Posts tagged with "nyc"

Historians Years-Long Campaign Wins Landmark Status for Historic Black NYC School That Survived Anti-Black Riots

Building in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood is part of seeming flood of U.S. sites newly recognized for ties to Black history

A dormant 176-year-old building in downtown Manhattan played a role in New York’s little-known Draft Riots, which prompted Irish immigrants — angered over being drafted into the Civil War — to take their frustration out on Black people. The Irishmen gathered at the doors of Colored School No. 4, then a refuge for Black children who were taught by educators with ties to abolitionist, suffragist, religious and cultural movements.

Pulitzer winner E.R. Shipp wrote for NABJ Black News & Views about historian Erik K. Washington and his quest to win landmark status for the school. Read  Shipp’s full report HERE


Changing The World Through Research

On June 21, 2023, a group of academics from the University of California held a symposium in Washington, DC to call attention to some of the pressing issues facing society and the world. The professors, committed to enacting the change they strongly believe in and have backed-up with research, are calling for policy changes and taking a stand for humanity and the environment.  The event was help at UCDC and organized by the University of California Washington Program.

“Why We Need Police Abolition”

Nikki Jones, H. Michael and Jeanne Williams Professor and Department Chair.

Nikki Jones is a Professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. Her work focuses on the experiences of Black women, men, and youth with the criminal legal system, policing, and violence. Professor Jones is the author of two books: Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence (2010) and The Chosen Ones: Black Men and the Politics of Redemption (2018), which received the Michael J. Hindelang Outstanding Book Award from the American Society of Criminology in 2020.  

ePa Q & A with Professor Nikki Jones:

“Open Our Borders: America’s New Conversation about Immigration”
Grace Peña Delgado, Associate Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Professor Delgado is a historian of borderlands and migration in nineteenth and twentieth-century North American. She is the author of Making the Chinese American: Global Migration, Localism, and Exclusion in the US-Mexico Borderlands (Stanford: 2012), distinguished as a CHOICE Academic Title. Delgado is also co-author of Latino Immigrants in the United States (Polity: 2011).


Digital Chains: Unveiling the Inhumanity of ICE Electronic Monitoring on Immigrants”
Mirian Martinez-Aranda, Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of California Davis.

She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA in 2021. Her research examines the social, material, and health consequences of immigration detention on immigrants, families, and communities. She is also a former National Science Foundation and Marvin Hoffenberg fellow with the Center for American Politics and Public Policy, and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Her work has been published in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and Law and Society Review. 

Q & A with Professor Mirian Martinez-Aranda:


“African Kingdoms as Resourceful Corporations: The Story of South Africa’s Bafokeng”
Shingirai Taodzera, Assistant professor of African American and American Studies at the University of California Davis.

Professor Taodzera’s scholarship focuses on the political economy of development in east and southern Africa, particularly the governance of high value extractive natural resources such as oil and minerals. He is currently working on turning his dissertation, entitled, “Nations within a state and the emerging hydrocarbons industry in Uganda” into his first monograph. 

Q & A with Professor Shingirai Taodzera:


“Engineering our Way out of Environmental Harm”
Sabbie Miller, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California Davis.

Dr. Miller is interested in improving the sustainability of the built environment. The Miller group focuses on designing sustainable materials with an emphasis on assessing and improving the performance of infrastructure materials while minimizing their associated environmental impacts. The laboratory is working to develop means to robustly assess local, regional, and global burdens from materials consumption, to make advancements in alternative material resources, and to pioneer methods to tailor desired material behavior. The team works primarily with cementitious materials, bio-derived materials, and polymeric materials.  


“The Healing Power of Community: My Unexpected Journey as BTS ARMY”
Kate Ringland, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kathryn (Kate) Ringland, PhD in Informatics from the University of California, Irvine, was previously a NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University and a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Santa Cruz. Her research interests include studying and designing playful and community-oriented technology for people with disabilities.

Kate is currently affiliated with the Computational Media Department at University of California, Santa Cruz where she leads the Misfit Lab. Her past affiliations include: ASSIST Lab at UC Santa Cruz, the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITs) and the People, Information, and Technology Changing Health (PITCH) Lab at Northwestern University, as well as the Star Group in LUCI in the ICS School


Affording New York City
Rowena Gray, Associate Professor & Graduate Program Chair at the University of California Merced.

Rowena Gray is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California, Merced, and a Research Affiliate at Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Economic History. Dr. Gray received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Davis, in 2011. She is an American economic historian of the past two hundred years. Her research explores questions about the inequality effects of technological change and the impact of immigration on crime and housing markets.  

