Call Us → 212-616-5810

This Week in New York City Government

Mayor:

Mayor de Blasio Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Executive Budget and Ten Year Capital Strategy

Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 and the Ten Year Capital Strategy.

The FY2016 Executive Budget – totaling $78.3 billion – takes a strategic approach to strengthen the city’s future, boosting reserves and securing key agency efficiencies and savings to protect against economic uncertainty, while targeting investments in core programs and initiatives.

The Ten Year Capital Strategy – totaling $83.8 billion – paints a realistic picture of the city’s long-term needs through 2025, making vital investments in infrastructure, housing, sustainability and resiliency, and more.

By funding an agenda to make the city stronger, safer, and more competitive, while attacking inequality head on, and protecting the City’s long-term fiscal health, the budget provides a strategic vision to guide New York City through uncertain times and prepare for the future.

Budget documents are available online here.

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The economy continues to grow, with New York City adding 120,000 private sector jobs in 2014 for a record 3.5 percent growth. However, it’s very clear that most are still feeling the effects of the Great Recession, with only the wealthiest 5 percent seeing income gains during the recovery and the income gap continuing to grow – the largest since the 1920s. Nearly 46 percent of New Yorkers are living at or near poverty. In the current expansion, 66 percent of job growth has come from low-wage sectors, but these low-wage sectors have only received 25 percent of the earnings gain. Over half of New York City renters are considered “rent burdened,” spending over 30 percent of their income on housing.

There are also troubling signs on the horizon when it comes to the economy, including the second lowest U.S. GDP growth of all 11 post-war recoveries, the third slowest national job growth of all post-war recoveries, contracting federal employment for the first time during any post-war recovery, and weak wage growth and new home construction. The global economy also remains uncertain, imperiling our local economy when it comes to finance, tourism, and retail. The current recovery is already 10 months longer than the average expansion – with this risk, and the potential for unexpected events, it’s important to note that tax revenues and other funding have both declined during past downturns.

The City also faces significant uncertainties when it comes to federal and state support – a risk that will only grow in the event of an economic downturn. For example, federal transportation funding expires at the end of May, and Congress has proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid. The State continues to fail to meet its school funding obligations under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court decision, with a $2.6 billion shortfall this year alone, while also slashing funding for mental health supportive housing by 50 percent this year.

PROTECTING OUR CITY’S FUTURE

With those challenges in mind, the Mayor’s FY2016 Executive Budget and Ten Year Capital Strategy take a cautious approach that is focused on targeted investments and aggressive savings. Last year, every independent monitor and rating agency affirmed fiscal responsibility as a foundation of this administration; this year’s budget continues to build on that strong foundation.

The Administration required agencies to find efficiencies and savings. In total, the Executive Budget recognizes over $2.5 billion in savings across FY2015 and FY2016, including:

  • $530 million in agency efficiency savings.
    • This includes a number of significant savings initiatives across all major agencies.
    • For example, ACS will save $1.1 million a year by in-sourcing 51 positions; DEP will save $4.5 million by using wastewater treatment plant methane as fuel.
  • $125 million in revenue re-estimates.
  • $400 million in debt service savings.
  • $1.1 billion in health care savings.
  • $309 million in savings from HHC.
  • $83 million in savings from DOE.

The administration is also boosting reserves to unprecedented levels:

  • The General Reserve has been increased to $1 billion a year, which will provide the City with much-needed protection in the event of a downturn.
  • The Retiree Health Benefit Trust Fund has been increased to $2.6 billion, which will fully cover one year’s worth of costs. The City plans to maintain this level year-to-year.
  • The creation of the first-ever Capital Stabilization Reserve, which sets aside $500 million to protect the City’s ability to invest in infrastructure and other capital needs, allow the City to retire debt in a potential downturn, and pay for research to make capital projects more cost efficient.

Just as the Preliminary Budget did, the Executive Budget reflects the costs of the civilian and uniformed labor patterns applied to the full workforce. When Mayor de Blasio took office on January 1, 2014, all of the City’s labor contracts were expired. Since then, the City has settled 76 percent of the expired contracts by reaching fiscally responsible agreements with both civilian and uniformed employees, while securing $3.4 billion in unprecedented, guaranteed healthcare savings geared toward bending the cost curve. The Administration announced last month that it has already hit the FY2015 target of $400 million.

HIGHLIGHTS: FY2016 EXPENSE BUDGET

Protecting the Most Vulnerable

  • $54 million in FY2016 – growing to $78 million in FY2017 and out – for more effective, inclusive, and coordinated mental health services for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, including in Renewal and Community Schools, family shelters, and on Rikers Island.
  • $33 million a year to eliminate NYCHA’s annual Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). To date, the de Blasio Administration has provided $200 million in new operational assistance to NYCHA, with another $506 million planned through FY2019.
  • $100 million in FY2016 for homeless prevention and assistance, including rental support, anti-eviction legal services, and more. The budget also includes $4.7 million in FY2016 to expand the number of shelter beds for runaway and homeless youth by another 100, while enhancing mental health services.
  • Income adjustments for roughly 35,000 non-profit workers who will receive a 2.5 percent wage hike and make at least $11.50/hour.

Keeping New Yorkers Safe and Healthy

  • $36.4 million in FY2016 for the Department of Correction, funding a 14-point anti-violence plan for Rikers Island that includes initiatives such as a canine program to keep weapons and drugs out of the jail, a strategy to separate inmates likely to fight, and increased inmate services.
  • $1.8 million in FY2016 for the NYPD to expand the ShotSpotter gunshot detection program to 28 precincts total.
  • $5.2 million for the Department of Transportation to continue Vision Zero implementation, including for signal retiming, corridor and intersection redesign, and maintenance of roadway markings.
  • $2.9 million for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to expand to neighborhoods citywide a successful pilot program to eliminate rat reservoirs.

