Barrier Free Living Awarded $1.5M Grant From Manhattan D.A.
Barrier Free Living (BFL) has been awarded $ 1,523,304 to serve survivors of domestic/intimate partner violence who are D/deaf or hard of hearing.
BFL was one of 10 organizations receiving funds as part of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., investment of $11.8 million to enable victims of crime from underserved communities to access the services they need.
“Thirty-one years ago, I was introduced to the issue of domestic violence in the lives of people with disabilities by a young Deaf woman, then a recent graduate of NYU, who applied for a position with Barrier Free Living. In hiring her, we learned about the unique needs of victims with disabilities and victims who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing when seeking safety. That was the beginning of a long journey that lead to where we are are today. Ensuring safety and access for Deaf and Hard of Hearing victims has long been a priority for Barrier Free Living, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to expand our services,” said Paul Feuerstein, President/CEO of Barrier Free Living.
Funding went to organizations that serve victim communities who face significant barriers to accessing services, including: people of color; immigrants and non-native English speakers; LGBTQ individuals; and individuals who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is providing these grants through its Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (“CJII”), which District Attorney Vance created using criminal forfeiture funds obtained through the Office’s settlements with international banks for violating U.S. sanctions.
“Securing justice for victims of crime doesn’t end in the courtroom,” said District Attorney Vance. “All survivors deserve culturally-appropriate services tailored to their individual needs. Unfortunately, because of the barriers they face, research shows that those who need services the most access them the least. With these grants, we aim to break down those barriers, encourage members of historically underserved victim communities to seek help, and support the organizations that are dedicated to doing so.”
City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance (CUNY ISLG) Executive Director Michael P. Jacobson said: “I commend District Attorney Vance for today’s investments, which will significantly improve services for victims who are often unable to access the support they need. These investments will allow programs to focus on and improve services for underserved groups and to better address their needs, making them less vulnerable to future crime. This ultimately helps ensure that individuals, families, and communities are safer.”
Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Cecile Noel said: “District Attorney Vance is an invaluable partner in the City’s efforts to reduce domestic violence, especially as a major partner in the Manhattan Family Justice Center which provides comprehensive services to survivors under one roof. I applaud District Attorney Vance for these substantial awards that will help increase survivor access to important services, including for specialized populations. The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence congratulates all the award recipients.”
The programs being funded by the District Attorney’s Office serve victim communities that face significant barriers in accessing services tailored to their specific needs. These culturally-specific programs will raise public awareness through targeted outreach; connect survivors to available services; seek to increase crime reporting; enhance education and training for service providers; and improve translation and sign language interpretation services for survivors who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, or non-English speaking.
Through these grants, the District Attorney’s Office seeks to increase the utilization of these services within historically underserved communities, as well as mitigate the increased risk of criminal offending that can result from earlier victimization.
District Attorney Vance awarded three-year grants totaling $11.8 million to the following 10 organizations, which are expected to serve more than 1,400 New Yorkers each year:
Barrier Free Living
Award: $ 1,523,304
Primary Demographic: Survivors of domestic/intimate partner violence who are D/deaf or hard of hearing
Services and Programming: Counseling, case management, and support groups; improved communication access for D/deaf survivors; outreach and education for service providers, law enforcement, and criminal justice personnel
Center for Court Innovation
Award: $ 1,053,431
Primary Demographic: Men of color who have been victims of crime or who have been exposed to violence, and who may be at risk of justice-system involvement
Services and Programming: Trauma-informed, culturally-competent victim services
Children’s Aid Society
Award: $ 1,120,391
Primary Demographic: Survivors of domestic/intimate partner violence, including low-income individuals and immigrants
Services and Programming: Assessments; individual and group counseling and education; case management; advocacy
Crime Victims Treatment Center
Award: $ 805,795
Primary Demographic: Transgender survivors of crime, particularly people of color and those engaged in prostitution
Services and Programming: Trauma-focused therapy and advocacy
Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families
Award: $ 1,079,932
Primary Demographic: LGBTQ and people of color who are survivors of gender-based violence
Services and Programming: Clinical support, legal advocacy, and court accompaniment for survivors of gender-based violence who have been arrested
New York Center for Children
Award: $ 771,504
Primary Demographic: Child survivors of abuse and children who have been exposed to domestic violence
Services and Programming: Therapy services; family counseling; educational, psychiatric, and medical services
New York City Anti-Violence Project
Award: $ 1,012,041
Primary Demographic: LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of crime, particularly transgender/gender non-conforming individuals, people of color, immigrants, youth, and those who speak limited English
Services and Programming: Legal, counseling, and advocacy services; outreach and education for communities, service providers, and government agencies
New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
Primary Demographic: People of color and immigrants who are low-wage workers in construction and other industries
Services and Programming: Outreach and training regarding wage theft, health, safety, and crime reporting; case management; community leadership and development training; referrals to victim services
Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
Award: $ 1,139,999
Primary Demographic: Immigrant survivors of intimate partner violence
Services and Programming: Comprehensive social and legal services for low-income Latina survivors of intimate partner violence
Sanctuary for Families
Primary Demographic: Survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking
Services and Programming: Career readiness training at the Manhattan Family Justice Center conducted in English and Spanish.
Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation, said: “We are thrilled that our Men’s Empowerment Program has been selected as a grant recipient. Despite being at high risk of victimization, men of color – especially those who have been involved in the justice system – are rarely recognized as crime victims. With the Manhattan District Attorney’s support, we can bring needed attention to this population, improve access to services in Harlem and develop new tools to help this long-underserved population overcome traumatic experiences.”
Nazy Kaffashan, Program Director for the Family Wellness Program at the Children’s Aid Society, said: “We were so excited and grateful to hear the news that the Family Wellness Program of Children’s Aid was selected to receive a grant from the Manhattan DA’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Not only will this grant support our existing services to survivors of the crime of domestic violence but it will allow our program to enhance and expand upon the depth, breadth and capacity of our services to these families with the goal of helping them heal from the trauma of abuse, establish long term safety and stability, and end the intergenerational cycle of abuse. Through the grant and our program’s dedicated work, we’ll help survivors of domestic violence feel safe, financially secure and more empowered to report the crime of domestic violence committed against them.”
Christopher E. Bromson, Executive Director of the Crime Victims Treatment Center, said: “The Crime Victims Treatment Center is so thrilled to partner with the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery of the Mount Sinai Health System to ensure that individuals of transgender experience who have survived violence and crime have direct access to the healing services we offer. This collaboration will not only provide trauma-focused services specifically for this high need, under supported community, but will also connect them to the vast array of services offered by both partners.”
Anne Patterson, Director of STEPS to End Family Violence, a division of Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families, said: “At STEPS to End Family Violence, we are thrilled and humbled to have been awarded funding through the Manhattan DA’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. We are especially grateful to District Attorney Vance and the CJII team at ISLG for their progressive understanding of what it means to be a survivor of crime. With this funding STEPS – in close partnership with the New York City Anti-Violence Project – is able to create the Still Survivors program which will offer holistic clinical and advocacy support to survivors of gender-based violence – especially those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and/or queer – who have been arrested. The Still Survivors program recognizes that when a survivor of gender-based violence has been arrested, that arrest may disguise their identity as a survivor. This erasure of their survivor identity can have a devastating impact on their well-being while also disrupting the criminal legal system’s commitment to safety and justice. By awarding funding to the Still Survivors program, DA Vance and his entire team, has demonstrated their rare ability to see the survivor within each defendant.”
Christine Crowther, Executive Director of The New York Center for Children, said: “The New York Center for Children is thrilled and honored to be chosen as a grant recipient of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. We are incredibly grateful to District Attorney Cyrus Vance and his team for this extraordinary grant which will enable vulnerable children and families to receive vital services to heal from child abuse and improve survivor outcomes. The funding will allow us to significantly expand and enhance our outreach and services to the Latino community, and to provide essential bilingual therapy to children and families to help them heal the trauma of abuse. The grant will have a tremendous and transformative impact on the lives and futures of children and their families from underserved communities in our city.”
Catherine Shugrue dos Santos, Co-Director of Client Services at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said: “The New York City Anti-Violence Project is thrilled to receive this funding from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, through the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. This investment affirms both the unique experiences, stories, voices, and needs of LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence, and the need to expand all of our discussion of this violence, as well as our responses to it, to recognize all survivors, across the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Nadia Marin-Molina, Associate Director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, said: “NYCOSH and our partners would like to express our deepest thanks to the Manhattan District Attorney for making such a strong commitment to protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of all Manhattan workers, in particular Latino immigrant workers in construction. Through our project, the Manhattan Justice for Workers Collaborative, we will increase awareness among workers of their rights, and promote reporting to the right agencies, so that criminal contractors are really held accountable.”
