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A DECENT, STABLE PLACE TO LIVE is a distant dream for
about one in seven American families, according
to the calculations of the National Housing
Conference. The reasons for that are painfully
simple: whether renting or buying, millions of
people earn too little to purchase shelter.
As it has, on and off, for two decades, the
federal government is deploying dollars to help
poor people make the rent. In its proposed
budget for fiscal year 2003, the Bush Adminis-
tration is proposing funding 34,000 additional
Section 8 vouchers, bringing the total number
of households receiving those subsidies to over
1.8 million nationwide.
But the Bush budget has bigger plans in
store for government's role in housing. It wants
homeownership. Lots more of it. The adminis-
tration proposes a substantial expansion of its
"American Dream Downpayment Fund," an
effort to boost the nation's record rates of
homeownership even higher by helping poor
people buy their first homes.
The homeownership craze isn't just a Bush
thing. President Clinton and then-HUD Secre-
tary Andrew Cuomo waged a fierce push to
increase the national rate, including an aggres-
sive expansion of access to government-insured
FHA loans for homebuyers. They succeeded:
last year, the proportion of American house-
Americans forget that for all
its personal and
economic benefits,
homeownership is as fraught
an investment as any.
holds who own their homes reached 68 percent.
But following a period of wildly increasing
home values, many Americans forget that for all
its personal and economic benefits, homeowner-
ship is as fraught an investment as any-all the
more so for the poor people HUD is now seek-
ing to vault into the propertied classes. Home val-
ues in poor neighborhoods can fluctuate unpre-
dictably. More seriously, poor people frequendy
have to tap into their equity simply to generate
enough cash to keep their homes--ofren in bad
physical shape in the first place-in livable repair.
The Clinton/Cuomo FHA expansion also
became a field day for sleazoids in the private
sector, of which the 203(k) mortgage scandal
was just one brazen episode. Increased access
to FHA loans has driven droves of homeown-
ers into the offices of subprime and predatory
lenders, leading to waves of defaults and fore-
closures. What is the benefit of increasing
homeownership rates if it leads to personal suf-
fering and neighborhood instability?
One answer, unfortunately, is that there's a
lot of money to be made in the buying, selling,
financing and securitizing of real estate. Howev-
er much poor buyers purchasing their first
homes benefit, the industries assisting them will
profit more. For an administration that sees a
tax cut for large corporations as economic salva-
tion, this is logic. Without adequate regulation
and oversight of the lending industry, it's lunacy.
-Alyssa Katz
Cover photo by Regina Monfort. Carnival celebration, Club Tobago, Jamaica, Queens.

u ure
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One of the city's most successful housing groups
has an entrepreneurial vision for bringing its
neighborhood to the next level. Can Hope Community get
there without leaving its tenants behind?
By Matt Pacenza
Culture wars have a whole different meaning in the city's Indo-
Caribbean nightclub scene, where ethnicity, music and sex collide
and blend to the beat of the new New Yorker.
By Corey Takahashi
New York's celebrated newspaperman reconstructs the
hopeful life-and senseless death-of a young Mexican
construction worker. An excerpt from Breslin's new book,
The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez.
By Jimmy Breslin
A recent federal court decision may shut the door for neighborhood
activists who argue that toxic facilities violate civil rights.
By Alec Appelbaum
Or how poverty activists learned to stop worrying about WEP and to love
government jobs programs. By Bob Roberts
The Reckoning: What Blacks Owe to Each Other, by Randall Robinson.
Reviewed by Hakim Hasan
APRIL 2002
You can beat NIMBY forces that fight residences for people with
mental illness, but building bridges can take as much work and
time as building the apartments.
By Larry Schwartztol
Incentives to keep companies in New York have failed miserably,
but other governments have shown it's possible to hang on to good
jobs without giving away the store. By Joan Fitzgerald
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Building a Better New York
Volume XXVII Number 4
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Fighting for Good Fortune
RON YU CONSIDERS HIMSELF LUCKY. The Chinatown economy crumbled
after September 11, and business at Congee Village, the Cantonese
restaurant he manages on Allen Street, dropped 10 to 15 percent. But
unlike many restaurants in the neighborhood, his is still open.
That good fortune may soon change, however. The Lower East Side Ten-
ement Museum owns the building next to Congee Village at 97 Orchard
Street, and for years it's been looking to buyout its neighbors and expand.
There's just one problem: 99 Orchard, home to the popular restaurant and 15
apartments, is nor for sale, a minor detail the museum is trying to circumvent.
"Obtaining 99 Orchard Street is essential to the future of this muse-
um, " says founder and president, Ruth J. Abram. With the extra space,
she says, the museum can double its visitor load and revenues-right
now it operates on a $3.3 million budget-and offer more community
programming, classroom space, a possible restaurant, more historic tene-
ment apartments, and handicap access.
And with all that, the National Parks Service would finally recognize
the 13-year-old museum as an affiliate of the city's other immigrant
tourist meccas-Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty-and lavish it with
marketing benefits and a chance to apply for federal grants.
Last summer, Abram lobbied New York's Empire State Development
Corporation to condemn Congee Village and the apartments above it
and sell them to the museum under laws of eminent domain, an action
APRIL 2002
the state can take if it finds it is in the public's best interest.
So far, the ESDC seems to like the idea. "We're putting the museum
in a position where it can expand," says Joe Patillo, the agency's lawyer.
Three public hearings have been held, and the agency is expected to
announce its decision this spring.
That gives Yu and his boss, Peter Liang, owner of Congee Village, little
time to save their 40-employee business. They have a lot at stake: Last year,
Liang and building landlord Lou Holtzman invested a couple of million to
upgrade the apartments and another $2 million to expand the restaurant.
Their supporters hope the plight of Chinatown since the World Trade
Center attacks will help. "After 9-11, the Empire State Development
Corporation wants to help businesses recover. They don't want to stop
business," says Paul Lee of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Associ-
ation, which has provided Congee Village with legal assistance. "[Congee
Village] has jobs we need." The Asian American Federation conserva-
tively estimates that 1,000 Chinese city residents have been unemployed
since the fall.
Liang has Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on his side, and Holtzman
has hired a lobbyist to get to the other big guns in Albany.
"We will fight to the end," says Yu. "There are no jobs in ChinatOwn.
Many of my workers do not speak English. Where does the museum
expect them to go?" -Geoffrey Gray
Amid plans to
dismantle school
boards, calls to
strengthen them.
By Maura McDermott
IT WAS AN ESPECIAllY GRIM gathering of school
board members from across the city, and Anne
Mackinnon left 110 Livingston Street in disgust.
She was fed up with the infighting and the
distractions from improving the city's troubled
1.1 million-student school system, and she felt
that the public and the Board of Education had
little regard for local school boards. On the sub-
way home to Flatbush that evening last Febru-
ary, Mackinnon-a nine-year veteran of School
Board 22-resolved to fmd a new way to do
business. "I could see that people weren't com-
ing to our meetings," she says, "and I was in
touch with school board members throughout
Local Lessons
the city who said that this just isn't working."
Since then, she's begun shopping around a
proposal to change that. Her first step: Abolish
the elected local boards. From there, she sug-
gests, each of the city's 32 school districts would
get its own seven-member advisory board, con-
sisting of education experts appointed by district
superintendents with the chancellor's approval,
along with parents, principals and teachers cho-
sen by parents' groups and educators' unions.
The direct involvement of everyone from the
chancellor to parents is key, she says: "If the
chancellor has incentive to work with the
boards, we're going to have so much more ro
share with the public."
So far the idea has won praise from a number
of education experts, elected officials and parents
who are eager to see the current boards--once
renowned for their corruption, now dismissed as
irrelevant or worse--dismancled forever.
Her timing, of course, couldn't be better. In
January, Mayor Mike Bloomberg put the boards
on notice in his first State of the City address.
"We need to create opportunities for parents ro
participate in our educational system, but local
school boards are not the way," he said. "Parents
want to talk ro educators, not middlemen."
Achieving that goal, however, could prove to
be one of the biggest challenges of the mayor's
tenure. To their defenders, the local school
boards were too hard-won-in intense, racially
divisive battles 30 years ago-to just let them
fade away. They remain politically connected,
serving as a proving ground for a caucus of new
City Council members who have vowed ro fight
for their survival. One newly formed group of
current school board members is even threaten-
ing a legal battle ro defend the system.
One of those Council members, AI Varm,
remembers when many parents and educators
viewed school boards as their best hope for
reforming the schools. It was 1968, and Varm
was acting principal at a middle school in Ocean
Hill-Brownsville. At that time, the Board of Ed
controlled the entire school system. In response
to complaints from parents in poor minority
neighborhoods that schools were failing their
students, the Ford Foundation helped fund an
experimental district in Varm's neighborhood
that gave control to local educators and families.
The program started off smoothly, but it
ended as a fiery chapter in city history. Charging
that Board of Ed employees were seeking to sab-
otage the decentralization effort, black district
leaders exiled 13 teachers and six administra-
tors-most of them Jewish-to other districts.
As the teachers' union protested the transfers,
the two sides traded harsh accusations of racism
and anti-Semitism. Teachers declared a strike,
shuttering most of the city's schools. The conflict
finally ended when the Board of Ed agreed to set
up local school boards throughout the city.
Since then, decentralization has achieved
many of its aims. Local school boards have
allowed parents and teachers to create and man-
age their own schools, and they have overseen the
hiring of more minority teachers. But in several
districts, the boards' broad powers-they con-
trolled school budgets and hired and fired highly
paid principals and masses of lower-level work-
ers-proved too tempting. Board members were
appointing incompetent political cronies ro lead
districts, using teachers as campaign workers and
looting school budgets to furnish their offices.
Afrer a wave of corruption scandals, the state leg-
islature eliminated nearly all of their powers in
1996, leaving them with only the ability to advise
the chancellor on superintendent hiring and to
set school wnes, approve construction projects
and drafr vague policy directives.
While it pained him ro see his efforts dis-
mantled, Vann-by then a member of the State Assem-
bly-voted in favor of dissolving those powers. He had
grown fed up with the troubled board in his Bedford-
Stuyvesant district. Five years later, however, he regrets
his vote, and blames insufficient training and oversight
from the Board of Ed for the boards' troubles. He and
eight fellow Council members, most of them former
school board members, are supporting a resolution that
calls on the state legislature-which has the ultimate
say in the city's school governance-to give the boards
another chance. "Community school boards need to be
made stronger, not eliminated," says Vann.
When and how a change may come is unclear. A task
force set up by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was
expected to release recommendations in March. "We
haven't settled on anyone model yet," says Deputy
Mayor Dennis Walcotr, a member of the task force,
adding that whatever the group does decide on should
"maximize" local parent involvement.
The legislature will need to craft its proposals care-
fully. Any changes need the approval of the U.S.
Department of Justice, which must determine how
the proposals would affect minority voting rights.
That gives hope to Reginald Bowman, president of
the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school board and a founder
of the United School Boards of the City of New York,
which he says has recruited members of 20 school
boards to fight for their own preservation. Replacing
elected board members with appointees flies in the face
of democracy, he says. Should his group's negotiations
with state legislators not go favorably, he adds, a lawsuit
under the federal Voting Rights Act is possible.
Of course, school boards have not exactly been a
vision of democracy. In the last election, in 1999, only
2.5 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. This
lack of public attention prompted lower Manhattan's
School Board 2, whose district is ranked No.2 in the
city, to vote unanimously last month for a resolution
to abolish the current school board system. "We know
there is a better way, " says Karen Feuer, the board's
president, who has been circulating Anne Mackin-
non's plan as the answer. Assemblymember Steven
Sanders, chair of the education committee and a
member of Silver's school governance task force, has
praised it as "as good an alternative to elected com-
munity school boards as I've seen."
Among the competing suggestions: creating bor-
ough-level boards, or shifting more power onto school
leadership teams, school-based policy-setting councils
of parents, teachers and administrators. Whatever the
solution, proposed abolition is creating a stir. ''They've
awakened the sleeping giant," says Bowman. "They're
going to be surprised by the number of people through-
out the city who are organized, who are not willing to
go away quietly and just let this thing happen. "
Maura McDermott is a former education reporter for
the Riverdale Press.
APRIL 2002
Fruits of Labor
OUTRAGE, COMPASSION and tenacity. Stir these emotions together, and you get Jerry Dominguez.
The native of Mexico is best known in New York for organizing greengrocer workers to demand
bigger paychecks and shorter hours. But ask him where that campaign stands now, and the hand-
some, green-eyed 35-year-old is compelled to travel back in time: "I was born in a place called
Zacatecas, Mexico."
Of course, his background has everything to do with his work in New York. At age 20, Dominguez
quit his university studies in Mexico at his father's request to find work in the United States. After get-
ting deported once for border jumping, he and his brother found their way to Florida to pick tomatoes
as seasonal farm workers.
"It was horrible, the way we lived, the way we worked," he recalls. Workdays stretched for 18 to 20
hours and brought them $1 an hour, and their nights were spent cramped in a trailer with 30 other men.
Rumors of an INS raid spurred them to move to South Carolina to pick peaches. The farm owners
gave protective masks to white workers to shield their faces from blowing dust and dirt, but the Mex-
icans got nothing. Dominguez's complaining eventually got him chased out of town-and toward a
career as a labor activist.
He moved to New York and roamed the city hawking jewelry and listening to his customers' famil-
iar stories of low wages and hard work. The tomatoes he picked for 10 cents per 3D-pound bucket sold
for up to a dollar in grocery stores, and the store workers earned far less than minimum wage. "I got
enraged," he says.
With the help of Local 169 of UNITE, he led the Mexican workers and Lower East Side activists who
jump-started the greengrocers campaign. Four years later, grocery store owners have paid out close
to $1 million in back wages and overtime pay, seven stores in lower Manhattan now offer employees
contracts, and 10 more grocers have agreed to let their workers unionize. However, with 2,000 more
stores targeted for now, Dominguez notes, "The real fight is just beginning."
In early February, Dominguez quit the union to volunteer as director of the Asociacion Mexico-
Americano Trabajadores and Casa Mexico in East Harlem, which he founded in the mid-1990s. Their
latest campaign: Fighting tuition hikes for undocumented students at CUNY. He's also pursuing a
Masters degree in public administration at John Jay.
His friend and fellow organizer, Immanuel Ness, knows he'll succeed: "He's captured the imagi-
nation of people in the community and beyond." -Hilary Russ
Arms and
In late February, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly
announced that the NYPD is seeking $700 million in
future city budgets for counterterrorism gear. But
judging from records of contracts recently awarded by
city agencies, New York'sarms race has already begun:
Department of Citywide Administrative Services,
December 18
Rikers officials -claim that B.O.S:S. chairs-
equipped with sensors that can search out hiding
places for weapons, including the .. mouth and anus-
have reduced in-jail gang violence.by 90 percent. DCAS
will not reveal the intended use for its new acquisition.
New York Police Department, January 23
Designed to resemble a broadcast news remote van,
TARVs are actually the next generation of undercover
surveillance equipment. With an assist from the NYPD's
antenna on top of the Empire State Building, a roof-
mounted camera can send footage of unwanted public
activity to One Police Plaza from up to 300 miles away.
===tf:t)f;t:J::S t-H:G==::::::I
A Break for a Break
AMONG THE MANY THINGS LOST with the collapse
of the World Trade Center was the hope that
revenues from the leasing of the towers to a pri-
vate operator could be channeled into an afford-
able housing development fund. But while New
York recovers, Jersey Ciry is sprinting forward-
not just with a surge in companies moving their
operations there, but with a commitment under
new mayor Glenn Cunningham that any new
incentive deals for new luxury residential or
commercial development will include pre-
scribed contributions from builders to a fund
for affordable housing construction.
Cunningham's office has not yet released its
new incentive policy, breaking its own promise
to release a plan by last Thanksgiving. But rep-
resentatives from member organizations of the
Jersey Ciry Affordable Housing Coalition, a
group formed to promote increased public
investment in shelter, say they expect the
$684,000 (57 Biojectors @ $12,000 each)
DCAS, October 3
The Biojector 2000 is a state-of-the-art injection
system that doesn't require a needle. Equipped with a
tank, it shoots medicine in such a highly pressur-
ized stream that it enters the body through skin pores,
making it one of the most effective mass inoculation
systems on the planet.
Department of Environmental Protection,
January 24
Heliworks, Inc. , regularly patrols waterways and
mayor to follow through on a pledge he signed
last spring. At a mayoral debate, members of
New Jersey ACORN asked each candidate to
pledge on the spot whether or not he would
support legislation linking tax abatements for
developers to a fund for affordable housing.
Cunningham said yes, and now, as Jersey City's
first African-American mayor, he owes his elec-
tion to support from the ciry's black and Lati-
no-majoriry wards, where insufficient access to
affordable housing is a mounting problem.
To ACORN, the prospect of piggybacking on
breaks for developers and their corporate tenants
is not ideal. "We're really committed ro getting a
linkage ordinance not tied to tax abatements,"
says an ACORN spokeswoman. "Too much
money is given away when Oersey Ciry] is really
a desirable place ro locate right now. " But the
current initiative comes at a critical time. Gover-
nor James McGreevey is calling for the state ro
use more than $100 million from the state's exist-
ing affordable housing fund-a resource won
through decades of landmark litigation-to help
eliminate the state's budget deficits.
This wouldn't be the first time Jersey Ciry
reservoirs for the city. Usually this service is only
performed during the summer, but this time the
choppers are mobilizing year-round to protect the
water supply.
DCAS, January 14
This simulator-in-a-trailer features optional
ShootBack Cannon, which allows an instructor to aim
bursts of .68 caliber nylon "hostile fire" pellets back
at trainees. The training system can also be adjusted
to display NYC landmarks in digital video.
DCAS, February 19
Manufactured by a division of Grumman-Northrop
in Oak Ridge, Tennessee-home of the Manhattan
Project-Remotec robots are the Army's choice for
detonating unexploded bombs. The droids can be fit-
ted with more than 170 attachments, including a
water cannon and a "shotgun-type device," and they
can reach speeds of 30 mph.
NYPD, January 16
Citing security reasons, the NYPD will not discuss
the purpose or nature of this work. -Pat Sisson
tied tax abatements for developers to a fund for
affordable housing. Such "linkage" efforts are
commonplace now, but Jersey Ciry was a pio-
neer in the early 1980s. Because the legaliry of
these initiatives had not yet fully been put to the
test in court, they were undertaken informally,
recalls Rick Cohen, then the ciry's direcror of the
Department of Housing and Economic Devel-
opment. Says Cohen, now executive direcror of
the National Committee for Responsive Philan-
thropy, "We made it work by negotiating on a
case-by-case basis with developers."
Under more recent mayors, however,
including ex-gubernatorial candidate Bret
Schundler, cash collected in lieu of taxes from
developers-including big revenues from the
building boom of the late 1990s-ended up
earmarked for purposes other than housing.
Sources familiar with the mayor's plans say a
new housing fund is likely ro include developer
dollars already collected but not spent. Says
Harold Colton-Max, president of the Affordable
Housing Coalition, "If it reverts to some sem-
blance of the old policy, it's a welcome result."
-Alyssa Katz
=== ENE R-G Y====-
Con Ed Economics
immigrants and seniors, Con Edison is prepar-
ing to close its last four service centers that
accept last-minute cash payments, primarily
from me company's poorest customers. In
doing so, they are also helping grow an at-times
unfriendly business: check cashers.
Under a plan approved by the Public Ser-
vice Commission last March, the urility giant
planned to close its center in Jamaica, Queens,
on March 15, and the remaining three in
Harlem, downtown Brooklyn and the Ford-
ham section of the Bronx soon after.
The centers have primarily served cash-poor
customers, with 400 to 500 dropping by each
day to ask questions abour their bills and to
make last-minute payments. "The people who
use these centers are not people with big check-
ing accounts or who pay bills on-line," says
Tracy Shelton, an attorney for New York Public
Interest Research Group, which opposes the clo-
sures. "Some of them might not have checking
accounts at all. "
In its own defense, Con Edison says grow-
ing market pressures and competition within
the electricity industry made me decision nec-
essary. Besides, says a company spokesperson,
services will actually improve. "We are taking
nothing away," said D. Joy Faber of Con Ed.
"There are more options than ever to pay bills,
either by mail, over the phone, or online."
And if a bill-payer can't get online and has to
pay in cash, the company has made arrangements
with abour 120 check-cashing places around the
city, as well as some banks and other utility com-
panies like KeySpan, to accept their payments
and forward them to Con Ed. For customers with
questions abour their bills, Con Ed says it also
plans to set up five smaller walk-in centers--one
in every borough-and a sixth in Westchester
County; these stations will nor accept payments.
While Con Ed says check cashers won't
charge customers for taking their payments-
they typically charge berween $1 and $2.50 for
other rransactions--customers fear mat ending
face-to-face business with meir electric company
will compromise service. Check-cashing offices
are already known for long lines, and service at
the new, smaller walk-in centers is expected to
be glacially slow: Only four workers will Staff me
Jamaica office, down significantly from me 14
customer reps who work at its outgoing center.
"The service will get so bad that people won't
APRIL 2002
bother to come anymore," says Stephen Dagis, a
Con Ed customer rep in Jamaica who expected
to soon be shifted to work at a back office. "They
will have to figure things OUt for themselves or
wait on the telephone forever like everyone else."
Customers also question the trusrwormi-
ness of check-cashing places. "When you give
your money to someone second-hand, you
never know what can happen," says Terry Allen
of Brooklyn, who uses the Jamaica payment
Try This On
center every month. "A lot of mose check-cash-
ing places are dangerous. I never go in mem. "
Though they are overseen by the state
Banking Department, the check cashers do not
abide by set standards, which can vary wildly
among individual locations. "There is nothing
that says anything about how long the lines can
be," says Sarah Ludwig of the Economic Devel-
opment Advocacy Project. "Or even how they
treat customers." -Daniel Hendrick
All Mariah Lopez wants is to dress the way she feels most comfortable-in women's clothes. Legally
named Brian, Mariah says her city-run foster care group home forbade her from donning a dress, and a
Family Court judge backed the city up. So the transgender 16-year-old took to the sidewalk outside the
court early last month to demand rights for all transgendered youth in foster care.
Women's Warehouse
Last November 6, I arrived at the Brooklyn Women's Shelter, a four-story walk-up
building in Brownsville, Brooklyn. At night, you could see a trail of women walking
from the Liberty Avenue train station down the deserted blocks to the shelter. There
were women there from all nationalities and from all walks of life.
Bed 18, a black woman, turned 58 years old the week she arrived. She was the
life of the party. She transferred from a detoxification program and was boasting
about being clean and sober for the first time in her career. The next night, she did
not arrive for curfew. She returned the following night intoxicated and I noticed her
foaming at the mouth-she almost went into a diabetic coma.
Bed 19 was a middle-aged, severely ill black woman. Her frame was very thin and
she had no teeth in her mouth. When I entered the room, I detected the rotting odor of
her two ulcerated legs. She was wrapping one of her legs with toilet paper. Security
was notified, and despite her protests, paramedics escorted her to the hospital.
Bed 22 was a middle-aged black woman who had a serious heart condition.
When she went to the hospital for more medication, they tried to admit her, and she
refused. She feared losing her bed. An error in her welfare records caused her to be
evicted from her rent -subsidized apartment. It took seven weeks of court procedure
before she was allowed to return home.
Bed 24, an African American, arrived two days after I did. She told me how she
had been trying to enroll in a hospital detoxification program after 10 years of hero-
in addiction but had been turned away because no beds were available. The hos-
pital caseworker offered her a MetroCard, and advised her to come back after the
weekend. Unfortunately, the brave young lady did not make it through the with-
drawal stage. By the second day, she suddenly had a need to run to Harlem to pick
up some money from her brother. She never returned.
Bed 27 was an Oriental woman in her early twenties. She spoke no English. She
would arrive each night about 9 p.m. and pass out in her bed. At night she would
snore so loud you could almost feel the floor shaking.
