This Week in New York City Government
Mayor de Blasio Releases One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City
The de Blasio administration announced the release of “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” a comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient city for all New Yorkers that addresses the profound social, economic, and environmental challenges ahead.
OneNYC builds on prior long-term sustainability plans for New York City, expanding on the critical targets established under previous plans, as well as on the work of the de Blasio administration over the last 16 months. Growth, sustainability, and resiliency remain at the core of OneNYC – but with the poverty rate remaining high and income inequality continuing to grow, the de Blasio administration added equity as a guiding principle throughout the plan.
OneNYC sets measurable goals for tackling these challenges in the coming years – including a poverty reduction target of 800,000 New Yorkers over the next 10 years, zero waste to landfills by 2030, and the elimination of long-term displacement from homes and jobs after shock events by 2050 – with critical action in the short-term to put the city on the path to achieving these goals.
Visit nyc.gov/onenyc to read the full plan.
OneNYC lays out a series of specific targets and initiatives to prepare New York City for the future generations, including:
- Making New York City home to 4.9 million jobs by 2040.
- Creating 240,000 new housing units by 2025, and an additional 250,000 to 300,000 by 2040.
- Enabling the average New Yorker to reach 25% more jobs – or 1.8 million jobs – within 45 minutes by public transit.
- Lifting 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty or near-poverty by 2025.
- Cutting premature mortality by 25 percent by 2040, while reducing racial/ethnic disparities.
- Reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, over 2005 levels.
- Sending zero waste to landfills and reducing waste disposal by 90 percent relative to 2005 levels, by 2030.
- Ensuring New York City has the best air quality among all large U.S. cities by 2030.
- Reducing risks of flooding in most affected communities.
- Eliminating long-term displacement from homes and jobs after future shock events by 2050.
- Reducing the city’s Social Vulnerability Index for neighborhoods across the City.
- Reducing annual economic losses from climate-related events.
- Continued investment as part of an over-$20 billion program that includes a range of physical, social, and economic resiliency measures.
The plan recognizes New York City’s role and responsibilities as a regional hub, and calls on the City’s partners to work together on shared goals for building a strong region. The plan follows months of engagement with thousands of New Yorkers across the five boroughs – including through an online survey available in seven language, dozens of community meetings, a phone survey, and meetings with hundreds of civic organizations and local and regional elected officials. In the coming months, the de Blasio administration will continue the conversation with residents, civic leaders, and elected officials to refine initiatives and encourage civic engagement. New Yorkers can also share their thoughts and priorities at nyc.gov/onenyc.
The plan – a 332-page document – is divided into four visions for a stronger, more equitable, more sustainable, and more resilient New York City, and includes over 200 new initiatives, with over 80 specific new metrics and targets.
Vision 1: Our Growing, Thriving City
New York City will continue to be the world’s most dynamic urban economy where families, businesses, and neighborhoods thrive:
- Industry Expansion & Cultivation: New York City will have the space and assets to be a global economic leader and grow quality jobs across a diverse range of sectors.
- Workforce Development: New York City will have a workforce equipped with the skills needed to participate in the 21st century economy.
- Housing: New Yorkers will have access to affordable, high-quality housing coupled with robust infrastructure and neighborhood services.
- Thriving Neighborhoods: New York City’s neighborhoods will continue to thrive and be well-served.
- Culture: All New Yorkers will have easy access to cultural resources and activities.
- Transportation: New York City’s transportation network will be reliable, safe, sustainable, and accessible, meeting the needs of all New Yorkers and supporting the city’s growing economy.
- Infrastructure Planning and Management: New York City’s infrastructure and built environment will exemplify global economic, environmental, and social leadership.
- Broadband: Every resident and business will have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband service everywhere by 2025.
Vision 2: Our Just and Equitable City
OneNYC will have an inclusive, equitable economy that offers well-paying jobs and opportunities for all New Yorkers to live with dignity and security:
- Early Childhood: Every child in New York City will be nurtured, will be protected, and will thrive.
