NYC Human Services Official Welcome Reception – Great start for the people of New York

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

With a new Administration for the first time in twelve years, New York City’s human services sector is excited to form new partnerships, share new ideas, and tackle our most pressing issues. On March 5, 2014 Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Human Services Council of New York, UJA Federation of New York, United Neighborhood Houses, and United Way of New York City hosted a reception to welcome New York City Human Services Officials and hear from them how they will work with the sector and share ideas for a stronger collaboration. New York City’s human services sector still faces the effects of the Great Recession, and as the partner in the delivery of services to those in need, maintaining and building a strong network of providers and programs is crucial to healthy communities.

The event hosted over two hundred people, including seventeen officials from City government – Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor of Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations Mindy Tarlow, Commissioner of Human Resources Administration Steve Banks, Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of Youth and Community Development Bill Chong, Chair of New York City Housing Authority Shola Olatoye , Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of Homeless Services Gilbert Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of Coordination and Integration of Services Eric Brettschneider, Deputy Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Florence Hutner, and Assistant Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Tracy Weber-Thomas.

The new Administration will face many challenging issues, and there is a clear need for collaborating between the City and community nonprofits to sustain vital community programs throughout every borough. We were thrilled to hear tonight about the new Administration’s policy agenda, new ways we can collaborate, and a passion for bettering the lives of all New Yorkers.

The event kicked off with remarks from Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, who has extensive experience in both City government and served as the Commissioner for the Department of the Aging since 2008. Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli addressed how the nonprofit sector plays a critical role in the Administration’s agenda.

Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, who has been a partner with Human Services Council since coming to Children’s Aid Society and has dedicated his career to protecting children and eliminating poverty, spoke about the importance of continued collaboration with the sector.

Deputy Mayor of Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery

Mindy Tarlow, Director of Operations, has been executive director of the Center for Employment Opportunities for nearly twenty years before she was appointed by Mayor de Blasio. She introduced her new role and how she would integrate human services into other parts of government.

Mindy Tarlow, Director of Operations

Mindy Tarlow, Director of Operations








Commissioners Steve Banks, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Bill Chong, Shola Olatoye, Rose Pierre-Louis, Gilbert Taylor, and Deputy Commissioner Eric Brettschneider, all addressed some of the most urgent issues the City is facing today and expressed that now is the best time for sharing new ideas for the people of New York.

Thank you to all the attendees, City Officials, and our partners for an inspiring event. We are confident that good things will come from our joint efforts and we look forward to working together!

From left to right: Deputy Commissioner of Coordination and Integration of Services Eric Brettschneider, Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of Youth and Community Development Bill Chong, Chair of New York City Housing Authority Shola Olatoye

From left to right: Deputy Commissioner of Coordination and Integration of Services Eric Brettschneider, Commissioner of the Office to Combat Domestic Violence Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of Youth and Community Development Bill Chong, Chair of New York City Housing Authority Shola Olatoye

Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Executive Director of the Human Services Council Allison Sesso

Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Executive Director of the Human Services Council Allison Sesso

Contributed by Yuan Zhou of the Human Services Council of New York.

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To Tax or Not to Tax? How to Fund UPK in New York

Universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) and after-school programs are essential to a child’s future success in school and in life. Research shows that full-day UPK reduces income inequality and increases social mobility.[1] Free, universal, high-quality prekindergarten would greatly benefit children from low-income families, who encounter numerous barriers to learning, but expanding full-day UPK and afterschool programs in New York City would be costly and require a significant amount of funding. The overall expansion plan would cost $2.6 billion over five years, State Education Commissioner John King has said, and full-day UPK could cost $1.6 billion a year to implement.[2]

The Mayor and Governor agree on the importance of these programs, but differ in how to fund them. Mayor Bill de Blasio has released a proposal to increase the personal income tax rate on City incomes over $500,000, from the current 3.88 percent to 4.41 percent to provide stable funding for universal pre-K.[3] Governor Andrew Cuomo has his own plan to fund statewide universal pre-K classes through the State budget without raising taxes. The battle over the schooling of four-year-olds and afterschool programs for middle school students between the Mayor and the Governor lies in their different funding choices. It is not a winter’s talk, but it is definitely going to be a tale of two ideologies in this case.

Overall, taxing the rich may help fulfill his “a tale of two cities” campaign, but it is also a smart political strategy given the Mayor’s political constituency that leans progressive. The political climate in the State, however, is a little more conservative and it is an election year for Governor Cuomo. Additionally, to pass Mayor de Blasio’s tax plan, it requires State authorization. But, the nature of the problem should not be about politics; instead Pre-K funding is an issue of smart public policy.

