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Social Determinants of Immigrants’ Health in New York City: A Study of Six Neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens

June 15, 2022

More than 3.1 million immigrants reside in New York City, comprising more than a third of the city's total population. The boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens are home to nearly 940,000 and more than 1 million immigrants, respectively. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's (DOHMH) Community Health Survey (CHS), foreign-born New Yorkers have poorer health and less access to healthcare than their US-born counterparts.For this study, the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) focused on six neighborhoods in these two boroughs whose immigrant residents were identified by a previous CMS study, Virgin and Warren (2021), as most at risk of poor health outcomes. The CMS research team conducted a survey of 492 immigrants across these six neighborhoods and convened one focus group to collect data on immigrants' health and well-being. CMS also surveyed 24 service providers including community health clinics, health-focused community-based organizations, and hospitals that work with immigrants in the studied neighborhoods. Analysis of these data, together with the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the DOHMH's CHS, provides insight into the factors that affect immigrants' health and wellbeing across these neighborhoods.

Creating Safe and Vibrant Communities for All New Yorkers

June 2, 2022

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) released its budget report, Creating Safe and Vibrant Communities for all New Yorkers, a community-driven rebuke of the mayor's proposed FY23 budget. Mayor Eric Adams' proposed budget has been heavily criticized and condemned by community members across the city for continuing regressive and failed policing patterns of the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations and further bloating the NYPD budget while crucial community services receive comparatively microscopic investments. According to CPR's budget report, the mayor is proposing the largest-ever NYPD budget -- $11.2 billion, with minuscule investments in community-led violence prevention and intervention solutions that actually work.

Banking for the Public Good: Public Bank NYC

May 26, 2022

This case study is part of Demos' new Economic Democracy project, which asks how poor and working-class people, especially in Black and brown communities, can exercise greater control over the economic institutions that shape their lives. This framework has 3 goals:Break up and regulate new corporate power, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook.Expand the meaning of public goods and ensure that services are equitably and publicly administered.Strengthen "co-governance" strategies so that people and public agencies can collectively make decisions about the economy.With the accelerating frequency of climate disasters, it is especially important to build the power of those most impacted by disasters— often Black, brown, and Indigenous communities—to ensure they have equitable access to the resources needed to recover and move forward.This case study spotlights how the New Economy Project (NEP) launched the Public Bank NYC (PBNYC) campaign to build a public bank in New York City that is specifically configured to serve Black and brown communities. By shifting the focus of finance from private profits to the public welfare, public banks can begin to repair harms caused by longstanding discriminatory practices that have extracted wealth from Black and brown people and neighborhoods, like predatory lending, overdraft fees, and redlining.

In Their Own Words: Learning from NYIFUP Clients about the Value of Representation

May 24, 2022

Immigrants are part of the fabric of New York--one in three children in the state has an immigrant parent, more than 280,000 immigrants own businesses, and immigrants make up more than one quarter of the state's civilian workforce. Universal representation programs like the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) are one crucial component of building an immigration system that promotes fairness and respect and welcomes our immigrant neighbors. This brief features firsthand accounts from NYIFUP clients who were detained and fought, or are continuing to fight, their cases in New York immigration courts. Vera interviewed nine clients to learn about their experiences working with their immigration defense teams as well as the challenges they faced.

Climbing the Ladder: Roadblocks Faced by Immigrants in the New York City Construction Industry

May 23, 2022

As of 2021, immigrants comprised a larger share of the construction workforce than of any other sector in New York City (Office of the New York State Comptroller 2021). Between 2015 and 2019, immigrants comprised just 37 percent of the total New York City population, but 44 percent of the city's labor force and 63 percent of all its construction workers (Ruggles et al. 2021). The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) estimates that in this time period, 41 percent of the immigrant construction workforce was undocumented.Economic exploitation and safety hazards are prevalent across the entire construction industry. However, despite the essential role immigrants play in the construction industry in New York City and the United States, immigrant construction workers are especially vulnerable to exploitation and dangerous conditions. Lack of employment authorization, social safety nets, English proficiency, credentials recognition, and training opportunities, as well as discrimination place immigrants at a stark disadvantage as they try to enter, negotiate, and advance in this industry. For this report, the CMS research team interviewed 16 immigrant construction workers from 10 countries and 10 other experts in this industry, including business representatives, union organizers, and representatives of community-based organizations (CBOs). Five of these representatives were immigrants and former construction workers. With research assistance from the New York-based consulting firm Locker Associates, Inc., CMS used these interviews, together with several other data sources, to examine how construction workers in New York City find employment, their work arrangements, and barriers and conditions that endanger their health, safety, and economic well-being.

The Economic Benefits of the Empire State Licensing Act: Immigrants in New York State’s Workforce

May 16, 2022

New research from the American Immigration Council highlights the crucial role of immigrants and refugees in New York's workforce, as well as the need to reduce barriers to professional and occupational licenses for all New York residents. New York law currently prohibits many immigrants from obtaining state occupational and professional licenses, certificates, and registrations solely due to their immigration status. The Empire State Licensing Act would remove such barriers, expanding economic opportunities to all residents and in the process, help meet the state's pressing workforce needs.

