my little mission here when they
call and tell me that the next chairman of the
WIB is the head of the Federal Reserve, or the
president of American Express. " •
NYC Inc is a monthly look at New Yorks econo-
my from the Center for an Urban Future, where
David Jason Fischer is project director for work-
Specializing in Community
Development Groups, HDFCs and
Low-Cost Insurance and Quality Service.
Over 20 Years of Experience.
270 North Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 10801
AND TENANTS FOR
OVER 20 YEARS.
For information call :
Senior Vice President; ext. 213
R&F OF NEW YORK DIVISION
One Wall Street Court
P.O. Box 982
New York, NY 10268-0982
Phone: 212-269-8080 . 800-635-6002 .
Your Neighborhood Housing Insurance Specialist
But there is free
Not-far-profits, community groups and
organizations working to improve their
communities in New York City are eli-
gible for free legal assistance through
New York Lawyers for the Public
Interest's (NYLPI) pro bono clear-
inghouse. The clearinghouse draws on
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Our network of attorneys can
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151 West 30th Street, 11th Floor,
New York,. NY 10001-4007
continued from page 17
There have been other efforts to house the mentally ill, of course. Ed
Koch's 10-year capital investment plan included supportive housing.
That led to the New York/New York agreement, the city-state pact
between David Dinkins and Mario Cuomo to build nearly 5,000 units
of supportive housing for the mentally ill. That was the peak of locally
sponsored production. In 1997, the city's Department of Mental Health
issued a report declaring a need for 10,000 more units; two years later,
Mayor Giuliani and George Pataki agreed to build 1,500.
The city currenrly approves about 1,500 applications for supportive
housing evety year, but there are only about 300 vacancies. The odds are
particularly heavy against former prisoners; why rake in a disturbed addict
ex-con when there's inevitably someone less imposing you can bring into
your program? "Lack of supply does allow for some cherty-picking,"
admits Maureen Friar, executive director of the Supportive Housing Net-
work. "It's permanent housing, so they can pick whoever they want. If they
have five applications for one bed, they'll pick the best one."
Some groups are also working on keeping the mentally ill out of jail in
the first place. Two years ago, CASES set up the Nathaniel Project, which
gives options to judges who are dealing with defendants who could bene-
fit ftom treatment rather than a jail sentence. These are felony offenders,
sometimes violent, who have cycled in and out of the system for years. At
first, some of the people involved were worried that judges wouldn't want
to put them into a program instead of prison. But the courts loved it.
One Brooklyn night court judge, Morron Karopkin, has become a one-
man diversion program. He found studies that show that more than one
out every five defendants at night arraignments have a mental illness. These
people are four times as likely as typical defendants to be arrested in brush-
es on the street with police, and five times as likely to be substance abusers.
He's hired a psychologist to to work on alternatives to incarceration.
And Karopkin's not the only one trying to keep people out of Rikers.
Two mental health courts are being planned--one in Brooklyn, another
in the Bronx-that will sentence offenders to treatment as an alternative
to incarceration [see "Gerting Judgmental," March 2002].
But no one's kidding themselves. In the absence of a well-supervised
path to safery, severely mentally ill people will always apply their own
impaired logic to an irrational set of circumstances-with results that are
In her work on Brad H, Heather Barr is in regular contact with a host
of troubled convicts. One client, whom we'll call Jim, is deaf, mentally
ill, homeless, and suffering from AIDS. He's released one day from a
courthouse without any I.D. All his stuff is still at Rikers. He goes
straight to the city's Division of AIDS Services. They tell him they can't
help him because he doesn't have I.D. But they do pay to put him up in
a hotel for five days while he searches for his belongings. Which brings
him to a critical juncture: Jim is alone in a hotel with no idea how to get
to Rikers (do you?) . He's sick. He's got no meds. He's lonely, and he's
hungry-he has no money. So he decides to rob a bank. This will either
get him some money, or get him to Rikers. It's a no-lose situation.
The robbery is something out of Take the Money and Run. He ambles
into a bank and slips the teller a note. The teller gives him $5,000. He
ambles out and goes to the deli next door and gets a bagel and cup of
coffee. He sits and eats it. No police come. He stands up and heads out
the door. Still no police. So he walks down the street and buys $100
worth of clothes. "If you're arrested in summer and come out in winter,"
Barr says, "it's not like Rikers Island gives you new clothes."
Finally, Jim starts to feel bad. He robbed a bank. He's still lonely. So he
walks into a precinct, hands the police $4,900 and surrenders. "So they send
him to Rikers Island," Barr says. The revolving door keeps spinning .•
Robert Kolker is a contributing editor at New York magazine.
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continued from page 31
Jersey and 14 counties of eastern Pennsylvania, Berman relied on "informal
contacts in the restaurant industry" to assemble his sample; his Pennsylva-
nia control group consisted of a single 23-restaurant Burger King franchise.)
Such clear empirical evidence seemed to call for adjustments of theory.
The more sophisticated living wage opponents have shifted their focus to
an argument we'll call "labor substitution": unskilled workers will lose out
not because their jobs will disappear, but because higher-skilled workers will
replace them. This argument hangs on the doctrine of "marginal produc-
tivity"-that workers' wages depends on the amount of human capital, or
skill, they bring to the table.
This argument is harder to refute on an empirical level- not so much
because the evidence supports it but rather because human capital is noto-
riously difficult to measure. A recent survey in The Journal of Economic
Perspectives found that, almost without exception, efforts to connect earn-
ings to conventional measures of human capital-years of schooling,
work experience, scores on standardized tests-nearly always leave the
vast majority of earnings differentials unaccounted for.
Al! this points to what perhaps should be obvious: Employers set wages
with a number of goals in mind. They want to create internal hierarchies,
elicit greater effort, discourage tumover, perhaps even conform to prevailing
notions of equity, all connected to their goal of making money. But the cen-
tral premise of most objections to living wage laws-that market wages are
simply reflections of a worker's skill-is incorrect.
SANTA MONICA, DESPERATE to sort through all this, turned to Pollin to analyze
the specifics of its living wage proposal. With his team at the Political Econo-
my Research Institute (of which this writer was a junior member) he turned
out a detailed series of examinations of the economic effects of the proposal.
Then, in a rare example of urban-policy peer review, the report and pro-
posal were submitted to two of the country's most prominent labor econo-
mists, Richard Freeman of Harvard and David Neumark of the University
of Michigan, with approval conditioned on their favorable assessment.