Comparison between the two plans

Funding sources:        

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to increase the personal income tax on incomes over $500,000, from the current 3.88 percent to 4.41 percent would guarantee $500 million in revenue in Fiscal 2015.[4]
  • As part of Cuomo’s $138 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins April 1, Governor Cuomo calls for $1.5 billion in State spending over five years for UPK and middle school expansion from the State budget.[5]

 Per Child cost for UPK:

  • Under Mayor de Blasio’s plan, the per child cost for UPK would be approximately $10,239, and the current average cost per child is $7.207.[6]
  • Governor Cuomo’s plan does not specify.

New seats created under the full-day UPK:

  • New York City would require 73,250 seats to meet the plan, including 13,845 new seats and 27,241 half-day seats to be converted to full-day.[7]
  • Governor Cuomo’s plan does not specify.

Additional Funding for afterschool programs and classroom infrastructure:        

  • Mayor de Blasio’s tax plan would use $190 million a year for after school programs in the City.[8]
  • Governor Cuomo wants to separately fund the addition of pre-K classroom space through a $2 billion education technology bond act, and will propose another $720 million over five years in revenues generated by new casinos to fully fund after-school programs statewide.[9]

There is always a trade-off between efficiency and equality when it comes to policy making. The Mayor’s approach focuses on the idea of efficiency; he suggests that New York City children need pre-K more than upstate children. “By the way, the children we would reach are amongst the poorest in the United States of America, let’s be clear,” said de Blasio.[10]  By taxing approximately 48,000 wealthy residents in New York City, the plan creates a stable and consistent revenue source and funding mechanism without relying on the State budget. Governor Cuomo, however, argues that this plan would potentially divide the State and emphasizes State funding for a statewide pre-K program to ensure all communities in New York receive funding and equitable treatment.  

Polls conducted last week show that voters appear to favor Governor Cuomo’s plan, but questions remain to be answered: is Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 billion enough for implementing the program? What is the real effect of a tax hike on the New York City economy? When the Mayor and the Governor are still bickering over how to pay for UPK, it is important to remember that free, universal, high-quality prekindergarten will result in a stronger New York.  These two leaders in New York must come together to ensure the ultimate plan achieves its objective: that every child and working family in New York deserves a chance at success.

Contributed by Yuan Zhou of the Human Services Council of New York.

[1] Yoshikawa, Hirokazu, “Testimony to the New York City Council, joint hearing of the committees on education and women’s issues, on the city’s proposal for universal high-quality prekindergarten.” February 11, 2014, p2.

[3] The New York City Council, “Resolution supporting the City’s plan to establish high quality universal pre-kindergarten for all eligible four-year olds and a high-quality after school program for middle-school-aged youth.” February 11, 2014. p5.

[4] Id.

[6] The New York City Council, “Resolution supporting the City’s plan to establish high quality universal pre-kindergarten for all eligible four-year olds and a high-quality after school program for middle-school-aged youth.” February 11, 2014. p5.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

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HSC Releases Recommendations to Achieve a Healthier Nonprofit Human Services Sector

When I moved from Chicago to New York City, I remember one day realizing the immense economic disparity that exists here. I was shopping on Madison Avenue, wearing relatively expensive clothes, when I saw many homeless people living on the street, sometimes with their equally homeless dogs. There are also poor and even homeless people Chicago, but nowhere had I seen such a striking contrast between the luxury enjoyed by the rich and the awful conditions of the poor, illustrated on the very same street. I didn’t expect to see so many homeless people in the richest city in the richest country in the world. At this moment, I realized that most of humanity remains at the bottom of society. Even the most fortunate of us share the same world, both literally and morally, with the most downtrodden.

Given that the nonprofit sector is the lifeline to people in need, and is crucial in helping families move into and stay in the middle class and reducing social problems such as homelessness,  I wanted to work in the sector, which lead to my internship with HSC. HSC, as a coordinating body, mobilizes a diverse group of nonprofits and stakeholders to educate policy makers and the community on how budget and policy decisions affect New York’s social service providers and the poor and vulnerable individuals and families who depend on them for services. I learned about the limitations of what government can do, and the possibility for human services organizations to bring about policy change. By advocating for issues important to different human services organizations, I am doing something tangible for New York City’s homeless population. I feel proud to join those addressing the “tale of the two cities” problem identified by Bill De Blasio in his successful campaign to become the City’s new Mayor.