Bed 29 was a Caucasian woman in her early twenties. She weighed approximately
275 pounds. She moved to New York from West Virginia to be with her fiance. She met
her fiance--who lives with his mother-because they had similar bipolar conditions.
She didn't take any mess from the residents, yet she was as gentle as could be.
I spent 45 days at the shelter. I was only a number; however, the pain that I wit-
nessed during that time will be hard to forget. On December 21, I left the women's
warehouse. Fortunately for me, I had a choice. -Irene M. Lynch
Tomorro\N starts today
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Hope Up in Smoke
As courts rule that pollution doesn't discriminate, environmental lawyers
get creative to keep poor neighborhoods clean. By Alec Appelbaum
A grassroots campaign seeks to convert a Harlem bus depot to cleaner fuel , but
federal judges say that activists can't count on civil rights laws to help them.
IF YOU DON'T LIVE NEAR ONE, the idea that
garbage dumps seek particular neighborhoods
might seem paranoid. But environmental jus-
tice advocates working amid the 35 waste
transfer stations that dirty the South Bronx
know better. Working with community groups,
Congressman Jose Serrano fued a complaint
with the EPA in 1998, charging that the
intense volume of garbage trucks and dump-
sters violated civil rights in a poor area rife with
health problems.
This norion snapped the EPA and the media
to attention, even prompting Staten Island Rep.
Vito Fossella to claim the Fresh Kills landfill
violated his constituents' civil rights. "Our
organizing was bolstered by the fact that this
was considered a civil rights issue," says Majora
Carter, who runs the group Sustainable South
Bronx and in 1997 initiated a successful cam-
paign to stop a new waste plant.
APRIL 2002
But the EPA's civil rights office still hasn't
ruled on Serrano's complaint. Advocates have
long wondered whether federal courts would
act on environmental civil rights concerns
more avidly than bureaucracies do. Now they
know. In December, a panel of judges from the
3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a lawsuit
seeking the shutdown of a new cement-slag fac-
tory in a low-income stretch of waterfront in
South Camden, New Jersey, that citizens of a
polluted minority neighborhood can't use fed-
eral civil rights law to block new polluters. The
judges deferred to a U.S. Supreme Court deci-
sion earlier last year that limits citizen suirs
under Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act-
which bans discrimination by any agency
receiving federal funds-to cases involving
rights Congress spelled out in the legislation.
That appears to rule out environmental justice
claims, because civil rights law took shape years
before the prevalence of toxic facilities in
minority neighborhoods was an issue of wide-
spread concern.
The court decision turned back an
unprecedented gambit. The plaintiff, South
Camden Citizens in Action, had convinced a
lower court that the factory had a discrimina-
tory effect in its neighborhood, which already
hosts several toxic waste sites as well as a
sewage treatment plant and a trash incinerator.
They presented statistical analysis showing
that a neighborhood's percentage of nonwhite
residents almost certainly had some relation-
ship to its concentration of polluting facilities.
Using that statistic, the lower court decided
that New Jersey had to make sure that new
permits didn't add to an unbalanced burden
on minority communities. The Circuit Court,
though, ruled that only the EPA could assign
that responsibility.
The defeat of the highest-reaching environ-
mental justice lawsuit yet sends a bleak signal
to activisrs in New York City, who are all but
giving up on using civil rights litigation to
bring relief to neighborhoods plagued by waste
dumps and power plants. New York is in the
2nd Circuit, not the 3rd. But even if New
York's courts rule differently in a future case,
the Supreme Court would likely uphold the
3rd Circuit's decision. "If the Circuit Court
had upheld the District Court decision, we
would have seen a sea change, " says Keri Pow-
ell, an environmental lawyer with the New
York Public Interest Research Group. Civil
rights cases would still have been rare, because
proving a link between a neighborhood's
demographics and its level of pollution is time-
consuming and arcane. But even a single land-
mark case, such as a class-action suit, could
have made environmental justice concerns a
more powerful political force.
Instead, the ruling banishes responsibility
for urban environmental health to bureaucrats
who have little incentive to probe them vigor-
ously. EPA guidelines, which the agency updat-
ed in 2000 after public proclamations by Pres-
ident Clinton, encourage the agency to let the
subject of a pollution complaint produce irs
own mitigation plan-and for the EPA to go
away once it receives assurances that such a
plan will go into effect.
In the fall of 2000, the Camden plaintiffs
had filed an administrative complaint with the
EPA, which funds the state agency; it hasn't
moved since. The group sued, said Sheila Fos-
ter, a visiting professor at Fordham Law School
who consulted with the community group, in
part because "there was a real sense of, what was
there to lose?"
The appellate court decision, aFgues Foster,
creates a "gap in the law." The EPA, which
funds state agencies that grant environmental
permits, can make decisions about what is and
isn't discriminatory, but private citizens can't
appeal the agency's decisions to a federal court.
In theory, notes Foster, these bureaucracies can
be "more aggressive and progressive" than
courts in policing state agencies. But in prac-
tice, they tend to shelve inquiries that don't
compel a lot of political mention. In fact, EPA
has completed only one environmental justice
investigation since it adopted relevant stan-
dards in 1994-and found no need for redress.
On the state level, says Leslie Lowe, who
until last month was executive director of the
New York City Environmental Justice Alliance,
a coalition of neighborhood groups, the use of
government referees can be treacherous,
because reviews are carried out by the same
agencies that endorse projects. When a compa-
ny wants to construct an environmentally sen-
sitive project in New York, the state Depart-
ment of Environmental Conservation pro-
duces its own assessment of likely impacts;
community groups who want to protest its
conclusions do so before an administrative law
judge. Unlike civil rights arguments, which
derive from the U.S. Constitution, the state
process revolves around information that the
state agency holds. Says Lowe: "It's Dracula
guarding the blood bank."
THE UNEVEN ACCESS to environmental data
raises the hackles of advocates in waterfront
neighborhoods, which are seeing a surge in
applications to build and expand power plants.
The state says it needs backup plants to fend
off energy crises. Community opponents,
For information call:
Ingrid Kaminski
Senior Vice President; ext. 213
One Wall Street Court
P.O. Box 982
New York, NY 10268-0982
Phone: 212-269-8080 . 800-635-6002
Fax: 212-269-81 12
Your Neighborhood Housing Insurance Specialist
meanwhile, contend these plants exacerbate
asthma and other illnesses for the sake of
excess electricity. Last summer, the New York
Power Authority authorized 10 temporary
plants around town-all operating at one-
tenth of a megawatt less than the level that
would trigger an automatic public review.
Because the facilities went into service without
a detailed environmental vetting, local resi-
dents had to struggle to find out what they
were up against. "If we had civil rights avenues
open, we could have leverage with the appli-
cant and state agencies," says Victor Tafur, a
lawyer with the Pace Energy Project, who
works with power plant opponents in
But there are other ways to have an impact.
The Camden decision "puts us in our place as
lawyers," says Marianne Engelmann-Lado,
general counsel to New York Lawyers for the
Public Interest. Instead of moving to shut the
plants down, attorneys are focusing on strate-
gic moves to limit their harmful impact. The
United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset
Park (UPROSE) and nine other groups won
such a victory in November, when an admin-
istrative judge ordered the authority ro ana-
lyze emissions of small particles, known as
PM 2.5, that it had neglected to address in its
rush to get the plants online. While this order
didn't stop the plants, it does set an.important
disclosure standard for future applications-
including a pending Con Edison plant on
East 14th Street in Manhattan, for which a
judge demanded a 2.5 analysis in January. The
EPA is now finalizing standards for caps on
2.5 emissions.
Local advocates, meanwhile, are also try-
ing to use state public service law as a way to
become more evenly matched against pol-
luters. Applicants for large power plants must
currently donate $1,000 per megawatt into
an "intervenor fund" at the start of an envi-
ronmental review. Groups can tap this fund
to retain expert witnesses, who appear before
administrative law judges at hearings for
plant permits. But they can't use the money
to hire lawyers, which puts them at a disad-
vantage. "The quality of these hearings would
have been vastly improved if there had been
money for lawyers, " says a partner at a large
firm who's participated in administrative
hearings. While New York is quite progressive
in this area-only a few states have similar
funds, and only Wisconsin's gives groups
money for attorneys-the Albany lobbying
group Environmental Advocates still hopes to
get lawyers' fees covered when the measure
comes up for renewal next January. Some
lawyers in favor of the measure expect power
plant operators to fight it with the longstand-
ing argument that such funds promote frivo-
lous lawsuits.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Envi-
ronmental Conservation is developing new
environmental justice guidelines, a ptocess that
has allowed for public comment. In that con-
text, the Camden case's legacy may be a height-
ened appreciation for old-fashioned community
organizing. "Most residents don't have means of
controlling indoor air quality," says Carlton
Brown, vice president of marketing at Full Spec-
trum Development, a Harlem real estate firm
that's building an apartment complex with effi-
cient heating and dedicated fresh air supply at
Fifrh Avenue and 116th Street. It took a local
group, West Harlem Environmental Action
(WE ACT), to get Harlem's civic leaders to
"think about [outdoor] air quality in a human-
rights context."
WE ACT's recent history suggests both the
potential and limitations of the poli tics of envi-
ronmental civil rights. In November 2000, WE
ACT complained to the federal Department of
Transportation that the Metropolitan Trans-
portation Authority was pursuing a racist poli-
cy in siting six of its eight Manhanan bus
depots north of 96th Street, covering rwo
neighborhoods with the city's highest asthma-
hospitalization rates. The federal agency is
reviewing that complaint-with no deadline.
But WE ACT executive director Peggy Shep-
ard believes that by mobilizing political ly
instead of filing a lawsuit, her group "can get the
same kind of attention and still force the MTA
to respond a lot sooner."
The complaint sought to, in Shepard's
words, "force the MTA to negotiate" by alert-
ing local politicians to the neighborhood's well-
organized outrage. According to Shepard, a
postcard campaign helped persuade Governor
Paraki to lean on the MTA to begin design
work on a renovated depot in Manhattanville
for buses that would run on dean natural gas.
Shepard and other environmental advocates
express hope that Governor Pataki, eager to rein-
force his green credentials as he seeks reelection,
will continue to back ideas that make environ-
mental justice enforcement part of the permit-
ting process. But with the current Supreme
Coun likely to think much like the Third Cir-
cuit, environmental attorneys stuck in the
administrative pipeline can't hold their breath .
Alec Appelbaum writes about environmental,
neighborhood and cultural issues.
APRIL 2002
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Specializing in Community
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clearinghouse draws on the expertise of lawyers at our 79 member law firms and
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Our network of attorneys can work with you
on a wide variety of legal issues:
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Establishing a long-term relationship with one of our member law firms
Representing your organization in litigation matters
H you believe your organization can benefit from legal
assistance, call Bryan Pu-Folkes at (212) 336-9317,
or email at bpufolkes@nylpi.org to see if you qualify.
AIl legal services are free of charge.
NYLPI, 151 West 30th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001-4007
To move its struggling
neighborhood into a
prosperous future, Hope
Community is inventing
a new agenda for
community development
- and leaving old ideas
about nonprofit
landlords behind.
By Matt Pacenza
ark Alexander has a plan. At 46, he
isn't content with having more than
tripled the number of apartments that
Hope Community manages in the eight years
he's been its executive director. The community
development corporation's strategic plan calls for
more than doubling that inventory-by adding
1,700 new units-by 2004. "In five years time,
we'd like to be viewed as one of the more suc-
cessful CDCs in the country," Alexander says as
he sits in his modest East Harlem office.
In much of its day-to-day work, Hope Com-
munity defines success in exactly the way CDCs
traditionally have. Like most in New York City, it
has rehabilitated and currently manages housing
for low-income people with the help of public
subsidies, building on opportunities to purchase
dilapidated buildings and vacant lots for virtually
nothing. Hope has rebuilt its community on a
foundation of government housing programs.
But as Alexander sees it, transforming East J
Harlem-where poverty and inadequate hous-
ing remain twin curses-will ultimately require <
much more than the tides of politics and
marshes of bureaucracy can deliver. His vision
is now driving Hope Community where CDCs
almost by definition never go: into the wilds of
the real estate market.
His organization is joining with a Queens
developer to build dozens of townhouses and
condominiums, with virtually no subsidies,
that will be sold to middle-income New York-
ers. Hope's creating an equity fund so that the
agency can buy land on the open market as
soon as it's for sale, without having to wait for
a civil servant to process paperwork. In short,
Hope wants to be the force that drives an
advanced stage of neighborhood progress, one
that Alexander says must include new homes
and apartments for East Harlem's middle class.
"There has to be a mix of income to pro-
mote vitality in the neighborhood," says
Alexander. "If everyone in the neighborhood is
on public assistance or Social Security or some
other form of government assistance, you can't
have a healthy and dynamic community. You
won't have enough income to support vibrant
shops. You won't have the necessary life skills to
fight for civil rights and city services."
Alexander got his first job in 1977 with Hope
as a building manager, collecting rents and fixing
boilers. He has been with the group ever since
and took over as executive director from the
group's founder, the Reverend George Calvert,
in 1994. An energetic leader, Alexander's capable
of impressing not just with passion but with
attention to detail.
Hope Community has grown tremendously
from its modest roots in a church meeting room
34 years ago. Today, the agency has an annual
budget of about $14 million and 85 employees
who manage a portfolio of 1,300 East Harlem
apartments, valued at more than $125 million.
Its properties, housing about 5,000 people, dot
the neighborhood's heart-there are six on East
100th Street; eight on East 104th; seven on East
109th and six on East 115th.
In Hope's 34 years, innumerable neighbor-
hood groups have crashed and burned, not just
in East Harlem, but across the country as well.
Why has Hope not only survived but thrived?
It's simple, Alexander says. "We've paid atten-
tion to our core business. We're in the real estate
business. We may have the best of intentions-
we do have a passion for what we do, but at the
end of the day we're running a business."
That business sense was developed from
Hope's very beginning. Alexander tells of an inci-
dent that left a deep impression on the agency's
philosophy. In Hope's first property, a renovated
eight-unit apanment building, one of the mem-
bers of its Board of Directors rented an apanment
for $117 a month, paid his first month's rent-
and never paid another cent to Hope again.
"He figured, 'I'm a board member of Hope
Community, what do I need to pay my rent for?'"
Alexander recounts. Two years later, after
extended legal action, Hope was able to evict the
board member and throw him off the board.
''That was a tough but important lesson," Alexan-
der continues. "We learned that if you want to
maintain a building for everybody, sometimes the
interests of the individual aren't going to prevail."
ne of Hope's newest tenants, Armando
Hernandez, walks through his three-
bedroom apartment at 212 East 117th
Street, carefully pointing to what needs fixing:
windows that are drafty or don't open at all; a
pipe in the roof above the toilet that leaks;
active rat-holes that line the rotting base of the
kitchen cabinets; a common patio that's piled
high with assorted trash.
When Hernandez, his wife and three sons
first moved into their apartment three years ago,
such deficiencies were unsurprising; the build-
ing's previous landlord had effectively abandoned
it. After tenants began demanding berter service,
a housing court judge responded by appointing a
7A administrator, a court-appointed manager
who collects rent and makes repairs. The judge
chose Hope Community, naming Alexander the
7 A in late November 2000.
Hernandez is a striver, a young Mexican
immigrant who left his native Mexico City 12
years ago for the promise of better wages and a
brighter future for his children. He works as a
cook in a midtown restaurant and is sharply
focused on supporting his family and making
sure they have the tools to improve their cir-
cumstances. The family computer sits promi-
nently in their living room.
He's also committed to making sure that his
family has a decent place to live. When the
judge told them that their new landlord would
improve their housing, tenants were thrilled.
Hope has since repainted and fixed the heat
and hot water. But other repairs have never been
made. (Hope admits this, adding that it is seeking
financing to fIX the rest.) What really galls Her-
nandez is that despite the delay, Hope raised his
rent from $550 to $783. "I've paid my rent," he
APRIL 2002
says. "I've invested time. I've invested materials.
Practically every week I've been here I've bought
something to improve this apartment-things
Hope should have paid for."
Hernandez is unusual because even though
he doesn't have legal immigration status, and
he speaks limited English, he's demanding that
Hope respect his rights. He's kept an exhaustive
photographic record of his apartment's flaws,
for use in court. He's sought advice from local
City Council members and attorneys. Most
audaciously, in February 2001 he helped orga-
nize a tenant association meeting, where he was
elected president. Hernandez then sent a letter
to Mark Alexander seeking recognition of the
tenant association and calling for a meeting to
discuss outstanding repairs.
Hernandez was rebuffed. Since many of the
tenants who voted to join the association,
including Hernandez, didn't have legal leases-
thanks mostly to the previous owners' misman-
agement-their vote to establish a tenant asso-
ciation was invalid, Hope pronounced. (Hope
won't comment specifically on the tenant asso-
ciation at 212 East 117th, but does say that
"Hope can not prevent people from free assem-
bly, nor do we seek to do so. ")
Hope's dismissal made Hernandez sad, he
says today, sitting on his couch and touching his
wife's hand. "We did everything correct, right?
We went to court, we got a new landlord, we
formed a group, but nothing's changed. Where'd
we go wrong?"
Hope Community has been successful in a
challenging environment, defined not just by
aging properties but also by tenants with limited
incomes and orren chaotic lives. At the same
time, a sharp focus on business practices is one
of Hope's priorities. Alexander says it's why his
group has succeeded where others have failed.
That philosophy appears to have led the group
to respond to its tenants' grievances very differ-
ently than CDCs traditionally have. Social jus-
tice has its role in other Hope endeavors, such
as day care and job training for homeless fami-
lies. But as a landlord, Hope's actions indicate it
is just that: a landlord. Not a social
worker, or a community organizer, or
even the homeowner upstairs.
Hope is rocketing into the East
Harlem of the future, almost too fast
for anyone to ask the question: What
is a nonprofit housing group for?
ast Harlem's community
development success story
began in 1968 when Rev.
Calvert, a junior high school teacher
and minister, invited a small group of
local merchants and residents to see
his new apartment on East 104th
Street. Rev. Calvert had renovated a
dilapidated space above his church,
creating several spacious and com-
fortable apartments. His guests were
impressed. Age, landlord abandon-
ment and arson had devastated East
Harlem's tenements over the previous
decade. ''At that time, if you wanted a
new apartment, you went to the pro-
jects," remembers Rev. Calvert, now
73 and living in upstate New York.
"The thought of rehabbing tene-
ments wasn't very popular."
Inspired by the possibilities and
eager to reverse their block's decay,
that small group decided on the spot
to form an organization. Each of
them-including a pawnshop propri-
etor, a jewelry shop owner and a fac-
tory worker--contributed $50 to pay
a lawyer to set up the group. Hope
Community was born.
From the very beginning, Hope focused on
buying inexpensive buildings and renovating
them. In 1969, on that same block of East 104th
Street, Hope bought its first property, a crum-
bling eight-apartment building, for $10,000,
with the financial help of a wealthy law student.
He had responded to an ad that Hope had
placed in the New York Times seeking "gifts and
loans" to support "residents banded together to
renew our own blocks and make them great. "
For its first decade, Hope remained a volun-
teer operation that met weekly at Rev. Calvert's
church. It slowly expanded its property portfo-
lio, adding one more building in 1970, three in
1973 and six in 1975. The work was challeng-
ing. Hope was inheriting properties that ranged
from dilapidated to falling down. "Every build-
ing we had was a building that someone else
had given up on, " notes Calvert. Hope took a
step forward in 1978, when a state grant
With the Fifth
Avenue Homes,
Hope Community is
building room for the
middle class to grow
in East Harlem.
allowed Hope to hire full-time staff.
Their early success with rehabilitating build-
ings inspired others in East Harlem, according
to former state Assemblymember Francisco
Diaz, who worked for Hope during its early
days. "They were very critical in showing that
blocks could be turned around," says Diaz.
"They paved the way in attracting private land-
lords to reinvest in their properties. "
By the mid 1980s, Hope had more than 100
units, which qualified the group for participa-
tion in the fust New York project of the Local
Initiatives Support Corporation and the Enter-
prise Foundation, the financial intermediaries
that would soon transform the once-modest
world of neighborhood housing development.
The late 1980s were a period of sharp growth
for neighborhood housing developers like Hope.
Not only were new funding sources available, but
government began to see that non profits could
shoulder the burden of the city's huge
property stock. "The focus shifted
from slow growth fueled by private
acquisition to a more rapid growth
with government-subsidized develop-
ment," observes Alexander.
By the time Calvert stepped down
in 1994, Hope was managing about
400 apartments. Under Alexander,
that number grew to more than
1,300, as Hope took full advantage of
the city's effort to rid itself of thou-
sands of tax-delinquent properties.
Officials with the Department of
Housing Preservation and Develop-
ment "have allowed community
developers to have a tremendous
impact on our community," says
Harry Rodriguez, a Democratic dis-
trict leader who has worked for HPD.
Property management on any
scale is a tough responsibility, partic-
ularly with the kinds of apartments
Hope manages. Many of its tenants
live in properties that were aban-
doned by their landlords before the
city took them over and transferred
them to local groups. These tenants,
by definition, had combative rela-
tionships with deceitful landlords,
marked by sporadic services and dis-
putes over rent. It's the kind of
thankless work that receives little
praise but invites much criticism.
There are never enough apartments
available, rents are never low enough
and repairs are never fast enough.
"No one loves their landlord," says Calvert.
"You don't make friends managing housing. "
nd Hope certainly hasn't. Its sharp busi-
ness sense, praised for the group's suc-
cess, is also criticized by many local
community boosters for its inflexibility. A range
of East Harlem observers, most of whom asked
not to be quoted because they fear jeopardizing
their jobs or complicating community relations,
say that Hope has developed a reputation as an
uncompromising landlord. "When they take
over management of city-owned buildings,"
says David Givens, chair of Community Board
11, who has watched Hope closely for a decade
as a board member hearing complaints from
tenants and community leaders, "they're very
aggressive in getting the tenants out, almost to
the point of harassment."
With her belongings hastily packed in garbage
bags and piled high in front of her apartment,
Edna Greenaway was evicted in late January.
"This is so lousy," said Greenaway, a middle-aged
Antiguan immigrant, as she stood and watched a
city marshal slap a lock on her apartment door,
with many of her belongings still inside. "I was
only supposed to pay $223 a month."
For nearly two years, Hope Community
and Greenaway, an undocumented immigrant
who had worked as a street vendor until suffer-
ing a hand injury, battled over how much rent
she should pay. In 1999, Hope took over her
apartment building at 311 East 111 th Street as
part of the city's Neighborhood Redevelop-
ment Program-under NRP, the HPD awards
city-owned buildings to nonprofit developers,
setting the monthly rent at 30 percent of the
tenant's income. Greenaway lives on a small
disability check.
Hope disputed Greenaway's income esti-
mate and charged her $375 for her one-bed-
room apartment. When she fell behind and
then exhausted her legal appeals, Hope moved
to evict her. The act brought unwanted public-
ity to the agency, including a demonstration on
the front steps of Hope's headquarters in July.
Hope's ani tude toward Greenaway and the
activists who rallied around her case-the
agency issued a press release in January accusing
its critics of launching a "smear campaign"
against Hope-raised eyebrows among tenant
activists surprised that a nonprofit was taking
such a hard-line approach. "Edna's a disabled
low-income tenant," says her pro bono anorney,
David Hershey-Webb of the tenant law firm
Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben &
Donoghue. ''They're a low-income housing pro-
gram. They have an obligation to go the extra
mile to try and keep her in that apartment."
One rough issue that nonprofits deal
with-particularly in a neighborhood like East
Harlem, where at least one in four heads of
households is foreign born- is tenants who are
in the United States illegally. Under federal law,
nonprofit housing developers can't use the
housing tax credits that fund much of their
work to benefit undocumented immigrants.
APRIL 2002
Because of those restrictions, about two-thirds
of Hope's units cannot be rented by undocu-
mented immigrant families, Alexander says.
