This black and white documentary of a Harlem family was made in 1968 by the famous photographer and filmmaker, Gordon Parks. Using his still photos for Life magazine, Parks illustrated the crushing effect poverty had on every member of this Harlem family who lived on Frederick Douglass Blvd., in the 130’s.

Gordon Parks noted that “I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.”


Sticker Advice on St. Nicholas Ave.

Redistricting Update

Public hearings on the proposed new City Council districts begin next week. This is a critical stage of the redistricting process that ensures the views of Harlem and East Harlem are reflected in the drawing of council district lines.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to look at the draft maps proposed by the districting commission, you can do so by clicking here. You can also check out the CUNY website Redistricting and You, which allows you to easily compare the old and the proposed council lines, along with various other dynamics of your district. In addition to the Commission’s preliminary map, you can also see other proposals, like the Unity map, created by the advocacy organizations LatinoJustice PRLDEF, The Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
The commission will hold five public hearings in one week, starting on Tuesday August 16. You can sign up to testify here. Each hearing will be hybrid, meaning you can testify virtually or in person. There will be one hearing held in each borough, but if you cannot make your borough’s hearing, it is OK to testify on any date. You can indicate any translation or accommodation needs you may have as you sign up to testify.
Time: Tuesday August 16, 2022 @ 5:30pm to 9pm
Location: Museum of the Moving Image, Sumner Redstone Theater, 36-01 35 Ave Astoria, Queens 11106
The Bronx:
Time: Wednesday August 17, 2022 @ 5:30pm to 9pm
Location: Lehman College (CUNY), Gillet Auditorium, 250 Bedford Park Blvd West, The Bronx 10468
Staten Island:
Time: Thursday August 18, 2022 @ 5:30pm to 9pm
Location: Staten Island Borough Hall, 10 Richmond Terrace Rm 125
Time: Sunday August 21, 2022 @ 3:30pm to 7pm
Location: Medgar Evers College (CUNY), School of Science Health & Technology, Dining Hall, 1638 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn 11225
Time: Monday August 22, 2022 @ 5:30pm to 9pm
Location: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd., Harlem, Manhattan, 10037
Testimony Registration:
You can register to testify at any of the hearings by filling out this form
Testimony Email:
If you would like to submit written testimony, you can do so at any time by emailing [email protected]
Recent Advocacy:
In response to reports about possible backroom deals between appointing authorities, and their influence over mapping decisions, Citizens Union along with several other advocacy organizations, sent a letter to the Commission urging them to hold mapping deliberations as part of an open public meeting and provide the public with a detailed explanation of how and why the new Council lines are drawn. You can read and promote that sign on letter here.

If you have any questions, or if we can help in any way, contact:

Dan Kaminsky (he/him)
Policy Manager
Citizens Union/Citizens Union Foundation 
P.O Box 140917, Staten Island, NY 10314
[email protected] | citizensunion.org
Help shape future City Council districts – more info at CitizensUnion.org/NYCRedistricting


Throughout the city, neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty also experience higher rates of childhood asthma, which we can see from the rates of emergency department visits.

On the scatter plot below, each dot represents one neighborhood. Its horizontal position represents the neighborhood’s poverty rate, and its vertical position represents its asthma rate. The pattern of dots, roughly grouped around an ascending line, shows a connection between poverty and asthma: the higher the poverty rate, the higher the asthma rate.

Why does this connection exist? The connection between poverty and asthma is due to a variety of factors, including:

  • A shortage of healthy housing in poor neighborhoods means that people experience a range of housing conditions like mold, pests, and leaks that trigger asthma and make it worse.
  • A lack of access to high-quality health care means that people with asthma may not be on the right medicine to prevent attacks.

Some studies have concluded that the place you’re born largely determines your economic future. Other studies have concluded that where you’re born is determined by income, race and ethnicity.

This means that in our society, too many outcomes of health and well-being are determined before we’re born. To improve public health, we need to address poverty and racial inequities.

Run Like An Olympian

Train like an Olympian with RIPA! Join us on Thursdays from 6 – 7 pm in July and August at Icahn Stadium to enjoy a walk, jog, or run around our “icahnic” track! Our International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) approved track has hosted Olympic Trials and seen records set by Jesse Owens, Meseret Defar, and Usain Bolt. 

Participants must be 18 or older to participate. This is a free event, but registration is required. For more information on this event series, please visit RIPA’s website. We hope to see you there!

P.S. Congratulations to all the athletes participating in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics! To celebrate the Olympic games, check out our video of when RIPA partnered with the Manhattan Soccer Club to surprise five lucky athletes with a special virtual interview with US Women’s National Soccer Team Captain Carli Lloyd!


An assault, a shooting, a homicide, or any use of force affects people in many deep ways.

Violence causes physical and emotional harm. It can inflict fear, a constant sense of unease. It can cause short- and long-term trauma. Violence can affect people throughout their lives – including their health. It can lead to poor birth outcomes, compromised childhood development, negative health behaviors, physical and mental illness, and premature deaths.

And violence doesn’t just affect the immediate people harmed. It ripples throughout a community, affecting family members, loved ones, friends, and neighbors.

Violence is a pressing public health threat

Violence is a real and pressing public health threat, and it doesn’t affect New Yorkers equally.

We can look at violence by looking at data on non-fatal assault hospitalizations – violence that results in somebody going to the hospital, but not dying. While the hospitalization data capture where the person injured in the assault lives – and not where the assault occurred – they can be interpreted as indicators of violence in the neighborhood.