HSC developed recommendations to strengthen the nonprofit human services sector’s ability to improve the lives of New Yorkers in need. On January 14, 2013, the Human Services Council of New York convened nearly 200 leaders of government, philanthropy, media, academia, and the nonprofit sector to have a frank conversation about the strategic significance and economic health of the sector, how to change the culture and practices that keep the sector from realizing its full potential, and what can be done to ensure that nonprofits are meeting community needs. The Summit, Doubling Down: How Recommitting to the Nonprofit Sector can Achieve Real Change in Communities, elicited many potential solutions that – if implemented – would build a stronger nonprofit sector that can more effectively and efficiently serve New Yorkers.

The document outlines fifteen recommendations for public policy reforms, which are broken down into four key areas: procurement, performance, pay, and new ideas. The goals of our recommendations are to achieve a healthier nonprofit human services sector in New York. They also offer significant relief to organizations that deliver a wide array of critical services to communities and will substantially improve its ability to provide quality services to the most vulnerable New Yorkers. They will move the sector forward on a path to sustainability, a step necessary to ultimately achieving greater, more audacious outcomes. See the attached detailed information regarding the recommendations’ four key areas.

Overall, the recommendations address the dire need to build and recommit to trusting and engaging partnerships between nonprofits and policy makers and to reform the flow of money and communication processes between the two.  Nonprofits are a strong economic force in New York’s economy, accounting for 33 percent of City contracts and over $5.5 billion in annual spending.[1] The sector also employs over a tenth of the City’s workforce [2] and spends an estimated $2.5 to $5 billion annually on goods and services.[3]   Ensuring the health of this significant sector is in the interest of government and the overall economy.

These recommendations are crucial to building a healthy nonprofit sector that can continue to serve people in New York, and work to alleviate the disparities I see every day walking in New York City.

Contributed by Yuan Zhou of the Human Services Council.

[1] Agency Procurement Indicators Fiscal Year 2013, City of New York Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, page 27

[3] Negotiated Acquisition Solicitation for Group Purchasing Organization for Goods and Services for Human Service Providers 2010


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HSC’s 2013 Leadership Awards Reception

December 11, 2013 marked the Human Services Council’s (HSC’s) 18th annual Leadership Awards Reception at the 320 Park Avenue space graciously provided by Mutual of America. Over 250 close friends of HSC attended and helped us raise over $110,000 to support HSC’s advocacy efforts to improve human services for New York City.

The evening began with Michael Stoller, our Executive Director, introducing Tyrone Golatt, Senior Field Vice President, and welcoming the attendees. Tyrone spoke about the value of HSC’s work and how Mutual of America is happy to partner with, and support us. We are grateful for the continued support of Mutual of America.

The first special honor of the night, presented by Michael Stoller, went to Elliot Pagliaccio, Deputy Comptroller of the New York State Comptroller’s Office, for his work in highlighting the important role of nonprofits in NY and strengthening the sector. Angela Dixon, also Deputy Comptroller at the Office of the New York State Comptroller, accepted the award on behalf of Elliot who was unable to attend due to severe illness.


L – to – R: Ellen Rautenberg, Michael Stoller, Angela Dixon, Allison Sesso, Richard Altman

Next, Joel Copperman, HSC’s Board Chair, presented the Leaders of Influence Award to Dr. Peter Campanelli, Reg Foster, Frank Mauro, Carolyn McLaughlin, and Wanda Wooten in recognition of the important contributions they have made to the human services sector. Their hard work and dedication have made the communities and people of New York stronger. Dr. Campanelli then, “passed the torch,” by presenting the Next Generation Leadership Award to Zachary Blodgett and Katherine Eckstein, who are emerging leaders in the sector that have already made exceptional contributions. We look forward to their future accomplishments.


L – to – R: Michael Stoller, Wanda Wooten, Carolyn McLaughlin, Reg Foster, Joel Copperman, Peter Campanelli, Frank Mauro


L – to – R: Michael Stoller, Zachary Blodgett, Katherine Eckstein, Peter Campanelli

Marla Simpson, HSC Board Member, presented our next special honor to Louisa Chafee, former Executive Director for Management Innovation in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and recent appointee of Governor Cuomo to the position of Deputy Secretary for Human Services and Information Technology. HSC has worked in partnership with Louisa to develop and implement HHS Accelerator, a new system designed to streamline the contracting process for nonprofits in NYC.  We are grateful to Louisa and the rest of the Accelerator team for their innovative work and partnership.


