Community Ideas

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Recommendations and ideas beyond the Charter

Community Ideas

The Commission received hundreds, if not thousands, of recommendations. There were a number of recommendations that were particularly compelling but, for a variety of reasons, the Commission did not pursue. 

The Commission has indicated the potential level of impact and/or action where the change sought could be effectuated; the potential level does not necessarily indicate the only (or the most appropriate) sphere for change, and many could be undertaken at multiple levels. Further analysis and exploration is needed for many of these ideas.

The Recommendations are broken down into the following categories:

Inequity in Quality Services
CategoryCommunity IdeaPotential Level
Education Ensure pay parity for early educators and special education providers so that they are paid fairly and just as much as teachers.City, State 
Provide more mental health support for students, including hiring more mental health professionals
in schools. 
Provide more support for parents and guardians with limited English Proficiency and students who are newly arrived immigrants in navigating the school system, including enhancing language access and help with enrollment.  City 
Provide better supports for parents who are justice-involved or formerly incarcerated, especially those recently returning and looking to reintegrate themselves in their children’s lives. City 
Reform school discipline to incorporate restorative justice models and eliminate disparities in discipline, especially as related to BIPOC students, students with disabilities, and trans and gender non-conforming students. City 
Ensure that schools are not just funded equally, but equitably. Fully fund low-resourced schools. Expand and improve Fair Student Funding.  City, State 
Allow for schools to have more flexibility from bureaucratic requirements when they seek to implement  innovations around equity.  City 
Provide culturally responsive curriculum that fully reflects the histories of NYC’s diverse BIPOC communities. State 
Require civic education in K-12 curriculum. Teach students about local government, the democratic process, and voting.   State 
Eliminate school admissions screens and tests.  City, State 
Explore options to guarantee Free CUNY tuition for all students or targeted to students who live in historically redlined neighborhoods.  City, State 
Allow for New York City to have direct control over the Department of Education, so the City can legislate and create policies for equitable schools. State 
Hire teachers and school employees from the community, who are diverse, multilingual, and culturally competent. City, State 
Fully fund educators training on de-escalation and alternatives to police involvement. City, State 
Examine policies and practices that inaccurately classify
BIPOC students, especially Black children, as having
emotional disabilities. 
City, State 
Ensure that public meetings, hearings, and engagements regarding education policy are accessible for parents, including scheduling at times when parents can attend or participate. City 
NYCHA Fully fund Section 8 and NYCHA programs. Federal 
Cultural Development Adopt new programming models for NYCHA cornerstone programs, such as partnerships with community non profits and support for cultural councils, to give residents more ownership and voice in programming, and to expand beyond youth programming only. City 
Provide funding and support the establishment of cultural councils and partnerships with NYCHA and other agencies to provide programming in NYCHA community centers. City 
Increase the Department of Cultural Affairs’ budget to 1%
of City budget (currently at 0.2%). Ensure adequate support and resources for BIPOC artists, cultural institutions, and cultural workers. 
Health and Mental Health Increase Medicaid funding for home care worker compensation, including home care workers with 24 hour shifts. State, Federal 
Invest more in mental health services to meet the mental health needs of communities. City 
Transportation Ensure that MTA transit and buses are accessible for people with disabilities and available in underserved communities. State 
Make transportation free for the lowest-income New Yorkers. City 
Youth and FamiliesCreate more spaces where youth can access or make connections to all of the services they need.  City 
Expand Family Enrichment Centers administered by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. City 
MiscellaneousCreate a Department of Care that works with city agencies, community-based organizations, and local leaders to adequately resource and coordinate care work for NYC residents, communities, and public spaces. Care includes but is not limited to health, mental health, food, and social services.  City 
Establish a Public Broadband and Technology Commission for equity to assess New Yorkers’ access to technology. City 
Inequity in Work, Advancement, and Wealth Building
CategoryCommunity IdeaPotential Level
Pay Equity for City Workers and Civil Service Reforms  Eliminate Civil Service Exam costs. City, State 
Create and support career pathways into public service for BIPOC high school students from under-resourced communities. City 
Create and support educational opportunities in financial literacy that are linguistically accessible and culturally relevant to neighborhoods. City 
Require City Civil Service Commissioners to be voted in and representative of NYC’s diversity. City, State 
Develop remote work policy to provide more accessibility for City workers.   City 
Jobs and Wages Pay equitable wages to contracted human services, education, housing, criminal justice, health care, home care, and other service workers. All contracted organizations to nonprofit organizations must have a living wage and annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) with increased funding. City 
Create a public jobs option, especially for trans and gender non-conforming people, people with disabilities, NYCHA tenants, foster youth, homeless, and formerly incarcerated. City 
