Category Archives: Income Inequality

It’s Not Just Flint.

We know the immediate effects of the Flint, MI crisis—how the combination of “emergency management,” austerity politics, and irresponsible governance literally poisoned the children of a poor, majority-black city. Thousands of children are now at risk for stunted growth and reduced learning development due to toxic levels of lead ingested through their drinking water.

That means long-term deprivation and, most likely, more cycles of poverty in hard-working communities of color. Yet environmental racism and willful disregard for society’s most vulnerable have a far wider reach.

Think of Baltimore, where the rate of lead poisoning in children is three times the national average–all concentrated in a few racially segregated zip codes. Or Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” with its chemical- and refinery oil-laced water and air. Or, closer to home, the South Bronx, where health disparities from industrial pollution and repeated “industry dumping” in our nation’s poorest congressional district include asthma, enduring mental illnesses, and obesity.

This isn’t new. The systematic environmental abuse of the poor and communities of color is decades-long. But it’s time to demand that more resources—not less—be put into the neighborhoods that most need them.

Right now, you can sign the petition by our friends at Color of Change and demand that budget cuts to the Center for Disease Control’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program be restored to pre-2005 levels.

It’s a start. A stab at environmental justice. What’s happening in Flint must be prevented from happening elsewhere.


Economic Justice: A Real Living Wage for all New Yorkers

In 2011, we joined faith coalitions like the Micah Institute in the Living Wage NYC Campaign, and we continue to support the Fight for $15. Still, we know that even a substantial increase in the minimum wage is no substitute for a real living wage.

According to a 2014 report by the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement titled Overlooked and Uncounted: The Struggle to Make Ends Meet in New York City, over 940,000 New York City households lack enough income to cover the bare necessities of life. Women and people of color with higher levels of education still struggle with income inadequacy. In even our least expensive neighborhoods, the wage a mother needs to support herself and one child without public assistance is several dollars more than $20 per hour. A higher percentage of NYC households survive on an insufficient income than in Mississippi and several other states.

A Faith-Rooted Response 

The Micah Faith Table, a coalition of multi-faith leaders from across New York, is launching the Real Living Wage NYC Campaign to address these and other unjust economic issues. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that all workers in New York City receive at least $20 an hour–the wage required to meet basic needs without government subsidies. In other words, the aim is to trans­form the minimum wage in our city into a Real Living Wage.

Religious communities play a vital role in establishing economic justice for the whole society. Scriptures of every time, place, and faith cry out on behalf of the poor, seeking justice as well as mercy. In a critical sense, houses of faith form a unified moral body in our city, and aim to make that unity manifest by transforming a faith-based vision into reality. That is why the foundation for the Real Living Wage Campaign is being built in the interfaith religious community.

Join in Solidarity

As a secular progressive organization that builds coalitions with faith-based groups on behalf of economic justice, we encourage you to read more about the campaign here. Help make New York City a leader as a Real Living Wage City!


On Endorsements and Priorities

As we move toward the 2016 presidential election, we’re often asked to commit to candidates and engage in campaigns. We think it’s important to state our position:

Greater NYC for Change is an issue-based, grassroots organization focused on promoting everyday social and political change. While we have always supported candidates who share our commitment to progressive change, we do not issue formal endorsements, nor do we actively engage in primary elections. Individual members of our organization are, of course, able to support candidates of their choice, but such support should not be seen as representative of the organization as a whole.

We look forward to a robust debate of ideas that will sharpen positions and produce more effective national candidates in 2016.

Meanwhile, we’ll be working at city and state levels on the issues that matter to us:
  • The Fight for $15 and a union. A real living wage.
  • Reducing income inequality.
  • Ending the influence of accumulated power and wealth in elections.
  • Concrete solutions to a looming climate crisis.
  • Full funding for public eduction.
  • Affordable and supportive housing.
  • Passing GENDA and insuring statewide rights for trans people.
  • Campaign Zero.
  • Prison reform- and clemency for the many who deserve a second chance.
  • Recognizing and dismantling our nation’s systemic racism. #BlackLivesMatter.

This Year in Albany Budgeting

Albany Budgeting

Photo credit: Gili Getz

At 2:50 am on Wednesday, April 1st, the New York State Legislature approved yet another budget. And, just like in years past, there were some victories for progressive advocates, but also plenty of disappointments.


