Community Relations Bureau
Law charges the Commission 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
The various services of the Community Relations Bureau's field
operation compose its Neighborhood Human Rights Program (NHRP).
The 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 Human Rights Law, and connect them to the Commission's law
Each field office, or Community Service Center, offers the Commission's
many services including: Immigrant Employment Rights training;
Equal Access (disability access) investigations, workshops, and
interventions; School Program sessions with three separate curricula
(NYC Human Rights Law, Sexual Harassment, and Conflict Resolution);
Peer Mediation Training in high and middle schools; and Mortgage
Counseling and Predatory Loan Prevention to reduce predatory lending
practices. A dedicated team of Human Rights Specialists staffs
each borough office.
As part of a comprehensive public education campaign, the Commission
published its informational booklet in several additional languages,
including French, Korean, and Russian. The information is also
available in English, Mandarin and Spanish. The contents of these
books appear on the Commission's website at www.nyc.gov/cchr.
The Commission maintains its aggressive outreach campaign to the
public through the programs it provides.
The Commission and its partner, the New York Immigration Coalition,
conducted 114 workshops and other outreach events during 2004,
to inform immigrant workers, employers and immigrant advocacy
organizations about their rights and obligations under Federal
City Laws. The discussions, literature and Power Point presentations
explain discrimination based on national origin, citizenship status
or alienage. The citywide presentations are conducted in English,
Spanish, Chinese, Creole, and Russian.
This program is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice's
Civil Rights Division Office of Special Counsel for Immigrant
Related Unfair Employment Practices. OSC awarded the Commission
grants in 2003 and 2004 to fund the program, bringing the two-year
total to over $140,000.
The Commission continues to expand its Equal Access Program. In
conjunction with LEB, CRB staff regularly conducts investigations
and provides pre-complaint intervention when individuals experience
accessibility problems. As a result, the Commission has successfully
negotiated 150 modifications during 2004 including installing
permanent and portable ramps, bell and buzzer systems for entry
to stores, offices, and apartment buildings, making parking spaces
available and permitting guide dogs in public accommodations.
The program also provides extensive public education.
Commission staff members taught approximately 10,000 students
in grades 6-12 citywide three basic curricula; the Human Rights
Law, Sexual Harassment and Conflict Resolution. The Conflict Resolution
workshops are the most requested of the three provided by the
Commission and often lead to the school's interest in the Commission's
Peer Mediation Training Program. CRB staff conducted 456 sessions
in 45 schools citywide during 2004.
Another part of the Commission's School Program is the Peer Mediation
Training program. This program prepares middle and high school
students to mediate non-violent resolutions for problems among
their peers that could escalate. CRB's approach to teaching young
students how to be peer mediators is grounded in the principles
that underlie the Commission - tolerance, human dignity, and respect.
The 10-week after-school program also teaches these young students
valuable life skills such as patience, persistence, active listening
and problem solving while presenting alternatives to threats and
violence. Approximately 20 students per school participate in
the voluntary program. The Commission published Talk It Over:
A Peer Mediator's Guide for the students in the trainings
to assist them with the mediation process.
Over 200 students citywide graduated from the Peer Mediation Training
during the 2003 - 2004 school year. The Commission expanded the
program for the 2004 - 2005 school year increasing the number
of schools from 12 to 15. In mid 2004, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation
once again awarded the Commission a grant to continue its work,
bringing the two-year total to $102,000.
MORTGAGE COUNSELING AND PREDATORY LOAN PREVENTION
CRB staff members track possible discriminatory and predatory
lending practices and conduct outreach and counseling services
to address the community instability created by these practices.
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. CRB staff provided
391 counseling sessions for home-owners facing foreclosure and
also conducted 5 large workshops.
The Commission began an aggressive outreach campaign to complement
its counseling services. The campaign targets women who comprise
nearly 95% of the counseling clients and alerts them to predatory
lending practices and the discrimination often associated with
those practices. The Commission has identified beauty parlors,
nail salons, laundromats and other locations frequented by women
for distributing written materials that summarize these illegal
practices. The information will also contain helpful resources,
including consumer and banking information. The Commission also
participates in homeownership seminars and predatory lending workshops
in areas prone to this type
OTHER CRB ACTIVITIES
The Commission is also involved in activities that promote fair
housing - equal housing opportunity under the Law. These activities
include fair housing training for providers and protected groups,
resolution of informal housing complaints, particularly those
that are disability-related, investigation of unlawful real estate
practices, providing technical assistance to tenants as part of
the Citywide Task Force on Housing Court, and active participation
in community activities that encourage harmonious intergroup relations
and neighborhood stability in areas undergoing ethnic change.
The Commission is providing assistance to two Princeton University
professors with their study of the impact of race and criminal
records on securing entry-level positions. The study identifies
discriminatory practices that employers use and measures to what
extent discrimination exists. The project uses matched pairs of
testers (Whites and African-Americans or Latinos) who apply for
the same job with the same resumes and tracks call-backs, interviews,
and job offers. The Commission received $12,000 in a grant from
the JEHT Foundation to support the project's focus group research
and public education activities.
CRB has rolled out its new comprehensive database. The program
will now enable the Commission to track CRB's activities more
efficiently and comprehensively. The Commission received a $13,650
Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
to fund this project.
By year end, CRB staff delivered 42,410 units of service to individuals
throughout the five boroughs.
The Community Relations Bureau consists of 34 Human Rights Specialists
assigned to the Commission's Community Service Centers, and Program
staff. In addition, CRB has 6 support staff members.
and materials on employment protection for immigrants (City
law and Federal law) in cooperation with NY Immigration Coalition
1) immigrant workers;
3) immigrant advocacy organizations.
COUNSELING & PREDATORY LOAN PREVENTION
counseling for individuals facing the loss of their homes that
1) reviewing in person their financial and mortgage status;
2) writing letters to creditors or banks to negotiate payment;
3) exploring alternatives to foreclosure with individuals and
4) referring cases of suspected predatory lending;
5) distributing literature and participating in housing coalitions;
6) community presentations on predatory lending and foreclosure
1) investigation of individual inquiries (interviews, space
assessment, code assessment, analyze possibilities of code
compliance, discussion of the law);
2) intervention, i.e. negotiation and education with owners
(calls, letters, visits);
3) group presentations to consumers, business people, social
service agencies, hospitals re: disability rights;
4) drafting complaints and follow-up investigations.
three basic curricula, the "NYC Human Rights Law,"
"Sexual Harassment," and "Resolving Conflicts":
1) to school classes (grades 6-12);
2) to community groups.
& COMMUNITY MEDIATION
1) responds to requests to mediate bias and other community
2) sets up peer mediation groups in schools (grades 6-12);
3) delivers conflict resolution training to community groups
as well as not-for-profit and school personnel.