With the proliferation of government reforms and tech-savvy policy-watchers who track them, we thought it was about time to start compiling a New York City urban affairs web site and listserv roundup. We’ve put some of our favorites into three starter categories below and posted this guide with links on our web site at www.citylimits.org. We’ll continue to add categories and sites in the future. Help us out–email your favorite web links to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WELFARE AND WORK
The Welfare Information Network, at http://www.welfareinfo.org, has a wealth of information on welfare reform and ancillary issues. It’s comprehensive, if somewhat difficult to plow through.
The American Public Human Services Association posts smart news updates and analysis on federal and state anti-poverty policy developments at http://www.aphsa.org.
A project of New York City’s own Welfare Law Center, http://www.lincproject.org is good for welfare rights and organizing information.
Handsnet has a weekly roundup at http://www.handsnet.org that summarizes policy and research news from academics and big nonprofits. The site also features lobbying bulletins.
The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information has a good web site index at http://www.calib.com/nccanch on child abuse-related issues.
The two D.C. favorites for statistics and policy analysis are the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities at http://www.cbpp.org and the Center for Community Change at http://www.communitychange.org.
The Assessing New Federalism project of the Urban Institute has a database at http://newfederalism.urban.org/nfdb/index.htm containing voluminous indicators on family and children’s well-being in each state-everything from food stamp enrollment to the number of children with substantiated reports of emotional abuse. Note that many queries result in links to other web sites where data can be obtained.
For more general information about children’s well-being, the Annie E. Casey Foundation site generates maps and graphs out of basic state data from its Kids Count project: http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/kc1999.
HOUSING AND COMMUNITIES
Tenant.net is the local champion, with a regularly updated index of housing court decisions, good advice on surviving Housing Court and snotty attacks on Peter Vallone. You’ll find the court goods at http://tenant.net/Court/Hcourt/current.html.
For national housing policy, look to http://www.nlihc.org/current.htm for weekly updates on Washington budget and legislative action and to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s indispensable advocates’ guide of updates on major urban issues at http://www.nlihc.org/advocates/index.htm.
Two organizations for housing pros-the Public Housing Authority Directors Association (http://www.phada.org) and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (http://www.nahro.org)-also post HUD’s Notices of Funding Availability plus rules and notices from the Federal Register.
City Limits webmaster Winton Pitcoff of Change Communications maintains copious housing and community development links at http://www.change.org/links.htm.
The New York City Rent Guidelines board site, at http://www.housingnyc.com/, is valuable for its store of reports and surveys of New York’s rental housing market. It also features a “vacancy calculator” to help rent-regulated tenants figure out if they’re being bilked.
To help banks fulfill their Community Reinvestment Act responsibilities wisely, the CRA site run by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, http://www.ffiec.gov/cra, has a geocoding feature that provides information on demographics, income and housing stock for any census tract in the U.S.-just type in a street address.
POLITICS AND POLITICOS
To keep a closer eye on political back-scratching, look to http://www.timesunion.com/capitol/contributions for state campaign contributions, http://www.fec.gov/finance/finmenu.htm to watch the Bushes and Gores, or http://www.cfb.nyc.ny.us to see who’s shoveling money into your councilmember’s upcoming campaign. If you’re unsure who that might be, check out NYPIRG’s CouncilFinder site at http://www.cmap.nypirg.org/webmaps/nyc_council/default.htm.
In addition to data on political action committee contributions to Congress, the Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org) links to http://www.tray.com, a trove of info on who’s paying who in Washington. Type in any candidate or member of Congress and find out who’s filling the bankroll.
With a mission of ensuring public access to government information, OMB Watch (http://www.ombwatch.org) details what’s up in the world of federal deregulation and keeps nonprofit watchdogs apprised of how new legislation affects their work.
Political junkie Christopher Chichester’s site at http://www.empirepage.com is an essential one-stop shop for New York news. Each day, Chichester picks dozens of local and national stories from the dailies and sets up links to their online versions. The site connects to all local print national print and broadcast news sources and most state and city policy groups.