The Urban Agenda for the New President

by Alan D. Goodman, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service (1866).

The Crisis in the financial markets elevated economic issues to the single most important issue on the agenda of our new President Barack Obama.

Notwithstanding the outpouring of hope and the vision of a better future, a better economic future, Barack Obama has instilled in so many of us, the harsh reality is that “turning this ship around” is a mammoth task and it will take a significant amount of time to emerge from the mess.

From the perspective of people living at the poverty level or slightly above in New York City, without the “safety net” of entitlements and services provided by the state, many would not be able to survive at all.

The city’s more than 10,000 non-profit organizations carry most of the burden of maintaining this “safety net” for the poor with the support of government and private philanthropy.

As those resources shrink, non-profit organizations will once again be expected to do more with less, and ultimately, it is the poor and the working poor who will bear the brunt of the inevitable service cuts that will ensue.

Key urban agenda items for non-profit organizations coincide with the national agenda of the Obama administration:

  • Solve the present economic crisis – focus on job growth by putting people back to work on public works projects and in the field of renewable energy.
  • Address the health care issue, by reducing costs overall and offering a reasonable alternative for people who are un-insured or under-insured.
  • Focus on energy independence – develop every form of energy possible, while protecting our environment.
  • Address challenges related to the future viability of the social security system.

A central issue that is not on the new administration’s agenda, however, is maintaining the overall “safety net” and the non profit social service structure that is its backbone. 

The full version of this opinion piece was originally printed in the December/January issue of Brooklyn’s Progress, a publication of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.