RPA undertook a robust public engagement program to ensure that its recommendations reflect the needs and priorities of all residents of the region. A range of tools, including issue area working groups, surveys, public forums and stakeholder briefings, were used to reach as broad an audience as possible. To fully include constituencies that have traditionally been underrepresented in planning processes, RPA collaborated with organizations that have members or networks representing low-income individuals and communities of color, as well as other underrepresented constituencies since late 2014. Collectively, the Fourth Plan partner organizations represent over 50,000 low-income residents and residents of color in the region.
- Community Voices Heard (Hudson Valley): a member-led multi-racial organization, principally women of color and low-income families in New York State that builds power to secure social, economic and racial justice for all. CVH accomplishes their mission through grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy changes, and creating new models of direct democracy.
- Partnership for Strong Communities (Connecticut): a statewide nonprofit policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ending homelessness, expanding the creation of affordable housing, and building strong communities in Connecticut.
- Housing and Community Development Network (New Jersey): a statewide association of over 250-non-profit housing and community development corporation, individuals, professional organizations, and prominent New Jersey corporations that support the creation of housing choices and economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income community residents. The Networks works to improve the environment for the work of community development corporations (CDCs), and to strengthen their capacity to create housing and revitalize distressed neighborhoods throughout New Jersey.
- Make the Road Connecticut (Connecticut): an organization that builds membership with low-income and working class Latinos living in Bridgeport, CT and has become a powerful voice on immigrant rights, worker rights, public schools, LGBTQ justice, and more.
- Make the Road New York (Long Island): a statewide nonprofit that builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services.
- New York Communities for Change (Long Island): a multi-racial membership based organization of working families fighting against economic and racial oppression. NYCC members are agents of change, building movements and campaigns from the ground up and fighting corporate power at its core.
- Right to the City Alliance (New York City & National): a national alliance of racial, economic and environmental justice organizations building a national movement for racial justice, urban justice, human rights, and democracy. RTC seeks to create regional and national impacts in the fields of housing, human rights, urban land, community development, civic engagement, criminal justice, environmental justice, and more.
- Hester Street Collaborative (Technical Assistance Partner): an urban planning, design, and development nonprofit that works to ensure that neighborhoods are shaped by the people who live in them. HSC offers technical and capacity-building assistance to community-based organizations, private firms and government agencies on land use processes, neighborhood planning and design, and public and private community development projects. We strive for more vibrant, equitable, sustainable and resilient neighborhoods.
- Alliance for a Greater New York (New York City): a longstanding alliance of labor and community organizations united for a just and sustainable New York. ALIGN works at the intersection of economy, environment, and equity to make change and build movement. Our model addresses the root causes of economic injustice by forging strategic coalitions, shaping the public debate through strategic communications, and developing policy solutions that make an impact.
In the first phase of our multi-year collaboration, partners held dozens of workshops and surveyed more than 1,500 individuals and families from underrepresented groups around the region. Community partners surveyed individuals on busses, knocked on doors, held focus groups and larger workshops to learn that the most important challenge for low-income residents in the region is battling a growing sense of instability. Job insecurity, unsafe housing conditions, capricious evictions, lack of access to quality food, health care and other services, ever increasing cost of living and racial discrimination combine to make the day-to-day feel unpredictable for the region’s low-income residents. These residents expressed the desire to be more meaningfully included in decision-making processes with the potential to improve their quality of life, and provided critical stories that shaped the plan.
In the second phase, partner organizations brought community leaders to RPA to participate in strategy and solutions sessions around draft recommendations directly with RPA research staff. RPA and Hester Street Collaborative created visuals and activities that communicated fourth plan findings and preliminary proposals. These enabled the gathering of input on preliminary community development, resilience and infrastructure recommendations. Community leaders used the same tools to communicate fourth plan findings and preliminary recommendations at community workshops around the region. Participants critiqued RPA’s proposed mechanisms to revitalize communities while protecting against residential displacement, to protect vulnerable residents from rising sea levels, and to connect less dense areas. The process yielded many insights for RPA and community participants, and strengthened plan proposals in their early stages to improve quality of life for low-income residents.
In the third phase and beyond, RPA and community partners shifted to implementation of Fourth Regional Plan recommendations that most strongly support improved quality of life for low-income residents in the tri-state region. RPA and partners focus work on building local capacity such that underrepresented constituencies become better equipped to advocate for more inclusive land use and planning, allowing for the construction of more affordable housing, better connectivity, and more environmental resilience. RPA and partners also jointly wrote an Equity Agenda for the New York Region, committing to continue collaborating in the future, in order to promote the equitable implementation of the Fourth Regional Plan.