Alianza Dominicana is collapsing before our eyes, and apparently no one is doing anything to save it. The organization -which for years has provided critical social services in Upper Manhattan- was wounded after a city investigation into alleged misappropriation of funds. The investigation triggered questions around credibility.
This issue, however, should not be the end of the nation’s largest Dominican nonprofit, an organization that has served countless people.
Alianza’s problems go beyond funding. The organization is a victim of neglect and infighting among poli tical leaders in Upper Manhattan.
A discussion with area leaders without finger-pointing seems impossible. One side claims the alleged corruption of its executives left it flailing like a drowning victim. The other that area officials are refusing to rescue it. And the families that depend on Alianza are caught in between.
Sadly, the problem of community programs that have disappeared or been drastically reduced and the jobs that are gone as a result are just an afterthought. In its heyday, Alianza had an annual budget of $16 million, about 450 employees, and served around 30,000 people per year. Its programs included child care, counseling for drug addicts, services for HIV patients and help for survivors of domestic violence.
Today, there are only 25 employees helping as many people as they can, in an unstable work environment where they get paid weeks, if not months, late, while the possibility of Alianza shuttering its doors looks increasingly imminent.
The story and future of Alianza are the responsibility of all. As it falls, millions of dollars in vital services for our people are no longer available -exactly when the City is cutting community programs and unemployment among Hispanics remains stubbornly high. How is the Bloomberg administration going to fill the gap if this organization sinks?
This year it became clear that when Dominicans -and other Latinos- want to campaign for something they care about, they know how. So from Albany to City Hall to Washington Heights, elected officials and other leaders must set squabbles aside, put the community first and help this organization. They should demand an effective board of directors, give it resources for reforms recommended by the State, monitor their performance, and advocate for its programs to survive.
Alianza is too important to just allow it to disappear. We will be very attentive to who successfully intervenes to help — and that will be weighed as we approach future elections.