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Activism and Volunteerism
News: Activism and Volunteerism

Bail Fund Aims to Free Poor Defendants

After a state law cleared a legal obstacle, Brooklyn public defenders are forming a fund to pay low-level bails that keep a surprising number of defendants behind bars before trial—with devastating effects on work, families and their criminal cases.

Payday Loans, Illegal on the Street, Thrive in New York's Cyberspace

Of the 18 states that ban or strictly regulate payday loans, New York's is the toughest. But that hasn't stopped online lenders from finding customers in the Empire State and charging sky-high rates for small loans.

Occupy Sunset Park: Seeking Change in Many Languages

A long subway ride from the Lower Manhattan epicenter of the Occupy phenomenon, community activists in one Brooklyn neighborhood are trying to translate the movement's goals into local action.

Brooklyn Bureau: NYPD Towers May Defuse Cop, Community Friction

Some Brooklynites who live and work near the borough’s two police watchtowers say the observation posts are affecting more than the incidence of crime.

Sales of HIV Meds Catch Lawmakers' Eyes

Prosecutors and legislators report an increase in illegal sales of HIV medication by people looking to feed their families or support drug habits. Will tougher criminal penalties slow the market?

NY Prisoners Counted Differently, But Still Not Voting

Now that they'll be counted in their hometowns rather than where they're incarcerated, state inmates could shift district lines. One thing neither they nor parollees can do, however, is vote.

Brooklyn Library Facing Lower Budget, Higher Demand

Despite the Internet age and the e-book craze, Brooklyn's libraries are seeing increasing usage. But budget cuts are one challenge the system might not be able to surmount.

Mixed Evidence of Methadone Crackdown

An advocacy group's survey says police harassment of methadone patients is common. Statistics suggest methadone-related arrests are rare.

Costly Lessons: What We've Learned From Firefighter Deaths

A City Limits investigation looked at FDNY fatalities over 20 years, finding common factors and tracking the city's efforts to address them.

Out of 9/11 Tragedy Came Change for FDNY

Serious problems with the emergency response on 9/11 contributed to the loss of rescuer lives. A decade later, FDNY counts itself much better prepared. But some questions remain.

This Building Killed 1 Firefighter but May Save Dozens

Two fires 10 years apart at one high-rise in the Rockaways helped convince the FDNY to reconsider its time-honored tactics when dealing with wind-driven fires.

When Fire Wins: Causes of FDNY Deaths

Each of the FDNY's line-of-duty deaths over the past 20 years involved a unique person and unique circumstances. But according to investigations by the FDNY and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, common contributing factors link many of the incidents.

Firefighter Decisions Hold Lives—Including Their Own—In Balance

The FDNY is committed to "aggressive, interior firefighting." When that's the plan, equipment, training and manpower are all less important that human decision-making.

Deadly Fires, 9-11 And Beyond: A Reading List

From the 9-11 Commission to reports on individual firefighter tragedies, check out these links to learn more about the FDNY and firefighter fatalities.

Firefighters' Heart Risks Get New Attention

Heart attacks are the single largest threat to firefighters' lives, with everything from stress to heat to noise at fire scenes elevating the risk factors.

The New 911: Emergency Calling Changes

Problems with the performance of the 911 system on Sept. 11 led the Bloomberg administration to undertake a four-pronged emergency communications transformation program

New Phase of Building Code Changes Looms

In the wake of the World Trade Center collapse, the city undertook a comprehensive revision of its building and fire codes. Fire safety advocates didn't get all they wanted. Will they have another chance in the next round?

Fire Inspections: Closed Doors Aren't the Only Barrier

After an April fire killed a family in a building that had been illegal converted, City Hall established a new task force to improve inspections. Some pols pushed for more aggressive action. But there's more to improving building safety than political will.

City Sewage Plan Faces Obstacles, Questions

Advocates praise the motives behind New York's plan to reduce the amount of sewage released untreated into its waterways. But they're worried about the details.

Can Job Training Reduce Unemployment?

Governments are pouring money into job skills programs as a way of combating poverty. But what jobs are participants being prepared for?


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New York City has a long history of ordinary people affecting extraordinary change through active engagement with their governments, communities, and fellow residents. Read about any one of the many social issues covered in City Limits’ 30-year history that inspired movements formed around the basic need to get involved.

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BLOG ENTRIES

Several Members of Queens Library Board Forced Out - Jarrett Murphy

The library system, which has been under scrutiny over perks given to its director, wouldn't say which ones.

Firefighter's Death Will Trigger Search for Answers - Jarrett Murphy

It likely won't be until the period of public mourning is over that we'll learn what caused the demise of Lt. Gordon Ambelas.

Libraries Pledge Big Expansion if City Boosts Funding - Jarrett Murphy

The city's three library systems promise to hire nearly 800 people, expand hours and introduce new programs if the city boosts their funding by $65 million over what Mayor de Blasio has proposed.

