Sunday, October 17, 2010

Report on NYCHA Green Jobs Meeting

MOM: NYCHA Green Jobs Town Hall

On Thursday, October 14, Mothers on the Move hosted a Town Hall Meeting to learn more about NYCHA's Green Agenda for public housing. 55 people attended, with a good mix of local public housing residents, service providers and allies from the Bronx Green Jobs Roundtable in attendence.

NYCHA Green Commissioner Margarita Lopez gave an in-depth report on the challenges and long-term benefits associated with moving NYCHA toward more energy-efficient, sustainable housing solutions for working class and low-income New Yorkers.

Lopez presentation
Some details of Ms. Lopez' presentation:
  • Systematically change every lightbulb and fixtures, thus creating jobs
  • The example of Castle Hill Houses in the Bronx, where average pay was $43.00/hour for ‘greening’ measures-changes they made - these have included installing instanteous water heaters, adding new boilers (old ones were only 55% efficient, new are 90% efficient), planting trees and installing apartment temperature sensors
  • All this creates jobs- field coordinators, steam fitters, painters, laborers, electricians
  • Creation of a “green committee’ at each development to help implement green initiatives, educate neighbors and serve as a resource
  • Long term goals include: geothermal buildings, solar panels (feasibility study with CUNY) and making money from recycling programs

Michelle Pinnock, NYCHA (on Right)

Michelle Pinnock, NYCHA's Senior Advisor for Resident Economic Empowerment & Sustainability, gave a brief outline of NYCHA's Section 3/Resident Employment Program (REP). Section 3 is existing Federal HUD regulation requiring Public Housing Authorities to put roughly 30% of HUD funds toward job development opportunities. Ms. Pinnock's presentation

  • Section 3 is an unfunded mandate - a funding stream is needed to provide sufficient training to residents. In addition, the “greatest extent feasable” language allows a lot of leeway for Housing Authorities to treat Section 3 as optional and not to comply.
  • Privately funded office through the Robin Hood Foundation (her office prepares people for future positions, refers people to GED programs, they also have hotline)
  • NYCHA created the Resident Employment Program (REP) to “give teeth to Section 3”
  • REP large contracts (over $500,000) stipulate that 15% of labor costs have to go to NYCHA residents. The current focus has been on construction projects, but the goal is to shift that to make REP a requirement on all or most projects
Resident Training Academy
Goal - 150 participants this first year (with 75 placed in jobs)- 1,000 total for 500 jobs (perhaps over the next several years??)
  • Unpaid, but provide metrocard and lunch
  • Requirements for participation: Must be a resident on lease, have no criminal history to be hired by NYCHA (not to just participate in program0. Education requirements (they only refer people to places to get GED help)
  • Track 1- basic construction, 8-week training, job placement assistance, 1st class entering third week, 2nd class for women-working with NEW
  • Track 2- janitorial track, 1st cohort beginning of November

Overall the plan seems to be coming from the right place, with good intentions and an understanding that the crisis in housing, unemployment and the environment are deeply connected and have intersecting solutions.

MOM looks forward to working with NYCHA to developing resident-led solutions, and to ensuring implementation and accountability so that increasing numbers of local residents benefit from job training and placement dollars available to NYCHA and other agencies.

MOM Leader Luisa Escalera

Big shouts to MOM leaders Luisa Escalera and Matthew Welch for providing excellent facilitation of the meeting and laying out MOM's preliminary recommendations for a NYCHA Green Jobs Pilot Program. MOM Luisa and Mathew are part of the MOM Green Jobs leadership committee that conducted a survey this year on resident perspectives on NYCHA employment programs and green job opportunties. MOM will be releasing a report on these findings in the coming months - stay tuned!

MOM Leaders Luisa Escalera & Mathew Welch

MOM Green Jobs Leadership Team

More photos from the meeting - HERE

Friday, October 1, 2010

Community Meeting on NYCHA Greening Plans!

