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URI Marks Legislative Successes and Advocacy Wins

(June 18, 2024) As the 2023-24 New York State Legislative Session wraps up, Urban Resource Institute (URI) has made significant strides advocating for survivors of domestic violence and families facing homelessness. “This session has seen critical advancements for our community, particularly in supporting survivors to access the services they need safely and effectively,” said Nathaniel Fields, CEO of URI. “These legislative successes underscore the urgency of our mission amidst rising rates of domestic violence and homelessness.”

NY SAFE Act Clears Legislature, Awaits Governor’s Signature to Expand Shelter Access
Alongside its partners, URI championed the NY SAFE (Securing Access for All) Shelter Act which will expand shelter access for single survivors of violence. The bill, which passed both Houses and now awaits the Governor’s signature, will make it easier for marginalized survivors without children – such as survivors of trafficking, older adult, male-identified, and LGBTQIA+ survivors.

Coerced Debt Legislation: Making Strides in the NYS Senate
Economic abuse is a pervasive issue, impacting over 98% of survivors of violence and often anchoring them in dangerous situations without legal recourse. URI is spearheading the push for the coerced debt bill, aimed at providing survivors with legal means to nullify debts incurred through coercion. Sponsored by NYS Senator Cleare and Assemblymember Rosenthal, the bill has successfully passed the NYS Senate and is now on the Assembly floor. Although it didn’t pass this session, URI remains dedicated to collaborating with our partners to see this bill enacted, offering a new lifeline to those trapped by economic abuse.

GPS Tracking Bill Passes Legislature, Set for Governor’s Approval
Significant progress was also seen with the Vehicle GPS Tracking legislation. Once it is signed into law by the Governor, this bill will prevent abusive partners from using GPS devices in vehicles to track survivors. URI will continue its advocacy on Coerced Debt Legislation, to help survivors of violence combat economic abuse and more easily achieve safety.

New York Introduces PAWS Act to Fund Pet-Friendly Shelters, Bolstered by URI’s PALS Program Success
This year also marked the introduction of the NYS PAWS Act, aimed at funding pet-friendly shelters, inspired by the success of URI’s People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) Program. “PALS has not only saved lives but has also kept families and their beloved pets together during times of crisis,” Fields added.

URI’s APIP Initiative Leads the Way in Preventive Strategies with New Statewide Standards Bill
URI’s Abusive Partner Intervention Program (APIP) shifts the focus from punitive measures to preventive and intervention strategies, particularly targeting high-risk youths. APIP delivers trauma-informed programs to individuals who have caused harm, fostering change by addressing violence’s underlying causes. The introduction of the APIP Standards bill by NYS Senator Salazar aims to standardize these efforts, enhancing the program’s reach and effectiveness across the state.

Lauren Schuster, VP of Government Affairs, expresses deep gratitude: “Our work could not advance without the strong partnerships with agency partners, elected officials, dedicated URI staff, and the brave survivors and former clients who advocate alongside us. These relationships are vital in moving our initiatives forward.”

URI also extends its thanks to NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams for her recent visit to New Visions, the newest DV Tier II facility. “The Speaker’s visit highlights our shared commitment to tackling community issues and strengthens our partnership,” Schuster remarked.

Special thanks are due to the NYC Council Women’s Caucus for collaborating on self-defense training sessions, further enhancing community safety and empowerment.

Let’s Keep the Momentum Going!

As we celebrate these legislative victories, URI calls on its community, partners, and all stakeholders to stay engaged. “Every contribution pushes us closer to breaking the cycles of violence and homelessness,” said Fields.

For more information on how you can help or get involved, please contact Lauren Schuster or Wil Lopez at govaffairs@urinyc.org. Together, we continue to make a significant impact.