L – to – R: Ken Jockers, Jeremy Kohomban, Louisa Chafee, Marla Simpson, Michael Stoller

In honor of an organization that has always supported the human services sector and HSC, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, HSC Board Member, presented the Friend of the Human Services Community award to IBM, accepted by Stan Litow, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of IBM’s Foundation. For many years, IBM has provided grants to HSC for technology support and workshops for our members, greatly increasing the capacity of our sector to serve greater numbers of people more efficiently and effectively.


L – to – R: Michael Stoller, Stan Litow, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan

Our final special honor of the night was presented by Sister Paulette LoMonaco, HSC Board Member, to Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services. Her visionary leadership changed the face of human services nonprofits in NYC and created an extraordinarily collaborative partnership with our sector. We are thankful for her years of collaborative work with our sector and many years of public service.


L – to – R: Fred Shack, Sr. Paulette LoMonaco, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, Gordon Campbell, Michael Stoller

The last, but certainly not the least, of our honorees was Jennifer March, who received the HSC Advocacy Champion Award, presented by Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, and Jim Purcell, HSC Board Member. Jennifer’s tireless advocacy efforts have contributed so much to NYC – most recently, in the Campaign for Children, which helped restore funding to programs for more than 47,000 children. We are grateful to have Jennifer on our Board of Directors and know she will continue fighting to make NYC a better place for children.


L – to – R: Michael Stoller, Jennifer March, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, Jim Purcell

Special thanks to our platinum sponsor, IBM; our gold sponsors, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, The Children’s Aid Society, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, and UJA-Federation of New York; our patrons, Baruch College School of Public Affairs, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, Institute for Community Living, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Phipps Community Development Corporation, Project Renewal, Public Health Solutions, Urban Pathways, and YMCA of Greater New York; and our supporters, Jewish Child Care Association and Lighthouse International; as well as Mutual of America, who helped make the reception a success.

We would like to thank everyone for their continued support of HSC and the work we do. We look forward to the coming New Year with new beginnings!

Contributed by Jason Wu of the Human Services Council.

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NYC 2013 Election Results

On Tuesday, November 5, 2013 just over one million New York City voters turned out to elect a new Mayor and a variety of other officials to other citywide offices, borough president seats, and the City Council.  Voters made some bold statements with their votes and are expecting great changes come January.

Touted progressive and soon to be former Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio was elected by a landslide over his opponent, GOP candidate and former NYC Transit Authority Chief, Joe Lhota. Big Apple residents have spent the last twelve years under the rule of Michael Bloomberg and the results signaled a desire for change. De Blasio moved quickly to appoint co-chairs of his transition team, which includes Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies head, Jennifer Jones Austin and Carl Weisbrod.

De Blasio’s Tale of Two Cities message resonated with 73 percent of voters and is what ultimately thrust him into Gracie Mansion (or he may just be staying in Brooklyn if his son Dante has anything to say about it). This effective storyline is based on the growing income inequality in the City, which is among one the highest in the nation.

The Mayor-Elect has an uphill battle with a $2 billion budget deficit to address over his first days in office. He has promised to lobby Albany for a tax increase on high income earners to fund universal pre-kindergarten programming. This increase needs approval from the Governor and Legislature. The Governor is seeking a statewide tax cut in the ball park of $2-3 billion, but seems open to talking about other funding alternatives. There is also the issue of union contracts; Unionized City workers have been working without a contract for four years. Current Mayor Bloomberg refused to negotiate, leaving his successor to define a new contract and tackle the costly issue of retroactive pay raises. If these raises are granted they will cost the City an estimated $8 billion, eating up a huge portion of the budget and very likely at the expense of a variety of City-funded services.

All eyes are on Mayor-elect de Blasio in the run up to January and how he will address many deep lying problems plaguing the City for years, such as poverty and income inequality.

In other races, current Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was also elected in a landslide to be the City’s next Comptroller. His main opponent, Wall Street veteran, John Burnett, had a less than meager showing at the polls. Stringer is already out touring the City and touting his plans for day one as Comptroller.

Democrats continued their trouncing with Brooklyn Council Member Leticia James winning the Public Advocate seat. In this position Councilmember James will act as the mouth piece for the City’s woes.

Each of the five boroughs elected Presidents: Gale Brewer of Manhattan, Eric Adams of Brooklyn, Melinda Katz of Queens, James Oddo of Staten Island and incumbent Ruben Diaz of the Bronx.

