Over 51,000 New Yorkers voted to allocate $32 million dollars for locally-developed capital projects across the city

New York—Today, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council announced the voting results and winning proposals of the 2014-2015 Participatory Budgeting cycle. During the voting period of April 11th through April 19th, over 51,000 New Yorkers voted to allocate $32 million dollars for locally-developed capital projects across 24 Council Districts in New York City.

“The level of engagement and enthusiasm in this year’s Participatory Budgeting process was unprecedented and deeply democratic,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Across the city, thousands of residents of all ages and backgrounds came together to make their neighborhoods a better place to call home. Participatory Budgeting breaks down barriers that New Yorkers may face at the polls—including youth, income status, English-language proficiency and citizenship status—resulting in a civic dialogue that is truly inclusive and representative of the diversity of this community and this city. I thank everyone who took part in this year’s process and helped make Participatory Budgeting a success.”

New Yorkers cast 51,362 ballots in the 2014-2015 Participatory Budgeting cycle. Approximately one in five ballots were cast in a language other than English.

According to preliminary findings from the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, of Participatory Budgeting voters surveyed:

• Nearly 60% identified as people of color
• Approximately one in ten were under 18
• Nearly 30% reported an annual household income of $25,000 or below
• More than a quarter were born outside of the U.S.
• Nearly a quarter reported a barrier to voting in regular elections, with one in ten reporting they were not U.S. citizens
• 63% identified as female
• Nearly 20% had a high school diploma or less (of those 25 years old or older)

Participatory Budgeting is a grassroots process through which community residents vote to directly allocate at least $1 million in capital funding per district toward proposals developed by the community to meet local needs. Through a series of public meetings, residents work with elected officials throughout the year to identify neighborhood concerns and craft proposals to address them. Residents then decide which proposals to fund through a public vote.

Voting in Participatory Budgeting is open to all residents of participating districts 16 years of age and older, with some districts lowering the minimum voting age to 14. The sole identification requirement is proof of residency in the district, removing traditional obstacles to full civic participation such as youth, income status, English-language proficiency and citizenship status.

In the 2014-2015 Participatory Budgeting cycle, Council Members representing twenty-four Council Districts citywide pledged $32,459,025 to fund the winning capital projects. A map of winning projects and full voting results by district can be viewed at council.nyc.gov/pb.

“Participatory Budgeting is a great example of our City’s ability to deliver direct results to New Yorkers,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Over the last several months thousands of residents – young and old – participated throughout the district helping make this grassroots process a success. By empowering New Yorkers with the ability to allocate funding to the projects they love the most we are strengthening our City’s democratic process and engaging countless residents in making important decisions that matter for their communities. I am proud to have initiated Participatory Budgeting in the 26th District for the first time and even prouder to be a part of the Council’s initiative to expand this worthwhile process to even more communities throughout New York City.”

“I brought the Participatory Budget Process to my district to give constituents the power to create solutions in our community, and the response was incredible. Our community came out strong with many great ideas to improve public safety, public spaces and education. In addition, this process has affirmed what the priorities are in my district, and I will continue to use this information to guide my work moving forward,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras.

“Our first cycle of Participatory Budgeting in the 34th District was truly a unique and rewarding experience. Members of our communities in Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Ridgewood were invited to be a part of the city budget process from the inception of their idea, to vetting proposals, and finally, the vote! In eight months they became extensions of my office in which they went on site visits and attended nightly meetings. They also took on the difficult task of assessing the various needs of our changing district, and participated in outreach to get people to vote. Congratulations to the three winners, P.S.19/Brooklyn Arbor for their Environmental Upgrade, P.S.196/M.S. 582 for their Community Media and Technology Libary, and Williamsburg Houses for their Playground Renovation. I look forward to starting the process again this fall and welcome all members of the 34th District to join us,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

“As a former civics teacher, I am proud to have brought this great exercise in democracy to Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island and Sea Gate for the first time ever to empower residents and give the public a real voice in how their tax dollars are spent. It was inspiring to see so many residents get involved and suggest creative and innovative ways to improve the quality of life in their neighborhood. With more than $32 million invested in this initiative citywide, there is no question that Participatory Budgeting is helping transform the annual budget process in New York City and is now a model for other cities. I am very excited to see the winning projects take shape and to build on the great success of Participatory Budgeting in the coming years,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.

Council Member Paul Vallone said, “Participatory Budgeting is a great way to get the pulse of the community on and see what everyone believes city dollars and resources should be spent. The results clearly show the district overwhelmingly supported the process, and we are proud to commit to Participatory Budgeting for every year I am privileged to represent this great district. This monumental, eight-month task could not have been possible without the continuous dedication of our delegates, community liaisons, volunteers, staff and especially Vito Tautonico, our Director of Constituent Services, who spearheaded the process. I look forward to growing the process next year and once again seeing how our community spends one million dollars.”

“Participatory Budgeting has served as a successful organizing tool for communities across the City. It has been tremendously satisfying over these past months to see the engagement and education and ultimate intelligent choices that were made in terms of projects proposed and funded,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “Youths and seniors and everyone in between have come together to improve our neighborhoods and collaborate in a meaningful way on these projects. Ultimately, it is these relationships that are of the greatest value to our communities, far more than any single project.”

