This Week in New York City Government



Mayor de Blasio Announces up to $10 Million Investment in Free Broadband Service for Five NYCHA Developments

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley announced a first-of-its kind investment by the administration to bring free, high-speed broadband service to over 16,000 New Yorkers living in five public housing developments in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. The initiative, led by the Office of the Mayor’s Counsel in partnership with DoITT and NYCHA, will invest up to $10 million dollars for the five developments, starting with a demonstration project that will bring wireless access to the 7,000 residents of NYCHA’s Queensbridge North and Queensbridge South Houses, which together make up the largest public housing development in the nation.

The announcement comes in conjunction with ConnectHome, a bold new initiative by President Obama to bring together internet service providers, non-profits and the private sector to offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in HUD-assisted housing units. New York City – one of 27 cities which won HUD’s competition to participate in ConnectHome – has been recognized for its commitment to aggressively expand affordable access to broadband, including the wireless corridors.

The ConnectHome program will bring affordable, residential broadband access within reach of more NYCHA households, complementing the wireless networks the administration is building in Queensbridge, Red Hook and Mott Haven. Both initiatives are part of the City’s broader strategy for getting to universal affordable broadband by 2025. Using a model similar to the libraries “mi-fi” program that launched in NYC last year, Sprint, with support from HUD, will make mobile Wi-Fi devices available to over 15,000 NYCHA households in the Bronx that include k-12 students. The program is expected to benefit some 28,000 children in the borough.

According to an analysis by the Center for Economic Opportunity, 22 percent of New York City households do not have internet service at home and 36 percent of households below the poverty line do not have internet access at home. Recent data on smartphone use by the Pew Research Center shows that one in five American adults rely on smartphones as their primary source for Internet access. According to Pew, half of all people with no or limited home Internet have had to cancel or suspend their phone service because of financial constraints. Recognizing these challenges, earlier this year the administration committed $70 million in capital investment over the next 10 years for free or low-cost wireless service for low-income communities. These investments are part of the administration’s aggressive approach to expanding broadband access, which recognizes that high-speed internet is no longer a luxury but a critical service that must be affordable to all city residents.

Following Queensbridge, the administration will create a second network to serve the 6,500 residents of Red Hook East Houses and Red Hook West Houses in Brooklyn. The third network will be built at Mott Haven Houses in the South Bronx, which houses over 2,500 residents. The wireless networks will provide internet service of at least 25 Mbps for all residents, meeting the aggressive federal standards aimed at increasing baseline broadband speeds.

In OneNYC, the Mayor committed to universal broadband in New York City by 2025. These networks will be the first of a series of corridors in underserved communities in the five boroughs, as part of a larger administration strategy to close the digital divide by expanding universal access to the internet and driving down the cost of broadband across all five boroughs. The investments at Queensbridge will complement NYCEDC’s recent announcement that $5.3M in public and private funding will support expansion of high-speed service to businesses in former industrial areas, including areas close to the Queensbridge Houses. Together, these investments mark a significant escalation of the administration’s actions to address access and affordability challenges for residents and businesses.

These actions mark the latest escalation in the de Blasio administration’s ongoing work to close the technology divide in New York City and make New York the most connected and equitable city in the world. Previously announced steps include the formation of a Broadband Taskforce; the development of LinkNYC, the world’s largest and fastest municipal Wi-Fi network; expansion of the City’s library hotspot program to lend Wi-Fi devices to New Yorkers; and ongoing leadership by the Mayor to promote a free and open internet through protection of net neutrality and competition in the telecommunications market.

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

De Blasio Administration Releases Open Data for all, The City’s New Open Data Plan

The de Blasio administration released Open Data for All, the annual update to the NYC Open Data Plan which this year is paired with a vision for engaging New Yorkers across the five boroughs in the City’s open data efforts through increased community partnership and interaction. The plan was released by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Anne Roest, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations Mindy Tarlow, and Chief Analytics Officer Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki.

As required by Local Law 11 of 2012, each City entity must identify and ultimately publish all of its digital public data for citywide aggregation and publication by 2018. Every year on July 15, the NYC Open Data Plan provides an update of the City’s progress by listing pertinent City-managed public data sets yet to be published along with their anticipated publication dates.

This year, for the first time, Open Data for Allexpands the City’s focus to making data sets released through the Open Data Portal more accessible, useful, and user-friendly for all New Yorkers. While recognizing the importance of continuing to make new data available, this year’s Open Data Plan includes an introduction that outlines the City’s vision for ensuring that the availability of open data serves as an invitation to anyone, anywhere, anytime to engage with New York City. Beginning this summer, MODA and DoITT will be conducting a Citywide Engagement Tour – giving all New Yorkers opportunities to ask questions, provide feedback, and learn more about Open Data for All. This series of events will also be an opportunity for the City to collect feedback and use New Yorkers’ input to make its open data better and more accessible.

