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This Week in New York City Government

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Mayor de Blasio and Chief Judge Lippman Announce Justice Reboot, an Initiative to Modernize the Criminal Justice System

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Chief Judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman announced immediate changes that will modernize the criminal justice system and improve the quality of justice in New York City. This plan is the first stage of the administration’s new initiative, Justice Reboot, which solidifies a long-term commitment to reduce unnecessary incarceration safely and promote confidence in the fairness of the justice system.

Three immediate steps will improve the criminal justice system dramatically:

  • Within 45 days, calendar for trial or plea all cases where the defendant is being held at Rikers and the case has been pending for longer than a year.
  • Within six months, resolve 50 percent of all cases where the defendant is detained at Rikers and the case has been pending for longer than a year.
  • Overhaul half of all criminal court cases by making the summons process easier to understand and navigate.

Over the last 20 years, New York City has cut its jail population by half, in part through a focus on reform efforts throughout the justice system. New York City was able to reduce incarceration while also achieving extraordinary success in driving down crime, with murders plummeting from 2,245 in 1990 to an all-time low of 333 last year. Justice Reboot will reduce unnecessary incarceration even further while promoting fairness by streamlining coordination among criminal justice actors, and using technology to identify, track, and solve problems in the City’s criminal justice system.

Moving cases through the criminal justice system more quickly will reduce the average daily population in Rikers Island jails. Defendants who are detained in City jails for extensive periods while waiting for trial are the single biggest contributor to the size of the jail population. Just 5 percent of all defendants dismissed from Rikers Island in 2014 filled 44 percent of the jail’s beds—because these inmates each spent over 270 days on Rikers waiting for their trial. The vast majority of defendants spent much shorter periods in city jails. Immediate reforms will focus on clearing the oldest cases first while ongoing work on systemic issues will ensure enduring progress.

Steps to reduce case processing times include:

  • Resolution of 50 percent of the cases pending for longer than a year within the next six months.
  • Deep, analytic dives into borough-specific problems and solutions.
  • A centralized coordinating body.
  • A sophisticated technological tool to track case trends in real time.
  • A 21st century scheduling system.

Making the summons process easier to understand and navigate will change how nearly half of the criminal court cases in NYC are processed. While the number of summonses issued in 2014 was down 35 percent from a high of 544,678 in 2009, the total number of summonses issued citywide (359,432) last year was roughly equal to the number of arrests (355,397). Although half of all criminal court cases involve summonses, only 27 percent of the summonses issued last year resulted in a conviction. Another 38 percent of summons issued resulted in a warrant for failure to appear in court, which may affect the likelihood of future detention. Immediate reforms will clarify the time, date, and location of court appearances and provide a wider window within which to satisfy the summons. This will make the summons process more transparent and improve the overall quality of justice.

Steps to ensure that people who receive a summons appear in court include:

  • A redesigned summons form that makes the date of appearance easier to understand. A comparison of the old form and the new form, and additional information about the science driving these changes, is available here.
  • A reminder system to ensure defendants appear in court.
  • Flexible appearance date and night court.

Steps to enhance transparency and improve the quality of justice in summons court include:

  • Publicly available quarterly data.
  • Real-time, electronic access to case files.
  • Online payment of fines.
  • Training on collateral consequences for 18-b attorneys and Judicial Hearing Officers.

For more information on Justice Reboot, including additional data and detail on these reforms, please click here.

De Blasio Administration Expanding Programs to Keep New Yorkers in Their Homes and Keep Neighborhoods Strong

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been met tenants at a Bronx building in the midst of major upgrades and renovations through City affordable housing preservation initiatives. Protecting and improving existing affordable housing is a major component of the Mayor’s Housing New York Plan. Last year, the City initiated preservation work at 11,185 apartments. This year, the City is expanding its toolkit to reach more New Yorkers whose homes are becoming unaffordable or distressed.

The building visited by Mayor de Blasio at 2432 University Avenue is part of a four-building, 106-apartment Bronx group that will now be locked into a 30-year affordable rental agreement. That means current low-income tenants can stay in their homes assured that they can afford their rent, and units must remain affordable for decades to come. The $6.4 million City investment, along with low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds, will also improve conditions at the aging buildings by repairing the masonry, electrical and plumbing systems; replacing windows and doors; upgrading the lobbies and common spaces; and performing lead and asbestos abatement. The apartment renovations include new kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, doors and Energy Star appliances. Financing for the project closed last year and work on the buildings will be complete by March 2016.

