HOUSING JUSTICE: PUBLIC HOUSING (NYCHA) & ANTI-DISPLACEMENT

"Public housing is more than just a place to live, public housing programs should provide opportunities to residents and their families." — Carolyn McCarthy, former U.S. representative

Campaign Goals

Ensure secure City and State funding for public housing, and secure deeper transparency of NYCHA operations and fiscal activities.

Galvanize and support residents of Wyckoff Gardens to develop and implement a proposal for the preservation and economic viability of their community.

Improving the living standards of public housing residents throughout NYC.

FIGHTING BUDGET CUTS TO PUBLIC HOUSING

Inner Cities:  “What Have You Got to Lose?”

HUD is a major casualty of the proposed FY 2018 Trump budget that slashes agency funding by 14 percent.  What does that mean for low-income New Yorkers?

Public Housing

Already inadequate capital subsidies for major infrastructure improvements will be radically cut by 60 percent. NYCHA’s $17 billion backlog in capital improvements will grow. Residents will experience worse deterioration—leaking roofs, failing elevators, crumbling facades, fragile plumbing, and toxic mold.

Operating subsidies will be further cut by 13 percent. Expect increased delays in routine repairs, reductions in NYCHA staff. Capital funds will be used to cover operating deficits, delaying major improvements.

Result:  Whatever progress has been made in the last 2-3 years will be lost.  NYCHA will be set back by a decade, again running operating deficits in the $100s of millions.

Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

Flat funding, in the face of rising rents in NYC and elsewhere, means that

200,000 (10%) of vouchers may be lost nationally.  In NYC, losses may be in the 10,000s, as turned-over vouchers are withdrawn from use. Payment standards may be lowered, causing major increases in the rent burdens carried by voucher holders.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)—Eliminated

HOME Investment Block Grant—Eliminated

CDBG is a major funder of HPD housing code enforcement efforts, which will now have to be cut back.  311 and HPD may not be able to be responsive to substandard conditions and tenant harassment.

HOME is a major funding source for HPD development of affordable housing. Productions levels will have to be reduced.

Housing for the Elderly—cut by 15 percent

Housing for the Disabled—cut by 2 percent

Critically needed development funds for the production of affordable housing for older and other-abled New Yorkers will be reduced.

The Results:

What Do We Have to Lose? Major losses in the ability of the city and its low-income New Yorkers to deal with the mounting rent affordability crisis.  Worsening deterioration of our public housing.

What Do We Have to Gain? Major increases in tenant displacement pressures, evictions, doubling-up, and homelessness. Rising numbers of homeless in the city shelter system.

What Do We Do? Show President Trump that New Yorkers won’t accept this attack on inner-city communities. Come and be counted in an April rally that raises our voice so that it is heard across America.

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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT & F.I.R.E.D UP LEADERSHIP ACADEMY

“One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people. Such a program constitutes cultural invasion, good intentions notwithstanding.” — ― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

(FUREE INSTITUTE OF RESISTANCE, EQUALITY AND DETERMINATION)

Our 2017 Academy workshop topics and dates are here, applications for participants are available online with this link

APPLY ONLINE HERE!

FUREE’s mission and core principles center on the development of leadership within the communities that are affected by systems of oppression.  FUREE provides extensive training and support to our members and the wider community so they have the tools necessary to lead successful campaigns, facilitate knowledge sharing within our communities and enact structural change for the liberation of all oppressed peoples.  The FUREE Leadership Academy is a series of skills-building workshops and trainings that teach participants to identify systems of oppression through political education,  facilitate the mobilization and power building of their communities, as well as organize to develop strong social justice campaigns.  Some of the skills we focus on strengthening include outreach techniques, media & messaging, public speaking and campaign development/implementation.

