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Mayor de Blasio Announces New Center For Faith And Community Partnerships

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the creation of the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships to transform the way in which faith organizations and other community organizations access City services. The Center for Faith and Community Partnerships will serve as a direct line to City Hall, connecting local and citywide coalitions of leaders to services that increase equity and inspire civic engagement throughout our neighborhoods.

“Many New Yorkers flock to their faith and community leaders in search of guidance and comfort in times of need, not knowing where to access City programs and services that can help them,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The new Center for Faith and Community Partnerships will bridge this gap and support the valuable work our leaders already do.” 

The Center for Faith and Community Partnerships will be housed within the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit and led by Jonathan Soto. The office will hire new staff members, including borough coordinators.   

“In the past three years, the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit has worked to connect everyday New Yorkers to City initiatives aimed to address affordable housing, public safety and other quality of life issues,” said Marco Carrión, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit. “A one-stop-shop for resources, information and other supports is needed and I am happy to welcome the Center for Faith and Community partnerships to our office’s strategic outreach and engagement efforts.” 

"Since its inception, the Mayor's Clergy Advisory Council has catalyzed key partnerships between citywide and neighborhood-based community leaders, leading to initiatives that have improved the lives of many New Yorkers," said Jonathan Soto, Executive Director of the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships. "The Center for Faith and Community Partnerships will broaden the impact of City Hall's existing initiatives, and we look forward to bringing all New Yorkers into this important work."

“It is with great enthusiasm that I applaud Mayor de Blasio's latest initiative to connect New Yorkers to resources that exist within City government. The Center for Faith and Community Partnerships will creatively engage and partner with the City's faith and community leaders to deliver these much needed resources,” said Reverend Michael A. Walrond Jr., Senior Pastor at First Corinthian Baptist and Chair of the Mayor's Clergy Advisory Council.

"As we address the city's critical need for affordable housing, it is imperative that we seize every opportunity to press land into service for affordable homes," said Vicki Been, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.  "That is why HPD has been working closely with the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit to let faith-based institutions and other mission-driven organizations know about opportunities for the preservation and development of affordable housing, and work with them to provide their communities with tenant protection resources. We look forward to working with the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships to support the many faith and community based organizations with underused land that could help meet the need for quality, safe, affordable housing."

“Community and faith-organizations already help us to reach and serve New Yorkers from all walks of life,” said Michael Owh, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. “The new center will increase our capacity to find new partners and develop relevant programs to meet the needs of our diverse residents.”

"Supporting our faith and community leaders by better connecting them to City services is critical to ensuring neighborhoods across the city are plugged into those resources," said NYC Chief Service Officer Paula Gavin. "NYC Service is excited to support this effort to help catalyze civic engagement and we thank the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit for their leadership."

“Mission driven and faith based organizations that have played key roles in lifting New York City communities up during difficult times are natural allies in our work to address today’s challenges, including our city’s deep affordable housing crisis,” said Sam Marks, Executive Director at Local Initiatives Support Corporation. “We congratulate Mayor de Blasio on recognizing the key role of partnerships with mission driven and faith based organizations in meeting the needs of all New Yorkers. That’s why we are looking forward to working with the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships on programs such as the New York Land Opportunity Program – a partnership with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit – to help these mission driven organizations develop affordable housing.” 

“Houses of worship, as well as faith and community leaders, are often the first line of support sought by individuals and families, especially those who may have fallen on hard times and are in need of services,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director at FPWA. “The Center for Faith and Community Partnerships will foster a greater exchange of information to communities and faith leaders, ensuring that New Yorkers can expeditiously access services needed to improve their quality of life.”

“In immigrant communities, community and faith organizations are often the primary hub for newcomers to obtain information, build community, and access help in navigating their new homeland,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director at the Asian American Federation. “In fact, places of worship were the first community centers in our country’s and city's history. The Asian American Federation commends Mayor de Blasio for recognizing the importance of our leaders in building community through the new Center for Faith and Community Partnerships. For the pan-Asian community, our churches, temples, mosques, gurdwaras, and all other places of worship play a vital role in supporting immigrants.”