- Integrated Government and Social Services: All New Yorkers will have access to high-quality, conveniently located, community-based City resources that promote civic engagement and enable them to thrive.
- Healthy Neighborhoods, Active Living: New Yorkers of all ages will live, work, learn, and play in neighborhoods that promote an active and healthy lifestyle.
- Healthcare Access: All New Yorkers will have access to the physical and mental healthcare services they need.
- Criminal Justice Reform: Among large U.S. cities, New York will continue to be the safest and will have the lowest incarceration, with a criminal justice system that leads the nation in fairness and efficiency.
- Vision Zero: New Yorkers will continue to embrace Vision Zero and accept no traffic fatalities on New York City Streets.
Vision 3: Our Sustainable City
OneNYC will ensure that New York City is the most sustainable big city in the world and a global leader in the fight against climate change:
- 80×50: New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions will by 80 percent lower by 2050 than in 2005.
- Zero Waste: New York City will send zero waste to landfills by 2030.
- Air Quality: New York City will have the best air quality among all large U.S. cities by 2030.
- Brownfields: New York City will clean up contaminated land to address disproportionately high exposures in low-income communities, and convert land to safe and beneficial use.
- Water Management: New York City will mitigate neighborhood flooding and offer high-quality water services.
- Parks and Natural Resources: All New Yorkers will benefit from useful, accessible, and beautiful open spaces.
Vision 4: Our Resilient City
OneNYC will ensure that our neighborhoods, economy, and public services are ready to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change and other 21st century threats:
- Neighborhoods: Every city neighborhood will be safer by strengthening community, social, and economic resiliency.
- Buildings: The city’s buildings will be upgraded against climate impacts.
- Infrastructure: Infrastructure systems across the region will adapt to enable continued services.
- Coastal Defense: New York City’s coastal defenses will be strengthened against flood and sea level rise.
To read a full transcript of the Mayor’s remarks, please click here.
Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Establish Testing Programs for Housing and Employment Discrimination and Increase Transparency for the Human Rights Commission
Mayor de Blasio signed into law five pieces of legislation – Intro. 421-A, Intro. 689-A, Intro. 690-A, Intro. 656, and
The first set of bills – Intro. 421-A, Intro. 689-A, and Intro. 690-A – strengthen the transparency of the Human Rights Commission in its efforts to enforce the Human Rights Law, which protects New Yorkers from discrimination. Intro. 421-A requires the Commission to report additional information related to its investigations of discrimination, including the total number of investigations and the number of investigations that result in civil action. Intro. 689-A requires the Commission to test for housing discrimination, and Intro. 690-A requires the Commission to test for discrimination in employment practices. These tests would involve sending a pair of testers who have similar qualifications, but differ in a characteristic such as race or gender, who would apply for housing or employment to determine if discriminatory practices are being used. These bills also require the Commission to report the results of these tests, and to refer any incidents of discrimination to the Law Enforcement Bureau for assessment. These bills were approved by the City Council during the Stated Meeting on March 31.
The fourth bill, Intro. 656, establishes the South Shore Business Improvement District. Business Improvement Districts are voluntarily-formed community organizations that promote business development and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods across the City. The South Shore BID consists of three commercial strips located in Great Kills, Eltingville, and Annadale in Staten Island. It is the first BID to contain three nearby, but non-contiguous, areas. Community Board 3 approved the BID’s District Plan on November 25, 2014, and the City Planning Commission approved a resolution for the BID on January 7. This bill was approved by the City Council during the Stated Meeting on March 31. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Vincent Ignizio.
The fifth bill, Intro. 497-B, requires the New York City Banking Commission to include a formal report when submitting early payment discount rate recommendations to the Council, detailing which factors were considered when determining the rate, and a comparison to other interest rates. Intro. 497-B also moves up the deadline for these recommendations from May 25 to May 13, and institutes a new default rate in the event the Council does not adopt an early payment discount rate. This new default rate will be a formula based on the Six-Month Treasury Bill. The New York City Banking Commission is responsible for recommending the interest rate for delinquent property tax and water/sewer payment discount rate for early payment of property taxes. This bill was approved by the City Council during the Stated Meeting on March 31. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the City Council Finance Committee Chair, Council Member Julissa Ferreras, and the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
To read a full transcript of the Mayor’s remarks, please click here.