To all South Bronx neighbors, allies and friends engaged in struggles
to improve public services, public housing, jobs & economic justice,
environmental & food justice and general swagger:
Mothers on the Move is putting you on BLAST!
We have a meeting Thursday, Oct 14 with NYC Housing Authority
Coordinator Margarita Lopez, to hear NYCHA's plans
for "greening" public housing and to present some of our
recommendations for creating a pilot Green Jobs program in public

MOM leaders have put a lot of work into the research phase of this
campaign, as we get ready to release a report in the coming months
detailing resident perspectives on existing job training programs
and offering some policy solutions to the intersecting environmental,
housing and unemployment crises facing our communities.
This meeting will help us clearly understand NYCHA's long term
greening plans, and hone our campaign strategy moving into 2011.
We hope you can join us!!
WHEN: Thursday, Oct 14 @ 6pm
WHERE: Betances Community Center, 547 E. 146th St, at St. Ann's Ave
17 Bus to St. Anns/146th
2/5 Train to 149th St/3rd Ave

For more info contact:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Giving thanks!

Big gratitude to everyone who came out to our Victory Party last week. Over 75 people showed up to celebrate, eat, dance, drink one too many cups "Painkiller Punch," and share thoughts on the impact of this incredible victory and of Thomas' work organizing with MOM over the past 4 years.

Check out photos of the party HERE

As always with MOM events, it was truly a family affair, and we are especially thankful for all the newly-pledged MOM Monthly Sustainers who stepped up to commit to contributing financially to MOM's work.

NEW SUSTAINER SHOUT OUTS: Tanya Fields, Cassandra Gary, Julien Terrell & Mitch Robinson Ramirez, Omar Freilla & Janvieve Williams-Comrie, Ari Rotramel, Lucretia Jones, Blanca Ramirez, Jesse Lehrer and Thomas Assefa.

You better believe it! Support from our community is vital in sustaining this work - it simply cannot happen without you.

To become a MOM Monthly Sustainer and commit 5, 10 or even 20 dollars a month, go HERE. For more information or questions, email

Stay tuned to the MOM blog for next steps on implementation and accountability regarding the terms of our settlement victory.

The fight is far from over!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Campaign Victory Party & Coverage

To all of our incredible friends, allies, donors, supporters, funders, comrades, colleagues and fellow freedom fighters who have sent messages of congratulations and well-wishes this week - and for your critical support throughout the past few years of this campaign.

We hope you can help us celebrate at our VICTORY PARTY this Friday!

Help us celebrate this historic occasion, and say farewell to our
beloved Environmental Justice Organizer, Thomas Assefa.

WHAT: VICTORY POTLUCK & farewell to Thomas!

WHEN: Friday, July 9. 5-8pm

WHERE: MOM Office - 928 Intervale Ave, Bronx

Please bring a dish to share. RSVP to

Here are a couple hits from the past week:

NY Times:
In Hunts Point, Celebrating an End to Sludge

By Sam Dolnick and Mireya Navarro

Community Legal Victory Banishes South Bronx Sewage Smells

Environmental News Service

Also see our FLICKR SITE for photos of last week's press event announcing the settlement.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Settlement Reached! VICTORY!!

Today was the last day that NYOFCO - The NY Organic Fertilizer Company - will receive sludge from the City to treat at the plant next door to Barretto Point Park! We have concluded our settlement! (See Press Release below for details).

It's truly an amazing accomplishment - one which wouldn't have happened without the tireless work of MOM leaders, with the support of many allies along the way. Thanks to NRDC, The Point, HPMC and all of our South Bronx allies, Congressman Jose Serrano and his fantastic staff, and to DEP for cooperating with us to move this work forward.

Our press conference today was met by some of the last noxious odors that the plant will emit - a reminder of the impact this settlement will have on local residents of the Hunts Point area.

Please visit our flickr site for photos and video of some moving testimony by MOM leaders, and remember to follow MOM on Twitter: @MOMBX

The text of the press release from NRDC is below, followed by some selected photos of the press conference.