Habitat For Humanity Plows Ahead In The Shadows Of Looming Budget Cuts

Habitat for Humanity








This may be hard to believe but affordable housing is a reality for many families across New York City. Since its inception in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has transformed the lives of numerous families across the country. And, since its separate grouping in 1984, Habitat NYC has done the same in all five boroughs of NYC. In a partnership with New York City Housing Authority, (NYCHA) Karen Haycox, CEO, Habitat NYC is helping families achieve the dream of homeownership in one of the wealthiest places on the planet. “While we do that, we are also busily building multifamily homes in and around the city and we’re very close to what will effectively be the largest multifamily homes, a series of homes ever constructed under one roof across the habitat universe.”

That project is called Sydney House; a 57-unit co-op in the Bronx. Haycox says, “For me that’s really one of the most compelling things about Habitat for Humanity. It’s that how we do what we do, is very much in context with the city that we call home.” Haycox says the construction of the co-op differs significantly from Habitat for Humanity’s typical construction of single family housing and it’s this very evolution that allows Habitat NYC to make affordable housing a reality for many in the city, which in turn helps to slow and perhaps reverse the process of gentrification, and also preserving a unique culture.

A major barrier to homeownership in NYC according to Haycox lies within the prospective homeowners themselves. “The first time you go through that process it can be frightening.” She explains her own experience as a first-time homeowner and the fear that came along with it. “When I bought my first home I honestly, practically and intellectually knew that everything was fine but for the first year I lived as if somebody was going to knock on my door and tell me there’s been a huge mistake.” She says many families don’t apply for the program because they don’t think they’ll qualify for reasons like credit indiscretions, criminal history or they may think the program is for those in worse economic conditions than what they find themselves in. “They will self select out of the process,” she says. Nonetheless, Haycox explains that although the organization works like any other conventional lender would, Habitat for Humanity is mission, not business driven. “It is our mission to find an opportunity for these families and we don’t just look at the numbers, we look at the whole package.” As far as legal issues are concerned, Haycox says the organization believes in “leaving the past in the past.” On the other hand, she says, “As long as there are no pending legal issues that could be problematic for the neighbors… because in effect we’re building families and their success in the future, but we’re also building neighborhoods and communities.” She says the organization does its best to ensure there are no pending charges with a family that would put their neighbors and other members of their community in any danger. “We believe in social justice and restorative justice so if they have committed a crime in their past and paid their due then that is none of our business. We look forward not backwards.”

Those interested in a Habitat NYC home can fill out an application on line. They will then be contacted by Habitats’ Housing Services Department for a review of their application. “They ask a couple of clarifying questions around the standard elements that you might expect like income, debts, challenges, and who will be in the household and we also look at credit history.” Haycox adds that if families don’t clear the initial hurdles the organization can still work with them to overcome them through various programs. “So that they can actually work on those things if they’re willing and come back and reapply.” Pathways To Partnership, (P2P) is one such program that can keep a family on track to achieving homeownership in NYC.

Haycox explains that achieving homeownership is possible through partnership with a prospective family. She says it’s similar to a self-help housing model. “Meaning that the families must be involved in our organization. They must dedicate 250-hours of sweat equity toward the construction of our homes or other programs.” She says families can volunteer at different build sites, work in the office licking envelopes or doing other volunteer jobs. “And that time is logged toward their willingness to partner.” Thus, it’s need, willingness to partner, and the ability to pay a low interest mortgage Haycox says are the essential elements to achieving homeownership in the city.

Despite all these efforts gentrification is real and taking shape across all 5 boroughs of NYC, making the possibility of homeownership for struggling families an optical illusion. Unless you’re a member of the wealthy elites flocking to the Big Apple, the mere combination of the two words, NYC and homeownership, is an oxymoron. And, Haycox says the problem is an extremely serious one because the city is in danger of becoming the largest moated community in the nation. She says homeownership in NYC is at 31-percent, which is less than the national average and the demand for affordable housing stock isn’t keeping up, “We’ve lost more than 330-thousand affordable rental units to the open market and we know that more than a third of families pay over 50-percent of their monthly income towards rent… homeownership must play a role in the city and although homeownership can’t be available for everybody, it’s strictly a numbers game; it really needs to have a place at the table. She says Habitat NYC sees that as a core function of the organization, “To leverage and to strengthen the voice for affordable homeownership as part of the city’s plan and the state’s plan going forward.”

Leveling the playing field is made possible through partnerships with organizations like NYCHA, Housing Preservation and Development, (HPD) and other state and city programs that help the group with subsidies and other affordable mortgage products. However, proposed budget cuts under the administration of President Trump is threatening to slash much of the funding that has been possible through the various partnerships Habitat NYC relies on for its mission driven work. “Those kinds of programs are important to our ability to thrive. To get these units built we depend on the pre-unit subsidies that we receive from the city and the state, and we also depend on the proceeds of the sale because families get an affordable mortgage and we sell the units and get the proceeds from the sale.”