In 2016 FUREE’s F.I.R.E.D UP Academy added a second phase to its curriculum to provide additional training to graduates on workshop, training and meeting facilitation.  This phase focuses on the principles of popular education that promote knowledge sharing by and for the people, rather than accepting the exclusive traditions of academy where the recognition of authority and expertise is monopolized by a few.  FUREE grounds its curriculum for its academy in the values that promote equality of learning opportunities and the power that comes from educating communities.  We believe that everyone has the ability to learn, to teach, and to find expertise in their life experiences that can motivate and inspire others.

 

 

2017 WORKSHOP OFFERINGS

  

FUREEOUS YOUTH

"Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies." — Koffi Anan

Campaign Goals

Establish a body of young people who are actively engaged and taking on leadership roles in their communities.

Foster inter-generational collaboration in Brooklyn communities to elevate the voice of Brooklyn’s youth.

PROGRAM FOUNDATIONS:

1. Coalition Building
2. Leadership Development
3. Grassroots Organizing
4. Personal & Holistic Enrichment

Targeted to NYC youth ages 14-24)

Check out FUREE’s Event Page for Upcoming FUREEous Youth Events!

The FUREEous Youth Program and Movement provides a safe space for youth to build power through leadership development, coalition building and grassroots organizing.FUREEous Youth employs a culturally competent based approach to its engagement of youth members.  It is also a safe space to access training, development and facilitate growth and evolution outside of their comfort zones, and address internalized oppression through the reinforcement of positive self-identity and relationships as well as youth-led power building through organizing and development themes.

FUREE believes that empowering youth is essential to achieving greater opportunity and positive outcomes in low-income neighborhoods.  FUREE’s youth organizing initiative takes a three-pronged approach using grassroots organizing, coalition building and leadership development to build youth power. We also do intensive recruitment and leadership development with a core of 10 youth who will then work to identify a local campaign to actively engage 50 youth in 2016 and 100 in 2017. Youth are the voices and leaders of our program and have significant decision-making power in what issues, campaigns and projects we take on as well as planning strategies for achieving our goals. Our structure allows room for leadership and mentorship as youth grow throughout the program and help to train newer, younger members.

Our mission is to create a platform for the voices of youth to be incorporated into the policy making and legislative processes as it directly impacts them, cultivate new youth leadership, promote socio-political consciousness amongst their peers and create pathways to meaningful opportunities and resources.

At FUREE, we bring together people with common problems, to work together, grow together and come up with solutions for a better community. Our guiding principle is that everyone is an expert in their own experiences and everyone has the ability to share knowledge. Our core values are:

  • Amplifying Youth Voices & Building Youth Power
  • Equality for ALL & Collective Decision Making
  • Political education & Leadership Development

FUREEOUS YOUTH: THE ISSUES

PERMANENT EXCLUSION
While NYCHA plays an important role in providing affordable housing, the agency discriminates in problematic ways against justice-involved individuals and their families. Through their Permanent Exclusion policy, any residents who have ‘contact’ with the justice system can be evicted and permanently excluded from all NYCHA housing. This often threatens the eviction of the individual’s entire family. Youth under age 18 are most impacted by this policy as they often don’t have anywhere else to live.  This campaign fosters youth leadership by:

  • Facilitating collaboration between youth and established community leaders
  • Educating them about the Permanent Exclusion policy and their rights as public housing residents
  • Ensuring that young people have a leading voice in shaping how we advocated for new, more inclusive policies.

T.R.U.M.P
The FUREEous Youth T.R.U.M.P( Triggered Responses to Unify My People) Campaign, is a Youth-led social awareness campaign. The T.R.U.M.P Campaign is developed by youth, to raise awareness about issues that impact them most to their peers.
We use various mediums (art, sports, music, film etc.) as a platform to unify our community and amplify our voices, hoping to move our people towards the change we want to see.

FILMZ 4 JUSTICE
The FUREEous Youth Filmz 4 Justice Series is a monthly screening of culturally and socially relevant films and documentaries. We use film a s a way to keep youth connected to our plight , and spark conversation around social issues aimed towards creating actions to influence change.

