NYN Daily 9/3

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NYC, Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sunny skies throughout the state. New York City, high 96; Albany, 87; Buffalo, high 82.

Top News

Cuomo says state not to blame for increase in homeless

Gov. Andrew Cuomo disagrees with critics who say the state is not doing enough to fix the homeless problem in New York City, saying the state has invested heavily in housing for homeless in the past five years, Politico New York reports. Read more

Post: Politics Drove Barrios-Paoli From City Hall

Multiple sources said Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, the deputy mayor who announced she’s leaving after only 20 months, was “miserable” in her job and felt the de Blasio administration politicized too many decisions, the Post writes. Read more

Police Officers and Other New York City Agencies Visit Homeless Encampments 

As police officers, mental health workers, lawyers and others visit homeless encampments in New York as part of a City Hall initiative, a prime mission will be determining how people wound up on the streets, The New York Times reports. Read more.

NYN Buzz

Mother and Son Sue NYCHA for Violations of NYC Human Rights Law and Language Access Policies

Legal Services NYC (LSNYC) today filed a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on behalf of two tenants who speak little to no English, and for whom NYCHA allegedly refused to provide interpretation and translation services as required under federal and city law, as well as under NYCHA’s own policies.

Ms. Ai Fang Lin, 60, and her son John Wang have been NYCHA tenants at Campos Plaza in Manhattan for twenty years. Management at Campos is aware that Ms. Lin does not speak or read English, and that Mr. Wang has only limited English proficiency. Despite knowing this, NYCHA has allegedly failed to provide them with translated forms and notices, even though NYCHA itself considers such forms and notices “vital documents” which are legally required to be translated. 

In 2014, Ms. Lin’s rent was mistakenly increased by more than $230/month, constituting a substantial burden for this low-income family. When Mr. Wang went to his NYCHA development office to correct the error, LSNYC claims that NYCHA employees brushed him off, refusing to provide him with language services. As a result, Mr. Wang and his mother could not communicate with the office that a simple mistake had been made, leaving them unable to pay rent. In February, NYCHA sued the family for non-payment.

Ms. Lin and Mr. Wang came to Legal Services NYC’s Manhattan office, where attorneys quickly determined that the rent increase was a NYCHA error. An LSNYC advocate provided Mr. Wang with a letter to NYCHA explaining that NYCHA was required by law to provide interpretation and translation services. Over the next several months, Mr. Wang attempted to communicate with NYCHA management at least ten more times. Each time, he found himself unable to communicate as agency employees continually refused to provide him with interpretation services.

Legal Services NYC has long advocated on behalf of the rights of low-income New Yorkers with limited English proficiency to receive interpretation and translation services, and works with community-based organizations to connect LEP individuals with legal assistance. One such organization, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, is a leader in organizing Bengali, Chinese, and Korean-speaking tenants in NYCHA developments. CAAAV has been conducting a survey of NYCHA tenants since 2014, and has found language access to be a common problem.

“We are calling for the implementation of efficient language services including interpretation, written materials and access to repairs,” said Shahana Hanif, an organizer at CAAAV. “We know that thousands of LEP residents are facing language access issues which have dire implications on their living conditions and housing security. CAAAV hopes to work with all relevant City agencies, including NYCHA, to advocate for the tens of thousands of LEP NYCHA residents, and hence are in support of any urgent, multi-pronged approach to improve LEP tenants’ language access needs.”

“Ms. Lin and Mr. Wang have been NYCHA tenants for decades,” said LSNYC Staff Attorney Cynthia Weaver. “They are steadfast in their determination not to be discriminated against because of their limited English proficiency. With this litigation, as well as CAAAV’s expertise in organizing other NYCHA tenants in similar circumstances, Ms. Lin and Mr. Wang now know they are not alone in this fight.”

Political Bulletin powered by City & State  

* Top officials in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration said that this summer has been the safest in decades as they tried to stem worries that crime is rising and quality of life is falling in New York City, The Wall Street Journal reports. Read more.

* The Police Department issued nearly 35 percent fewer summonses for civil violations last year, but other city agencies more than made up for the shortfall by increasing their output of other tickets to more than 600,000, the Post reports. Read more.

* New York City has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by a former Rikers Island inmate who was hogtied by correction officers and then, while his hands were still cuffed, brutally beaten, the Times reports. Read more.

Nonprofits in the News

Harlem RBI Raising Money for a Real Baseball Field in the South Bronx 

The youth baseball nonprofit Harlem RBI is looking for some help online to upgrade one of its ball fields in the South Bronx, DNAinfo reports. The field will cost $2 million, and Harlem RBI has already received support for the project from the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, the New York Yankees and the Parks Department. Read more.

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