Supporting Economic Development 

  • $12.8 million for the Department of Small Business Services in FY2016  – a nearly 75 percent increase in city funding – to support local businesses and promote equitable growth, including support for women entrepreneurs, help existing businesses to expand, and support local manufacturing.
  • $4.9 million in FY2016 for the Department of Transportation to create half-hour service on the Staten Island Ferry 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Investing in Our Future

  • $50 million in FY2016 – growing to $76 million in FY2017 and out – in new support for 130 Community and Renewal Schools, including for intensive tutoring, mental health and substance abuse counseling, summer programs, and more AP classes. In total, this will serve 63,000 children and bring the 130 schools to Fair Student Funding levels.
  • $114.3 million for Pre-K for All, complementing the $300 million in State funding secured earlier this year and supporting 70,000 high-quality, full-day seats.
  • $163 million in FY2016 for an expansion of middle school after school programs, serving 107,000 middle schoolers.
  • $11 million in FY2016 for CUNY to expand the ASAP program with a focus on STEM education, serving 8,000 students.

HIGHLIGHTS: TEN YEAR CAPITAL STRATEGY

Housing New York

  • $7.5 billion toward building or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing.
  • Over $1 billion for investments in neighborhoods where the City plans to permit greater density through zoning, and another $1.17 billion in affordable housing infrastructure, creating a dedicated means to deliver infrastructure investments in conjunction with changes to land use and anticipated growth.

Transit, Roads, and Bridges

  • Increasing the City’s contribution to the MTA Five Year Capital Program to $657 million. This complements other City investments in the MTA, including $200 million from the Vanderbilt Corridor Rezoning and approximately $1 billion a year in operating expenses.
  • $12.6 billion to grow transportation infrastructure, including $7.8 billion to restore and rehabilitate bridges. This also includes $1.6 billion for road resurfacing, reflecting an over $240 million increase that will allow the City to resurface 1,200 lane miles in FY2016 and 1,300 lane miles in FY2017, and increase the percentage of streets in a state of good repair from 71.3 percent to 80 percent by the end of FY2017.

Water and Sewers

  • $14.7 billion for the Department of Environmental Protection to invest in the water and sewer system, including $2.6 billion to maintain the reliability of the water supply and $1.2 billion to mitigate flooding in Southeast Queens.
  • This includes a further reduction in the projected water rate increase to 2.97 percent, the lowest rate increase in over a decade. This reduction is possible due to the City returning double the proposed rental payment (or 40 percent) to the water system. In total, the administration will return an unprecedented $81 million dollars to the system in FY2016.

Education

  • $13.5 billion for the Department of Education’s Five Year Capital Plan.
  • This includes $3.3 billion in state-of-good-repair projects to keep schools physically sound.

Libraries

  • $902 million for the City’s public libraries, reflecting a $300 million increase.
  • This funding will allow the branches to address critical needs that include renovating buildings and expanding branches.

One City, Built to Last

  • $1.8 billion for the Mayor’s sweeping green buildings plan, allowing the City to lead by example and retrofit all public buildings with any significant energy use by 2025.
  • This is part of the Mayor’s broader plan to achieve an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050, making New York City the largest city in the world to make that commitment.

Mayor de Blasio Calls for Sweeping Overhaul of Tax Benefits to Spur More Affordable Housing

Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a sweeping overhaul of a tax program to spur a new wave of affordable housing in New York City and stem the housing crisis that is making it so difficult for New Yorkers to make ends meet.

The mayor called for tough new provisions in the 421a program that will expand affordable housing requirements citywide, double the amount of affordable housing it generates, and ensure tax benefits are only granted when new buildings have a minimum of 25 to 30 percent of their apartments set aside as affordable housing. Mayor de Blasio also called for a 1 percent tax on the most expensive residential property sales to generate $180 to $200 million each year dedicated solely to building more affordable housing for New Yorkers.

Together, these reforms will incentivize more production of the rental housing New York City badly needs, while eliminating tax breaks and increasing tax rates on the sale of high-cost condominiums, which have driven up land prices across the city. These priorities will be key elements of the City’s legislative agenda in Albany this session.

Reforming 421a

The 421a tax benefit was instituted decades ago to spur residential development at a time when very little new building was occurring in the five boroughs. It has since added an affordable housing requirement, but one that produces only a modest amount of affordable housing for the more than $1 billion in foregone tax revenue it draws every year. In large swaths of the city – including many booming neighborhoods – no affordable housing whatsoever is required to receive the 421a benefit. As discussions begin on extending and reforming 421a by the June 15 deadline, Mayor de Blasio is seeking changes in the program that would:

  • Double the number of affordable apartments built through the program, from 12,400 to more than 25,000 over the coming decade, enough housing for 65,000 New Yorkers.
  • Slash the average 421a subsidy needed to build an affordable apartment by a third, from an average of $573,000 per unit in rental buildings down to an average of $391,000.
  • Reach tenants with even lower incomes, by serving families making as little as $31,000 for a family of three – well below the current $46,600.

