FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Carolina Gamero

La Gran Manzana: Hispanic Federation Unveils Policy Blueprint to Help City Government Support Latino Communities in NYC

With early voting for the New York City Mayor and City Council underway, Hispanic Federation releases “La Gran Manzana: The Road Ahead For New York City’s Latino Community”

From expanding Latino appointments in government to improving education, the policy blueprint offers city-wide recommendations developed by over 38 Latino non-profit organizations

NEW YORK – The Hispanic Federation today released La Gran Manzana: The Road Ahead For New York City’s Latino Community, a policy blueprint with recommendations on how the next Mayor and City Council can improve the lives of nearly 2.5 million Latinos who call New York City home. With early voting underway to elect the next Mayor and City Council, La Gran Manzana seeks to help elected officials better understand the Latino community by offering policy recommendations that directly affect their lives. Recommendations include, increasing New York City’s Nonprofit Stabilization Fund to $50 million over a five-year period to support people of color-led nonprofit organizations and ensure that nonprofits can engage in long-term planning to meet operational infrastructure needs and technical assistance, establishing free full-day pre-kindergarten for all three- and four year olds, electing a Latino/a as the next Speaker of the City Council, and more.

The Hispanic Federation partnered with Latino non-profit organizations in all five boroughs to develop the policy blueprint and shared the expansive recommendations with Mayoral candidates Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa as they prepared for their final debate, which was co- sponsored by the Hispanic Federation.

“This blueprint serves as an ambitious but urgently needed road map to recovery for our city’s Latino communities – from Washington Heights to Jackson Heights – who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Frankie Miranda, President and CEO of the Hispanic Federation. “While the underlying challenges that made the crisis worse for Latino New Yorkers have not disappeared, we look to our next Mayor and City Council to hit the ground running and work with us to address the needs of our communities as outlined in these policy recommendations.”

Communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and Latino communities across the country have confronted crushing blows to their health and economic stability. Latinos faced greater job losses, higher rates of COVID-19 infection, and greater likelihood of evictions and hunger than their white counterparts. Alarmingly, these racial inequities have existed for decades and were exacerbated by the pandemic. In New York, Latino poverty rates were twice as high as their White peers before 2020.

With this in mind, the Hispanic Federation and its network of Latino nonprofits – consisting of human service agencies, senior centers, youth development providers, theaters, community health clinics, and immigrant and civil rights groups – have chosen to highlight policy recommendations across ten focus areas that should be central to the planning priorities of New York City’s next generation of government leaders as we continue to navigate the pandemic. These focus areas and recommendations include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing Latino Appointments in City Government: La Gran Manzana outlines the need to establish a permanent Hispanic Appointment Advisory Committee to make appointment recommendations to the City Council Speaker and that works to increase the number of Latino staff members working in the City council. The policy blueprint also recommends electing a Latino/a City Council Speaker to meet the needs of the growing Latino population.
  • Strengthening Latino Nonprofits: La Gran Manzana recommends increasing NYC’s Nonprofit Stabilization Fund to $50 million over five years to support nonprofit organizations led by people of color. The blueprint also recommends establishing a non- profit emergency fund. This emergency fund would help create new programs and services needed to respond to the increased demand for social services due to the pandemic and natural disasters.
  • Improving Education: The policy blueprint calls on the City to make free, full-day pre- kindergarten available to all three- and four year olds. La Gran Manzana also recommends creating a $25 million initiative to support college costs for undocumented students who are ineligible for Pell Grants, conventional tuition, and financial aid; increasing the number of Spanish transitional bilingual and enhanced language support programs; and significantly reducing and sustaining class sizes for Renewal schools for English Language Learners, Latino/Hispanic students, and students with special needs.
  • Protecting and Supporting Immigrants: La Gran Manzana recommends increasing funding for the Immigrant Opportunities Initiative (IOI) to $60 million to serve an additional 400,000 new New Yorkers and expand the range of services to include tax preparation, wage theft prevention and recovery services, employment assistance, and more. The policy blueprint also urges the City to oppose any federal immigration enforcement program; develop a system to include undocumented immigrants into low- income housing by accepting alternatives to social security and credit checks; and calls on the Staten Island’s District Attorney’s Office to implement an immigrant affairs unit.

