Young Voices Visit Manhattan Borough President’s Office

Young Voices Visit Manhattan Borough President’s Office

By: Dinahlee Pena

This summer I have had the opportunity to be part of the SYEP program at Dominicanos USA. On August 1st we visited the Manhattan Borough president’s office. Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla welcomed us and gave us a tour of the office. One of the very first things that stood out to me was the diversity of the team at the Manhattan Borough President’s office. The atmosphere gave us all a sense of both hope and inspiration for the future. Mr. Bonilla educated us on the importance of community, civic engagement and political involvement, all of which are part of DUSA’s mission.

Not only were we able to engage with an influential Dominican-American like Mr. Bonilla, but we also learned about ways to play a more active role in the community. For example, anyone can apply to become a community board member at just 16 years of age. In other words, even if an individual is not allowed to vote due to their young age, they are still able to influence community decisions by becoming a community board member. Furthermore, Mr. Bonilla stressed the importance of giving back to the community. This helped me realize that as the future voices of our community, we must remember to strive for success but never forget the needs of the community that saw us grow.

** This is a guest post by one of our Young Voices participants. Dinahlee Pena is a student at Hunter College studying English and Geography.**

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Join DUSA on March 31, 2017 As We Honor 1938 Sanctuary of Jewish Refugees in The Dominican Republic

Join DUSA on March 31, 2017 As We Honor 1938 Sanctuary of Jewish Refugees in The Dominican Republic

On Friday, March 31, 2017, the Office of the Dean for Community Relations at Hostos Community College (CUNY) will host a reception and program that will honor individuals who have contributed to research findings or projects associated with the 1938 Jewish migration to Sosúa, Dominican Republic. Honorees include DUSA Board Member Dr. Ramona Hernández, Dominican Consul Carlos Castillo, and Congressman Adriano Espaillat. The event is sponsored by the Dominican Studies Association, Dominicanos USA, American Jewish Committee (AJC), and the City University of New York. Please RSVP by phone at (718) 664-2752 or email at [email protected]. More information about the event can be found in the flyer below:

DUSA participates in Student Voter Registration Day at Walton High School

DUSA participates in Student Voter Registration Day at Walton High School


On Friday, March 17, Dominicanos USA (DUSA) participated in the annual Student Voter Registration Day (SVRD), thus providing our young people with a voice. Our efforts resulted in hundreds of students receiving a lesson in civic awareness. At Walton High School in the Bronx, we empowered the youth by participating in an information session where we answered questions and spoke to students about the importance of civic engagement. We partnered with NYC Votes, New York City Council, Department of Education, and New York Immigration Coalition to make this happened.

Special Guest Edgar “Shoboy” Sotelo, host of the Shoboy Show on 92.3 AMP radio attended a pep rally in the afternoon and gave the students an inspirational talk about the power of hard work and determination. He shared his “chancleta story” with the students which highlighted for them the importance of always projecting a positive image on behalf of yourself and your family.

SVRD is a local initiative that launched March 20, 2015 to raise awareness about the importance of student voter registration. This initiative came to fruition through a joint collaboration between NYC Votes, New York City Council Member Helen Rosenthal, and members of the New Yok City Council. This city-wide initiative has led to over 10,000 high school students registering to vote. In the coming years, DUSA intends to remain a part of SVRD for years to come so that we can continue to provide this message of civic engagement to our youth.

View some of the pictures from our day of raising civic awareness below:

A Guest Post About the Jerome Ave Rezoning

A Guest Post About the Jerome Ave Rezoning

 

Some information about the Jerome Avenue rezoning: The City of New York is proposing a rezoning plan for Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, which encompasses all of Jerome Avenue between E 165th Street to the south and 184th street to the north; and also includes sections of Edward L. Grant Highway, E 170th Street, Mount Eden Avenue, Tremont Avenue, Burnside Avenue and E 183rd Street. All areas where a high population of Dominicans reside. In total this plan constitutes more than 70 blocks in the Jerome Avenue area. As of right now, the NYC Department of City Planning’s proposal consists of building a great deal of new residential units, but does not have any measures to protect current Bronx residents, most of whom are Dominican, from rising rent, displacement, or increased harassment from landlords that will most likely occur as a result the rezoning; neither does it outline how the resulting construction jobs will be regulated to make sure they are safe, well-paid, and for local residents; the proposal also doesn’t address the multitude of auto shop business that will be displaced and the hundreds of jobs that will be lost in the auto industry as a result of the rezoning.