The reforms behind the objectives are:

  • Require affordable housing in all areas of the city: The current 421a program only requires affordable housing in 16.5 percent of the city – builders in the remaining 83.5 percent of the city can receive the tax benefit without providing any affordable housing. The City is calling for 100 percent of New York City to be subject to the affordable housing requirement.
  • Increase affordable housing requirements: The current 421a program requires 20 percent affordable housing, leading to so-called ‘80-20’ buildings, within a modest zone, and virtually no affordability in the rest of the city. The de Blasio administration proposes increasing that requirement to between 25 and 30 percent citywide.
  • Help more New Yorkers access affordable housing: The affordable housing built through the current 421a program primarily serves a very narrow slice of the population – only those making approximately $46,600 per year. The City is proposing variations to that model to reach New York families making as little as $31,000 per year on up to vital segments of the city’s workforce like teachers, nurses and police officers.
  • Eliminate tax breaks for condominiums: The City proposes eliminating the 421a benefit for condos – which do not require tax incentives to spur construction – and making it a purely rental program. The benefit for condos has produced relatively few affordable units, and to continue the program as-is would impose a cost to the City of approximately $1.6 million per affordable unit.
  • Rationalize benefits to match a 35-year affordability requirement: Current 421a benefits expire after 20 or 25 years. The City proposes aligning the length of the 421a benefit to the 35-year term of affordable units. Benefits would be extended for 10 years at the 25 or 30 percent affordability levels to ensure the affordable apartments remain financed and stable.  In addition, ‘80-20’ buildings built under 421a prior to 2008 would be incentivized to keep their units affordable an additional 15 years, and in the process increase their percentage of affordable units to 25 percent.
  • Eliminate separate entrances based on income: The City proposes eliminating provisions that allow for buildings to have two separate entrances based solely on the income of tenants.

Instituting a City ‘Mansion Tax’

While the unprecedented growth in the city’s luxury real estate market has created challenges, it also represents an opportunity to deliver more affordable housing that protects the diverse, mixed-income communities that make up New York City.

Mayor de Blasio also called for the authority to implement a City ‘Mansion Tax’ on the sale of high-value condominiums, co-ops and one-to-three family homes, with revenues lock-boxed specifically for the construction or preservation of affordable housing. According to recent sales data, the policy would affect approximately the top 10 percent of residential real estate transactions.

The Mansion Tax would institute a:

  • 1.0 percent flat tax on residential property sales over $1.75 million
  • 1.5 percent marginal tax for incremental price over $5 million

This new tool is projected to raise an average of $180 to $200 million per year that will be devoted to building or preserving affordable housing under the Housing New York plan – bridging a funding gap Mayor de Blasio highlighted when the plan launched one year ago. That new investment could build 37,000 affordable apartments over the next decade – enough housing for more than 95,000 New Yorkers.

Mayor de Blasio Calls for Stronger Rent Laws

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for stronger rent laws that will stem the loss of affordable apartments to deregulation. More than 35,000 affordable apartments have left rent regulation since it was last extended in 2011, putting enormous pressure on working families and pushing longtime tenants out of fast-gentrifying neighborhoods. Mayor de Blasio called for a slate of reforms to protect rent-stabilized apartments, including ending vacancy decontrol, eliminating the vacancy bonus and making improvement surcharges temporary.

New York City’s rent-stabilized apartments provide affordable homes for more than 1.4 million low-income tenants, and more than 700,000 moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers. Together, they make up the bedrock of New York City’s diverse neighborhoods. But this vital housing reservoir is fast drying up, as bad actors force tenants from their homes and a hot real estate market puts more and more pressure on rents. If nothing is done to strengthen rent laws before they expire on June 15, tens of thousands more apartments will be converted to market rents in the years ahead and entire neighborhoods could be rendered unaffordable.

The City’s proposed rent regulation reforms work together as a two-pronged strategy that stems the loss of units through the elimination of Vacancy Decontrol, and helps to keep the rents of those units affordable by ending the Vacancy Allowance and making the Individual Apartment Improvement and Major Capital Improvement increases temporary and not a permanent addition to tenants’ rent.

Reforms to Protect Rent-Stabilized Housing:

  • End High-Rent Vacancy Decontrol: The City is calling for the elimination of vacancy decontrol. Currently, a vacant apartment with a rent of $2,500 per month may be deregulated.
  • End the Vacancy Allowance: The City is calling for eliminating the 20 percent increase in monthly rent when tenants vacate an apartment. This allowance has created strong incentives for bad actors to pressure tenants out of their homes in the hopes of faster-rising rents.
  • Make Individual Apartment Improvement (IAI) and Major Capital Improvement (MCI) Increases Temporary: The City is calling for the current permanent rent increases for building-wide or individual apartments to be made temporary. Costs from increased services or improvements to individual apartments would be spread over 10 years, while building-wide or system improvements could be spread over 7 years. Long-term rent would be unaffected, and would reset after the fixed period.

The de Blasio administration is also ramping up protections for rent stabilized tenants, including free legal representation for tenants in up to 15 neighborhoods and is launching a new Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force with State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to combat illegal practices that push tenants out of their apartments.

Mayor de Blasio: Developing a More Effective and Inclusive Mental Health System in New York City

The de Blasio Administration is announcing a major new investment in mental health as part of its Executive Budget, with $54.4 million FY16 and $78.3 million in FY17 and beyond to build a more effective and inclusive mental health system in New York City.

For far too long, mental health challenges in New York City have gone unaddressed. Research suggests that the average onset of mental illness happens at age 14, and the delay from first symptoms to receiving care is nine years. In any given year, 1 in 4 adults in New York State experiences a mental health challenge, while 1 in 17 has a serious mental illness.

A 2015 Mental Health America report found that in New York State, only 38.9 percent of adults with any mental illness report receiving care and 17.9 percent of adults with any mental illness report having an unmet need for treatment. The same report found that 35.6 percent of children in New York State who needed mental health care did not receive it.

