NEW YORK—Community Voices Heard (CVH), an advocacy group that “fights for the rights of all low-income people,” according to their website, held an arithmetic lesson in front of the offices of the New York City Housing Association (NYCHA) on lower Broadway on Wednesday.
NYCHA is not using stimulus funding to create sufficient jobs for unemployed residents, says CVH. The agency was awarded $423 million for public housing improvements, with a stipulation that renovations and repairs would create jobs for unemployed residents.
CVH says that although approximately 3,200 jobs have been created, only 214 positions have been filled by residents.
A chalkboard that was part of the math “lesson” at Wednesday's event proclaimed that “$423 million in federal stimulus money plus 30,000 unemployed public housing residents does not equal only 214 jobs made available.”
As sometimes residents lack proper training and jobs are instead filled by union workers and skilled tradesmen, CVH has recommended enhancing efforts to accord with federal regulations that require “job training and apprenticeship opportunities provided to residents.”
According to NYCHA website, however, “free job training and placement services, workshops to help sharpen interviewing skills, and help with preparing a resume” are currently being offered.
CVH has also called for a change in contractor work mandates to better benefit the residents. Contractors are currently required to allot 30 percent of open positions to residents. CVH says that 30 percent of total work hours should instead be allocated, as this would then force contractors with full staff to open up more positions for the residents.
Results from a CVH-conducted survey of eight housing developments in different boroughs indicate that most residents don't know about the job opportunities.
“The majority of people didn’t even know what was being done in their development with the stimulus money,” said Anne Washington, a CVH board member. “Sometimes the jobs are posted in the rental offices or by the elevators, but residents [still] don’t know about them.”
Washington said she would like to see more efforts made to inform the unemployed and connect them with much-needed work.
The expiration date on the federal grant has created a sense of urgency for CVH. All funds must be expended by March 17, 2011. Whatever is left thereafter will have to return to the federal bank account.