8-MILLIS UP, 9-MILLIS DOWN
In Partnership with the CUNY School of Journalism, The FUREEous Youth 8millis Up-9millis down is a youth video making campaign aimed at stopping police brutality and gun and street violence in their communities.

ADDITIONAL YOUTH RESOURCES

Student Activism in School Resource Guide: http://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/student-activism-on-campus/

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE – TURNING THE TIDE (Red Hook & Gowanus, Brooklyn)

“Food justice is racial justice is worker justice, and it takes organizing to achieve it.” — Cesar Chavez

Campaign Goals

Ensure and increase access to low-cost, local and organic food.

Facilitate local efforts and initiatives for renewable energy, resilience and equity in the face of natural disasters.

Low income communities are burdened with the most devastating impacts of natural disasters and climate change. FUREE is committed to working with public housing residents and other community organizations to ensure resilience in the face of a changing climate. Additionally, food security is one of the most notable disparities between low income and affluent communities. FUREE works to ensure all communities have access to healthy, affordable food.

The Campaigns

Central Brooklyn Food Cooperative FUREE is collaborating with several Central Brooklyn officials, community members and fellow advocacy groups to open a community of color-led food cooperative that will provide healthy, local and organic food at price points lower than current neighborhood options.

Turning The Tide In collaboration with the Red Hook Initiative and the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, Turning the Tide is a campaign that works to amplify the voices of low-income South Brooklyn Public Housing residents in implementation and policy decisions about environmental cleanup and climate adaptation. We’re working to ensure that Public Housing residents in South Brooklyn can weather the next big storm. This campaign holds NYCHA accountable for making the necessary changes like fixing leaky roofs and moving mechanical equipment out of flood-prone basements.

  • Our Environmental Justice Workshop series finished with 22 graduates who attended at least 3 of 8 events on topics ranging from climate change to the basics of environmental justice to sustainability initiatives from NYCHA and the city.
  •  The Turning the Tide steering committee has been created to build consensus from graduates of the Environmental Justice Workshop series on campaigns that will promote sustainability and social cohesion within NYCHA and the wider communities of Red Hook and Gowanus. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at 621 Degraw Street at 6 pm

In order to get involved or for more details about the initiative, contact Karen Blondel at kblondel@fifthave.org or (718) 237 – 2017 x 171

GOWANUS NEIGHBORHOOD COALITION FOR JUSTICE

In 2016, the City of New York’s Department of City Planning (DCP) announced that Gowanus would be one of 15 neighborhoods to be rezoned by the De Blasio administration and launched a PLACES Neighborhood Planning Study. In anticipation of potentially dramatic changes to the neighborhood, Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) convened a coalition of local tenants, workers, businesses and community organizations called the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice (GNCJ).

The Coalition has organized around the principle that the local people and businesses most deeply impacted must be decision makers in any rezoning, not merely listened to. GNCJ is cognizant that a rezoning and the investments that it will bring could either help address long-standing challenges and problems in the neighborhood or significantly increase the displacement of long-term residents and businesses, and deepen existing inequality. The Coalition’ s Priorities Platform serves as their affirmative baseline, outlining the framework under which any rezoning, large land use action or public investment should occur.

The primary and intersecting areas of focus for the Coalition as reflected in the Platform are:

1. RACIAL and ECONOMIC JUSTICE

2. REAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING and PROTECTING TENANTS FROM DISPLACEMENT

3. ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

4. PRESERVATION of the CULTURE & COMMUNITY of LONGTIME RESIDENTS

5. INDUSTRIAL & SMALL BUSINESS PROTECTIONS

The Coalition and Platform seek to elevate the priorities of low- and moderate-income residents, industrial firms, neighborhood-based organizations, and small businesses that serve them in a crowded rezoning process where more privileged voices and real estate interests stand to hold disproportionate power.