Throughout the 1990s, Neumark was one of the most implacable aca-
demic opponents of living wage laws. He produced a number of studies
arguing that the unemployment resulting from living wage and minimum
wage laws was substantial. Because Neumark was both a living wage skep-
tic and a respected labor economist, he was frequently asked to produce
reports on the impact of proposed living wage laws.
Freeman agreed with Pollin's conclusion that the only loss would be to
hotel owners' excess profits, while the low-wage workers would
clearly benefit. Neumark was skeptical of Poll in's claims about the effect on
businesses, and agnostic about the benefits to workers. Santa Monica went
ahead and adopted the proposal.
But now, Neumark has done his own study. In 2001, the Public Pol-
icy Institute of California invited Neumark to conduct the most com-
prehensive study to date on the impact of living wage laws, examining
changes in wages, employment and poverty in the wake of every existing
living wage law.
Given Neumark's history, the results came as something of a shock.
According to his study, while there had been some job loss as a result of
living wage laws, it was minimal; living wage laws, he found, have "sizable
positive effects" on low-wage workers and "moderately reduce urban
poverty." In conclusion, Neumark wrote that a cautious reading of the
evidence should "dispel fears that living wage laws have the unintended
effect of increasing urban poverty."
EPr is right about one thing, though. In lectures and op-eds and on their
web site, they warn that living wage campaigns have their own momentum,
and that, in the long run, the result may be "nothing less than a national
minimum wage. " On that one point, few proponents would disagree . •
j. W Mason studies economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
To place a classified ad in
City Limits, e-mail your ad to
email@example.com or fax
your ad to 212-479-3339. The
ad will run in the City Limits
Weekly and City Limits mag-
azine and on the City Limits
web site. Rates are $1.46 per
word, minimum 40 words.
Special event and professional
directory advertising rates are
also available. For more infor-
mation' check out the Jobs
section of www.citylimits.org
or call Associate Publisher
Anita Gutierrez at
Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family
Services seeks a small not-for-profit to share
its SoHo Office Space. One or two offices are
available for immediate occupancy. Rent
$800-1,300 depending on space required. Fax
and copier available for use. Call Margo Hirsch
212-966-6477 ext. 307.
The NEW Festival (New York Gay and Lesbian
FilmNideo Festival) is looking for office space
below 14th street in Manhattan. Our Great
Jones offices have closed due to structural
problems in the building. We are looking for
800 to 1000 square feet of office space. We
need to be able to have 5 or more phone lines,
cable modem service, and enough electricity to
power six work stations, a pretty big copy
machine, and some video equipment. We are
willing to share space with other non profit
organizations that have similar needs to our
own. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
OFFICE SUBLET available in open, sunny non-
profit space near Penn Station. Fully wired
workspaces for up to 3 people. Includes share
of conference room, lounge, kitchen, copy
machine and computer network. Friendly, cre-
ative atmosphere. $1,200 per month includes
all. Contact us by fax at 212-202-5371 or e-
mail at email@example.com
South Bronx social justice organization seeks
DI RECTOR, to work collaboratively with Board
and staff to oversee all aspects of organiza-
tion. Requirements: proven commitment to
grassroots organizing, significant fund raising
experience, supervisory skills. Salary $38-
46,000. To apply: send resume, cover letter re:
your experience in grassroots organizations
and writing sample to: MOM Director Search,
c/o Institute for Education and Social Policy,
726 Broadway, 5th Floor, NY NY 10003. Email:
Innovative hard reduction program working
with homeless and street-involved youth seeks
DIRECTOR for new shelter in Manhattan.
Responsible for supervision of staff, opera-
tions, contract compliance and program devel-
opment. Experience in similar work required;
Masters preferred. Salary $40,000-$45,000.
Please sent resume to A. Amel , 545 8th Ave,
22nd Floor, NYC 10018 orfax to 212-695-2317.
CONSTRUCTION SUPERVISOR. Habitat for
Humanity NYC, one of the fastest growing
urban affiliates of Habitat for Humanity Inter-
national, is seeking qualified applicants to fill
the position of Construction Supervisor. The CS
will manage 4 site supervisors and oversee all
Habitat's field operations, including both gen-
eral and subcontractor work as well as work by
volunteers on up to 20-30 units per year in four
boroughs. Applicants should have a thorough
knowledge of residential construction in NYC
and at least five years experience as a project
manager or contractor. Prior experience in
apprenticeship education and training and a
willingness to teach unskilled volunteers is
also a must. The Construction Supervisor
works 40 hours per week from Tuesday to Sat-
urday. Salary commensurate with experience.
Please send resume and cover letter to: Gina
Buffone, Construction Manager, HFH-NYC 334
Furman St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 Fax: 718-246-
2787 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Coro New York Leadership Center and Prep
for Prep seek two full -time Summer YOUTH
TRAINERS who will work with the Director of
Youth and Community Programs to conduct the
Leadership Development Summer Institute
(LDSI). LDSI is a collaboration between Coro
and Prep for Prep, a nonprofit organization that
identifies gifted minority students and pre-
pares them for private secondary education.
The ten-week program involves 24 high school
juniors in two groups of 12 students each who
meet every day from 9 am to 5 pm. LDSI
includes an initial weekend retreat, examina-
tion of different sectors in public affairs, a
community logic study, an issue study, a week-
long trip to Washington D.C. and weekly semi-
nars. LDSI emphasizes the responsibilities cit-
izens have to their government and govern-
ment's responsi bility to its citizens with an
examination of how these relationships are
evolving. Each Summer Youth Trainer will be
responsible for 12 students. The Director of
Youth and Community Programs will oversee
the activities of the Trainers. All LDSI team
members report to the Executive Director of
Coro. Specific responsibilities include: Design-
ing/conducting weekly training seminars and
ongoing interview preparation/debriefing ses-
sions. Observing, evaluating, responding to
group dynamics; creating exercises to meet
desired program outcomes Establishing crite-
ria for successful performance of participants
and program components Managing related
administrative responsibilities (e.g. program
documentation, maintaining appropriate files,
providing evaluations of students, etc.) Quali-
fications: Experience working with high school
students; training/managing group dynamics;
working as part of a team; flexibility and cre-
ativity. B.A. from a competitive college;
advanced degree preferred. Start date is
Wednesday, June 12, 2002; Program runs Wed.
June 19 - Friday, August 23 Note that the pro-
gram is in operation Mondays-Fridays. Thurs-
day, July 4th and Friday, July 5th are holidays.