Violence is highest in NYC neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty.

Any adverse health outcome that affects one population more than another – a health inequity – deserves special scrutiny. New York City’s high-poverty neighborhoods, which also have a higher percentage of residents of color, were created and maintained by systemic racism and historical disinvestment. The resulting higher rates of violence that exist in these communities create an unjust health disparity experienced by their residents.

Theodore Roosevelt, in Harlem?

Okay, it’s a Fine Fare.

But what is Theodore Roosevelt doing in the pediment above?



Residents of some neighborhoods are at much greater risk of experiencing violence – and its many health effects.

Violence is rooted in historical disinvestment and racism.

Evidence shows that violence results from social structures that limit access to basic needs – structures that are fueled by racism, residential segregation, and neighborhood disinvestment. Where these structures persist, people are exposed to violence. For example, low-income neighborhoods of color are known to be hit the hardest.

This map shows the parts of NYC that were redlined 90 years ago as part of racist housing policy that set off decades of disinvestment and intergenerational poverty.

A map of recent shootings lines up with the heavily redlined areas of the Bronx, Harlem, and northern and eastern Brooklyn – showing clearly how today’s violence is closely related to the ways that racist policies are embedded in our society.

Decades of government and societal disinvestment from practices like redlining means limited opportunity and resources, and results in higher rates of poverty in some neighborhoods.

As a result of this disinvestment, we see a clear relationship between poverty and violence. As a neighborhood’s poverty level increases, so do assaults.

Cars Parked in Front of a Hydrant (with NYPD Placards…) Delay FDNY Response

Two cars with NYPD placards parked on an East Harlem fire hydrant as firefighters rushed to extinguish a brownstone fire. This caused a delay in water as the chauffeur had to maneuver the supply line under and around the cars.

This is a major issue recently with cars blocking nearly every hydrant in the city, not only making them hard or impossible to use , but making them incredibly hard to locate.

When seconds count, these cars could be the difference between life and death.

Drug Arrests

Vice has a fascinating look at how drug arrests have plummeted in the decade from 2009 to 2019:


Just this visualization (below), showing the massive drop in the number of NYC drug arrests in 2009 to 2019 (red line) and the number of drug convictions from 2009 to 2019 (white line) is stunning:

The question of why this is happening, and the article makes clear that this is not simply a drop in arrests/convictions of marijuana, it represents all drugs and all arrests. Ultimately, activists, and pressure on city hall, city council, and the NYPD itself has led to this ski slope drop in arrests/convictions.

The article notes that:

the decision to curtail the mass arresting and jailing of non-violent drug offenders was a deliberate move by the authorities in response to prolonged pressure from activists and outraged New Yorkers—in particular from the communities most impacted by them. 

It’s also important to note that NYC is somewhat of an outlier. The rest of the US continues to focus on small scale possession and sales with the exception of some cities, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and St. Louis. However…

… the latest FBI national data shows that despite increasing cannabis legalization, drug arrests have stubbornly refused to fall. More people are being arrested for drugs in the U.S. than for any other reason. In 2009 there were 1.6 million drug arrests, which dipped to 1.4 million in 2015 but went back up to 1.5 million in 2019. Many cities still have the stop-and-frisk tactics they adopted from New York more than a decade ago. 

The article notes that by the late 1990s, as the street violence started to fall, pedestrian stops resulting in body searches just kept on spiralling. Instead of guns and crack, officers were mainly picking people up for low-level cannabis offenses, criminalizing tens of thousands of non-violent New Yorkers. Between 2002 and 2012, according to a joint report by the DPA and Marijuana Arrest Research Project, the NYPD made 440,000 arrests for cannabis possession, which took up more than one million hours of police time.  

And, to no one’s surprise, young Black men are still being arrested for drug offenses at significantly higher rates than young white men.  

These disproportionate arrest figures are not just about police bias; they are about structural racism, a reflection of the consequence of embedded social exclusion. Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are twice as likely to live in poverty, or live in near-poverty, as white or Asian New Yorkers, and there’s a harsh reality to the drug business: People who are locked out of the mainstream economy are more likely than others to resort to the drug trade to get by. What’s more, people living in poorer neighborhoods are also more likely to be picked up by police, who target these areas.

New Cafe?

Is a new cafe/bakery going to open in the old Jahlookova site?

We’ve seen work going on here, and heard chatter about a new cafe on Madison…

Murder, Density, and Cars

Here are a 3 maps I’ve come across recently.

The NYPD maps, of course, murder and other crimes committed throughout the 5 boroughs. As you can see, the data below shows a non-random distribution of murders committed in NYC:

This data (the latest available) is a year’s worth, from Oct. 2019 – Oct. 2020.

Below is a map of NYC’s population density. I found it interesting that Washington Heights and Inwood have higher densities than much of Harlem:

I also was intrigued to see how car crashes mapped onto our city:

Lastly, below is the (above) map of murders, but zoomed into our community:

The full map for you to explore is here: https://maps.nyc.gov/crime/. You can sort by different types of crime, and different ranges of time.

Micro-Grant Option

A new micro grant option came across our desk and I wanted to share: https://yasminhurston.com/butterfly-urban-grants

The grant might be just what you’ve been looking for. Small, flexible, and focused on urban America.

Holiday Season and Poverty

As we approach the holiday season, I wanted to ground us all by noting how unevenly poverty is spread across the 5 boroughs. This map of the shameful persistence of poverty, asks us all to think about what we can do to address income, educational, and opportunity inequality.