Questions about immigration status are
important to both Hernandez and Greenaway's
cases. Neither has citizenship or even a green
card, although both say they're moving in that
direction. Understandably, the tenants them-
selves were hesitant to discuss specific immi-
gration issues in detail, but their stories suggest
how paperwork ambiguities lurk behind their
disputes with Hope over who belongs in their
apartments and how much they should pay.
Hope says that Greenaway's rent should be
$375 because she put another occupant's name
and income information on her lease, a common
tactic for undocumented immigrants nervous
"Some groups view
the eviction of a
low-income tenant
as a defeat," says a
tenant lawyer.
"Others see it
as something
that happens In
the course
of busi ness."
about anaching their names to official paper-
work. Similarly, Hernandez put his brother-in-
law's name on his lease to avoid immigration dif-
ficulties. In both cases, those improperly filled-
out leases have led Hope to question whether
these tenants should be in their apartments (Her-
nandez says that even though he's paying rent,
Hope won't give him a new lease because his old
lease doesn't have his name on it.)
Another factor that has generated conflict
between Hope and its tenants is the lack of clear
information that nonprofit housing developers
inherit when they acquire city property. HPD's
rent records ofren contain inaccuracies, and
families change quickly. Ultimately, experienced
housing managers say, deciding who belongs in
an apartment comes down to judgment calls
that balance the nonprofit's practical and fiscal
concerns against the needs and privacy of the
existing tenants. "You can only question people
so much," says Deb Howard of Brooklyn's Pratt
Area Community Council, which manages
more than 500 units of housing for poor ten-
ants. "You can't be totally inRexible."
Alexander says that Hope does everything it
can to avoid evictions. "We hate it every single
time, but we'll continue to do it because we
believe we're here to protect an asset for the
good of the community," he says. "Just like the
Legal Aid attorney that we're ofrentimes up
against is there to protect the legal rights of the
individual they represent." Alexander's argu-
ment-that if tenants feel wronged, they can
seek representation and challenge Hope in
court-is exactly how he defended Hope
against criticism of Greenaway's eviction, argu-
ing that she had "ample opportunities to prove
her rent was erroneously calculated."
Hope's suggestion that landlord and tenant
disputes can be fairly settled is put to a tough
test in Housing Court, where more than 90
percent of tenants have no legal representation.
Greenaway, for one, was not represented the
first time Hope brought her to Housing Court.
By the time Hershey-Webb began helping her
out, it was too late to reverse the eviction.
It's impossible to know how representative
Hernandez' and Greenaway's experiences are.
Yet Hope itself admits that its bottom-line
approach to property management makes it
different from most neighborhood nonprofits.
That's essential, Alexander argues, or Hope
could end up in fiscal trouble, jeopardizing
hundreds of East Harlem's most affordable and
decent apartments. "There's a phenomenon of
failed efforts, or good ideas, or good intentions
that ended up affecting the lives of thousands
of tenants in this city," he says. ''The CDCs
that failed didn't pay anention to their business
as a business."
ast April, Hope announced a striking new
endeavor: a partnership with a Queens
builder, the Briarwood Organization, to
construct 16 three-family townhouses and 59
condominiums in a lot along East 118th and
East 119th streets. What's unique about the ven-
ture is that while land was donated by the city,
plus tax breaks, it's a market-rate development.
When the Briarwood project is complete,
Hope says that the resulting units will be afford-
able to moderate-income New Yorkers, earning
between $40,000 and $75,000 annually.
continued on page 40
APRIL 2002 19
could have been a long afternoon because, by
her own admission, Samantha's the worst cus-
tomer you could encounter.
This was a necessary test, though. "I wanted
to know what she could do," Samantha says.
When Nathalie gets new customers, she
looks them up and down, makes mental notes.
If it's a special night, she may ask what they're
wearing, maybe even where they're gomg.
Mostly, though, she trusts intuition.
"The nail talks to me," says Nathalie,
who has created hundreds of nail designs,
including mini Manhattan cityscapes that pay
tribute to victims of the September 11 attacks.
The ladies first met a week or so before that
tragic day. Nathalie gave Samantha an intricate
This story wos produced under the George Washington Williams
Fellowship for lournalists of Color, a program sponsored by the
Independent Press Association and funded by the Ford Foundation.
white-on-black spider web design. Samantha
showed her cousin, who gushed that it was so
much better than her own. It confirmed what
she was already thinking. Says Samantha, "I fell
in love with the way she did my nails."
t had occurred to Samantha that Nathalie,
who was then holding down three part-time
jobs and school, might not be having much
of a social life. So
during her third appoint-
ment, when Nathalie told her she wouldn't be
putting in her usual 4 a.m. shift bartending at a
neighborhood lounge, Samantha canceled a
blind date and they hit a nightclub called
Calypso City. "We just bonded," Samantha says.
"We just became really close, telling each other
secrets and everything."
Several months after their first team foray,
Nathalie is wrapping up her shift at Beyonce, a
new salon down the street from her former
employer. A gypsy cab is coming to whisk her
away. This is the first stage of the ritual, per-
haps the most crucial. Nathalie says that if she
goes home and her mom sees her, she won't be
allowed out of the house again. She keeps
things simple by not giving her mother a say.
A sedan crawls to a stop outside. Nathalie
finishes perusing body jewelry and bindis,
grabs the bag full of colored bangles she bought
from an Indian store earlier in the day, and
wishes her coworkers good night.
When she arrives at Samantha's a few min-
utes later, her friend is chatting on the tele-
phone. It takes several knocks at a darkened side
entrance before Samantha emerges from her
basement cubby in a T-shirt and sweats. "You
can put on a light, you know," Nathalie scolds.
Hassle though this may be, it beats getting
trapped at home with mom on a Friday night.
"She's a very overprotective woman, and I'm
an only child, so everything is towards me,"
sighs Nathalie, who is a nursing student at
Brooklyn College and a secretary at a major
insurance firm, as well as a part-time "nail
technician. " "Keep Nathalie out of danger,
keep Nathalie in the house, keep Nathalie
locked up, don't let Nathalie wear this. You
know it's .... " She stops, exasperated. "I have to
bring my clothes here. Change here, go to the
club, come back, change into my regular
clothes and go home."
Even then, at 4:30 a.m., her mother is awake,
waiting on the sofa. "The lights are on. I see the
curtain move when the cab door slams,"
Nathalie continues. "She says, 'You stink like
cigarettes ... which guy dropped you oID'"
Club nights are less of a chore for Saman-
tha, whose girl-next-door look is betrayed by a
tongue stud and neck tattoo. Samantha lives at
home, too, and it may just be that her parents
are worried what may happen if they pull in the
reins. "I ran away from home when I was 16
going on 17," says Samantha, an accounting
clerk in the fashion industry and business man-
agement student at Borough of Manhattan
Community College. The beef was over a
boyfriend, who was half Puerto Rican.
"My parents didn't like that he was a differ-
ent race," says Samantha.
"They had a problem 'cause he was also
mixed black. So they didn't like the black part."
That view is not wholly American-born. It
has deep roots in Guyana, a former British
colony populated largely by the descendants of
African slaves and East Indian indentured ser-
vants. Today in Queens, the children of this
history-East Indians twice removed from the
subcontinent-are shaping culture and race
relations along ever more complicated lines.
There are Indo-Guyanese who only hang out
with other Indo-Guyanese. There are Indo-
Guyanese who might have a Trinidadian friend,
so long as he is of Indian origin. There are oth-
ers whose social circles are determined by immi-
gration panerns, American-born with other
American-born, foreign with foreign-born.
There are Indo-Guyanese who wouldn't think of
dating an East Indian. There are ganja-loving
Indo-Guyanese with dredlocks. There are thugs.
Hip-hoppers. Tommy Hilfiger preps. There are
some who forget the whole thing and pass
as Latino.
All of them eventually will be found
in the Indo-Caribbean club scene, a swirl
of social affiliations and contradictions as
unpredictable as young friendships.
Nightclubs like Club Tobago, Caribbean
Tropics, Club Mirage, the New Millen-
nium Soca Paradise, and the chief hang
for Samantha and Nathalie, CalypsoCity,
offer a space where these identities exist
undisturbed and unquestioned.
If there is a lingering tension at the
root of the scene, it's the attempt of each
club to sway the soul of the second gen-
eration while wondering, In what way
will culture continue?
he family that runs CalypsoCity, the
Jakairans, have built an empire out of
answers to that question. Their club
takes its name from the Caribbean music
form, but a beauty salon owned by the
eldest Jaikaran daughter, Raquel, pays
homage to American r&b-called
Beyonce, it's named after the lead singer
of Destiny's Child.
Raquel's father, Mohan, 51, is the head of
JMC Entertainment, an Indo-Caribbean AOL
Time Warner of sorts. It includes the radio sta-
tion Masala World 101.1 FM in Trinidad, the
labels JMC Oamaican Me Crazy) Caribbean
Music and Masala Records, BassClef recording
studios in Ozone Park, Caribbean performers
and record stores throughout the diaspora, and
the party headquarters, CalypsoCity, on
Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill.
With CalypsoCity, the baton is being passed
from the immigrant to the American-born.
While Mohan has been expanding business in
Trinidad, daily club duties, such as its first full-
scale renovation in eight years, have largely
APRIL 2002
fallen ro Raquel, 29, and her sister Anita, 28.
The biggest migration the Jaikaran sisters
ever made took place in 1987, when the family
moved from Richmond Hill to suburban West
Orange, New Jersey. It has been a circuitous
journey ever since. Nothing-not the move
from Queens, not the privileges of suburban
schools, not even current homes and families in
Long Island-has cut their connection to the
Caribbean. A typical workday finds Raquel and
Anita in the offices of JMC Records, in the
basement of their Queens retail store.
Perched on the corner of Liberty Avenue and
128th Street in Richmond Hill, the record store
abuts a Hindu temple, the Shri Lakshmi
Narayan Mandir. Liberty Avenue is the heart of
Indo-Caribbean New York, a bustling commer-
cial artery hidden away in the sprawl of south-
east Queens. Among West Indians, its reputa-
tion is legion. The chutney crooner Terry Gajraj
immortalized it on a song whose sprightly cho-
rus rings, "Richmond Hill/ A linle Guy-an-na!"
In the early 1980s, before the Jaikarans
moved to Jersey, the family was among a hand-
ful of West Indians in this historically Italian,
German and Irish burg. Today, the smell of roti
has replaced that of ziti, and vendors on every
other block sell saris, soca and chutney CDs,
and other Indo-Caribbean essentials. They came
here for affordable homes and because of Rich-
mond Hill's proximity to a common first point
of immigrant senlement, neighboring Jamaica.
The Jaikaran sisters are part of a generation
forecasting the future of ethnic communities
like Richmond Hill. As cultural tastemakers at
the club, they're at the juncture at which tradi-
tion could have disappeared but is instead
mutating into something unknown.
"We left our culture. We weren't into our
culture when we were kids, " says Anita, aJersey
accent infused in each syllable. She and Raquel
recall the embarrassment they felt in high
school when non-Trinidadian friends would
visit and, inevitably, hear their parents' chutney
music, with its Hindi vocals and East and West
Indian instrumentation.
"It's so funny how all of a sudden we're back
here," Anita says. Long Island has been a good
place to settle down, but they're finding that
Richmond Hill is still home. "You come from
here, New York, and then you go into a whole
different neighborhood, and they're, like, so
quiet," Raquel remembers of the transition to
the ' burbs. "They really didn't know our
nationality. I was told I looked more Spanish."
Both sisters graduated from largely white
West Orange High School, and spent time in
college in New Jersey before coming back to
Queens to work. Only recently, though, have
they been calling shots at the club. "My dad actu-
ally left it all up to us," Anita says as Raquel
chimes in, "Finally."
"I think that's great," adds Anita, '''cause we
know more what the young people want."
Mohan and club co-owner Freddy Mahabir
opened Calypso City in 1994, as a way to give
order to a West Indian music scene that
sprawled through local bars, restaurants and,
occasionally, larger venues like Madison Square
Garden. It made sense as a business investment,
coinciding with the coming of age of a wave of
American-born Indo-Caribbeans like Anita and
Raquel, as well as American-raised immigrants
like Samantha and Nathalie. Stili, Mohan
always says that his true inspiration for starting
the club was fear. Without such venues, he says,
young West Indians would lose their culture.
n Fridays and Saturdays, CalypsoCity still
shakes and shimmies to soca, chumey,
bhangra and Bollywood songs, popular in
the Indo- and Mro-Caribbean, twin-island
nation of Trinidad and Tobago and its cultural
cousin, Guyana. But increasingly prominent
are the sounds of hip-hop, salsa, merengue and
dancehall reggae. A music scene that always
carried a between-two-worlds beat is now
infused with a new conceit.
"You see these new faces and you're like,
'Wow, either I'm getting old or something's
going on here,'" says Anita of the younger,
mixed-race crowds. "There's a new generation
comin', and it's not even our generation."
Nightclubs live and die on their ability to
forecast generations-the groove, the vibe, the
atmosphere that makes patrons forget the
mark-up price of a mojito or that they've just
waited 30 minutes in the freezing cold. With-
out that sixth sense, yesterday's hot spot might
as well be an Elks Lodge.
At CalypsoCity, the search for the cultural
zeitgeist now takes place amid a thumping vor-
tex of musical and racial variables, where the
crowd "wines" down to Trinidadian soca star
Super Blue one minute, jumps up to the Amer-
icanized reggae of Shaggy the next, and strikes
thug poses to the boastful raps ofJay-Z. Dance
styles can be demographic markers as much as
coded come-hithers, whether in a sexy Trinida-
dian swivel, the occasional Indian move
adopted from a Bollywood film, or high-octane
hip-hop and Latin variants.
"We get more different nationalities now,"
Raquel says. "This year, I've actually seen more
Italian whites, I've seen more Chinese, I've seen
more Spanish."
"Spanish has been a big thing," adds Anita,
'''cause we play Latin music, too."
Neither can say for sure what initiated the
change, but they've been aggressively courting
it. "When I interview people, I try to make a
mix," says Raquel. Breaking down the back-
grounds of her bartenders, she notes, one by
one: "She could be Irish or Greek, the other one
IS Spanish, another one's Spanish and she's
mixed with something else, there's
another one who's black American and
another one, I don't know exactly if he's
mixed with Indian or Spanish .... "
CalypsoCity's racial metamorphosis is
not just a response to competition in a
crowded market, but to the expanding
tastes of the Indo-Caribbean audience
itself. New York, it could be said, is
reshaping the club from the outside and
from within. On a recent Friday, there
were three DJs, representing three differ-
ent ancestries, with three rotations each
and hour-long stretches where there was
no West Indian music at all. "I play
everything right now," says DJ Hanz,
whose background is Guyanese.
On this night, "everything" ranges
from rap to remixed Bollywood songs to
the crowd-pleaser "Turn Me On." Sung
with smooth urgency by Kevin Little of
St. Vincent, it's moved Caribbean rumps
for roughly four months. According to
Hanz, "Turn Me On" is a CalypsoCity
natural: "It has a little bit of a reggae beat
and calypso lyrics and a Spanish groove."
Staying on top of such a scene has
never been more difficult, and it will
become even more so because Raquel
hopes to add rock and alternative to the
mix. "I spend almost $100 a week on
music," says Hanz, taking a break ftom the
turntables as young women rush the DJ booth
with requests. One particularly determined
dancer wines with vigor, brushing her backside
against another DJ in hopes of currying favor for
a request.
Hanz laughs. "And he don't even know her."
III iving in America," the James Brown
anthem from Rocky IV, plays over the
speakers at Beyonce. It's New Year's Eve,
five-and-a-half hours before 2002. Nathalie
helps Samantha with her hair while knocking
out nail designs for a host of women prepping to
hit the dance floors later that evening.
Victoria Ramdial, a 23-year-old nurse, had
made her weekly trip to Liberty Avenue from
her home in Forest Hills. She could have gone
to a salon in her neighborhood, but Beyonce,
she says, offers "that West Indian flavor. It's
more like you're going home. "
Victoria is offering some personal opinions
on the club-hopping rite of passage and why, as
a Trinidadian immigrant, it means something
different to her than it did to her 19-year-old
cousin, who was born in the States. "There's
nothing for him to miss, 'cause all he knew was
America," says Victoria. She recently took her
cousin out, only to make a troubling discovery.
He couldn't dance.
Nathalie protests that it's simple, natural.
"The waist moves more than anything else.
Mostly the hips and waist," she says of wining,
which can resemble anything from an artfully
executed up-tempo hula to a thumping vertical
lap dance.
Nathalie's earliest memories of childhood
are of dancing. Her mother, who separated
from Nathalie's father in Guyana, would dress
her up in outfits and call the neighbors over to
watch. "I was like four or five, and I see pic-
tures of me in sequins, " she remembers.
Samantha, who'd been enclosed in a hair
dryer, rejoins the conversation as Nathalie leads
her to a barber's chair and sets upon her damp
locks with a curling iron. Talk turns ro
Calypso City, where most of the women were
headed, and where Nathalie first met the con-
tacts that led to her job at Beyonce.
"When we're there, we're in our own world,"
says Samantha, who would make her entrance a
few hours later. "People recognize you."
Samantha and Nathalie had checked out
other spots, even Brooklyn clubs, but Calypso-
City was the place where they could count on
seeing folks from Liberty Avenue, acquain-
tances as far back as high school, old flames.
They were comfortable with CalypsoCity and
CalypsoCity was comfortable with them. Most
of the time, the bouncers let them in for the
small price of a smile.
The first time Samantha and Nathalie went
to the club rogether last fall, they danced by
themselves all night. "They thought we were
lesbians," Nathalie says of the crowd. The night
would mark the first chapter of "Calypso-
Stories," the name they've given to recaps, usu-
ally by phone, of the weekend's highlights.
Another juicy chapter came a few weekends
later, when the club hosted a male revue.
APRIL 2002
The performer rode in on a motor bike and
Nathalie couldn't contain her excitement. "She
jumped on the bike and she just started like,
you know ... . She was riding the bike, " laughs
Samantha. "I cried to pull her off."
Samantha and Nathalie agree that one reason
they get along so well is because they don't go for
the same type of guys. Likewise, the same type
of guys don't go for them. Nathalie tends to be
approached by non-Indian suitors. Maybe it's
her Grand Concourse accent or her hair on club
nights, a wild-style high-rise that she describes as
"a flat twist with petals and red highlights." But
if the rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot had a say, the verdict
on Nathalie might simply be, Baby got back.
"I have that black look," giggles Nathalie,
who spent her fust eight years in America in
the South Bronx. "Most Indian girls, they're
like more conservative and skinny. They're
bones, like anorexic-looking. But a certain type
of guy likes a certain type of body-like me. "
For the moment, though, Nathalie cares more
about school and work than men. ''I'm at a stage
in my life where I want nothing to do with guys,"
she says. "I don't have time for their games. "
Samantha, meanwhile, had fallen hard for a
6-foot-3 Punjabi dreamboat. She'd met him at
a dingy Liberty Avenue bar that Nathalie
dragged her to on Christmas night. Less than a
month after they'd been dating, Samantha got
to meet his mother. "I know Indian people;
their culture's more strict than ours," Samantha
says. "But he always dated Latino girls, and she
didn't really like that too much. So I asked him,
'What does she think of me?' And he's like,
'Oh, she likes you. You're Guyanese.'"
By all accounts, Samantha saw long-term
compatibility. Her new guy was ambitious,
with plans to apply to med school, and she
couldn't stop gushing over the looks of this
preppy, light-skinned "pretty boy." "Like my
complexion or lighter," Samantha says. "I just
like the way they look bener. "
Nathalie's brow fUrrows over that remark,
but she doesn't say anything.
"He's very into the culture," Samantha con-
tinues. "He leads it, he speaks it, he eats it."
Nathalie shoots Samantha a cock-eyed
glance and mischievous smirk.
"Food!" Samantha says, smacking her arm.
'Tm not saying anything, " Nathalie demurs.
"I was talking about food. You're so dirry!"
or all the free-flowing sexualiry on the
dance floor, the more West Indian a club,
the more it feels like a tight-knit backyard
barbecue. The brothers Ramesh and Vishnu
Singh, along with several family members, pio-
neered the formula back in 1989 with Soca
Paradise, the first major Indo-Caribbean night-
club in Queens. In its early 1990s heyday, Soca
Paradise became known throughout Indo-
Caribbean North America, drawing crowds
from as far away as Toronto. There were parties
before it, but this was a regular weekend spot,
fully certified, unlike its predecessors, so the
police couldn't shut it down at a moment's
notice. OJs fondly recall it as the type of place
they might expect their hip older uncle to run.
Soca Paradise is now under new ownership.
In its current incarnation, the New Millennium
Soca Paradise, it's mostly used as a rental hall.
Located in Hollis, it tends to draw African-
American promoters, who throw events like
Greek fraternity fests and r&b shows.
After they sold Soca Paradise, the brothers
kept busy by organizing outdoor Caribbean
music festivals. In 1998, with the help of a
Trinidadian Brooklynite named Larry Williams,
they founded a new club, Soca Arena, in an
abandoned Crown Heights bingo hall. Still itch-
ing to reconnect with Caribbeans in Queens,
they crept back last October, naming their
newest venue Club Tobago--a none-too-subtle
overture to the Trinidadian and Tobagan set that
Calypso City has long dominated. The tables are
now turned from 1994, when CalypsoCiry
began siphoning off Soca Paradise's crowd.
But Ramesh and Vishnu aren't following
other clubs' business plans. They say that since
they left Queens, their competitors have alien-
ated an important segment. "When you playa
lot of hip-hop and reggae, you tend to draw a
more young crowd," says Ramesh. "People
come in with their hats, and their shirt opened
up, and the bandannas and all these things.
Those people are kinda hyper. "
Ramesh wants to restore class, so he won't
hesitate to turn away roughnecks in raggedy
shirts, big boots and sagging jeans, a look
favored by younger Indo-Caribbeans who take
fashion cues from their black and Puerto Rican
peers. "You say, ' No, you can't come
in with that.' You know what hap-
pens the next week? He wears the
nice slack. Dress nice. He get a girl
and he comes down to the club and
he behaves himself," says Ramesh.
Another mandate is less talk (as
in reggae and hip hop-style chatter
over records), more Afro-Trinida-
dian soca and Indo-Trinidadian
chutney. The brothers, who are in
their mid-thirties, see themselves as
torch-bearers for these styles, which
among the young are less popular
than reggae and rap.
Ironically, the brothers came of
age in a golden era of New York hip
hop and are products of its OJ cul-
ture. A few years after they emi-
grated from Guyana in 1977, the
teenage duo cobbled together
money from a city-subsidized work
program and bought their first set of
OJ equipment. Their mother didn't
encourage the hobby, but she pre-
ferred it to television.
Throughout high school, Ramesh and
Vishnu roamed house parties in Brooklyn with
a raging thirst. "We made sure we were listening
to mainly a lot of Puerto Ricans play," says
Ramesh, who sports a curly black ponytail.
"They were the best."
They weren't cruising for the sounds of the
Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow and Lisa Lisa, but
to learn how mixing is done. The brothers' true
love remained West Indian music. "They taught
us how to match the beats, how to scratch,"
Vishnu says of his musical apprenticeship. "We
took it and applied it to soca and applied it to
reggae and applied it to chutney."
The Singh brothers got their start with wed-
ding parties and small clubs, always moving as a
team, the Galaxy Midnight Spinners. "You gona
understand where we came from," says Vishnu,
whose baby face can turn dead serious when the
situation calls for it. "We were DJs. So we know
what the crowd wants."
He sees this as Club Tobago's secret weapon, a
bank of historical knowledge that the brothers
have passed on to their in-house DJ team, the
Music Fanatix. Vishnu noted that the club's col-
lection of Caribbean music dates back to 1975.
That's before many of the other clubs' DJs were
born. "You know what?" says Vishnu, offering a
broad view of the scene. "The culture's confused.
They're confused with hip-hop, with r&b, with
rap, with soca, with reggae-we have to lead them.