Salary: Low-mid $30s, pro-rated, depending
on experience. To apply: Mail, fax, e-mail cover
letter/resume: Director of Personnel , Prep for
Prep, 150 West 77th Street, NYC 10024 Fax:
(212) 579-9627; e-mail:
RESIDENT MANAGER. Live in Resident Manag-
er in Brooklyn to oversee operation of confi-
dential Crisis Safe Dwelling. Experience work-
ing with women and children necessary. Good
communication and interpersonal skills
required. H.S.D., some college preferred. Bilin-
gual helpful. Salary commensurate with expe-
rience, flexible hours, rent free, and compre-
hensive benefits package. EOE, send resume
and cover letter to E. Green, Sr. Social Work-
er/Sanctuary for Families! P.O. Box 1406 Wall
Street Station, New York, NY 10268-1406.
VOCATIONAL SERVICES SPECIALIST. CUCS'
Vocational Services and Job Training program
serving tenants of supportive housing is
recruiting for the following position. This posi-
tion will provide on-going assessment of
client's vocational needs, conduct situational
and behavioral assessments, vocational treat-
ment planning, facilitate on-going vocational
counseling, maintain regular contact with
case manager on client's progress, and pro-
vide recommendations for permanent job
placement. ReQs: BSW + 1 year relevant expe-
rience (excluding field work); BA + 2 years rel-
evant experience; HS Diploma (or GED) + 6
years relevant expo For applicants without col-
lege degrees, every 30 credits can be substi-
tuted for 1 year of experience. Experience pro-
viding vocational services and working with
people with mental illness preferred. Good
written and verbal communication skills
required; bilingual SpanishlEnglish preferred.
Salary: $30,773 + full benefits including
$65/mo in transit checks. Cover letter and
resume to Carlene Scheel, CUCSlThe Prince
George, 14 East 28th Street, New York, NY
10016. CUCS is committed to workforce diver-
Media Relations, The After-School Corporation.
EXPERIENCED MEDIA PROFESSIONAL for new
position at prestigious after school program in
New York City. Job includes creating and devel-
oping long and short term media strategy.
Good writing skills and media contacts, a
familiarity with New York politics a plus. Send
resume to: Jeanne Mullgrav, The After-School
Corporation, 1841 Broadway, Suite 600, New
York, NY 10023.
LIAISON in the Office of New York State Sena-
tor Tom Duane. The position involves main-
taining the Senator's schedule, managing the
district office, constituent services, and repre-
senting the Senator as a community liaison.
Politpl and constituent service experience,
strong writing and computer skills and knowl-
edge of other languages strong pluses. Fax
resume to (212)564-1003 or call Brad Usher
at (212)268-1049 for details.
PROGRAM ASSISTANT: The NEW YORK CITY-
WIDE SCHOOL TO WORK ALLIANCE
(www.stwalliance.org), a nonprofit organiza-
tion that promotes Quality practices and high
standards in education by connecting busi-
ness, schools and communities, seeks an
energetic, creative and self-motivated profes-
sional with strong communication, organiza-
tional and problem-solving skills to join their
team as a PROGRAM ASSISTANT. Responsibil-
ities will include office management, event
planning and program support as well as
assisting with the writing and editing of a
wide range of Alliance resource and informa-
tional materials. Excellent salary (up to $40K)
and benefits. Submit cover letter and resume
to: Program Assistant Search, c/o NY Citywide
School to Work Alliance, 32 Broadway - 10th
Floor, New York, NY 10004 or fax to 212-952-
1358 or email to: email@example.com.
TEMPORARY, FULL-TIME CLERICAL ASSISTANT
(Garment Industry Development Corporation).
Duties include receptionist, computer input
and maintain student records. Requirements
are bilingual (Cantonese preferred) and have
expertise with Access. Salary: $25,000 plus
excellent benefits. Fax resume to 212-857-
6239. Questions? Call 212-857-6230x201.
Award-winning East Harlem children's non-
profit seeks SOCIAL SERVICE COORDINATOR.
Work primarily with teenagers ages 13 to 19
and their families in providing a wide range of
supportive services including counseling, cri-
sis intervention, intake and referrals. Network
and create linkages with community service
providers, train, develop and maintain daily
contact with volunteer tutors, organize and
facilitate student/parent workshops and
groups; community outreach, and advocacy.
Need to possess excellent supervisory skills.
CSW, bilingual (Spanish) required. Salary low
40's, plus benefits. Fax cover letter/resume to
2121289-7967 or mail to: EHTP - Social Ser-
vices Position, 2050 2nd Ave. New York, NY
10029 (@105th St)
ECONOMIC RESEARCH ANALYST: The Fiscal
Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan
research and education organization, seeks
and Economic Research Analyst to work in
NYC office. Key responsibilities include: 1)
development and maintenance of economic
and demographic data sets; and 2) research
and preparation of briefing memos, reports,
and testimony on the New York City and State
economy, budgets and related public policy
issues. Qualifications include a Master's
degree in a relevant field (economics, public
administration, urban planning, political sci-
ence, or sociology), two or more years of rele-
vant work experience, and excellent Quantita-
tive, computer, and writing skills. Competitive
salary based on experience-includes excel-
lent health benefits and employer retirement
contribution. Send resume, cover letter and list
of three phone references to: Fiscal Policy
Institute, 275 Seventh Avenue, 6th Floor, New
York, NY 10001. Attn: James Parrott, Deputy
Director and Chief Economist. Or fax at 212-
414-9002. FPI is an equal opportunity employ-
er. Women and people of color are encouraged
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Women's City Club of
NY, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, volunteer civic
organization, seeks an executive director to
manage the organization and provide leader-
ship, vision and strategic direction to further
its mission. The individual will report to the
president and should have experience with
fundraising, management, advocacy, PR,
membership and board development. Salary
negotiable. Send letter of application, resume
and references to: EDSC, Women's City Club,
33 West 60th Street, 5th Floor, NY, NY 10023 or
firstname.lastname@example.org, subject "EDSC." Equal
Girls Incorporated of New York City (Girls Inc. of
NYC)is seeking a passionate, energetic
SENIOR PROFESSIONAL with strong leader-
ship and interpersonal skills to provide strate-
gic fund raising leadership for our organiza-
tion. This position requires a proven profes-
sional with high level of comfort and skill in
interacting with volunteers, donors, support-
ers, and various publics. Commitment to the
GINYC mission and philosophy is essential.