Mayor de Blasio and Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks Announce FoodHelp.nyc to Connect New Yorkers to Snap Benefits
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner Steven Banks announced a new citywide outreach campaign to spread the word about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) to New Yorkers who qualify for SNAP benefits but aren’t receiving them. The campaign includes specific outreach to the two largest unenrolled but eligible groups – seniors and immigrants – with the goal of reaching all New Yorkers who can benefit from SNAP. The centerpiece of the campaign is a state-of-the-art website, FoodHelp.nyc, which includes videos featuring real SNAP clients sharing stories of how the program helped them, links to the newly-redesigned ACCESS NYC site where people can apply, and an interactive map with the locations of food pantries, community kitchens and SNAP application locations.
The campaign also includes targeted ads on subways, buses, and bus shelters, and in neighborhood locations such as check cashing stores, bodegas, hair and nail salons, barber shops and laundromats. HRA is partnering with dozens of community organizations, food pantries and advocates to generate a strong social media outreach effort and gain support for the campaign by leveraging the digital presence of community partners and with specially designed posters and brochures. Outreach materials will be available in English and the six Local Law languages (Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and Haitian Creole.)
During 2014, there were an average of about 1.76 million New York City residents receiving SNAP benefits, including more than 650,000 children, and they purchased a total of more than $3 billion in food. The federal government estimates that $1 of food stamp spending generates $1.80 in economic activity, which means SNAP brought about $5.4 billion to the City economy, much of it to small businesses around the City. The official SNAP participation rate is 77 percent in New York City. That suggests that there are about 550,000 residents who may be eligible but are not receiving the benefit.
Mayor de Blasio Announces Three New Operational Solar Installations – Including at City Hall – Key Component of Green Buildings Plan
Mayor de Blasio announced three new solar installations on City buildings as part of the Administration’s green buildings plan, taking another step toward dramatically reducing the City’s contributions to climate change. The three solar installations, completed by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services in collaboration with the Department of Design and Construction and other City agencies, are located at City Hall, the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Daniel D. Tompkins Elementary School in Staten Island.
These new solar projects are part of a larger commitment by the City to an 80 percent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions over 2005 levels by 2050 – the largest city in the world to make that commitment – starting with a sweeping green buildings plan, One City, Built to Last. Buildings account for nearly three-quarters of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. Mayor de Blasio has committed to retrofitting every single public building with significant energy use by 2025, including installing 100 MW of solar power.
The solar installation at City Hall demonstrates how a landmarked building can be retrofitted and upgraded to use less energy. During the ongoing renovations of the building, the City took the opportunity to reduce the building’s draw on the electrical grid by installing a high efficiency fuel cell that produces electricity from natural gas without combustion, and a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installation, which was operational as of Friday, April 17. The solar panels complement the LEED Silver energy efficiency rehabilitation of this historic structure. The installation of the solar PV system, together with the fuel cell, will supply 30 percent of the electricity needs of the building, reducing strain on the electrical grid – particularly on hot summer days when electricity to run air conditioners is in high demand and the possibility of power outages are most prevalent.
