This Week in New York City Government
Mayor de Blasio Signs Three New Laws Protecting Tenants from Harassment
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law three new measures to protect tenants from harassment, outlawing aggressive ‘buy-out’ practices used to force tenants out of rent-regulated apartments. In fast-gentrifying neighborhoods, owners have used unscrupulous tactics to pressure tenants out of affordable apartments so they can reap rent increases from the turnover: making threats, harassing tenants at their workplace or at late hours of the night, hiring ‘Tenant Relocators’ to intimidate tenants into taking a buyout offer they’ve already refused.
The new laws prohibit these tactics and put in place new protections.
- Intro. 757-A, sponsored by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, makes it unlawful for an owner to make a buyout offer within 180 days of a tenant explicitly refusing one.
- Intro. 682-A, sponsored by Council Member Dan Garodnick, makes it unlawful for an owner, in connection with a buyout offer, to threaten a tenant, to contact tenants at odd hours, or to provide false information to a tenant.
- Intro. 700-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, makes it unlawful for an owner to make a buyout offer without informing tenants of their right to stay in their apartment, to seek an attorney’s advice, and to decline any future contact on a buyout offer for 180 days.
The penalty for violating the new laws ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 for a first offense, to $2,000 to $10,000 for subsequent offenses. Fighting displacement is a major priority for the de Blasio administration. The City has:
- Increased funding for free, anti-eviction legal services to tenants eight-fold, to more than $50 million.
- Implemented the first-ever rent freeze in the history of the Rent Guidelines Board
- Formed the Tenant Support Unit to door-knock tenants in at-risk buildings in neighborhoods across the city to inform tenants of their rights, address housing code violations, and connect tenants with free legal services.
- Created a new Office of Civil Justice, in partnership with the City Council, to coordinate and recommend strategies to provide free and low-cost legal services to New Yorkers in need.
- Created a Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force with the Attorney General and State to lay criminal charges against landlords who render buildings unsafe or unlivable to force tenants out of rent stabilized housing.
- Locked in affordable rents for decades to come at 18,095 apartments, keeping families in their homes.
Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Administration Leaders Fan Out Across Five Boroughs in Final Push to Sign Up Kids for Pre-K
Mayor Bill de Blasio, elected officials and administration leadership are fanning out across the five boroughs this weekend in a last big push to enroll children in Pre-K for All. With classes beginning on September 9th, families still have an opportunity to apply and secure a free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seat for their child. All children who turn four years old in 2015 are eligible, and every child will be offered a placement.
Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery will join organizers on Saturday at barber shops and beauty salons in East Flatbush to urge parents who haven’t yet applied for pre-K to do so. Five other leaders from the administration will speak at major churches, and organizers will set up tables at 22 more congregations to answer parents’ questions and help them apply for pre-K on the spot. Their efforts are targeted at communities where there are still four-year olds not yet enrolled in a program.
Families can apply by:
- Calling 311. A dedicated enrollment specialist will walk parents through options convenient for them that provide programming tailored to their child’s needs.
- Texting ‘PREK’ to 877877. Parents will receive a response text identifying convenient local programs.
- Visiting nyc.gov/prek. Parents can easily search through programs with available seats and file a simple application in minutes.
Last fall, New York City enrolled more than 53,000 children in full-day pre-K at district schools, charter schools, and NYC Early Childhood Centers. This year’s expansion is expected to reach approximately 70,000 children in more than 1,900 programs across every borough and neighborhood. Because of free Pre-K for All programs, the average family saves more than $10,000 each year in childcare costs.
Weekend Organizing Activities
- Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery will canvas barber shops and beauty salons in East Flatbush, Brooklyn
- HRA Commissioner Steve Banks will speak at New Life Seventh Day Adventist Church in Brownsville
- Young Men’s Initiative Director W. Cyrus Garrett will speak at Greater Allen AME in Jamaica
- Organizers will set up tables and meet parents at 12 Seventh Day Adventist congregations across the city
- Corporation Counsel Zach Carter will speak at New Tabernacle Baptist Church in East Tremont
- DORIS Commissioner Pauline O’Toole will speak at Christ the Rock World Restoration Church in East New York
- DDC Executive Director Maria Centeno will speak at New Gospel Temple C.O.G.I.C. in Crotona Park East
- Organizers will set up tables and meet parents at 10 congregations across the city
Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation Requiring Fire Prevention Systems at Animal Service Facilities
Mayor de Blasio signed three bills into law – Intro. 145-A, in relation to automatic sprinkler systems at animal services facilities, and Intros 287-A and 586-A, which clarify requirements for price displays at gas stations. The Mayor also held public hearings for Intros 682-A, 700-A, and 757-A, which will amend the Housing Maintenance Code to protect tenants from harassment.