And if we lead them right, they will follow
The question, of course, is who is
more qualified to lead: two Guyana-
born brothers in their thirties or two
U.S.-born sisters in their twenties?
Maybe there's room for everyone, but
Ramesh tends to view any step away from
a Caribbean music cote as surrender. For
his part, Vishnu can see the logic in
branching out musically, which always,
eventually, means racially. "You gotta look
for the new 21," he says. That new 21
tends to have friends of different races
influencing their tastes, as well as,
inevitably, MTV and hip-hop. They also
defined what was hot. "The older crowd
wanna parry with the young crowd," says
Vishnu. "If they parry with an older
crowd, they're feelin' old."
Yet Club Tobago flaunts its old-school
Indo-Caribbean image even as others
tone theirs down. It would be difficult to
be much louder than Tobago's wall-ro-
wall tropical murals, glowing neon inte-
rior accentuated with black lights, and
columns ropped with fake palm leaves.
"You cannot be better than an American
club that is already American," cautions
Ramesh. "You're a West Indian club. Show the
people what it is in the West Indies, what music
we play. How it is at Carnival."
uring this year's Carnival in February, the
nation of Trinidad and Tobago was stuck at
an ugly political impasse. In a December
election, the nation's two largest ethnic groups,
those of African and Indian descent-who
account for 40 percent of the population each-
voted chiefly along racial lines. The mostly Afro-
Caribbean People's National Movement and the
heavily Indo-Caribbean United National Con-
gress each won 18 seats in Parliament. President
APRIL 2002
Arthur Robinson stepped in to resolve the tie by
selecting the PNM's Patrick Manning as prime
minister. But the outgoing Basdeo Panday, who
had been the nation's first Indo-Trinidadian
leader, didn't accept the decision and refused to
cooperate in narning a speaker of the House.
Parliament has not met since.
But just as every year before, the country
summoned its collective groove for Carnival.
"They're willing to have fun at any cost,"
observes DJ Spreadlove Bobby, who was spin-
ning reggae, soca and hip-hop at CalypsoCity
that week. Bobby, who was born in Jamaica
and grew up in Flatbush and then Roosevelt,
Long Island, believes Carnival culture fosters
an openness he doesn't see in other Caribbean
societies. "Like some really, straight-up
Jamaican club, you go there and you take a
chance, and they'll clear the dance floor, " he
says. "They won't accept it."
Indo-Caribbeans have accepted him-Bobby
has played CalypsoCiry for three years. "I'll make
sure I know, like, let's say coming up this week or
month it's the independence of Grenada or
Guyana, or there's a Muslim holiday or a Hindu
holiday," Bobby says. "You say something because
the next week they're nor gonna be here."
Like last fall, just before the Muslim holy
month. "I said, "Nuff love go in' out ro all the
Muslims inside CalypsoCity who are gonna be
celebratin' Ramadan. 'Nuff love to you, " Bobby
flails his arms, reenacting the jubilation that fol-
lowed. "And it all went hey-rahhhhhhh!!!!" Then
he laughs and bobs his dredlocks. "People love it
when you give something to identify with them."
n New Year's Eve, DJ Spreadlove Bobby
commanded a young and racially mixed
crowd, while a large-screen TV in one
corner aired the festivities in Times Square via
MTV. The night's live performance consisted
of a shorr chutney stage dance, in which two
female performers combined Indian hand
motions with Caribbean hip-shaking. They
were greeted with cheers and flying dollar bills.
Club Tobago, meanwhile, had a full line-up
of live musicians, including Terry Gajraj. The
35-year-old father, who works as an insurance
analyst in Connecticut, performed several hits
from his 22nd album, Bhaita Gana. Themes
ranged from lust for a woman, in the Hindi-
sung "Zamana," to his appreciation for the wis-
dom of his grandmother. Based on call-and-
response analysis, the almost completely Indo-
Caribbean crowd was a 50-50 split between
Guyanese and Trinidadians.
It's hard to say which club more closely
resembled parties in the West Indies. ''They
have cable, so now they're up with everything in
the world," says Anita, who travels ro Trinidad
at least once a year, for Carnival. "For the past
continued on page 40
n November 23, 1999,
a young man named Eduardo
Daniel Gutierrez was
drowned by a building. Gutierrez, a 21-
year old day laborer from San Matias,
Mexico, was working at a Williamsburg
construction site when the floor he was
standing on collapsed and sent him
plunging three stories into a bog of wet
The builder, Eugene Ostreicher, was
no stranger to sudden collapses: Accord-
ing to Fire Department records, the site
Gutierrez was working on had collapsed
once before the accident that killed him.
In 1996, one ofOstreicher's other build-
ings collapsed three times before it was
finally finished
In a new book, The Short Sweet
Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez, News-
day columnist jimmy Breslin reconstructs
the series of journeys, accidents and
dreams that ended with the death of
Eduardo Gutierrez. Painstakingly
researching Ostreicher's past building
mishaps, Breslin shows how official
incompetence, corruption and apathy
contributed to Gutierrez's death.
But Breslin's book is also about
Gutierrez's life. Gutierrez was one of at
least half a million undocumented
workers in New York City, men and
women whose lives are rarely, if ever,
seen this closely. Talking to Gutierrez's
family, friends and co-workers, Breslin
reconstructs his days in Brooklyn-liv-
ing in Brighton Beach with other
expatriates from San Matias, learning
how to use the subway, talking on the
phone with his girlfriend, Silvia. Trav-
eling all the way to San Matias, Bres-
lin tells the story of how Gutierrez
ended up in Brooklyn working for
Ostreicher-his life in Mexico, his pas-
sage here and his search for the job that
ultimately killed him.
How Eduardo Daniel Gutierrez died-and lived-in Brooklyn.
By Jimmy Breslin
duardo moved into a space on an upstairs floor in an attached
frame house that was across the street from Grady High School in
Brighton Beach. The landlord, who lived on the first floor, was
never seen, and the Mexicans were crowded onto the second. There was
a kitchen, bathroom, a small bedroom, and a large front bedroom with
dark brown paneling and a blue carpet. The large bedroom had two
windows looking down at the stoop and street. A television set was in
one corner of the room. Eight from Mexico slept and lived there when
Eduardo arrived. They slept on the floor on thin pads and pillows. You
picked your place to sleep and then it became yours. Eduardo slept
between Alejandro and Mariano Ramirez, Gustavo's brother. They had
their heads to the wall under the windows. The room was long enough
so that their feet did not touch those of the others sleeping with their
heads against the opposite wall.
Eduardo was stunned by the bathroom. Never before had he seen one
in a house. With nine people and one bathroom, there was an implied
agreement that each would take no more than ten minutes. He soon
learned that each time somebody slipped past him, it would be ten min-
utes oflistening to running water. Let three get ahead and you lose a half
hour. He realized that he had to stand around as if thinking of something
and then suddenly jump at first click of the bathroom door opening. He
often lost out to a shoulder and a fully slammed door. The most familiar
sound in the house was that of someone rapping on the bathroom door
to get the occupant to hurry.
In the kitchen there was a stove and a sink; a house with running
water in San Matias was at best rare. A turn of the handle brought a flame
out of the stovetop. Magic. There was a large round table for the group
to eat at. They each paid $95 a month in rent and $25 a week for food.
Martha, who was the sister of Gustavo and Mariano, lived in the small
bedroom with her husband. She was on the lease and handled the rents
and cooking. Martha had three children at home in San Matias with her
mother in the rooms right behind where Eduardo's family lived. Her
brother Gustavo had left two children in Mexico with his wife. One day
Gustavo's wife left the children with Gustavo's mother in San Matias and
said she was going to look for work. Instead, she went off with a man
and never returned. This left the grandmother in San Matias with six
grandchildren. All her upbringing and beliefs told her there was some-
thing worse ahead, a catastrophe, a tragedy falling from the sky, and she
never could see it, but now suddenly it was in front of her at night. In a
dream she had, she was in line at the window of the appliance store for
the money order from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, and instead of a
man with her money order, there was a skull, a death's head, with eye
sockets fixed on her.
In the morning she told this to Eduardo's father at the brickyard.
He didn't believe her.
"If it happens, what will I do with all these children to feed?" she
asked him.
He doesn't remember what he said, exactly. He knows he just went to
work at bricks. Of course her death's head vision never materialized.
Something worse would: a clerk in the window shaking his normal head.
No, no money order from Brooklyn.
Alejandro lived on the floor next to Eduardo for the same reason as
Eduardo: to send enough money home to soften the path when he
returned. But every night he reminded himself that he'd never thought
he would be here living alone and his wife would be
home in Mexico with his children. On most nights
he thought of his marriage. He'd married his wife in
a civil ceremony with his mother and father present.
He wore a shirt and he knew she'd worn a dress, but
he couldn't remember what it looked like-you only
wore a white dress for a big church wedding. He
remembered going with her to the clinic for their
first baby. He was there at 6 p.m. and waited with
her in one room, where she was monitored, and then
she went into the delivery room and he stayed out-
side. They didn't know whether it would be a boy or
girl. Each wanted a nina, and that's what they got.
He'd set up an upholstery shop in a room in the
house opening onto the street. He had to rent a com-
pressor because he couldn't afford to buy one. He had
to borrow or rent other equipment. Air pistols, saws
to cut-they would cost another 20,000 pesos.
dren a future was to change the order of their living now, and for Ale-
jandro to go to New York.
He'd gotten up at 5 a.m., and his wife went with him on the bus to
the Puebla airport. She came inside, kissed him goodbye, and stood
alone as he went through the gate to the plane to Hermosillo in Sonora.
From there he went across a border that was unexpectedly unguarded
that night. Ahead of him was Brooklyn and loneliness.
At Brighton Beach, Gustavo had gotten him a job at $7.50 an hour
working construction. His arms soon advertised his work. He has iron
bars for upper arms. He is 5 feet 6 inches and 135 pounds or so. He has
a mustache and a young smile.
He worked for a builder named Eugene Ostreicher and his son,
Richie. They were doing a lot of housing in one section of Brooklyn
called Williamsburg.
he son, Richie Ostreicher, had spent several years studying the
Talmud in a Satmar community in Monroe, New York. Studies
in Hebrew schools are at marathon length. His friend Sam New-
man, who was there with him, recalls, "We studied fourteen, fifteen
hours a day. We got home twice a year. He seemed to like it. I was not
His biggest job had been for 7,500 pesos. He
did the whole room-walls, sofa, love seat, and
chairs-in fifteen days, and was very proud of it.
Fine. But often he could not get a compressor to
rent and he had to tell customers who showed him
photos of what they wanted that he couldn't get to Day laborers wait to get hired in Port Richmond, Staten Island.
them until the week after next.
He had been earning the equivalent of about $150 a week. Alejandro
and his wife and her brother talked about Alejandro changing what
looked like a bleak future: He was going to earn $150 a week and prob-
ably less for all of his life. Alejandro and his wife had been talking of his
going to America and had agreed that he could try heartbreak for a year
and a half for the money. He could earn enough to buy upholstery tools.
Then he could work at home and support a family without sweating
blood. But this was not Italy, where the men leave Sicily for seasonal
work in desolation and loneliness in the north, in Switzerland even, but
return to Sicily at the end of the season. A Mexican going to New York
must cross the border like a wanted criminal. No husband could return
for a simple visit, and no wife could follow him to New York.
Alejandro's wife, who suddenly realized that she would be alone with
the children for a year and a half, had been shaken. Her brother helped
make the decision: The only way for Alejandro to give his wife and chil-
This article is an excerpt from Jimmy Breslin's new book, The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo
Gutierrez (Crown, March 2002).
APRIL 2002
too sure. You can see who is going to continue as a scholar. After you
come out into the free world, and you still want to study, that shows
your desire. Me, I wasn't so much for it. Richie did study once in while."
As the sections of the Talmud are thousands of years old, each sec-
tion must be scoured and discussed and gone over again and again.
Newman says that of course he and Richie studied for interminable
hours the rules that no one is allowed to take advantage of an
employee, that no employer is allowed to eat until he pays his workers.
Bur this refers to day workers, who put in a hard day and should be
paid that night. Workers on a weekly or monthly payroll are different.
As for day workers, if a man says he needs the job so desperately that
he will work cheap, you shouldn't take advantage of him. Still, he is so
desperate for work that at times you create a job for him, and this puts
it into a gray area. It isn't right to take advantage of him, but the ques-
tion is, is it the wrong thing to give him this work right away? After all,
you're not God. God is God. The man needs work. But does his need
mean you're supposed to pay him more than he'll take? On the street,
the answer is a distillation of scriptures: Pay the guy enough so that you
can have something under your feet when you stand and claim that
you're not robbing him.
In their lives and times of living in the most diverse center of popu-
lation in all the world-a Brooklyn of people driven off the cotton
fields of the South by machines, or from the slums of San Juan and
Porr-au-Prince and Santo Domingo and the sparse living of Cholula-
the Hasidim had the most complicated feelings. They didn't like any-
body who wasn't white, don't worry about that. But they couldn't do
without them, particularly Mexicans, because they were cheap labor
and the world has nothing to rival that, nor has it ever. Then, unlike the
non-Hasidic Jews and the Irish and Italian and Germans, the Hasidim
did not flee from other races. The Hasidim bought land and houses
because they were going to remain in Brooklyn. The Lubavitch grand
rebbe, Menachem Shneerson, called it a deep moral obligation not to
Dillon of the Fifth Battalion arrived from the firehouse on Union
Avenue, alongside the Ninetieth Precinct. Around a corner of the build-
ing was Truck Eight of Police Emergency Services. They were not
needed-this time.
Dillon arrived at the scene of new rubble and had his men put up yel-
low crime scene tape. The Mexican workers stood across the street,
uncertain. Suddenly Richie Ostreicher got out of a car with police lights
and shields and any other placard he had been able to get from police
commanders who thought they were dealing with a police chaplain. He
called to the laborers, "We go to work. "
Dillon said no.
"Forget it," Osrreicher told his crew. "We go to work."
Dillon said, "You don't."
"Who are you?" Ostreicher said.
'Tm Chief Dillon, New York City Fire
Department. I closed this place."
"You can't do that. "
"Yes, I can. I'm in charge here until I hand
over the place to somebody else, the Buildings
"I own this place," Ostreicher said.
"I closed it, " Dillon said.
"What do you know?" he asked Dillon.
"I know I'm a fire chief in charge."
"You don't know buildings. "
"I went to school for it, " Dillon said.
"What degree did you get?"
"GED. " (Everybody knew that he got that
degree from a high school continuation course.)
"What's that?"
"General Engineering Diploma."
"Oh, " Richie Ostreicher said.
Dillon's men stood in a semicircle with him
and tried not to smile.
Now Ostreicher said, "Can I talk to you?"
"That's what you're doing," Dillon said.
"No, I mean, alone. Over there." He pointed
to the other side of the street.
"All right," Dillon said. He tapped his aide,
Chris Steidinger, who walked over with him.
"We can talk alone," Ostreicher said.
Hasidic neighbors gather after the building Gutierrez was working on collapsed.
"We are alone. He counts as me," Dillon
Ostreicher went into his pocket and brought
out a gold badge. He had it cupped in his hand
and held the hand close to his pants pocket.
run from blacks. Others, particularly Catholics, didn't know what he
was talking about. They were moving out to Long Island to spend three
and four hours a day getting to and from work because they loved the
Long Island Expressway so much. The Hasidim regarded themselves as
morally superior to these people. They stayed in Brooklyn and called
911 on the blacks and Mexicans at night. In the morning they hired
them to work off the books, and for minimum wage-maybe.
n February 29, 1996, there was a third collapse, this one in the
dark of night. The sound ran down empty streets. At that hour,
with no workers on the job, nobody was hurt. At daylight, Chief
"Do you know what this is?"
Dillon looked at. A gold shield with two stars on it. Some kind of
police inspector's badge.
Dillon said nothing.
''This doesn't mean anything to you?" Ostreicher said, pushing the
cupped hand toward Dillon.
"Are you a member of the Police Department of the City of New
York?" Dillon said.
Quickly Ostreicher put the badge back in his pocket. Once Dillon
started making it official, he stepped back.
Dillon drove back to the firehouse.
Fire Department
Engine Co. 230
Feb. 25, 1996
Responded to a structural collapse at 49 Lorimer Street. This was the
THIRD COLLAPSE in the past few weeks at this construction site. For-
tunately, the workmen were able to escape without injury. The Owner
Chaim Ostreicher was given three summons.
See attached report dated 2/9/96 from BC O'Connor, fWded after the
Respectfully submitted,
Edward J. Regan, Captain, E230.
Hertzberg & Sanchez
Consulting Engineers
295 Northern Boulevard, Great Neck,
NY 11921-4701
Feb. 26, 1996
Department of Buildings, Borough of
Att: Mr. Darryl Hilton
Chief Inspector
RE: 29 Lorimer Street (#300437800)
21 Lorimer Street (#300437837)
41 Lorimer Street (#300437064)
Dear Mr. Hilton:
is thirty-second birthday was on the twelfth of September,
1999, a Sunday, which is why Nelson Negron is sure of most of
the things that happened. The day before, Saturday, he had
been our on the curb in front of the bodega on Bedford, and at eight
0 ' clock a van pulled up and the guy called out for three people who
wanted to work. Nelson and his friend Miguel got in the van, which
took them to a factory in Long Island City where they spent the day
moving sewing machines. To push a machine was a two-man job. Even
so, by the middle of the afternoon their arms were made oflead. The guy
gave Nelson and Miguel $60 and drove them back to the bodega. Nel-
son walked home. His roommate, Tony, had rice and beans ready. After
that, Nelson watched television and fell asleep.
"My birthday," he said when he woke up at 7 a.m.
"Happy birthday," Tony said. "What are you going to do?"
"To work. I have no choice."
He got dressed and walked to the bodega, the DR, on Bedford
Avenue. He had a pastrami sandwich and coffee and stood outside on
This will confirm that Hertzberg and
Sanchez will be observing the construction in
progress to assure that the walls will be properly
braced by the installation of the floor joists.
The bricklayers have been instructed to
brace the walls before they close for the day.
New York City firefighters inspect the debris in the basement where Gutierrez died.
We require immediate approval to con-
tinue with the work as vandalism is rampant in the area.
Very truly yours,
Louis Sanchez, P.E.
The engineers wrote as if they were in charge, which they were.
Because the city Buildings Department, which sounds like a massive
government bureau, is so small, with only eight hundred workers,
including office maintenance workers, receptionists, and computer
workers, there is no way to inspect the eight hundred thousand build-
ings in the city, particularly if City Hall cuts the funds to nothing.
Buildings Department people rarely see any structures. The architects
and professional engineers supposedly put up their reputations and
license and certifY each of their construction jobs. If anything falls
down, their licenses flop with it. That never happens. What does hap-
pen every day is that the trust of a huge city is given to people with no
official responsibility.
APRIL 2002
Bedford, eating and hoping for the great job, a birthday present, a trailer
truck from the south coming up and paying a hundred for the day to
unload it. Instead, Leo Schwimmer pulled up in a green van and asked
Negron if he wanted to make $50. Pur the $50 together with the $60
from the day before and I got $110 to begin the week, Nelson told him-
self. Beauty! If I ever put together five days, including the weekend, on
top of this, then I got the best week I ever had working.
Negron enthusiastically went over to the van, which he remembers
had a sliding door. Leo knew from past jobs that Negron could speak the
language and was a good strong worker. Nelson had worked on beams,
support beams, and taping for Leo. When Leo got to the Middleton
Street site, a full crew was working. That it was Sunday meant nothing
to Leo, and was not vital to the Mexicans, who believed that work is
prayer. Leo told Nelson to get fifty-pound sacks of cement up to the
third level of the new buildings. The building fronts were wide open.
Framing would come later. They were working on a series of four-story
brick houses that started at the corner bodega and ran up the street, tak-
ing in numbers 40-50 on Middleton Street. Across from the houses was
a dreary brick grammar school.
Nelson got a sack on his shoulder and stepped up to the bottom level
of the scaffold. That was one. Now he went up another level. Heaving
and sweating already, up the scaffold he went, looking up at Eduardo's
face and a roof held up by false hope.
"Too heavy!" Eduardo said. By this time, September 1999, he had
gone from the curb at Bedford to construction sites all over Brooklyn,
one job leading to another. Finally he was part of the crew on this group
of buildings being built by Ostreicher. This was the job he had first heard
about in Mexico.
"Nothing is too heavy for me," Negron remembers saying. He weighs
220 and can handle weight.
He threw the sack onto the floor. The wood went up and down. Not
a lot, but just enough to give him the idea that the floor where they were
"If we say it, the boss fires us," Alejandro said.
''This is how he wants it," Negron said.
"It's wrong, but he told me to do it this way," Eduardo said.
"Around here," Negron said, "around Bedford, the guy with the
money runs your life."
Leo came back and told Nelson to take beams ftom a stack of shin-
ing aluminum and lug them to the top level. First, Negron went to the
corner bodega to get a bottle of water. They had learned that soft drinks
don't do you much good.
Eduardo took Negron's place with the cement sacks. Eduardo was
sopping wet in the hot September afternoon as he made his way up the
scaffolding with the 50-pound sack on his shoulder. Eduardo struggled
with the sack and was about to throw it on the third level when he
slapped the wood with his hand. He felt it give.
"I could knock this thing down," Alejandro remembers Eduardo
And he remembers saying to Eduardo, "You think
Just inside on the third level, Eduardo had a circle
of sand and a water hose and mixed the cement
mushy, between dry and wet.
On the sidewalk, Leo looked atound, made a
phone calion his cell phone, and left.
Nelson Negron threaded a rope through one of the
utility holes in the beam and ran it up to a pulley fas-
tened to the third level. He and a guy called Miguel
then pulled the beam up. Miguel clambered up the
scaffolding and got on the top level. Nelson came up
behind him. Standing on the scaffolding, Nelson
began to shove the beam onto the third level. He heard
a sound, a screw dropping out of the scaffold. He went
to put his right foot firm on the scaffolding, but there
was nothing there. He was in the air, going over back-
ward, and fell three stories to the dirt and debris.
He has no idea how long he was there.
In July 2001-over a year and a half after the collapse that killed Gutierrez-there's a
memorial for him in the still-unfinished building.
The first thing he saw was a man with no teeth
bending over him and lifting him up by the arm.
The man had on a long black sweater and good
sneakers. Somebody said that the guy's name was
Louis. Whoever he was, he had just appeared, and as
soon as he got Negron onto the sidewalk and
working was no good.
Negron stayed on the scaffold and looked in. There were little cracks
in the few beams he could see holding up this top floor. There were only
three beams across.
Seeing that Negron, too, had noticed the floor support, Eduardo
asked, "Where's the rest of the beams?"
When Negron complained, Eduardo's friend, Lucino, knew Negron
was saying the truth, but he didn't know what to do about it.
"We could get hurt," Negron remembers Eduardo saying.
"You could get more than that, " Negron said.
He remembers that Alejandro then came over and said, "Could we
get killed?"
"That's right, " Negron said.
"What are we supposed to do?" Alejandro said.
"I don't know," Negron said.
propped against the base of the building, he went away.
At the same time, Negron remembers that Leo showed up. When
somebody said to call 911, Leo shouted, "No!" They had just finished
three collapses around the corner and one on this block. He wanted no
record of this one. He slid the door open while a couple of workers car-
ried Nelson Negron into the van.
When Leo delivered him in front of his apartment house, Nelson
couldn't get out. He couldn't move one leg. His back was filled with
barbed wire. Somebody from the sidewalk in front of his house had to
come out and help him.
Negron remembers Leo handing him $30.
"You didn't work the whole day. "
He made a U-turn and drove off without looking at Nelson.
That was the last time for a while that Negron saw anybody. Soon he
had a cane and long empty days in his apartment .
Meet the
New Boss
By Bob Roberts
ber, the Citizens Budget Commission invited
charity directors, nonprofit types and policy
wonks to dissect the city's economic crisis.