Mayor de Blasio Appoints Members of Theater Sub-district Council
Mayor de Blasio appointed Lin-Manuel Miranda and Daryl Roth and reappointed George C. Wolfe to the Theater Subdistrict Council.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a composer, lyricist, and actor best known for his work on the Broadway musical In the Heights. In the Heights received four 2008 Tony Awards (including Best Orchestrations, Best Choreography and Best Musical), with Miranda receiving a Tony Award for Best Score, as well as a nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. In the Heights won a 2009 Grammy Award for its Original Broadway Cast Album and was recognized as a Finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Last year, Miranda won an Emmy Award as the lyricist of the 2013 Tony Awards opening number, “Bigger.” Recently, Miranda has received widespread attention and accolades for his latest musical Hamilton, inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Hamilton made its world debut at the Public Theater in 2015, with book, music and lyrics by Miranda, who also played the title role. The production will transfer to Broadway in July 2015, starting previews at the Richard Rodgers Theater. Miranda is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where he first started work on In the Heights. He also serves as a Council Member of The Dramatists Guild and serves on the board of Young Playwrights Inc. Miranda is of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in the Inwood section of Manhattan. He currently lives with his family in Washington Heights.
Daryl Roth is one of the most decorated Broadway producers of all time. With seven Pulitzer Prize-winning plays and eight Tony awards, she has produced over 90 award-winning productions on and off Broadway. Her production credits include Tracey Letts’ August: Osage County, David Auburn’s Proof; Margaret Edson’s Wit; Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, and her current production, It Shoulda Been You. The Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award annually honors a gifted theater artist or organization that has demonstrated exceptional talent and promise in their field, providing them with financial support as they develop new works in an artistic residency. Roth is an Honorary Trustee for Lincoln Center Theatre and has served on the Board of Directors of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and New York State Council on the Arts.
George C. Wolfe, who is being reappointed, is an American playwright and film and theater director. Wolfe directed and co-wrote the 1996 musical Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, which won four Tony Awards – including for Best Direction of a Musical – and five nominations. Wolfe’s Broadway productions also include Angels in America, Caroline Or Change and most recently Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy. Wolfe currently serves as the Chief Creative Officer at the Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta, and previously served as the Artistic Director and Producer of the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater for over a decade.
The Theater Subdistrict Council, established by a 1998 zoning law, is a not-for-profit corporation limited solely to promoting theater and theater-related use and preservation within, and promoting the welfare of, the Theater Subdistrict.
Citywide and Borough Electeds:
Speaker Mark-Viverito, Microsoft Corporation, The City University of New York, and the Partnership for NYC Announce Collaboration to Provide Free Access to Software for CUNY Students
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Microsoft Corporation, and The City University of New York (CUNY) announced a collaboration to provide free Microsoft Office 365 to over 400,000 CUNY students. This public-private effort will expand access to tech education, putting more New Yorkers at a greater advantage to gain the proficiency necessary to succeed in business and in the global workforce. This half a billion dollar program is an expansion of an initiative that was announced in the Speaker’s State of the City speech, committing to ensure that New York City students have access to software that will benefit them in their collegiate career as well as prepare them for the workforce. Joining the Speaker and Microsoft in the announcement were Richard Langford of Microsoft Corporation, Kathy Wylde, Partnership for New York City, James B. Miliken, Chancellor for the The City University of New York (CUNY) and Mitchel Wallerstein, President of Baruch College.
Available now, students currently enrolled in participating CUNY schools will be able to download the Microsoft Office 365 software at no cost to them on up to 5 personal computers or Macs and 5 tablets, iPads, smart phones, or other devices. Office 365 provides up to date access to the latest versions of Microsoft’s applications, online document editing and one terabyte of cloud storage. This offer extends across all platforms and includes the following for each:
- Office 365 ProPlus on Windows: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Lync, Access, InfoPath and Publisher installed on Windows
- Office for Mac Professional 2011: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Lync
- Office for iPad, iPhone, Android: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote
Office 365 is available to all students, faculty and staff at participating CUNY schools and can be downloaded when students log into www.cuny.edu. The download is a simple three-click process and students with current Office 365 accounts can get the full offer by going to their settings to download. Some of this software has education-specific content and features that teachers can tailor for their classroom needs.
Comptroller Stringer Audit Reveals Nearly One Third of MTA Express Buses Not on Time
Express buses run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) missed their scheduled departure times more than 30 percent of the time according to an audit released by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. The audit also found that the MTA did not, until recently, even have the ability to track on-time performance of express buses on a regular, consistent basis and still has not set publically reported on-time performance targets.
