On the morning of Friday, June 28, 2013, the Human Services Council co-hosted the 2013 Mayoral Forum, Revitalize, Rethink, and Rebuild Neighborhoods. With United Neighborhood Houses, NYU Wagner, and Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, we brought together eight of the 2013 mayoral candidates to discuss their stances on neighborhood and community issues in New York City. This is especially important now, as an unbelievable number of New Yorkers live in poverty and budget cuts continue to severely affect the human services sector. The Academy Theater, a perfect venue for the forum, was provided by Lighthouse International and we are grateful for their hospitality. Over 200 people attended as representatives of the nonprofit sector and New York City’s communities.
Sal Albanese, Adolfo Carrión, John Catsimatidis, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Erick Salgado, Bill Thompson, and Anthony Weiner convened to discuss topics such as poverty, income inequality, prioritizing nonprofit organizations, education, food stamps, disaster preparedness, and contract reform. Sherry Glied, Dean of NYU Wagner, moderated the forum and posed questions from New Yorkers in the audience and on Twitter.
From left to right: Sherry Glied of NYU Wagner, Sal Albanese, Adolfo Carrión, John Catismatidis, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Erick Salgado, Bill Thompson, and Anthony Weiner
The first question asked candidates how they would partner with community-based organizations. Candidates agreed that nonprofits play a vital role in NYC and can often be more helpful and effective than government. They discussed streamlining the contracting system, the importance of nonprofits to the City’s budget, reducing red tape to get contracts processed on time, and making sure that nonprofits do not get pushed out of communities.
The candidates also focused on poverty and income inequality, and expressed a need to baseline funding for nonprofits’ poverty-ending programs. Many expressed their disdain towards the unbelievably high percentage of New Yorkers living at-or-below the poverty level. They discussed how poverty negatively affects students, especially with a lack of funding for support services and the stigma attached to food stamps. The candidates agreed on the connection between education and poverty, and noted how important alleviating poverty is to a prosperous New York.
When Hurricane Sandy became the conversation topic, it was agreed that nonprofits played a crucial role in Sandy relief while many government agencies failed to rise to the occasion. This lead to further emphasis on the importance of nonprofits in keeping communities safe and healthy. This also started a dialogue about easing burdens on the sector –both financial and administrative – so that nonprofits can better respond to disasters. Each mayoral candidate made it clear that they hope to strengthen government/nonprofit relationships for the benefit of all New Yorkers. They agreed on the importance of nonprofits in helping those in need, gaining the trust and reliance of New Yorkers, and effectively continuing to uphold their missions in the face of budget cuts. Revitalize, Rethink, and Rebuild Neighborhoods was a huge success and we would like to thank everyone for their support. We look forward to seeing how the next Mayor works with nonprofits to strengthen our communities!
To find out more about what the candidates said, follow us on our Twitter: @HSC_NY
Contributed by Stephanie Parkinson of the Human Services Council.