New Directions Seen in Aid to City’s Poor

City Limits • Sept. 5, 2006

City officials are considering a move away from the strictest elements of New York’s poverty policy over the last decade, most notably by creating easier procedures for the poor to receive government aid and considering new ways to help needy people living above the federally-defined poverty threshold.

The Mayor’s Commission for Economic Opportunity drew attention last week after an internal memo detailing its likely recommendations, including targeting resources toward three specific demographic groups, was written about in the New York Times. But a closer look suggests that broader shifts are afoot.

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Welcome Shoppers

City Limits • Aug. 21, 2006

From beneath a purple awning emblazoned with “East New York Bargain$ For Less,” a handful of local residents are working to put a fresh spin on its previous tenant’s declaration by opening the neighborhood’s first food cooperative.

By mid-September, volunteers and staff from the Local Development Corporation of East New York hope to open the doors on a member-run grocery store featuring high-quality fresh produce, as well as bulk dry goods and other prepared foods. It’s the latest in a series of efforts by the East New York Food Policy Council, a project of the LDC, and other local activists to bolster access to fresh, healthy food in East New York.

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Series: Getting By

The Young and the Jobless New York’s newest growth industry is a generation of young adults who are not in school and not employed. Most aren’t even looking for work. A changing economy is partly to blame–but so is government’s disinvestment in job training. Ending Workfare as We Know It? With 400,000 still on the … Read more

Body by Bodega

City Limits • July 24, 2006

Bushwick – > Federal officials are opening up a new front in the fight against obesity: access. Heading the charge is Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, representing parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Lower East Side, who plans this week to introduce the Bodegas as Catalysts for Healthy Living Act. If enacted, it would mark the first federal effort to target the issue of food quality and availability in the nation’s low-income communities.

The bill, which is also backed by the Washington Heights-based Bodega Association of the United States and local public health officials, would create a federal program offering grants through the Small Business Administration to help bodegas and corner stores stock and maintain fresh fruits and vegetables, along with low-fat milk and real fruit juices.

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After-School Budget Won’t Budge: City Leaves Providers Scrambling

City Limits • Dec. 12, 2005

Child care providers around the city were riled up last week after a city official publicly explained the approach undergirding the city’s massive new after-school child care initiative: Pay less than needed and expect service providers to make up the rest.

“Government can be a big part of the solution but not the only part,” said Bill Chong, deputy commissioner of the Department for Youth and Community Development (DYCD), at a Milano School forum on the new “Out of School Time” (OST) program last week. “To depend simply on city resources is a short-sighted approach.”

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The New Safety Net?

Part 3 of series, “Getting By”

Winner, 2006 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism
Finalist, 2006 Livingston Award for Young Journalists

City Limits • November/December 2005

Early this April, before the snow had completely disappeared, Milagros Espinal undertook an annual ritual, rustling her three children out of her Bronx apartment for a 15-minute jaunt over the Tri-Borough Bridge. Upon reaching Bayside, Queens, she hunched over an aging Hewlett Packard computer, consulting earnestly with her stepbrother, Veder Velarde. Between slurps of Coke, Milagros and Veder, who works in accounting, focused on the task at hand: painstakingly inputting figures from the receipts and 1099s generated by the child-care business she was running out of her living room. It was a late start for Milagros. She had hoped to finish her taxes months before, but now April 15 loomed just two weeks away, and she was anxious to dispense with the paperwork.

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Big Changes in Child Care: City Hopes to Regulate Informal Providers

City Limits • Oct. 31, 2005

As the city moves to overhaul its public child care system, officials are looking to recruit new allies into the fight: “informal” providers who currently receive public funds to care for children. The initiative, which also institutes background checks on informal providers, comes less than a year after Jaylen Robinson, a 19-month old in informal care, was smothered and killed by his caregiver.

Still in the early stages of discussion, the idea is a small component of the massive child care overhaul announced last week. It marks the city’s first major attempt to regulate unlicensed care, which has grown dramatically in recent years.

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Hidden Health Costs

City Limits • Oct. 11, 2005 High rates of childhood obesity may have a stealth culprit: rising prices. A new study from the Rand Health Corporation, a nonprofit policy group, found a strong correlation between childhood weight gain and higher prices for fruits and vegetables. In fact, the study found higher prices to be a … Read more

Primary 2005

City Limits • September/October 2005

As New York politics heats up for its main event–the Democratic Parry primary on September 13–several races warrant a closer look. There are two stats that generally indicate the strength of a campaign: the number of petition signatures gathered to get on the ballot, which can reveal whether the operation has a wide reach, and the size of the war chest (a combination of donations and anticipated matching funds). With six candidates leaving office thanks to term limits and a handful of incumbents facing serious challenges, there’s plenty to talk about: Harlem’s District 9, the Lower East Side’s District 2, Sunset Park’s District 38. But the field narrows considerably when you focus on neighborhood activists who’ve managed to pull together competitive campaigns. City Limits picks out the ones to watch.

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Ending Workfare as We Know It?

Part 2 of series, “Getting By”

Winner, 2006 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism
Finalist, 2006 Livingston Award for Young Journalists


City Limits • July/August 2005 

It starts before Benita Andrews even makes it home. Five o’clock finds her walking to her South Bronx apartment, a ramshackle three-family covered in aluminum siding. Her kids–nine in all–spot her from their third-floor window, and they are already calling for her when she is half a block away. By the time Andrews passes the corner house, known as a drug spot, and a stoop blaring salsa music, her front stairs are lined with children. “It gets kinda crazy when I get home. Everybody’s all ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy.’” says Andrews, feigning irritation. “I about fall into a coma come 10:00.”

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