Press contact: Courtney Hamilton, 212-727-4569,
If you are not a member of the press, please write to us at or see our contact page

South Bronx Win: Settlement Reached in Case Against Sewage Odors; Sewage Sludge Plant Set to Close Today
City to Require Controls on Future Sewage Odors and Fund New Hunts Point Green Space

NEW YORK (June 30, 2010) -- A major environmental justice case in the South Bronx was settled today as New York City agreed to resolve long-standing community concerns regarding odors and emissions from sewage facilities in the Hunts Point neighborhood.

The legal settlement also coincides with the last shipment of de-watered sewage sludge to the New York Organic Fertilizer Company (NYOFCo) -- one of the two sewage facilities at issue in the litigation.

“This agreement ensures that the NYOFCo facility, which has plagued this community with its noxious odors for almost two decades, will not run as it is ever again,” said Al Huang, NRDC attorney.

As part of the settlement, reached between the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Mothers on the Move, a South Bronx community group, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the City has agreed to conduct an independent evaluation to establish if any odors are emanating from the Hunts Point sewage plant, stop shipment of sewage sludge to NYOFCo for at least two years, require that any new sewage sludge processing facilities use best available odor control technology, and to clean up an acre of waterfront green space for future community use.

Today’s settlement resolves claims against New York City and the Department of Environmental Protection (but not NYOFCo) in a public and private nuisance action filed in State Supreme Court in July 2007 by NRDC on behalf of Mothers on the Move and ten South Bronx residents who complained for years of wide-ranging health and quality of life problems associated with sewage odors and fumes in their neighborhood.

“The closure of NYOFCo is the realization of years of organizing and activism in Hunts Point and a much needed breath of fresh air for a community that has been stuck indoors for far too long due to the stench of local sewage plants,” said Wanda Salaman, Executive Director of Mothers on the Move.

“As a result of DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway’s willingness to work with our clients to come up with this practicable and sensible resolution to a long-standing dispute, New York City residents can now have faith that sludge treatment operations, wherever they take place in the city, will now be held to the highest of standards,” said Eric A. Goldstein, NRDC attorney.

The claims against the New York Organic Fertilizer Company (NYOFCo), which until this week was processing about half of the sewage sludge produced by the city’s 14 sewage treatment plants and which has been a long-time source of noxious odors in the Hunts Point neighborhood, remain outstanding and could be revived should the NYOFCo facility ever resume operations.


As part of the settlement agreement, the City -- which had recently announced that it was cancelling its sludge processing contract with NYOFCo for fiscal reasons -- is agreeing to end shipments of sewage sludge to the NYOFCo plant for at least two years, absent emergency circumstances and even then only where no feasible alternative exists. In the unlikely event of a continuing emergency, the NYOFCo plant, should it be reopened, would be required to install state-of-the-art odor controls.

With respect to the nearby Hunts Point sewage treatment plant -- the second facility at issue in the litigation, which treats sewage waste from over 600,000 Bronx residents -- the City is agreeing to commission by December 2010 an independent study to identify sources of any odors that may be emanating from this facility and to take cost-effective steps to remediate such odors.

The City is also agreeing, for the first time ever, to require any facility, in any neighborhood, that might receive a new contract to treat the city’s sewage sludge to use the best available technology and operating practices to control odorous emissions.

The City has also committed $500,000 in matching funds to help clean up a 1.2 acre parcel of waterfront land adjacent to Barretto Point Park, in anticipation of future use by the community of that property as an urban farm or for recreational purposes.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.3 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

Mothers on the Move / Madres en Movimiento (MOM) organizes working class
and low-income people of color in the South Bronx to take strategic
leadership in campaigns to transform both our communities and ourselves,
to build and share power in society. MOM members engage in campaign work
through three committees: Environmental Justice, Housing Justice and Youth on the Move (Education Justice).