Increase the federal minimum wage to be a living wage. Federal 
Require all government workers and contractors be paid at least a living wage. State 
Wealth and Opportunity Building Expand the Universal NYC Baby Bonds program which gives every kindergartener enrolled in a city public school access to a college savings account, regardless of immigration status or income. Create an at-scale baby bonds program, where every child receives at birth a publicly funded trust account relative to their families’ income, to begin to close the racial wealth gap. City, State, Federal 
Decrease barriers to accessing loans and licensing by providing municipal collateral, where the City offers collateral on behalf of low-income borrowers so they can more successfully apply for loans.  City 
Establish ”Lifelong learning accounts”, to provide support for education and job training. Through this program workers could choose to place a percentage of their earnings in dedicated accounts and the City and employers would match these contributions up to an established cap. Funds in these accounts would be used for job training and education.  City 
Create a public banking system to provide access to financial services for unbanked communities.  City, State, Federal 
Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE)  Ensure that workers paid through city contracts are paid fairly and the same as city workers who do the same job. City 
Reform the City’s contracting application process to make city contracts more accessible for smaller contractors and community based organizations who are BIPOC-owned or serve BIPOC communities.   City 
Create new MWBE policies to ensure that women of color owned businesses have access to city contracts. Ensure that a certain percentage of MWBE contracts are held by BIPOC business owners. City, State 
Change state law or provide additional support  to make it easier for smaller contractors to win contracts. For instance, make tweaks or provide additional assistance to smaller contractors to afford the insurance needed to work on
public projects.  
City, State 
Reform MWBE law to include nonprofit organizations, so that—BIPOC-run nonprofits can register as MWBEs. State 
Cannabis Equity Create an initial period where cannabis licenses are granted exclusively to applicants from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana enforcement. Explicitly include formerly incarcerated and justice involved in licensing priorities. State 
Invest in Culture Create an annual fund that subsidizes the operating costs of small-to-mid-sized cultural organizations in BIPOC communities. Increase subsidized spaces for artists and cultural workers (example Cultural Institutions Group).   City 
Ensure equitable funding for cultural institutions and artists by allowing the Department of Cultural Affairs to use criteria to distribute funds for organizations and to pay artists directly. Track the distribution of funds across council districts to
ensure equity. 
Modernize the federal poverty guideline to reflect the true cost of living.  Federal 
MiscellaneousExpand Summer Youth employment slots. City 
Provide additional outreach and support for immigrant and BIPOC businesses and individuals applying for emergency financial assistance (COVID relief grants, Fund Excluded Workers). City 
Inequities Within and Across Neighborhoods
CategoryCommunity IdeaPotential Level
Public Space Ensure equitable access to open and green spaces by requiring neighborhoods to have a minimum percentage of open space.  City 
Reform the Parks and Recreation permit rules  to allow
for more flexibility and equitable access of permits for
BIPOC communities. 
Land Use Institute agencies and policies that move the city’s land use decisions away from prioritizing private investors.  City 
Evaluate how the City and State acquire private lands for environmental preservation to identify whether the process or policies create racial disparities or if there are inequities in prices offered to private property owners based on race. City 
Evaluate the process for siting police precincts and other enforcement sites to prevent over-concentration of police and enforcement in BIPOC communities. City 
Equitable Investment Adopt value recapture policies to direct money generated from the city’s investments towards public goods, such as affordable housing or public housing.  City 
Ensure that the City’s climate investments prioritize BIPOC and vulnerable communities.  City 
Create an Office of Community Planning Mandate comprehensive, community-based city planning—which would, for example, facilitate the development of community-based plans and be accountable for following up on community plans and ensuring they are enforced. City 
Assist community-based organizations in producing environmental reviews (which are often an expensive requirement and barrier for small organizations in changing land use rules).  City 
Environmental Review Require courts to examine underlying details of Environmental Reviews instead of deferring to the Department of City Planning in such cases. City, State 
Update the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) technical manual to ensure that schools do not become overcrowded. Evaluate any thresholds that would allow developers to increase school utilization without triggering mitigation requirements.  City 
Housing Abolish the tax lien sale. When homeowners owe taxes to the City, prohibit the City from selling that debt to third parties, such as investor backed trusts. Instead, direct the money and properties to support permanent affordability and neighborhood stability, such as through affordable housing and community ownership models. City 
Legalize basement apartments and convert them to be safe.  City 
Establish a right to permanent housing. City 
Increase availability of supportive housing to shift the system away from shelters. City 
Base affordability for housing on more localized standards to increase availability of affordable housing to lower-income
New Yorkers. 