To complement this expanded focus on accessibility, the City is also launching a pilot implementation of Data Lens, an easy-to-use tool that produces several visualizations of certain data sets and requires no programming experience whatsoever – making it even easier for any New Yorker to understand the data available on the portal. With the click of a button, Data Lens will instantly render several visualizations of a data set and the various metrics it contains. The tool employs unique “cards,” or display formats, allowing users to more easily understand the insights behind the numbers. Data Lens will initially be available for five data sets: Universal Pre-k Locations, Restaurant Locations, NYC311 Service Requests, NYPD Motor Vehicle Collisions, and WiFi Hotspot Locations.

The 2015 NYC Open Data Plan, including the full list of data sets scheduled for release, can be accessed here or through the interactive dashboard on the NYC Open Data Portal. Data sets available for the Data Lens pilot can be found here. Guiding the implementation of Open Data for All are the complementary notions that every New Yorker can benefit from open data, and that open data can benefit from the input of every New Yorker. The de Blasio administration is determined to make Open Data for All exactly that – an incredible tool and resource that is both accessible and useful for all New Yorkers.

Mayor de Blasio Introduces IDNYC Veteran Designation and Benefits

Mayor de Blasio announced the introduction of a veteran designation to the IDNYC card along with a series of exclusive benefits for veteran cardholders. The City also announced the opening of three pop-up enrollment centers at veterans service locations in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens to ease access and expand awareness of the card and its benefits to those who have served our country in the armed forces. In addition, the City will open temporary enrollment centers in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

At the launch of the IDNYC program in January 2015, Mayor de Blasio committed to including a veteran designation on the card within the calendar year. With the introduction of the IDNYC veteran designation, the New Yorkers who have served in the U.S. military will be better able to access to the services and discounts that they deserve. The de Blasio administration continues to enhance IDNYC’s dynamic functionality by integrating access to services, offering new benefit opportunities and supporting special populations such as veterans.

The three new pop-up enrollment centers are located at veteran services centers: Mission Continues in Manhattan, Services for the UnderServed in Queens, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx. The IDNYC program will also be launching temporary enrollment centers targeting veterans in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Veterans can also apply for a veteran designated ID card at any of the 28 IDNYC enrollment sites citywide.

Veterans newly applying for an IDNYC card will be asked to demonstrate proof of veteran status, in addition to completing the standard enrollment process for IDNYC applicants. Existing IDNYC cardholders who are eligible for the veteran designation can return to an enrollment center and have the IDNYC card updated to include the veteran designation at no cost. All veterans are eligible as long as they live in New York City and have served in active military service of the United States and been released from such service other than by dishonorable discharge. Eligibility for the Veteran Designation is consistent with the definition of veteran status in the City Charter.

De Blasio Administration Announces a Record-Breaking 20,325 Affordable Apartments and Homes Financed in Last Fiscal Year, Enough for 50,000 New Yorkers

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City financed the creation and preservation of 20,325 affordable apartments and homes during fiscal year 2015, enough housing for more than 50,000 New Yorkers and the most in 25 years. The City broke an all-time record for the most new affordable apartments underway – nearly 8,500 – the highest figure since the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development was established in 1978. This affordable housing represents a direct investment of $618 million by the City of New York, thanks to significant increases in affordable housing by the de Blasio administration.

This development and preservation represents tangible progress during the first full fiscal year of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan for 200,000 affordable apartments in 10 years. Roughly 85 percent of the homes financed in the last year were for extremely low, very low, and low income families.

The developments financed reflect the plan’s vision of expanding the range of New Yorkers reached, from extremely low income families to middle class wage earners who increasingly are struggling to make ends meet. This year’s progress was driven by new programs launched under Housing New York, including:

To meet the goals of Housing New York, the Mayor doubled the capital funding for HPD, and, most recently, in the ten-year capital plan included nearly $7.5 billion for affordable housing, and more than $1 billion in funding for the parks, libraries, road construction and other infrastructure necessary to support neighborhood growth and new housing opportunities.

