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Minority State Of City Address Salutes Yale

by Thomas MacMillan | Apr 16, 2013 4:15 pm

(16) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: City Hall

Thomas MacMillan Photo As she delivered the annual Black and Hispanic Caucus State of the City speech, Yale grad and Yale union member Alderwoman Dolores Colon closed with a message to New Haven developers and businesses: Be more like Yale.

Colon (pictured) delivered that message Monday night at a meeting of the Board of Aldermen. Colon was selected to deliver the annual minority State of the City address. She made a point of saluting Yale for its support of the city’s new “jobs pipeline” effort.

The Hill/City Point alderwoman cited some success in delivering on the aldermanic agenda set early last year: creating jobs, improving public safety, and doing more for young people.

Among the highlights she mentioned: the return of community policing, efforts to reopen the Q House and to create a new youth services center at the old Goffe Street Armory, a comprehensive youth services website set to debut this summer, and New Haven Works, the “jobs pipeline” agency the city recently set up with Yale support.

Colon said she graduated from Yale in 1991 and then joined Yale’s UNITE HERE Local 34 union.“I have never been more proud of my alma mater than now,” she said. Yale saw the potential in New Haven Works and donated office space and money to the cause, Colon said.

“I call upon all developers and employers to follow the example set by Yale and participate in programs like New Haven Works that connect our residents to good jobs,” she said.

Colon ended her address calling for people to join a May Day rally for jobs, peace, and unity on the Green.

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posted by: anonymous on April 16, 2013  4:33pm

Meanwhile, infrastructure, schools, air quality, and housing for the people who live here suffers.  Targeting jobs to people in our inner-city communities who need them (which Yale was already doing) deserves praise, but history shows that most pipeline-type employees will move to the suburbs as soon as they have stable jobs.

As our parking lot-clogged neighborhoods continue to deteriorate due to horrible projects like the widening of Route 34, people in New Haven who find jobs will be immediately replaced by people without jobs from Waterbury. That leaves everyone remaining worse off.

posted by: HhE on April 16, 2013  6:36pm

anonymous, do you have any data to support the “As soon as a person gets a decent job in New Haven, they move out of New Haven” claim?  Maybe Marc Abrams at Data Haven could help you out.

posted by: anonymous on April 16, 2013  7:25pm

HhE, if all else stays the same, what impact would a program like this have on our city? As family income grows, people generally have the means to and do move - or at least move up to more privileged blocks and neighborhoods.

If we raise taxes on our low-income renters (or solicit corporate donations) in our city in order to provide “good jobs” for a few people, but those people mostly move to Hamden, won’t we just have to raise taxes again on the low-income renters who take their place (or solicit even more corporate donations that could have been used, say, to hire more police officers to patrol crime hotspots)?

The program itself seems fine, especially if it is focused on residents living in areas like Newhallville or the Hill, and on residents with limited English ability, rather than just working to employ more residents from Westville or Fair Haven Heights (an important issue of program “targeting” that has not been publicly addressed). 

Hopefully, whoever is evaluating this investment (taxpayers? Yale?) is asking these types of questions—not just focusing on creating dozens upon dozens more expensive PR opportunities, flyers, and speeches about their job pipeline. 

What would be the benefit of using those resources instead to fix decrepit housing in the Fair Haven foreclosure “heat zone” (e.g., LCI having no enforcement), on youth centers, or on shoring up our understaffed police department?

posted by: Eddie on April 16, 2013  8:34pm

There is absolutely no evidence that indicates this program will cause migration to the suburbs. 

Moreover, I don’t understand the fear incomes growing for New Haven families.  Don’t we want to maximize the opportunities available to New Haven residents? 

I think criticizing any public policy is fair.  But why resort unsubstantiated claims and half-baked theories as a first line of attack?     

What we do know:

The program gives a major advantage to New Haven residents as large employers such as Yale are prioritizing them in their hiring process.  To my knowledge this is unprecedented for New Haven at this scale. 

Yale has made significant investments in the program.  Being the regions largest employer, it has a unique capacity to help this program scale. 