There will be 21 new City Council members headed to 250 Broadway in January: Corey Johnson, Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine in Manhattan, Antonio Reynoso, Laurie Cumbo, Robert Cornegy, Rafael Espinal, Carlos Menchaca, Inez Barron, Alan Maisel, Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch in Brooklyn, Paul Vallone, Costa Constantinides, Rory Lancman and Daneek Miller in Queens, Andrew Cohen, Ritchie Torres and Vanessa Gibson in the Bronx and Steven Matteo on Staten Island.

Congratulations to all the winners. January is right around the corner and voters are anxious to see if promises made are promises delivered.

Contributed by Shana Mosher of the Human Services Council.

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Last week, the Human Services Council (HSC) hosted a conference for leaders from New York’s human services, public, and philanthropic sectors.

At the opening, the group took momentary satisfaction in the collective effort of the recovery thus far.  But a clear consensus quickly emerged around the understanding that many New Yorkers affected by the storm continue to struggle sorely — and that intensive recovery efforts will remain necessary for a considerable period ahead.

The event featured a keynote address by NYC Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs ( a summary of her speech can be found here), a presentation of findings of a survey conducted by HSC and the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, focusing on the experiences of nonprofits engaged in the recovery, and panel discussions about housing, case management services, immigrant issues, volunteerism and disaster preparedness.

Among the comments, concerns and insights rising to the surface during the course of the event were:


Sandy caused profound damage to housing.  In New York City alone, more than 24,000 households have registered for City government’s Build it Back program, which assists with repair, rebuilding and reimbursement.  It’s expected that in December, registrants will begin receiving assistance.  But, the federal funds behind the program will permit the City to support only a portion of registrants.  Further, we’re concerned that only a modest amount of these funds are dedicated to helping the many affected renters.  Also troubling is that undocumented immigrants are ineligible for the program.  So, we expect that the housing recovery will last several years and that large sums of additional funds will be necessary to assist all in need.


The State’s Disaster Case Management program is a primary source of support for those coping with the effects of Sandy.  Through the program, participants are helped to navigate public systems and gain access to a range of services.  To date, more than 6,000 households have participated in the program and more than 5,000 of their cases remain active.  And, new cases continue to be established at a steady pace.  Until housing matters are resolved, we expect that case management and related services – like mental health counseling, legal assistance, financial management, and support to vulnerable populations – will remain necessary.  And, we are concerned that that the State’s Disaster Case Management program is slated to expire in a year.


New York City is, of course, home to a vast population of immigrants, and many, including large numbers of undocumented immigrants, have been unsettled by Sandy.  The nonprofit and public sectors have gone to lengths to reach out to immigrant communities, but language barriers and the reluctance of some immigrants to be publicly identified have complicated these efforts.  Also, as indicated, the federal government’s policy that prevents the undocumented from participating in federally funded housing assistance programs is creating challenges.   Going forward, then, it is crucial that we pursue inventive strategies to ensure that the needs of our immigrant neighbors are met.


Volunteers from New York and well beyond have been instrumental in the recovery.  In the weeks following the storm, some 65,000 spontaneously came forward as part of the Occupy Sandy movement and thousands more have generously given time and shared skills, including in the rebuilding of housing.  But we have not always been organized enough to make the most of volunteers.    In the coming weeks and months, we should refine practices for recruiting, deploying and housing (out-of-town) volunteers wishing to support Sandy recovery and begin designing systems that will enable us to engage them optimally in future disasters.


While the response to Sandy has certainly been admirable, there is wide agreement that it could have been more effective if the human services sector, in partnership with government, had been better prepared.  Over recent months, government has been formulating plans to react to another disaster, in large part based on the experiences of Sandy.  But the nonprofit sector lacks the proper infrastructure for doing so.   It is imperative that we harness the energy and expertise that has accumulated over the last year and build a disaster preparedness function for the human services sector that interfaces efficiently with government, delineates roles and responsibilities, and ensures that all actors are trained and equipped.  Also important is that government and philanthropy establish funds to be made available to nonprofits in the event of another disaster – so organizations can respond rapidly with the knowledge that their finances will not be de-stabilized.

Over the next weeks, based on survey findings, discussions at the conference and continuing input from the field, HSC will develop recommendations to the incoming City Administration as well as State government leaders about how the continuing recovery can be best supported.

Contributed by Danny Rosenthal, consultant for the Human Services Council

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Sandy: One Year Later

On October 23, 2013, approaching the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the Human Services Council  and 130 leaders of the nonprofit, public, and philanthropic sectors met to discuss recent findings about the nonprofit human services sector’s response to Superstorm Sandy, continuing recovery efforts, and approaches to preparing for the next disaster. HSC presented the results from “Far From Home: Nonprofits Assess Sandy Recovery and Disaster Preparedness” a survey conducted in conjunction with School of Public Affairs Baruch College, CUNY Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management and Baruch College Survey Research.