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

Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton Announce Update in “Summer All Out” Initiative

Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bratton provided an update on the progress of the NYPD’s “Summer All Out” initiative – a targeted anti-violence officer deployment program focused on high-crime areas across the city. The Mayor and Commissioner made the announcement at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx located in the NYPD’s 47 precinct, which has seen a 70 percent decrease in shootings the first half of this summer. This time last year, the 47 precinct was the driver of all shootings in the Bronx and one of the most violent in the city.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Administration’s launch of “One City: Safe and Fair – Everywhere,” a new neighborhood policing model designed to transform our City’s approach to policing while keeping crime at historic lows. This fundamental re-engineering of how the NYPD works recognizes that the best way to keep crime at historically low levels, and drive it down even further, is to engage and activate community members as coequal partners in the fight against crime like never before.

Following last year’s successful implementation of Summer All Out and other summer initiatives, the NYPD temporarily reassigned 330 administrative officers to boost patrols in 10 high-crime precincts and four high-crime police service areas. The NYPD also partnered with community members, social service providers, and police organizations to specifically target gangs and street crews.

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

Mayor de Blasio and NYCEDC Launch Sixth Annual NYC Bigapps Competition – Challenging NYC’s Tech Innovators to Find Lasting Solutions to Four of The City’s Most Pressing Issues

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Economic Development Corporation announced the launch of NYC BigApps 2015, the City’s annual contest for all members of the tech and civic ecosystems to create web or mobile apps, devices, platforms and other technology products to address pressing City challenges. NYC BigApps 2015 asks entrants to make the City a better place for all New Yorkers by addressing four issues identified in Mayor de Blasio’s One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City: Affordable Housing, Zero Waste, Connected Cities and Civic Engagement.

Teams are encouraged to submit mobile and web apps, connected devices, platforms, games and other technology products that address these challenges, catalyzing collaboration between multidisciplinary teams of programmers, engineers, designers, marketers, entrepreneurs and civic professionals. Five winning teams, one from each category and a wildcard team, will receive cash prizes totaling more than $125,000, as well as in-kind prizes and opportunities to collaborate with public and private partners to implement their products. Official competition rules, as well as additional information and updates, can be found on the competition website:

OneNYC is the City’s comprehensive plan for a strong, equitable, sustainable, and resilient city, building on prior long-term plans and setting measurable goals for tackling core challenges in the coming years. This year’s NYC BigApps challenges address four goals that were identified in OneNYC:

Affordable Housing: Expand access to affordable housing for all New Yorkers.

Zero Waste: Equip New Yorkers with new tools to reduce waste at home and work, to help reach the City’s goal of zero waste sent to landfills by 2030.

Connected Cities: Use tech to improve the way we measure, map and manage New York City.

Civic Engagement: Develop a 21st Century model for civic engagement.

Citywide and Borough Electeds:

Comptroller Stringer Announces Four-Part Reform Agenda to Bring Transparency and Accountability to NYCHA

In response to decades of neglect at all levels of government, underscored in a new audit released which found that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has failed to repair and maintain the buildings under its care, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a four-part reform agenda to expand transparency and accountability at the Authority.

The proposed reform agenda is comprised of four main elements:

Comptroller Stringer Audit Reveals Tens of Thousands of Backlogged Repairs at NYCHA – Little Progress, Despite NYCHA’s Assurances

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) makes tens of thousands of New Yorkers wait for weeks, months and sometimes even years before fixing serious problems such as asbestos, missing carbon monoxide detectors, broken elevators, leaky ceilings, and faulty stoves due to poor management and oversight, according to an audit released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

The audit also revealed that NYCHA drastically under-reported data on its maintenance backlog, failed to properly train staff to get rid of mold, mildew, and excessive moisture conditions in tenants’ apartments, and fell dramatically short when it came to meeting its own deadlines for repairs.

Comptroller Stringer’s four-part agenda includes establishing NYCHAStat, a fully transparent management tool based on the NYPD’s highly successful CompStat intended to track open work orders by development; budget reforms designed to bring NYCHA into line with other City agencies in terms of transparency and accounting standards; publicly releasing NYCHA’s Physical Needs Assessment, a comprehensive review of NYCHA infrastructure needs in all five boroughs; and using surplus funds from the Battery Park City Authority to support capital improvements at NYCHA, including technology and infrastructure upgrades. These proposed steps are discussed in greater detail in an accompanying press release.

Bronx Borough President Diaz: Hostos Opens College’s First Large Farmers Market with GrowNYC

With a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables being a major concern for Bronxites who are looking to live more healthy lifestyles, Hostos partnered with GrowNYC to open a large farmers market at the College. The “Hostos Greenmarket” opened on June 30, and it is a first on campus. The market is open every Tuesday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., through November 24.

Hostos Community College was joined by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz, as well as other community leaders, who were on hand to support this important partnership.