The program has seen an outpouring of unemployed and underemployed individuals who are seeking a job as evidenced by the trial run and orientation sessions.  There is clearly a demand for such a program. 

People from New Haven struggle to get interviews at Yale.  Participants in the program have already received offers. 

Much of the program’s current funding has come from in-kind donations.  Although given the institutional support this program is poised to become a very efficient job placement program that should merit public investment. 

It is an example of elected officials keeping a key campaign promise. 

Most of these points have been reported in the NHI (http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/taglist/Jobs_Pipeline).

posted by: beyonddiscussion on April 16, 2013  9:33pm

Yale does alot of great stuff for New Haven, and is a fantastic asset. But it could learn one big thing from other city businesses: pay its fair share of taxes!

posted by: anonymous on April 16, 2013  11:05pm

Eddie, there are many national models for integrated community development that some of the people sitting behind the scenes of our “job pipeline” are well aware of. No need to cite them all here.

To be considered a program that generates positive and sustainable change and includes neighbors, a “pipeline” needs to not only provide employment opportunities, it needs to target those opportunities specifically to low-income residents in low-income neighborhoods (which we are not fully doing), reinvest in the amenities, infrastructure, and vacant properties of those same neighborhoods based on community plans (not doing), and provide opportunities for people who live there to build equity in those areas (the Yale homebuyer program doesn’t cut it on the “equity” side).

It is well known that these programs work, although there is no real evaluation of their cost-benefit (as opposed to, say, hiring more police officers or investing in schools).

Taking one part of the model, and doing it without targeting core neighborhoods or taking on an integrated approach, is like building a stool with one leg.  At best, it’s a half-baked implementation - more appropriate for Chamber of Commerce or Anchor Institution PR officers than it is for prime time.  At worst, it exacerbates our existing problems, even if a small minority benefits.

posted by: HewNaven on April 17, 2013  8:00am

Could Yale and the Unions imagine a program like this:

Could it be possible to incentivize local contractors and their apprentices to become property owners/managers in troubled New Haven neighborhoods? I’m imagining a program with the right incentive would pave an easy road toward repairing some of our crumbling housing stock. I understand its not normally in the purview of contractors to be property managers, but I’m sure its easier than property managers just collecting rent money, not taking care of their buildings, and causing real problems for neighbors (e.g. squatting, drug use, prostitution, blight, etc.) Combine this incentive program with a vocational school, allowing students and recent graduates to apprentice with the contractor/property managers and allowing them to purchase blighted properties cheaply, and we’ll have a real pipeline: people who have real skills and own their homes!

The current pipeline does have unintentional consequences. No one who gets a good job is going to buy a blighted property and fix it up, yet that is what we need the most in New Haven. Maybe its harder to see this dire need from the glimmer of East Rock or Westville, but its a stark reality for most of us in the rest of the city. I understand how the current pipeline idea could help people by having better wages and salaries, but I don’t see how it helps those of us living in poor neighborhoods who are surrounded by blight. Having a good job at Yale will potentially create new property owners (good), but with no construction skills, who will just move to one of the nicer neighborhoods like East Rock or Westville and skip past the poor neighborhoods, out of sight, out of mind. How about a pipeline that will rinse the blighted properties in the Hill or Fair Haven or Newhallville? That’s an idea we can get behind because everybody wins, not just Yale.

posted by: streever on April 17, 2013  9:37am

@beyonddiscussion
All commercial enterprises at Yale do pay taxes, and should.
No educational applications pay taxes, because, our founding fathers saw higher education as a necessary government service which we were unable to provide, and exempted higher ed from taxation as a result.

While you may argue on where the line is drawn, or even on the arguments of the founders, I think we need to be a little more creative in our approach to Yale if we want to squeeze more cash out of them. None of us are entitled to money from the higher ed programs at Yale.

posted by: Eddie on April 17, 2013  9:45am

You have yet to provide any evidence that this program or programs that are comparable to this program cause migration to the suburbs.  You have failed to provide any real analysis that evaluates the potential impact of this program or programs that are comparable.  Instead you appeal to “trust me, I’m an anonymous commenter.” 