Eric Goldstein, NRDC
Sweet taste of victory!
BX Stand UP!!
Sludge Cake - notice the incinerator smokestack!
Wanda Salaman & Thomas Assefa, MOM
Paul Lipson, Office of Congressman Jose Serrano
Plaintiff Cerita Parker, MOM
Kellie Terry-Sepulveda, The Point
Plaintiff Lydia Velez, MOM
Plaintiff Lucinda Ortiz, MOM

Plaintiff Fred Febre, MOM

DEP Deputy Commissioner

Plaintiff Lucretia Jones, MOM

Al Huang, NRDC

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Victory Press Conference!

Please join MOM tomorrow at 1pm at Barretto Point Park to celebrate the completion of our nuisance settlement with the DEP. This Summer will be the first in 18 years that Hunts Point area residents can hang out, play and enjoy the outdoors without smelling noxious odors.

MOM is extremely proud of the tireless work of the leaders of the Environmental Justice Committee, and in particular the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. We are also thankful to the organizational and individual allies who have supported this work and without whom it wouldn't have been possible - in particular we want to mention the legal support from Natural Resources Defense Council and local allies like The Point, HPMC and the Office of Congressman Jose Serrano.

Please join us to tell the world about this wonderful victory for the South Bronx!

What: VICTORY Press Conference for MOM's Clean Air Campaign!
When: Wed June 30, 1pm

eet at MOM office at Noon to carpool
Where: Barretto Point Park

View Larger Map

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shake What She Gave You!!


Tickets are available NOW for the most boombasticfantastic Mothers Day fiesta in a New York minute.


An intergenerational community dance party, CELEBRATING OUR MOTHERS and the struggle for dignity and justice for the South Bronx.

Buy your tickets online TODAY at:

WHEN/WHERE: Fri, May 7th from 7pm-11pm at The Point - 940 Garrison Ave, BX


* DJ Chela spinning classic material for one & ALL! (,

* Gifts for sale

* 50/50 Raffle

* "Celebrating MOM" Slideshow - buy a page in advance ($10) featuring a picture and/or message in her honor!

* Cash Bar 21+ w/ ID

* Light fare included with ticket - Provided by Ms. Jessie's Soul Food!


* $20 General Admission Ticket

* $10 MOM Member

* $5 Youth on the Move Member

* $150 Organizational Group Rate: (10 tix plus a slideshow page! email to hook it up)

Consider celebrating YOUR Mother (or MOM's work) by purchasing a page in our EVENT SLIDESHOW! Send a picture (high res preferred) and message to by Monday May 3rd.

We hope you can still join us in person, however if you aren't able to attend please consider buying tickets to subsidize Youth and MOM Members.

Thanks! See you on the dancefloor.

Brought to you by the Grassroots Fundraising Committee of MOM.



Friday, March 19, 2010

Youth on the Move & UYC win postponement of metrocard cuts!

Youth on the Move (YOM) and allies in the Urban Youth Collaborative held an important meeting with MTA chief Jay Walder on Wednesday to demand the MTA not cut the vital student metrocard program.

Although they were able to secure postponement of the decision until after the NYC and NY State budget process wraps up, this is yet another example of the continued impact of the economic recession on working class communities, who suffer first and worst as public services (from housing to education to healthcare and transportation) continue getting slashed.

In the coming months YOM & UYC will be taking the fight to City Hall, Albany and beyond, so stay tuned and in touch for ways to support this vital work.

Coverage highlights:

* NY Daily News - Students Will Lobby State, City for Free Metrocards from MTA
* NY1 - MTA to Postpone Vote on Student Metrocards
* Gothamist - MTA Delays Vote On Cutting Student Metrocards

Monday, March 15, 2010

Statement on DEP Decision

Mothers on the Move is excited about the recent citywide and national attention to our Clean Air Campaign, and thankful for the support of elected officials and allies alike in creating the kind of visibility that can further an equitable resolution of our lawsuit.

