Utility Rights and Energy Security

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson is a grassroots organization empowering the low-income population of Poughkeepsie, NY to keep their lights on. Approximately, 295,797 New York residential customers had their utility service disconnected for non-payment in 2014-2015. In the first 14 months of its utility justice work, Nobody Leaves prevented or reversed shut-offs for 48 households through legal rights education and intervention.  Working in accordance with the New York Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA) and existing legal frameworks, Nobody Leaves has successfully brought voices of underserved community members to public forums.JUST UTILITIES: ORGANIZING FOR SOLUTIONS TO THE HOUSEHOLD ENERGY CRISIS

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson recently published their full report Just Utilities: Organizing for Solutions to the Household Energy Crisis. This report analyzes the factors contributing to energy insecurity and proposes corresponding policy changes.

You can read their full report here and follow their story on Facebook and Twitter.

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson was a 2015 Sociological Initiatives Foundation award recipient. This award supported the  examination of how utility costs contributes to the disproportionately high housing expenses of low-income residents and poverty in the city of Poughkeepsie.  The project informed an advocacy campaign and supports the development of a utility component of emerging “Renters’ Bill of Rights Campaigns locally and throughout the state.

Integrating the Undocumented Community

Driver's LicenseA Qualitative Exploration of the Process for
Obtaining DC’s Limited Purpose Driver’s License

In January of 2015, Center for Social Justice (CSJ) and community partners, Central American Resource Center and Trabajadores Unidos de Washington, DC, were awarded a grant by the Sociological Initiatives Foundation to research the experiences of undocumented immigrants as they apply for Washington DC’s new Limited Purpose driver’s license, a license for undocumented immigrants.

Read the full report here.


A Report on Policing in New Orleans By and For Queer and Trans Youth of Color

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In collaboration with the National Council on Crime & Delinquency (NCCD), a 2014 Sociological Initiatives Foundation grantee, BreakOUT!, recently released a report, “We Deserve Better: A Report on Policing in New Orleans By and For Queer and Trans Youth of Color.” This report is part of BreakOUT!’s We Deserve Better Campaign, launched in 2011, and aims to end the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans. It analyzes three years of survey and interview data from young LGBTQ individuals about their experiences and interactions with the New Orleans Police Department. The findings show that people experience policing dramatically differently across gender identity, gender expression, and race.

Sociological Initiative Foundation Grant Awards for 2015

The Sociological Initiatives  Foundation is pleased to announce its 2015 grants.

Labor rights and workplace fairness figured prominently in the the recent awards.

The research and organizing projects supported by the foundation will investigate wage theft, working conditions, hiring discrimination, and unfair economic development policies.

Many of the projects supported community-academic partnerships and were designed to support legislative advocacy campaigns led by city or statewide coalitions.

To view the grants list, click here.

Project Update

Image Courtesy BWAIn 2005, the Boston Worker’s Alliance advocated for Boston’s first major ordinance that improves the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) regulations for businesses that work with the city.

The law, heralded as a progressive national model, required City Vendors with contracts over $5,000 to adopt CORI friendly hiring policies. City Vendors were instructed to “Ban the Box,” and only check CORI when hiring for positions that were “sensitive” in nature.

In 2008, BWA received a grant from the Sociological Initiatives Foundation that helped them demonstrate that the ordinance was not being enforced or implemented effectively.  Starting in 2012, BWA members worked with the Office of Civil Rights to recommend new regulations to add education, investigation and enforcement teeth to the law.

The advocacy effort encouraged the Boston Mayor to adopt new regulations in 2013.  This announcement marked a major step forward for communities affected by unemployment, violence and incarceration. With an improved CORI Ordinance in place, people with CORI barriers will now have better opportunities to find work without being hindered by their past record.

The CORI Ordinance Campaign Allies also  included, the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Stanley Jones Clean Slate Project, Mass Law Reform Institute, Greater Boston Legal Services, MassUniting, SEIU 1199, STRIVE, Former City Councilor Chuck Turner, and City Councilor Stephen Murphy.