The Western New York Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: Rapid Discovery Assessment and Recommendations for the Future

April 1, 2022

In an effort to learn more about the current state of Western New York's entrepreneurial ecosystem and to inform future strategy, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation engaged Victor & Company, led by Victor W. Hwang, to conduct a three-month rapid discovery process.This report was written and published by Victor & Company, led by Victor W. Hwang, with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

Wellness and Recovery Fund Insights Report

March 23, 2022

Brooklyn Community Foundation established the Wellness and Recovery Fund from charitable assets that remained after the New York State Office of the Attorney General dissolved Canarsie A.W.A.R.E., Inc. for its participation in a scheme that exploited some of New York's most vulnerable residents and defrauded Medicaid. The Fund supports organizations working to ensure that those who navigate the difficult road of substance abuse and addiction do so with reliable support that honors their agency and dignity.In November 2021, Brooklyn Community Foundation conducted its Insights community engagement process to learn from and partner with community leaders and residents to design the Wellness and Recovery Fund's strategy. The process involved co-creating a space for radical listening—acknowledging that people are the experts of their own experience—and fostered an environment of curiosity, openness, and empathy. 

ORGANIZING IS DIFFERENT NOW

March 23, 2022

RTCNYC and TakeRoot Justice conducted a participatory action research project to investigate the impact of Right to Counsel on tenant organizing among low-income tenants. We conducted focus groups with tenants and with housing organizers. Utilizing a participatory action research model, tenants and organizers participated in the development of research instruments, were trained to administer the research, facilitated focus groups, and engaged in opportunities for skill-building and leadership development.Our research shows:* Right to Counsel strengthens organizing in a variety of ways. It serves as a know-your-rights tool, helps build a base of involved tenants, and opens the door to new organizing tactics and strategies.* Tenants feel less stress and fear knowing they have the right to legal representation in court, which helps them navigate housing court with confidence and success and prompts them to take action against their landlords.* Right to Counsel creates opportunities for tenants, organizers, and attorneys to navigate relationships, share knowledge and history and provide trainings, all in the service of building the tenants' rights movement.* The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is deliberate and successful in creating and sustaining a tenant-led infrastructure and movement-building spaces.These findings demonstrate the various ways in which the Right to Counsel meaningfully contributes to New York City's robust tenant movement. These findings also offer insight and inspiration for tenants and organizers fighting for the Right to Counsel in their cities.

"Finally, We're Being Recognized": Stories and Perspectives from Applicants to the Excluded Workers Fund

March 17, 2022

Although expanded unemployment insurance played a large role in decreasing the number of people living in poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions—most notably undocumented workers—were excluded from these benefits. The New York State Excluded Workers Fund (EWF) is the most notable example of legislation to address this gap. Passed in April 2021, the EWF approved 130,000 excluded workers to receive financial support that roughly equaled the average total amount unemployed workers eligible for unemployment compensation received, approximately $15,600 per person. To understand the experiences of workers who applied for EWF and of those that did not receive the fund, we conducted 15 interviews with workers in English, Spanish, Bangla, and Korean and 9 interviews with staff from community-based organizations serving various populations in New York and providing crucial application assistance.We found that those who received the fund were able to use it to make ends meet during a period of severe job loss bypaying back rent and other bills;repaying debt incurred during the pandemic;stabilizing or improving their housing conditions;paying for basic needs like food;investing in their children and education;taking care of their health and paying for medical expenses;stabilizing and expanding employment opportunities; andcreating local economic stimulus.We also found that the EWF had a significant impact on excluded worker recognition and their sense of power and dignity that comes from being treated as a valued member of society. We found that workers who applied but did not receive the fund because of difficulties providing the required documentation faced continuing stress around unstable income, debt burden, and other dire circumstances.Overall, New York State Department of Labor quickly and effectively adopted the EWF, but ultimately the fund ran out of money more quickly than anticipated. Although the fund was a high-impact intervention for those who benefitted, it has not provided solutions to the ongoing instability that accompanies a lack of lawful permanent status in the US.

Reclaiming Vacant Houses & Preventing Foreclosure: Lessons from LISC’s New York State Vacants Initiative

March 13, 2022

The housing instability caused by COVID has continued into 2022, even as foreclosure moratoria end at federal and state levels around the country. This report, Reclaiming Vacant Houses & Preventing Foreclosure: Lessons from LISC's New York State Vacants Initiative, a collaboration of LISC and the Urban Institute, provides lessons and evidence of outcomes of a path-breaking law and LISC initiative in reducing vacant houses and preventing foreclosures in jurisdictions across New York State.

NYC Hispanic/Latinx Health Action Agenda 2021-2025, Our Health-Our Future

March 9, 2022

The New York City Hispanic/Latinx Health Action Agenda is a result of a community driven health policy process that brought together over 60 Community-Based Organizations/Agencies and 72 community leaders, faith-based leaders, experienced clinical and non-clinical service providers. Facilitated by the Hispanic Health Network, Hispanic Federation, and the Latino Commission on AIDS, the process started in October 2020 with a series of consultations with key public health leaders, community providers, and members of health networks with expertise in the health field and Hispanic/Latinx communities. Soon after, steering and planning committees were developed to ensure a broader reach of Hispanic/Latinx community leaders and Hispanic/Latinx serving organizations throughout all NYC boroughs.In the Spring of 2021, the steering and planning groups engaged in facilitated conversations aimed to reach consensus on key subpopulations and health issues to focus on for this health policy agenda. Additionally, this newly formed network of organizations and leaders sought to fortify Hispanic/Latinx health leadership with a health policy-focused perspective to guide decision-makers and impact legislation, particularly at a moment in which NYC is preparing for a critical municipal election scheduled for November.The overarching goal of this NYC Hispanic/Latinx Health Action Agenda is to improve health outcomes among Hispanic/ Latinx New Yorkers living throughout all the boroughs while ensuring Hispanic/Latinx participation and inclusion and impacting health policy decision making in order to address health disparities and inequities in New York City. To do so, participants in this process established a conceptual framework to guide the assessment of the health needs of Hispanic/Latinx New Yorkers and develop a set of health policy recommendations.