This week, the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development announced two Queens organizations, Make the Road New Yorkand the MinKwon Center for Community Action, will receive financial support to better serve the low-wage immigrant worker community across the borough.
In response to a slew of challenges faced by the low-wage immigrant worker community in light of the economy, the DYCD designated $1.2 million of their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Community Services Block Grant funds to aid low-wage immigrant workers across the city.
The money will be used to increase the workers’ employability skills, deepen their understanding of their fundamental rights as workers and educate workers about on-the-job safety principles and rules and regulations. The new programs will run through Sept. 30.
The $1.2 million will be divided equally, in $200,000 increments, among the six areas of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island where the DYCD determined had the greatest concentration of low-wage immigrant workers. In Queens, it was determined Jackson Heights, Woodside and Flushing were most in need.
Make the Road NY will serve Woodside and Jackson Heights while the MinKwon Center will service Flushing.
Make the Road NY Executive Director Ana Maria Archilasaid the organization will provide a wide range of services to the low-wage immigrant workers who live and work in the two designated areas.
The grant will cover expenses for vocational and job readiness training, English language instruction, the search for new employment opportunities and legal assistance. MRNY staff will also work to provide technical assistance to other community-based organizations in the area to ensure their services reach the low-wage immigrant population.
Steven Choi, the executive director of the MinKwon Center, said he believes his organization won the grant after a long history of providing services and advocacy, through free legal services and representation, for the low-wage immigrant worker community.
He said the MinKwon Center is excited to enhance its work through this grant with free legal and benefit consultations to workers, access to services and available benefits, intensive outreach and education efforts and provide a wide array of supportive services such as ESL classes, job training and job readiness.
Like Make the Road NY, Choi said the MinKwon Center will work with several community partners to ensure they reach as many workers as possible and provide as much high-quality services as they can.
A spokesman for DYCD said these two organizations were chosen largely based on the appropriateness of each proposed facility, their demonstrated level of organizational capability to provide services beginning in early January, the demonstrated quantity and quality of successful relevant experience and the quality of the proposed approach to providing services to low-wage immigrant workers.