The audit found that, overall, sampled express buses were not on time more than 30 percent of the time and commuters waited anywhere from 6 to 28 minutes after a scheduled departure time for the next available bus.
- Staten Island’s X1 and X17 buses displayed the worst performance, leaving either too late or too early an average of 35.9 percent of the time.
- In Brooklyn, the BM1, X27 and X28 bus routes were not on time an average of 33.7 percent of the time.
- On average, Queens and Bronx express bus routes were not on time 32.1 percent and 20.3 percent of the time, respectively.
Based on our observations, the vast majority of late departures occurred during the afternoon rush, with Brooklyn routes ranking highest with 36 late departures from Manhattan. Queens had the highest number of late departures during the morning rush with 24. Brooklyn also had the highest number of early departures in the morning, with 19 of the 30 buses that we found left too early during our citywide observations.
Significant findings of the audit include:
- Delayed and late buses make up nearly 40 percent of all express bus customer complaints.
- MTA has failed to establish on-time performance targets for express buses.
- MTA has failed to develop standard procedures for checking wheelchair lifts.
To read the full audit, please click here.
Comptroller Stringer Audit: Improper Handling of Drugs and Poor Shelter Conditions at Animal Care & Control
Animal Care & Control (AC&C) of New York City does not ensure the safety of drugs and vaccines it administers, fails to track them efficiently, operates an overcrowded shelter in Manhattan, and potentially unsafe facilities, according to an audit released by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
AC&C, a non-profit corporation, has a 5-year, $51.9 million contract with the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to provide shelter, examine, test, treat, spay, neuter and assure the humane care and disposition of animals in shelters located in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, along with drop-off centers in Queens and the Bronx. The audit examined four-months (December 2013 through March 2014) of controlled substance logs, and shelter conditions were observed on several occasions between March and November 2014. In addition, auditors examined AC&C’s financial operations for FY 2013 and sought to determine if it had adequate controls to ensure proper operational and financial accountability.
Auditors found that animals’ health was put at risk by AC&C’s failure to oversee controlled substances in all three shelters. A review of logs found 499 occasions in which expired drugs were given to animals. Auditors found that the Manhattan shelter distributed 489 expired tablets of Tramadol, an opioid; in the Brooklyn facility, expired doses of Diazepam, a form of valium, were given to at least three animals. Additionally, 92 bottles of expired controlled substances—some as old as 13 years—had not been removed from the premises.
The Comptroller’s audit also found that AC&C:
- Stored vaccines in food refrigerators and alongside animals remains.
- Allowed poor shelter conditions to exist, until auditors notified AC&C and DOHMH Officials.
- Weak and ineffective financial controls.
The audit set forth 18 recommendations to both Animal Care & Control and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the agency responsible for AC&C’s contract compliance. These recommendations include:
- Implementing a computerized inventory system to accurately track controlled substances;
- Establishing policies to ensure controlled substances are handled in accordance with DEA guidelines;
- Ensure that expenses are documented and that accurate purchasing documents are provided; and
- Conduct a cost benefit feasibility study to determine if moving headquarters is appropriate.
To view the full audit, please click here.
Comptroller Stringer: Green Bond Update Shows Growing Investor Interest in Socially Conscious Investments
New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a report detailing new market research and growing investor consensus that now is the time to implement a Green Bond program in New York City. Green Bonds offer investors a new way to participate in the financing of environmentally conscious projects such as providing for clean water and improving the energy efficiency of buildings.
