November 19, 2019

Enterprise Fellowship Supports Focus on Community-Driven Strategies 

Earlier this year, Enterprise launched the Community Organizer Fellowship, a new program that funds community-based organizations to further their community organizing priorities. The Fellowship seeks to empower organizations across New York State to address pressing issues such as displacement and increasing the supply of affordable housing. In July, Enterprise selected three organizations for the two-year program. Below are brief descriptions of how each organization will utilize the Fellowship.     

ERASE Racism challenges racial segregation and discrimination in housing and public school education by combining in-depth research with community mobilization, leadership development, public learning forums, legislative advocacy and litigation. Their fellow will work to increase the availability of affordable rental housing projects that suit the needs of low- and moderate- income Long Islanders. “The Community Organizer Fellowship is vitally important to ERASE Racism’s work on Long Island,” said Elaine Gross, the organization’s president. “Opponents of affordable housing always seem to emerge, despite the fact that affordable housing is compatible with any community. Now, we will be better able to work with local proponents of affordable housing in communities in great need of more affordable options.”

Red Hook Initiative (RHI) seeks to address systemic issues facing the community through youth empowerment in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Their fellow will work to create a multi-generational organizing approach to increase funding for pressing capital infrastructure needs. “I am committed to creating change and improvement of the issues affecting youth in public housing while allowing young people to learn to advocate for equity and social change for their community,” said Kiyana Slade, a Lead Youth Organizer at the RHI. “The Enterprise funds will allow us to start an intergenerational organizing academy where the youth can increase their knowledge and bridge the gap between Youth and Adults."

United Tenants of Albany (UTA) works to protect the rights of tenants throughout the Capital District to ensure permanently safe, decent affordable housing, with a special emphasis on those at the highest risk of displacement. Their fellow will help create the capacity for a Division of Policy & Advocacy at UTA, dedicated to local housing policy reform and the development of community-informed interventions. “[The fellowship] will figure prominently into the development of locally informed policies that safeguard tenants’ rights to healthy and affordable housing,” said Charlene Bradt, the organization’s former executive director. “United Tenants of Albany is looking forward to supporting the Fellow in promoting safe and stable housing throughout the community, with a special emphasis on participatory action from neighborhoods experiencing the highest need.”

The organizations have now selected their Fellows and look forward to furthering their goals by building on community-driven strategies through grassroots organizing efforts and initiatives. Identification of community needs and development of solutions directly by community members is vital to creating strong, sustainable pathways toward opportunity. Enterprise is proud to support organizations that are on the ground leading, organizing and advocating for the housing needs identified by the communities they serve. 

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