Creating a National Model

In the FY16 Executive Budget, the de Blasio Administration is making targeted investments to address the mental health crisis facing New York City. For at least 30 years the City has failed to look across agencies and disciplines to address the full need for mental health services. For the first time in three decades, the City will pursue a coordinated, multi-agency effort.

To quickly increase access to mental health services for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, the City will expand co-located mental health services with existing City services in non-clinical settings.

These investments represent the first step in an unprecedented effort to ensure that we are fully addressing mental health needs of New Yorkers, no matter their income level, and integrate services into daily life. This funding initiative and new coordinated approach sets a course for a new national model for creating effective solutions to mental health needs. This fall, the administration will release a “roadmap” that will quantify the full magnitude of mental health crisis facing the city, and offer strategies to address the burden.

Reaching the Most Vulnerable New Yorkers Quickly 

  • Children and Families in shelter: Provide mental health services in all contracted family shelters that serve 8,900 families in the City’s family shelters.
  • Runaway and homeless youth: Provide on-site mental health services for all runaway and homeless youth who pass through the City’s shelters – up to 2,100 annually.
  • Survivors of Domestic Violence: Provide on-site care in all family justice centers for the 36,507 individuals who visit a family justice center annually.
  • Children and families attending Community Schools: Create more than 80 new School Based Mental Health Clinics – a 60 percent increase over the number of existing clinics – to provide mental healthcare access to every Community School student, an estimated 62,000 school children. Expand substance abuse prevention programs at Community Schools.

New Programs to Strengthen and Expand the Network of Mental Health Services in New York City

Mental Health Clinics and Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialists in all Community Schools
The budget provides $11.2 million in FY16 and $13.2 million in FY17 and beyond to complete mental health needs assessments in all 130 Community Schools and to open mental health clinics, as needed, in these schools. Each clinic would be staffed by at least one licensed clinical social worker. This program will provide mental health services to 62,083 students at a ratio of one clinician per 500 students. The budget also provides $2 million in City funds in FY16 to place 50 additional Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialists Counselors in Renewal and Persistently Failing Schools, reaching the 27,894 students in the 70 Renewal and Persistently Failing Schools that currently do not have a program.

Mental Health Services for all youth in Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelters
The budget provides $0.9 million in FY16 and $1.5 million in FY17 and beyond to offer mental health services to all youth in the 15 runaway and homeless youth shelters. There are currently 353 youth in these shelters and an additional 100 beds will come online in 2016. In 2014 there were 2100 youth throughout the year.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse programming for all youth at Rikers Island
The budget provides $1.7 million in FY16 and $3.7 million in FY17 and beyond, to provide psychiatric assessments and after-school therapeutic arts programming for all youth under 21 and substance abuse programming for 16-21 year olds.

Mental Health services in all contracted Family Shelters
The budget provides $5.3 million in FY16 and $8.9 million in FY17 and beyond to place licensed clinical social workers as client care coordinators in all contracted family shelters. This initiative will provide 8,900 families with access to clinical mental health services in the 72 contracted family shelters. At full implementation, the program provides for $27.2 million annually in mental health clinical services for families living in shelter (city funds and state matching funds).

Health services in all Family Justice Centers in partnership with the Health and Hospitals Corporation
The budget provides $1 million in FY16 and $1.7 million in FY17 and beyond to full-time mental health services at all family justice centers. 36,507 people visit family justice centers a year. Family justice centers serve survivors of domestic violence. At full implementation, the program provides for $3.3 million annually to the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (city funds and state matching funds).

Relationship Counseling for all Foster Care Teens
The budget provides $0.1 million of city funds for a total of $.250 million to facilitate healthy relationship training for all NYC teens in foster care. This investment will offer 5,000 youth, ages 11 to 21, with healthy relationship training at 300 workshops annually. The program also includes workshops and training for foster parents. NYC has approximately 4,000 teens age 13 and over in foster care in a single year.

Geriatric Mental Health in Senior Centers
The budget provides $0.8 million in FY16 and $1.4 million in FY17, to place a licensed clinical social worker in the city’s 20 largest senior centers. It is estimated that 30 percent of seniors in the city experience some form of mental illness. But, it is unclear whether this is as prevalent in seniors that attend the city’s network of 251 senior centers or is more likely to afflict those who are homebound. This initiative will evaluate the efficacy of co-locating mental health services in the city’s senior centers.

Addressing the mental health challenges that result from the trauma experienced by crime victims
The budget provides $4.1 million in FY16, $8 million in FY17 and $12.1 million in FY18 and beyond, to place Victim Advocates at all NYPD Precincts and Housing Bureau Police Service Areas (PSA). This investment will provide one General Victim Advocate and one Domestic Victim Advocate at 71 precincts and all nine Housing Bureau PSA’s. The remaining six precincts will have one Victim Advocate to serve both general victims and domestic violence victims. At full implementation, the program provides for $14.7 million annually to the New York Police Department (city funds and state matching funds).

Coordinated Mental Health Planning
This year is the first time in more than 30 years that we are looking across agencies and evaluating the mental health resources throughout City government. That’s why the budget also includes resources to increase this coordination and analysis. The budget provides for $0.6 million to create and manage a multi-agency planning process, provide technical and analytic support, and oversee community outreach in support of these city-wide mental health initiatives and $0.5 million for an evaluation and analysis of school mental health services models.

To read a full transcript of First Lady McCray’s remarks, please click here.

