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Activism and Volunteerism
News: Activism and Volunteerism

Success, Struggle as Library Branches Fill Gap in Services

The city's library branches offer a dizzying array of services, from job-search help to literacy lessons to fiction writers' circles. But limits on space and money could hamper the systems' ability to reach potential.

Juvenile Justice Reform Falls Short of Goals

The Close to Home initiative was supposed to move detained kids to less restrictive settings and improve their ability to complete their education. That hasn't happened.

Students, Teachers Say Roll-Out of New GED Has Been Flawed

They say they haven't had the resources and preparation to gear up for the newer, tougher TASC exam.

In Branch Libraries, Fewer Books But High Demand

Many of the city's branch libraries feature half-empty shelves, reflecting budget constraints more than changing readership demands.

Confusion Over Special Elections in the Bronx

No one knows yet how Governor Cuomo (even the governor himself!) will fill 11 empty seats in the state legislature, including two in the borough.

Budgets Cut, But NYC's Libraries Thrive—For Now

Free access to technology, help for immigrants, a safe space for kids. Branch libraries play an increasingly important role. But funding hasn't kept up. Will the lack of support undermine a critical civic resource?

Initiative to 'End AIDS' Looks for Traction in Albany

Advocates will be listening closely to the governor's budget address to see if the administration responds to their push for a comprehensive effort to effectively end new infections.

New, Tougher GED Has Students Scrambling

With more rigorous standards for the high-school equivalency diplomas set to arrive in 2014—and get harder after that—people are racing to prep for and take the test now.

How Vito Lopez Changed Bushwick

Many think the former assemblyman and powerbroker is a creep. Some hail him as a hero. In Bushwick, his legacy—and the story of his downfall—are more complicated than either label suggests.

Young Men's Initiative Shows Promise—and Limits

Mayor Bloomberg gets credit for making young black men a government priority. But there are questions about YMI's scope, scale and future funding.

EPA Approves Gowanus Cleanup Plan

The agency's decision—which backtracked on a proposal to store some contaminated material in Red Hook—clears the way for a $506 million cleanup to begin.

City Schools Ask State to Waive Librarian Requirements

Citing fiscal pressure, the schools want to use in-classroom libraries and parent volunteers instead of certified librarians. Critics say kids need more than that.

Twenty-Something ... and Ready to be Adopted

Children who "age out" of foster care often face steep challenges, prompting new interest in finding families for people much older than typical candidates for adoption.

Brooklyn Youth Mobilize To Expand Jobs Program

The Summer Youth Employment Program escaped new cuts in this year's city budget. But past trimming means thousands of willing teen workers will be left on the sidelines.

Library Vital to Immigrants Squeezed by City Budget

The small McKinley Park branch in Dyker Heights bustles with immigrants but struggles to meet demand after years of cuts to the library system.

Details Emerge About Plan for Private Buildings on NYCHA Land

While some agree that the plan has financial merit, others fear the social costs of mixing incomes in NYCHA neighborhoods. The authority's chairman sees it as a win-win.

Warm-Water Fish Invade New York City's Waters

Fishers in Long Island Sound are seeing species that normally swim far to the south. Dramatically warmer waters are challenging both the fishing industry and the regulatory system that governs it.

Queens Residents Pumped Up Over Flooding

After pollution shut water pumps in southeast Queens, the aquifer rose and flooding worsened. Residents are pressing the city to accelerate its plans to deal with the water.

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.


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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

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.

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.

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.

Seen Here First: The NYPD's Pot Play - Jarrett Murphy

New York police officials last week distanced themselves from an arrest tactic that nabbed small-time pot users who obeyed when cops asked them to empty their pockets. City Limits broke that story in 2009.

Out of Media Glare, the Bronx Faces Irene - Jarrett Murphy

Even far outside of the Zone A areas, there were signs of the impending danger, though they were subtle. Closer to the water's edge, the menace felt very real.

Decision in the Rockaways: Stay, or Go? - Patrick Arden

Tina Parker tried to convince her neighbors to leave. “I’ve been in two hurricanes in Alabama, and I’m not taking a chance,” she said.

Hugh Carey, 1919-2011 - Jarrett Murphy

The former congressman who guided New York State through the 1970s fiscal emergency as governor, was 92. A 2010 biography reassessed Carey's role during the days of crisis.

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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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