A full list of the recommendations can be found here.

Quotes from Member Agencies on the Policy Blueprint:

"The Latino community continues to make tremendous contributions in all areas of La Gran Manzana. We need the new City administration to make key investments in our communities so we can begin the recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen our families. It's imperative that you keep our needs front and center as you develop budgets and policies that will shape the future of our great City and our Latino communities," said Maria Lizardo, Executive Director of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC).

“We expect that the ideas and values contained within La Gran Manzana: The Road Ahead For New York City’s Latino Community, will be the beginning of a discussion with all electeds and leaders of New York as we push toward a more equitable society. Through this collaborative effort, the organizations that serve the Latino communities give a voice to those that have for too long been marginalized, and communities that have historically been under-resourced. El Puente is honored to have been part of this process and look forward to continuing with our allies in the Hispanic Federation,” said Marco Carrión, Executive Director of El Puente.

“The recommendations generated by the Hispanic Federation’s network of leaders provides a critical roadmap to supporting the Latinx community, which is vital to the city’s economic prosperity and well-being. It’s now up to New York City’s next mayor to drive the needed policy change that will allow this great community to thrive,” said Lourdes Rosado, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“In 2021 we can shape our health and our future. The Hispanic Federation blueprint report “La Gran Manzana”, a comprehensive community-led model in developing overall critical issues relevant for our communities, include health recommendations on ensuring positive healthy outcomes,” said Guillermo Chacón, Founder of the Hispanic Health Network and President of the Latino Commission AIDS. “Our health counts. We need to proactively seek solutions, with the next NYC Mayor and Council, to the historic health disparities, social stigmas, health challenges, and to the devastation caused by COVID-19. Together we can!”

“The arts and culture ecosystem of New York City is formidable in its diversity and broad appeal but not for that reason immune to the ravages of racist undercapitalization. For many creatives of color, the City is a #1 partner — the first source of funding and practical resources to leverage for enhanced impact and additional investments. This is about quality of life, economic opportunity, and rich cultural legacies for all New Yorkers. La Gran Manzana offers tangible, crowd-sourced recommendations for how to do this better, more intentionally, meeting the equity gap and helping both our working artists and communities thrive,” said Arnaldo J. López, Ph.D., Managing Director of the Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and LxNY | Latinx Arts Consortium of New York.

“The Violence Intervention Program (VIP) works at the intersection of gender, racial and economic justice for Latinx survivors of domestic and sexual violence. While it is interpersonal violence that brings clients to us for services, the truth is that they navigate countless oppressions every day, especially as immigrants living in New York City. The issues spotlighted in La Gran Manzana seek a municipal response that recognizes the diversity and complexity of our Latinx survivor communities and demands better protections for them. VIP is proud to be a partner and member organization at Hispanic Federation, and stands ready to partner with the incoming administration to increase safety for all survivors throughout NYC,” said Margarita Guzmán, Executive Director of the Violence Intervention Program.

“Education is the key to a healthy community. New York City should be an example of creating the best Education platform in the nation. While we have made some strides with Universal PreK and PreK, community school and making a dent in the high school dropout rate, we still have miles to go. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our students need us more than ever. NYC Education must step up to helping fund and create better educational programs for our vulnerable students. Many students have been left behind and we must do all we can to catch them up,” said Soledad Hiciano, Executive Director of the Community Association of Progressive Dominicans (ACDP).

“New York City is often called la capital del mundo, or the world’s capital, in large part because of the cultural and economic vibrancy with which immigrants ignite the City,” said Alba Lucero Villa, Executive Director of the Coalition for Immigrant Freedom. “Yet without increased protections for immigrant workers and access to services for families, that flame that lights up the world will continue to flicker and we must act now to keep it alive by expanding support to community based organizations that allow immigrant communities to tap into their power.”