No one is claiming that this program will resolve every problem in New Haven and it should complement other programs.  Still it is unique in its ability to provide employment to unemployed and underemployed individuals in New Haven.  It will likely realize its goal of providing good jobs to 1000 unemployed or underemployed individuals over the next four years.  Many, if not all, of these jobs won’t be minimum wage service sector jobs.  This is a significant percentage of the unemployed and underemployed individuals in New Haven (around 7.7%).  It is probably even more significant in terms of households since it’s likely that the distribution of underemployment and unemployment is not uniform across households. 

It will achieve this on a modest budget that is publicly available, of which is partially funded by in-kind donations.  Again much of the program’s strength is rooted in winning commitments from employers to hire residents from New Haven.  This is an important benefit to New Haven residents and does not cost the public anything.  If successful the program has the potential to scale by facilitating the entry of more employers into the program, which would have a fundamental impact on employment opportunities in New Haven.

posted by: HewNaven on April 17, 2013  10:22am

Eddie,

I’m not speaking for anon, you make a good case for the pipeline as it is. I’d like to see it expanded though, as I described in my previous comment.

Having more New Haven residents working for these big, rich companies via the pipeline is great. I’m sure they’ll get even richer and our unemployment rate will decline. Who’s going to argue against those possible metrics? But, what about the small businesses that are actually ESSENTIAL to our collective prosperity? These big companies are just OPPORTUNISTIC. Don’t be fooled. Other than Yale, any of them would cut and run if there was a good enough reason to lure them to another town. And, its no coincidence that the pipeline conceived by Yale Union representatives is focused on helping rich, powerful companies like the Yale Corporation, YNHH, AT&T, etc. Its a consolidation of power and a diversion of the true talent of New Haven residents. Its not a long-term solution for those of us who live here. These kinds of jobs are mostly interchangeable. You can just move from one corporation to the next. And, of course they are good jobs! But if you ask someone who is unemployed, “would you rather work for Yale, or learn some real skills that might translate to a profession?” What do you think they are going to say? All I’m saying is expand the program to include some lasting measures, a true pipeline to COMMUNITY PROSPERITY, not corporate power!

posted by: anonymous on April 17, 2013  10:32am

Eddie, even using wildly conservative estimates of migration rates over four years, and assuming that every single person who finds a job is still working in a job after four years (also wildly conservative given 20-30% separations), the 7.7% figure becomes 5% at best.

Why not create workforce and community investment programs that benefit the employment opportunities and prospects for 100% of the roughly 10,000 currently underemployed New Haven residents where they live now, not just 5%?  Why not make sure that the neighborhoods as a whole benefit, not just the 5% of unemployed who find work and then stay in their current home?  Housing, transportation to where most jobs are (which is to say, not in New Haven), public safety, infrastructure, business tax credits and child care access come to mind.

If we continue to focus on “one-legged stool” approaches to benefit PR Machines and politicians, instead of on real measures to increase opportunity across all of our communities, we are going nowhere as a city.

Start with what are by far the largest barriers to jobs access and neighborhood job creation- transportation and safety respectively- and work from there.

posted by: Eddie on April 17, 2013  12:00pm

Hew Naven,

I appreciate your idea.  To me it sounds like a program like the Workforce Initiative Program would be better suited to implement it, since they are already in the business of training individuals for construction.  To be honest I don’t know how such an idea would best be implemented. 

I also share your general skepticism of Yale.  But I still think that Yale provides some of the best jobs in the region and is unique in its capacity to scale a jobs placement program.

posted by: Eddie on April 17, 2013  12:15pm

Anon,

You are not using wildly conservative estimates.  To drop this rate to 5%, at least 260 people would have to lose their job or leave New Haven in less than four years.  This would be over 25% of all the individuals who were placed by the program.  What is your basis for claiming this is a conservative estimate?  I don’t see the point in using such casual analysis to condemn this program. 

