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New Orleans and the Hollow Prize Problem: Structural Limits on Black Political Power

January 10, 2022

Mayors in the United States often have more influence on the day-to-day activities of residents within their unique jurisdictions thanany other elected office. While each U.S. president holds significant power as Commander-In-Chief, the primary direct interface mostcitizens have with the U.S. Government is either through its taxing function or by receiving some form of financial benefit such as SocialSecurity or Medicaid. Each governor has wide powers in determining state funding priorities for highways, healthcare, and education,but not all citizens rely on these services to the same degree. Mayors, however, have a say in the provision of the services that residents use every single day. This includes water, sewerage, electricity, sanitation, roads, and drainage, to name a few.1

The New Orleans Index at Ten: Measuring Greater New Orleans’ Progress toward Prosperity

October 11, 2015

The New Orleans Index at Ten | July 20156When Hurricane Katrina struck and the levees protecting metro New Orleans failed, the western world witnessed an unprecedented catastrophe. More than 1,000 people died, more than a million were displaced, and total damage to the region was estimated at $151 billion. But since August 2005, the world has experienced multiple large-scale disasters including the 2010 earthquakes that devastated Haiti, the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami that killed over 15,000 people, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which caused over 100 deaths and $67 billion in damage along the East Coast.Southeast Louisiana alone has experienced multiple shocks since 2005. Hurricane Katrina was followed quickly by Hurricane Rita. In subsequent years, Hurricanes Ike, Gustav, and Isaac all caused extensive flooding and wind damage across the region. And in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon explosion gushed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf, fouling miles of Louisiana's delicate coastal wetlands—New Orleans' first line of defense against storm surge.Given the multiple shocks this region has suffered since 2005, the tenth anniversary of Katrina is an appropriate time to assess how the region has recovered from Katrina, and whether the city and metro area are fortifying the capacities necessary to be resilient in the face of any shock. Indeed since 2005, the prevalence of large scale disasters worldwide has drawn the attention of decisionmakers at every level. The lessons learned from New Orleans' recovery experience can inform how the world not only responds to future disasters, but also how it builds the resiliency capacities needed to withstand any shock. Our indicators suggest that while the New Orleans economy is rebounding, and in some ways better than before, several social and environmental trends may test New Orleans' resilience capacity in the future.

HomeTruths: Domestic Workers in California

May 16, 2013

Domestic workers play a significant role in the California economy, yet these workers are vulnerable to substandard employment because their work is both invisible and largely excluded from employment protections. Nannies, caregivers, and housecleaners, hired directly by their employers, are not subject to a range of protections that apply to other workers. They are excluded from the federal right to organize and bargain collectively and health and safety law. Many are also excluded from workers' compensation, rights to overtime pay and meal and rest breaks, and anti-discrimination laws.The work of nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers is notoriously difficult to document because of the hidden nature of the work, and it is this isolation that renders domestic workers vulnerable to substandard working conditions. In part to address the lack of systematic data on domestic work and workers, the National Domestic Worker Survey was conducted in 14 cities. The sample analyzed in this report includes 631 domestic workers in four metropolitan areas in California: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

Families Unlocking Futures: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice

September 1, 2012

This report is written with the intention of making sure our and our children's stories are heard and to dissuade all those who would "save our children" from us. When young people become involved in the juvenile justice system, too often they are treated as if they don't come from a family or community, or as if their family and community are the problem. The approach of systems and system personnel has alternated between "treating children" and "punishing children," often with the intention of "saving children" from their families and communities. This is the wrong approach for several reasons.

Deepening Roots and Creating Space: Building a Better Future for New York's South Asians

March 6, 2012

South Asians are among New York City's fastest growing ethnic populations, experiencing a growth rate of more than 159 percent in the past two decades. Like many in New York City, the South Asian community was hard hit in the last decade by the economic downturn and collapse of the housing market. With the community's rapid growth during the most difficult economic period our country has faced in decades, South Asians are living in severely overcrowded housing conditions, are at high-risk of displacement, and face great barriers to achieving economic growth. This study aims to profile the South Asian community's housing and economic development needs. Using these insights as a window into the challenges faced by immigrant communities around the City, the ultimate goal is to explore specific public policy approaches to boost these groups that are core to ensuring the City's recovery to a thriving economy.

ReClaiming Koreatown: A prescription for the current and future needs of Koreatown residents

July 15, 2009

This report presents current and future needs of neighborhood residents and analyzes the challenges facing the multi-ethnic, low-income Koreatown community in Los Angeles. For the thousands of low-income residents of Los Angeles's Koreatown, the economic hardships brought on by the recent subprime mortgage housing and financial crises are not new. In the words of a Koreatown resident, "....the housing 'crisis' has been a crisis for us for a long time." Well before the current recession, Koreatown residents were complaining of increased housing costs due to the influx of upscale luxury housing units that replaced affordable housing units. The 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession caused yet another set of problems for Koreatown. The slowing of the real estate market caused a decline in home prices, but housing costs for most Koreatown residents remain exorbitant. In the meantime, the recession has caused a loss of construction and retail jobs and other employment opportunities, creating "a crisis upon crisis" for immigrant workers in the neighborhood. The report finds that 91% of residents believe Koreatown needs more affordable housing and the vast majority is concerned about rent increases, unaffordable developments and displacement from Koreatown. The report includes testimony and profiles of local residents and the results of a community-wide survey. The conclusion of the report calls for development that is accountable to the Koreatown resident community and puts forth a set of principles for improving housing affordability and economic well-being."This report presents a snapshot of community needs and perspectives on community development that is not well-represented in current policy discussions. This report should guide responsible developers and decision-makers, including our elected leaders, to consider the real needs of this community and to act with urgency," said Danny Park, KIWA Executive Director.