Maria Lizardo, Executive Director of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, said: “On behalf of survivors of domestic violence, we are incredibly grateful to District Attorney Cy Vance and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for this unprecedented lifeline of hope and opportunity. Since 1979, NMIC has provided holistic community based services to the mostly immigrant neighborhoods of upper Manhattan and the Bronx. This award recognizes the critical need and value of trauma informed interventions that are embedded in neighborhoods and are survivor centered.”
Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families, said: “This generous grant will help Sanctuary for Families continue our work helping domestic violence survivors break the cycle of abuse, joblessness, poverty and homelessness. With it, we will significantly expand our groundbreaking career-path training initiative called The Economic Empowerment Program. Sanctuary is grateful to DA Vance and CUNY’s Institute for State and Local Governance for this award, and we are proud to partner with The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and Commissioner Cecile Noel for sharing our vision and making this new expansion a reality.”
CJII Research and Consultation Process
Today’s awards follow an open-solicitation, Request for Proposals and review process led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and facilitated by the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG), CJII’s technical assistance provider. Representatives from New York City agencies – including the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, NYC Young Men’s Initiative, and NYC Human Resources Administration – participated in the review committee and provided expert feedback.
The CJII strategic plan and investments are the result of an extensive process incorporating research, data analysis, and outreach to community leaders and stakeholders conducted by CUNY ISLG. As the technical assistance provider, ISLG analyzed research in areas affecting public safety in New York City, including systemic factors at the neighborhood level that have an impact on crime, and data from a number of agencies involved in the criminal justice system. In addition, ISLG conducted extensive interviews with more than 250 experts in the criminal justice community and related fields, including clinical practitioners; leaders from philanthropic, non-profit, and grassroots organizations; representatives of local, state, and federal government agencies; academics; and elected officials. Following this process, ISLG worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to develop a comprehensive set of investments that, together, will have a significant, lasting impact on public safety and justice reform in New York City. ISLG will provide program oversight and performance measurement to grantees selected under CJII.
Investments in Pre-Arraignmen Diversion, Alternatives to Incarceration, and Reentry Programming
In March, District Attorney Vance announced funding to create innovative programming and support existing services for New Yorkers reentering communities after periods of incarceration ($15 million), and to create a blueprint for a new Manhattan Criminal Court Resource Center to offer services and alternatives to jail for low-level offenders, ranging from meaningful community service to mental health programming. Last fall, District Attorney Vance announced funding to develop an abusive partner intervention program ($1.4 million), as well as funding to divert first time, low-level offenders from the justice system ($6.5 million); and develop social enterprises to train and employ formerly incarcerated and at-risk New Yorkers ($7.3 million). Additionally, District Attorney Vance previously announced $7.5 million in funding to pay for college programming at New York State prisons; and $600,000 to fund “Project Reset,” a county-wide pre-arraignment diversion program for 16- and 17-year-olds arrested for low-level crimes.
Investments in Youth and Family Programming
In February, District Attorney Vance announced $45.9 million to create and construct “Youth Opportunity Hubs” to knit together community-based providers and build new spaces for young people; as well as $12 million to enhance family and youth development programming. This funding followed earlier investments of $1.5 million for a pilot network of community navigators to guide at-risk individuals to appropriate services and programs; $5.3 million to support youth aging out of the foster care system; and $7.5 million to expand Saturday Night Lights, the District Attorney’s Office’s signature youth violence prevention initiative operating in 14 locations across Manhattan.
Earlier Transformative Investments
Other transformative investments previously announced by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office include: $90 million to equip the NYPD with tablets, handheld devices, and mobile databases for every police officer and patrol car; $101 million for critical NYCHA security upgrades, including cameras, lighting, and keyless access; $38 million to help end the national backlog of untested rape kits; $40 million towards the City’s comprehensive mental health initiatives, including $14 million for supervised release for eligible defendants pre-trial; and $25 million to form the cross-border, cross-sector, not-for-profit Global Cyber Alliance.
Additional CJII funding opportunities will be announced in the coming months.
The programs being funded by the District Attorney’s Office serve victim communities that face significant barriers in accessing services tailored to their specific needs.
Photo: courtesy of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office