On March 22, 2017, the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice hosted a press conference to announce the completion of a report highlighting the issue of displacement and need for additional affordable housing and tenant protections within the current rezoning process. You can read the report here.

 

Follow coverage of the rezoning at City Limits Magazine here.

 

To get involved, contact Sabine Aronowsky at saronowsky@fifthave.org or (718) 237 – 2017 x 117.

PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING (2013-2016)- CURRENTLY INACTIVE

Who better knows the needs of a community than the people who live there? Participatory budgeting is grassroots democracy at its best.

Campaign Goals

Re-open the Gowanus Community Center to provide crucial services like affordable child care, after school and adult learning programs, and a modern location for the community to convene.

Engage Gowanus Housing residents in the planning and development of the revived Gowanus Community Center

FUREE’s involvement with Participatory Budgeting wrapped up in 2016, we continue to support its initiatives and hope to resume our work in the near future!

Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It helps make budget decisions clear, accessible, and gives real power to people who have never before been involved in the political process.

In 2013-2014 FUREE led outreach efforts to get Brooklyn residents to vote in the Participatory Budgeting projects in Council Member Stephen Levin’s 33rd District with great success. The community won 1st and 2nd place, securing $725,000 for community projects that will improve quality of life for residents of NYCHA’s Gowanus, Warren St., and Wyckoff Gardens Houses. $325,000 of the funds have been allotted for the re-opening of the Gowanus Community Center, and the remaining $425, 000 will be used to repair and maintain Public Housing playgrounds in these neighborhoods.

The Gowanus Community Center has sat mostly vacant for years within a public housing development lacking services such as affordable day care, after school and adult learning programs. Once re-opened to Gowanus residents and the surrounding community, the Center could also serve other potential uses such as a cooling center for seniors or for disaster relief (as was the case for 10 days for residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy). FUREE is working with City agencies and community leaders to track and encourage progress of both projects.

POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT & VOTER ENGAGEMENT

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win….We have nothing to lose but our chains.” — Assata Shakur

Campaign Goals

Build political power for low income and working class voters by engaging in voter registration and turn-out, political education and issues identification.

Develop FUREE leaders to plan and lead canvassing efforts in targeted communities.

Increase youth involvement in advocating for issues identified in our political platform.

Hold candidates and elected officials accountable to the needs of low income and working families, including FUREE’s members.

2016 CAMPAIGN UPDATES:

1. Over 170 new registered voters from public housing through FUREE's campaign.
2. Over 50 new potential FUREE members at various phases of the membership process.
3. Over 5,000 overall new contacts made.
4. Two voter engagement/political education workshops hosted with over 20 participants.

POLITICS FOR THE PEOPLE: COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT THROUGH POLITICAL REVOLUTION

2017 campaign plans coming soon!

The 2016 election is like none we’ve seen before, with presidential candidates churning out oppressive hateful language, our schools and community services disappearing, and elected officials talking about our communities but not to us. The need to build political power for ourselves, our families and our communities is more crucial now than ever before.

Since 2004 FUREE has collaborated with groups like NY Vote, the Push Back Network, the Right to the City Civic Engagement Workgroup, and other community and faith based groups to engage low income and working class voters around key social justice platforms.  Our work has seen great successes – to date, we have contacted over 25,000 voters and turned out more than 10,000 unengaged, low income and working class voters to vote!

After a brief hiatus in 2012, we’ve revived the Voter Engagement campaign in 2016 and will leverage various platforms to engage a wide range of voters, including the youth and elderly. Led by seven FUREE members, the campaign will focus on public housing areas, where there is the least amount of voter activity. We truly believe in order to build power in these communities, residents have to believe that they have the power and strength to mobilize and hold their elected officials accountable.

To this end, our team of member-leaders and staff are working with community volunteers to canvas the below Brooklyn neighborhoods, educating residents about the democratic process, emphasizing the importance of their participation, and encouraging their commitment to both registering and participating in the election process!

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