Follow-up and attention to developing rela-
tionships is critical. Candidate must have at
least 5 - 7 plus years of leadership experience
in nonprofit development. Bachelor's degree
required; advanced degree in business, mar-
keting, or communication preferable. Excellent
communication skills, including highly devel-
oped presentation and writing skills. Excellent
computer and research skills, including pro-
posal development. Experience with Raiser's
Edge and knowledge of basic accounting prin-
ciples is preferred. Fax resume to: 212-712-
The Newark Community Development Network
(NCDN) is seeking a full-time EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR to provide leadership, coordination
and administration to this coalition of non-
profit community development organizations
serving various neighborhoods of Newark. The
Executive Director is responsible for supervis-
ing programs for which NCDN has responsibil-
ity, such as it Housing Resources Center, the
States Urban Coordinating Council West Side
Park Neighborhood, and Greenway Project.
Knowledge of Budgeting, Fundraising and
ability to work with community development
organizations and city government is required.
Commitment to revitalizing urban neighbor-
hoods is essential. Please send resume to:
NCDN Search Committee c/o Episcopal Com-
munity Development, 31 Mulberry Street,
Newark, New Jersey, 07102. Fax: 973-622-
6511, phone: 973-430-9986.
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT For NFP housing
organization to provide admin & program sup-
port to Executive Director in a fast paced
office. Strong organizational and writing skills
a must. Able to work independently & multi
task. BA preferred'. $26-30K + benefits.
Resume to: E. Troupe, CHDC, 403 West 40th
Street, NYC 10018.
The Open Society Institute (OS I) is currently
accepting applications forthe NEW YORK CITY
COMMUNITY FELLOWSHIPS PROGRAM. OSI
established the program to support communi-
ty activists interested in establishing social
justice projects in New York City. The program
supports projects that use advocacy, direct
service, or organizing to stimulate positive
social change. OSI will provide an 18-month
fellowship stipend and other resources
to support the development of each selected
project. Applications are due Friday,
April 19, 2002, by 5PM. If you would like an
application, please call 212.548.0152.
GIFT PLANNING ASSOCIATE Provide assis-
tance to a staff of four in the promotion, man-
agement, and administration of the ACLUF's
gift planning program. Related job experience
in administration, information management,
and public outreach, preferably in a develop-
ment/nonprofit setting; knowledge or desire to
learn about the gift planning field; commit-
ment to the mission of the ACLU. ACLUF Devel-
opment-Dept. PG, 125 Broad Street-18th Floor,
NY, NY 10004.
EVENTS PLANNER. Organize, implement and
manage all logistical arrangements for
National ACLU conferences and regional train-
ings including: plenaries, workshops and
social events. Three to four years of related
experience in conference/meeting/events
planning, preferably in a nonprofit setting.
Email: email@example.com, fax: 212-549-
2656, mail: ACLU, Dept. EP, 125 Broad Street-
18th Floor, NY, NY 10004.
HOMEOWNERSHIP COUNSELOR(S) The Hous-
ing Department of the Cypress Hills Local
Development Corporation has available, two
positions for HOMEOWNERSHIP COUNSELORS.
We seek college graduates with human ser-
vices or related degrees to counsel homeown-
ers facing foreclosure. The Homeownership
Counselor advocates with banks on behalf of
clients and assists owners with securing
mortgages, budgeting, refinancing, first-time
home buying, etc. Required fluency in Engli sh
and Spanish, good communication skills(writ-
ing and oral) and relevant experience. Salary:
$26,000-$31,000 depending on education
and experience + benefits. To apply: fax
resume to ReneArlain at 718-647-2104; email
to CHLDC@aol.com; or send to Mr. Rene
Arlain, Cypress Hills Local Development Corpo-
ration, 3214 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY
MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE PREVENTION PRO-
GRAM COUNSELOR. The Cypress Hills Local
Development Corporation has an opening for a
Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program
Counselor. We are looking for college graduates
with a degree in Business, Urban Planning,
Social Work or related field to act as a liaison
and advocate between homeowners in crisis
and their lenders, planning and carrying out
educational seminars related to different
homeownership topics, outreaching to home-
owners in crisis about our services, maintain-
ing relationships with local banks, etc., on
issues related to the program. Position also
requires excellent communication skills, Bilin-
gual (English/Spanish), computer literate,
ability to learn quickly and work independently
(as well as being a team member) and rele-
vant work or equivalent education + work
experience. Salary, $23,000-$27,000 depend-
ing on education and experience + health,
dental and life insurance. To apply: fax resume
to Michelle D. Neugebauer, Executive Director,
at 718-647-2800; e-mail toCHLDC@aol.com;
or mail to Michelle D. Neugebauer, Executive
Director, Cypress Hills Local Development Cor-
poration, 625 Jamaica Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
COMPTROLLER. Growing Bronx based non-
profit seeks hands on individual to join us as
Comptroller. The successful candidate will
have a Bachelors Degree in
Accounting/Finance with 5+ years related
experience. Must have the ability to manage,
organize and prioritize multiple tasks while
leading and directing a professional account-
ing staff. As an integral member of the Execu-
tive team, the Comptroller must have extensive
experience with non-profit finances and have a
successful track record in developing and
growing an agency as well as exceeding finan-
cial objectives. Salary range: $65k to $75k. To
apply, send cover letter, resume and salary his-
tory to: HR Director, Pathways for Youth 625
Castle Hill Ave, Bronx NY 10473 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls
please. Pathways For Youth, Inc. is an Equal
Not-for-Profit housing developer seeks SENIOR
PROJECT MANAGER to plan and implement
development projects. Responsibilities include
program design, searching for suitable sites;
and securing predevelopment and develop-
ment financing. Candidates must have BA and
experience in NYC real estate, preferably in
affordable housing development; and familiar-
ity working with budgets and spreadsheets.
Cover letter w/salary requirements and resume
to Director, Housing Development, CGC, 14 E.
28th Street, NY, NY 10016. Fax 212-471-0878.
POLITICAL ORGANIZER(S). Community organi-
zation seeks staff to recruit membership at
worksites and public agencies in 5 boroughs.