The first bill, Intro. 145-A, requires animal service facilities to install automatic sprinkler systems to protect animals from fires. Animal services facilities include animal hospitals, kennels, vet clinics, and pet shops. Facilities that are already under 24-hour supervision and have smoke alarms or automatic smoke detection systems are exempt from this law.
The second and third bills, Intros 287-A and 586-A, clarify requirements for price displays at gas stations. Intro. 287-A requires gas station signs advertising prices to include, at minimum, the price per gallon of the lowest grade gasoline including taxes. This bill also allows eligible gas stations to use LED signs to advertise prices. Intro. 586-A requires gas stations with different prices for cash and credit or debit payments to display the price for each method of payment on roadside signs, if the gas station has them.
To read a full transcript of the Mayor’s remarks, please click here.
Deputy Mayor Richard Buery to Work with First Lady Chirlane McCray on Mental Health Overhaul
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery will spearhead the implementation of the City’s work to create a more effective mental health system. First Lady Chirlane McCray will continue to lead the city’s efforts on mental health and the Deputy Mayor will work closely with her to finalize and oversee the implementation of the City’s upcoming Mental Health Roadmap and related programs, including the addition of mental health clinics in community schools and mental health professionals in family and runaway youth homeless shelters.
“The First Lady has done an extraordinary job laying down the vision and groundwork for a new approach to mental health. As we get closer to the implementation phase, I am very excited to announce her partnership with Rich Buery,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “From the expansion of free, high-quality pre-K and afterschool programming for middle school students to the creation of the NYC Children’s Cabinet and our Talk to Your Baby campaign, Rich has proven to be a fierce advocate, architect and unifier. I can’t think of a better person to spearhead this effort – Chirlane and Rich make a dream team, and together with Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and Executive Deputy Commissioner Dr. Gary Belkin, we will improve mental health for all New Yorkers.”
As part of the City’s mental health overhaul, the Mayor and First Lady recently announced the launch of NYC Safe, a public safety and public health program that establishes a centralized oversight body to support New Yorkers with untreated serious mental illness as a means to prevent violent behavior. The $22 million annual investment, a partnership between law enforcement and health care agencies, will provide timely intervention, treatment and follow up to law enforcement response, when necessary.
In March, the City announced nearly $80 million of additional funding for mental health services, and late last year announced $130 million to improve mental health in the criminal justice system. The City has committed more than $380 to mental health over three years.
Citywide and Borough Electeds:
Comptroller Stringer Audit Reveals City Failure to Set Goals for Reducing Greenhouse Emissions in Municipal Building
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) has failed to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in municipal buildings and is not properly tracking the City’s efforts to conserve energy in City buildings, according to a new audit by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg announced, PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York, a citywide initiative to develop a more sustainable New York City. The initiative included a plan to save energy and reduce GHG emissions of City buildings by 30 percent of 2006 levels by the year 2017.
Currently, 75 percent of New York City’s GHG emissions come from buildings. DCAS, which manages more than 4,000 municipal buildings, is responsible for ensuring that municipal buildings meet the City’s goal by accurately tracking energy use, benchmarking performance metrics, and spearheading building retrofits for improved efficiency.
Auditors examined energy data for all municipal buildings subject to DCAS’s energy use reporting between January 2010 and December 2014. The audit found that DCAS did not implement the City’s GHG emissions-reduction goals and measures by failing to translate these into agency-level goals. The audit found that City buildings had achieved a 16 percent reduction in GHG emissions from the 2006 baseline, and an average annual reduction rate of 2.3 percent. If the City continues on that course, it will fail to meet its 30 percent goal.
Among key findings, the audit revealed:
- Failure to Set and Monitor Progress toward Goals: DCAS failed to develop a set of agency-level GHG emissions reduction goals in order to implement the ones established in PlaNYC. Additionally, DCAS did not track its own progress in cutting GHG emissions in City-owned buildings.