A great crowd of over 130 people including representatives from the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and government.

A great crowd of over 130 people including representatives from the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and government.

Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs addresses the group.

Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs addresses the group.










The survey provides insights into the role of human services organizations in Sandy relief and recovery, the types of the services they have provided, the impact of the storm and recovery efforts on the sector, the extent of unmet community needs, the quality of relief coordination, and strategies to accelerate recovery.

Allison Sesso discusses the findings from the report Far From Home.

Allison Sesso discusses the findings from the report Far From Home.

Among the key survey findings:

  • 58% of organizations said that housing issues have impeded their ability to provide other services.
  • Fewer than 28% of the organizations feel that the needs of half the people in the communities they are serving have been met.
  • A lack of consensus about which government agencies were in charge – FEMA (39.4%) vs. the NYC Mayor’s Office (30.8%) – indicates a lack of clarity regarding leadership roles.
  • More than half of the nonprofits reported damage to their facilities or infrastructure, and 60% said they expect only partial or no reimbursement, severely impacting their ability to serve clients.
Robert G. Ottenhoff, President and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy offers the national perspective on disaster preparedness.

Robert G. Ottenhoff, President and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy offers the national perspective on disaster preparedness.

The day included a keynote address from Linda I. Gibbs, NYC Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, an address from Robert G. Ottenhoff, President and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), highlighting the national perspective of disaster preparedness, and sessions on  case management, housing, volunteerism, immigrant issues, and disaster preparedness. A schedule of the day can be found here.

A theme running throughout the day was the need for more disaster preparedness by individual organizations, the nonprofit sector as a cohesive unit, and in coordination with government partners. Additionally, while a session was held on housing specifically, all the panels discussed how the lack of affordable housing in New York City created barriers to helping people impacted by Sandy, and continues to be an issue to serve those still in need.

The panel on disaster preparedness discusses need for coordination between government and nonprofits.

The panel on disaster preparedness discusses need for coordination between government and nonprofits.

The day was filled with the insight of those on the ground during Sandy, and the lessons we can carry forward as we prepare for the next disaster. The clear message to take away was that planning and preparation for disaster is on ongoing process and our work is far from over.

Contributed by Michelle Jackson of the Human Services Council. 

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Obamacare: Open for Business!

As Congress continues to debate the shutdown of the Federal Government and the defunding or delay of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, implementation day for this controversial piece of legislation has arrived. Federal and State exchanges or marketplaces opened for business on October 1st and were flooded with hits. Now we will begin to see how this historical bill will roll out and there will be much scrutiny along the way.

Critics will be the first to say that it isn’t working, that it’s too expensive and will continue to call for its repeal. But, for the 2.7 million uninsured New Yorkers, ACA is a way to get insurance that wasn’t otherwise affordable. It is estimated that over 1 million New Yorkers will be able to get health insurance through NY State of Health, the official health plan marketplace, part of the New York State Department of Health. Not only will there be more insured New Yorkers, but it is estimated that the Marketplace will drive down costs by 50%, according to State insurance regulators.

Twenty-three states have pursued state based exchanges either through legislation or executive order and New York is one of them. NY State of Health is an organized marketplace designed to help people shop for and enroll in health insurance coverage.  Individuals, families and small businesses will be able to use the Marketplace to help them compare insurance options, calculate costs and select coverage online, in-person, over the phone or by mail.  Insurance coverage can be purchased through NY State of Health beginning October 1, 2013 and can be effective starting January 1, 2014.[1]

Think of this as a new way to compare and buy health insurance similar to the way people can compare and buy lots of products like televisions and airplane tickets on sites like Amazon or Kayak.

For individuals and families that had difficulty paying for health insurance in the past, tax credits will be available to those that qualify, to purchase private coverage through the Marketplace.  Individuals and families will be able to use the Marketplace to check if they are eligible for free or low cost health insurance coverage through current New York State programs (like Child Health Plus or Medicaid).  If they are eligible, they also will be able to enroll in these programs through the Marketplace.

Small businesses that have 50 or fewer employees will be able to use the Marketplace to offer health insurance coverage to their staff and may also be eligible for tax credits for coverage purchased through the Marketplace.

NY State of Health has designated organizations across the City and State as Navigators to help individuals, families and small businesses understand the enrollment process and how to enroll correctly. To find a Navigator in your community click here. If you prefer to enroll yourself there is an online tutorial that can help you navigate the application process.