Responsibilities include signing up members,
leadership development, campaign strategy,
one-to-one meetings for exciting new political
campaign on public job creation. Eves. &
weekends req. Please send resume to: ED CVH
170 E. 116th Street, Suite IE, New York, NY
Clover Hall is seeking to fill two positions: SUB-
STANCE ABUSE COUNSELOR (Current CASAC
and college degree a must). Will do assess-
ments, run groups, carry case management
case load, monitor referrals, etc. some week-
ends and evenings required. ACTIVITIES
COORDINATOR (Experience with
Homeless/Chemically dependent population a
must, college degree preferred) plan and over-
see daily recreational program; prepare recre-
ation reports; conduct client assessments;
order and inventory board games, books,
videos; plan trips; obtain discount or free tick-
ets to events; located and hire yoga, relaxation
and dance therapists for sessions. This is a 30
hour per week position: Saturdays and Sun-
days and 3 week days (3-9 pm) Please fax
resume and cover letter stating position and
salary required to: Executive
Director: 718-602-9107 or Email to:
FAMILY SUPPORT SPECIALIST. The Center for
Urban Community Services (CUCS), a national
leader in the development of effective housing
and service initiatives for needed populations,
seeks a Family Support Specialist for a pio-
neering new supportive housing initiative at
the Dorothy Day Apartments in West Harlem.
Needy families and individuals will receive on-
site services including day care, after school ,
and case management services. Resp: out-
reach, intake and assessment, family reunifi-
cation assistance, individual, group, and crisis
intervention services. Reqs: BA & 5 years relat-
ed experience with low income families, foster
care/family court system, or supportive hous-
ing. MSW preferred. Salary: $35-40K commen-
surate with credentials and experience + full
benefits including $65K1month transit checks.
Resume & cover letter to Michelle de la Uz,
CUCS/Rio, 10 Fort Washington Avenue, NY, NY
10032. CUCS is committed to workforce diver-
DIRECTOR OF MENTAL HEALTH. Oversees exist-
ing and future single adult shelters and SRO's
for MICA population. Responsibilities include:
multi-site management; develop and monitor
budgets; grantwriting; personnel supervision
and management; community relations. Reqs:
MSIMA degree, prior experience operating a
residential facility, MICA experience a plus.
Salary $60K + depending on experience. PRO-
GRAM DIRECTOR-IOO+ Bed men's MICA
shelter in Brooklyn. Responsibilities include:
direct management of modified TC, supervi-
sion of department heads; budget, personnel,
and building management; grantwriting; com-
munity and government relations. Reqs:
BAlBS, MAIMS preferred, experience in large
residential facility for MICA or homeless popu-
lation, staff supervision. Salary $50+ depend-
ing on experience. Fax resumes to: 212-337-
SECRETARY/RECEPTIONIST. West Harlem
Transitional Services provides case manage-
ment and transitional living services to home-
less, mentally ill people. Duties: Clerical
including billing, filing, data entry, typing,
money management, taking minutes at meet-
ings. Reqs: HS Diploma (or equivalent) , 1 year
office experience, type 45 WPM, knowledge of
MS Word and Excel, good writing skills, good
organizational and interpersonal skills. Span-
ish speaking preferred. Salary: $25K + full
benefits + $65/month in transit checks. Send
cover letter and resume to Linda Shimer, CUCS,
521 W. 126th Street, New York, NY 10027.
CUCS is committed to workforce diversity. EEO.
INTAKElENTITLEMENTS SPECIALIST This posi-
tion is responsible for coordinating and man-
aging all aspects of Intake from initial referral
to move in date for five supportive housing
sites in Upper Manhattan including communi-
cating with housing candidates and referral
sources, ensuring referral packets meet neces-
sary requirements, and completing reports.
Additionally, the individual will consult with
direct service staff on difficult entitlements
cases, maintain an overview of the patterns
that emerge regarding particular cases and
act as liaison to community benefits-related
resources. Reqs: BSW + I year relevant experi-
ence (excluding fieldwork); BA + 2 years exp;
HS Diploma (or GED) + 6 years relevant expe-
rience. Additionally, for applicants without col-
lege degrees, every 30 credits can be substi-
tuted for 1 year of experience. Bilingual Span-
ish/English preferred. Salary $30,773 + comp
benefits. Send cover letter and resume to
Michelle de la Uz, CUCSlThe Rio, 10 Fort Wash-
ington Avenue, New York, NY 10032. CUCS is
committed to workforce diversity.
DIRECTOR OF HEALTH SERVICES Growing
Social Service Agency seeks SENIOR MANAGER
to direct 4 interdisciplinary health teams serv-
ing homeless men, women and children at 25
shelters, soup kitchens and drop-in centers in
4 boroughs. Intra city travel required. Qualifi-
cations: MSWIMPH with minimum of 8 years'
experience serving homeless, mentally ill and
alcohol and other drug using populations.
Please send resume to: Care for the Homeless,
12 West 21st Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY
10010 attn: Paul Dinter. EOE Minorities
encouraged to apply.
Full lime ESL INSTRUCTOR needed for Bronx-
based "English on Wheels" program. BA
required. Minimum 1 year experience teaching
adults. Bilingual Spanish preferred. Salary 32K
plus benefits.Fax Resume' to (646)792-0442.
ATTN: EDGE Coordinator
SENIOR GIFT PLANNING OFFICER Responsible
for actively promoting gift planning among
ACLU members and donors, nationwide,
through an on-site, face-to-face cultivation
and solicitation program in cooperation with
50+ affiliates across the country. Four years
experience in fund raising; bachelors degree;
familiarity with gift planning vehicles. Send
resume to: ACLUF Development-Dept. SPGO,
125 Broad Street-18th Fl oor, NY, NY 10004.
EDUCATION DIRECTOR: Brooklyn not-for-profit
adult literacy program offering student-cen-
tered ESL, ABE, GED, computer classes to 400
students seeks education director. Responsi-
bilities: Develop agency policies and objec-
tives, supervise 6-8 part-time teachers, coor-
dinate program plans and strategies, organize
staff development, implement evaluation sys-
tems, prepare program reports. Requirements:
Masters degree and 3 yrs teaching exp with
adults. Admin and supervisory expo Broad-
based exp and perspectives on adult literacy.
Spanish or Arabic a +. CGNW is planning to
merge with the Fifth Avenue Committee,
enhancing its emphasis on workforce dev and
popular education. Resume and cover letter
(w/salary reqs) to: Christina Curran, Carroll
Gardens Nbhd Women, 294 Smith Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11231.
DIRECTOR OF PROPERTY MANAGEMENT.