This year’s budget includes $100 million in capital funds for NYCHA public housing improvements, as well as $4.5 million for new beds at youth homeless shelters. (Thank you, Miley Cyrus!)

The budget includes another $1.6 billion in education funding, including full funding of New York City’s universal pre-K. According to the New York Times, however, that funding is tied to major education reforms, “including changes to the teacher evaluation system, bonuses for high-performing teachers, and expedited procedures to remove teachers.”


Once again, the budget did not include funding for the DREAM Act, a devastating blow to immigration advocates and the thousands of undocumented children living in New York City. Low-wage workers were also left out in the cold, with no increase in the state minimum wage.

While some ethics reform provisions were included (such as mandatory reporting of outside income and stricter per diem regulations), there was no major campaign finance reform, nor did the legislature close the LLC loophole that allows wealthy corporations to skirt campaign contribution limits.


Finally, according to the Times, “[t]hough the word “yacht” is never used, the budget contains a tax break for anyone in the market for a “vessel” valued at more than $230,000.” That’s right–if you’re an undocumented immigrant or a low-wage worker, you’re out of luck. But if you’re thinking about buying a yacht, no problem!

There’s still time left in the legislative session, and time for the Senate and the Assembly to take up these issues, though the chances of any major progressive victories in the next two months are slim with a Republican-led Senate.

But there is no rest for the weary: there will be a major battle coming up over New York City’s rent regulations, which are set to expire in June. Greater NYC for Change is committed to renewing and strengthening our rent laws, and we’ll be working with other advocates to lobby the legislature to protect tenants. We’ll also continue our efforts to increase the minimum wage and push for more transparency in campaign finance. We hope you’ll join us!

Money for Schools

money for schools

It’s about fairness–and futures.  

In a recent open letter to Governor Cuomo, seven illustrious New York State Teachers of the Year urged him to look beyond test scores to see why students fail in school. Beyond the “achievement gap,” they noted, is “an income gap, a health-care gap, a housing gap, a family gap and a safety gap, just to name a few.”
The problem is poverty–and its root cause is the failure to allocate resources in communities that most need them. Today, New York State  has the most economically and racially segregated classrooms in the nation. Unless we change the way our money is spent, we’ll continue on the same path.
Money matters for educational outcomes. A study released this week by the Alliance for Quality Education and the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York shows that New York City’s public schools are owed $2.5 billion in funding, or $2,667 per student. That’s huge. That’s smaller classroom sizes, libraries, art programs, special learning programs, safer and more secure spaces. Above all, it’s the future of kids.

The educational needs of our state’s and city’s students will be determined by the budget decided in Albany this March 31st.

We urge you to demand that the governor fully and fairly fund our public schools. #WeCan’tWait. Our kids’ futures can’t wait. At stake are the multiple gaps that begin and end in poverty.
Get engaged. Read the report. Join the campaignPetition the governor. And join the Moral Mondays commitment to fairness in education.

Remember: The budget is a moral document.


The Affordable Housing Crisis

Affordable housing is a topic near and dear to most New Yorkers, and has been one of Mayor de Blasio’s top priorities since taking office. He has promised to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years.

Recently the New York Times reported on two new proposed rent subsidy programs aimed at helping families with children move from homeless shelters into permanent housing. They include rental assistance for families who have been homeless for two years or more, and rent subsidies for victims of domestic violence with children.

Despite these efforts, many New Yorkers continue to get priced out of their neighborhoods. In response to this epidemic, the Real Affordability for All coalition will march this Wednesday, August 20th, in support of preserving real affordability in private developments and in public housing, and ensuring that all new housing remains permanently affordable to people living in those neighborhoods. RSVP HERE. The starting point will be 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (at 116th St). map
New York’s rent laws are set to expire next year, and opponents of rent stabilization will be doing everything in their power to undo the rent regulations that we’ve fought so hard for. We need to make our voices heard so that elected officials know they must do everything they can to preserve and strengthen our rent laws! For more information on the fight over rent regulation, check out Real Rent Reform, a coalition of community groups working together for safe, stable, and affordable housing for New Yorkers.