Now that Obamacare is open for business, the United States is one step closer to having affordable health insurance for all. This will be felt most by the working poor who make too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but not enough to afford insurance on their own. Experts say that costs will dramatically decrease, truly making care affordable for all. Over 2 million New Yorkers have already entered the NY State of Health site, you should too if you have long been looking for affordable health insurance.

Contributed by Shana Mosher of the Human Services Council.

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New Yorkers Decide-Well Kind of: A September 10th Primary Election Round-Up

On Tuesday, September 10 New Yorkers took to the polls to decide who will be on the November 5 general election ballot. The results were mixed with some elections still undecided.

The popular race for Mayor hung in the balance for the Democrats as almost 80,000 ballots had yet to be counted the day after the primary. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio received the necessary 40 percent to avoid a runoff, but former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson was confident that the counting of those outstanding ballots would change the primary outcome. He was stalwart in his decision to stick it out, even though party supporters were urging him to concede. Almost a week later, Thompson bowed out and the General Election campaign is on.

Joe Lhota, winner of the Republican primary, had his own excitement on primary day. It started early when his lever voter machine, circa 1960, malfunctioned and he himself had to complete a paper ballot. But, he had more of a race on his hands with supermarket tycoon John Catsimatidis hot on his heels for the Republican spot. “Cats” came close, but not close enough.  “Cats” has vowed to stay in politics, so we will see what’s next for him.

Lhota and de Blasio will now enter a three-way race with Adolfo Carrion, running on the Independent line, to see who will be the next Mayor of New York City. New Yorkers haven’t elected a Democratic Mayor since David Dinkins, so the race will be closely watched.

Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, walked away with the City Comptroller nod, beating out former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Stringer will now face Republican John Burnett in the General Election – a City Hall outsider – not known in many political circles.

And if you thought we’d avoided a runoff – think again!  Not for Mayor like many anticipated, but for Public Advocate. State Senator Daniel Squadron came up in the polls to put the pressure on Council Member Letitia James, forcing the costly runoff. Turnout will most likely be down since neither Squadron nor James can pull voters from the Mayoral runoff. Both will work hard to get out the vote and we will see who the victor is on October 1.

The Borough President races were fairly quiet. State Senator Eric Adams ran unopposed in Brooklyn and cruised to a victory. Ruben Diaz, Jr. the incumbent in the Bronx captured over 80 percent of the vote. In Manhattan it was a four-way race with City Council Member Gale Brewer prevailing. Melinda Katz beat out Peter Vallone in Queens to clinch her spot on November 5. On Staten Island both the Democratic and Republican candidates, Louis Liedy and Jimmy Oddo respectively, ran unopposed and will meet other party candidates in the general election.

There were a few upsets in some of the City Council races citywide. Longtime Brooklyn democratic leader Vito Lopez lost to newcomer Antonio Reynoso and former Quinn staffer, Carlos Menchaca, beat out incumbent Sara Gonzalez for her long-held seat in Red Hook. Both ran exciting campaigns and it seems like the winds of Fall are bringing change to 250 Broadway.

Now it is onto November 5. There is still time to register if you haven’t already. Registration is open and ends on October 11. So register TODAY if you haven’t already and make sure your staff and clients are registered as well.

If the human services sector can impact the number of registered voters, we have the ability to ensure the interests of the nonprofit sector are a central part of the election debates. The nonprofit sector is directly affected by government decisions. When the government releases a proposed budget, it is essential that cuts aren’t made to critical human services.  Who we elect to represent our communities can make the difference!  It is our collective responsibility to remind government how important human services are to our communities.  Be engaged! Register today and don’t forget to vote on November 5, and October 1!

Contributed by Shana Mosher of the Human Services Council.

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Stop & Frisk: Nonprofits Address the Impact of NYPD Practices in Communities

Stop and Frisk, the NYPD practice that gives police the authority to “stop, question, and frisk” New Yorkers, has consistently sparked controversy since 2002 when its data collection began. According to a study by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the  number of  young black men that were stopped by police in 2011 is higher than the actual number of young black men living in New York City.1 New Yorkers were stopped a record-breaking 685,724 times that year: 88 percent were innocent, 53 percent were black, 34 percent were Latino, 9 percent were white, and 51 percent were 14-24 years old.2 140,000 teens were stopped, and one in five were between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. 86 percent of stopped teens were black or Latino, and the majority were boys.3 The vast majority of those stopped are completely innocent, but the effects of Stop and Frisk can be damaging to individuals and communities.