The market features fresh vegetables, fruits, plants, herbs, eggs, honey, candles and baked goods from five farmers and producers from upstate New York. In addition, the market will offer food scrap collection for compost and textile collection each market day.

This community-based effort comes as Hostos is expanding its curriculum to include classes centered on the food industry, nutrition and policy making. The Hostos Greenmarket will also support other regional health initiatives, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz’s #Not62 plan, a healthy living call to arms that came in response to the Borough being ranked last among the 62 counties in New York in a national health report.

GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets work to preserve local farmland, while ensuring that New Yorkers across all five boroughs have access to fresh, healthy food grown right here in our region. A central component of Greenmarket’s mission and operations is product integrity: everything sold at market is 100 percent farmer grown, produced, caught, or foraged. In addition to operating farmers markets, Greenmarket is working to improve the health of all New Yorkers with a suite of food access strategies aimed at getting the healthiest, freshest food into the hands that need it most.

Manhattan Borough President Brewer Writes to Mayor de Blasio and NYCHA Chair Olatoye in Response to $10M Broadband Investment’s Exclusion of Manhattan Development

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer sent the following letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Housing Authority Chair Shola Olatoye on the city’s failure to include any Manhattan developments as part of its newly-announced $10 million investment in free broadband for NYCHA residents.

In her letter, Manhattan Borough President Brewer wrote: “While I am strongly supportive of your desire to bring free broadband to needy New Yorkers, I am confused as to why an Administration committed to an equitable New York would ignore two whole boroughs with a plan like this. NYCHA residents should not be penalized for living in Manhattan.”

Borough President Brewer also highlighted the issue of digital literacy, urging the Mayor and NYCHA chair to accompany all new broadband programs with an investment in training programs to ensure that New Yorkers take advantage of the opportunities that broadband access can offer. She noted that during two NYCHA town halls hosted by her office, residents expressed an interest in access to tools to help management and residents monitor repairs, keep track of planned facility work and other ways to improve life in NYCHA developments.

The full text of the letter is available here.

Queens Borough President Katz Allocates $5 Million to the Borough’s Cuny Insitutions

Borough President Melinda Katz Announced an allocation of $5 Million of her Fiscal Year 2016 discretionary capital funds to support capital projects at all five city University of New York (CUNY) public institutions of higher learning in Queens.  The $5 million in funding will enhance the educational experience for the CUNY students who attend Queens College in Flushing, York College in Jamaica, Queensborough Community College in Bayside, LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City and the CUNY School of Law In Long Island City.

The $5 million allocation for capital projects at the Queens CUNY campuses breaks down as follows:

Brooklyn Borough President Adams and Brooklyn Elected Officials Announce New Push to Strengthen Rent Laws

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams held a roundtable with a group of Brooklyn elected officials and tenant advocates to map out a plan to push for changes to the recently approved rent laws negotiated by Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Senate Republicans, out of concern that they lack urgently needed protections to address the continued hemorrhaging of affordable housing units in the borough. Under the current deal, it has been estimated that the city could lose almost 90,000 rent-regulated apartments. The roundtable focused on the possibility of halting the vacancy bonus, or rent increases that landlords are entitled to once rent-regulated apartments become vacant. Brooklyn elected officials also discussed developing a “Tenant Roadmap” that would seek to protect tenants in the upcoming year, including coordinated actions to combat tenant harassment.

Borough President Adams was joined at the roundtable by State Senator Jesse Hamilton, Assembly Members Maritza Davila, Walter Mosley, Diana Richardson, Annette Robinson, and Latrice Walker, as well as Council Members Robert Cornegy, Jr., Antonio Reynoso, and Jumaane D. Williams. Advocates in attendance included representatives from Alliance for Tenant Power, Community Service Society, Legal Aid Society, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Tenants and Neighbors, and Working Families Party.

Brooklyn Borough President Adams Announces Upgrades to Brooklyn Borough Hall to Improve Access for People with Disabilities

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams released his Access-Friendly NYC report to detail policy and standards recommendations for improving accessibility throughout New York City, which built upon a set of guidelines, released in February, which he developed to advance accessibility of public buildings beyond compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The initiative focuses on how Brooklyn and New York City can lead the way in making improvements to physical, visual, auditory and social access for all of its residents; twelve percent of the borough’s population is over the age of 65, while almost ten percent have reported having some form of disability. Joined by City leaders, including Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Victor Calise, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, a nationally-recognized expert in disability rights, and disability advocates, he emphasized the long-standing challenges facing Brooklynites with disabilities and the need for meaningful reform.