- Improper Data Reporting: In 2013, instead of providing actual measurements of annual cost savings and GHG emissions reductions, DCAS used projections made by consultants. Those projections changed dramatically over time: in 2013, DCAS claimed that GHG emissions in City-owned buildings for FY 2012 had been reduced by 3,325 metric tons; however, later in 2014, the Agency changed its estimate of GHG emissions savings for FY 2012 to 7,021 metric tons, doubling their achievement, at least on paper.
- Insufficient Data Reporting: The Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant listed 30 buildings as part of its campus. In spite of the fact that the size of the buildings varied between 24,000 and 1.3 million square feet, DCAS reported identical energy performance for each building on campus, rather than providing a building-by-building breakdown of emissions. The audit found that this pattern was repeated at building campuses throughout the city.
- Incomplete Plan for Retrofitting City Buildings: DCAS failed to:
- Submit a complete compliance schedule for performing energy audits and retrofitting 798 City buildings to be more energy efficient.
- Establish a formal methodology for prioritizing buildings to undergo energy audits and retrofitting for energy efficiency.
Auditors made 10 recommendations to DCAS, including:
- Establishing in-house GHG emission goals, in consultation with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability;
- Documenting how it will track in-house GHG emission reductions;
- Showing how the data it provides to the City is computed;
- Verifying its building inventory and ensuring that those buildings, including campuses with shared energy meters, are benchmarked for energy audits and that data is accurately measured and recorded; and
- Creating written procedures on how to prioritize which buildings will undergo energy audits.
DCAS generally disagreed with the audit findings. However, the agency agreed with two recommendations, claimed it had already implemented five, and disagreed with three.
This April, Mayor de Blasio announced his administration’s plan for a sustainable City, OneNYC, which aims to reduce overall GHG emissions in New York City by 80 percent of the 2005 levels by the year 2050. Within this initiative is the One City: Built to Last plan, which calls for municipal buildings to reduce GHG emissions by 35 percent of 2005 levels by the year 2025. Even with these new targets, at the current rate, municipal buildings are not on track to meet these goals.
To date, according to the DCAS website, the Administration has distributed $140 million to fifteen City agencies for energy efficiency initiatives in over 400 buildings. However, since DCAS does not provide reliable agency-level energy use metrics to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the City is unable to establish performance metrics as a basis for funding agencies for retrofitting and other energy reduction projects.
Manhattan Borough President Brewer: School Crossing Guard Positions Open Across Manhattan
With the New York City school year starting Wednesday, September 9, Manhattan Borough President announced that the Police Department is accepting applications for school crossing guard positions across Manhattan and the city as a whole. Earlier this year, the City allocated $1.14 million in additional funds from the City budget to hire 80 new crossing guards following a public campaign for more crossing guards led by Brewer as well as Councilmembers Brad Lander (Brooklyn) and Vanessa Gibson (Bronx).
“We’ve won the funding to hire more crossing guards and better protect our kids, but now we need community members to apply for these vital part-time positions,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “These positions offer regular hours, increased pay, and the opportunity to help keep our city’s kids safe, every school day. Please call your local precinct to apply!”
The NYPD is currently seeking applicants for 41 vacant positions in police precincts across the borough, from Lower Manhattan to Inwood. The chart available below lists crossing guard vacancies in each police precinct and includes each precinct’s phone number and street address for individuals seeking more information or interested in applying. Potential applicants should inquire about openings and request application forms at local police precincts.
Pay for crossing guards starts at $11.50 per hour and increases to $13.49 per hour after 3 years with health benefits. Now that crossing guard head count has been increased, B.P. Brewer will continue pushing for other improvements in working conditions, recruitment, and assignment for these vital public servants, including: increased pay, an end to summer furloughs, standardized central recruitment rather than recruitment through individual precincts, and an assignment process that accounts for both traffic data and community input.
Bronx Borough President Diaz: Elected Officials Issue Report on Kingsbridge/Broadway Business Corridor
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Council Member Andrew Cohen, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, Bronx Community Board #8 and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation issued a joint report examining the Kingsbridge/Broadway retail corridor, running along Broadway between West 230th Street and West 238th Street, including connecting side streets, in the northwest Bronx.
