Commission is also charged with encouraging understanding and respect
among New York City's many communities. To address this mission,
the Community Relations Bureau (CRB) provides services through the
Commission's five borough-based Community Service Centers.
services of the Community Relations Bureau's field operation compose
its Neighborhood Human Rights Program (NHRP). NHRP works on a
local level with block, tenant, religious, educational, merchant
and community groups to improve and stabilize communities, educate
them about the protections they have under the NYC Human Rights
Law, and connect them to the Commission's law enforcement functions.
the Commission increased its services to the public after successfully
restructuring its entire field operation. This included the consolidation
of field offices, opening a new permanent field office in Staten
Island, and expanding CRB's major programs.
office, or Community Service Center, offers the Commission's many
services and programs including: Immigrant Employment Rights training;
Equal Access (disability access) investigation and intervention;
School-Based Education which offers three separate curricula (NYC
Human Rights Law, Sexual Harassment, and Conflict Resolution);
Peer Mediation training in high schools; and Mortgage Foreclosure
and Pre-Purchase Counseling to avert predatory lending practices.
A dedicated team of Human Rights Specialists staffs each borough
The Commission, along with its partner - the New York Immigration
Coalition - conducted 133 workshops during 2003 to inform immigrants,
employers and immigrant advocacy organizations about their rights
and obligations under Federal and City Laws. The United States Department
of Justice, Civil Rights Division Office of Special Counsel for
Immigrant Related Unfair Employment Practices, awarded the Commission
an additional $70,800 grant to continue the program, bringing the
two-year total to over $140,000.
discussions, literature and PowerPoint presentations educate immigrant
workers, employers, employee associations and business associations
about discrimination in employment based on national origin, citizenship
status or alienage. The citywide presentations are conducted in
English, Spanish, Chinese, Creole, and Russian.
Two of the
larger immigration workshops – one for advocacy groups and
the other for employers – received widespread media coverage
as part of an ongoing campaign to educate the public about the discrimination
that immigrants face in the workplace. These workshops included
speakers from the U.S. Department of Justice, the New York State
Attorney General's Office and the Commission.
|Mortgage and Pre-Purchase
CRB staff counseled over 1,000 homeowners and potential homeowners
on ways to avoid predatory lending practices and retain their homes.
These lending practices include excessively high fees and commissions,
misrepresentation of the mortgage's terms and conditions, high interest
rates, repeated financing of loans, balloon payments and the financing
of high-cost credit insurance. The program also identifies predatory
lending practices and the discrimination often associated with them.
The Commission’s proposal was selected in 2002 by the New
York University Wagner School of Public Service's Capstone Program
to explore the extent of discriminatory practice and fair housing
violations in home lending.
For nine months, a team of NYU Capstone graduate students and
CRB staff members assessed the impact of discrimination within
the sub-prime lending market and identified NYC neighborhoods
significantly affected. Those communities are: Jamaica/Hollis;
Williamsbridge/Baychester; Bedford– Stuyvesant; and East
New York/Starrett City. The findings reinforced other studies
documenting race as the most common factor used in the solicitation
and targeting practices of predatory lenders.
The Commission is using the Capstone findings to focus and upgrade
our mortgage counseling services.
The Commission was one of 55 awardees nationwide to receive a grant
from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Foundation.
The $24,501 grant is being used to expand the Commission's Equal
Access Program. In conjunction with LEB, CRB staff members regularly
conduct investigations and provide pre-complaint intervention when
individuals experience accessibility problems. As a result, the
Commission has successfully negotiated 152 modifications during
2003. These modifications include ramps and lifts to stores, restaurants,
offices, and apartment buildings, grab bars in restrooms, parking
spaces, and permitting the presence of guide dogs in public accommodations.
The program also provides NYC Human Rights Law workshops for senior
citizens and the disabled community.
The program includes three basic curricula for students in grades
6-12: the NYC Human Rights Law, Sexual Harassment, and Conflict
Resolution. Last year, CRB staff conducted 255 sessions in 24 schools
citywide, reaching nearly 7,500 students.
The program prepares middle and high school students to be capable
young leaders and negotiate non-violent resolutions for situations
among their peers that create conflict within their schools. A $52,000
impact grant from the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation is helping the
Commission expand the program.
The Community Relations Bureau consists of 36 Human Rights Specialists
assigned to the Commission's Community Service Centers. In addition,
CRB has seven support staff members.