When David Jones of the Community Service
Society, a longtime antipoverty advocate and
stalwart liberal, offered his solution-a public-
private partnership to create jobs-it raised
some eyebrows.
"David Jones, a workfare advocate?" teased
the moderator, NYl's Andrew Kirtzmann.
"Who would have ever thought it?"
"Don't tell my mother," said Jones sheepishly.
In less than a thousand words, tucked into
an emergency social policy proposal issued last
November and entitled "Back to Work," CSS
is proposing a transitional employment pro-
gram that's larger than any other in the United
States, and at a higher starting wage than any
of them. At the heart of Jones's proposal is an
idea so old it looks new: an emergency
APRIL 2002
counter-recessionary public works initiative.
In other words, it's not WEP; it's closer in
spirit to the WPA.
Ever since welfare reform began in 1996,
advocates for the poor have been fighting
mandatory work requirements. Even those-
and there were many-who supported welfare
reform-tied jobs initiatives saw them as
Are advocates for
the poor giving
in to workfare-
or lobbying for
better jobs?
coerced labor, cynically designed to force des-
perate people into low-paying jobs and under-
cut city unions.
'This is a crisis for liberals," says Ed Ott of
New York's Central Labor Council, believes
liberals lost the 1996 battle against welfare
reform by allowing conservatives to maneuver
them into opposing work. "We created a
whole underclass of women and children who
couldn't get out," he says, "because we didn't
ask ourselves, 'What are the long-term barriers
to work?'"
But now, with mass layoffs, a recession and
reauthorization of Temporary Assistance to
Needy Families (TANF) looming, that weary
attitude has undergone a delicate but crucial
shift. More and more antipoverty groups are
including subsidized transitional work pro-
grams in their platforms, even spending pre-
cious political capital on ambitious public
works proposals. The Philadelphia Unemploy-
ment Project is using its success in negotiating
small-scale transitional jobs programs as a start-
ing point for a larger campaign for public
works. A freshman senator from Delaware, self-
described centrist Tom Carper, plans to propose
federally subsidized transitional jobs programs
as a key element in this year's debate over T ANF
reauthorization. Across the country, dozens of
advocates and organizations-some of them
the very same ones that spent the past eight
years fighting workfare-are now fighting, with
varying degrees of enthusiasm, for work.
Almost all of these proposals are adapting
the new model of transitional job program
made possible by welfare reform. Largely the
brainchild of social policy think tanks, these
programs use each state's discretionary power
over federal block grant money to subsidize
paid work in the public, nonprofit and,
increasingly, private secrors. The hope is that,
when combined with job-related training, they
will help participants' long-term employment
prospects. "These programs are a great way for
people to move from public assistance to long-
term jobs," says Steve Savner of the Washing-
ton-based Center for Law and Social Policy.
Anne Lecee, director of Welfare Made a Dif-
ference, a national educational campaign
designed to address misperceptions about pub-
lic assistance, sees this shift in emphasis toward
jobs as a pragmatic capitulation to the politics
of welfare reform. "It's hard, when you've been
on the defensive so long," she says. For many,
the discussion has been "dragged toward work. "
That's true even for hardcore workfare crit-
ics like the East Harlem-based Community
Voices Heard, whose members have been
increasingly vocal in demanding quality tran-
sitional jobs programs. When HRA abruptly
ended the Parks Opportunity Program, which
let several thousand people in the sub-mini-
mum wage Work Exerience Program convert
to "real" city jobs at union-scale $9.38 an
By overzealously suspending driver's licenses
for minor transgressions, New Jersey deters its
poor residents from obtaining better jobs and
lives, says this report. Seizing licenses doesn't
just keep low-income drivers from getting to
work, it also shuts them out of some jobs-like
auto mechanic-where current licenses are
required. Of the 867,000 licenses New Jersey
yanked in 2000, only about 3 percent of drivers
had committed serious crimes like DWl i the vast
majority were suspended because they couldn't
pay a fine, fee or insurance payment.
"Roadblock on the Way to
Worlr: Driver's license Suspension in New Jersey, "
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
njisj.kz@verizon.netor 973-624-9400
After studying successful homeless ness pro-
grams nationwide, this Philadelphia group
wrote a lO-year plan culminating with the end
of homeless ness in Philly-and the closing of
its own office-in 2010. Although the commit-
tee's proposal is rousing, it's not terribly
detailed. Calls for housing and employment, for
example, figure prominently in its solution. The
plan's virtue is in its careful study of other
homeless ness efforts, including New York's
Pathways to Housing program and the Doe
Fund's employment and shelter initiative,
Ready, Willing & Able.
"Opening the Door to Let the Future In, "
Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness
www.pceh.orgor 215-232-2300
Nationally, babies born in America's biggest
cities rank poorly in such basic health indica-
tors as premature birth rates and birth
weight. But according to this new report, New
York actually compares favorably with other
urban areas, with one of the lowest teen birth
rates and lowest rates of mothers who smoke
while pregnant. We do falter in contributing to
a child's healthy beginning: Nearly 7 percent
of New York's moms don't have adequate pre-
natal care.
"The Right Start for America's Newborns, "
Annie E Casey Foundation
www.aeciorg or 410-547-6600
hour, 45 workers marched down to the offices
of Community Voices Heard. Together, they
organized a boisterous demonstration to
demand to keep their jobs. Such experiences
appear to be changing the ways activists think
about their options. "For those who can
work," says a senior staffer at Community
Voices Heard, "a job is the ultimate safety net. "
bottomed-out business cycles with emergency
employment programs ever since 1807, when
the Jefferson administration proposed employ-
ing New York City dockworkers during the
British embargo. The grand-daddy of such pro-
grams, the WPA, got its start here in New York
State, in the form of the Temporary Emergency
Relief Administration. From 1931 to 1935,
relief paid out $300 million in market-rate wages
to the unemployed, who were compensated for
performing a wide variety of ordinary everyday
jobs, from home health care visits to rebinding
library books and planting fruit trees.
These days, New York has but two small
transitional jobs programs: One, articulated in
a citywide law passed in 1998, was never
implemented. The other, a statewide public-
sector pilot program, remains mired in
Albany's budgetary marsh. At this rate, it seems
unlikely that a modern-day Diego Rivera will
ever paint a mural of New York's unemployed
building the Second Avenue subway.
But since last September, the fight for jobs
has taken on a new urgency. The city's eco-
nomic troubles give the idea of government-
funded jobs an appeal it didn't have before.
The Community Service Society is hoping it
can parlay that crisis into a solid initiative that
can help the poor. "People are so focused on
the rebuilding of downtown," says Mark Levi-
tan, an analyst at the society. "We're asking
people to step back and look at the big picture.
This is a point of opportunity."
The Community Service Society proposal
is designed to deal with the city's economic cri-
sis swiftly and directly, through the neo-Key-
nesian approach of pumping money into jobs
as economic stimulus.
The actual mechanism of the plan is sur-
prisingly simple. A central, city-based author-
ity-preferably the Department of Employ-
ment-would create 50,000 subsidized jobs,
paying $8.50 an hour and lasting one year.
Instead of being restricted to people on wel-
fare, the jobs would be open to anyone who
needs one. The goal will be to employ as many
people as possible in the shortest possible time.
Partly for that reason, no explicit training will
be provided, a fact that sets it apart from most
transitional jobs programs. "The beauty of this
thing is that you can get it up and running
quickly, " says Levitan.
The $750 million necessary to fund it
would come from all available Federal block
grant sources-mainly the state's $800 million
dollar TANF "rainy day" fund.
In order to be subsidized by the program,
jobs would have to satisfY two primary needs: for
workers, the need for long-term employment
prospects; for the city at large, the more elusive
standard of "community benefit." The jobs will
be in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.
By including the private sector, CSS hopes
to pump cash into poor neighborhoods and
help vital small businesses to stay afloat. Hard-
hit nonprofits are an obvious source of jobs,
but so are businesses in poor neighborhoods.
Levitan believes that this, in the broadest
sense, also constitutes public works. "If we can
help the 24-hour drugstore stay open when
your baby needs Tylenol," says Levitan, "that's
a community need too."
But the inclusion of private sector employ-
ers worries some advocates for the poor.
There's no guarantee that employers won't pad
their payrolls with subsidized workers, only to
turn around and fire them when the program
ends a year later. Don Friedman of the Com-
munity Food Resource Center notes "the
potential for exploitation whenever public
largesse flows into private hands."
Without any provision for education or
training, long-term success for those who par-
ticipate in the CSS plan ultimately depends on
the quality of the jobs available. A subsidized
position at Duane Reade might not be the
answer; even Kathryn Wylde of the New York
City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce,
who believes that poverty programs must
engage the marketplace, cautions that "you
can't just dump 4,000 people into retail."
In the end, the effort may be most success-
ful at sending a message. New York city and
state are now footing the entire bill for welfare
checks for families who've reached their five-
year lifetime limits on federal welfare. There
may be no better time to demonstrate that
investing in jobs is the way to go.
"It's not the ultimate legislation. I don't
think that those of us who are advocating this
see it as a panacea," says Brad Lander of the
Fifth Avenue Committee, a key supporter of
the plan. "We just see it as part of a better over-
all welfare policy."
Bob Roberts is a Bronx-based freelance writer.
Dead Reckoning
By Hakim Hasan
The Reckoning: What Blacks Owe to Each Other by Randall Robinson
Dutton, $24.95, 276 pages
dall Robinson's passionate argument galvanized
the reparations movement, bringing a certain
legitimacy to the controversial idea of compen-
sating blacks for the ravages of slavery. In his
new book, The Reckoning: What Blacks Owe to
Each Other, Robinson takes on a topic that's
equally explosive: that some black men, like
himself, end up successful, and others are mem-
bers of an "endangered social species."
The linchpin of The Reckoning is "The
Luncheon," Robinson's brilliant and self-
absorbed analysis of himself as an invited
speaker to a luncheon. This one is sponsored
by the Black Male Empowerment Summit at
Howard University, whose mission is to "sal-
vage" and "empower" black men. "I will give
my LEGO talk," broods Robinson, "patched
together extemporaneously from the thou-
sands of speeches I have made before ... now I
know that this is part of what depresses me. I
am giving a performance."
But this time it's different. At this luncheon
he meets Richard "Peewee" Kirkland. After lis-
tening to Kirkland describe a life mired in
poverty, crime, and lack of education, Robin-
son experiences an epiphany: He is part of an
elite cadre of black writers, intellectuals, and
civil rights leaders constantly pontificating on
the American lecture circuit about the social
maladies that confront the poor. Yet people like
Kirkland, three-dimensional poor and unedu-
cated black men, are rarely in the audience.
Forced to confront this dissonance, he con-
cludes that there must be a reconciliation or, as
he puts it, a "reckoning. "
Robinson seems utterly surprised by Kirk-
land's vivid descriptions of the urban geogra-
phy where poor blacks live in virtual quaran-
tine. His candor is beguiling: "I live in the Dis-
trict of Columbia but I don't know how to
locate the voting wards on a city map. I know
about Bujumbara, Burundi . Why is this?
... rationalizing, I could reason, painful though
it would be, that I am no different from any-
one else, that 1, like tens of millions of other
wanderlust victims, am an easy mark for the
Somewhere Else Industry. "
This straightforward assessment reads like a
APRIL 2002
summary of Robinson's career. As
founder and executive director of a
lobbying organization called
TransAfrica, he spent his career as
an African and Caribbean foreign
policy advocate. In the nation's cap-
ital, where TransAfrica is headquar-
tered and where Robinson lived
and lobbied on behalf of Africa and
the Caribbean, drug-related homi-
cide has literally wiped out a gener-
ation of black males. Here, ghettos
exist not far from the venetian
blinds of the White House and
Capitol Hill. If Robinson failed to
pay attention to this, The Reckon-
ing is his guilt-ridden call-to-arms
for other elite blacks who, like him,
earn their living in the social advo-
cacy business.
Primarily through an examina-
tion of Kirkland's life, Robinson descends the
social steps into an inferno of black poverty
he knows little or nothing about. Kirkland,
56, came of age in the grinding poverty of
Harlem. At the age of 13, he was a loan shark
and jewel thief, and he laundered securities.
(Later we learn that Kirkland was a street bas-
ketbalilegend, getting drafted as point guard
by the Chicago Bulls before he ended up, for
reasons Robinson does not clarifY, a million-
aire drug dealer on the streets of Harlem.)
After serving 10 years in prison, Kirkland
now runs the School for Ski liz in New York
City, a basketball camp where embattled
black males are taught coping skills and
encouraged to pursue an education.
Robinson uses Kirkland's life-which he
posits as a linear progression of failure-to
make larger assertions about poor black men.
Adapting the kind of controversial literary
techniques Edmond Morris used in Dutch: A
Memoir of Ronald Reagan, Robinson invents
"dialogue, family circumstance and per-
sonas ... inasmuch as I could not learn the inter-
nal details of their lives. "
Robinson also uses fictionalized and non-
fictionalized stories-a practice prevalent in
the work of critical race theorists-to analyze
the plight of people of color in American soci-
ety. His insightful self-introspection shifts to a
rigid fatalism in the fictionalized story "Wash-
ington, D.C. In The Year 2076," about the
exponential incarceration of black males. In
this dystopic vision of the future, "the Ameri-
can public school had become, in all but a few
Midwestern and Western states, a preprison
holding pen for the country's poor."
At this point, Robinson's better-Iate-than-
never analysis degenerates into holier-than-
thou outrage. He argues that the American
body politic systematically denies opportuni-
ties to poor black males and reduces them to
"penal grist" for the new domestic form of
chattel slavery which he calls the Prison Indus-
trial Complex.
There is something to be said for all this.
The urban poor do live with this dirty little
secret: that the education they receive does not
expand their social imagination, nor does it
prepare them for careers. They are being
trained for jobs at the lowest level of society or,
if truth be told, no job at all.
And yet Robinson represents a group of
prominent leaders, intellectuals, and writers
who only address the problems of black
Americans in terms of white transgression-
Bad Words For Good:
How Foundations Garble Their
Message and Lose Their Audience
By Tony Proscio, the Edna McConnell Clark
Foundation, free at www.emcf.org
If you loved "In Other Words," Proscio's caustic
deconstruction of faddish nonprofit terms like
"empowerment," you'll definitely enjoy the newest
offering from our very own LB. White. Here's a brief
taste, from his mockery ofthose who add "-based"
to nouns, as in "faith-based:" "Are [synagogues,
churches and mosques] content to have it said
that they are merely based on faith-perhaps the
way that Velveeta is based on cheese-and not
aflame with the genuine article?"
They're All My Children: Foster
Mothering in America
By Danielle F. Wozniak, NYU Press, $18
Anthropologist and former foster mom Wozniak
interviewed dozens of Connecticut foster parents
for this book, which alternates between wrench-
ing personal accounts of mothering and a some-
what tedious academic analysis of the foster care
system. The strength is the voices of the
interviewees: They emphasize they're mothers,
but the author shows they're also exploited work-
ers-underpaid and helpless before an imper-
sonal foster care system that can wrest their chil-
dren from them at any time.
Another World is Possible: Conversations
in a lime of Terror
Edited by Jee Kim, et aI.,
Subway & Elevated Press, $12
We hope John Ashcroft isn't reading, but it's safe
to say that not every American had the same
analysis of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
This compilation of more than 100 writers-from
well-known progressive stalwarts like John Cony-
ers and Barbara Kingsolver to the rarely-heard
voices of some of the September 11 victims' rel-
atives who opposed the U.S. response-touches
upon everything from foreign policy to spiritual
reflections. The collection is a perfect jumping-off
point for passionate discussions on the attack. To
that end, the publisher is offering a heavily dis-
counted bulk rate for non profits.
police brutality and other legacies of slavery.
The American lecture circuit abounds with
elite black American fatalists who earn stratos-
pheric honorariums for telling well-meaning
whites that poor blacks have little or no
While it would be irresponsible not to
acknowledge the social problems of poor
blacks, to say nothing of structural racism in
American life, many of these highly-paid fatal-
ists come from austere backgrounds them-
selves, and even have poor relatives they sup-
port. Yet they have found a way to become suc-
cessful. Why don't they ralk about that?
How was it possible for Robinson-reared
in segregated Virginia, from a stable family of
limited means, onJy four years older than Kirk-
land-to graduate from Harvard Law School
and reach upper middle-
class status? What are the
variables of his socio-eco-
Cose concedes that racism is a fixture of
American life (so are many other things).
Offering a step-by-step guide to his own suc-
cess and what he's learned from it, Cose charts
a course for black American male achievement
that is far more nuanced than the linear and
inevitable failure for many poor black men
foreseen by Robinson.
Robinson is to be commended for acknowl-
edging the debt he and others owe to poor
black men, and the consequences of ignoring
their plight. But the initial candor of The Reck-
oning implodes, ultimately extending the
loathsome, self-fulfilling performance-the
fatalistic performance of an elite black man
who earns a very good living on the lecture cir-
cuit articulating the inevitable failure of black
males-that Robinson so brilliantly critiques
in "The Luncheon."
In his determination
to examine Peewee
Kirkland and other nomic progress? Does it
have implications for
other blacks who moved
to northern cities in the
Great Migration? Where
is the Marshall Plan
within these communi-
ties to address the failure
of urban education?
What are the responsibil-
ities of black parents?
Robinson does not say.
Robinson leaves
us wondering:
black men as "slaves" of
the Prison Industrial
Complex, Robinson
avoids the more
nuanced realities of
poor black people's
lives. The glaring eco-
nomic chasm between
poor and middle-class
blacks has been widen-
ing for some time. This
is not news. The already
tragic number of black
Instead, he blithely
attributes his success to
Exactly what do
blacks owe to
each other?
the unbroken intergen-
erational ties of his fam-
ily. This singular expla-
nation cannot solely account for his success.
Robinson, the astute African and Caribbean
foreign policy advocate, does not elaborate. As
a consequence, he leaves us wondering: Exactly
what do blacks owe to each other?
ELLIS COSE KNOWS. In The Envy of The World:
On Being A Black Man In America, he offers the
kind of codified prescriptions for achievement
that are central to the dinner table, barbershop,
beauty parlor, and street corner conversations
that black Americans have every day about suc-
cess and failure.
These conversations-strategic planning
sessions for achievement-form a legacy of
pragmatic optimism. Most of them begin with
the premise that black Americans have made
progress, while also acknowledging that Colin
Powell could still be stopped on the highway
for impersonating the Secretary of State.
men in prison contin-
ues to grow. This is not
news. The dramatic
increase of black women being incarcerated is
news-as is the growing number of black
Americans who work in prisons as correction
officers, wardens and counselors. Yet Robinson
overlooks these things completely.
Robinson and Cose represent two compet-
ing visions, split between pointing the finger at
them and pointing the finger at us, of how to
address the plight of black males who are not
making progress. In its pessimism, The Reckon-
ing divorces itself from the mystery and man-
ners of black American pragmatism-the tra-
dition that Cose roots his book in-where
blacks told each other, before their fingernails
hardened in their mother's womb, "Child, you
have to be three times better than white folks
to make it in this world."
Hakim Hasan is the director of the Audrey Cohen
College Urban Institute.
Good Neighbor
By larry Schwartztol
THE FIRST STEP IN THE Fifth Avenue Commit-
tee's reconstruction of 572 Pacific Street took
place everywhere on the block except 572
Pacific Street. Before turning the vacant city-
owned building into 10 units of housing, vol-
unteers and staff knocked on evety door in the
immediate neighborhood. "We initially de-
cided to do this project sometime before the
summer, and then we decided that if we were
going to be successful we had to do a summer's
worth of engaging the community," says Julian
Brown, assistant director of the group's Devel-
oping Justice in South Brooklyn project.
FAC staff and volunteers were dispatched to
each household on Pacific and Dean srreets
between Fourth and Flatbush avenues wielding
a "Door-Knocking Manual" that included talk-
ing points and a list of suggestions for being a
pleasant interlocutor. Activists were advised to
APRIL 2002
"Listen to their comments without interrupt-
ing," "Invite them to tour other FAC buildings"
and, at the top of the list, "Be polite."
These painstaking measures were essential
because the Fifth Avenue Commirtee isn't just
refurbishing an apartment building. Its new res-
idents will be recently released prisoners who
formerly lived in the area. Their living situation
will come with job training, case management
New housing for
the homeless
rewrites the
NIMBY script.
and an enforced clean-and-sober rule. To its sup-
porters, the project has the dual virtues of easing
ex-prisoners through the traumas of reintegra-
tion and preventing the community from
absorbing the consequences of rockier reentries.
But to its opponents, the endeavor is some-
thing much less virtuous. Pauline Blake, chair of
Community Board 6's housing subcommirtee,
argues that purring former prisoners on a block of
Pacific Street where new higher-income residents
have been buying properties and sertling in "is
like raking a criminal and purting him in a bank
vault." And an unsigned lerter posted around the
neighborhood urged residents to oppose the pro-
ject, declaring: "Historically, this block has been
over saturated [sic] with all negative elements in
society. We have already paid our social dues to
society. We have paid for it physically, socially,
economically and are still paying for it. "
Time and again, plans for housing people
with special needs have collided with the
objections of nearby residents. Wary neighbors
fear concrete threats, like increased crime or
declining property values. Or they insist-per-
haps correctly-that their neighborhood has
been targeted as a dumping ground for social
service outlets.
That's what happened in February, when a
group of Harlem residents convinced a judge
to temporarily block state funding for a Hous-
ing Works residence for people with HN and
mental illness. State Senator David Paterson,
Assemblymember Keith Wright and Co un-
cilmember Bill Perkins all support the residents'
campaign to stop the facility. Though Housing
Works' offered to convene a local advisoty
board and put residents on the project's govern-
ing board, it wasn't enough to counter the con-
viction that this was an unjust imposition on
the neighborhood.
The Fifth Avenue Commirtee knows all about
the perils of neighborhood opposition. A previous
project, 67 units of housing for formerly homeless
and other low-income adults at 551 Warren
Street, came dangerously close to being blocked
in the winter of 1997 by a small cadre of critics
who were active in Community Board 2. Com-
munity boards have the power to recommend
denying the approval needed to transfer city-
owned property to an organization's possession.
Members of the Boerum Hill Association,
who persistently complained that their neigh-
borhood was oversaturated with social services,
were a sizeable presence on the board's Health
and Human Services Committee; that commit-
tee rejected the plan by a vote of 4 to 3. At that
point, the project's future seemed dim. "Obvi-
ously, it's very difficult to get a community
board to vote against a committee of that
board," says Fifth Avenue Committee executive
director Brad Lander. Intensive last-minute lob-
bying-including a petition signed by more
than 100 neighbors of the site-helped con-
vince the full board to vote yes.
So when it embarked on a project that
promised to be even more controversial, the
Fifth Avenue Committee made sure it got irs
message out early. To continue gauging neigh-
borhood sentiment following the door-knock-
ing campaign, the organization arranged a series
of focus groups, where residents were asked to
voice their concerns and suggest ways to address
them. Next came community meetings in July
and September. FAC's message: Properly run
supportive housing causes no social disarray,
and it actually decreases crime by preventing
vulnerable residents from slipping into home-
lessness and desperation.
Most neighbors first heard about the pro-
posal during those conversations, and some
found the idea hard to swallow. "Initially, I
think there was a lot of skepticism," Brown
recalls. "People said everything from 'People
deserve another chance' to 'Not on my block.'"
Lander recognizes that some stalwart oppo-
sition is inevitable. "I know there's a set of peo-
ple on this block who, the only input they want
to have is, 'Don't do this project,'" he says. But
there's more to his approach than just tri-
umphing over opposition. Fostering close com-
munity participation also serves the program's
own goal of smoothly integrating the ex-pris-
oners back into their neighborhood.
STill, EVEN CONSPICUOUS attention to local
concerns may not be quite so effective for
organizations that aren't already part of the
neighborhood. Steve Coe recalls the beating
his organization, Community Access, received
when it tried to expand its presence a few
blocks north, from the Lower East Side to
tonier Gramercy Park. Despite the organiza-
tion's experience providing services for people
with psychiatric problems, its attempt in 1994
to open a 25-unit building on 18th Street
aroused vitriolic opposition from some seg-
ments of the neighborhood.