Another element of affordable homeownership is keeping the homes affordable in perpetuity and Haycox says Habitat is looking at the community land trust model and currently responding to a land trust offer from the city, which would effectively keep the units of housing Habitat NYC develops affordable for the next generations of homeowners. “There are mechanisms that extend the affordability of the units in place but many times after the first sale those protections burn off, so what we’re looking to do is extend the length of time that the units remain affordable.” Preservation is another piece to the low income housing puzzle. Haycox says her group is developing a new preservation program that will intervene with the existing low-income co-ops to update and strengthen the buildings and bring them into compliance. Additionally, Habitat is also forming a Community Development Financial Institution, (CDFI) to keep mortgages affordable for Habitat for Humanity families, “Which would allow us to lend them money to be able to complete some needed repairs, etc.” She says it makes sense to preserve existing units as needed, rather than build new ones. Albeit, the proposed program is facing an uncertain future if Trump’s budget is adopted.

With so much on the line for the future of affordable housing in NYC, Haycox says the proposed budget cuts and tax reforms lurking like a frightening shadow and anticipated this October have them on “pins and needles” about the outlook of Habitat for Humanity. “We are focused on being poised to react and act depending on how the federal budget comes down. I think there’s a great deal of unrest and uncertainty about how that might impact us directly or indirectly.”  She says what her group can control is philanthropy. “Philanthropy always and forever will be at our core and trying to change the hearts and minds of volunteers and funders to value and prioritize housing and the important role it can play in the community we serve.” Haycox also acknowledges that a significant tax reform to the current system could negatively impact how non-profits operate in the future if donors loose tax breaks that encourages giving. “We are in a very uncertain time…so, we’re all scanning the news sources vigorously looking for some sign or indication of what the future might hold.”

Habitat NYC raises about $5-million a year Haycox says. One fund raising avenue beneficial to the group is through its ReStore, “It’s like a thrift store for building materials,” she says. The ReStore is located on Northern Blvd in Queens. “You can buy donated or gently used furniture and furnishing… you can also buy building materials and contracting materials and high-priced items like appliances at a greatly discounted price.” The supplementary to the ReStore is the environmental component that diverts material that would otherwise go to a landfill.

Homeownership is a commitment and not for everybody. The application process can be somewhat intimidating and it can take about 24-months from filling out the application to moving in to your new home. Nonetheless, Haycox says housing is fundamental to the long-term success of a family and despite the challenges ahead Habitat NYC will continue to do what it has done since its inception; helping families achieve a fundamental American dream; homeownership.

This April Fool’s Day Was No Laughing Matter




This April Fool’s Day hundreds gathered in the streets of New York City to protest the President’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act with help from Republicans now in control of the House and Senate.

The jokes and hoaxes usually designated for this day have taken a serious tone that reflects the mood of the country under this new administration. Anna Theofilopoulou immigrated to the U.S. from Greece in 1976 and is an active member of the Village Independent Democrats. Braving the cold weather to lend her voice to this cause, she said, “We’re concentrating on all kinds of issues. One of the key ones, since the healthcare one is on hold right now, is the environment, which seems to be the next danger, we decided that we are going to do a petition drive and we will deliver them to Senator Schumer.” By her side was her fellow VID member, Elizabeth Mann who says she was traumatized by the presidential election and the events that have unfolded since the inauguration of President Trump. “I feel like I can’t do nothing at this point. I feel like we are on a very bad path in this country and anything that I can do to shift politicians, to shift elections, I’m going to do,” she said. Mann says she remains active to counter the despair she feels since Trump won the election.

Theofilopoulou says simply waking up in the morning and making her way around the city and talking to people makes her feel desperate. “It’s such a prevailing feeling after the election. I mean, it was a state of disbelief in the beginning, but it did happen. And, it’s meeting our worst expectations. As far as I’m concerned, it cannot get worse than it has gone. And I sincerely believe that there is so much to come out of the Russian connection…it’s a matter of time.”

Standing at the Grove stop of the Path station in Jersey City, NJ Rob Trucker with the Northern New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America raised the issue his group came out to protest; the minimum wage hike. Speaking in front of a crowd of roughly 20 to 30 people he said, “In a time of unprecedented income inequality and unprecedented corporate profits, the bare minimum that we should be demanding is $15 an hour for our low wage everyday workers. We have to come together to fight the managerial and corporate class and fight for our union and fight on behalf of our own interests.” He urged people from different backgrounds, affiliations and orientation to form a union to combat corporate greed.

From town hall meetings, the Women’s March in DC, protests at member offices and the streets of America, people are not taking lightly the changes shaping a divided country under this new president. And the Republican agenda to overturn Obama era policies that impact healthcare, the environment and even law enforcement is not going to be taken calmly as these on-going cries seem to suggest. Mann says even Schumer, “has developed much more of a spine than he had 3 or 4 months ago,” in his role to combat Trump and the republican agenda. As we near the 100 day mark of Trump’s presidency, Americans of all walks of life remain determined and perhaps hopeful that something will give way and force arguably the most hated man in the world out of the White House. In the meantime, the people will protest and gather to voice their opinions and demand that they be heard. After all, isn’t that how Democracy works?