Mayor de Blasio Announces Struggling Schools will Receive their “Fair Student Funding” for the First Time

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a significant investment of $60 million per year in additional funding to ensure struggling schools have the resources they need to succeed. Correcting years of inequity, this funding will raise all 130 Renewal Schools, Community Schools and Persistently Failing Schools to 100 percent of their ‘Fair Student Funding’ for the first time. That means they’ll have the resources they need ­­­­– and have long been owed – to serve English Language Learners, students with special needs, and other young people who need extra help to catch up.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement called on the State to fully fund all public schools adequately. While that historic deficit persists – with an estimated shortfall of $2.6 billion for this year alone for New York City – the de Blasio administration is taking steps to ensure schools that have the deepest challenges aren’t held back. Schools will be able to use the new funding to hire guidance counselors, bring on teachers for special academic intervention programs serving students who have fallen behind, extend the school day, or add advanced placement classes. To qualify for funding, schools must submit detailed plans for approval that demonstrate precisely how the new funds will be spent and how they will advance key metrics like attendance, credit accumulation, test scores and on-time graduation rates.

These new resources are above and beyond the $150 million committed in the Renewal Schools initiative and the Community School expansion, which are also increasing services at each of these schools.

Historically, schools were provided with resources based primarily on the size of their student body. The ‘Fair Student Funding’ formula was introduced almost a decade ago by the Department of Education to reflect the diversity of New York City’s student body, which includes many students who require extra support like English Language Learners, students with special needs, and students who have fallen behind. But without the funding promised in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement, most schools never got the extra resources they needed. Today’s announcement ensures all struggling schools have the full and fair resources they need.

Achieving Fair Student Funding

  • The Administration is investing $33.6 million in FY16 and $59.7 million in FY17 and every year thereafter to provide additional funds for schools most in need.
  • All 130 Renewal schools, Persistently Failing schools, and Community Schools will be brought to 100 percent of their Fair Student Funding recommendation within two years. The average Renewal School will see $250,000 in additional annual funding.
  • The minimum amount any school can receive will be raised from 81 percent to 82 percent of the Fair Student Funding formula. These changes will impact approximately 400 schools and 252,000 students.

Rigorous Oversight of School Spending Plans

  • Schools must provide a robust plan for strategic use of the new funding to achieve concrete gains in metrics like attendance, credit accumulation and on-time graduation.
  • Plans could include hiring academic intervention services teachers to help students catch up and adding college readiness programs, guidance counselors and programming.
  • Plans for uses of these additional funds will require approval from each school’s superintendent.

Unprecedented Support to Turn Around Struggling Schools

  • By this September, all 94 Renewal Schools will be transformed into Community Schools, have an additional hour of instruction every day, increase professional development in key areas like student writing, and launch a summer learning program – all part of their comprehensive Renewal Plan with concrete targets in student achievement.

Mayor de Blasio Names Board of Directors of NYC Global Partners

Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Ceci Kurzman, Michael Landau, Michael Vachon and Timothy Wilkins and reappointed former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins to the Board of NYC Global Partners, Inc.

As members of the Board of Directors of NYC Global Partners, these appointees will work to develop partnerships supporting the Mayor’s local-to-global equity agenda. The organization’s mission is to foster an international dialogue centered on common urban challenges, and share strategies that are working here in New York City.

David N. Dinkins, the 106th Mayor of the City of New York, is being reappointed to the Global Partners Board. He began his career in public service in 1966 as a member of the New York State Assembly. He then served as president of the New York City Board of Elections, and as City Clerk for 10 years before he was elected to the office of President of the Borough of Manhattan in 1985. In 1989, Dinkins was elected Mayor of the City of New York. Former Mayor Dinkins is currently a Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs at the Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs, where he also serves on the advisory board and hosts the Annual Dinkins Leadership & Public Policy Forum – which welcomed Hillary Rodham Clinton to deliver its keynote address on April 29, 2015.

Ceci Kurzman is the Founder and President of Nexus Management Group, a talent management and business development company. She has managed business and career strategy for several high-profile artists, including Shakira and Alicia Keys, with her involvement extending beyond entertainment. Nexus currently focuses on partnering capital resources with talent-driven brand-to-business strategies. In addition to running Nexus Management Group, Kurzman plays an active role as an operational investor in a variety of early and growth-stage companies.

Michael Landau is co-Founder and Chairman of MAP International, a company that uses technology to expand banking services in developing African countries. Landau is also the co-Founder and Chairman of The Joseph Initiative, an innovative agriculture company that specializes in post-harvest loss mitigation and crop aggregation. These services are part of the framework for the agricultural economy in Uganda, where Landau and his organizations work with the UN Office for Food Security, the World Food Programme, and numerous public-private partnerships.

Michael Vachon is Advisor to the Chairman at Soros Fund Management, and serves as spokesperson for both the Fund and Mr. George Soros. In this role, Vachon advises Mr. Soros and other executives on media relations and external affairs. He also acts as Mr. Soros’ chief-of-staff for special projects, and oversees Mr. Soros’ political contributions. Prior to joining SFM, Vachon was Director of Communications and a member of the Executive Committee of The Commonwealth Fund, one of the nation’s oldest private foundations. He previously served as Director of Communications at the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundation network, and worked for several years as a financial journalist.

Timothy A. Wilkins is a corporate M&A partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and serves as the co-Chair for the New York Office’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Wilkins advises leading international corporations on cross-border mergers and joint ventures. Prior to joining Freshfields, Wilkins was an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and also served as a Ford Foundation Fellow at the International Peace Academy, an NGO think-tank on international peacekeeping missions.

Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Prohibit Employers from Using Credit Checks to Screen Applicants

Mayor de Blasio signed into law seven pieces of legislation:

The first bill, Intro. 261-A, prohibits employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies from using or requesting an applicant’s consumer credit history, and prevents them from discriminating against an applicant or employee based on their credit history. Using credit checks during the hiring process to screen applicants disproportionately affects low-income applicants and applicants of color, and this legislation prevents the vast majority of employers from doing so. Intro. 261-A also applies to City agencies, most of which are prohibited from requesting or using the consumer credit history of an applicant, licensee or permittee for licensing and permitting processes.