Brooklyn CDC seeks motivated, exp'd individ-
ual to lead growing property mgt unit. Respon-
sibilities: Comprehensive property & asset mgt
of FAC's portfolio (30 bldgs, 300+ residential &
comm'l units, comm'y facilities). Insure high
quality mgt and long-term viability. Lead team
of 4 mgt & 12 maintenance staff. Develop poli-
cies & procedures. Coordinate w/other units.
Requirements: Property mgt & supervisory
experience. Well-organized; systems-oriented.
Knowledge of bldg systems. Commitment to
affordable housing. Computer & communic
skills. Spanish a +. Salary: Mid-50s; good ben-
efits. AAlEOE. Resume and cover letter to: Dir
of Prop Mgt, FAC, 141 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn,
NY 11217 or fax to (718) 857-4322.
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION,
Habitat for Humanity - NYC, the New York City
affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International ,
the worldwide builder of affordable housing
seeks a hands-on Director of Finance and
Administration to manage its overall financial
operations. Responsibilities include: preparing
the annual budget, developing financial
reports, tracking income and expenses for the
general operation of the agency and for all
construction projects, tracking receivables,
including mortgage payments from Habitat
homeowners, preparation of financial reports
for annual audit, interacting with auditors,
legal advisors and outside governmental and
private grantors, providing financial manage-
ment support for other Habitat departments,
manage and supervise bookkeeper/office
manager, ensure compliance with various
funding agency fiscal guidelines. Qualifica-
tions: Graduate degree in related financial
field preferred with at least 5 years profession-
al experience in all areas. Please fax: 718-246-
New Settlement Apartments' Bronx Helpers
program is looking for an ENVIRONMENTAL
ACTION GROUP (EAG) COORDINATOR to work
directly with teens around environmental
issues that concern them and their communi-
ty. The Bronx Helpers is a group of youth ages
12-18 from the Southwest Bronx who perform
community service and youth organizing pro-
jects, which address their community's needs.
Job description for EAG Coordinator: Responsi-
ble for organizing and facilitating engaging
and age-appropriate activities for teens. Part
time during after school hours and some week-
ends (20 hours per week). Possible opportunity
for full-time hours during the summer. $10-
12/hour depending on experience. Qualifica-
tions: Experience working with youth, knowl-
edge of the environment and/or environmental
justice issues, undergraduate or graduate stu-
dent preferred. To apply: Send or fax cover let-
ter or resume to: Jocelyn de Guia, Bronx Helpers
Program Director, New Settlement Apartments,
1512 Townsend Avenue, Bronx, NY 10452. Tel :
718-716-8000 ext. 118. Fax: 718-294-4085.
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Applications 501 (c) (3) Federal Tax Exemptions All forms
of government-assisted housing, including LISC/Enterprise,
Section 202, State Turnkey and NYC Partnership Homes
KOURAKOS & KOURAKOS
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451 WEST 48th STREET, SUITE 2E
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10036-1298
Committed to the development of affordable housing
GEORGE C. DELLAPA, ATTORNEY AT LAW
15 Maiden lane, Suite 1800
New York, NY 10038
212-732-2700 FAX: 212-732-2773
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CONSULTANTITRAINER needed who specializes
in Domestic Violence and Women's Issues.
Willing to work on a per diem basis dealing
with inner-city organizations. MSW required.
Women of Color encouraged to apply. Please
submit resume by email to:
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER. Organizing NYAC's
constituents to partiCipate in advocacy and
policy development;Conduct advocacy training
for NYAC constituents; Organize education
days with federal , state and New York City pol-
icymakers including, but not limited to, elect-
ed officials and representatives from govern-
mental agencies;Attend and participate in
cornmunity meetings as necessary to assess
needs and share NYAC positions;Assisting
with research to strengthen NYAC's policy
papers; Contributing to NYAC's periodicals
including News from City Hall and News from
Albany; Coordinating membership services
including,but not limited to, maintenance of
NYAC's database and tracking dues; Follow-
ing-up with requests for information made by
NYAC members; and Helping to build NYAC's
database by collecting information from con-
stituents and then forwarding it to appropriate
NYAC staff. Skills Required:Bilingual in Span-
ish and English; Bachelor'S Degree Preferred;
Minimum of two years experience required;
Must possess a keen understanding of HIV and
AIDS issues; Must have superior organization-
al, interpersonal and oral skills to work in a
demanding environment; Candidates must
have excellent computer skills. Please email
resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org
ASSISTANT needed to assist Director of a small
non-profit making grants to Jewish communi-
ty and human rights groups in Russia and
Ukraine. Primary responsibilities: manage
paper and email files of proposals, reports,
proposals and reports to funders. Correspon-
dence with offices in Kiev and Moscow. Candi-
date must possess a knack and a liking for
managing paper and process. A reading
knowledge of Russian, an interest in the new
Jewish life, and a sense of humor are big plus-
es. Salary range: 28-33K,depending on rele-
vant experience. Contact: 45 W.36th St.,IOth
fl. , NY,NY 10018. E-mail: email@example.com
The SECRETARY/ASSISTANT, OFFICE OF THE
EXECUTIVE will report both to the Executive
Director and the Executive Assistant and work
closely with staff, national board, affiliates,
donors and the media. Two years administra-
tive/secretarial experience preferred; must be
proficient in MS Office and internet research.
send resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org; 212-549-
2656; ACLU, Dept. EXEC, 125 Broad Street-
18th Floor, NY, NY 10004.
Councilman G. Oliver Koppell (D-Bronx) is
seeking to hire a COMMUNITY LIAISON to han-
dle constituent cases, community outreach-
preferably with experience in the Hispanic
community. Responsibilities are as follows:
help process incoming constituent correspon-
dence and phone calls; represent the interests
of the Councilman through interaction with
community leaders and participation in com-
munity boards and other local groups; and
serve as the primary contact for the Council-
man' scheduling matters, handling incoming
correspondence and phone calls for the Coun-
cilman. Government! political experience is
preferred, but not required. Bilingual fluency in
Spanish is required. Looking for creativity,
excellent communication skills, and an ability
to work under pressure. Salary, $33,000 +
health, dental and life insurance. If interested,
please send cover letter and resume via
fax to 718-549-9945, or email to
The Arab-American Family Support Center is
the first non-sectarian, Arabic speaking social
services agency in New York City. We are seek-
ing a PROGRAM DIRECTOR to manage and
supervise our expanded community programs.