Residents feared that the project would
boost crime and were irked that Community
Access hadn't consulted them before moving to
buy the site. Some formed a group that pledged
to prevent the residence from opening. When
Community Access fued a discrimination suit
against them, they in turn lambasted Coe's
group as an enemy of free speech.
Eventually the state's Office of Mental Health,
which was slated to fund the project, backed out,
expressing concern that Community Access
couldn't operate within irs proposed budget.
Community Access took OMH to court, too,
claiming the agency's decision represented a sur-
render to political pressure. "We had a one-day
hearing, and the judge was very sympathetic, but
there wasn't a smoking gun," Coe says. "The
judge agreed it looked fishy, and he sort of scolded
the state for their action." But the court denied
the group's petition, putting an end to irs plans.
The Gramercy Park incident taught Coe an
important lesson: Neighborhoods react poorly
to groups they deem "outsiders," regardless of
its credentials or a project's promise. Now
when Community Access embarks on opening
new facilities, it teams up with organizations
already established in the community-includ-
ing the Fifth Avenue Committee, with which it
formed a partnership to provide the social ser-
vices for the Warren Street building.
But the most effective community relations
Says a developer
of housing for
"People said
everything from
'People deserve
another chance' to
'Not on my block.'"
require more than the ability to showcase past
successes. When supportive housing operators
disperse their positive impact across a commu-
nity, not just within an edifice, the ripple
effecrs make an impression of their own.
"Rather than be isolated on a project, what
works is when a project can be part of a neigh-
borhood," argues Maureen Friar of the Sup-
portive Housing Network, a coalition of orga-
nizations operating joint housing and social
services. "In many cases supportive housing has
become an anchor for a whole block." Pro-
grams that invite neighbors inside by providing
civic services-things like voting booths and
mentoring programs-demonstrate that sup-
portive housing strengthens communities.
Broadway Housing Communities, which
runs five buildings in Washington Heighrs and
Harlem, aligns the interests of its residenrs with
those of their neighbors. For example, the
group's Rio Building on Ft. Washington Avenue
hosts an art project for neighborhood kids. The
idea is to promote contact between residenrs of
the building and the rest of the neighborhood,
and to spread its resources throughout the com-
munity. That type of interaction bolsters neigh-
borhood credibility, but it's more than p.r.; it
becomes an end in itsel "It's consistent with
our mission to support a caring community,"
says Ellen Baxter, the group's executive director.
When prospective neighbors object to a pro-
ject, supportive housing providers need nor sin-
gle-rnindedly aim to subdue opposition at all
costs. The Metropolitan Council on Jewish
Poverty, which runs housing for the elderly and
the mentally ill, has had to overcome unfair
opposition, but Executive Director Wllliam Rap-
fogel has also reconsidered projecrs when a com-
munity makes a good case. In the course of plan-
ning a facility in the Rockaways in 1996, Rapfo-
gel was receptive to residents' argument that their
neighborhood had already been saturated with
social services, many of them poorly run. "This
was a community that, even though they weren't
substantively right about the effecrs of this pro-
ject on their community, they were right that
they had been dumped on in the past," says Rap-
fogel. So, without pursuing a battle, he decided
not ro move fotward with the plan.
The Fifth Avenue Committee is now giving
local residents another way to have a say: It's
offering them a chance to help run the ex-
offender project. A screening committee,
charged with approving or nixing each appli-
cant for space in the building, will include
three residents from the immediate vicinity.
FAC will also form a 12-member Community
Advisory Board; after a year, that board will be
empowered to shut the project down if three-
fourths of its members deem it necessary.
In October, Community Board 6 voted 21
to 13 to approve the ex-offender housing; fur-
ther progress now depends on funding from the
city and state. The Fifth Avenue Committee
managed to earn approval not by sneaking it
through, but by shining light on irs efforrs. In
the end, that may be the most important strat-
egy. "I think it is a challenge, but it's a manage-
able challenge," says Lisa Kaplan, chair of Com-
munity Board 3 on the Lower East Side. "I think
the key to it is open disclosure and advanced
warning, and the community feeling that they
have been treated with respect and that no one
has tried to pull the wool over their eyes." _
Larry Schwartztol is a Manhattan-based free-
lance writer.

Deficit Disorder
By Joan Fitzgerald
During his campaign, mogul-turned-Mayor
Mike Bloomberg made a remarkable sugges-
tion: He proposed that companies be made to
work for their government benefits.
Bloomberg recommended that the city take
a good, hard look at its business-retention poli-
cies, and that it begin to develop standards to
measure the effectiveness of government-sub-
sidy deals. He also proposed that companies be
made to offer something in return for incen-
tives, and that they be held accountable if they
fail to live up to their end of the bargain.
Then, on November 7, 2001, his first day as
mayor-elect, Bloomberg went one better: He
announced that his company, Bloomberg L.P.,
would reject the $14 million in tax breaks it had
negotiated with the Giuliani administration.
Standards? Accountability? No more free
In the city's effort to retain businesses after
September 11 , financial incentives are a given.
How refreshing that the man in City Hall
doesn't think they also have to be giveaways.
Despite mounting evidence that traditional
government subsidies seldom do more than
pay companies for what they would have done
anyway, financial incentives remain a mainstay
of the economic-development strategies of
many U.S. cities. Among these is New York,
which has offered up more than $2 billion in
corporate subsidies over the past 15 years.
These deals are regularly announced with
great fanfare, but often produce less-than-
model results. In 1999, for example, the city
offered StarMedia $2.5 million in tax incen-
tives, and the state agreed to kick in $1 million,
APRIL 2002
Will New York
finally adopt an
incentive policy
that keeps
businesses in the
city without giving
away the store?
in exchange for the Internet media company's
promise to boost its New York City workforce
from 190 to 1,300. This produced the New
York Times headline: "On-Line Network
Expands, " " ... plans to invest $14.8 million."
In 1997, the city provided a $28.5 million tax-
incentive package ro Merrill Lynch. New York
Times headline: "Merrill Lynch to Hire 2,000
for Cash and Tax Incentives."
Not bad press for the city's economic devel-
opment efforts. Never mind that the promised
investments and hirings were never realized.
According to "Payoffs for Layoffs," a 2001
report on corporate-retention deals released by
the Center for an Urban Future, in September
2000 StarMedia announced it was cutting its
workforce by 15 percent. It then released
60,000 square feet of the 100,000-square-foot
office the city helped it acquire.
As for Merrill Lynch, not only did the firm
not add 2,000 jobs; the company eliminated
3,400, and it moved 1,200 of 9,000 existing
jobs to New Jersey within a year of signing the
agreement. In January of this year, Merrill Lynch
announced it would cut 9,000 more jobs glob-
ally. Although New York was not mentioned
specifically, that same month the firm
announced it was looking for tenants to sublet
11 floors it rents at 2 World Financial Center-
450,000 square feet the company would pre-
sumably not be needing any time soon.
It gets worse. In the early 1990s, ABC made
the case that the public sector should provide
subsidies to firms in strategic industries even if
they were not considering relocating. The city
apparently agreed: It offered $26 million in tax
abatements and subsidized electric power to
the company in 1994. In return, ABC agreed
to retain 3,700 jobs and add 185. Less than
two years later, in 1996, Disney purchased
ABC, immediately eliminating 60 New York
management jobs in the merger, and later
announcing it would cut 98 more positions. In
1999, according to "Payoffs for Layoffs, " ABC
relocated 240 employees from New York to
California; in 2001, it laid off 15 New York
network news reporters. This past year there
have been cuts at Disney's ABC-affiliated Inter-
net offices as well .
So why not just eliminate government
incentives? Because sometimes subsidy deals
make sense-particularly in a city with higher-
than-average rents, taxes, energy costs and
salaries. Without them, major companies that
might otherwise stay would undoubtedly take
their business elsewhere. In addition, incen-
tives such as below-market financing or rent,
energy discounts, or even tax abatements can
jump-start a new sector, spur development in a
struggling area of the city, or encourage a firm
to expand in place rather than moving. For
example, in New York, the Economic Develop-
ment Corporation offers a substantial number
of subsidies and tax breaks to manufacturing
companies, which allow them to buy their own
facilities or make needed renovations.
Economic development devolves into cor-
porate welfare when subsidies are thrown reflex-
ively at major corporations-however empty
the threat they level-without a strategy in
mind other than simply to make them stay put.
In order to make financial incentives a use-
ful economic development tool rather than a
waste of money and a burden on taxpaying
businesses, the first thing the city must do is
exactly what Mayor Bloomberg suggested:
Make firms that receive subsidies offer some-
thing in return-and then hold firms
accountable if they do not live up to their end
of the bargain.
New York is not alone in its failure to hold
companies to their word. In most cities, account-
ability-when it exists at all-means monitoring
employment goals after the fact: Did a company
hire as many employees as it promised? Even
fewer cities or states have effective mechanisms
(known as clawbacks) that respond to protect
their investment when promises aren't kept.
There are, however, some localities that
have drawn the line and have begun to ensure
that no subsidy is just a giveaway. For example,
in the 1990s, more than 67 cities or states
linked development subsidies to "good" jobs,
according to Greg LeRoy, director of Good
Jobs First, a nonprofit that focuses on the use
of subsidies in state and local economic prac-
tice. At least 16 of these cities have living-wage
ordinances. Some companies have had to
promise not to oppose unionization cam-
paigns. Others have been required to provide
employee benefits or give preference to neigh-
borhood residents when hiring.
Two other pieces of the solution are linking
subsidies to the city or region's broader eco-
nomic development goals, and requiring mutual
investment-that is, having companies kick in
some money whenever the government does.
A package put together by Chicago and the
state of Illinois for Ford Motor Company,
finalized in September 2000, offers a good
example of the kind of deal-making New York
should move toward.
The Ford plant has been in Chicago since
1933. In anticipation of a product-line switch,
Ford was weighing two options: It could retro-
fit the existing plant-a major investment--or
it could take an incentive package offered by
Hapeville, Georgia, where Ford's other Tau-
rus/Sable assembly plant is located.
Two ofFord's main concerns were improved
energy efficiency and access to good trans-
portation. The Chicago plant was old and inef-
ficient, and located in an area with highly con-
gested roadways-a serious disadvantage. The
Hapeville package included a choice of several
previously undeveloped sites near Adanta's
Hartsfield airport.
The obvious choice was to move to Adanra,
but Ford wasn't quite ready to abandon Chicago.
Instead, the company requested that a developer
be identified, and that the city and state work
together to come up with an offer that would
make Chicago competitive. Whether one sees
this as Ford holding the city hosrage or as the
company simply making a rational decision in a
capitalist economy, city and state government
had little choice but to offer a subsidy package
that would make the numbers work for Ford. A
team consisting of the Chicago departments of
Transporration, Environment and Workforce
Development, and the srate's departments of
Transportation, Energy and Workforce Devel-
opment, developed the package, with a private
consultant coordinating the effort.
The $115 million package, which includes
both direct expenditures and savings, does not
cover the cost of the new plant itself- a mea-
sure that ensures Ford has a financial srake in
the deal. Instead, it links a commitment to
develop an industrial park for Ford suppliers
with a plan to convert more than 900 acres of
abandoned, contaminated manufacturing land
in the Lake Calumet area on the city's far South
Side into a center for transferring freight from
one mode of transportation (rail, truck, plane,
ship) to another.
The direct expenditures break down as fol-
lows: approximately $43.5 million for street and
roadway improvements; $23 million for work-
force development; $18 million for site develop-
ment; and $2.4 for energy-efficiency improve-
ments to the Ford plant. Indirect savings to Ford
Chicago's deal
with Ford includes
three essential
elements: linked
mutual investment
and accountability.
come in the form of property-tax reductions, tax
credits and reduced energy expenses, which will
amount to $1.5 million per year.
Construction on the supplier park is sched-
uled to begin this spring. The new park will
create approximately 1,000 new jobs and save
2,500 unionized jobs at the Ford assembly
plant. The Ford plant and supplier-park firms
are expected to provide $1.3 billion in tax rev-
enue to the city and state over 10 years.
The deal has several restrictions. Ford must
create a minimum of 1 million square feet of
building space. The company must also guaran-
tee that it will maintain the existing union jobs
at the main plant, and that all new jobs in the
supplier park will be covered by United Auto
Workers union contracts. Clawback provisions
require Ford to create a minimum of 500 full-
time jobs by the end of 2006, and to mainrain
these jobs through 2011. If these provisions are
not met, Ford must pay back a percentage of the
financing proportionate to the percentage of
promised jobs the company failed to create, and
repay the city for infrastructure and road
The Ford deal includes three essential ele-
ments: linked development, mutual invest-
ment and accountability. In order to use its
economic development dollars most effectively,
New York should begin by establishing guide-
lines in each of these three areas. Then the city
should go even further, and begin to establish
eligibility criteria companies must meet before
development deals are in the works, to help
ensure that such deals are both necessary and
likely to be worth the investment.
To achieve these goals, Bloomberg should
appoint a permanent, independent committee
charged with creating an accountability system,
deciding which city economic development
organizations and programs would be
included, and approving all subsidies beyond
an established dollar amount.
Making these changes in New York will not
be easy. Part of the reason such a shaky devel-
opment strategy still dominates most city and
state economic-development efforts is simply
politics. Politicians seeking re-election cannot
afford to lose a major employer or high-profile
firm on their watch. The imperative to do
something, particularly if it makes headlines,
drives many of these deals, which often simply
delay the inevitable through the next election.
Another hurdle is that there are 25 pro-
grams offered by the city alone that offer subsi-
dies-which include energy discounts, tax
abatements and exemptions, and below-market
financing or rent-in efforts to achieve differ-
ent goals. These include artracting and retain-
ing companies, facilitating expansions, pro-
moting development in declining neighbor-
hoods, and encouraging development of new,
growth industries. This means that developing
consistent criteria for subsidy deals would
almost certainly entail cutting through a fair
amount of red tape and resistance from the var-
ious agencies involved. But if Mayor
Bloomberg takes the advice of candidate
Bloomberg and follows through on this chal-
lenge, he will be taking a significant step
toward getting corporations off the dole, and
making them work for New York.
Joan Fitzgerald is an associate professor and associ-
ate director at the Center for Urban and Regional
Policy at Northeastern University. NYC Inc. is a
project of the Center for an Urban Future.
APRIL 2002
We are now accepting applications for our
Banking Partnership for
Community Development (BPCD) grant program.
We believe that the continued success ofM&T
Bank is directly tied to the neighborhoods that we
serve. So, we are renewing our commitment to
Community Development Corporations (CDCs)
that are committed to making our neighborhoods
better places to live and conduct business.
M&T Bank's Banking Partnership for
Community Development (BPCD) will support
the neighborhood revitalization efforts of CDCs
in the following metropolitan New York City
counties: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn) Queens, New
York (Manhattan) Nassau and Suffolk counties.
BPCD will provide operating and programmatic
support to help CDCs strengthen their organiza-
tional capacity and institutionalize their economic
role in their communities. BPCD will award
grants of $5,000 - $20,000 to selected CDCs.
Grants will be awarded for a one year term only.
CDCs will be competitively selected for
participation. Proposals will be evaluated based
on their conformance with BPCD program
objectives, the ability of the applicant
organization to meet the criteria outlined in the
RFP and the quality of the proposed work plan.
To obtain an application or for further
information, please send an e-mail to:
nmubammad@mandtbank.com or visit one of
M&T Bank's retail branches.
All proposals must be received by 4 pm on
April 30, 2002.
Community is our best investment!
M&T Bank! NYC Division Banking Partnerships for community Development Grant Program
350 Park Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10022
continued from page 25
two years, the girls are up-to-date. The guys are
up-to-date-hip, whatever's happening on
MTV; whatever's happening with whatever
artist who's hot at the time, they're wearing it.
They're not wasting any time."
Raquel, meanwhile, had noticed that some
of the more popular clubs in Trinidad had
sophisticated, modern interiors, which she
found inspiring. Her own vision for the
remodeled Calypso City this spring is in the
vein of an Ian Schrager hotel.
''I'm gonna tone it down, I think," Raquel
says, alluding to the dub's remaining Caribbean
decor. "I think it's time. It's so typical, if you go
check everybody else's place, you see palm crees,
you see an Island background, and I'm like, 'I
don't care for it.' It's cool maybe if we were in the
Caribbean islands and stuff, but I think over here,
our generation-a nice modern place."
In Calypso City's back office, she pulls out
an earth-tone tile to show that the area around
the dance floor might resemble the tasteful
subtleties of Beyonce. "I'm gening rid of all the
neon," Raquel says with a dramatic sweep of
her hand. "I don't want no more neon colors."
But Anita makes assurances that the old
CalypsoCity won't just disappear: "But also
make it feel down home, too. Maybe with
bamboo sticks."
Those details would all be hashed out in
meetings, but they were certain of a few things
now: Competition was at an all-time high, and
not every club was going to survive. They
needed to stay hot. They needed to give the
people something new. "We want to make it
more where everyone can come in," Raquel
says, "so that it looks like one of the city clubs."
t's 12:25 a.m., and Hindi lyrics are playing
on Samantha's basement stereo. She and
Nathalie have finished off the french fries
and chicken wings they ordered from the Chi-
nese take-out. Nathalie's also thrown back
three shots of tequila; Samantha's downed one,
along with two glasses of madras. In between
drinks, jokes and gossip, they've found time to
shower, put on make-up and change.
A breezy reggae song now seeps out from the
speakers. "Girls, girls, every day, " goes the cho-
rus. The Partners in Crime take one last look in
the mirror, pull on their black coats and walk
out to greet the freelance cabbie idling in front.
They hop in the back seat, and he presses an
untied Timberland boot to the pedal. The dri-
ver is named Brian, and he's 24. He has a shy
smile, a faim goatee and a heavy Guyanese lilt.
"Hiiiii," Nathalie purrs. "How are you?"
"Who's this?" asks Samantha, sensing they
know each other.
"I don't know," her friend shrugs. "I'm just
It's only a few minutes to the club, but in
that time Samantha and Nathalie secure a
promise from Brian that he'll stop by Calypso-
City later. "So if you come there, and you see
us, you can say 'Hi' and buy us a drink,"
Samantha informs him.
"I will," Brian nods dutifully from his
slung-back driver's seat.
Everyone laughs as Nathalie adds, "She ain't
leave that part out-buy us a drink. "
There's a brief silence, then Nathalie drops a
pick-up line rolled into a sales pitch. "Soooo.
Do you get manicures and pedicures?"
Her voice becomes a near whisper: "You
should get a manicure .... "
Brian peeks up from beneath his Yankees cap
and asks where he might be so lucky to find her.
She tells him Beyonce. "127?" Brian asks, naming
off the intersection at Liberty Avenue. "I work
across the street." His day job is at a real-estate
agency on Liberty. Of course, he'll drop by.
''I'll hook you up," Nathalie assures him. "I
won't polish them black with designs or whate-
vah, but..." Samantha interrupts, dangling her
bent wrist over Brian's shoulder. "Look at mine."
"That's a pretty colah," nods Brian.
The alcohol is coming on strong. Samantha
and Nathalie are growing more emboldened.
"So you Guyanese or what?" Samantha
demands, out of the blue.
Brian answers a sheepish yes.
"'Cause if you were Trini," she jokes, "I was
about to kick you out of the car."
CalypsoCity's multi-colored neon sign
comes into view, and the talk turns back to
clubbing. Earlier, Brian had mentioned a big
show across town that he planned to check out
after work. The venue is Club Tobago. "We've
never gone there," says Samantha. "We don't
plan on going there."
"It's nice," says Brian.
"Better than Calypso?" Nathalie asks.
"I think so," Brian says. "You see what hap-
pen, in CalypsoCity, you gotta be really on the
dance floor before you feel the music right
there." He spreads his hand across his chest to
show that he means his heart. Peeking through
his unzipped hooded sweatshirt is a logo of the
American flag.
"That's true," says Samantha, toning down
her early dismissal.
"In Tobago, you could be in the fucking
bathroom ... " Brian continues.
''And feel the music?" asks Samantha.
Brian tilts back his head and slowly drawls,
"Wow," says Samantha. "It's like that?"
Corey Takahashi is a staff writer for Newsday.
EAST HARLEM'S BOTTOM LI NE ramp-up" of homeowners hip in East Harlem. That includes another part-
nership with Briarwood, this one city-subsidized: the recently completed
$16.6 million Fifth Avenue Homes development on East 117th and East
118th streets, with 40 three-family town houses that sold for about
$300,000 each. Then there are the 15 buildings that HPD just awarded to
Hope through the city's Neighborhood Homes Program for $1 apiece.
Once rehabbed, those homes will also be sold without income restrictions.
continued from page 17
Virtually unprecedented for a nonprofit project, there will be no income
cap. In addition, the two-bedroom apanments that will be rented out by
the owners of the townhouses are unregulated and will likely fetch up to
$1,500 a month, Alexander says.
This new model of partnerships with for-profit developers is necessary,
Hope says, because the resource that has fed the growth of neighborhood
housing developers-thousands of properties that the city handed over to
nonprofits-is rapidly disappearing. In East Harlem, that stock has
shrunk from more than 2,000 buildings in 1994 to just 294 in 2001.
To fight that same trend of shrinking supply, Hope is also looking to
create and build cash equity. "We're going to have put together a war chest
of money and begin to acquire privately owned land, " says Alexander. A
few years down the toad, Alexander envisions, nonprofits will have to
compete with private developers and speculators on the open market.
Along with Hope's push toward innovative financing and development
approaches has come an increasing focus on supplying homes that can be
purchased by middle-income New Yorkers, what Alexander calls a "huge
Hope's aggressive push toward homeownership and middle-income
development is applauded by East Harlem's leadership, even those who
criticize Hope for other reasons. Voices throughout the neighborhood
bemoan what they say is a lack of housing options for middle-class East
Harlemites. "Our children that we sent to college and come back, they
definitely can't qualify for public housing," argues Harry Rodriguez.
"They can't qualifY for tax-credit housing. They can't qualifY for housing
for drug abusers. They can't qualifY for housing for battered women.
Shouldn't they have homes here too?"
Building homeownership has become the main thrust of the city's urban
renewal plans for years, thanks in large part to the success of the New York
City Housing Pannership and Nehemiah Homes. Under Mayor Giuliani,
the city enthusiastically backed that effort, spread it to new neighborhoods
and loosened the income requirements for homebuyers.
East Harlem does have a relatively low homeownership rate, with fewer
than 5,700 homes, coops or condos among the neighborhood's 44,703
housing units, according to data collected by NYU real estate professor
Michael Schill. Most of those are in state-subsidized Mitchell-Lamas.
But what those same numbers show is that despite recent gains, there is still
a severe shortage of housing for poor people in East Harlem. About 48 percent
of households there are paying more than half of their income on rent, accord-
ing to the Census Bureau-median household income is just $ 15,327-and
the rate of severe maintenance problems is the second-highest in the city.
Some upper Manhattan housing activists question whether Hope
should be putting its energy into development for middle-income resi-
dents when the lowest end remains so desperate. "There's a lot of self-con-
gratulation about looking more to the private sector and lending institu-
tions," says Nellie Bailey, an activist with the Harlem Tenants Council.
"But it's not clear these new models will allow CDCs to develop low-
income housing-the majority need of the people in this community."
Another concern about building higher-priced housing is its impact on
neighboring properties. Last July, Schill published a report showing home-
ownership developments like those of the Housing Partnership quickly
and significantly increase the values of nearby properties, creating wealth
not just for the immediate owners, but for their neighbors as well. Yet as
the sales prices of adjoining buildings increase, it forces new landlords to
seek higher rents. It raises that ugly G word: When do higher-priced hous-
ing developments begin to tip a neighborhood toward gentrification?
"It's a very difficult question," Schill says. "In an economy that is based
on the market, it's very difficult to micromanage housing supply and
demand. It's hard to make a neighborhood livable but not 'too' desirable."