Behind the Test Scores: Teaching and Learning Under Arrest

October 1, 2007

The current West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) policies and practices that relate to testing and curriculum result in a narrow, unresponsive, and superficial education for thousands of low-income students of color. These policies react to a climate where federal and state laws create great pressure to focus on testing. In an effort to avoid federal punitive consequences based on standardized test results, the district has created a climate that emphasizes raising tests scores over high quality learning that prepares students for all aspects of their future.This report describes the teaching and learning crisis students are facing in schools throughout WCCUSD.

Appalachian Coalfield Delegation Position Paper on Sustainable Energy

April 11, 2007

Appalachian grassroots groups(with support provided by the DataCenter) release a scathing report on the impact of coal mining to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. The Delegation created an historic moment with its powerful stories and diverse outreach. Alliances were forged and the civil society discourse on energy, particularly what is sustainable energy and who gets to define it, has been challenged. Their answer---"it comes from the people!" As most government officials continue to ignore the atrocities of mountain top removal, coal sludge impoundments, and underground injections of sludge, it is up to the people of the Appalachian coal fields to let the world know the harsh realities of an economy built on seemingly cheap electricity.

Towards a Community Agenda: A Survey of Workers and Residents in Koreatown, Los Angeles

April 1, 2007

With this report, we wanted to take an in-depth look at Koreatown community conditions for residents and workers using new data from our community needs assessment survey, conducted from February to March 2007. We also wanted to get a sense from community members themselves of the issues and concerns that most affected them and that they most wanted tosee improved.Our findings are clear -- the priorities for the vast majority of the Koreatown community are good jobs, access to health care, and decent, affordable housing. Community members currently work long hours for extremely low wages, have little access to health care, and live in overcrowded,expensive apartments. Community members have voiced their unity around these three main issues. Hopefully, elected officials and business leaders can join together with workers and residents around a common agenda of prosperity for all for the benefit of Koreatown's future.

Behind Closed Doors: Working Conditions of California Household Workers

March 1, 2007

Household workers work in the private homes of their employers, performing tasks such as in-home child, patient, and elder care, housework, and cooking. Mujeres Unidas y Activas and the Day Labor Program Women's Collective of La Raza Centro Legal came together to analyze and to strategize to improve the household work industry. Because there is no accurate data available about the number of household workers or information about their work conditions in California, these Bay Area organizations of low-income immigrant Latina women, many of whom are household workers, joined with the DataCenter to create a participatory research project to assess the industry. The research shows that household workers are primarily female immigrants. While supporting their employers' homes and families, findings show household workers are working in substandard and often exploitative conditions, earning poverty wages too low to support their own families, and lacking access to basic health care.

Home Is Where the Work Is: Inside New York's Domestic Work Industry

July 13, 2006

New York City is a leading force in the global economy, but it couldn't be without the 200,000 domestic workers who sustain the city's families and homes. Domestic workers enable New Yorkers to work and have leisure time knowing that their children, elderly, and homes are taken care of. Domestic workers also enable their employers to meet the demanding hours required for the smooth functioning and productivity of the professional sectors. Domestic work forms the invisible backbone of New York City's economy.This groundbreaking report shines a spotlight on the hidden workforce of domestic workers who keep the city's economic engine running every day. It delivers legal, historical, anecdotal, and unprecedented survey-based information. The data are the result of the first ever industry-wide analysis of domestic workers by domestic workers, based on 547 worker surveys, 14 worker testimonies and interviews with 7 employers. An overview of exclusionary labor laws illustrates the explicit legislative discrimination against domestic workers, while an economic history of domestic work in the U.S. and analysis of present day global pressures that impact the industry illustrate structural dynamics that foster worker abuse.

Home Is Where the Work Is: Inside New York's Domestic Work Industry - Executive Summary

July 13, 2006

New York City is a leading force in the global economy, but it couldn't be without the 200,000 domestic workers who sustain the city's families and homes. Domestic workers enable New Yorkers to work and have leisure time knowing that their children, elderly, and homes are taken care of. Domestic workers also enable their employers to meet the demanding hours required for the smooth functioning and productivity of the professional sectors. Domestic work forms the invisible backbone of New York City's economy.This groundbreaking report shines a spotlight on the hidden workforce of domestic workers who keep the city's economic engine running every day. It delivers legal, historical, anecdotal, and unprecedented surveybased information. The data are the result of the first ever industry-wide analysis of domestic workers by domestic workers, based on 547 worker surveys, 14 worker testimonies and interviews with 7 employers. An overview of exclusionary labor laws illustrates the explicit legislative discrimination against domestic workers, while an economic history of domestic work in the U.S. and analysis of present day global pressures that impact the industry illustrate structural dynamics that fosterworker abuse.Survey results show that immigrant women of color make up nearly the entire domestic workforce. The wages domestic workers earn cannot cover New York's famed high cost of living. Domestic workers lack basic labor and health protections and often, face exploitive work conditions. Many endure verbal or physical abuse. Domestic work may be a labor of love, but it isn't one that loves its laborers. For too long, worker exploitation has remained invisible in an industry that is rarely documented and goes largely unmonitored -- until now.Survey results clearly point to the need for industry standards that will ensure fair labor practices, recognition, and humane treatment. The report proposes a set of long overdue policy recommendations to create an industry that is fair, equitable, and dignified.