However, this recent exposure to the Dep't of Environmental Protection's decision not to renew NYOFCO/Synagro's contract represents only the tip of the iceberg of what has now been a three-year campaign by MOM's Environmental Justice Committee - strategized and implemented by local residents of the Hunts Point and Longwood sections of the South Bronx (people directly experiencing NYOFCO's harmful effects).

The work of the EJ Committee's leadership in getting to this stage can't be overstated - changing society takes a lot of hard work by a lot of everyday people! The campaign has included literally thousands of doors knocked, hundreds of people mobilized, countless campaign planning meetings, and creative and high profile actions such as our Toxic Bus Tour, Mock Funeral for the South Bronx, and a surprise Saturday morning visit to then-DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd by 50 local residents.

Again, MOM recognizes and appreciates the support from politicians and the city in our work around this issue, BUT, there is much more to be done. The lawsuit is not yet settled, and the larger fight is far from over. Unfortunately this recent news doesn't mean that the community's problems with NYOFCO or the underlying issues of environmental racism disappear.

MOM and the EJ Committee's leadership will continue its lawsuit regardless, and we are continuing to watch the DEP and the City (who are named in our lawsuit) to see this through.

We remain cautiously optimistic about the results, and can't wait to celebrate all the hard work that MOM members and our allies have put into achieving them. But we'll believe it when we see it.

Recent Coverage:

NY Daily News, 3/15
Commish says City's plan to end contract with Hunts Point fertilizer firm will save $18M a year.

Epoch Times, 3/15
City Terminates Contract With Bronx Sewage Plant

NY1 News, 3/14
City Drops Contract With Bronx Fertilizer Company

Gothamist Blog 3/13
Bronx Neighborhood to Lose Decades-Old Stench

New York Times, 3/12
An Olfactory Nightmare May End in the Bronx

To schedule interviews with MOM EJ Committee leaders, please contact

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Video on the fight for clean air

The video was produced by Chloe Smolarski, Melissa Nicolardi, Veralyn Williams and Marjorie Bresciani in a graduate course at Hunter College. Many thanks are due to these women for their wonderful work. Here is their description of the project:

We first became aware of the environmental justice movement in Hunts Point in the spring of 2008, as residents and activist were embroiled in a struggle against the renewal of NYOFCO's poisonous contract. Through the organizations Sustainable South Bronx, The Point, and Mothers on the Move we were introduced to the five incredible women - Majora Carter, Marie Davis, Tanya Fields, Cerita Parker and Kelly Terry- Sepulveda- whose inspiring efforts to organize their community and fight against NYOFCO are the center of this story. Thanks to the efforts of these women the City of New York will not renew NYOFCO's contract, and hopes to terminate the agreement as early as June of this year, well before it's 2013 expiration date. Score one for Hunts Point!

Friday, March 12, 2010

MOM Clean Air Campaign in NYTimes

March 12, 2010, 12:45 pm

City Moves to End a Bronx Olfactory Nightmare

New York Organic Fertilizer Company, Hunts Point, the Bronx,  3/12/10.Sam Dolnick/The New York Times New York Organic Fertilizer Company, Hunts Point, the Bronx, 3/12/10.

Barbara White no longer dries her clothes outside. Lucretia Jones has stopped hosting backyard barbecues. Tanya Fields keeps her windows shut tight year-round.

For years, these neighbors in Hunts Point in the Bronx have battled a common plague: an acrid stench that hangs over the area like a black cloud, clinging to clothing, keeping children home from school, choking neighborhood life.

Some compare the smell to a filthy toilet, others to rotting meat; but everyone agrees that the stench comes from behind the gates of the New York Organic Fertilizer Company. The company’s Hunts Point plant processes sludge from 14 of the city’s sewage plants, amounting to nearly half of the city’s waste, and converts it into high-grade fertilizer pellets.

But now, after years of lawsuits, protests and complaints, beleaguered residents seem poised to win a major victory: city officials say they plan to cancel the $34-million-a-year contract with the company, effective June 30.