Upon the Brooklyn Borough Hall arrival of the ADA Legacy Tour “Road to Freedom” Bus, a mobile exhibit traveling across the country to raise awareness of disability issues in recognition of the ADA’s 25th anniversary this month, Borough President Adams also announced upgrades that have been made to the “People’s House” to improve access for people with disabilities. Recent changes that have been made to the building include removing metal decorative gates that obstructed a corridor, adding safety traction strips on stairs, adding signage throughout the building identifying restrooms, lowering the height of paper towel and soap dispensers in restrooms, adding grab bars in restrooms, installing new light fixtures for elevators, and beginning the repair work to renovate the cracked bluestone on Borough Hall Plaza. He thanked New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Stacey Cumberbatch for her agency’s attentiveness to advancing accessibility; DCAS acts as manager for Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Borough President Adams’s Access-Friendly NYC report, which is available to be viewed and downloaded at, was informed by work with senior citizen and disability advocates as well as by a public hearing held in June at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where twenty people submitted testimony either in person or via e-mail. The report outlines a number of policy recommendations for the public and private sectors alike to advance accessibility, including for DCAS to conduct walkthroughs of all its buildings to see how they can go above and beyond ADA compliance. It calls on all hospitals, medical facilities, and doctors’ offices to be accessible and have diagnostic equipment that can accommodate a person with disabilities. The report recommends that the city create and enhance incentive programs for small businesses and small residential units to make accessible accommodations. Additionally, it advises an increase in funding for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, specifically the Equal Access Program which focuses on helping people with disabilities get accommodations they need.

Staten Island Borough President Oddo, NYPD, and DOE Announce “Protecting Our Kids” Program

On July 15, Borough President James Oddo and NYPD Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre held a press conference at Borough Hall to announce a new initiative called the “Drop Box Program: Police and Parents Protecting Our Kids.” They were joined by executive director of Staten Island YMCA Counseling Services Jacqueline Fiore Filis, executive director of Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness and project director for Tackling Youth Substance Abuse Adrienne Abbate, and DOE District 31 Superintendent Anthony Lodico.

BP Oddo began by explaining the initiative, which helps Staten Islanders safely dispose of unneeded prescription drugs. The program encourages parents to clean out their medicine cabinets of unused medications and bring them to drop box centers at their local precincts. The goal is to prevent children from experimenting with prescription drugs, which all too often leads to addiction.

The program is an offshoot of the successful “Too Good For Drugs” program, which was piloted in five Staten Island schools this year. If parents bring their children when they drop off their drugs, the children will be rewarded with Too Good For Drugs placards, which they can present to their school principals for recognition. Involving children in a positive way empowers the students and parents to be a part of the solution to Staten Island’s drug epidemic.

The initiative is an extension of the NYPD’s Found Controlled Substance procedure. The procedure allows people who discover illicit substances in their homes to voluntarily turn the drugs in to a police station without their family members getting in trouble.

City Agencies:

Chancellor Fariña Announces New Learning Partners Plus Program

As part of her commitment to bolstering collaboration between schools, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the launch of Learning Partners Plus and the continued growth of the Learning Partners Program. The new Learning Partners Plus program matches 10 host schools with 61 partner schools that will collaborate to improve in specific focus areas. Each host school will partner with five to seven schools based on a variety of factors such as grade, location, demographics, and learning focus area. In addition to Learning Partners Plus, the DOE will also continue the Learning Partners Program with 75 schools. This is more than a threefold increase from 21 schools that participated in the spring 2014 pilot. Both programs will be partially funded through grants from the Wallace Foundation. All totaled, 146 schools, with over 82,000 students across all five boroughs, will participate in Learning Partners next year – larger than the size of the entire Washington D.C. school system.

All 10 host schools in Learning Partners Plus are led by master principals from schools that were previously host schools in the Learning Partners Program. These 10 host principals were selected because of their strong performance as host principals and because they demonstrated a capacity to support more than two partner schools. As a result of provisions in the CSA contract, the DOE named them master principals that will support the growth of multiple schools. Master principals will get an additional $25,000 and will be expected to: support the development of customized cycles of learning to drive improvements for partner schools; plan and host frequent school inter-visitations; support partner principals with leadership development; serve as a thought partner to schools in their cohort; and engage in monthly leadership trainings throughout the year.

In an effort to further bolster the City’s leadership pipeline, select assistant principals in Learning Partners schools will participate in the DOE’s Assistant Principal Institute. These assistant principals will attend a customized program designed to prepare them for a principal role in one to three years.

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