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Seen and Sheltered: Effective Responses to NIMBYISM*

This report examines opposition faced by two community organizations seeking to establish facilities and services for immigrants. NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard) is a community-identified issue and concern negatively affecting the well-being of both victims/survivors of domestic violence seeking support and safe spaces for shelter and day laborers seeking safe, accessible public spaces for organizing and searching for employment. The objectives of our research were to learn lessons from past campaigns and to offer recommendations for better practices that can assist community organizations in providing much needed services to marginalized and vulnerable populations while also enhancing the quality of life for all residents.

The two cases that we chose to examine were an effort by the New York Asian Women’s Center (NYAWC) to establish a domestic violence shelter, and an effort by the Workplace Project to establish an official hiring site for day laborers. In both cases, advocacy organizations sought to empower marginalized and vulnerable immigrant populations. In both cases, NIMBYism and the response to NIMBYism involved publicly elected and appointed officials, courts, police, journalists, activists, clergy, and foundations. The two cases, however, differed in terms of their outcomes, the type of services proposed, the population served, and the demographics of the project location. This combination of similarities and differences make a comparison especially useful in pinpointing factors contributing to effective responses to NIMBYISM.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Margaret Abraham—Professor of Sociology, Hofstra University

I have been engaged in action research in addressing the problem of domestic violence for nearly two decades. My teaching and research interests include gender, ethnicity, globalization, immigration and domestic violence. Articles from my research have appeared in various journals and have two book publications: Speaking the Unspeakable: Marital Violence Among South Asian Immigrants in the United States (Rutgers University Press, 2000) and Contours of Citizenship: Women, Diversity and the Practices of Citizenship (co-edited, Ashgate Publishing, 2010).

Gregory M. Maney—Associate Professor of Sociology at Hofstra University

My research examines social movements and ethnic conflict. Articles that I have authored or co-authored have appeared in leading academic journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, Journal of Peace Research, and Social Problems. Through grants from the Sociological Initiatives Foundation and the American Sociological Association’s Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Policy, I have conducted community-based research on local responses to day labor markets.

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS

The New York Asian Women's Center—http://www.nyawc.org

The New York Asian Women's Center (NYAWC) helps battered women overcome violence and govern their own lives, free of abuse. The Center also works to raise public awareness about domestic violence, advocate for the rights of battered women, and create an agenda for social change. Founded in 1982 as the first domestic violence organization on the East Coast to serve the Asian communities, the New York Asian Women's Center (NYAWC) helps battered women overcome violence and govern their own lives, free of abuse. The Center also works to raise public awareness about domestic violence, advocate for the rights of battered women, and create an agenda for social change. All of NYAWC's services are free and confidential, rooted in our philosophy of empowering women and supporting their choices so that they can lead their lives without fear of violence.

The Workplace Project—http://www.workplaceprojectny.org

The Workplace Project (Centro de Derechos Laborales), founded in 1992, is a membership based organization that unites immigrant workers and their families for better working and living conditions. The Workplace Project was founded on the belief that while simply providing services might alleviate some of the pain of exploitation; it would do nothing to fix the problems in the long run. Instead, it has chosen to build community centers of and for immigrants, which work through a cycle of outreach, leadership training, membership building, and organizing for change in the labor context. Our mission is to end the exploitation of Latino immigrant workers on Long Island and to achieve socioeconomic justice by promoting the full political, economic and cultural participation of these workers in the communities in which they live.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Greg Maney
Department of Sociology
Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
Tel: (516) 463-6182
E-mail: Email Greg Maney
or
Margaret Abraham
Department of Sociology
Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
Tel: (516) 463-5641
E-mail: Email Margaret Abraham