I would also love to see 100% of the 10,000 unemployed or underemployed individuals find good and long-term jobs.  If you have a proposal that can achieve this with a budget of less than $1.5 million per year, I would like to see it.

I know I am repeating myself, but this program has the potential to fundamentally change employment opportunities that are available in New Haven.  Placing 1,000 people in jobs will have a significant impact on its own.  But the additional benefit of this program’s success is that it can create a model that continually favors New Haven residents.  It gives employers incentives and capacity to hire and train those who live in our city.

posted by: anonymous on April 17, 2013  2:04pm

Eddie, it’s great you are so exuberant about this program, even though no meaningful results are yet available. It’s like Republicans being exuberant about how their austerity measures are theoretically supposed to help the broader economy. 

I hope our policymakers will be interested in comparing the results to the many other workforce programs that we already have in New Haven—as well as to the value that could be gained by, say, spending those millions of dollars worth of public goods instead on lighting, sidewalk, security patrols, or hiring hundreds of local youth to work in the neighborhoods that need it most.

Regarding mobility, you are misinterpreting what I said above.  The Census says that only 75% of New Haven residents were living in the same house or apartment just one year ago (versus 92% in our suburbs). This rate is even lower in places like Fair Haven and the Hill - generally speaking, at least a quarter of the population moves quite often. When they find work, they often move out of the neighborhood, not just to an identical rental unit next door. 

That’s why we need “pipeline” programs that are comprehensive (see above comments about shared equity and anti-blight investments). Otherwise we are simply alienating more people.

Homeowners and wealthier people with roots in New Haven don’t often realize the scope of this issue, because so many of them have been here for 20 years or more and/or live on more stable city blocks that are more like the aforementioned suburbs.  But their myopia is in large part the cause of our city’s problems.

Pipelines are great idea, but compared to the national models, this program is clearly a one-legged stool - and one that isn’t particularly targeted to the greatest need.  There are ofcities that are doing this correctly, not primarily as a low-budget PR move.  Hopefully whoever is elected Mayor will be better about using evidence to drive his or her policies.

posted by: Eddie on April 17, 2013  4:04pm

Anon,

Note that I have restricted my discussion to known features of the program or goals of the program.  Of course it might not reach these goals, but condemning it at such an early stage with no evidence to suggest that it won’t is premature. 

On the other hand, you are willing to condemn it on flimsy back of the envelop calculations and unsubstantiated assertions.  You have yet to substantiate your claim that this program will cause migration to the suburbs.  You have not substantiated your claim that 25% of the individuals placed in the program will leave New Haven or lose their job in four years.  You claim that the program is a failure because it isn’t projecting 100% placement of unemployed or underemployed individuals without any suggestion of a program that could achieve this with a similar budget.   

The only data you have cited is irrelevant census data.  I believe that 75% of the people in were living in the same house or apartment less a year ago.  What is the relevancy of this statistic to the jobs pipeline?  Did the other 25% live in a different city a year ago?  Are they going to move to a different city in a year?  More importantly how does the pipeline affect any of this?  Again where is your evidence that the jobs pipeline will cause migration out of New Haven?

As you noted the program is new and meaningful results still need to be collected.  Why then fabricate stories to condemn it before it has had a chance to prove its value?

posted by: HhE on April 17, 2013  11:05pm

I find that anon takes an existential; some people will move from New Haven if they gain employment that makes such a move possible, and makes it an universal; all people who gain employment that makes moving possible will move. 

Why would anyone from Waterbury move to New Haven, in order to be jobless?  Waterbury’s rents are lower. 

There is a world of difference between “This program would be a better use of funds than that program.” and “This program will only cause people to move away—because they can.” 

Anon, have you not repeatedly called for less police in the past?  Now it is “shoring up our understaffed police department?” 

Any evidence to back up your argument?

beyonddiscussion, what exactly would be Yale’s “fair share?”  They pay taxes on their commercial properties, and make voluntary contributions to the city, as well as being far and away the largest draw of outside money to our city.  If the state’s laws on property taxes on non profits were to change, I would not necessarily object to that.  However, Yale is not a “city business.”

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