2005 Annual Report
On November 12, New York City People's Life Fund will hold its 2005 Annual Meeting at the A.J. Muste Institute on the third floor of the War Resisters League. Following below is the text of our update to membership:
The Year in Review
The war in Iraq continues. What was promoted as an expected rapid takeover of the country, a glorious adventure to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein, an export of democracy to pave the way for free elections, is more and more reminiscent of our exploits in Vietnam. Resistance to the imprint of the mightiest military power on earth is still in its early stages and, with no apparent exit strategy on the horizon, is likely to continue for years to come.
In the meantime Americans at home face serious deterioration in living standards. Unemployment statistics notoriously underrepresent the jobless situation. They fail to include workers who have left the organized job market and exist on the fringes. These statistics also fail to account for those who work part time because they can't find full time employment; those reduced to odd jobs and live on a fraction of their normal income; nor the increasing numbers of homeless or families living together in cramped apartments. While there always has been a sizeable number of homeless in New York City, the failure to build affordable housing has made homelessness a crucial problem. No one who walks the streets of any major city in America can shut their eyes to the vast increase in the homeless population. The repercussions of our economic policies are glaring and call for recognition and redress.
Other deep deficiencies that go unmeasured, yet are as serious and threatening as the economic downturn, cry for our attention: the upsurge in racial and bias crimes; small children, armed, committing crimes that were unheard of a few decades ago; and attacks on the homeless that go unpublicized.
The Iraq War and the war on our civil liberties at home (Homeland Security and the Patriot Act) have taken precedence over every other issue. In the meantime deterioration in all aspects of life—housing, transportation, healthcare, job opportunities, education, and the environment—is a fact Americans contend with daily. And with the recent tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, in which the role of FEMA (under the Department of Homeland Security) was not only lacking but grossly negligent, the US now shows itself as a racist and classist society, no ifs ands or buts.
The Role of the New York City People's Life Fund
In the past the New York City People's Life Fund has been one of the few funders that has reached fledgling city groups, many of which would never have qualified for foundation grants and/or government support. Our aim has been to support those underfunded groups that reach into the community and serve the needs of the underserved.
The New York City People's Life Fund was founded in 1971 in response to a growing demand that refusal of tax moneys to the government was only half of the considerable task that lay ahead to change the social and economic infrastructure of this country. Moneys withdrawn from the government's treasury had to be recycled into the local economy. Resisters had to demonstrate that they were acting to change the direction of government spending and not to avoid paying taxes. During the past three decades we have accomplished that goal. The Life Fund has lent and granted over $135,000 to more than 100 groups such as Shelter & Food for the Homeless, Christian Help in Park Slope (CHIPS), the Neighborhood Economic Advocacy Project, the Living Theatre and Theater for the New City, to name but a few.
Unfortunately, our resources have seriously decreased in recent years. The Fund, supported mainly by escrow deposits of war tax resisters, has experienced a steep downturn in these deposits. And with that reduced capacity PLF has been forced to rely on contributions, loans and bequests from members. However, these have been insufficient to enable us to resume granting and lending activities. Our current intake of money threatens our future financial stability. New York City People's Life Fund has always been a pillar of the Life Fund community throughout the country. Along with the New England Fund, it is one of the largest and most active. The breakup of the Fund, which has served as a beacon in the Life Fund community, would be a crushing blow to the morale of alternative organizations nationwide.
We are now entering a crucial period. In the next few years we must resume lending and granting activities or else become ineffective, and perhaps obsolete. With your help we are determined to overcome this downturn. We have already contacted potential donors sympathetic to our objectives. We have invested in better-yielding funds, and now we turn to you to join in working toward a renewed and flourishing New York City People's Life Fund.
Be a Part of the Pulse for Change
This vision of a revitalized People's Life Fund can only be realized through contributions from our membership. Share the work of the PLF with sympathetic friends. Perhaps they would also be interested in being a part of the vital support for PLF's work. For further information, please contact us.