B.A. required. MAlMSW+. We also seek a Com-
munity Organizer to plan community events
and work within the refugee and immigrant
communities. For more information contact
Emira Habiby Browne, Executive Director,
AOVOCATEs/CASE MANAGERS. Cutting-edge
advocacy and direct service organization
assisting homeless New Yorkers has positions
available for advocates/case managers to help
clients break the cycle of homeless ness. Work-
ing with homeless families and their children,
older adults, or individuals affected by
HIV/AIDS, you will assist clients on issues
related to govt benefits, health care, housing,
and employment. As part of an interdiscipli-
nary team of legal and clinical staff, you will
advocate for and empower homeless New York-
ers to transition to long term permanency and
stability. BAIBS required with demonstrated
commitment to assisting underserved popula-
tions. We offer competitive salary and. excellent
benefits package. Send resume and cover let-
ter to: Human Resources Representative The
Partnership for the Homeless 305 Seventh
Avenue, 13th floor New York, N.Y. 10001
NURSE. Per diem-lPN OR RN Work part time
covering for staff nurses on a dynamic team
serving mentally ill on Manhattan's Upper
West Side. Resp incl: prepare & dispense
meds, pick up MD orders, order/stock medical
supplies. Current NYS lic. Req. Hourly rate
com. with experience. Letters, resume to Kevin
Baill, MD, Project Reachout!Goddard Riverside
Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue, NY
The Pratt Area Community Council (PACC) a
neighborhood-based organization improving
the Brooklyn communities of Ft.Greene, Clinton
Hill, and Bedford Stuyvesant, seeks a HOME-
OWNER COUNSELOR. Responsibilities include
loan, grant and default counseling, loan pack-
aging, facilitating workshops. Must have
excellent interpersonal, organizational and
computer skills; previous client counseling
experience preferred. Excellent benefits. Fax
cover letter, resume, and salary requirements
to: PACC, 718-222-3292 or email
ASSOCIATE Small real estate law firm repre-
senting tenants, cooperatives and condomini-
ums seeks associate. Minimum two years
housing litigation experience. Send resume,
cover letter and salary requirements to Hart-
man, Ule, Rose & Ratner, LLP, attn: Linda, 305
Broadway, Suite 1201, New York, NY 10007. No
SOCIAL WORK-MSW positions on
Medici nelSurgery available at Bellevue Hospi-
tal Center. World famous teaching hospital,
working as members of Interdisciplinary Team.
Must obtain CSW within 1 year. Salary
$42,000. Bilingual (Spanish, Mandarin, Can-
tonese, Bengali) preferred. Fax resume to 212-
Bronx-based "English on Wheels" Program
seeks full-time ESL INSTRUCTOR to teach
work-based curriculum on site in non-tradi-
tional settings. BA required, mi nimum 1 year
teaching experience. Bilingual (SpanishlEng-
lish) preferred. 32K plus full benefits package.
Fax resume and cover letter: Attn: EDGE Coor-
St. John's Bread and Life Program, Inc., one of
New York City's largest providers of food to the
hungry, is looking for a DEVELOPMENT CON-
SULTANT and GRANT WRITER CONSULTANT to
help maintain and expand our anti-hunger and
anti-poverty programs. Compensation is com-
mensurate with experience and proven track
record. Development Consultant: Assess our
overall fundraising strategy and activities
including foundation, governmental , individ-
ual- direct mail and special events, and iden-
tify areas for improvement. Analyze our donor
base to identify cultivation opportunities and
identify new potential major donors. Solicita-
tion of major gift prospects. Plan donor, and if
necessary implement, solicitation events Com-
puter literacy a must. Grant Writer: Draft and
finalize fundi ng requests and updates to fun-
ders; Identify new funding sources; Attend
meetings with potentiaVexisting donors; Com-
puter literacy a must. E-mail cover letter and
resume to Igile@breadandlife.org TEMP -
PROGRAM DIRECTOR / ACCOUNTI NG / HR: St.
John's Bread & Life Program, Inc., a Brooklyn-
based non-profit organization, is seeking a
temporary program director (3 months) to
assist with the financial , administrative and
human resources operations of its organiza-
tion. The candidate must have experience with
the FUND-EZ accounting system, and MS Word
and Excel. Responsibilities include managing
the accounting system (cash
geting, preparing reports, communicating with
staff regarding HR issues, maintaining pur-
chase requests and office supplies, and han-
dling administrative duties (answering phone,
memos, correspondence, etc). Seeking An
experienced professional with great communi-
cation skills and ability to multi-task. BAIBS in
accounting or related field preferred. Send
resume/cover letter to Ann Sukhan-Ramdhan,
SJBAL, 75 Lewis Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206 or
E-mail cover letter and resume to
TENANT ORGANIZERIPROGRAM DIRECTOR -
Multifaceted not- for-profit community devel-
opment organization seeks a tenant organiz-
er/program director to organize renters in pri-
vately owned distressed buildings to advocate
for better living conditions; file reports on
monthly and quarterly basis to NYC-DYCD;
advocate for renters in Housing Court; prepare
correspondence advocating for clients' rights;
hire, train, supervise and evaluate 2 part-time
housing counselors. BS in Urban Studies,
Social Work or related field; 5-8 yrs experience
in Social Service setting; knowledge of Housing
Code, benefits and related topics; bilingual lit-
erate; supervisory experience helpful. Salary
$30,000-$35,000 depending on experience
and education + health/dental insurance. Fax
resume to Rene Ariain, Housing Director,
Cypress Hills LOC at 718-647-2104 or E-mail
resume to CHLOC@aol.com
HOMEOWNERSHIP COUNSELOR - Multifaceted
not-for-profit community development organi-
zation seeks a homeownership counselor to
counsel first-time homebuyers on all aspects
of homeownership; package mortgage, home
repair and refinancing loans; fulfill agency's
commitment to NCRC and Citigroup; establish
and maintain relationships with lending insti-
tutions; maintain program files and records.
BS in Business, Urban Planning, Social Work or
related field; 1-3 yrs relevant work or equiva-
lent education and work experience; excellent
communication skills; quick learner and abili-
ty to work independently as well as part of a
team; computer literate; EnglishlSpanish a
definite plus. Salary $25,000-$30,000 depen-
dent upon experience and education +
health/dental insurance. Fax resume to Rene
Arlain, Housing Director, Cypress Hills LDC at
718-647-2104 or E-mail resume to
CLINICAL DIRECTDR, Midtown Community
Court. MSW, supervisory experience and initia-
tive required. Temporary position (June - Sep-
tember 2002) wi th possibility of continued
employment. Responsibilities include: over-
seeing social service delivery for misdemeanor
court, including psychosocial assessments
and treatment plans for defendants and case
management of Court's job training partici-
pants. See www.courtinnovation.org. Fax
resume to 212-586-1144. EDE.