This well-known commercial corridor has seen two new retail shopping centers open at each end in recent months, and is slated for more retail, commercial and residential development in the near future. Given this activity, this group sought to identify issues affecting the corridor and put forth recommendations, which they believe will help maintain the area’s status as a vibrant, active and relevant shopping corridor for both local residents and those beyond.
Those recommendations include a renewed focus on graffiti removal, standardized street furniture and sanitation receptacles, increased lighting and the creation of new parks and public interaction spaces, among others.
The complete report on the Kingsbridge/Broadway business district can be read at http://on.nyc.gov/1fRNJcA.
Bronx Borough President Diaz: NYC Parks Cuts the Ribbon on New Soundview Amphitheater
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Senators Jeffrey Klein and Ruben Diaz, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Bronx City Council Chief of Staff Mariela Salazar, DEP Deputy Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, Community Liaison Ramon Cabral, leaders of Community Board 9, and local residents to celebrate the opening of the new amphitheater at Soundview Park.
The natural amphitheater features a performance lawn built in line with Roseland Avenue, alongside a new park entrance and pathway. The $2.8 million construction budget included mayoral funding as well as Croton Filtration Plant Mitigation Funds.
Previously completed at Soundview Park was the construction of a rubberized 400-meter regulation running track and field with areas for pole vault, high jump, long jump, and triple jump. The $6 million project also included a synthetic turf soccer field, bleacher seating, adult fitness units, a misting station, landscaping, and lighting for evening play.
Additional phases of the Soundview Park redevelopment, which include reconstruction of the existing playground while building a new comfort station at Metcalf Avenue, are soon to be finalized.
Known as the “Gateway to the Bronx River,” Soundview Park celebrates the beauty of the Bronx waterfront with extensive views. The 205-acre park was built on a landfill and sits where the Bronx River opens into the East River. The Bronx River is the only freshwater river in New York City.
Queens Borough President Katz Hosts Drop-off Site for Coalition for the Homeless “Project: Back to School” Backpack and School Supply Drive
With the start of the school year around the corner, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz encourages members of the public to donate backpacks and school supplies to homeless children as part of “Project: Back to School,” an annual initiative organized by the Coalition for the Homeless.
Borough President Katz’s office is accepting backpack and school supply donations between now through September 18thin a drop-off box placed in the lobby of Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard. Donations dropped off at Queens Borough Hall are anonymous and are not tax-deductible. All donated items received will be distributed to schoolchildren living in homeless shelters to assist them with getting ready for the school year.
Shelter life can put additional pressure on school-aged children who find themselves having to cope with insufficient space to complete assignments, long commutes to school every morning and the constant stigma of being homeless. Something as simple as a backpack can make all the difference. That’s why items donated as part of “Project: Back to School” help ensure that everyone can be equipped for the start of school.
In addition to backpacks, the Coalition for the Homeless says other supplies that are much needed by schoolchildren include No. 2 pencils, composition books, pocket folders, calculators, one-inch binders and colored pencils.
Borough Hall is currently the only location in the Borough of Queens where “Project: Back to School” donations are collected this year. It is open Monday through Friday during business hours and can be easily reached by mass transit by taking the E or F subway lines to the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike station
Brooklyn Borough President Adams Pushes City Pension Systems to Advance Retirement Security
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams hosted about 400 senior citizens from across Brooklyn for his second annual Senior Day, celebrated this year at Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach under the theme of “Seniors by the Sea.” As part of the event, which took place during National Make-A-Will Month, he announced his push for all of New York City’s major pension systems to advance their members’ retirement security by supporting the “5@55” campaign, an effort on which he has partnered with a nationwide committee of elder law attorneys in order to educate people on five essential legal documents they need by the age of 55; these materials include a will, living will, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, and digital diary. Borough President Adams spoke about the importance of precaution and preparation to aging successfully, which will have an impact on the execution of major life decisions.
Studies have shown that, on average, only 45% of Americans have executed a will, only 41% have living wills, only 40% have done some form of estate planning, and only 39% have a healthcare proxy. Last month, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) Board of Trustees, of which Borough President Adams is a member, approved his proposal to take steps toward educating their members on the importance of the “5@55” legal documents; the plan requires NYCERS to provide basic information about the importance of advance planning at consultation meetings and workshops, as well as on their website. He followed up that decision by sending a letter to leadership from the New York City Board of Education Retirement System, New York City Fire Department Pension Bureau, New York City Police Pension Fund, and Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York; the communication asked for their support in accepting a similar strategy to take on the “5@55” campaign.
