Sunday, September 23, 2012


The Community Development Project (CDP) at the Urban Justice Center has analyzed and evaluated last year's pilot program in participatory budgeting. It examined the process that was established to enable New Yorkers living in four City Council districts to suggest, research, and vote on the capital improvements they wanted made to the infrastructure in their districts.

The CDP also examined outcomes and made recommendations for the next participatory budgeting process, which is getting underway this week. This time, eight City Councilmembers are venturing into participatory budgeting. The projects are being paid for with $1,000,000 from each City Councilmembers' budget, money that had been collected by New York City as taxes.

This past Thursday, CDP released the report "A People’s Budget: A Research and Evaluation Report on the Pilot Year of Participatory Budgeting in New York City." The full report is here; District 39, Councilmember Brad Lander's district, is discussed on pages 50 to 58. The executive summary is here.

Part of the report explores the demographics of participants and the effect the program has had on them. Among the interesting findings about participants at Neighborhood Assemblies is the fact that "almost half had never before contacted a civil servant or elected official." Demographics for District 39 are found on page 79 of the full report.

The first step in participatory budgeting is the Neighborhood Assembly, a public meeting where everyone in the community has the opportunity to make suggestions for needed capital improvements. To qualify for funds, a project has to
"1. Cost at least $35,000
2. Have a “useful life” of at least five years
3. Involve the construction, reconstruction, acquisition, or installation or a physical public improvement."
At the meeting, attendees will be asked if they want to become delegates and work on committees. Those who don't want to are free to go home, knowing that they contributed to the process.

Windsor Terrace's Neighborhood Assembly will be held on Thursday, September 27th, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at P.S. 154, 1625 11th Avenue, at Windsor Place.

Kensington's Neighborhood Assembly will be held on Monday, October 1st, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at P.S. 230, 1 Albemarle Road, at McDonald Avenue.