The City employs a wide range of strategies and tools to keep New Yorkers in their homes, improve aging housing and bring more buildings into long-term affordability agreements:

  • Investing City funding and other critical subsidy sources in aging affordable housing to rehabilitate it and protect it from disrepair.
  • Preventing harassment of rent-regulated tenants, and preventing rent-stabilized housing from being unlawfully deregulated.
  • Renewing subsidy when older buildings’ tax credits or programs expire, so long-time tenants can stay in their homes and apartments stay affordable for the next generation.
  • Bringing small, market-rate buildings into long-term affordability programs in exchange for funding for capital repairs or refinancing, and tax exemptions that reduce operating expenses.

The 10-year, five-borough Housing New York plan made major changes to preservation programs to deepen their reach and assist more tenants:

  • Increase opportunities for both lower and moderate income families: New guidelines expand eligibility and allow some vacant units in newly preserved buildings to be set aside for formerly homeless families and/or families earning up to moderate incomes, ensuring more New Yorkers have access to affordable housing and fostering stronger mixed-income communities.
  • Leverage more private investment and stretch public dollars further: By reducing financing costs, HPD is helping buildings more easily access private capital for repairs and investment, helping reduce the amount of City subsidy needed, helping keep rents more affordable and expanding the number of units preserved.
  • Engage tenants and owners before buildings become at-risk: Rather than waiting for buildings to become physically or financially distressed, HPD has created a new Office of Neighborhood Strategies to proactively reach out to stakeholders, conduct workshops and assist owners and tenants with navigating City programs.
  • Launch a Green Energy Savings Program: HPD will soon launch a new program to assist owners of small- to mid-sized buildings of five to 50 units in financing energy and water efficiency improvements to help lower operating costs, preserve affordability and improve the long-term sustainability of their properties.

To read a full transcript of the Mayor’s remarks, please click here.

De Blasio Administration Reaches Agreement to Bring Thousands of Living Wage Jobs to Hudson Yards District

The de Blasio Administration announced a major agreement with Brookfield Property Partners to build a new office tower, One Manhattan West, that will generate more than 10,000 construction, office and retail jobs – all subject to the City’s expanded Living Wage standard. It will be the first such project under the Mayor’s recent Living Wage Executive Order, which increased wages to over $13 per hour and expanded the law’s reach to building tenants for the first time.

The $2.2 billion, 2.1-million-square-foot project will rise at 401 Ninth Avenue on the northeast corner of West 33rd Street. Construction will begin this year and is expected to be completed by 2020. At its base will be a two-acre plaza, lined with trees and retail, with a Class A office tower above anchored by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, one of the nation’s largest law firms. Brookfield’s five-acre Manhattan West development is located in the Hudson Yards district.

The project is subject to Living Wage standards because of an Executive Order signed last year by Mayor de Blasio that built upon the law previously passed by the City Council. The Order eliminated exemptions for future development in the Hudson Yards District and for tenants at City-backed projects. Jobs in retail stores, parking facilities and office cafeterias – many of which are customarily minimum wage – will now see significantly higher hourly wages. The project is expected to generate more than 4,500 construction jobs and more than 6,000 permanent jobs.

The Living Wage – increased under the de Blasio administration – stands at $13.30 per hour without benefits, or $11.90 with benefits, and is adjusted each year to match changes in the Consumer Price Index. By 2019, it is expected to surpass $15 per hour.

Mayor de Blasio: City’s Expanded Tax Credit Campaign Pays Off Big for New Yorkers

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin announced that the City will help approximately 145,000 New Yorkers with low incomes file their taxes for free and claim important tax credits including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the NYC Child Care Tax Credit – ultimately translating to nearly $250 million in refunds and savings for New Yorkers this season. This represents a 50 percent increase from 96,000 filers last year – more filers than any year since the campaign began 13 years ago.

