The Community Development Project (CDP) at the Urban Justice Center
strengthens the impact of grassroots organizations in New York City’s
low-income and other excluded communities. We partner with community
organizations to win legal cases, publish community-driven research
reports, assist with the formation of new organizations and
cooperatives, and provide technical assistance in support of their
work towards social justice.
Like the CDP
Our issue areas include:
- fair housing and anti-displacement
- workers’ rights
- consumer justice
- economic development
- civic participation
- access to affordable health care
- environmental justice
Click here to subscribe to CDP's email newsletter, Community Development Update.
CDP’s team of experienced attorneys provides a wide range of legal assistance to help advance community groups’ campaigns for social and economic justice. CDP’s litigation arises out of the issues facing the groups' low-income constituents and members. For more information and examples CDP’s litigation, click here. CDP's attorneys also offer legal advice and assistance to grassroots organizations in topics including incorporation and tax exemption, complying with non-profit, employment and tax laws, and real estate and lease issues. To learn more, click here.
Research and Policy
CDP's Research and Policy Initiative partners with grassroots community organizations to develop, design and implement participatory research initiatives that support and strengthen our partner’s organizing and advocacy work. For more information on the Research and Policy Initiative and how it has supported community organizing and social change, click here.
Technical and Capacity Building Assistance
CDP's technical assistance work offers grassroots community groups training and assistance related to their formation and operation as not-for-profit entities. The goals of such efforts are to build these groups' capacity for effective organizational management and support their organizing and advocacy efforts in the communities they serve. For more information and examples, click here.
Our Theory of Change
CDP adheres to a theory of change where short-term and individual successes help build the capacity and power of our community partners, who in turn can have longer-term impact on policies, laws and systems that affect their communities.
We leverage short-term successes such as winning cases and publishing reports to build the capacity of our partner organizations, increase public awareness of the issues they are organizing around, and help achieve victories for their organizing campaigns.
This enables our community partners to create systemic change through law and policy reform, increase political power in low-income and excluded communities, and change abusive and exploitative practices affecting their communities.
- We believe that social change is created through building power, developing leaders and increasing civic participation in communities that are traditionally excluded from political processes;
- The priorities and goals for our work are guided by and responsive to the communities that we serve;
- Our legal, research, policy and technical assistance has greater impact because it is done in connection with organizing, building power, and leadership development;
- By developing equal partnerships with community-based organizations, we challenge and transform traditional power dynamics between service providers and low-income and excluded communities.
News and Events
More than a Home: CDP and VOCAL-NY Release Housing Report
CDP and VOCAL-NY are pleased to share our new report, More than a Home: How Affordable Housing for New Yorkers Living with HIV/AIDS Will Prevent Homelessness, Improve Health and Reduce Costs. This report, based on surveys, focus groups and secondary research, examines the impact of denying affordable housing to permanently disabled people living with HIV/AIDS who receive rental assistance. Hundreds of low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS are homeless and thousands more are on the brink of losing their homes due to a loophole in state law that denies them affordable housing. A simple solution – and one that has broad bi-partisan support in the state legislature – is to ensure that homeless and formerly homeless people living with HIV/AIDS pay no more than 30 percent of their income towards rent. This report outlines why this is not only humane and just, but also a highly effective public health intervention that will produce cost-savings for taxpayers. Read the report here.
CDP and CASA Release Report on Bronx Housing Court
CDP and New Settlement Apartments' Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) are pleased to share our newest report, "Tipping the Scales: A Report of Tenant Experiences in Bronx Housing Court." This report, which is the result of over 1,000 surveys, 3 focus groups, and 15 judge observations, documents tenant experiences with Bronx Housing Court. About 2,000 tenants go to Bronx Housing Court every day and in 2012, 11,000 households were evicted. It is estimated that about 95% of tenants do not have legal representation while 90% of landlords do. Our research shows that current court protocols and policies are insufficient to level the playing field for unrepresented tenants in Housing Court. This report provides simple, common-sense steps that can be taken to ensure that all tenants receive fair treatment. Read the full report and the Executive Summary in English and in Spanish.
Report, "Your Schools, Your Voice", Released by CDP and Teachers Unite
On October 17, 2012, CDP and Teachers Unite (TU) released our newest report, "Your Schools, Your Voice: The Impact of Mayoral Control on Community Participation in Schools." Read the report here and read coverage in Gotham Schools and The Epoch Times.
Using a participatory action research approach, TU and CDP worked with teachers, students and parents to explore the impact of mayoral control on democratic participation in NYC schools. The report is the result of 426 surveys and three focus groups with teachers, parents and students in NYC public schools as well as legislative and policy research. Overall, the report finds that teachers, parents and students want decision-making power in public schools and want an alternative to the current centralized system of mayoral control.
CDP Releases Report on Consumer Fraud in Queens
CDP announces the release of a new report, “Dreams and Schemes in Queens, New York: Immigrant Struggles to Find Work and Get Status in the Face of Consumer Fraud." This report is the result of comprehensive participatory action research by New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) and the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center. The report was officially released on Thursday, October 11th, 2012 at the Murphy Institute. Every day, immigrants in New York City struggle to find work, support their families and understand their immigration options. In this process, many seek assistance from a variety of services and businesses targeted at immigrant consumers. This report focuses on two of the most prevalent and notorious: immigration service providers (ISPs)/immigration attorneys and employment agencies. The report documents the systemic nature of consumer frauds committed against immigrants and offers solutions for improved laws, policies, and enforcement mechanisms to better protect immigrants.
Consumer Debt Legal Clinic
The Community Development Project and attorneys from the law firm, Linklaters LLP provide free legal advice at our monthly Consumer Debt Legal Clinic. The clinics are free and open to the public. Sessions are 20-30 minutes long. Attorneys are available to help New York consumers who are having problems with creditors, such as being harassed by debt collectors, sued in New York City Civil Court, or experiencing the hardship of a frozen bank account or garnished wages as a result of consumer debt judgments.
For more details, see this page.
Most Recent Press
"Tenants at Smith Houses Allege Retaliation by NYCHA; Lawsuit Filed,"
May 7, 2013
"Be Our Guest: Participatory budgeting gives voters a voice in government spending and could curb corruption,"
New York Daily News,
April 22, 2013
"NY: Former Transit Worker Files Lawsuit For Religious Harassment And Discrimination,"
April 3, 2013