Internationally, more than $36 billion in Green Bonds were issued in 2014, triple the previous year’s issuance. In September, Comptroller Stringer released a report that examined the impact that New York City would have by implementing a Green Bond program. Monday, he released an update which details the findings of intensive market research that affirmed four major benefits New York City could see from a high-quality Green Bond Program:
First, Green Bonds would broaden the City’s investor base, potentially saving taxpayer dollars. New York City sells, on average, $10 to $15 billion of debt each year. The market determines the price of the debt — the more demand, the lower the interest rate New York can expect to pay. Second, a high quality Green Bonds program in New York City would signal to the marketplace that we’re engaged in the long-term planning that is the hallmark of smart, forward-thinking management. This signal could have a “halo” effect that would help support all of our debt programs. Third, Green Bonds would promote further investment in resiliency projects by shining a spotlight on existing work being done by City agencies to improve sustainability and protect New York from the next big storm. Green Bonds will help City residents and investors understand which projects the City is already undertaking and provide funding for important work that still needs be done.
Finally, the sheer size of New York City’s program would help the municipal Green Bond market grow, opening up a new type of capital investment with environmental benefits for big cities and small towns across the country and around the world.
Comptroller Stringer: Boardroom Accountability Voting Kicks off with Strong Victory at EQT Corporation
Shareowners voted overwhelmingly in favor of a proxy access resolution filed by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on behalf of the $160 billion New York City Pension Funds at EQT Corporation, a Pittsburgh-based natural gas production company, according to an SEC filing made late Thursday. The resolution received the support of 66% of votes cast at the first annual meeting among the 75 companies at which the Funds filed resolutions as part of the Boardroom Accountability Project, a groundbreaking initiative to give shareowners proxy access, the right to nominate candidates to the board of directors of U.S. companies.
Proxy access gives shareowners the right nominate directors to run against a company’s chosen slate of director candidates on the corporate ballot. Currently, directors select all of the nominees — often themselves —who appear on the corporate ballot. While shareowners have a legal right to nominate directors, that right is largely illusory because of the prohibitive costs required to distribute a separate ballot. Because corporate directors are generally elected by a plurality of votes in uncontested elections, a director who owns one share of a company can re-elect his or her self, even if every other shareowner votes against that person.
To date, six of the original 75 companies at which proxy access resolutions were filed have agreed to implement meaningful reform: Abercrombie & Fitch, Big Lots, Inc., Splunk Inc., Staples, Inc., United Therapeutics Corporation and Whiting Petroleum – and a seventh company, Apache Corporation, has agreed to support the resolution. In total, at least sixteen companies, including Bank of America, Citigroup, GE, Prudential Financial and Yum! Brands have taken similar steps to implement meaningful proxy access since November in response to requests by the New York City Pension Funds or other investors.
As of April 16th, the New York City Pension Funds held 300,530 shares of EQT Corporation worth approximately $26.2 million.
To view the date of upcoming annual meetings of companies at which the New York City Pension Funds filed proxy access resolutions, please click here.
Manhattan Borough President Brewer Appoints 316 to Community Boards, Including 90 New Members
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer announced a slate of 316 appointments to Manhattan’s twelve Community Boards. The appointments will take effect on May 1, 2015, and include 90 new members, more than a quarter of the total appointments.
Brewer’s office continued its revamp of the Community Board application process by making Manhattan the first borough to accept community board applications online, scoring applications in a formal review process, and evaluating applicants’ participation in structured group problem-solving and discussion scenarios rather than one-on-one interviews.
The announcement marks the conclusion of a 2015 appointment process that ushered in another major change: the inclusion of 16- and 17-year olds as regular applicants under a new state law passed in 2014 and supported by Brewer. The Borough President’s office received 25 applications from teens aged 16-17, and appointed six of these applicants to Community Board seats.
300 members were appointed to regular two-year terms and an additional 16 one-year vacancies were filled, out of a pool of 722 total applicants. New applications for Community Board membership increased by 43 percent in 2015, and applications increased by 21 percent overall through a combination of traditional community outreach tactics and a targeted Facebook ad campaign.
The complete list of Community Board members will be made available on the Borough President’s web site, at this page: http://bit.ly/ManhattanCB
Queens Borough President Katz to Host Tax Lien Assistance Workshop
Borough President Melinda Katz announced an upcoming workshop at Queens Borough Hall to help homeowners and other property owners who may be affected by the City’s upcoming tax lien sale due to unpaid taxes and other bills owed to the City of New York. Unpaid taxes and other bills owed to the City may be sold at the City’s next Lien Sale to private debt collectors, which in turn can trigger foreclosure proceedings. Property owners on the 2015 Lien Sale list, however, may be able to avoid this if they act by May 14, 2015.