Update: Corrected Library Budget Numbers - Jarrett Murphy

When pre-payment is taken into account, the current year's budget and Mayor de Blasio proposed fiscal 2015 spending are almost identical.

Water Rate Hike Lower, But Not Enough for Critics - Jarrett Murphy

Some background on the “rental payment" that has the mayor and a councilman facing off.

Library Budget Hearing, Beyond the Galante Controversy - Jarrett Murphy

Read key briefing material on the financial situation confronting the city's research and branch libraries.

Building Collapses Pose Threat to Responders - Jarrett Murphy

Civilians appear to have been the victims of today's tragedy in Harlem. But building collapses also pose a grave threat to firefighters and other responders.

City Libraries Target Jailed Readers - Jarrett Murphy

The man in charge of the Brooklyn Library's correctional services talks about the challenges of providing books to an incarcerated customer base.

Should NYC's Libraries Spend More On Books? - Jarrett Murphy

A look at how the New York, Queens and Brooklyn systems compare to other major library networks.

Libraries Look to Life Beyond the Budget Dance - Jarrett Murphy

A baselined budget doesn't mean there aren't big challenges for the city's three systems.

Your Turn: The Top 25 Books that Changed History - Jarrett Murphy

Tell us what you think of this list of earth-shattering titles.

Stringer to Audit City's Libraries - Jarrett Murphy

In the wake of reports about questionable spending in the Queens system, the comptroller said he wants to check the books of all three library networks.

Queens BP Wants Council Inquiry on Library Spending - Jarrett Murphy

Amid reports about big spending on salary and offices for the system's top exec, Melinda Katz endorsed calls for a Council probe and promised to do some digging of her own.

How's Your Local Library? - Jarrett Murphy

Tell us about the branch you use, or why you don't use it. And download an easy-to-read version of our report on the serious challenges facing New York's libraries.

Changes Awaited On City's Surveillance Activities - Jarrett Murphy

The NYPD is no NSA, but the Bloomberg administration's intelligence gathering rankled many. How different will Mayor de Blasio's approach be?

New York's Top Judge Echoes Our 2007 Bail Investigation - Jarrett Murphy

Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman called for reforms of the bail system, including limiting the use of financial bail to detain defendants in non-violent cases.

Heart Attacks Are Biggest Threat to Firefighters - Jarrett Murphy

In the department's first line-of-duty death in more than two years, the FDNY lost a 17-year veteran to what appeared to be a heart attack at the scene of a warehouse fire in Brooklyn.

Hope for Relief from Flooding in Southeast Queens - Karen Loew

After months of pressure from residents of an area plagued by poor drainage and rising groundwater, the city recently announced a set of measures to keep Southeast Queens dry—or at least drier—this spring and summer.

What’s Not to Like About the Cuomo Budget? - Jarrett Murphy

Amid a sea of praise for Gov. Cuomo's second budget, advocates for low-income New Yorkers raised complaints. That, plus the latest on NYCHA, city job creation and the sick leave bill —all in our policy roundup.

Cuomo Calls For Easier Food Stamp Access - Jarrett Murphy

In a wide-ranging annual speech, the governor said fingerprinting applicants is an unnecessary barrier to access. He also called for $1 billion in investment to renew Buffalo.

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CONVERSATIONS/OPINONS

City Must Show That Street Homeless Youth Count

By James Bolas

City Must Show That Street Homeless Youth Count

At the request of the federal government, the city's street homeless survey targeted young people this year. But advocates feel the results suggest a stronger tallying effort is needed next time.

What Does the City's Recovery Need? More Libraries

By David Giles

What Does the City's Recovery Need? More Libraries

Libraries perform a critical role in workforce development for low-income New Yorkers. But budget cuts have so curtailed service that Detroit's libraries are now open more than New York's.

Can NYCHA Be Saved?

By Julia Vitullo-Martin

Can NYCHA Be Saved?

Yes, says this writer, but it will require vision and renewed drive by the Bloomberg administration: Doing a few things better will not be enough.

Who Cares About New York’s Teen Fathers?

By Brooke Richie-Babbage

Who Cares About New York’s Teen Fathers?

The city's teenaged dads can make a huge difference in the lives of their kids. Yet they are forced to navigate Family Court with little guidance, and must deal with agencies and jurists who know next to nothing about them.

Firefighter for a Day

By Jarrett Murphy

Firefighter for a Day

After months reporting a story on the FDNY, all it took was three steps into a smoky room for this reporter to realize how much he didn't know.

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MULTIMEDIA

Family Homelessness in the Bronx

This infograph, produced by the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, highlights family homelessness rates in the Bronx, a borough in New York City.

Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?

Potential neighbors often express worries that Housing Choice Voucher holders heighten crime. Yet no research systematically examines the link between the presence of voucher holders in a neighborhood and crime.

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