Lower the rent adjustment rates for rent stabilized apartments. Even though the adjustments are regulated, they are still often unaffordable to BIPOC tenants. City, State 
 MiscellaneousRe-examine the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Allow for more community input earlier in the process. Codify good processes (e.g., some electeds have better practices, codify those). City 
Create a Community Economic Development Corporation to supplement or replace the work of the Economic Development Corporation.City 
Marginalization and Over-Criminalization
CategoryCommunity IdeaPotential Level
Policing Remove School Safety Agents from schools. City 
Cease ticketing for minor offenses, specifically those that impact BIPOC and immigrant communities (i.e. food vendors, delivery workers, fare evasion). City 
End all city cooperation with ICE. Remove exceptions in the City’s detainer law. City 
Prosecution Adopt restorative justice models for juvenile justice.  City 
Mandate the use of restorative justice models, expand existing programs, and ensure that such efforts are led by communities, rather than by city and state agencies or police.  City, State 
Care for Justice Involved Require that the Department of Correction recommend release for first time offenders, youth, elders, people with disabilities, and people who are incarcerated only because they couldn’t afford bail. City 
Ensure continuity of care and services for justice involved – better coordination between agencies including data sharing and collection for social services. City 
Reallocate NYPD funds to invest in care infrastructure that addresses root causes.  City 
Create a Department of Care that works with city agencies, community-based organizations, and local leaders to adequately resource and coordinate care work for NYC residents, communities, and public spaces. Care includes but is not limited to health, mental health, food, and social services.  City 
Collateral Consequences of Criminal Legal System Involvement Remove the Immigration legal services carve out that denies access to city-funded legal help to New Yorkers based on criminal convictions.  City 
Remove criminal screens and bars required by state law where not shown to be necessary. State 
Accountability Create an independent oversight body (could be through empowering existing bodies such as CCRB and Board of Correction) with the ability to review and approve NYPD and Department of Correction strategies and enforcement models.  City, State 
Increase independence of the Board of Correction by including non-mayoral appointees to oversee the Department of Correction (DOC). Reinforce accountability by allowing BOC to conduct timely audits to track against justice goals. Stabilize BOC’s budget by requiring that it is at least 2% of the DOCs budget. City 
Require City Council to give Advice and Consent on appointment of NYPD Commissioner.  City 
Require approval from City Council for any new surveillance technologies the NYPD wants to use. City 
Create stronger oversight and accountability mechanisms and transparency for District Attorney’s Offices and Courts.  State 
Mandate that police unions cannot negotiate disciplinary action, instead with that scope being given to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. City, State 
Ensure that the Civilian Complaint Review Board has automatic access to all documents that the NYPD has, without the need
to subpoena. 