Hope's leaders don't think that will happen on their turf "As long as
East Harlem has as much low-income public housing as it does, we will
never be a sexy neighborhood for gentrification," says Calvert. "We'll never
be Greenwich Village with all these scary poor people around."
Some local leaders are convinced that East Harlem is already becom-
ing unaffordable, although available data doesn't yet bear that out. "Rents
are skyrocketing, " says John Rivera, a school board member and Demo-
cratic district leader. "With all of this development going up, it's squeez-
ing people out, starting with the extremely poor."
he majoriry of Hope Communiry's work does remain focused on
East Harlem's poor. About two-thirds of its housing stock con-
tinues to be rented by low-income residents, and the agency plans
to continue to have a majority of its apartments affordable for such fam-
ilies. The group also continues to build apartments through programs like
85/85, which Hope used last year to build 46 units of permanent hous-
ing on East 109th Street for formerly homeless families.
But the neighborhood around Hope is changing, and the agency
says it must adapt. The once-firm border between the Upper East Side
and East Harlem has "crumbled in the last couple years" Alexander says.
He points to a new luxury development on East 97th Street that is rent-
ing two-bedrooms for $4,300 a month. "The private real estate inter-
ests are already at work," Alexander notes. "It's vastly important that we
meet that challenge head on instead of watching them blow by us like
a freight train."
Hope's response is to aggressively move to make sure it remains a key
player in East Harlem's renaissance. Alexander's plan to build unsubsi-
dized housing for middle-income New Yorkers is preferable to the "40-
story luxury towers" that are creeping northward, he says. "We want to
continue to be relevant. We want to support the development, growth
and maturation of a mixed-income community."
And he says that as it has from the beginning, Hope Communiry will
get there playing by its own rules. "We were landlords from day one, "
says Alexander. "We were businesspeople from day one. We were entre-
preneurs from day one. We were visionary residents, merchants, and
clergy from day one. And that's who we'll keep on being."
APRIL 2002
To place a classified ad in
City Limits, e-mail your ad to
advertise@citylimits.org or fax
your ad to 212-479-3339. The
ad will run in the City Limits
Weekly and City Limits mag-
azine and on the City Limits
web site. Rates are $1.46 per
word, minimum 40 words.
Special event and profeSSional
directory advertising rates are
also available. For more infor-
mation, check out the Jobs
section of www.citylimits.org
or call Associate Publisher
Anita Gutierrez at
Women's International Development Organiza-
tion needs 500-700 square feet for four-per-
son office. We are subletting space at 120 Wall
Street and would like to remain in the building
if possible. Please call 212-952-0181 or email
PROJECT DIRECTOR The Bridge Fund of New
York City seeks experienced Project Director for
unique rental assistance program. A good
understanding of government benefits and
employment issues needed. Also, strong ver-
bal , writing and computer skills. MSW pre-
ferred. Salary commensurate with experience.
Fax cover letter and resume to: 212-674-0542.
teach homebuyer and financial education;
budget/credit analysis; presentation/writing
skills; Word/Excel; 3 years related experience;
Bachelor's preferred. Submit resume with
salary requirements or request complete job
description: Recruitment, Faith Center For
Community Development. 120 Wall Street.
26th Fl oor, New York, NY 10005 or fax: 212-
small non-profit organization seeks an indi-
vidual with the ability to excel in a teamwork
environment. We seek a hands-on profession-
al with a BAIBS degree in accounting or relat-
ed field. Advanced degree or CPA certification
a plus. A minimum of 5-7 years of hands-on
experience with strong verbal , analytical and
PC skills including MS Office are required.
Knowledge of ACCPAC a plus. This position
directs the financial affairs of the organization
and prepares financial analyses of operations.
Other responsibilities include ensuring adher-
ence to the company's financial plans, policies
and accounting practices, maintaining fiscal
records, preparing financial reports and
supervising the annual A-133 audit, general
accounting, and IT functions. Also responsible
for human resources, budgeting, financial
statements preparation, internal and external
compliance reporting, cash flow and various
ad hoc analyses. Experience in the prepara-
tion of operating budgets and variance analy-
sis is a must. Please provide a resume, cover
letter, and financial software proficiency,
along with salary history. Submittals without
this information will not be considered. Please
submit by fax to: Controller 718 590-3499; by
mail to: BOEDC, 198 East 161 Street Suite
201; Bronx, NY 10451; or by email to: hdun-
can@boedc.org. For more information on our
organization our URL is: www.boedc.com
PROGRAM DIRECTOR for psychosocial club for
50 homeless people with mental illness. Cre-
ative arts, sports & a strong community help
our clients find life worth living again while
rebuilding functional skills. Clinical oversight,
staff supervision & management of program.
Hands-on a must. Recruit, train graduate
interns. Reqs: MSW, Creative Arts Therapist, or
related MA with experience in mental health &
supervision. Salary commensurate with expe-
rience, excellent benefits. Letter and resume
to: Mona Bergenfeld, Project Reachout, God-
dard Riverside Community Center, 593 Colum-
bus Avenue, New York, NY 10024.
Leading nonprofit organization is seeking a
talented professional who can develop innov-
ative programs to assist homeless chi ldren
and families on their journey from city shelters
to permanent housing and independence. The
Director will oversee the entire operation of the
project, create city-wide and neighborhood-
based programs, and participate in our advo-
cacy efforts on issues such as family reunifi-
cation, housing, access to child care, and
public school education. This position offers a
unique opportunity to work in a create environ-
ment and to help build resources necessary to
effect social change. Send resume and cover
letter to: Director of Human Resources The
Partnership for the Homeless 305 Seventh
Avenue, 13th floor New York, N.Y. 10001
homeless housing provider offers this exciting,
challenging opportunity to provide intensive
case management to a caseload of 12-15
families. Duties include meeting with each
family as needed, with a maximum of once per
week. You will assist families in maintaining
day-to-day activities, increasing the family's
money management, daily living & parenting
skills, & teaching families self advocacy skills.
Requirements: Computer literacy, time man-
agement skills, the ability to multi-task, as
well as being capable of working in a fast-
paced environment are necessary. BA is
required. Salary starts in the low $30s. Send
resume to Tabitha Gaffney, Director of Social
Services at fax 718-485-5916
nization The Naugatuck Valley Project (NVP)
was created in 1983 by religious, labor and
community leaders concerned about a wave of
plant closings in the predominantly industrial,
45-mile-long Naugatuck Valley. NVP was
organized as a multi-issue, interfaith, regional
organization of congregations, labor union
locals, small business and neighborhood
groups determined to shape the economic,
social, and political destiny of the region. Our
mission is to unite our member organizations
around their common faith and democratic
values, and teach their leaders how to organize
to take public action for the common good. NVP
uses twin strategies of (1) citizen organizing to
empower the poor, the disenfranchised, and
people of color and to link them with middle
class allies through regional community orga-
nizing that cuts across dividing lines of class,
ethnicity, race, religion, geography and institu-
tion; and (2) democratic economic develop-
ment to create cooperative housing, and work-
er-owned jobs. A sister organization, the Nau-
gatuck Valley Housing Development Corpora-
tion (NVHDC) was established as a community
land trust to oversee our housing development
efforts. NVP is a member of the InterValley Pro-
ject, an organizing network in New England. We
are seeking applicants with at least five years'
experience in direct action organizing, prefer-
ably as part of a congregation-based organiza-
tion. Qualifications Passion for organizing;
Demonstrated ability and experience in bring-
ing issue campaigns and other projects to suc-
cessful conclusions; Appreciation for and abil-
ity to work with a broad range of religious and
cultural traditions; Excellent communication
skills: listening, writing, speaking (bilingual -
Spanish/English - is a plus); Experience in
supervising staff and assisting staff in devel-
oping organizing skills; Ability to share talents,
values and humor with a diverse team of lead-
ers, staff and technical assistance providers;
Ability to see that administrative tasks are car-
ried out in a timely fashion. Responsibilities: To
identify, recruit and develop leaders from
member congregations and organizations
throughout the Naugatuck Valley. To work with
these leaders and conduct outreach to build
and strengthen a powerful organization with a
diverse membership from religious, labor, ten-
ant and community organizations; To work with
leaders to identify and research potential
issues for action; To assist with planning and
implementing research and action campaigns.
To supervise and develop the organizing skills
of the staff organizers and to oversee the
administrative staff; To write a 1-2 page week-
ly report and meet weekly with staff to discuss
issues raised in report and other work-related
issues; To help leadership prepare, oversee,
and fund the budget. This includes regular
and consistent grantwriting and working with
leaders to administer annual membership
assessments and to conduct successful grass-
roots fund raising campaigns; To participate in
regular meetings, leadership training events
and other related activities of the InterValley
Project (IVP); To work with the Personnel Com-
mittee in selecting/hiring additional staff
organizers and preparing annual review and
evaluation of all staff members; To work with
the Board of Directors of the Naugatuck Valley
Housing Development Corporation to oversee
operations of this sister organization. Salary:
Negotiable based on experience To Apply: Send
cover letter and resume to Ric Hunter, Chair,
Personnel Committee, c/o Naugatuck Valley
Project, 26 Ludlow Street, Waterbury, CT
06710, or email tonvp@highstream.net. or fax
to 203-574-3545. Position will remain open
until filled. NVP is an equal opportunity
employer. Women and people of color are espe-
cially encouraged to apply.
GRANT WRITER. Provide writing and editorial
support on an array of civil liberties issues,
and assist in researching foundation and cor-
porate funding sources, for a well established,
high-volume institutional fund raising pro-
gram. Oustanding writing and research skills;
Bachelor's degree; two years experience; com-
mitment to the goals of the ACLU. Send resume
to Rachel Fishman, ACLU, 125 Broad Street-
18th Floor, NY, NY 10004 or
The Mental Health Project of the Urban Justice
Center (MHP) is seeking an ATTORNEY to fill
the position of PROJECT DIRECTOR. The MHP is
a ten-person interdisciplinary team of attor-
neys, advocates and social workers who advo-
cate on behalf of low-income New Yorkers with
psychiatric disabilities. We pursue this advo-
cacy on both an individual and system-wide
level to prevent the revolving door of homeless-
ness, repeat hospitalization and incarceration.
Areas of supervision include housing law, pub-
lic benefits, Social Security Administration
benefits, disabilities law, the State Mental
Hygiene Law, and consumer law. The Director is
responsible for securing and maintaining all
project funding, supervising all staff in the
project and administering the projects' grants
and contracts. Supervisory and fundraising
experience as well as experience working with
individuals with psychiatric disabilities are
preferred, but not required. Applicants must
have a demonstrated commitment to social
justice, must be admitted to practice law in
New York State and must possess excellent
writing and public speaking skills. Applicants
of color and mental health consumers are
strongly encouraged to apply. (Salary:
$50,000-65,000, D.O.E.) Applications must be
received by March 8, 2002, should include a
cover letter and resume, and should be mailed
to the Urban Justice Center at 666 Broadway,
10th Floor, New York, NY 10012, attn: Teena
WRITER/RESEARCHER needed for growing
development program. Draft proposals and
other materials, research funding sources and
assist with other projects. Strong communica-
tion skills, excellent proofreading, people skills,
and PC proficiency required. Bachelor's Degree
w/2 years proposal experience. Resume, cover
and salary requirements to: Development
Director, NYM, 506 Sixth Street, Brooklyn,
11215; ETS9002@nyp.org; or fax 718-780-
OFFICER: Growing non-profit with high-quali-
ty programs seeks results-oriented manager
with demonstrated success in community edu-
cat ion, organizing, economic development,
housing/mortgage finance or related field.
Position will: lead professional staff in project
management, customer service, data gather-
ing and reporting, and program innovation;
represent organization at public meetings;
assist Executive Director / CEO to raise funds
for new programs in accordance with strategic
plan. Candidates must provide evidence of
skills in: systems analysis, problem solving,
change management, communications, super-
vision and information technology. Fluent
Spanish preferred. Equal opportunity employ-
er, wheelchair-adaptable & LGBT-friendly.
$40K+, full benefits. Fax resume to 718-686-
7948 or e-mail toln.grist@nhnhome.org .
OFFICE MANAGER needed to manage daily
operations, oversee reception, clerical and
other office management support and work as
part of a team to ensure that administrative
and support needs are met. Minimum of five
years experience, excellent understanding of
development and maintenance of office sys-
tems: technology, reception, files, and book-
keeping. A high level of proficiency in Word,
Excel, Quick Books, Eudora and PC trou-
bleshooting is required. Excellent communica-
tion skills, ability to work in a collegial manner
with diverse clients, staff and board. Success-
ful candidates will be self-directed, have
excellent time management skills, and the
ability to mUlti-task. Fax: 212-924-9544
NYC based nonprofit worker collective, seeks a
new member to assist in our work with pro-
gressive NYC nonprofit organizations. Experi-
enced activist with a technical background
including: hardware and software installation,
troubleshooting, and support; database devel-
opment, and/or website development. Email
resume to job@mediajumpstart.org. See full
description at: http://mediajumpstart.org
Women's Housing and Economic Development
Corporation (WHEDCO), an innovative Bronx
multi-service agency, seeks SOCIAL WORKER
to work on-site and CLINICAL SUPERVISOR to
oversee program with students/lamilies at
partner school. Provide clinical , case manage-
ment, and advocacy services. Bilingual
(Eng/Span) and MSW required. Competitive
salary and benefits package. Fax cover letter
and resume to D. Roberts 718- 839-1172.
PROJECT VOTE: Largest nonprofit voter organi-
zation in nation seeks NATIONAL DIRECTOR
with strong leadership/lundraising skills.
Develop strategies for implementing mission,
direct program to raise $2 million budget, help
develop/oversee field plan. Also seeking
fund raising skills to lead development team.
Salary based on experience. Location flexible.
Cover Itr, res and writing sample to: Project
Vote, 88 Third Ave, 3rd FI, Brooklyn, NY 11217.
EO/M em ployer.
CASE MANAGER. Provides case management
services and life skills instruction. Develops
and monitors individualized development
plans. Connects participants to community
services and consults with program linkages
and parents in participants' progress. Assists
with recruitment and orientation. BA in Sociol-
ogy, Psychology Criminal Justice or related
field. MSW preferred. A minimum of two years
working with "at risk" youth ages 14-19.
Salary commensurate with experience. Send
resume to: fax: 718-875-7558 or email
PROPERTY MANAGER needed to screen and
interview applicants, conduct home visits,
handle move-in inspections, monitor vacancy
reports and accounts receivables for off-site
properties. Additional duties include: process-
ing intake sheets, "3 Day Demand Notices to
Vacate", monitor overall operations to ensure
health and safety issues, address violations,
coordinate bid proposals for repairs and build-
ing deficiencies, implement rent-up proce-
dures, collect rent and assist with preparation
of units for rent. Qualifications: Minimum five
years work experience managing federally sub-
sidized property and or rent stabilized, must be
a Certified Property Manager, a strong knowl-
edge of computerized accounting systems and
software applications. Bachelors Degree
required. Submit resumes to J. Anglin, c/o
BSRC, 1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216,
fax: 718-857-5984.
is recruiting a social service coordinator who
links elderly and or disabled residents to sup-
portive or medical services in the general com-
munity in which they continue to live indepen-
dently. Will work as a member of a team with
housing staff; complies reports quarterly,
semi-annually; maintains up-to-date knowl-
edge of HUD regulations for Service Coordina-
tors; orients tenants to new policies; complies
with all HUD, local and FHEO directives; assist
tenants with knowledge of occupancy regula-
tions and housing practices; investigate
reports for management; establish resource
and referral log for Program Services offerings;
research foundations and write grant requests
for senior programs; and do initial evaluation
of all residents to link residents to service
providers and responsible follow-ups. Qualifi-
cations include at minimum: Education and/or
licensing in either social work or a related
health care field, and three (3) supervisory
experience. Submit resume and cover letter to
J. Anglin, c/o BSRC, 1368 Fulton Street, Brook-
lyn, NY 11216, fax: 718-857-5984.
NICATIONS OFFICER, with 5 years plus experi-
ence, to develop streams including corporate
sponsorships, private/public grants, and
fund raising events. Duties include prospect
research and maintaining system for recording
and fulfilling donor renewals, pledges, and
planning special projects to cultivate major
donors. Drafts edits and reviews donor corre-
spondence, proposals and status reports.
Assists with press and public relations strate-
gies to market organizations' initiatives. Com-
petitive salary and benefits package. Submit
cover letter and resume to Development Officer
Job Search c/o J Anglin, 1368 Fulton Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11216 or fax: 718-857-5984.
Bushwick Family Residence, A Salvation Army
lier II for homeless families, seeks a CASE
MANAGER. Experience with similar population.
Bilingual a must; BA degree required. Send
resume and cover letter to: C. Quinones, 1675
Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11207 Email address:
Hours: Full-time, Afternoon/Evenings Salary:
$30,000-40,000 per year, depending on experi-
ence, plus excellent benefits. Starting Date:
Immediately. Grosvenor Neighborhood House
(www.grosvenorhouse.org) is seeking a Bilin-
gual (Spanish) SOCIAL WORKER (MSW/CSW)
with a minimum of 3 years experience working
with children, adolescent and parents on a
community level. Should possess skills in indi-
vidual, family and group counseling. Coordina-
tion of program(s) for youth with a focus on
education, sexuality, careers and social activi-
ties. Encourage participation, training and
activities for parents in community. Strong
communication, organizational and interper-
sonal skills flexibility, and capacity for creativ-
ity and innovation. Grosvenor Neighborhood
House is a nonprofit organization located on
the Upper West Side of Manhattan dedicated to
increasing the economics and personal self-
sufficiency of children, youth and their families
living in Manhattan Valley neighborhood by
providing community residents with year-
round, meaningful and effective educational,
career-readiness, CUltural, recreational , and
counseling services. Mail , fax, or email
resume, cover letter and three references to
Morry Hermon, Executive Director, Grosvernor
Neighborhood House, 176 W. 105th Street, New
York, NY 10025. Fax: 212-749-4060. Email :
RESEARCH ANALYST: The Fiscal Policy Institute
(FPI) seeks a RESEARCH ANALYST to provide
labor market information services in support of
an intensive post-91l1 re-employment project.
This will involve collaborative work on the iden-
tification of displaced workers, and on a sec-
tor-by-sector analysis of job growth possibili-
ties and job openings. Quantitative skills
required, as the job will involve management
of large and complex data files. A Master's
degree in a relevant field (urban planning,
public policy, economics and journalism)
desirable, and demonstrated clarity and com-
mitment around issues related to urban eco-
nomic development required. Practical exper-
tise connected to the writing and publication
of reports (e.g. web development,
marketing/PR, GIS, graphics) a plus. Start
ASAP. Send resume with cover letter and list of
three references to Fi scal Policy Institute, 275
Seventh Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY
10001. Or fax at 212-414-9002. Attn:
Matthew T. Mitchell, Project Director. FPI is an
equal opportunity employer. Women and people
of color are encouraged to apply.
HOUSING DIRECTOR. The Pratt Area Communi-
ty Council , a dynamic not-for-profit, has an
exciting new Housing Director position. The
APRIL 2002
Housing Director is responsible for overseeing
and coordinating activities among the housing
development, and asset and property manage-
ment departments. The Housing Director will
initiate new housing development projects and
oversee development teams and will be
responsible for compliance with regulatory
requirements and the ongoing maintenance of
PACC's portfolio of affordable housing. The
Housing Director will hire and supervise staff
and reports to the Executive Director. The ideal
candidate must have housing development or
real estate finance skills; previous supervisory
experience; and excellent communication,
organizational , and problem solving skills.
Competitive salary, commensurate with expe-
rience. Excellent benefits. PACC is an equal
opportunity employer. Please send or fax cover
letter and resume to: Housing Director Search,
Pratt Area Community Council 201 Dekalb
Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205. Fax: 718 522-
2604. pacc@prattarea.org.
Community Voices Heard: Part time COMMUNI-
TY OUTREACH PROVIDER needed. Outreach to
service providers to build relationships for
referrals and a contact person at that place.
Reviewing in house contact list and update
materials. Prepare a Community Voices refer-
ral manual, and develop a tracking system for
that manual. CVS is a multi-racial , multi-cul-
tural grass roots organization of low-income
people, mostly women on welfare. CVH is an
EOE. We encourage women, people of color,
people formerly on public assistance and les-
bian/gay/bisexual people to apply. Fax cover
letter, resume and salary requirements to 212-
996-9481, Attn: Tyletha Samuels, Organizer.
Check out our web page: www.cvhaction.org.
Job openings for Project R.E.A.D.Y. Youth Ser-
vices Department The Mount Hope Housing
Company, Inc. Project R.EAD.Y. (Resources for
Employment and Academic Development for
Youth) is a Bronx based educational enrich-
ment and vocational training initiative.
SENIOR CASE MANAGER responsible for the
daily supervision and direct oversight of a core
services team, including graduate students.
Candidate must have proficient clinical skills
for individual and group modalities, team
coordination and decision-making and pro-
gram management experience. Proven track
record with adolescents and families is essen-
tial. Requirements: CSW + 2 years post-mas-
ters experience, Strong verbal and written
communication skills. Competent computer
skills. Bilingual SpanishlEnglish a plus. Salary
$40,000 + commensurate experience and cre-
dentials. EMPLOYMENT SPECIALIST responsi-
ble for assessing/evaluating students' Math
and Reading levels for grade school and high
school age youth, developing individual acad-
emic plans, developing lesson plans, individ-
ual and small group tutorial , recruit and
supervise tutors, monitor ongoing student
progress; interface with parents and school
personnel as appropriate, assist with curricu-
lum development, PSAT/SAT and Regents
preparation. Requirements: Minimum B.A.
(Masters preferred), strong background in
youth education, experience in administering
standard Reading and Math tests a plus, expe-
rience implementing innovative teaching tech-
niques, capacity for teamwork. Strong verbal
and written communication skills. Salary:
$35,000+ commensurate with experience and
SKILLS TRAINING will organize a vocational
training component that will train out of school
youth, ages 17-21, youth in two skills areas:
computer software and carpentry/construc-
tion. Development of curricula, hiring instruc-
tors, site management, including utilization of
equipment and materials, and securing
internship sites. Carpentry and construction
component will include training youth in all
phases of rehabilitation and construction.
Computer component will entail oversight of
an existing program that includes Microsoft
Word, Excel , Power Point, Access and Internet.
Requirements: Minimum B.A. (or equivalent
trade experience), prior vocational training
school experience. Experience with education
adolescent populations a plus. Strong verbal
and written communication skills. Competent
computer skills. PRE-GED/GED INSTRUCTOR
will develop curricula, conduct classes, and
perform evaluation tests. Experience teaching
out-of-school youth, ages 17-21, a plus. Part-
time: flexible hours. Bilingual a plus. Require-
ments: Minimum BA + 2 years experience. JOB
DEVELOPER will assist program participants,
ages 17-21, to secure employment, conduct
career readiness workshops, develop a job
bank and internship sites. Requirements: Min-
imum BA + 2 years job development experi-
ence (or equivalent work history). Prior experi-
ence working with adolescents a plus. Profi-
cient computer skills. Bilingual a plus. For all
pOSitions salary commensurate with experi-
ence and credentials. All full-time positions
offer a comprehensive benefits package. Send
resume and cover letter to: Estel Fonesca, Vice
President of Youth Services, The Mount Hope
Housing Company, 2003-05 Walton Avenue,
Bronx, NY 10453. Fax: 718-466-4788. No tele-
phone calls.
for our Parish & Community Outreach -Home-
less and Hungry Services. Will administer the
day-to-day operations and grants of the Wash-
ington Heights Ecumeni cal Food Pantry and
Haverstraw Food Pantry. Monitor Budget; order
food; manage grant applications and reporting
requirements; provide Technical assistant to
emergency food and shelter programs. Repre-
sent Catholic Charities in various coalitions
and advocacy groups, Assist in fundraising;
resource acquisition & educational initiatives.