Borough President Adams also spoke to seniors about his work to make the borough a safe community where Brooklynites can age in place; according to the New York City Department of City Planning, Brooklyn is projected to continue having the largest elderly population in the city, numbering 410,000 seniors in 2030, up 45 percent from 2000. He noted a recent survey of 150 American cities by WalletHub that ranked New York City fifth-to-last for retirement friendliness, citing affordability and health care as particular concerns.
Those in attendance at Borough President Adams’s “Seniors by the Sea” celebration enjoyed lunch, dancing, an interactive photo booth, and a spirited round of Brooklyn trivia conducted by Borough President Adams. Sponsors for the event included Affinity Health Plan, Emblem Health, Healthfirst, Home Family Care, OTC Mobile Store, Senior Umbrella Network of Brooklyn, Senior Whole Health, and WellCare. In addition to Kingsborough Community College, partners included Bon Soir Caterers, Brooklyn Public Library, Café Au Lee, DJ Kevin Jones, Millennium Development, NYPD Explorers, and TapSnap.
Brooklyn Borough President Adams: Expanding Brooklyn’s Celebration of Caribbean Culture, Adams Announces First Annual Jamaican Patty Eating Contest
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams announced that he will stage the first annual Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill National Jamaican Patty Eating Contest, in partnership with Golden Krust and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), to expand Brooklyn’s celebration of Caribbean culture and highlight one of New York City’s most popular street foods. Jamaican patties are turnover-style pastries, developed after the introduction of the Cornish pasty to the Caribbean from England in the colonial era, with a variety of fillings that are typically spicy in nature; the most popular varieties are ground beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetable. On average, 54.8 million Jamaican patties are consumed from Golden Krust every year.
The first annual Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill National Jamaican Patty Eating Contest will be held on Sunday, September 6th at 7:00 PM outside the Brooklyn Museum in Crown Heights as part of WIADCA’s Dimanche Gras, an event that will also feature the Kings and Queens of the Bands costume competition as well as musical performances by Caribbean legends such as The Mighty Sparrow; these festivities serve as the preamble to the West Indian American Day Carnival on Labor Day, which brings millions of people to Eastern Parkway for what many consider the city’s largest parade.
Ten competitors will be selected at random by Borough President Adams for the first annual Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill National Jamaican Patty Eating Contest; anyone interested in taking part is asked to email@example.com by Friday, September 4th at 5:00 PM. Whoever consumes the most Jamaican patties in a five-minute period will be declared the winner and will receive a trophy and Golden Krust gift certificate.
Ticket information for the first annual Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill National Jamaican Patty Eating Contest, as well as the rest of the events that are part of WIACDA’s Dimanche Gras, can be found online by visiting wiadcacarnival.org.
Chancellor Fariña Announces Expansion of Public Schools Athletic League, Increasing Number of Girls’ and Small Schools Teams
Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced an expansion of the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), with an emphasis on adding new teams at small schools and creating new girls’ teams. Nearly 70 percent of added teams will be in the Small Schools Athletic League (SSAL) and around 70 percent of all new teams will be girls’ teams. Approximately 220 new teams will be added in the 2015-2016 school year, providing athletic opportunities for an additional 3,000 high school students.
The SSAL, a division within the PSAL for smaller schools with limited athletic offerings, will receive roughly 150 of the new teams during the 2015-16 school year, equaling 2,000 new roster spots. For the fall season, 74 new teams will be added – 49 in SSAL and 49 girls’ teams. Schools are in the process of applying for winter and spring sports teams. Over the next four school years, DOE plans to add nearly 500 new teams and, by the 2019-2020 school year, expects to have full parity between male and female athletic participation.
Of the new SSAL teams in the fall, seven will be in the Multiple Pathways League, which has modified academic eligibility standards and is geared to meeting the needs of students who are overage and under-credited, as well as English Language Learners. The Multiple Pathways League will also expand to include new sports such as baseball and soccer.
