February 22, 2023 (Buffalo, NY) – Today, Buffalo parents, community members, activists, and members of Citizen Action of New York held a press conference to call for legislative change on major issues impacting our students, families and community members, including school environment, housing, child care and family health care access. Speakers thanked Senator Sean Ryan for his work on education and child care and asked him to support more of Citizen Action’s Our Justice Agenda, including Good Cause Tenant Protections, Health Care for All, and the Solutions Not Suspensions act.
These and other bills are part of Citizen Action’s Our Justice Agenda, a comprehensive package of legislation that invests public money in the public good. Our Justice Agenda recognizes the interconnectedness of policy progressive issues and the well-being of everyday New Yorkers. By making the wealthy and big corporations pay what they owe, people and communities have what they need to thrive.
“We’re fighting for a New York where everyone has safe and dignified housing,” said Kelly Camacho, Community Organizer for Citizen Action of New York. “Here in Buffalo, at McCarley Gardens, we can see how tenants are being ignored, how their concerns about safe housing aren’t being addressed, and how they fear retribution if they seek adequate repairs. Families here can’t risk losing their homes–they need to be able to walk their kids to school. We need Good Cause protections for these folks and for all tenants. Sean Ryan needs to show up for Western New Yorkers.”
“From the lead in their homes to inadequate healthcare to school discipline, our students can’t seem to catch a break,” said Niasha Hamilton, Community Organizer for Citizen Action of New York. “Our elected leaders have to realize that nothing happens in a vacuum because the effects of one issue continuously spill over into other areas. We need to see our youth as not only students, but sisters, daughters, sons, and brothers that need to be fought for in all aspects of their lives. It’s not only what they need, but what they deserve.”
“It’s so important for New York to pass Solutions Not Suspensions,” said Citizen Action and AQE Member Ina Ferguson. “Our students–disproportionately Black, Brown, and special needs students–are already dealing with so much. Some are hungry, unhoused, abused. School may be their only source of stability. We have to keep them in school and give them the tools they need to grow and thrive, not punish them. All kids, across the whole state, deserve that protection.”
“In my work, I fight to advance racial, economic, and ecological justice,” said Franchelle Parker, of Open Buffalo and Board Member at the Public Policy & Education Fund. “But I also stand here as a mom of two small toddlers, living in Buffalo, fighting for a better world to leave to our babies. Our Justice Agenda is about making investments inside and outside the classroom, in our homes, in the ground our kids play on, and in the water they drink. What our elected officials are doing right now is not enough, we need real change.”
“As a Buffalo community member, and more importantly a father, I am committed to a healthier, safer and more equitable Buffalo,” said Citizen Action member Joshua Scott Motley. “Passing bills like Coverage For All and Solutions not Suspensions ensures that not only my children but their friends and their families can live a comfortable life. Making sure the water we have coming through our homes is safe, making sure that we’re prepared for the effects of climate change, and just making sure we can live happily is what we need to be focusing on.”
The press conference was held at Niagara Square in Buffalo, NY at 12:00 PM on Wednesday, 2/22. It was one of seven press conferences happening simultaneously around the state, in each of Citizen Action’s chapter regions. In the coming days, Citizen Action members will meet with state legislators representing Buffalo to thank them for their support and urge them to stand up for Our Justice Agenda bills.
Citizen Action of New York is a grassroots membership organization with eight chapters and affiliates across New York State. We work on issues important to our communities, including fair elections, equitable school funding, housing for all, environmental justice, and possibility not punishment.