Maintain internal resource manual for emer-
gency food & shelter programs. Requirements:
Bachelor's degree with two years non-profit
management experience. Excellent communi-
cation, organizational, grant writing &
fund raising skills. Flexible hours and travel
throughout Archdiocese. Drivers license help-
ful. Understanding of managerial & resource
development experience with shelters, soup
kitchens and food pantries helpful. Catholic
Charities promotes balance between work &
life for our employees with 19 paid holidays
along with an excellent benefits and vacation
package. Interested individuals please submit
a written sample, resume & salary require-
ments to: Personnel, Catholic Charities, 1011
First Avenue- Room 1112, New York, NY 10022,
Fax: 212-826-8795 or email to:
Legal Services seeks a Director of Administra-
tion. Responsible for fiscal , admin, and HR
systems. One-yr contract (potential for perma-
nent employment). Requires 5-yrs experience
in financial management and knowledge of
nonprofit systems/governance; comfort with
strong union and community-based environ-
ment; diversity and knowledge of Brooklyn a
plus. Competitive salary/generous benefits.
Resume and salary requirements by 2119: BLS
Search Committee, Nonprofit Connection, One
Hanson Place, Ste. 2504, Bklyn, NY 11243 or
MANAGER. Bronx non-profit agency seeks an
experienced Property Manager. Responsibili-
ties: Oversee property management, supervise
maintenance workers, monitor repairs, super-
vise contractors and vendors, prepare reports,
leasing compliance, rent up and collection.
Qualifications: BA with two or more years expe-
rience in housing management with supervi-
sory experience or High School Diploma plus
five years experience in the field required.
Experience in leasing guidelines (SIP,
NOW/HOME) preferred. Excellent verbal , writ-
ten and computer skills; knowledge of building
systems; bi-lingual Spanish a plus. Salary:
Mid 30's. Send resume with cover letter to:
Executive Director, Bronx Heights NCC, 99
Featherbed Lane, Bronx, NY 10452. Fax: 718-
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is a large,
multi-service non-profit serving the Bronx for
30 years. CAB provides excellent benefits and
offers opportunities for advancement. The
Nelson Avenue Family Residence seeks a
HOUSING SPECIALIST. The position requires a
bachelor's degree, experience in housing
placement, knowledge of housing programs
and entitlements with at least 4 years experi-
ence working in a lier II facility. CASE MANAG-
ER to assist families with entitlements, con-
flict resolution, educational/employment and
housing issues, advocacy. Bilingual
English/Spanish a plus. Fax credentials to
Heather Haynes at 718-365-0697. CAB is an
equal opportunity /affirmative action employer.
Our client seeks a Director of Development to
design and execute a comprehensive develop-
ment program that includes Annual Giving,
Major GiftslSpecial Events, Corporate Grants,
Foundations, and direct mail campaign. This
executive will report directly to the Executive
Director and will manage a small staff. Must
have a successful track record in various areas
of fund development. Strong planning, inter-
personal and presentation skills. Experience
with policy, housing and homeless issues an
advantage. Send resume, cover letter with
salary requirements and writing sample to
CRE/DOD, 39 Broadway, 10th FI , NY, NY 10006
NYC Non-Profit org. seeks dynamic individuals
to fill the following positions MANAGEMENT
POSITION. BA in Human Service required. 1
plus years experience supervising staff work-
ing with individuals with development dis-
abilities. ADMINISTRATOR for various MRIDD
residential programs. Previous MR/DD res.
experience required. SERVICE COORDINATOR
for MR/DD Day Hab. NYS Driver's Lic. Required.
Excel. communication skills req'd. Bilingual
English/Spanish for all positions. Send resume
with cover letter to: Deputy Director, Sinergia,
15 West 65th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY
10023. Or fax to: 212-496-5608. No phone
calls please.
SUMMER INTERN forthe New York Foundation's
summer grants to youth programs and intern-
ship at community organizing agencies.
Responsibilities: conducting site visits, writing
weekly progress reports and a final report, and
coordinating an orientation and grantee evalu-
ation session. College age, interest in working
in inner city neighborhoods, excellent writing
and communication skills, ability to work inde-
pendently, a willingness to travel to neighbor-
hoods in all boroughs. Full-time employment
from mid-June to late-August, 2002. Stipend
$4,5000. Send resume and letter by April 1st,
Isabel Rivera, New York Foundation, 350 Fifth
Avenue, Room 2901, New York, NY 10118. No
phone calls or faxes.
Director of Gift Planning, responsible for man-
aging estates in probate, managing the mar-
keting program, and promoting gift planning
among ACLU members and donors through an
on-site, face-to-face cultivation and solicita-
tion program in cooperation with selected
ACLU affiliates. Two years experience in
fundraising; BS. Send resume to: ACLUF Devel-
opment- Dept. GPO, 125 Broad Street-18th
Floor, NY, NY 10004.
gram seeks individual to identify apartments
for client placement. Responsibility: develop-
ing & maintaining relationship with landlords
& RE Brokers, negotiate leases. Exp. wINYC
apt. codes & bilingual a plus. BA w/2 years
experience. $30K + benefits. Fax resume to:
Network, a vocational program targeted to ten-
ants of supportive housing, many of whom are
living with mental illness, chemical dependen-
cy or HIVIAIDS. This individual is responsible
for providing clinical services to program par-
ticipants, assisting in the design of training
opportunities for participants, vocational and
career planning with these individuals, partic-
ipating in program development, and assist-
ing with supervision of the team. Reqs: MSW
and direct service experience with related pop-
ulations. Salary: $37K + compo Benefits. Send
cover letter and resume to Carlene Scheel,
CUCSlThe Prince George, 14 East 28th Street,
New York, NY 10016. Fax: 212-471-0758.
CUCS is committed to workforce diversity.
tion Army's WTC Disaster Relief Program.
Supervise staff, provide leadership for client
service centers. Liaison between field and
Headquarter's. Intake, Case Management,
Counseling. Masters in Social Work or Non-
Profit Public Administration. 3-5 years
relevant post-graduate social services experi-
ence. Minimum 2 years supervisory experi-
ence, general business / management
skills. Preferred crisis management experi-
ence, counseling, working with
disadvantaged populations. Resume to
Mandarin and Cantonese speaking CASE-
WORKER. The Salvation Army's World Trade
Center Disaster Relief Program. Serve as pri-
mary representative to applicants affected by
9/11. Provide individual case management,
on-site counseling, needs assessment,
determine eligibility, interagency
teamwork. Full-time temporary. Resume to
The St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation
Corporation seeks a NEWSPAPER EDITOR!
BUSINESS MANAGER to oversee publication of
GREENLlNE, a community newspaper. Publi-
cation currently reaches 13,000 residents in
the growing Williamsburg! Greenpoint market.
Applicants must have good writing skills, be
well organized, a self starter and a team play-
er. Newspaper experience is a plus. Must have
editing, salesmanship capabilities or sales
experience. BS/ BA Degree plus two years work
experience required. Send cover letter and
resume to Michael Rochford, 11 Catherine
Street, Brooklyn, New York 11211, or e-mail to
Innovative transitional residence for battered
women & their children seeks (2) MSWs with
expo in domestic violence to provide individual
& group counseling. Bi-lingual a must. Com-
petetive salary and benefits. Fax resume
w/cover letter to: HR @ 718 588-6848. EOE.
SAFETY MONITOR FIT & PIT positions avai l-
able. Requires HS diploma. Associates Degree
pref. Must have prior expo working in a shel-
ter/residential setting, good interpersonal &
communication ski ll s, with ability to work with
a diverse population dealing with crisis inter-
vention. FAX resume w/cover letter to: HR @
DV facility seeks FIT Teacher for Pre-K & Nurs-
ery program. BA req. Must be creative innov-
ative with exc. verbal and written skills.
Responsible for planning & implementing cur-
riculm. Strong knowledge of stages of child
developmental & effects of trauma on chil-
dren. EOE; Resume w/cover letter to: HR @
718 588-6848
consulting firm working with nonprofit, foun-
dation, and corporate clients seeks a FIT
administrative assistant to provide general
office support. Requires strong sense of pro-
fessionalism, ability to prioritize, and attention
to detail. Salary commensurate w/experience;
good benefits. Send letter/resume to: The Con-
servation Company, 50 East 42nd Street, 19th
floor, New York, NY 10017. Fax: 212-949-
1672. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.
PROGRAM DEVELOPER for Groundbreaking
Community Preventive Health Project.
(FuIlIPart-Time) Health Force, which has led
the South Bronx in peer and community-based
preventive health education, seeks a program
developer with vision, writing and people
skills. We train peer educators and implement
community plans in the forefront of AIDS, asth-
ma and diabetes/heart disease prevention.
The program developer writes major reports,
proposals and works with the Executive Direc-
tor to implement effective programs. M .. A. or
graduate studies in health or community
development preferred. Very competitive salary
and CUNY benefits. Fax resume and cover let-
ter to: Thomas Fanniel, Secretary Health Force
552 Southern Boulevard Bronx, NY 10455 Tel.
718- 585-8585 or Fax 718-585-5041.
Major Latino NYC non-profit organization seeks
experienced CPA to function as its CFO with
Webmastering Service,
Web Design,
Free Ads Available,
Free Link Exchange.
or email info@nystar.com.
J-51 Tax Abatement/Exemption 421A and 421B
Applications 501 (c) (3) Federal Tax Exemptions All forms
of government-assisted housing, including LISC/ Enterprise,
Section 202, State Turnkey and NYC Partnership Homes
Attorneys at Law
Eastchester, N.Y.
Phone: (914) 395-0871
NesoH Associates
management solutions for non-profits
Providing a foil range of management support services for non-
profit organizatiom
management development & strategic planning
board and staff development & training
program design, implementation & evaluation
proposal and repon writing
Box 130 75A Lake Road Congers, NY 10920 tel!fax (914) 268-6315
Consultant Servic:e5
Proposals/Gran[ Writing
Hud Grants/Govt. RFPs
Housing/Progrnm Development
Real Estate SalesIRentals
Technical Assii'itance
Employment Prog-ram."
MI(UA(L 6. BU((I
Capacity Building
Community Relations
PHONE: 212765-7123
FAX: 212397-6238
EMAIL: mgbuccl@aol.com
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10036-1298
complete responsibility for its accounting, pro-
gram, and financial reporting activities. Mini-
mum five years with hands-on non-profit expe-
rience required. Fluency with Spanish a plus.
Salary $50K-$65K depending on experience.
Fax resume/cover letter to: 212- 685-2349 or
212-689-5034, Attn: Exec. Dir.
Bailey House, Inc is committed to empowering
people living with HIV/AIDS, their loved ones
and the communities and agencies that serve
them to operate at their fullest potential
through the development and provision of
housing and supportive services. The following
positions are currently available in our Techni-
cal Assistance/Program Evaluation Depart-
ment: RESOURCE DEVELOPER creates, writes,
and coordinates the design, production and
distribution of innovative written and Internet
based technical assistance resources for com-
munity-based HIV/AIDS services providers and
their consumers. PROGRAM DIRECTOR,
ASSISTANCE Directs a wide range of Technical
Assistance services and trainings that help
community based organizations to develop,
improve, manage and deliver housing and ser-
vices for people living with HIV/AIDS. INVEST
pare INVEST participants for job placement in
training. JOB COACH promoting and support-
ing employment and job readiness amongst
INVEST trainees Client Service Department:
DEVELOPMENT Submit resume bye-mail:
hr@baileyhouse.org, mail: Bailey House, Inc.
275 Seventh Avenue, NY NY 10001 Attention:
Human Resources, Fax: 212-414-1431. Bailey
House, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
ed official 's office in downtown Brooklyn
seeks a Housing Development Specialist to
coordinate housing preservation and devel-
opment programs. Duties include serving as
liaison to public housing issues and pro-
vides technical assistance to community
based organizations. Assists the public in
resolving housing related problems. BNBS,
MNMS degreed preferred, 2 years related
experience. NYC residency, valid driver's
license. Salary commensurate with experi -
ence. Fax resume and cover letter to: 718-
The Housing Department of the Cypress Hills
LDC has two available positions: HOMEOWN-
NIZER. We seek college graduates with
human services or related degrees to counsel
homeowners facing foreclosure and to orga-
nize community residents to fight the rise in
predatory lending in the area. The Homeown-
ership Counselor advocates with banks on
behalf of clients and assists owners with
securing benefits, budgeting, refinancing,
etc. The Community Organizer will educate
community groups about the dangers of
predatory lending, research lending patterns
in the community and conduct outreach to
new homeowners, senior citizens and
prospective home buyers. Both positions
require fluency in English and Spanish, good
communication skills (writing and oral) and
relevant experience. Fax resume to Rene
Arlain at 718-647-8104 or send to Mr. Arlain
at Cypress Hills LDC, 3214 Fulton Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11208-1948.
Our Community Development Division has an
PROJECT MANAGER. We seek a college gradu-
ate with a degree in business, urban affairs,
social work or related field to manage our
Cypress Hills Homeownership Initiative Pro-
gram (CHHIP) and develop affordable housing
on vacant land. The Project Manager will
negotiate with the federal government to pur-
chase vacant homes, line up rehabilitation
financing, oversee construction and market
the homes to low income home buyers. The
position requires excellent communication and
analytic skills. Small homes construction,
community development or homeownership
education experiences would be helpful. Fax
resume to Ray Adkins at 718-647-2805 or
send to Mr. Adkins at CHLDC, 625 Jamaica
Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11208-1203.
Dynamic leading child care policy and
resource organization seeking COLLABORA-
TION SPECIALIST to enhance technical sup-
ports to early childhood programs seeking to
blend funds to support integrated program
services. Staff member will be part of a team
working under 17 -month federal grant. Excel-
lent communication skills, must have knowl-
edge of early care and education systems in
NYC, understand program management and
finance, work effectively as part team of
multi-agency partners. Position available
immediately. Send resume to Child Care, Inc.
257 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, NYC 10001. Fax:
212-929-5785 attention CS. Email :
profit psychiatric community services program
seeks engaging, results-oriented coordinator
for high profile, innovative young adult ser-
vices project. Responsibilities include: com-
munity outreach & educ. Support. Qualifica-
tions: Excel Presentation & organizing skills &
active communication w/units in the org. EOE
fax resume: 212-265-5482 to HR: Fountain
House, 425 W. 47th Street, NYC 10036. No
LOAN OFFICER. Underwrite and close loans for
victims of Predatory Loans, other homeowners.
Work with nonprofit organizations using flexi-
ble public and private loan programs. Experi-
ence with housing finance a must. Familiarity
with Word, Excel and Access. Salary up to
$50,000/benefits. Send resumes and cover let-
ter to: H. Banker at the Parodneck Foundation,
121 Sixth Avenue, Suite 501 NY, NY
10013. Fax: 212-431-9783 or email :
dinator is responsible for the supervi sion
and direct oversight of a core services team.
This position has significant decision mak-
ing, supervisory, administrative, program
management and service delivery responsi-
bilities including but not limited to, site
management, program development, inter-
team coordinator, contract, regulatory and
policy compliance, and managed care link-
ages. Reqs: CSW, 3 years post-masters
direct experience with population{s) served
by the program, administrative and supervi-
sory experience, strong writing and verbal
communication skills, and computer litera-
cy. Bilingual Spanish/English preferred.
Salary $46K + comp benefits including
$65/month in transit checks. Send cover let-
ter and resume to Suzanne Smith, CUSCIThe
Prince George, 14 East 28th Street, New
York, NY 10016. Fax: 212-471-0765. CUCS is
com m itted to workforce diversity.
Nonprofit Management Services
Hands-on solutions to help
nonprofit organizations achieve their vision
Tel: (212) 662-1758, 523 West 121 St., NY, NY 10027,
Fax: (212) 662-5861, midavidson@aol.com
Committed to the development of affordable housing
15 Maiden Lane, Suite 1800
New York, NY 10038
212-732-2700 FAX: 212-732-2773
Low-income housing tax credit syndication.
Public and private
financing. HDPCs and not-for-profit corporations. ContWs and co-ops. J-51
Tax abatement/exemptions. Lendingfor historic properties.
APRIL 2002
Hand Mailing Services
Henry Street Settlement Mailing services is a revenue
generating, work-readiness program offering battered women and
shelter base families on the job and life slcills training.
We offer hand inserting, live stamp affixing, bulk mail, folding,
collating, labeling, water sealing and more.
For more information please call Bob Modica,
(845) 566-1267
Expert Real Estate Services - once
available only to major corporations and
institutions -
Now offered to NYC's Non-Profits ...
at no out-of-pocket cost,
or at spec/ally reduced rates.
Visit our web site: www.npspace.com
Call for a free, no-()bligation consultation.
: - ~ r'
, . f-..,rr
Capital is mobile. Why not
Manhattan real estate?
Let' s kccp businesses from fleeing
the city entirely. With otl'shore
office barges, captains of industry
can maneuver for bctter corporate
tax breaks and work in relativc
safety -- and also avoid any new
commuter taxes!
SEND IN 't(@(JJJ!R1 M ~ M @ TODAY!
12.0 WALL ST., 20
FLOOR. NY NY 10005
ootcv citylimits.
reach to the Arab and Muslim communities;
staffing a racial profiling hotline; monitoring
the individuals detained following the terrorist
attacks. Must have knowledge of, and experi-
ence in civil liberties and civil rights. Law
degree or other advanced degree and fluency in
Arabic preferred. Send resume to: Communica-
tions Director, AM Fellow, ACLU, 125 Broad
Street-18th Floor, NY, NY 10004.
Community Voices Heard: PART TIME OFFICE
ASSISTANT needed to help organize all aspects
of our busy office. Duties include: phones,
reception, recruiting/coordinating volunteers,
light accounting, assisting with newsletter and
correspondence, mass mailings, and Xeroxing.
Detailed oriented, excellent computer, commu-
nication, and multi-tasking skills a must.
Bilingual A+. CVH is a multi racial , multi cul-
tural grass roots organization of low-income
people, mostly women on welfare. CVH is and
EOE. We encourage people of color, people for-
merly on public assistance and
lesbian/gay/bisexual to apply. Fax cover letter,
resume and salary requirements to 212-996-
9481, Attn: Ralph Castro, Office Manager.
Check out our web page at www.cvhaction.org.
TOR, The Hispanic Federation The Media and
Special Events Coordinator will coordinate
media, communications, and marketing
strategies, including Federation's Spanish
radio shows and weekly newspaper column;
special events; and production of newsletter
and marketing materials. Requirements:
Experience with one or more of the following
desktop publishing programs (Microsoft Pub-
lisher, Photos hop, PAGEMAKER, and QUARK);
bilingual (EnglishlSpanish)/bicultural strongly
preferred; experience with media relations a
plus; strong writing and editing skills; ability to
manage multiple projects and work indepen-
dently. Send resume, cover letter with salary
requirements to Enrique Ball ,
Hispanic Federation, 130 William Street, 9th
Floor, New York, NY 10038; or
TION needed for award winning Bronx CBO.
Responsibilities include staff supervision,
adult education and job training program
operations and oversight of evening classes.
Programs include ESOL, GED, Nurse Aide Train-
ing and Office Skills. Management and super-
visory experience necessary. Bilingual: Eng-
lish/Spanish preferred. Computer experience,
including MS Access necessary. BA degree,
minimum. Hours: Monday - Thursday 12:00
Noon - 8:00 PM, Friday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
Salary range: low 40s, medical benefits. Send
resume and cover letter bye-mail to:
personnel@highbridgelife.org or by fax to Sr.
Ellenrita Purcaro 718 681-4137.
Neighborhood Resources (NR) Department The
TAC plays the central role in providing techni-
cal assistance to the NR Department's con-
stituency of volunteer-driven neighborhood
organizations in NYC. The TAC conducts needs
assessments of groups, develops work plans,
co-facilitates workshops, provides telephone
assistance and referrals and on-site consulta-
tions, works with the Training Coordinator in
the development of curricula and assists in
fundraising. Minimum three years of experi-
ence working with grassroots groups in NYC;
strong community organizing experience and
knowledge of issues affecting low-income
neighborhoods in NYC; experience with training
design and facilitation; ability to work with
people of diverse backgrounds; excellent com-
munication, writing, and presentation skills a
must; SpanishlBi-lingual +; flexible schedule,
regular evenings and some weekends required.
Salary is commensurate with experience. Posi-
tion based on 100% full-time. Excellent bene-
fits. EOE. CONTACT: No calls, please. Send
cover letter, resume, salary requirement and a
writing sample (2 - 3 pages) toAttn: Tamara
Love Citizens Committee for NYC, Inc. , 305
Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor New York, NY
10001 Fax: 212 989-0983 (If your resume &
writing sample are longer than 5 Pages please
do not fax.) EMail:jobs@citizensnyc.org Please
include NRTAC in the subject line. Website:
CASE MANAGER. ACT TEAM Work on the Upper
West Side providing case management to
homeless people with mental ilinessIMlCA. Be
part of a creative, dynamic team to engage
people living outdoors with untreated mental
illness and help them achieve psychiatric and
medical stability, sobriety and housing. Able to
drive strongly preferred. Experience in mental
health/addiction is a plus, but not required.
Salary mid 20's, excellent benefits. Fax letter
and resume to Alison Arthur at 212- 531-3636,
or mail to Alison Arthur at ACT Team/Goddard
Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus
Ave, New York, NY 10024.
Bronx based home care agency seeks efficient,
dependable, SELF-STARTER with sense of
humor to assist Service Delivery Manager. Ideal
candidate will have excellent time manage-
ment, editing, communication and organiza-
tion skills. Position includes various adminis-
trative and support functions. Proficiency in
MS Office required. Fax resume and cover let-
ter with salary requirements to A.Poweil 718-
665-6008 or email Apowell@chcany.org
COMMUNITY LIAISON. Councilman G. Oliver
Koppell (D-Bronx) is seeking to hire a Commu-
nity Liaison to handle constituent cases, com-
munity outreach - preferably with experience
in the Hispanic community, scheduling, per-
sonal secretary for the Councilman and related
duties in a fast-paced office. Responsibilities
are as follows: help process incoming con-
stituent correspondence and phone calls; rep-
resent the interests of the Councilman through
interaction with community leaders and partic-
ipation in community boards and other local
groups; serve as the primary contact for the
Councilman' scheduling matters and maintain
Councilman's personal calendar; handle
incoming correspondence and phone calls for
the Councilman and composes correspon-
dence; and process certificates and resolu-
tions. Government! political experience is pre-
ferred, but not required. Fluency in Spanish is
required. Looking for creativity, excellent com-
munication skills, and an ability to work under
pressure. Salary commensurate with experi-
ence. If interested, please send cover letter and
resume via fax to 718-549-9945, or email to
noa h. fra n kli n@Verizon.net.
CASEWORKER position available in busy Con-
gressional office. Position requires experience
in intervention with governmental agencies on
behalf of constituents seeking assistance
related to housing, public benefits, etc. Must
be computer literate, have strong writing and
communications skills, and be well-organized.
Competitive salary and excellent benefits.
Please fax resume and cover letter to: "Case-
work Position" at 212 367-7356 or mail to: 201
Varick Street, Suite 669, New York, NY 10014.
for Independence of the Disabled in Manhattan
seeks dynamic Exec.Director to head fast-
growing $lmillion organization, plus home
attendant agency. Responsibilities: promote
independent living philosophy, expand pro-
grams & services, grow the budget through
grants & fundraising, raise the organizations
public profile, and strengthen advocacy activi-
ties. Experience with disability issues pre-
ferred. For more info see www.cidny.org Send
resume and salary requirements to: A. Davis,
936 Fifth Avenue, NYC 10021. Fax: 702-995-
9292 email : jobs@cidny.org.
We have been providing low-cost insurarKe programs and
and other NONPROFIT organizations for over 15 years.
APRIL 2002
We Offer:
"Tailored Payment Plans"
146 West 29th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10001
(212) 279-8300 FAX 714-2161 Ask for : Bola Ramanathan