This expansion was made in close partnership with the City Council, which demonstrated its commitment to this issue by allocating $1 million for the SSAL this year. This focus on supporting children both inside and outside the classroom will benefit students, who will learn important lessons about teamwork, setting goals, and perseverance. The total PSAL budget was increased by 14 percent – to $32.4 million from $28.4 million – to fund the expansion.
Schools at JFK Campus in the Bronx Will Reopen for the First Day of School
All seven schools at the John F. Kennedy Campus in the Bronx will reopen on the first day of school, Wednesday, September 9, with no disruption to instruction. The building, whose sixth floor was damaged in a gas explosion on August 20, is structurally sound and safe, and air quality tests have shown there is no possible danger for students, families, and school staff returning to the building.
Workers have been making all necessary repairs and have sealed off the damaged rooms with sheetrock walls and all classes and programs will be accommodated without any disruption to students’ schedules. To make up for the loss of the damaged science labs, alternatives such as lab carts will be provided. There are functioning science labs in the building and students will have full use of all other facilities, including athletic fields. Air quality tests have been posted on the websites of each school. The DOE has been communicating updates to families.
School principals are scheduled to return to the building this week and continue preparing for the first day of school. Bids will go out for reconstruction work on the rooms that were damaged and repairs will begin later this year. Because all work will take place in sealed off rooms, no students will be affected. Workers from the DOE and the School Construction Authority have been working around the clock since the incident to repair damage, put up walls and above all else, to ensure the building is safe.
HPD Commissioner Been Announces the Launch of a New, Green Design Review Process to Speed the Development of Critical Affordable Housing
New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been announced the launch of a new electronic document submission system to streamline the design review process for affordable housing, in which HPD works closely with developers, sponsors, consultant architects, and engineers to ensure that HPD-assisted projects comply with all requirements. The new BLDS eSubmit combines and leverages the capabilities of several digital platforms to speed up, simplify, and track the design review process in an efficient, intuitive, visual way that fosters close collaboration between HPD, the Department of Buildings (DOB), and external partners.
The new platform advances the goals of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. BLDS eSubmit uses Bluebeam software, which will streamline interagency coordination with DOB, which also uses the same software for plans review. Increased coordination with DOB will simplify and expedite development approvals and permits, removing unnecessary barriers and delays to developing affordable housing.
Advantages of BLDS eSubmit:
- Sustainability: Eliminating the need to print large sets of drawings and plans will help save trees. External architects and developers will now be able to submit drawings and documents electronically to BLDS with a “quick mouse click” on their computer by uploading files through Box.com.
- Efficiency: Reviews will be conducted using Bluebeam Revu, which will allow for clear and concise mark-ups and comments to be added directly on the drawings and plans. Virtual examinations and electronic transactions will significantly reduce the review time for certain projects.
- Consistency: Standardized comments and color-coded mark-up tools and conventions established on Bluebeam Revu will improve consistency in reviews.
- Transparency: Through BLDS’ SharePoint application, automated email messages will be sent to project stakeholders during each project milestone from project intake through design acceptance.
- Accountability: Through BLDS’ SharePoint application, a project history log will be maintained, which records and time stamps all transactions. This will increase accountability of all stakeholders.
- Cost Savings: Because time is money in development projects, reducing the review time will help control the costs of developing affordable housing. In addition, architects and developers will save money by eliminating the need to print large sets of drawings and hire a messenger to deliver plans to HPD.
The BLDS team provides architectural, engineering, environmental, cost valuation, and construction support services through the entire life-cycle of HPD new construction and preservation projects. HPD requires most projects to undergo a BLDS design review prior to loan closing. During the design review, BLDS works closely with developers, sponsors, consultant architects, and engineers to assure that HPD-assisted projects comply with all applicable laws, regulations, codes, rules, and standards as mandated by city, state, and federal authorities having jurisdiction. This new system streamlines every step of the BLDS design review process.
Projects requesting a design review of the initial submission of new construction projects now should all be submitted through BLDS eSubmit. This includes projects participating in any of the New Construction Finance loan programs (e.g. ELLA, Mix & Match, M2, NCP, and NIHOP), Supportive Housing Loan Program (SHLP), Senior Affordable Rental Apartments Program (SARA), and Inclusionary Housing Program (IHP). Any new construction project that has already undergone a round of design review and/or is currently in review by BLDS should continue to follow the former procedure. BLDS eSubmit will soon be available for the submission of preservation projects as well.