 

Why should Dominicans care? The Jerome Avenue rezoning would affect District 4 and 5 in the Bronx, a major residential area for Dominicans in New York. This proposal would not only give incentive for increased landlord harassment, it will most likely lead to increased rental prices in the area for residents and small business owners. In addition, the proposed rezoning forces the majority of Jerome Avenue auto shops–many of which are owned and operated by Dominican immigrant men–to leave without anywhere to go; therefore taking away a primary source of income for many Dominican men in the Bronx. All of these factors would make it even harder for Dominicans to live in the Bronx.

 

In response to NYC Department of City Planning’s Jerome Avenue rezoning plan, the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision was formed. This Coalition aims to make the Jerome Avenue rezoning planning process a collaborative effort between the City government and the thousands of residents and business owners affected by this proposal and hold our government officials accountable to policies and regulations around the Jerome Avenue rezoning. Through extensive surveys and multiple community meetings, the Bronx Coalition has highlighted key issues for the Jerome Avenue rezoning:

 

  1. Anti-displacement strategies for current residential and commercial tenants. Current tenants and small business owners will not benefit from the rezoning if the rezoning increases rents, speculation, and the forces of displacement. The City should take steps to ensure that the people and businesses that are here now are protected and are able to stay.
  2. Real affordable housing. All of the new housing built in the community should be at rent levels that reflect the need in the community.
  3. Good jobs and local hire. New construction and businesses will mean a lot of new jobs in the area and the City should guarantee that those jobs create career opportunities for local residents. Also, developers should not be allowed to build unless they commit to using contractors that are part of State Department of Labor Registered and Approved Apprenticeship programs.
    1. Safety and training. There recently has been an alarming increase in construction worker fatalities and life changing injuries in New York City. 18 construction workers died in the field from the beginning of 2015 to date. The City must mandate provisions for worker safety and training to ensure our most vulnerable workers are protected.
  4. Real community engagement. Residents need to have a say over what happens in the community, and the City should have long-term tools to ensure accountability for implementing commitments made during rezoning approval process, including a role for community in overseeing progress. The community needs this to ensure that the rezoning is actually part of a community plan that is effective and fully implemented.

As a prominent Latino community, we need to make sure that the Jerome Avenue rezoning plan benefits both long-term Bronx residents and newcomers. Get involved:

  1. Attend monthly rezoning campaign meetings on the first Thursday of every month, from 6PM-8PM at 1501 Jerome Avenue, Bronx. There is food, childcare, and interpretation (English and Spanish). The next meeting on March 2nd will be a Town Hall on the state of the Jerome Avenue rezoning with elected officials, Council Members Vanessa Gibson and Fernando Cabrera.
  2. Sign this petition online and encourage others to do so.
  3. Attend Bronx Voices: Empowering Community in the Face of Rezoning, a community event showcasing Bronx visual and performing artists, as well as an open mic session for anyone to sign up and express themselves through song, story-telling, poetry, etc. The event will take place on February 25th at 5PM at 1501 Jerome Ave, Bronx.
  4. Keep up to date on the NYC Department of City Planning’s Jerome Avenue rezoning plan by visiting their website, along with events and rallies organized by the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision.

Together we need to find a way..

to move forward with the Jerome Avenue rezoning plan without displacement, exploitation, and harassment in the Bronx–a plan that benefits both current Bronx residents and new residents. Otherwise, we risk losing one of the last neighborhoods where low-income New Yorkers can afford to live and we risk losing the diversity and vibrancy of our City.

 

DUSA

Katie Milagros Duarte

Dominicanos USA Guest Blogger

Bronx resident and graduate of Vassar College. Katie is a member of Bronx Rising, a group that aims to get Bronxites to re-engage with their communities by creating spaces, dialogues, and events to re-awaken the love for their communities and focus on celebrations and issues that affect the people of the Bronx.