In order to increase access to and awareness of the tax prep services, the de Blasio Administration invested more than $3 million – a nearly 20-fold increase over prior years – in an unprecedented tax credit campaign that included $2.3 million for the expansion and increase of tax prep services from 140 sites last year to 200 sites across the boroughs in 2015. The advertising and outreach component of the tax credit campaign included transit ads, community and ethnic newspaper ads, radio ads, a television PSA, a direct postcard mailing to targeted households, a digital media campaign and ads, a texting campaign, community events, and robust on-the-ground outreach efforts in targeted neighborhoods. The comprehensive outreach and advertising activities included a five-borough trilingual phone-a-thon, and robocalls to 270,000 low-income households.  DCA created an interactive online map of all tax sites, which allowed people to search for the most convenient free tax filing site based on a number of criteria, such as language of service, location, and hours of operation.

The Department of Consumer Affairs kicked off its tax credit campaign in January by encouraging New Yorkers who made $60,000 or less last year to file for free with the City’s tax preparation services, which included nearly 200 in-person sites or drop-off sites and online preparation at NYC.gov/taxprep. The City provides this tax preparation through a network of partners including Food Bank For New York City, The Financial Clinic, Ariva, and others.

The EITC is considered one of the largest poverty reduction programs in the U.S. and is a federal, state and New York City tax credit for qualifying families, non-custodial parents (NYS EITC only), and single individuals who work full time or part time or are self-employed. For working families in New York City, EITC claims average $2,500 and can be worth as much as $8,293 in the 2015 tax season. Families with low incomes who are employed or underemployed and have child care costs for children up to age four could also be eligible for up to $1,733 with the NYC CCTC. Combined, these credits can total almost $10,000.

De Blasio Administration and Borough President Katz Announce Neighborhood Action Plan for Jamaica, Queens

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen announced the launch of the Jamaica Now Action Plan, which outlines 21 strategic actions for the revitalization and growth of Jamaica, Queens into a thriving residential and commercial neighborhood.

The Action Plan is a culmination of the Jamaica Now Planning Initiative, a nine month community-wide engagement process consisting of over 30 meetings between residents, businesses, leaders and other stakeholders, and two public conferences. Uniting new initiatives with ongoing projects, the Action Plan seeks to address the challenges that have faced the Jamaica area in recent years by providing workforce training and small business support, initiating new mixed-use development anchored by affordable housing, and improving the livability of the neighborhood through investments in safety measures, green spaces and more. The 21 strategic actions, 16 of which will be launched and implemented in the next three years, represent approximately $153 million in current public funding.

In addition to the items outlined in the Action Plan, Borough President Katz and the de Blasio Administration announced an agreement on the following, designed to augment the Action Plan:

  • Commitment of expense dollars for a marketing and branding program specifically for Jamaica.
  • Inclusion of the Downtown Jamaica Corridor into Phase 1 of LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosk rollout.
  • A new program to make Jamaica’s cultural institutions “Tourism Ready,”  drawing increased attention and audiences.
  • Commitment to obtain necessary capital improvements to activate the southern lawn of King Park in front of King Manor Museum for public and programmatic use, in addition to the improvements already underway.
  • Commitment to implement capital improvements needed at Brinkerhoff Mall Park in St. Albans, however determined in upcoming visioning and scoping sessions with local stakeholders.

The 21-point Action Plan outlines interagency action items for implementation within the next three years. Highlights include:

  • Jamaica Avenue Streetscape Improvements
  • Jamaica Entrepreneurship
  • Enhanced Public Safety
  • Jamaica Arts Alliance
  • Redevelopment of 168th Street Garage
  • New Affordable Home ownership and Rentals
  • Activate Potential in AirTrain/LIRR Transit Hub

The Action Plan, in conjunction with other City investments, will support approximately 3,000 new housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail space and 800 hotel rooms in Jamaica through economic opportunities, cultural amenities and infrastructure. The strategic actions identified through the community engagement process will help transform Jamaica into a more attractive and affordable destination to live, work and visit.

Mayor de Blasio, Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Agarwal Kick Off 12th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week Celebration

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal announced the kickoff of Immigrant Heritage Week, an eight-day festival to honor the rich traditions and diverse fabric of the city’s immigrants.

