Mutual Aid NYC Newsletter
Bronx Fire Volunteers Needed, NYCHA, and Freedges
February 11th, 2022
Happy Friday everyone! We are trying something a bit different with the format today, would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
Snapshot of this Newsletter:
Many different opportunities available to help Bronx fire victims, both in person or remote
Volunteers in Red Hook and Mariners Harbor needed
Resources of the week are the over 100 community fridges, aka freedges, you can find in NYC! Many are looking for volunteers or donations
Spotlight topic is the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA. Funding cuts have made public housing both more dangerous and difficult to get while new programs push NYCHA towards privatization
Changes in Manhattan’s community board application may introduce more diversity and applications are due soon!
Help Needed and Volunteer Opportunities
Bronx Fire Volunteers Needed
The Bronx and Upper Manhattan DSA has daily opportunities for both in-person and remote volunteers. For more detailed information on the situation, resources, and in-person sites which need volunteers view their relief guide here. Join their signal chat here
Social workers or students are needed to help families with additional assistance applying. Please sign up to volunteer here
Call to action → Items needed to support Pop-ups are listed at Mutual Aid Supply List Table. The most significant needs are hand warmers, rapid tests, and PPE. You can drop them off in person or remotely order them here or donate to @booksandrose
Remote or In-Person Opportunities
Red Hook Mutual Aid (RHMA) is looking for volunteers for their buddy system phone support system.
Their buddy system focuses on community relationship building and pairs an RHMA volunteer with a household as an advocate who helps ensure their needs are met. For example, an elderly person who needs help with groceries or using digital resources
Their phone support is a call-back system that connects community members to resources, information, and supplies
Please sign up as a volunteer here
The Forest Avenue ComeUnity Fridge offers free healthy food to residents in the Mariners Harbor community and are looking for volunteers in the neighborhood or on the North Shore of Staten Island. Areas of need include:
Picking up food 1 to 3 times a week from local restaurants and supermarkets
Cleaning up the fridge
Engaging the community around food justice and unity
Resources of the Week: Community Fridges
Community fridges, or freedges, is a community-based way to reduce food insecurity and food waste. They can come in the form of a traditional-looking fridge, a storage room, or a pantry-like situation. Anyone from the community can take from the freedge and, in many cases, anyone can add to the freedge (though you should check the rules of your local freedge first!)
Call to action → If you’re interested in starting a freedge, you can Freedge Yourself here and learn more
Call to action → Many freedges are also looking for donations or volunteers to help pick up food, organize logistics, or clean the freedge. If interested, reach out to your local freedge and ask!
Events Coming Up
February 19 @ 11am: Bronx Virtual Town Hall
Town Hall with Assemblywomen Karines Reyes, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, Senator Julia Salazar, and community organizers to discuss preventing the extraction of wealth from the community via land grabs
RSVP at this link
Spotlight Topic: New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
The New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, is NYC’s chronically underfunded provider of public housing across all five boroughs. NYCHA’s chronic underfunding will be a recurring theme as we discuss the current dangerous living conditions, resumed eviction proceedings, and increased privatization.
Unsafe conditions in buildings have kept NYCHA in the news recently. There has been a string of deadly building fires, including the Twin Peaks fire in the Bronx. Many tenants across the city have also been without heat or hot water for months. This has forced tenants to choose between freezing or having multiple space heaters switched on at all times, a dangerous fire hazard and the source of the recent Bronx fire. Other problems often reported include mold, lead, leaks, broken elevators, animal infestations, and more.
NYCHA has also restarted eviction proceedings. Although NYCHA has recently dismissed over 30,000 eviction cases and, historically, few cases result in eviction, record-high levels of unpaid rent have tenants on edge. Still, the already overextended Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) pushes public housing applicants to the back of the line. NYCHA has received no funding from the program.
In the last few years, NYCHA has moved towards private management of their buildings under the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program. Rather than allocate more funds to fix the issue of “dramatically decreased” funding, PACT attempts to solve this by bringing in the private sector. Although NYCHA is insistent this creates “public-private partnerships, not privatization,” removal of federal quality monitors, decreased tenant protections, higher eviction rates, and more maintenance issues suggest otherwise.
The newest NYCHA proposal, Blueprint for Change, would allow the agency to raise funds and transfer 110,000 units to a new public trust. Funds would be raised through a federal housing program and bond issuances, a process NYCHA denies would lead to privatization. Tenants and activists disagree. They point to possible privatization from debt agreements with large, private bond investors and how the plan doesn’t address the 60,000 units already transferred to private management under PACT.
On the Upside
The Manhattan Borough President’s Office hopes to increase diversity on community boards, which have historically underrepresented the percent of people of color in neighborhoods.
Members of the board are appointed by borough president’s and new questions aim to increase accurate representation. One way is by asking whether applicants own a car, bike, or are pedestrians (as car owners are usually overrepresented). Other factors like age, disability, and union membership will also be considered
Call to action → Are you interested in serving on a community board? Here are the application links and deadlines:
Bronx application due March 4
Brooklyn application due March 4
Manhattan application due March 1
Queens application due February 16
Staten Island application open year-round
The recently formed Justice for App Workers Coalition is a combination of many organizations representing over 100,000 rideshare drivers and food delivery workers, the majority of whom are based in New York. Their goal is to advocate for worker rights and form a union
MANYC Self Promo
Request Help by:
Going to the I Need Help page
Searching for a local group
Searching for a resource
Calling the hotline at: 646-437-8080
Submitting a resource
Donating to Home is a Human Right
Donating to a local mutual aid group