Caswell F. Holloway, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said the city can save roughly $18 million a year by sending the waste to landfills instead. “We plan to make this happen this year and aggressively pursue more cost-effective beneficial reuse of biosolids,” Mr. Holloway said during testimony before the City Council earlier this week.

The company’s contract runs through 2013, but a spokesman said the city plans to end the contract by June 30.

“This is a huge victory,” said Representative José E. Serrano, who has fought for years to close the plant. “It was horrible – the smell, the stench. People living in the poorest congressional district in the nation, in many cases with very little education, knew this was something they could not tolerate.”

Community advocates have fought the plant for years. In 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the plant on behalf of a community group called Mothers on the Move along with 10 local residents. Last year, the state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, also filed a public-nuisance lawsuit against the company. A settlement is currently being negotiated, said Albert Y. Huang, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mark McCormick, a senior official at Synagro, the plant’s parent company, said the settlement would include upgrading the plant’s technology in an attempt to mitigate the smell.

Everyone in the Hunts Point area has stories about the inconvenience and distress caused by the smell. It aggravated children’s asthma, they say. It forced grandmothers to leave their gardens untended, families to cancel picnics, and schools to hold recess indoors.

“It smells like a decaying body,” said Wilfredo Gebre, who noted that the smell was especially bad on hot summer days.

But the stink was more than just a nuisance. For many, it became a symbol of the city’s disregard for Hunts Point, a neighborhood made up predominantly of low-income and minority families.

The New York Organic Fertilizer Company “meant everything that was unfair about the treatment of the Bronx,” said Mr. Serrano.

Wanda Salaman, executive director of Mothers on the Move, said the plant was just another instance of the city treating Hunts Point as a dumping ground.

“Would they build something like that next to Mayor Bloomberg’s house?” she said inside her group’s office, from which she can sometimes smell the Oak Point Avenue plant a mile away. Her colleague, Thomas Assefa, nodded his head. “It’s an issue of race and class,” he said.

Mr. McCormick of Synagro said they were still hoping to find a resolution with the city.

“We’re going to reach out to the city and see what we can do short of terminating the contract,” he said, adding that the plant employs some 50 people. “At this point, we’re open to discussing anything to help them out, whether it’s volume or price or other ways we can help work with each other.”

While the city maintains that its decision has been made, local advocates cautioned that it was not yet time to celebrate. Even if the city voids the contract as planned, the plant operators could still sign a new deal with a different municipality to process even more sewage sludge.

“Our struggle doesn’t end just because the city has a different strategy,” said Ms. Salaman. “They could just take it to another poor neighborhood somewhere else. Just because it’s not in our backyard doesn’t mean that the problem is over.”

Monday, March 1, 2010

No Transportation, No Education!

The past 2 weeks have been full of intense work by Youth on the Move and our allies in the Urban Youth Collaborative, in response to the MTA's planned cuts of the free metrocards provided to NYC students.

YOM & UYC have turned out hundreds of youth to call on the MTA to use the money in the capital budget to maintain the vital student metrocard program. In response to YOM/UYC demands, MTA president Jay Walder agreed to hold a public hearing on March 17.

As reported in the NY Daily News, (Angry high school students put MTA to test on free Metrocards, Chairman Walder agrees to hearing):

[Youth on the Move member] Valerie Bynaar reminded Walder that he had not responded to a letter students had sent to him and Mayor Bloomberg months ago asking for a public hearing, [UYC Organizer Hiram] Rivera said.

"She asked him again if he was willing to meet with them, and when Walder did not respond, the students in the room began to chant, 'Answer, answer,'" Rivera said. "In the end, Walder agreed to the March 17 hearing."

Valerie was also quoted in the March 5th NY Daily News editorial, Bronx kids take on MTA: Plead for discounted MetroCards to stay:
"Grownups always say that kids are the future," said 14-year-old Valerie Bynaar, who travels from the Bronx to Manhattan to get to ninth grade. "Right now the future doesn't look very bright."

Additional coverage:
WBAI's Wakeup Show:

WNYC: Students, Transit Workers to Rally Before MTA Hearing