December Newsletter

2017 has been one for the books, and we were glad to cap it off with some exciting outcomes from our work facilitating stakeholder engagement and planning processes that help strengthen communities. We’re also glad to take this moment to send holiday cheer and wishes for a happy new year.

We celebrated a big win for New York City tenants.

Council Member Brad Lander joins housing partners and advocates to announce the CONH legislation.

We are proud to have supported new legislation led by Council Member Brad Lander, NYC Housing Preservation and Development, and many housing policy partners that protects tenants from harassment and displacement. The “Certificate of No Harassment” (CONH) legislation requires building owners seeking to demolish or make significant alterations to their building to go through a process to prove they have not engaged in any tenant harassment prior to obtaining the permits needed from the NYC Department of Buildings.  If a landlord is found to have harassed tenants, they will be unable to retain the necessary permits for five years–unless they commit to converting a portion of their building to affordable housing for low-income families. To help inform elements of the legislation, we facilitated a series of working sessions for the Tenant Harassment Prevention Working Group, comprised of several city council members and housing policy experts from advocacy groups, the real estate industry, city agencies, and research organizations. The Working Group process leveraged data analysis and diverse perspectives to prioritize actionable opportunities in process and regulation to protect tenants. The resultant legislation will help ensure that tenants are protected and not driven out—all necessary steps to safeguard vulnerable low-income renters from being displaced.

And, we joined the City of Trenton in celebrating its vision for the future.

A Trenton resident participates in one of the Trenton250 public hearings to create a community-driven vision for the future.

Looking ahead to its 250th anniversary in 2042, the City of Trenton has developed a master plan as a blueprint to position itself as a leading 21st century city, encompassing economic development, education, housing, land use, and transit policies. The plan, Trenton 250, reflects a community-driven vision that will drive opportunities for citizens, businesses, and government, and includes key investments in civic institutions and the construction of inclusive public spaces. We worked with a team of consultants led by Group Melvin Design, applying our expertise in stakeholder engagement and workforce development policy to work on education and workforce strategies that benefit both youth and adults. By working with local government, residents, schools and colleges, we were able to determine  opportunities to support residents in pursuing educational and career goals. We helped outline over 20 education and workforce initiatives to improve the lives of Trenton residents. Read our blog post for the full story of Trenton250’s evolution.

Clearly, ‘tis the season to celebrate!
From our team to yours, all the best for a joyful holiday season and healthy new year. We look forward to great things in 2018.

Increased Service, Improved Outcomes Among Change Capital Fund Grantees

Our work was featured in the Change Capital Fund’s Newsletter this month. Check out the full article below, discussing how we evaluated improved outcomes among their grantees in the areas of workforce development, youth and adult education, and housing. Since receiving their grants, these organizations have continuously increased participation in their programs and delivered better quality results for participants.

Increased Service, Improved Outcomes Among Change Capital Fund Grantees in Year 4

By Celeste Frye and Doneliza Joaquin

In the third year of the Change Capital Fund (CCF), grantees – Cypress Hill Local Development Corporation (CHLDC), St. Nick’s Alliance (St. Nick’s), Fifth Avenue Committee’s Stronger Together (Stronger Together) and New Settlement Apartments (New Settlement) – have continued their collective efforts to reduce poverty in their neighborhoods through workforce, adult education, youth education, and housing development.

The following information is based on a report produced for CCF by Public Works Partners:

Year 3 Findings:

  • Programs have maintained or increased participation.
  • Quality of job placements increased as represented by hourly wage, number of hours worked, and benefits received.
  • Retention is up in workforce programs.
  • College access programs exceeded goals and citywide outcomes.
  • Adult education training increased participation and exceeded achievement goals.

In year 3, grantees served 9,777 participants in workforce, education for children and youth, and adult education programs. Since Year 1, grantees programs have seen an 81% growth in the number of individuals served.


Grantees served 858 workforce participants in Year 3, up 128% percent from Year 1. Forty five percent of participants are between the ages of 17 and 24, 95% identify as Black or Hispanic, 43% received government benefits within the past year (e.g. TANF, food stamps, Medicaid), and 15% of participants did not have a high-school degree or equivalent at the time of program enrollment.


  • 200 of 425 placements were identified as having benefits, such as health insurance.
  • The average hourly wage for participants increased from $10.55 in Year 1 to $12.82 in Year 3.  FAC saw the largest growth of nearly $2 an hour.
  • The average participant hours worked per week continued to increase to 33.89 hours per week.

Education for Children and Youth

Grantees served 8,071 participants in their education for children and youth programs, up 30% from Year 1 (6,189). Thirty-three percent of participants are in grades kindergarten to 3rd and 68% identify as Hispanic and 23% as Black. Most participants are served in after-school programs.

High School Graduation

Eighty-two percent of 501 participants anticipated to earn their high school degree in Year 3 achieved that goal, compared with 70% among all NYC students and 65% and 64% for Black and Hispanic students, respectively, regardless of income level.

College Access and Retention

New Settlement’s rates of enrollment for participants in their college access programs at 81% far exceeds the NYC rate of 55% for students overall. In 3 years, grantees helped 1,638 students enroll in college. 1,218 of those participants are still enrolled.

Adult Education

Grantees served 848 participants in Year 3, up 12% from Y2 (754) and 234% from Y1 (254). 37% of participants were 25 to 39 years old. 59% identified as Hispanic and 29% as Black. 75% of participants did not have a high school degree or equivalent at time of enrollment.


St. Nick’s has grown its housing development program from 36 to 75 to 162 over the CCF years. For CHDLC, in addition to the 29 Cypress Village units completed in Year 1, 54 senior housing units are expected to be completed in Year 4. New Settlement will contribute 60 housing units in Year 4.

Helping Community Development to Incorporate Economic Development


Earlier this year, Public Works Partners was engaged by Larisa Ortiz Associates to help our client, the Association of Neighborhood Housing Developers, to explore opportunities for local community development organizations (which typically focus on developing affordable housing) to increase their breadth of activities to include economic development. Several of ANHD’s members are already engaged in commercial or workforce development programs, recognizing that once they’ve provided housing in their community, the next steps include helping folks to find and sustain themselves economically. ANHD and its members wanted to understand how they could do this more strategically.

Larisa Ortiz Associates brought their extensive experience working in commercial districts to the project and Public Works contributed our expertise in industrial and workforce development. Together, we researched and evaluated several best-in-class examples from the national and local scene where community development organizations successfully integrated economic development into their service portfolios.

The resulting report, Roadmap for Equitable Economic Development: Expanding the Toolkit of the Community Development Movement, was released yesterday at a conference hosted by ANHD and the Ford Foundation. Larisa Ortiz and Public Works principal Mark Foggin each participated in panels describing the challenges community development organizations face in expanding their roles, as well as the opportunities to be seized to create an holistic approach to neighborhood-level economic development.

If you’re thinking of expanding your service portfolio, we can help your organization to evaluate the best ways to do so, focusing on your core strengths, and the most promising avenues for growth that will result in the most effective outcomes for your clients. Please get in touch with us.

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