The second bill, Intro. 271-A, thoroughly modernizes and updates the City’s Air Pollution Control Code, and eliminates old, outdated and unused provisions to bring the Air Code into conformance with state and federal standards. The updated Air Code now includes stricter limits on air pollution emissions from idling vehicle engines and new limitations on particulate emissions for char broilers, fireplaces, wood and coal fired ovens, outdoor wood boilers, and mobile food vehicles. Emissions of particulate matter are associated with negative health impacts including decreased lung function, aggravated asthma respiratory symptoms and premature death. The proposed revisions would limit emissions – primarily particulate matter – for certain uncontrolled sources. Approximately 1,400 tons of particulate matter per year would be reduced as a result of these updates.

The third bill, Intro. 211-A, requires the Department of Transportation, in coordination with the MTA, to establish a plan for expanding the citywide Select Bus Service bus rapid transit network. Select Bus Service includes features such as dedicated bus lanes, off-board fare collection and other measures to make bus transit more efficient.

The fourth bill, Intro. 597-A, requires the City to expand its car sharing program for all City agencies that use vehicles. This legislation requires the City to remove at least 2 percent of the existing light duty fleet through strategies including car share each year until 2019, and then remove at least 1 percent before the end of 2020.

The fifth bill, Intro. 433-A, mandates that owners of buildings with multiple units must install and maintain protective cap, covers or other applicable safety devices over electrical outlets in public areas of the building. The legislation also requires any new or replacement outlets in public areas of a multiple dwelling to be tamper-resistant receptacles.

The sixth bill, Intro. 681, establishes the Meatpacking Area Business Improvement District. Business Improvement Districts are key public-private partnerships in New York City and have helped revitalize neighborhoods and catalyze economic development throughout the City. The Meatpacking BID encompasses the northernmost part of the West Village and the southernmost part of lower Chelsea.

The seventh bill, Intro. 555-A, requires the Department of Finance to create two ombudsperson positions to address inquires made by landlords or tenants regarding the NYC Rent Freeze Programs, which include the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption Program. These two ombudspersons will also make recommendations about the administration of these programs, and their efforts will complement the Department of Finance’s efforts to get every eligible tenant enrolled in these benefits.

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

Mayor de Blasio and First Lady McCray Announce Creation of Center for Youth Employment

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced the creation of the Center for Youth Employment, which will coordinate and expand efforts to connect New York City’s young people to opportunities for career exposure, summer jobs, quality skills-building programs, supportive mentors, and thoughtful guidance towards college and a career. The Center, a public-private initiative, will aim to substantially increase employer engagement and partnership opportunities with a goal of ultimately connecting 100,000 young New Yorkers ages 14-24 to summer jobs, mentorships, and internships each year by 2020 – an increase of 75 percent over current capacity.

The Center, conceived and launched by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in collaboration with City agencies and private partners, will be integrated into the existing Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, supported by an initial raise of $3.2 million from the city’s business and philanthropic community, including founding partners Citi Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, The James Family Charitable Foundation, Macy’s Inc.,  Tishman Speyer, and the Partnership for New York City. Immediate goals for 2015 include doubling private sector paid internships to 1,000, doubling the number of summer jobs for NYC’s most vulnerable youth in foster care or shelters to 2,000, and funding the training of 1,000 teachers and other in-school educators to provide career counseling. The Center will also focus efforts on the City’s career and technical education schools, cementing school connections with a relevant industry partner to provide professional experience for students. This effort is part of the Administration’s Career Pathways strategy, which re-envisions the City’s workforce development and education programs to connect more New Yorkers to quality employment.

Citywide and Borough Electeds:

Comptroller Stringer: Strong first Quarter for New York City’s Economy with Brisk Job Growth and Soaring Venture Capital Investment

New York City’s economy has avoided the first quarter stall that has affected the national economy in four out of the last six years according to an analysis of the City’s economic performance released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

For the second consecutive year in the first quarter, the City’s real gross city product (GCP) grew at a significantly faster rate than the country’s.  The estimated annual rate of 3.5 percent far outpaced the 0.2 percent national growth.  This strong performance is reflected by strong venture capital and labor markets and falling vacancy rates in Manhattan commercial real estate. Overall, the city’s GCP accounts for slightly more than four percent of the nation’s total economic output. Venture capital investment in the New York metro area rose 45.2 percent on a year-over-year basis to about $1.4 billion, the highest first-quarter level in 14 years.  10.4 percent of all venture capital investment in the country was in the New York metro area, an increase of 1.4 percent since 1Q14.

New private sector jobs tripled in the first quarter as compared to the last quarter of 2014: the City’s private sector added 31,300 jobs, or 3.5 percent (seasonally-adjusted annual rate) in 1Q15, as compared to a 10,600 increase in the previous quarter.  In contrast, the nation’s total private sector jobs grew only 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2015.  Notably, half of job gains were in high wage sectors, including professional and business services, financial activities and information, after the previous four quarters when job growth in high wages sectors averaged only a third of total jobs created.

To view the report, please click here.

Comptroller Stringer: DOE Violating State Laws Regarding Physical Education in City Schools, Deep Disparities in Access, New Report Shows

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is in violation of state physical education requirements and is failing to provide students with equal access to physical education resources, according to an interactive, school-by-school analysis released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

The report, “Dropping the Ball: Disparities in Physical Education in New York City Schools,” found that at a time when more than 26 percent of children in grades K-8 are obese or severely obese, nearly one-third of New York City schools lack a full-time certified physical education teacher and nearly 30 percent of schools do not have a space dedicated for physical fitness.