“This cycle of Participatory Budgeting was the 44th District’s best yet. With our highest voter turnout at 2,251 voters, four diverse projects were selected by the residents of my district to enhance and improve the lives of tens of thousands of people in our community. Thanks to participatory budgeting, my constituents have a direct say in how their tax dollars are spent. That’s great, because no one knows a district better than the people who live there,” said Council Member David Greenfield.

“Participatory Budgeting has, in large and small ways, revolutionized government-community relations in District 38, and citywide. This year alone, close to 6,300 residents voted in the communities of our district–the highest level of participation in the City–with two-thirds of those ballots being cast in non-English languages. This process illustrated quite clearly that residents in New York City are ready for a new and better level of engagement with government. I think that Participatory Budgeting will continue to be an important vessel through which we write a new chapter of our City’s history of engagement with local communities, especially with histories of disconnect,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“Participatory Budgeting brought a large cross-section of District 7 residents into the governing process. From the number of voters and volunteers that came out, to the incredible diversity, originality and strength of the proposals, Participatory Budgeting was a major success for the community,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “The proposals that were approved by residents will improve recreational opportunities, beautify the community and enhance quality of life. This exercise in civic participation fostered the kind of collaboration between residents and local leaders needed to create a more inclusive and transparent government.”

“We’re thrilled that all the Participatory Budgeting votes are in and the results are being announced! The fourth year of the process proved to be a tremendous success thanks to all the hard work of local residents, outreach groups, District Staff, Central City Council Staff, and the 24 participating Council Members. At Community Voices Heard, we focused our efforts on engaging public housing residents and other people typically less active in traditional political processes. Allowing people’s voices and votes to determine how to spend real money on real projects in their community is helping to transform how people see their relationship to government. Through Participatory Budgeting new people are inspired to make a difference…first in their communities, then in the city at large,” said Sondra Youdelman, Executive Director, Community Voices Heard.

“We cannot afford to govern without the community, and PBNYC is the nation’s largest example of true collaboration between elected officials and their constituents,” said Josh Lerner, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit leading the development of Participatory Budgeting in North America. “Participatory Budgeting is a better way to spend money because it empowers residents to understand how government works while giving them the tools to make informed decisions. We are excited to spread the innovations introduced by PBNYC, to make democracy better for communities around the world.”

“Preliminary findings from our survey of Participatory Budgeting voters show that, as the process expands its reach, it continues to offer a genuine, meaningful form of civic engagement for community members who are traditionally excluded from other political processes. Our findings show that the majority of voters surveyed were people of color, more than half were female, many were very low income and nearly a quarter reported that they cannot vote in regular elections due to a barrier to voting; including approximately one in ten voters who were under 18, and one in ten who reported that they were not U.S. citizens,” said Erin Markman, Research and Policy Coordinator, Community Development Project, Urban Justice Center.

“Participatory Budgeting is a unique process that empowers the community by giving residents a real say in how money in the district is spent. I am thrilled that we have had such a great turnout this year,” said Council Member Mark S. Weprin. “I would like to thank the all of the volunteers, and my staff, for all their hard work. It is through their dedication that this year was such a tremendous success.”

“The community worked hard to make this process a success. I am happy that the citizens of the District 29 voted for projects that will benefit the entire district. I am looking forward to funding them alongside my other capital projects in the budget this year,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

“Once again, Participatory Budgeting has demonstrated that our communities are eager to make their voices heard and get engaged in local government. I am proud that, for the third year in a row, residents of my district have come together to propose, develop and vote on a great group of projects to benefit their neighborhoods,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

“Participatory Budgeting was a huge success for District 11, with over 1,300 residents submitting ballots. This innovative process gave my neighbors a direct voice in how their tax dollars were spent. It was an inviting system that promoted civic engagement, as well as gave the opportunity for members of the community to help develop ideas that eventually became project proposals. Having the community share the responsibility of allocating tax dollars made the process more inclusive and I enjoyed hearing suggestions as to what our neighborhoods really needed. I am particularly proud of the quality of the ballot. The ideas were truly created from community members, people who know the district and the needs of their block, which enabled us to have a ballot that included eleven projects that would make a real difference in our neighborhoods,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

“This year, Participatory Budgeting empowered residents across New York City to have a say in how their tax dollars get spent. After a series of information sessions and expos and dozens of mobile locations, over 2,000 East Siders and Roosevelt Islanders cast their votes in our Participatory Budgeting cycle. This process brought out the best in our community, and we ultimately voted to fund green roofs at two schools in the district,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “I thank all who participated in the Participatory Budgeting process including facilitators, budget delegates, voting site volunteers, and all the residents who voted. I am proud of work that everyone has done to make this inclusive, engaging, and community-driven. I look forward to seeing the winning projects be implemented. The technology upgrades across the district, a new dog run in a neighborhood that currently lacks even one, and a playground in a where students have no official schoolyard will enrich the lives of families and children throughout Astoria.”

“Participatory Budgeting proved to be an effective mechanism for deepening civic engagement among diverse stakeholders from across my district,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. ”Thousands of residents cast votes for projects that will bring much needed capital improvements to our schools, parks, and public transit. I look forward to making Participatory Budgeting a regular feature of my funding decisions.”