The citywide celebration, which includes events across the five boroughs from April 17-24, coincides with the oral arguments in the Texas vs. United States lawsuit delaying President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Established in 2004, Immigrant Heritage Week kicks off on April 17, the day in 1907 when more immigrants entered through Ellis Island than any other date in the city’s history. This year’s Immigrant Heritage Week marks the 50th anniversary of the Hart-Cellar Act, which eliminated race-based quotas in the country’s immigration laws and is widely viewed as a major victory for civil rights, while significantly contributing to the vibrant diversity of the United States today.

Immigrant Heritage Week was made an annual celebration by Executive Order 128, signed by the Mayor in 2009. To honor the historic and contemporaneous significance of immigration reform, this year Mayor de Blasio will participate in a roundtable event with dozens of immigration advocates to discuss the President’s Executive Action on Immigration, strategies around implementation, and detailing a plan for longer term actions on comprehensive immigration reform.

To commemorate Immigrant Heritage Week, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will host three panels on issues related to immigration policy and immigrant rights:

  • The State of Immigration: Executive Action, City College of New York. Monday, April 20, 7 pm. RSVP to IHW2015@cityhall.nyc.gov
  • Exploring the Results of the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act in NYC, The Tenement Museum. Tuesday, April 21, 6:30 pm. No RSVP necessary

For a full calendar of community events across the five boroughs throughout the month of April, please visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/imm/html/ihw/ihw.shtml.

De Blasio Administration Announces ‘Safe Sleep’ Campaign to Reduce Infant Fatalities Caused by Unsafe Sleep

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Safe Sleep campaign to increase awareness among parents and other caregivers about the potentially fatal risks of sharing a bed with an infant, and how to prevent injuries and deaths associated with other unsafe sleep practices, such as excessive bedding, bumpers and toys in cribs. At the core of the new campaign is a renewed effort by City-run health facilities to increase education on infant safe sleep practices to parents and caregivers during the prenatal and postpartum period.

The Safe Sleep campaign is being spearheaded by the office of Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, in collaboration with the Administration for Children Services (ACS), Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), Human Resources Administration, (HRA), Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Since 2007, DOHMH has partnered with the Cribs for Kids Program to provide cribs for eligible families. Through the Nurse Family Partnership and Newborn Home Visiting programs, families receive safe sleep education and, if needed, are provided with a crib. More than 35,000 families have received safe sleep education and 4,600 cribs have been provided to families in the Newborn Home Visiting Program. More than 9,500 mothers have received education in the Nurse-Family Partnership Program. It is important that safe sleep education is complemented with resources that will assist families to keep their infant safe.

The new Safe Sleep Campaign includes:

  • New materials developed by DOHMH and ACS to educate parents about the potentially fatal consequences of unsafe sleep practices.
  • A directive for all NYC human services agencies to identify points of contact with clients in which to disseminate messaging about Safe Sleep in all City-mandated foreign languages.
  • An educational campaign for subways, buses, taxis, and social media to raise awareness of this problem in communities around the city.
  • An advocacy and outreach campaign to engage community and private partners in awareness efforts.
  • An in-depth yearly review of infant deaths associated with unsafe sleeping practices that will inform ongoing education efforts.

Citywide and Borough Electeds:

Council to Vote on Legislation Limiting Use of Employer Credit Checks

The Council will vote on the following legislation:

Introduction 261-A, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, would amend the City’s Human Rights Law to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice to request or use an applicant’s consumer credit history in making employment decisions. Employers often use consumer credit information to make hiring decisions, despite the fact that there is little evidence linking an employee’s credit score or credit worthiness to job performance or trustworthiness. Credit checks may adversely affect those who have fallen behind on student loan payments, medical bills or have taken on other forms of consumer debt. Further, the use of credit checks for employment purposes has been shown to have a discriminatory impact on low income communities and communities of color. They also have a disparate impact on women and victims of domestic violence.

Introduction 727, sponsored by Council Member Vincent Ignizio, would allow New York City to limit any increases to assessed value caused by the reconstruction of Hurricane Sandy-damaged property so that a property’s assessment would not be any higher than had the storm not happened. In short, this bill would ensure that property owners who rebuild properties severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy will not be penalized for rebuilding and that they will see the same tax bill they would have seen had the storm never occurred.