NYCEDC and HPD Announce Housing New York Request for Proposals for Former Slaughterhouse Site on the Far West Side of Manhattan
New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) in partnership with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced the release of a Housing New York Request for Proposals (RFP) to create a mixed-use development that contributes to the overall vibrancy of the dynamic Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. This RFP will help meet the City’s goal to build or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units over the next 10 years. Respondents are encouraged to submit proposals that achieve maximum housing affordability, with the goal of reaching 100 percent affordability, financed by a mix of commercial or community facility uses. Located at 495 11th Avenue, the 24,687 square foot lot was once home to the New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company, and is currently used as NYPD parking.
“We have a unique opportunity through this project to activate a prime location in a growing neighborhood for new affordable housing development,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “We look forward to advancing the Mayor’s Housing New York goals through this project and providing new opportunities and amenities for longtime residents and local businesses in Hell’s Kitchen. I want to thank Commissioner Been, Council Member Johnson, Borough President Brewer, Community Board 4 and the NYCEDC team for engaging the community in a robust dialogue about the future of this site.”
“Housing New York envisions the type of community engagement and interagency cooperation that results in the creative reuse of City-owned sites,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “The Slaughterhouse Site RFP takes advantage of the real momentum happening on the far west side of Manhattan to enhance the existing neighborhood through the creation of much-needed affordable housing. We are grateful to our elected officials for their leadership and look forward to working with them and EDC to transform this former slaughterhouse, now a parking lot, into a mixed-use development that brings job opportunities and essential services, along with affordable housing, to the community.”
The announcement is the culmination of extensive community outreach and input from local stakeholders, including City Council Member Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Manhattan Community Board 4. Under the leadership of Council Member Johnson, and in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Brewer, NYCEDC and HPD engaged in a three-month long engagement process with Community Board 4 that was instrumental in identifying key community priorities for the RFP, including maximum affordability and a preference for essential services, such as a grocery store.
City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, NYC HPD, CPC, El Barrio’s Operation Fight Back Inc., and Enterprise Host Neighborhood Preservation Helpdesk
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), El Barrio’s Operation Fight Back Inc. (EBOF), and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise) are hosting a Neighborhood Preservation HelpDesk for multifamily building owners. This is the latest in a series of HelpDesk events to assist owners of small rental buildings (between five and 50 units) who are interested in finding information on funding for repairs and upgrades, resources to save on operating and energy costs, and tax exemption programs. The HelpDesk will be held at El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109 in East Harlem, an abandoned public school building transformed with financial assistance from HPD into affordable live/work housing and an arts facility.
The Neighborhood Preservation HelpDesk is an initiative of HPD, CPC, and Enterprise. Many small building owners operate on thin margins and lack the funding needed to provide for significant repairs and upgrades to ensure the sustainability of their aging properties. The HelpDesk provides a user-friendly, one-stop shop model to bring information about low-cost financing and other resources directly to owners in their neighborhoods. Housing specialists will be on hand to answer questions, identify appropriate funding sources for building improvements, and provide guidance on a range of preservation resources, including city preservation financing programs, violation clearance and property registration, tax abatement programs, energy efficiency programs, and private financing programs with favorable terms for affordable housing.
Currently, 400,000 apartments in buildings with less than 50 units provide stable affordable housing to 50 percent of New York City’s low- and moderate-income renters, but the owners of these buildings are often not taking advantage of any publicly available low-cost financing opportunities. Additionally, 85 percent of these units were built before 1973 and are likely in need of repair and upgrades.
Simultaneously, New York City is facing an affordable housing crisis, with more than 50 percent of the City’s renters rent-burdened, paying more than one third of their income towards rent, and more than 30 percent of the City’s renters severely rent-burdened because they are paying 50 percent or more of their household income for rent. This is compounded by an extreme shortage of affordable rental units, especially at the lowest income bands. For every 100 renters at 30 percent or less of Area Median Income (AMI), there are only about 30 affordable units available; in East Harlem, there are only about 49 affordable units available. To effectively address this crisis, the City has made preserving affordable housing through targeted, neighborhood-based investments, a central commitment of the Housing New York plan.