Heat waves, hurricanes, fires, floods: A growing body of research shows that when such major disasters strike, neighborhoods with strong local networks of support endure them better and recover from them faster than communities that lack a sound social infrastructure. New York City’s experience with Hurricane Sandy – where much of the worst destruction was visited on low-income and working-class coastal communities – bears that out.

Today, as the third anniversary of Sandy’s deadly landfall nears, the Center for New York City Affairs asks: What’s the post-storm state of social infrastructure in the areas where the storm hit hardest? Have government agencies and philanthropies seized – or missed – chances to strengthen grassroots groups in the storm’s aftermath? And how can the on-going post-Sandy recovery do more to help local residents increase the sum of opportunity, dignity, and hope in their neighborhoods? Join us for a panel discussion with experts in the field of neighborhood recovery and climate change, and organizers from the most affected communities, as we address these questions and more. 

Klaus Jacob, special research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Onleilove Alston, executive director of Faith in New York.
Hugh Hogan, executive director of the North Star Fund.
Daniel Zarrillidirector of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency.
Moderated by John Rudolph, executive director of Feet in 2 Worlds, an award-winning multi-media platform bringing the voices of immigrant journalists to public programming. 

Join the discussion @centernyc #sandyplus3

Eventbrite - Hurricane Sandy +3: Building Resilient Neighborhoods

From Shanghai to Sao Paolo – Mumbai to Miami – Lagos to Los Angeles:  Ours is now an urban world.  For the first time in human history, the majority of people on Earth are city dwellers.  That’s a trend that’s only going to accelerate in the years to come.

Cities have always been the world’s nerve centers of commerce, culture, and communication.  And New York is Exhibit A.  We’re also a city whose people have a long and proud tradition of striving to create what Robert Kennedy once called “communities of security, achievement, and dignity.”

That’s precisely the goal of the Center for New York City Affairs: Improving the way government works with low-income communities by identifying fixable problems and practicable solutions, in areas ranging from education to immigration to child welfare.

Urban Matters is our newest outlet for ideas and insights on such issues – derived from work on the streets of New York, and from cities around the world.


Examination of Voting Rights in the United States

Monday, September 21, 2015 from 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Much has been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the turbulent forces it unleashed. The Nation’s Ari Berman’s Give Us the Ballot tells this story for the first time, bringing the ongoing struggle over voting rights to life.

Following a brief reading from the book, New School urban policy professor Jeff Smith will moderate a lively conversation with Berman, New York Times national political correspondent Maggie Haberman, and Fordham political science professor Christina Greer.


Book Launch: Mr. Smith Goes to Prison 

New School urban policy professor Jeff Smith will read from his new book, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America's Prison Crisis. Following a brief reading from the book, author Touré will moderate a discussion about criminal justice reform with Professor Jeff Smith, Soffiyah Elijah (Executive Director of Correctional Association of New York), Dr. Carla Shedd (Columbia University sociologist), and Melissa Mark Viverito (New York City Council Speaker).


Nearly half of New York City students fail the Algebra 1 Regents exam on the first try. Thousands retake the exam multiple times, caught up in what teachers call the “Algebra whirlpool.” Although both colleges and employers demand advanced math, only 40 percent of students in the Class of 2014 passed more than one math Regents exam—and only one in five advanced high enough to take and pass the state’s Algebra 2 and Trigonometry exam.

If passing Algebra 1 has been difficult in the past, it’s just become significantly harder. The old Integrated Algebra Regents exam was officially retired in June 2015 in favor of a new Common Core aligned test, reflecting new and tougher academic standards. The new exam has been laced with material that used to be on the Algebra 2 Regents exam. All students must master this material and students in the Class of 2022—those now entering the sixth grade—will be required to pass this exam with scores high enough to do college-level math work.  Educators confronting the new Regents exams and graduation standards worry they may be significant new obstacles for students hoping to graduate on time.

Read the full brief.


In a sea change in social welfare policy, there’s a sudden surge of policies and programs aimed at addressing behavioral and emotional problems among the city’s youngest children.

The budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which was adopted in June, earmarks at least $15 million for new efforts that are intended to support the social and emotional health of children ages 0-3. This report describes, for the first time, the scope and depth of this fast-growing trend. Read the report.

Many occupations are closed to students who don't take chemistry, physics and advanced mathematics in high school. Dental hygienists need chemistry. MRI technicians need physics. Architects need pre-calculus. Yet more than 150 New York City's public high schools—or 39 percent—do not offer a standard college prep curriculum in math and science, that is, algebra 2, physics and chemistry. More than 200 schools do not offer a single Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate class in math or science.

Many of these are the new small schools that proliferated during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg—schools that have been rightly credited with boosting the city's graduation rate. But, while the small schools have been successful in helping struggling students graduate, many do not offer the higher-level coursework that prepares students for college and careers. This policy brief offers recommendations based on the experiences of a number of successful schools. Download the full policy brief.

It’s not surprising that many elementary school teachers struggle with the Common Core State Standards for math. Many early childhood teachers are actually frightened of math. They may doubt their own ability and have chosen a profession where they think it won’t matter. Download the full report

Meet our new director, Kristin Morse

Kristin Morse has joined the Center as director. Kristin brings a wealth of experience in policy research and development, having spent most of the last decade leading New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), the first publicly-supported urban municipal incubator of cutting edge anti-poverty initiatives.  Kristin brings a twenty-year commitment to education and poverty reduction to the center, and will reinforce core center strengths in these areas while helping it branch out into new areas, such as criminal justice reform and workforce development. Read more.

In late 2012, New York City launched a massive reform to its juvenile justice system: Rather than sending kids who commit lower-level offenses to Upstate lockups plagued by histories of abuse and failure, the city opened its own network of small, secure residential facilities within the five boroughs and nearby suburbs.

In this ongoing project, we look at the success and challenges of the "Close to Home" reform: Is the program living up to its promise? Are New York City kids better off?

Read our most recent stories here.


Of the over 20,000 children in homeless shelters, nearly half are under 6 years old. We know from research how crucial the early years are to lifelong development. Yet families now stay an average of over 400 days in city shelters—an eternity for a small child.

The new Child Welfare Watch report describes the stresses that homelessness puts on families with young children, and explores the discontinuity between the large number of young children in the shelter system and the dearth of services available to them.  It reveals that currently the most common way for a family in a shelter to receive support for young children is to become known to child welfare authorities—a help that often goes hand-in-hand with the fear that children will be removed to foster care.