Introduction 271-A, sponsored by Council Member Donovan Richards, updates the New York City Air Pollution Control Code to improve the outdoor air quality in New York City. While the Air Pollution Control Code has been amended from time to time, it has not been comprehensively updated since 1975. Air pollution is a significant environmental threat in New York city, contributing to an estimated 6% of all annual deaths. For many years the City has strived to have the cleanest air quality of any large city in the United States, and this bill is another step in that process. This bill would bring the Air Pollution Control Code into compliance with more stringent air quality laws, rules and regulations promulgated by the federal government and the State, and would give the Commissioner more flexibility to adopt the new beneficial technologies through rulemaking. This law will result in boilers operating more efficiently, engines and generators operating more cleanly, less fuel consumption citywide and the reduction of thousands of tons of particulate matter per year.

Under Introduction 211-A, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, DOT would work with the MTA and gather input from the public to develop a citywide BRT plan, which would be due to the Council no later than September 1, 2017. The plan would consider areas of the City in need of additional rapid transit options, strategies for serving growing neighborhoods, potential intra-borough and inter-borough BRT corridors DOT plans to establish by 2027, strategies for integrating BRT with other transit routes, and the anticipated operating costs of additional BRT lines. Additionally, DOT would be required to update the Council on the implementation of the plan every two years, through 2027.

Introduction 433-A, sponsored by Council Member Andrew Cohen, would require that all outlets in public parts of new multiple dwellings and all outlets replaced in existing multiple dwellings be tamper-resistant. Additionally, the bill would require that owners of existing dwellings install protective caps or other obstruction devices over outlets in public parts of multiple dwelling buildings if the existing outlet is not tamper-resistant. Failure to install a protective cap or tamper-resistant cap may result in a class A violation.

Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Finance Chair Ferreras and City Council Release FY 2016 Preliminary Budget Recommendations.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras and the New York City Council released the Council’s response to the Fiscal Year 2016 Preliminary budget. Dedicated to providing New Yorkers with a fair, just and fiscally responsible spending plan, the Council’s recommendations for the upcoming year prioritize critical services and include:

  • Creating a  Citywide Bail Fund
  • Investing in NYCHA
  • Expanding Services for New York City’s Immigrant Population
  • Hiring 1,000 additional NYPD officers
  • Creating  A Year Round Youth Employment Program
  • Expanding the Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs
  • Supporting Ending the Epidemic Initiatives
  • Baselining Support For Senior Center Operations
  • Providing Universal Free Lunch to City Students
  • Supporting Industrial Business Solution Providers
  • Restoring and Baselining Funding for Parks Enforcement Patrol
  • Investing in New York City Street Resurfacing
  • Supporting Priority 5 Vouchers

Speaker Mark-Viverito and New York City Council Unveil Council’s Public Technology Plan

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council released Council 2.0 — a roadmap for introducing civic tech initiatives toward opening government and meeting diverse New Yorkers where they are digitally active. The Council’s Public Technology Plan was an element of sweeping rules reform passed by the Council in May of 2014.  This Plan reflects the Council’s commitment to transparency, diversity and support of open government.

The plan was developed by an internal Working Group on Public Technology and Civic Engagement in consultation with a range of experts in building open digital platforms and tools for civic engagement.  The Working Group will continue to meet regularly to evaluate progress around the outlined objectives, assist with an inventory of the Council’s data holdings and generate ideas for new tools for public access and participation. Staff will also study web and social media analytics to help study the type and substance of digital interaction. Key stakeholders will be consulted for input on the progress on the Council’s open data initiative, and on what types of datasets would be useful to inform their work.