COORDINATOR OF OPERATIONS, Midtown
Community Court. BA, supervisory and related
experience required. Start date June 1, 2002.
Responsibil ities include: overseeing day-to-
day operations of misdemeanor court, commu-
nity service and social service programs,
including fiscal, human resources, develop-
ment, research and new initiatives. See
www.courtinnovation.org. Fax resume to 212-
Brooklyn Service Agency has the following
openings: CASE MANAGER COUNSELOR: In our
Domestic Violence Shelter. Responsibilities
include individual counseling, support groups
and other duties. Hours: 4pm-Midnight. Bach-
elors Degree required. CHILDCARE WORKER: In
Domestic Violence Shelter. Work with children
four days a week from 5pm to 8pm. MENTAL
HEALTH SPECIALIST: For Brooklyn base Sup-
portive Housing Program for HIV-PWA's fami-
lies. MSW required. Fax resume for all positions
to: 718-624- 1989.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. National Organizers
Alliance (NOA) Social justice organization
seeks EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR w/experience in
community organizing, management/adminis-
tration, fund raising, program development.
Send cover letters/resume and professional
writing sample to: Search Committee, c/o NOA,
715 G Street, SE, Washi ngton DC 20003, fax:
202-543-2462, email@example.com. Cover
letter should state why NOA is an important
organization and what values/experiences you
would bring to the position. No calls. For more
information www.noacentral.org. Deadline May
National Hisp. non-profit seeks DIRECTOR OF
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1 know that's a diffICult situation,
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ooi:cv@ city limits
workforce development and adult ed. initia-
tives at Bronx-based center. Extensive (5-10
years) management exp., B.A., bilingual Eng-
lish/Spanish required. MSW or MPA preferred.
Proven job placement or relevant skills and
knowledge of government contracts important.
$55-$65K annually plus benefits. Letter and
resume to: Personnel , National Puerto Rican
Forum, 31 East 32nd Street, 4th Floor, NYC
SOCIAL SERVICE COORDINATOR. The Pratt
Area Community Council (PACC) is a dynamic
neighborhood-based organization. We com-
bine tenant and community organizing, tenant
and homeowner services, affordable housing
development and management, and econom-
ic development to improve the Brooklyn com-
munities of Fort Greene, Clinton Hilt, and Bed-
ford Stuyvesant. The Social Service Coordina-
tor will be responsible for implementing the
social service delivery plan for PACC's tenants.
The Coordinator will coordinate and monitor
the assessment, treatment, and follow-up for
each resident, as well as serve as an advocate
and secure entitlement for clients. RESPONSI-
BILITIES: Direct and provide all facets of social
services program for individuals and families
in; PACC buildings; Establish and maintain
relationships with neighborhood organizations
and public agencies-churches, schools, ser-
vice providers, businesses-in order to facili-
tate community linkages for the provision of
social services; Assess tenant needs and refer
to community resources; Identify and secure
entitlements on behalf of clients (551,
Medicare, Medicaid); Hold workshops for resi-
dents on issues such as healthcare and edu-
cation, as well as; recreational group activi-
ties; Facilitate and maintain communication
between social service staff and management
staff; Create and review project, incident, and
follow up reports making referrals when nec-
essary; Participate in Agency-wide training
programs; All other duties as assigned by
supervision. REQUIREMENTS: MSW with two
years relevant experience or BSW with 4 years
relevant experience; Self-starter with excellent
organizational and problem solving skills.
Knowledge of procedures and requirements of
income maintenance and entitlement sys-
tems; Ability to work with people from diverse
backgrounds. Bi -lingual a plus. Competitive
salary, commensurate with experience.
Excellent benefits. PACC is an equal
opportunity employer. Please send or fax cover
letter and resume to: Job Search Pratt Area
Community Council 201 Dekalb Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11205. Fax 718 522-2604
PROGRAM ASSISTANT supports Partnerships
for Parks' Volunteer Events and Technical
Assistance programs. Data entry; event/project
coordination; answering volunteer inquiries;
copying; creating/assembling mailings; sup-
plies. Organized, self-starting, analytical,
superior interpersonal skills. Word, Excel exper-
tise. 25-30 hourslweek, flexible daytime hours,
except seasonal/monthly events. Position open
for the semester, possibly extending through
the summer. Students and people of color
especially encouraged to apply. FAX
212.360.1350 For more info visit
CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER to run field operations
and phone bank for Rent 2002 Campaign. Full
time job, work with experienced staff organiz-
ers and enthusiastic volunteers. Spanish a
plus. Call Brian Honan at Tenants & Neighbors
(212) 608-4320, ext. 313. EOE.
HELP USA, a nationally recognized leader in the
provisions of transitional housing, residential
& social services, has the following positions
available: LIFE SKILLS/JOB READINESS
INSTRUCTOR The ideal candidate will have
strong platform skills, ability to conduct job
readiness classes for the homeless and create
curriculum develop for these programs. Previ-
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ous work experience with substance abuse
A+.Candidate will possess a Bachelors Degree
in a related field & good communication skills.
Bilingual in SpanishlEnglish A+. JOB DEVEL-
OPERIEMPLOYMENT SPECIALIST Experienced
job developer is needed for a vocational pro-
gram serving the homeless. Ideal candidate
will have ability to develop employer contacts
& a viable job bank & possess strong commu-
nication skills. Bachelors degree preferred.
Please mail or fax resumes to: HELP SEC, 1
Wards Island, New York, NY 10035. Fax: 212-
534-9826. Resumes for the LIFE SKILLS/JOB
READINESS INSTRUCTOR should be forwarded
to: R. Cappella-Velazquez, Email : rcappel-
email@example.com. EOE A drug free workplace.
CASE MANAGER (CASAC) Housing Works, Inc,
NY's largest AIDS service organization serving
the homeless, seeks qualified CASAC certified
Case Managers to assist clients with entitle-
ments and provide ongoing support and refer-
rals for assistance/services. One + years
related experience. BA degree and CASAC
strongly preferred. Salary commensurate
with experience, excellent environment,
benefits. Cover letter, resume to:
Housing Works, Inc., 320 W. 13th St., NY, NY
10014. Fax: 212-220-3799; Email:
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