City, State 
Bring people who are accountable to their communities into police precincts and give them influence and authority over what the NYPD does, either by changing who serves on precinct councils or creating new bodies. City 
Create an independent board with members appointed by each City Council member, or other non-mayoral city officials, which has authority over the types of policing NYPD can do (similar to the Handschu Committee, but with expanded powers). City 
Allow for public input when police unions negotiate their contracts, especially input from those most impacted by policing. City 
Strengthen the City’s (including City Council) oversight power over NYPD, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the District Attorneys, and the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor instead of only indirect control via the budget. City, State 
Inequity in Representation in Decision-Making 
CategoryCommunity IdeaPotential Level
Participatory Budgeting Further expand Participatory budgeting to include the entire city budget. City 
Audit city council projects supported by participatory budgeting to ensure they happen as planned. City 
Increase funding to the Civic Engagement Commission to accomplish its participatory budgeting mandate with a focus on equity and racial justice. Ensure the participatory budgeting advisory committee is supported and resourced. City 
Reimagine Community Boards Reform Community Boards, either by holding elections for community board members to foment local political culture, or otherwise select members with community input. City 
Mandate arts and culture committees on Community Boards citywide. City 
Create stronger conflict of interest rules for Community Board members. City 
Appointments and Commissioners Solicit community feedback for commissioner appointments to ensure they hold the needs and desires of the communities they represent. City 
Expand DOHMH commissioner qualifications to allow for more diverse candidates. For example, adding alternative educational backgrounds to include different types of health professionals.  City 
Standardize selection process for all city appointees, including mayoral appointees or appointments to boards and commissions, to ensure composition is diverse and representative. Require public announcement of vacancies. Create a user- friendly and plain language application process. Require periodic evaluations to ensure diversity.   City 
Require diversity of education and expertise in racial equity in Board of Health composition.  City, State 
Reform the NYC Board of Elections. Eliminate political party appointments system and require appointees to have expertise in elections and voting rights.  State 
Youth Require agencies to seek out input from youth in the development of certain programs, policies, laws, and in the distribution of resources to communities. City 
Ensure more city agencies outreach to youth and collect more data on young New Yorkers. City 
NYCHA Require approval from NYCHA tenants and/or City Council before decisions about NYCHA are sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for approval, for instance require tenant or City Council approval prior to private development on NYCHA land or when a NYCHA development is converted to private management through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. City, State, Federal 
Require that NYCHA follow existing city and state land use laws, such as requiring environmental reviews and subjecting NYCHA to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). State, Federal 
Give NYCHA tenants more of a voice in decision making, especially decisions about NYCHA property and land leases City, State 
MiscellaneousExpand the provision of civic courses and lessons on local democratic processes for diverse communities and in multiple languages. More proactively educate voters on the democratic process.   City 
Integrate anti-racist, gender neutral, and inclusive language in the Charter (e.g., remove male pronouns and replace with “they”). City 
Remove immigration status restrictions on who can serve in the city workforce or serve on a commission (I.e., public
officers law).  
Require city agencies to adopt a listening-oriented, community-led approach, bringing diverse stakeholders to the table and paying them to develop more flexible and creative programs and services. City 
Establish a dedicated racial equity fund from tax revenues.City 
Enforcement and Accountability of Government
CategoryCommunity IdeaPotential Level
Reform the Budget Process Require the Mayor and City Council jointly determine the
units of appropriation included in the budget for key City agencies on an annual basis to increase accountability for the budget. Ensure that the City budget is transparent and furthers racial equity. 
Create new mechanisms to ensure greater transparency of city budgets, through narrower programmatic units of appropriation such that budgets are itemized understandable. City 
Law Department Independence Require the Law Department to appoint an independent counsel to advise city officials like the City Council and
Public Advocate to protect separation of powers. 
Give the Public Advocate and the City Council the independence to participate in litigation or submit amicus briefs without seeking the approval of the Law Department. City 
Embedding Equity Expand the mission and duties of DOHMH to explicitly include equity and social justice. City 
Require every agency to have a Chief Equity Officer at the Deputy Commissioner level and a dedicated equity role within each agency’s General Counsel’s office. City 
Require the Comptroller to have racial equity goals and do racial equity analysis/audits. The Comptroller’s fiduciary duties should include racial equity. City 
Court Access Expand legal services. Make deeper investments in legal services, especially for low wage workers and survivors of violence. Create greater access to legal services by placing resources in communities. City 
Create more transparency and accessibility, including language access, for our Court system.  State 
Address Disparities Strengthen anti-discrimination laws by creating new legal standards for proving discrimination claims based on disparate impacts. City, State, Federal 
Create a citywide process to rate the quality of city services,  and compare disparities across communities and neighborhoods. This rating system could be modeled on the COMPSTAT system used by the NYPD, where agency heads are rated and required to explain their efforts in each community board or neighborhood. City 
MiscellaneousIncrease the amount of City data accessible to the public. Disaggregated data sets should be available to the public for research purposes. City 
Give the Public Advocate subpoena power to have increased oversight over city agencies.  City 
Reexamine agency relationships and reporting structures for consistency (I.e., similar agencies should all report to the same Deputy Mayor). City