The plan includes:

  • The creation of a Public Tech team to analyze open data, drive social media interaction, lead a re-design process of the Web site, and produce user-friendly content, with the objective of driving a digitally savvy culture at the Council.
  • A partnership with Civic Hall –a growing physical center for the civic tech community– to bridge this community and the Council and tap its talent and expertise towards digital solutions.
  • The introduction in Fall 2015 of “Council Labs” as an experimental, mobile-friendly website for new ideas and tools, such as those that will allow New Yorkers to understand and visualize the budget process.
  • A Digital Inclusion Summit hosted by the Council this July to convene voices from diverse communities to develop best practices for the Council’s public tech initiatives.
  • A more accessible legislative database that presents information people are seeking upfront.
  • A soon-to-be available API (Application Program Interface) that will allow civic technologists to access and analyze legislative data in different ways.
  • A pilot and evaluation of engagement via texting.
  • A social media strategy for sharing information and crowd-sourcing questions and comments for hearings and other Council proceedings.

Comptroller Stringer Calls on City’s Department for the Aging to Meet the Needs of Emerging Immigrant Senior Citizens Communities

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a letter in which he called upon New York City’s Department for the Aging (DFTA) to outline what efforts it had taken to meet the needs of emerging immigrant communities across the City and to urge DFTA to ensure culturally-sensitive programming and staffing is available at senior center facilities throughout the five boroughs.

In recent months, the Comptroller’s office has received complaints about the lack of language and dietary services offered to seniors of South Asian origin.  The Comptroller called on DFTA to take the following steps:

  • Create a plan to address the needs of emerging immigrant groups in senior centers.
  • Ensure staff at senior centers are able to communicate and are culturally sensitive to seniors who belong to these emerging groups.
  • Survey emerging communities to ensure senior centers meet the dietary needs of these seniors.
  • Conduct programmatic planning to meet the cultural and religious needs of the emerging immigrant senior population.

To view the Comptroller’s letter, please click here.

Comptroller Stringer Report: Raising Minimum Wage in New York City to $15 Per-Hour Will Put $10 Billion into the Pockets of Nearly 1.5 Million Workers

Raising the minimum wage to $15 per-hour in New York City by 2019 would boost wages by $10 billion a year and benefit nearly 1.5 million workers in the City, according to a new Economic Brief released by Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

The Comptroller’s report shows how a $15 per-hour minimum wage would impact millions of workers in each borough:

  • In Queens, 456,300 workers would see a $3.2 billion annual wage increase.
  • In Brooklyn, 453,400 workers would see a $3 billion annual wage increase.
  • In the Bronx, 256,300 workers would see a $1.9 billion annual wage increase.
  • In Manhattan, 237,100 workers would see a $1.6 billion annual wage increase.
  • In Staten Island, 52,800 workers would see a $311 million annual wage increase.

New York City currently has the nation’s highest cost of living and, when adjusted for cost-of-living, the City’s minimum wage is the lowest of any major U.S. city.  New York State’s minimum wage is set to rise to $9 per-hour in 2016. Comptroller Stringer’s report analyzes the impact of raising the wage in New York City based on the New York State Assembly’s proposal to increase it to $12.75 per-hour in 2017, $13.75 per-hour in 2018 and to $15 per-hour in 2019.

Manhattan Borough President Brewer and NYC & Company Foundation Announce Grants to Support Cultural Institutions and Tourism in New York

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and the NYC & Company Foundation have announced this year’s Manhattan recipients of the Borough Cultural Tourism Development Grant Program.

This program is designed to promote tourism in all parts of the borough and raise domestic and international travelers’ awareness of the wide range of cultural opportunities available in Manhattan. The grants will fund the cultural organizations’ development of programming and production of marketing material to reach new audiences.

“Manhattan is the most diverse 23 square miles in the world, and this year’s grantees are part of a constellation of neighborhood institutions that make our borough one of the world’s most interesting destinations,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “When visitors experience what our whole borough has to offer, it’s a win-win for our neighborhoods and for New York City tourism as a whole.”

Staten Island Borough President Oddo issues 2015 Litter Report

The Borough President issued his 2015 Litter Report, read it here.

Bronx Borough President Diaz: Alfredo Thiebaud, Businessman & Philanthropist, To be Inducted Into the 2015 Bronx Walk of Fame

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced that Alfredo Thiebaud, a longtime borough business leader and philanthropist and the founder of Delicioso Coco Helado, would be posthumously inducted into the 2015 Bronx Walk of Fame.