New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires that the DOE submit a District Physical Education Plan. However, the Comptroller’s Office found that the last known time the DOE submitted one to the state was in 1982. A draft plan dated December 2012 was provided to the Comptroller’s Office in December 2014, with incomplete and missing information. NYSED regulations also require that all children in grades K-12 participate in regular physical education classes that must be taught directly by a certified physical education teacher (for grades 7-12), or by a classroom teacher “under the direction and supervision of a certified physical education teacher” (for grades K-6). Students in grades 7-12 must meet minimum PE instructional time requirements with a licensed instructor in order to graduate.

The Comptroller’s office analyzed data provided by the DOE to determine compliance with these requirements, as well as whether students had access to indoor and/or outdoor space where schools can deliver physical education programming.

City Agencies:

Department of Education:Chancellor, Microsoft, and NYU Polytechnic Announce NYC Summer STEM 2015

Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced NYC SUMMER STEM 2015, a new citywide pilot program to provide students who just completed grades 2, 7, and 10 with free, high-quality, engaging STEM instruction. SUMMER STEM 2015 will serve 1,200 total students – 400 from each of the three grades – at 10 sites across the City, one in each of the five boroughs for 2nd-graders and one in each of the five boroughs for 7th and 10th-graders. The program focuses on bringing high-quality STEM education to high-needs students and communities and will run for four weeks for 2nd-graders and five weeks for 7th and 10th-graders. The program cost of $2 million includes funding from public funds and from Microsoft secured through the Fund for Public Schools.

DOE has adopted university partner NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s curriculum for the 7th and 10th-grade programs, which both include robotics and “Science of Smart Cities,” a program that focuses on the engineering, technology, and science of urban development and sustainability. For the 2nd-grade program, the DOE will use the research-based, classroom-tested “Engineering is Elementary” curriculum – developed and implemented with support from the Boston Museum of Science and New York Hall of Science – that integrates engineering and technology concepts and skills with elementary science topics. SUMMER STEM curricula will revolve around hands-on learning and real-world concepts like infrastructure, energy and transportation, and computing. In addition to their STEM learning, 2nd-graders in the program will have arts and physical education enrichment opportunities. Across their 10 sites, 7th and 10th-graders will be offered arts, physical education, music, and dance enrichment opportunities.

Sixty-five DOE teachers – 25 for 2nd grade, and 20 each for 7th and 10th grades – will lead the STEM program, and 40 NYU Polytechnic Center for K12 STEM instructors will work closely with the 7th and 10th-grade teachers.

Department of Education: City Releases Community Schools Strategic Plan

At Bronx College and Career Preparatory Community School, Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery  released the New York City Community Schools Strategic Plan, a plan developed in coordination with DOE, DYCD, DOHMH, and the NYC Children’s Cabinet defining the City’s strategy for building and sustaining the Community Schools model. This plan outlines the growth, funding, and interagency coordination plans to ensure high quality across New York City’s Community Schools, and discusses core elements of a Community School.

Across the City there are 128 Community Schools that have opened or initiated development during the 2014-15 school year. Each of these schools will have a Community School Director who oversees the partnership with a Community Based Organization (CBO) to offer services that meet the social, emotional, physical and academic needs of students.

Community Schools are customized to a community’s unique set of needs and they create opportunities available for students, families and communities, including:

  • Early childhood programs that ensure that our youngest students are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.
  • Expanded learning that gives kids more opportunities to learn and develop their passions and interests both in and out of the classrooms. These programs may include tutoring, learning a musical instrument, book clubs or robotics.
  • School-based health clinics or access to local health providers which allow students to receive medical treatment in school and return to their classrooms ready to learn. They also allow parents to stay at work and avoid taking time off.
  • Mental health counselors address students’ mental health problems, including behaviors caused by stress or trauma. They provide classroom teachers with a partner to support students with high needs and allow teachers to focus on academic instruction.
  • Drop-out prevention strategies provide mentoring and tutoring to keep students engaged in school and on-track for graduation.
  • Robust parent engagement means that families work hand-in-hand with schools and CBOs to develop the vision and are partners in the education of their children. Families can be involved in a myriad of ways, from taking family cooking or GED classes, to serving on the School Leadership Team.
  • Adult education programs help parents and caregivers develop personally, provide them with skills to secure better employment, and build strong families. They also help parents demonstrate the importance of education at all ages.

Chancellor Fariña Champions Strengthened Family Engagement 

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited student-led parent teacher conferences at MS 577, Conselyea Preparatory School in Brooklyn and highlighted an increase in parent engagement across the City. She championed the efforts of principals to implement innovative programs and support services to strengthen the partnership with families that raises standards and improves student achievement.

Chancellor Fariña championed the importance of parent-teacher conferences, and the added value of student participation in those conferences. Under the new teachers contract, all schools must hold four evening parent-teacher conferences this school year. At the urging of the Department of Education (DOE), many schools have adopted the student-led parent-teacher conference model, enabling students to take ownership of their successes, articulate areas for improvement, and establish a clear focus of immediate and future goals. At these meetings, students discuss their academic progress and parents are asked to fill out a checklist and self-reflect on their child’s ability to articulate his or her academic performance, progress, and goals.

Health Department Launches New Lead Dust Notification Procedures

New York City has made tremendous progress in reducing childhood lead poisoning, with a 71 percent decline in the rate of children with elevated blood lead levels (10 mcg/dL), from 8.6/1,000 tested in 2005 to 2.5 in 2013. This success is the result of strong policies and a proactive and comprehensive approach to lead poisoning prevention, including enforcement actions against building owners or contractors who create potentially hazardous lead dust conditions through unsafe work practices.

