In December 2015, we asked the NYC veterans community to take our 2016 Policy Agenda Survey to help us assess the priorities we should focus on as we develop our 2016 Policy Agenda. The topics listed were based on the issues raised during our First Policy Agenda Meeting in September. The survey had 82 respondents, and they identified as follows:
20% service provider
13% family/spouse of veteran/military
13% military guard/reserve
1% military active duty
59% live/work in NYC
50% registered NYC voter
33% originally from NYC
Respondents were asked to rate the importance of ten different policy/issue areas on a scale of one to five, with five indicating the strongest degree of importance. Tonight’s workshop will address the top three rated as most important by respondents:
4.58 – Affordable Housing
4.50 – Mental Health & Suicide Prevention
4.49 – Employment & Career Development
4.41 – VHA and VBA Responsiveness
4.33 – Homelessness
3.96 – Criminal Justice & Legal Support
3.94 – Small Businesses
3.88 – Public Messaging
3.63 – Street Vendors
3.60 – Military Reserve & Guard
Descriptions of the agenda topics are below:
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Set-asides and improved policies related to affordable housing for veterans. This may include improving NYCHA programs, rental lotteries, access to using VA home loans, homeowners tax exemption, acceptance of GI Bill payments by landlords, and special policies ensuring fairness for aging and disabled veterans receiving VA payments.
MENTAL HEALTH & SUICIDE PREVENTION. Improved coordination and resourcing of mental health and suicide prevention programs available to NYC veterans. This may include better coordination and vetting of nonprofit and private-sector programs, public messaging, and improved crisis resources.
EMPLOYMENT & CAREER DEVELOPMENT. Improved support for veteran employment and career development in government, nonprofits, and private-sector jobs. This may include closing gaps in veteran preferences and benefits in NYC and NY State government employment, improvements in NYC Workforce1 veteran services, and better coordination of non-government resources and training.
VA HEALTHCARE (VHA) & VA BENEFITS (VBA) RESPONSIVENESS. Improved communication between the NYC veterans community and local VA facilities and representatives to improve the quality and delivery of services and benefits. This may include improved information gathering, communications, and relations with city, state, Congressional, and VA officials.
HOMELESSNESS. Improved policies and community actions to support moving homeless veterans from the streets and into long-term permanent housing. This may include locating veterans currently not being tracked by NYC services, programs for preventing homelessness, bridging gaps in existing programs, increasing housing options that include families and service animals, and providing more support for veterans not meeting eligibility requirements of existing programs.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE & LEGAL SUPPORT. Improved access to resources for veterans who are involved in the criminal justice system or in need of legal assistance to access earned benefits and services. This may include the establishment of a Veterans Treatment Court in Manhattan, expansion of Veterans Treatment Court programs across other boroughs, support to reduce the volume of discharge upgrade cases, and increased availability of legal information for veterans.
SMALL BUSINESSES. Improved resources, outreach, and programs supporting veteran entrepreneurs in start-ups and small business ownership. This may include veteran-specific training programs, financial incentives and support, veteran preferences for NYC government contracts (similar to existing preferences for federal and state contracts), and improved coordination and community support.
PUBLIC MESSAGING. Improved public communications that show positive stories and contributions of veterans as well as issue areas where more work is needed. This may include support for public service announcements, production of videos, social media outreach, submitting op-eds and letters to editors, and speaking to print and television journalists.
STREET VENDORS. Improved laws, policies, licensing, permitting, and enforcement practices affecting our city's unique population of more than 1,700 veteran street vendors. This committee has formed an agenda and is moving forward with information gathering, meetings with officials and partners in the private and nonprofit sectors.
MILITARY RESERVE & GUARD. Improved support for the tens of thousands of members of Reserve and Guard forces. This may include improved communication and application of USERRA protections in employment and housing, and recognition of State Active Duty for benefits and services.