September 21, 2022
Center for Survivor Agency & Justice
WASHINGTON, DC – The Center for Survivor Agency and Justice (CSAJ), in partnership with powerful NYC-based organizations, is proud to release a policy platform and recommendations to “Reinvest in Economic Justice, Equity & Solidarity for Survivors in New York City.” The platform puts forth a collective, survivor-centered vision of economic equity in NYC, with actionable recommendations to address inequities in coerced debt, housing, and public benefits and to move toward a solidarity economy. https://nycsurvivorej.mailchimpsites.com/
CSAJ worked in coalition with NYC advocates who represent eight community-based advocacy programs that work directly with survivors as they navigate the “economic ripple effect of violence.” Our co-organizers and co-authors include: New York City Anti-Violence Project, CAMBA Legal Services, Inc., Her Justice, Mixteca, Safe Horizon, Urban Justice Center’s Domestic Violence Project, Urban Resource Institute, and Violence Intervention Program.
Generated from a series of visioning calls with nearly 90 survivors and advocates, who represent 27 programs across NYC, the platform lays out the economic realities facing survivors in NYC and offers a new vision for survivor economic equity.
CSAJ’s Executive Director, Erika Sussman, stated, “Individual advocates and survivors in NYC have been working toward economic justice for decades, but the problems they face are structural. We knew that we could leverage the rich and diverse expertise of the NYC advocacy community to present a road-map for policy, funding, and systems change. That’s exactly what this groundbreaking report so powerfully achieves.”
The platform presents four key policy priorities that call on NYC service agencies and elected officials to resource, invest in, and engage survivors in economic policy making and implementation, while also dismantling services and systems with racially inequitable and rigid practices. It offers specific recommendations that are immediately actionable by NYC services and elected officials, in four key issue areas: coerced debt, housing, public benefits, and toward solidarity economy. The full report as well as individual issue briefs can be found here: https://nycsurvivorej.mailchimpsites.com/
“When we came together in 2021, the inequities survivors faced in NYC were not new but had clearly been exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Sara Wee, CSAJ’s Director of Research and Programs. “There was ample pre-pandemic evidence to both the need for and barriers in housing, public benefits, childcare, consumer debt as a result of abuse. In a national survey we conducted with advocates at the onset of COVID, NYC respondents differed from national findings with nearly all implicating child custody and access to public benefits amongst survivors’ top challenges. Survivors were seeking economic support from every formal and informal source — they deserved to find ease and multiple pathways to match.”
Instead, as one survivor who informed the platform said, “From my point of view, instead of helping the victims, [the government] drags them into another negative and violent environment.” This is particularly true among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, Immigrant, and LGBTQ+ survivors who face multiple barriers and risks.
Collective action and survivor voice played a powerful role in the creation of the platform and recommendations. Marisa Menna, Senior Staff Attorney with CAMBA Legal Services, emphasized, “Partnering with survivors, organizers, social workers, and attorneys in a variety of fields, I learned so much from the group’s collective expertise. What emerged is a comprehensive picture of the structural barriers to survivors’ financial wellbeing and safety, and the collective, survivor-led work needed to remove those barriers. Much of that work has long been happening around us – we just need to support it.”
Teal Inzunza, URI’s Economic Empowerment Program Director reflected: “As a co-author of this report, I am honored to have collaborated on this important work with other fierce advocates for survivors in NYC. The Urban Resource Institute (URI) has been and remains a committed partner in the economic justice work for survivors in NYC.”
“It has been an honor to work alongside these inspiring advocates across multiple agencies who are dedicated to the financial wellbeing of survivors of domestic violence. The importance of economic justice cannot be stressed enough to secure financial independence, stability and safety,” echoed blair dorosh-walther, Program Manager, Economic Empowerment at Safe Horizon.
The new vision was explained by one survivor participant in the following terms, “We all count, we have a say. There is equity and comradeship in our community.”
Along with the report, CSAJ and the coalition have issued a Call-To-Action, asking everyone– from individuals to elected officials–to sign-on to the platform and recommendations. There will be a Virtual Launch Event on October 18th to discuss the platform and kick-start advocacy to turn the vision into reality.
“As a Staff Attorney at Her Justice providing free legal services to women living in poverty in New York City, I witnessed too much suffering and injustice – both increased during the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Naomi Young. “Co-authoring this report, engaging with other advocates, and hearing from survivors gave me the opportunity to envision a brighter future for New York City: one where we center survivors and their futures.”
The creation of the report was generously funded in part by The New York Women’s Foundation. Other foundations and individuals interested in supporting future advocacy work of this initiative should reach out to CSAJ at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View and download the full platform here: https://nycsurvivorej.mailchimpsites.com/
Join our Call-To-Action here: https://forms.gle/3a1sHTgURfuJhwBF7
Contact the group at email@example.com
Please direct media inquires to CSAJ and our NYC partners based on issue expertise:
- National advocacy, project organizer, research, and policy: CSAJ, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Coerced Debt: CAMBA Inc. email@example.com; Her Justice, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Housing: Urban Resource Institute, email@example.com
- Public Benefits: Safe Horizon, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Solidarity Economy: Anti-Violence Project, email@example.com, Violence Intervention Program, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Center for Survivor Agency and Justice
CSAJ is a national organization that addresses the link between gender based violence, poverty, and social inequality.
We envision a world where all people have equal access to physical safety, economic security, and human dignity. CSAJ’s mission is to develop and promote advocacy approaches that remove systemic barriers, enhance organizational responses, and improve professional practices to meet the self-defined needs of domestic and sexual violence survivors.
CSAJ’s work operates on three Levels of Impact: Enhancing Individual Advocacy to address the physical and economic safety needs of survivors, Advocating within Organizations & Communities through partnership building within and between movements, and Changing Systems and Policies to remove institutional and structural barriers facing survivors and their communities.