To build on this success, the Health Department announced new procedures to notify tenants about dust hazards from unsafe construction work in common areas in their building. These new efforts are designed to increase transparency and provide timely information to building occupants on inspection results.

Currently, if a Health Department inspector sees construction dust in the common area of a building, they will stop the work and order the owner and contractor to clean the area and use safe work practices, such as wet methods to reduce dust, regular cleaning during work, and using plastic barriers to minimize dust dispersion. Dust samples will also be taken by the inspector and be tested for lead. Under the new procedures, tenants will be notified of these actions by a sign posted in a conspicuous location that will alert tenants that the Health Department found dust hazards from renovation work. The sign will also include a phone number that tenants can call for more information on the inspection results or to report additional complaints.

Health Department Shows that Motor Vehicle-Related Injuries are the Leading Cause of Injury Death among NYC Children

The Health Department released its annual report detailing child injury deaths, which found that between 2003 and 2012, motor vehicle-related injuries were the leading cause of injury death among NYC children aged 1 to 12 years. More than 100 children died from a motor vehicle-related injury over this time period.

While NYC children aged 1 to 12 have a lower rate of injury death than children in the U.S., injuries still pose a substantial risk to New York City children. Between 2003 and 2012, 438 NYC children aged 1 to 12 years died from an injury-related cause, an average of about 44 deaths per year. The leading causes of injury death were motor vehicle-related injuries, followed by fire-related injuries, suffocation, and falls. A disproportionate number of these injuries occurred among Black children and those children living in high poverty neighborhoods. Injury death rates were 3.0 per 100,000 for children living in high poverty neighborhoods, as compared to 2.1 for those in low poverty. Risk also varied by race, as rates were 3.5 per 100,000 for Black children, versus 2.4 for White children and 2.0 for Hispanic children. The report can be found on www.nyc.gov/health.

As a part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, this report features a special section on motor vehicle-related deaths among children and youth aged 1-17 years. Between 2009 and 2011, 48 children aged 1 to 17 died in motor vehicle incidents. Most were pedestrians, and nearly two-thirds of the pedestrians killed were hit within 10 blocks of their home. Crossing against the light and crossing mid-block, such as emerging from between parked cars, played a role in more than half of the pedestrian fatalities. Driver behaviors, such as driver inattention and failure to yield, were also cited as contributing factors. Vision Zero has already implemented a number of safety initiatives, such as a reduced citywide speed limit and increasing the number of speed cameras in school zones, and the report offers additional recommendations to reduce motor vehicle-related injuries.

Health Department: Investigation Finds That Underage New Yorkers Have Easy Access to Alcohol at Local Pharmacy, Grocery, and Liquor Stores

The Health Department announced the results of an undercover investigation of underage access to alcohol in New York City conducted last year. Using a $147,000 grant from the Health Department, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) created a dedicated unit to investigate and document underage sales by licensed retailers throughout New York City. Between April and September, the SLA conducted visits with underage decoys to 911 pharmacy, grocery and liquor stores throughout the five boroughs. This reflects 10 percent of New York City stores with liquor licenses. Fifty-eight percent of the stores sold alcohol to the decoys, who were all under 21 years of age. Costs associated with underage drinking, such as healthcare and law enforcement, are estimated to exceed $1 billion per year in New York State.

In a letter sent that will be sent tomorrow to all New York City stores licensed to sell beer, wine, or liquor, Commissioner Bassett requests their help in reducing the negative consequences of underage drinking. The letter includes information about the negative effects of underage drinking and encourages retailers to ensure that IDs are checked during alcohol purchases and to seek additional training to help staff avoid selling to minors. The Health Department also unveiled a new social media video that reminds adults to help reduce youth access to alcohol by calling 311 to report stores that sell to underage buyers.

In response to this investigation, the Health Department in the next few months will sponsor Alcohol Training Awareness Programs (ATAP) for stores that sell alcohol. This training program equips participants with skills, such as recognizing fake IDs, which will help reduce the frequency of sales to underage buyers. In addition, the Health Department translated the SLA Handbook for Retail Licensees into two languages most often requested by callers to the SLA: Mandarin and Arabic. In the coming months, the Health Department will support expanded NYPD enforcement to ensure retailers follow alcohol beverage control laws.

HPD: City and State Officials Joined Lantern and Partners to Announce the Grand Opening of New Affordable Housing for Formerly Homeless New Yorkers Including Veterans

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito joined Lantern and partners to celebrate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Prospero Hall in the East Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. The 87 affordable apartments provide permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless New Yorkers, with a preference for formerly homeless veterans who may not be eligible for housing or services funded through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

All apartments in the building will serve extremely low- and low-income individuals earning no more than $34,860 annually. All tenants will pay only 30% of their income toward rent. A grand total of 54 apartments are set aside for homeless households including those living with serious and persistent mental illness. Priority has been given to chronically homeless veterans. These apartments are to be filled via New York City Department of Homeless Services referrals. Income levels are calculated annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The incomes for this development were set according to HUD’s 2012 calculations.

The total development cost for Prospero Hall is approximately $19.2 million.  HPD provided $10.7 million in HOME Funds and $125,000 in permanent financing. The project was constructed on formerly HPD-owned land. HCR provided Low-Income Housing Tax Credits which resulted in tax credit equity in the amount of $8.3 million toward permanent financing. The Richman Group is the tax credit investor. An additional $550,000 in predevelopment funding was provided by the Richman Group, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and the Contact Fund. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will provide essential operating support for Lantern’s supportive services program at Prospero Hall.