Clergy From Harlem To Hollis Call For Public Hearings On NYC Real Estate Trade At Black Caucus

An ecumenical non-profit, comprised of mostly African-American pastors from Harlem to Hollis, is calling on the State Legislature to hold a public hearing to address the lack of diversity in the city’s construction and development industry.

In a letter, dated February 14, 2019, to New York State Senate Leader, Andrea Stewart Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie, The 400 Foundation requested the Legislative Body hold a hearing to enable lawmakers to investigate minority participation in all 32 building and construction trade unions, create specific policy to expand employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for minorities and women in the real estate industry.

“The preservation and prosperity of this city’s mostly minority and women residents is dependent on equitable access and participation in the construction and development industry.”

“The real estate trade in New York is a permanent economy,” said Reginald Bachus, founder of The 400 Foundation, Inc. and Associate Pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church. “The preservation and prosperity of this city’s mostly minority and women residents is dependent on equitable access and participation in the construction and development industry.”

Members of The 400 Foundation leadership will attend this weekend’s annual Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus in Albany to personally appeal to African American elected officials (from Harlem and uptown includes Brian A. Benjamin, Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, Abyssinian Baptist Church, New Mount Zion Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Jessie Williams, Convent Avenue Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Johnnie Green, Mount Nebo Baptist Church, Rev. Nicole Pena, God’s Promises Baptist Church, Rev. James Kilgore, Friendship Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Isaac Graham, Macedonia Baptist Church, Rev. Keith Roberson, Southern Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Renee Gardner-Washington, Memorial Baptist Church, Carmen N. De La Rosa) to push for the public hearing and potent policy change.

See the entire list here.

The 400 Foundation asks that the Legislature pay special attention to these issues:

  • New York City’s minority workforce needs greater access to the skills training essential for advancement in today’s development and construction industry. The Legislature should start by ramping up training budgets to fund expanded workforce development programs. Lawmakers must also remove historic barriers to employment and prevent the erection of new barriers that will block the opportunity for minority workers.
  • The Legislature should reject a recently introduced bill that would expand prevailing wage mandates for many large construction projects across New York City. We believe the proposed prevailing wage expansion would mandate developers to utilize an all-union workforce that is less likely to maximize local hiring and racial diversity. We fear that until the above questions are answered, the bill is potentially a form of publicly financed discrimination against minorities. Furthermore, the bill would exacerbate the low-income and affordable housing crisis in our communities due to the increased cost of an all-union workforce creating a greater decline in the membership of our houses of worship because of the rampant housing displacement.
  • Additionally, the Legislature must take stronger steps to create a fair playing field for v contractors – many of whom are small businesses – in the development and construction industry. The 400 Foundation stands with the 15a Coalition, a consortium of organizations, experts, activists, and students banded together to fight for fairness and opportunity in the construction industry for MWBE capacity building and expansion of all New York State’s Opportunity programs. These minority business owners are too often locked out of contract opportunities due to unnecessarily high costs, unfair regulatory barriers and other issues. The Legislature must find more ways to engage and support MWBE contractors rather than excluding them.

With the ongoing celebration of Black History Month, The 400 Foundation, beleives this is an appropriate time, not only for a public hearing but poignant policy change.

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The 400 Foundation is a coalition of faith leaders working to advance economic equity in New York City’s development and construction industry. For more information, visit www.weare400.com

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