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.
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
Agency Grants Coordinator Sought
The Community Development Project seeks applicants for the position of Agency Grants Coordinator. For more information, click here.
Legal Internships for Summer 2014
The Community Development Project (CDP) of the Urban Justice Center (UJC) seeks law student interns interested in working with us during the summer of 2014 to protect the rights of low-income individuals and provide legal, technical and research assistance to grassroots community organizations working on various social justice issues.
For more details, click here.
New Report Shows Year 2 of Participatory Budgeting Built on Success of Year 1
CDP is pleased to share our newest report, “A People’s Budget: A Research and Evaluation Report on Year 2 of Participatory Budgeting in New York City.”
Through Participatory Budgeting, community members, instead of elected officials alone, decide how public funds should be spent from start to finish. The second year of Participatory Budgeting in New York City expanded upon the success of Year 1 by bringing together almost 14,000 New Yorkers from eight City Council districts, 6,000 more participants than Year 1. Data collected from over 8,200 surveys, 30 observations, and 63 in-depth interviews show that many of these participants were from diverse backgrounds, and that Participatory Budgeting engaged community members who would not otherwise participate in politics or have contact with government.
See data from each of the participating Council Districts in Year 2:
- Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-8)
- Dan Halloran (R-19)
- Mark Weprin (D-23)
- Eric Ulrich (R-32)
- Stephen Levin (D-33)
- Brad Lander (D-39)
- David Greenfield (D-44)
- Jumaane D. Williams (D-45)
These Council Members allocated almost $10 million in capital discretionary funds to the 46 winning projects selected by community members in their districts.
New Report Shows Need for Clearer Regulations around Non-rent Fees
The Community Development Project and CASA are pleased to share our report, "The Burden of Fees: How Affordable Housing is Made Unaffordable"
This report shows how landlords are systematically charging tenants non-rent fees – a confusing and oftentimes illegal set of fees added to a monthly rent statement. The data, collected from surveys and rent bills from almost 200 tenants in rent stabilized apartments in the Bronx, show that the problem of non-rent fees is serious and widespread. Although tenants often don't know why they are being charged, they are paying these fees out of fear of being evicted. The fees add a considerable financial burden for low-income tenants and threaten to make rent stabilized housing unaffordable for tenants. The report offers recommendations to better regulate non-rent fees and protect rent stabilized tenants. Read coverage of the report from the New York Times and Bronx News 12 .
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
"Nonrent Fees for Bronx Tenants Are Focus of Advocates' Report,"
The New York Times,
September 13, 2013