Victims of the practice are left with “psychological impact and collateral losses, such as loss of jobs, welfare benefits, and access to shelter or public housing.4” Many people who have been stopped said their experience made them feel “degraded and humiliated.4” Being stopped can “leave people feeling unsafe, fearful of police, afraid to leave their homes, or re-living the experience whenever they see police.”

Human services organizations are a great resource and safe haven for many young people who are targeted by Stop and Frisk, and these organizations have to deal with the effects Stop and Frisk has on their clients.  Safe Space NYC provides a variety of programming for youth ages 13-24, including after school, job readiness and life skills, education and peer outreach to prevent pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, and transitional-living programs for homeless youth..  Those who are served by Safe Space are predominately people of color (black, Latino, Caribbean) and some are LGBTQ. The organization also features programs for justice-involved youth, which are coordinated by people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Stop and Frisk occurs often in Safe Space’s neighborhoods; the Jamaica, Queens headquarters is located near Jamaica Avenue in a “high-impact area”—meaning that there are police, in pairs, on nearly every block. If clients are seen “behaving differently,” “looking a particular way,” or “talking a certain way” they can be deemed suspicious and are stopped. As a result, kids arrive late to school, jobs, or their respective Safe Space programs, as they are typically stopped on their way. When younger kids (around age 13) are seen playing/joking around, maybe they’ll raise their voices amongst each other, which can also get them stopped. The organization’s youth face Stop and Frisk at least once a week, and staff members have even had to pick up kids from local precincts.

Safe Space does not take a position that Stop and Frisk is right or wrong.  Rather, the organization works with targeted youth to ensure that if and when they are stopped, they can respond accordingly. Yvonne Varela, Director of Youth services, spoke about the impact Stop and Frisk has on Safe Space’s clients. She said that when stopped, the kids in their programs are usually very upset, and in a mindset of “here we go again” because it happens so often. If they have ever previously been stopped or have encountered issues with the law, they deal with a worrying string of thoughts. They wonder what this present stop will mean for them and how it will impact their family, school, and other activities. They are also “of two minds;” despite their dislike of personally feeling targeted when they are stopped, they also recognize  that the police are just doing their jobs. Yvonne and all Youth Services staff members have conversations regarding concepts of respect between police and citizens, and maintaining one’s composure when stopped. They work to alleviate at least some of the fear and anger their youth endure when they are targeted so they know their rights and have a plan in mind for how to tackle the situation.

Yvonne noted that Safe Space has a good working relationship with the 132nd precinct; officers come in for visits, co-host yearly picnics and cookouts, and law enforcement officials visit to build bridges for careers. The organization co-hosted a 100 Black Men in Law Enforcement workshop, and information has been provided to help youth clean up their records. Speakers from other organizations visit to distribute information and provide guidance to Safe Space participants. Literature is laid out on site, and a “Know Your Rights 101” takes place for the youth.  Organizations such as Safe Space realize that Stop and Frisk is a significant reality in their clients’ daily lives. Consequently, they have had to include programming to prepare kids to navigate these situations and help them respond to the program’s impact.

Stop and Frisk has the ability to put even innocent New Yorkers in a terrible downward spiral. Being stopped can lead to arrest for small amounts of marijuana, or just not having the proper identification on your person, which builds a criminal record that can trigger more arrests and convictions. Additionally, being stopped can leave people in a period of uncertainty while waiting to appear before a judge, and are moved from the precinct to the courthouse. This is especially concerning because although people are usually innocent, missing work for a few days because they were arrested (and as a result stuck waiting around in uncertainty) is only ever seen as how it sounds. Some are left fired and forced to search for a new job in today’s difficult economy. Moreover, any future convictions for Stop and Frisk targets can become a felony, and prevent them from finding a job. Those who are homeless and are arrested or convicted can lose their places in a shelter if they are gone (even unfairly) for an extended period of time.

Fortunately some steps have recently been taken that could lead to major reform. On August 8, 2013 the NYPD agreed to purge all Stop and Frisk data, which includes the names and addresses of those—innocent or not—who have been stopped over the years and on August 12, the practice was finally ruled unconstitutional. A recent court decision orders NYPD officers to wear cameras in one precinct per borough5, and requires a court monitor to review the practice and enact changes.6 Hopefully, these improvements will curb the negative impacts of Stop and Frisk and allow people of color in New York City—especially youth like those Safe Space is engaging—to feel safe and respected in their neighborhoods.

Contributed by Stephanie Parkinson of the Human Services Council.







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