Mr. Thiebaud, who passed away following a tragic work accident in September 2014, founded Delicioso Coco Helado from his South Bronx apartment in 1967. Over the years the company grew to employ hundreds of individuals at any given time. His pushcarts became a summer staple in New York City, supplying kids of all ages with a tasty treat during the hottest months from a selection of dozens of flavors—including the coconut ice that made his company famous.

Mr. Thiebaud was also a well-known Bronx business leader and philanthropist, and was well known for his support of Little Leagues, youth groups and other community organizations. Mr. Thiebaud will be officially inducted to the Bronx Walk of Fame as part of the 44th annual Bronx Week, a program of The Bronx Tourism Council.

Bronx Borough President Diaz: NBA Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes to be Inducted in the Bronx Walk of Fame

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced that Dolph Schayes, National Basketball Association Hall of Famer and a Bronx native, would be inducted into the 2015 Bronx Walk of Fame.

For his contributions to the game and the league, Schayes was named into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team, the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972. He was also inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the U.S. National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Jewish American Sports Hall of Fame.

Schayes will be officially inducted to the Bronx Walk of Fame as part of the 44th annual Bronx Week, a program of The Bronx Tourism Council. Bronx Week is an annual highly-anticipated 11-day event where the entire borough, including government, business, and the community-at-large, come together to celebrate “The Best of The Bronx” through festivals, concerts, health fairs, parades, performances and a host of other activities.

Bronx Week 2015 will take place from May 7-17. At the end of the 11-day celebration, our hometown heroes like Schayes are honored with induction into the Bronx Walk of Fame, where their names are emblazoned on a street sign to reside on the historic Grand Concourse forever.

For more information about Bronx Week 2015, visit ilovethebronx.com.

City Agencies:

Department of Housing Preservation and Development: HPD Commissioner Been, Council Member Rodriguez, Development Partners Cloth and Alembic, and Tenants of 552 Academy Street Celebrate Return to Newly Rehabilitated Apartments

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Executive Director of Community League of the Heights (CLOTH) Yvonne Stennett, Vice President and New York Market Leader of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise) Judi Kende, Alembic Community Development, Capital One Bank and JP Morgan Chase gathered to celebrate the completion of the $22.3-million rehabilitation of the 72-unit building at 552 Academy Street in Inwood.

With the extensive renovation and upgrades completed, the families who once lived in deplorable conditions under the old ownership have now returned to newly renovated apartments at affordable rents. The City-sponsored rehab project also provided amenities that didn’t exist prior to the renovation including a brand new elevator and a community room.

In 2011 the tenants of 552 Academy were vacated by the City because of immediately hazardous conditions brought on by years of neglect by the previous owner, including structural issues that threatened to destabilize the building. Following the vacate order, a comprehensive effort was undertaken by HPD, Council Member Rodriguez, CLOTH and others to temporarily relocate all of the tenants, stabilize the building, find a new owner, and secure the funding necessary to rehabilitate the property and ensure the rights of the tenants to return once the project was complete.

CLOTH, a Washington Heights-based community nonprofit, rehabilitated the property through a joint venture with Alembic. HPD’s Office of Preservation Finance helped to facilitate the financial plan through which CLOTH and Alembic were designated as the development team responsible for the renovations. The gut rehabilitation of 552 Academy Street included three major additions championed by Councilman Rodriguez – provisions for the installation of a future green roof, a new elevator line to what was previously a walk-up building, and a new community facility space. Other renovations included upgrades to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, new boilers, repairs to common areas, window and doors replacements, and new kitchens and bathrooms.

Department of Housing Preservation and Development: HPD, SBS, and Partners Congratulate the First Graduating Class of New Professional Development Workshop to Create Opportunities for Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises in Affordable Housing Development

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been, and New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Deputy Commissioner Kerri Jew were joined by the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, Holland & Knight, and the Minority Business Development Institute (MBDI) to celebrate the completion of the inaugural series of capacity building workshops designed specifically for Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs). The workshops are part of Building Opportunity, HPD’s multi-pronged M/WBE initiative. They provide valuable insight and instruction into industry best practices to aid M/WBE’s seeking to compete more effectively for HPD-supported affordable housing development work. The free courses provided by HPD and SBS met twice a month from October 2014 to March 2015. There were 28 firms recognized as workshop graduates in a ceremony held last night to celebrate the program’s participants.

