Revise NYC City Charter

The NYC City Charter is up for revision!

The Racial Justice Commission is asking

How can the NYC Charter…
… ensure that quality services are provided equitably across all neighborhoods and that those services are tailored to the individuals and communities that need them?
… shift government’s economic power to correct injustices and build an economic system that better values people’s strengths?
… improve City agencies that marginalize or criminalize in order to undo past, present, and future oppression?
… empower New Yorkers and create meaningful ways for New Yorkers to participate in, or be represented in, decision-making?
… add new enforcement measures to hold those in power accountable? Which existing enforcement measures can be strengthened to achieve this aim?

The public can comment here.

I think we have a lot to add here!

I’ve pulled out the sections of the charter that are most relevant to us. Check out the 2004 NYC City Charter Chapters Affecting Youth and Community Leadership which contains these sections

  • Education
  • Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Department of Youth and Community Development
  • Elections and Voter Assistance
  • Community Districts and Coterminality of Services
  • City Government in the Community

It’s really really interesting and completely connected to our current work on community boards and other areas of youth leadership.

Like, check out pg. 179 section 734 on a Department of Youth and Community Development youth board.

a. There shall be in the department a youth board, which shall serve as a forum for representatives of disciplines directly concerned with the welfare of youth. b. The youth board shall be representative of the community, and shall include persons rpresenting the areas of social service, health care, education, business, industry and labor.

I was like, cool! A place for young people to be involved! But then I researched who’s currently on the board and realized that they are all adults.

Here are the Youth Board Members and here are the Youth Committee Members. There’s got to be some way for the charter to be revised so that “representative of the city” means by age, too, and that a certain percentage of the board need to be young people who are most impacted by systems of inequity.

What do you think? Tagging in @Far-Pritte and @erinac4163 who were part of the youth focus group as well as @esepetia22 who was interested in the focus group but wasn’t able to sign up in time.

Hester Street has been hosting the focus groups and recommends we do the following:

What would have the most impact would be if YPC can send 3-4 bullet point Charter changes that you would definitely want to bring to the Commissioners (i.e. lowering the voting age and pointing to a specific Charter chapter could be one of them). And reviewing the Charter as it is now to find key areas that are missing in furthering your own mission.

You can send me those bullets and I"ll incorporate those into our summary that we’re sending to the RJC. From there, the RJC team will be matching items to the Charter and writing a list of recommendations towards the end of this month, that will then be presented to the Commissioners. The Commissioners will then take a vote to see which recommendations end up on the ballot for November 2022.

So, what are our 3-4 specific bullet point Charter changes?

@TrinityA1206 @samihaaa @jadarichardson @erinac4163

How about these as some explicit recommendations?

  1. Page 179 section 734 b on Department of Youth and Community Development. Add “youth leadership” so that it reads “The youth board shall be representative of the community and shall include persons representing the areas of youth leadership, social service, health care, education, business, industry and labor.”
  2. Page 179 section 734 add a bullet point that says “At least eight of the youth board members shall be young people who are representative of participants in youth and community development programs.”

I think they’re great!!

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This looks good! We should say those specific ones as are our recommendations.

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The NYC Racial Justice Commission has created proposals and recommendations.


Over the course of the past nine months, the Commission seriously considered many ideas that ultimately did not make it into the final proposals. Some of these ideas are worthy of further exploration and research and could be considered by future charter revision commissions or City Council, while others may require action beyond the scope of the City government.

Directly relevant to Youth Power Coalition is under 6. Expand Voting and Community Power

The Commission also recommends the City explore additional ways to incorporate youth voices in decision-making, such as through continued expansion of participatory budgeting and expanding the inclusion of young people on City boards and commissions.

Full Details: Recommendations from the Commission – Racial Justice New York

Proposals for the 2022 November Elections

1. Add a Statement of Values to Guide Government

This proposal would amend the New York City Charter to:

  • Add a preamble, which would be an introductory statement of values and vision aspiring toward “a just and equitable city for all” New Yorkers; and
  • Include in the preamble a statement that the City must strive to remedy “past and continuing harms and to reconstruct, revise, and reimagine our foundations, structures, institutions, and laws to promote justice and equity for all New Yorkers.”
  • The preamble is intended to guide City government in fulfilling its duties.

2. Establish a Racial Equity Office, Plan, and Commission

This proposal would amend the City Charter to:

  • Require citywide and agency-specific Racial Equity Plans every two years. The plans would include intended strategies and goals to improve racial equity and to reduce or eliminate racial disparities;
  • Establish an Office of Racial Equity and appoint a Chief Equity Officer to advance racial equity and coordinate the City’s racial equity planning process. The Office would support City agencies in improving access to City services and programs for those people and communities who have been negatively affected by previous policies or actions, and collect and report data related to equity; and
  • Establish a Commission on Racial Equity, appointed by City elected officials. In making appointments to this Commission, elected officials would be required to consider appointees who are representative of or have experience advocating for a diverse range of communities. The Commission would identify and propose priorities to inform the racial equity planning process and review agency and citywide Racial Equity Plans.

3. Measure the True Cost of Living

This proposal would amend the City Charter to:

  • Require the City to create a “true cost of living” measure to track the actual cost in New York City of meeting essential needs, including housing, food, childcare, transportation, and other necessary costs, and without considering public, private, or informal assistance, in order to inform programmatic and policy decisions; and

  • Require the City government to report annually on the “true cost of living” measure.

Full details: Ballot Proposals – Racial Justice New York