Participatory Budgeting Part 2

Over the last month, the RHI Participatory Budgeting (PB) Youth Delegates have been hard at work narrowing down the list of project ideas from the community and developing project proposals to send to city agencies. If you missed their last update, you can take a look at it here! Our delegates each worked on different project proposals with committees of community members – right now they are waiting to get approval from the city agencies. Here is what they had to say about the process of working on the proposals for a Multimedia Room for the Red Hook Library, free WiFi for the Red Hook Houses, a Skate Park, and a parking lot for the new Red Hook Senior Center.

budget timeline

The past couple of weeks we have been attending Participatory Budgeting meetings. At most of the meetings, we have been trying to figure out what’s best for the community. There has been great input at all of the meetings. Most of the meetings we had at RHI were the blueprint for us to actually figure out how to make all of the things work with the budgeting. We have worked on making a multimedia room and another group from RHI is trying to get a skate park for the youth as well.

We have also met with some of the locals that are attending the meetings at the library. They are interested in bringing new computers to the schools. They are also committed to trying to bring in SmartBoards as well. We have seen the dedication and hunger in their eyes to help the community. I think most of the proposals are great – we had to narrow the choices down and made sure it met the quota. Other committees are actually working as hard as we are but we look at it as we all are working to achieve a goal, which is to make our community a better place.

  • John Reid, Youth Delegate, Education & Technology Committee

PB Meeting

The time that I spent working on the multimedia room proposal has been a journey for me. When we first saw the room in the back of the library, I thought to myself, “What will we be able to do with this space and what kind of technology can be added?”. After we checked out the empty space in the library room my committee members and I brainstormed about things that will help benefit the people in the community. It took us about two days to get all the items listed and priced. The process of finding all of the items we could add took me a really long time – there was a time when I was trying to find an item and it took me almost an hour to find the exact piece I was looking for. This little moment stuck with me once I finished the list of items because I felt that it showed my commitment to my community. We all agreed that having Apple computers, a smart board, projectors, the latest media software and many more items will encourage more people to come visit the Red Hook library.

  • Naheem Morris, Youth Delegate, Education & Technology Committee


The free WIFI project on NYCHA housing was originally created by the Digital Stewards. Tony Schloss and the Digital Stewards at RHI already manage WIFI in select areas around Red Hook, so this project is basically extending the WIFI we provide already into Red Hook public housing. This project is important because we’re living in the digital era and everything is online – even stores now want an online application for jobs. By doing this we are going to be bringing a connection to a lot of people that don’t have it but need it. Within this project is the solution to people not being able to keep in contact with other people. Coming up with the proposal wasn’t hard – we know that this is a very helpful project that everybody in Red Hook would enjoy and benefit from if it wins!

  • Jesus Benitez, Youth Delegate, Education & Technology Committee

Last week we had a meeting in Sunset Park where we finalized the proposal for the skate park, so I guess you could say it was the most important meeting out of all the meetings! We talked about the location, the cost and how it would look when it’s finished. We also discussed how it would benefit people and more importantly what the purpose of it is and why it deserves to be built. The idea of the skate park is to satisfy the youth and overall everyone else. The idea is to have people not be bored all the time and to have something to do. We also think that it will decrease the crime rate among the youth because now people will have more things to do instead of being negatively influenced. So I think the skate park is a wonderful idea and it will serve a great purpose!

  • Quincy Phillips, Youth Delegate, Parks & Environment Committee

My proposal is to make a parking lot for the new Senior Center at 110 West 9th Street in the back of the building or in front of it. When we had the meeting about the Senior Center, many of the seniors were asking where they will be able to park their cars because the new center is a distance from where they live. West 9th Street between Clinton Street and Henry Street is a very busy block. There are several industrial businesses and a lot of traffic during day as well. With the parking lot, they will  have a designated parking space for an ambulance if an emergency happens. We were thinking it could have 8 to 10 handicap parking spaces. This would help the seniors feel safe and be safe on a very busy block.


  • Sandy Serrano, Delegate, Health & Safety Committee


In the coming months, our delegates will be out in the community doing outreach and getting the word out about their amazing proposals. None of these projects will happen unless the whole Red Hook community comes out to vote April 11-19th!


Participatory Budgeting Delegate Committee

For the second year in a row Red Hook is fortunate to take part in a process called Participatory Budgeting (PB), where community members get to decide how discretionary funds are spent in their district. This year, Council Member Carlos Menchaca has given District 38 decision-making power over $2 million. For the last four weeks, a group of youth from RHI have been participating in the process as Budget Delegates, working hard to ensure that Red Hook benefits from the PB process. Over the next three months they will be giving the community updates on the progress of the PB process and the amazing work that they are doing!


Hello! Our names are Quincy Phillips and Kayla Johnson, and we are both part of the Participatory Budgeting Delegate Committee here in Red Hook. Basically being a delegate is very important to RHI and the Red Hook community. What it is, is that the Council Member Carlos Menchaca from District 38 is giving Red Hook $2 million to fix up roads, schools, and other community places. Our job is to help figure out what to do with the money. But the most important part of the process is hearing what the community has to say.

To kick off the PB process we had an idea collection assembly at the Red Hook Initiative a couple of months ago. At this assembly, the process of Participatory Budgeting was explained to those from the community who chose to come. After the process was explained, people were split into different groups with an assignment of writing down things they would like some of the $2 million to go to. As they wrote those things down, they also separated the budgeting items into capital and expense funds. From the activity, all the suggestions were actually noted and are currently being sorted through by us! This is to show just how important our role is, suggestions from a simple project are taken seriously by us and have been recorded to be tried as a reality.

Recently, we have begun the second phase of the process where the delegates (that’s us!) meet to discuss the project ideas and narrow them down. The first two delegate meetings here at the RHI with Ella (a social work intern at RHI) were successful. So far we came up with ideas to start planning future works and Ella talked about how we as delegates should encourage other people to put their ideas in so we could actually benefit from the money and let it not go to waste.

  • Kayla Johnson & Quincy Phillips

The next step in the process is to narrow down the list of project ideas further, and then begin developing the proposals. Check back for more updates on this process from our youth delegates!



Daily News: Red Hook Rebounds Two Years After Sandy

Daily News: Red Hook Rebounds Two Years After Sandy

Click here to read RHI’s op-ed in the New York Daily News


Dear partners, supporters, and friends of RHI:

It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast. As you well know, it was a harrowing and life-changing time throughout Red Hook, and for us at the Red Hook Initiative (RHI). The storm took away many things, but it brought us a renewed commitment to our mission and a host of new friends and allies.

At RHI we have always believed in the power of Red Hook residents taking charge of their community and looking out for one another. The storm underscored this belief and showed us that a community’s connectedness is as important as any seawall or evacuation plan in dealing with disasters.

We wrote this reflection on the power of community connectedness, which ran in the New York Daily News over the weekend.

As we look ahead to a better and stronger neighborhood, we want to also take this moment to thank those of you who have played a part in RHI’s journey.

In solidarity,

Jill Eisenhard
Founder & Executive Director