Center for Working Families

Strong Communities

Thriving communities require strong physical and social infrastructure. Workers must have access to sustaining and meaningful jobs; those who fall ill must be empowered to obtain to culturally sensitive and high quality healthcare; social connections among neighbors – in the form of block associations, tenant groups, civic organizations – must be actively cultivated.

New Yorkers are struggling with decaying systems that do not keep up with population shifts and human needs. Poorly maintained parks, inadequate mass transit and English-only government services are just three examples. Further, public dollars are often invested in ways that fuel inequalities. Taxpayer subsidies for development projects that create low-wage jobs diminish labor standards overall and suck wealth from neighborhoods by driving locally owned stores out of business.

The latest efforts to close budget gaps by decimating services are further straining the fabric of working and low-income communities. Take New York City’s public transit system. Even before the recent service cuts, three times as many transit users as car drivers faced hour-plus commutes. Long mass transit commutes steal time from family and neighborhood activities, from bedtime stories and tenant association meetings. And they incentivize driving, which costs more in environmental and financial terms. Now, just when we need to transport growing numbers of cash-strapped workers and students, we’re hiking fares and cutting service.

Our communities’ fortunes are elevated or broken by the quality of our public investments and policymaking. These decisions shape an array of systems, including public education, subsidized child care, health care and policing. The Center for Working Families is rethinking the framework within which these decisions are made to build for a more fair and equitable future. In this work especially, we partner with community allies whose on-the-ground knowledge is crucial to building strong communities.

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© 2013 Center for Working Families


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The Center for Working Families creates and implements innovative policy ideas to improve the lives of working and low income New Yorkers.

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