The City’s investment in affordable housing must be tied to greater M/WBE participation in housing development, and the effort to expand opportunities for M/WBEs reflects the values and priorities in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough Ten-Year Plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable units for New Yorkers at the very lowest incomes to those in the middle class.

Strengthening M/WBE participation supports community growth and economic opportunity as many of these small firms work and hire locally. It also expands the pool of developers that have the experience and capacity to build and manage affordable housing in New York City, which increases competition and strengthens the housing industry. This new pipeline of developers will be critical as the City ramps up affordable housing production under the Housing New York plan over the coming years.

Department of Housing Preservation and Development: In Partnership with LMDC and HUD, HPD Commissioner Been Issues a Notice of Funding Availability and Request for Qualifications for the Preservation of Affordable Housing in Lower Manhattan

New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been announced the availability of $11.8 million in funding through the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to encourage the preservation of affordable housing in Lower Manhattan, south of Houston Street.  In partnership with LMDC, a joint City-State corporation created in the aftermath of September 11th to coordinate the efforts to rebuild and revitalize Lower Manhattan, HPD has revamped the Lower Manhattan Acquisition Program to spur greater acquisition activity and to better leverage available funding to generate and preserve affordable housing.

The Lower Manhattan Acquisition Program helps to advance the goals of the Mayor’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan by infusing additional resources into the preservation of quality, affordable housing in New York City neighborhoods that are thriving, thanks in part to the efforts of LMDC.  Through the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) released HPD seeks to attract a diverse group of sponsors to acquire, rehabilitate, and manage affordable housing projects in Lower Manhattan south of, and including properties on, Houston Street.  The geographic area has been expanded, and is now bounded by the Hudson and East Rivers.  Not-for-profit organizations who qualify under the RFQ may identify housing properties that fit the eligibility criteria for purchase and long-term ownership.

This RFQ is open to not-for-profit entities that have the experience and organizational capacity to successfully rehabilitate and manage affordable housing buildings. More information regarding the RFQ and NOFA can be found on http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/developers/request-for-proposals/chinatown-lower-east-side-acquisition-program.page.  Questions can also be submitted via email to HPDPres@hpd.nyc.gov.

Department of Housing Preservation and Development: HPD, SUS, Enterprise and Partners Announce the Completion of The Truxton Residence, a New Supportive and Affordable Housing Development in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) joined Services for the UnderServed (SUS), Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise), Bank of America and other project partners to celebrate the housewarming of The Truxton Residence, a 48-unit supportive and affordable housing development in the Ocean Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. Residents of this development have on-site access to critical supportive services through SUS. To mark the building’s opening, officials planted a blueberry bush in the building’s landscaped backyard for the enjoyment of all residents.

The Truxton Residence was constructed on formerly city-owned land. The new five-story building includes 48 studio units for residents. The building also features 5,000 square feet of community space and a landscaped outdoor recreation space with seating and tables. The development was designed to meet Enterprise Green Communities criteria, the national standard for green building in affordable housing.

All of the apartments in The Truxton Residence serve low-income individuals with 80% of the units reserved for formerly homeless individuals with mental health challenges. The development is affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income, or an annual income of no more than $34,860 for an individual. Rents for units for the formerly homeless are subsidized with Project-based Section 8 vouchers. Residents will be expected to contribute 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent payments. The income levels for this development were set according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s 2012 calculations.

On-site supportive services available to residents of The Truxton Residence are funded by DHS and DOHMH and provided by SUS. These supportive services include individualized case management and personalized recovery programs based on identified needs. Daily life skills training, employment training and job placement services, and structured social and recreation activities will also be offered to the building’s residents.

The total development cost of The Truxton Residence is approximately $12.2 million. HPD awarded over $6 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, which Enterprise syndicated and for which Bank of America served as the investor. HPD also provided $4 million in HOME Funds towards permanent financing, $125,000 in City Capital and $1.5 million in NSP2 Funds. The project also received $137,179 in NYSERDA Multi-Family Performance Benefits. The building is currently fully leased, with all units occupied. Marketing of the apartments and the application process for the lottery typically begins when construction is approximately 70 percent complete.