"I commend the Mayor and Commissioner Carrion for their foresight and commitment to create greater access to City services for all New Yorkers. This is a testament and recognition that community based organizations and faith based institutions are the first line of defense for many of our communities and they too deserve as much support as necessary to fully serve the diverse needs of New Yorkers,” said Grace Bonilla, President and CEO of Committee for Hispanic Children & Families, Inc. 

"To build a truly inclusive and more just city, we need mutual respect and constructive dialogue between government and New York's diverse cultural and faith communities," said Reverend Chloe Breyer, Executive Director of Interfaith Center of New York.  "For these reasons, ICNY welcomes this innovative new office in City government designed to engage directly with community based and faith based organizations. We look forward to working with the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships."

“CityServe is thrilled to support this important initiative because it not only means that New York City government is willing to deepen its partnership with community and faith organizations, but it also means that they recognize the vital and integral role they play in the life of the city,” said Guy Wasko, Executive Director of NY CityServe. “Together we can do so much more. Building bridges is the way forward to seeing the flourishing of all New Yorkers continue.

“The creation of the  Center for Faith and Community Partnerships is an important next step in cementing the relationship between the Mayor and his administration and those leaders that have given their lives to the communities they serve,” said Robert G. Kaplan, Director of The Center for Community Leaderships at JCRC-NY. “It provides an instrument for increased partnership as together we meet the opportunities and challenges of providing a better quality of life for all.” 

"We are thankful to Mayor Bill de Blasio for launching this important initiative that will continue to build trust and partnerships with diverse New Yorkers including faith partners. Mayor de Blasio has demonstrated unparalleled leadership in creating a platform that provides fairer access to government. The Islamic Leadership Council of New York, the Majlis Ash Shura fully supports the establishment of the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships as a way to help us deepen civic engagement and improve access to City programs and services for New Yorkers, including our constituency," said Cheikh Ahmed Mbareck, Executive Director of ILCNY.

"The Center for Faith and Community Partnerships will be an important resource for New York City's communities and religious leaders. We at the Buddhist Council of NY look forward to working in partnership with the Mayor to assist all New Yorkers including Buddhists in learning more about City resources available to them," said Reverend Doctor T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, President of the Buddhist Council of New York.

"We at Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus welcome this important new initiative because houses of worship and faith leaders are often the first to hear of a community's need or crisis. We especially appreciate that the initiative includes diverse community organizations and faith communities; being inclusive is critical at this moment of fear and uncertainty in minority communities," said Sunita Viswanath, co-Founder of Sadhana.

“We applaud this initiative. It allows those fighting poverty to reach an influential segment of the community trusted by those in need of assistance,” said Reynold Levy, President of the Robin Hood Foundation.

“The New York City faith community has always been a beacon of light, caring for the poor, the prisoner, the widow and the fatherless. Nearly two decades ago BronxConnect began when South Bronx churches sought to address the epidemic of incarceration among our youth. With Mayor de Blasio’s creation of the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships, we see an opportunity to further steer New York City to become more just in its care for the ‘least of these.’ Together we must build communities that benefit all New Yorkers, rich and poor alike,” said Reverend Wendy Calderón-Payne, BronxConnect Executive Director.

"This a great center for the Mayor to create! The Center of Faith and Community Partnership will be a major asset to New York City's diverse communities. As an active member of my community and house of worship, I understand the need for such a center and I am thankful to the Mayor for creating it," said Nikki Lucas, Female District Leader of the 60th Assembly District in Brooklyn.  

The announcement was made at the Community Affairs Unit’s Annual Interfaith Breakfast, held at Gotham Hall and attended by more than 400 clergy and community leaders, including members of the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council and beyond. The breakfast was made possible with generous support from Affinity Health Plan and additional support from Bnai Zion Foundation, Christian Cultural Center, Council of Churches of the City of New York, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, New York Board of Rabbis, Plaza Jewish Community Chapels, Sephardic Community Federation and UJA-Federation of New York.

Phillip Rivers