The City has sent several notices to the owners of 5,504 properties in Queens (19,239 citywide) informing them that their properties are on the 2015 Lien Sale list due to unpaid debts ranging from property taxes, water and sewer bills or other property charges. Of those properties, 3,974 are mostly residential properties of up to three units; 510 are mostly residential properties of more than three units; and 1,020 are commercial and industrial properties.
According to the 2015 30-Day Lien Sale List as of April 7, 2015, the zip codes of the top five areas in Queens with the most properties on the 2015 Lien Sale list are (in order): 11434 (South Jamaica/Springfield Gardens), 11368 (Corona), 11691 (Far Rockaway), 11433 (Jamaica) and 11413 (Laurelton).
Just last week, Borough President Katz and Mayor de Blasio’s administration unveiled the Jamaica Now Action Plan, an aggressive and holistic 21-point plan underway for the revitalization and growth of Jamaica, Queens into a thriving residential and commercial neighborhood. Borough President Katz’s Tax Lien Assistance Workshop is consistent with the Plan, which includes “facilitating neighborhood stability” by connecting homeowners and property owners to city programs.
Queens Borough President Katz Releases Directory of Immigrant Services
Borough President Melinda Katz, in honor of “New York City Immigrant Heritage Week,” announced the release of the Queens’ “Immigration Task Force Directory of Services”, which was prepared by the Task Force in conjunction with her Office of Immigrant and Intercultural Affairs.
The Directory contains listings for 65 non-profit organizations and agencies that provide assistance to immigrants living in Queens. It features listings for organizations represented on Borough President Katz’s Immigration Task Force, a network of reputable social service providers and government agencies committed to promoting immigrant integration in Queens and New York City. It also includes listings for all the elected officials representing Queens.
Each immigrant services organization entry in the Directory provides contact information for the organization along with types of programs and services offered by the organization and a list of the languages spoken by its staff. Organizations in the Directory can be searched by languages spoken in the Directory’s index and by organization name in the table of contents. The organizations and agencies listed in the Directory offer a wide variety of programs and services, including ESL and civics classes, citizenship assistance and legal advice, public benefits and health insurance access, employment training and job placement, youth activities and senior centers, and immigrant rights and civic engagement projects.
The Borough President’s Directory of Immigrant Services is available online at www.queensbp.org/policy/immigrant-affairs-intercultural-relations. Printed copies may be obtained by calling Borough President Melinda Katz’s office at (718) 286-2741 or by writing the office at 120-55 Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens, NY 11424.
Brooklyn Borough President Adams Launches New Initiative to Improve Street Safety for Brooklyn’s Vulnerable Pedestrians
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams joined dozens of senior citizens outside the AMICO Senior Citizens Center in Borough Park, along with local elected officials and community advocates, to launch CROSS (Connecting Residents on Safer Streets) Brooklyn, his new initiative to improve street safety for the borough’s vulnerable pedestrians. The effort includes a commitment of $1 million in capital funding from Brooklyn Borough Hall in Fiscal Year 2016 to construct sidewalk extensions, known as “bulb-outs” or “neck-downs”, at intersections determined to be dangerous, based on crash data from the New York City Department of Transportation.
Borough President Adams’ new effort builds on his past work to advance Vision Zero and pedestrian safety, including his call last summer on the City to use its school crossing guards to assist seniors in crossing streets. The announcement also comes in advance of the City Planning Commission’s vote on his land use recommendation to approve a lease renewal for AMICO Senior Citizens Center, a recommendation he conditioned on the City’s approval of constructing street extensions at the intersection adjacent to the center.
According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, people aged 60 years and older comprised 42.7% of Brooklyn’s 473 pedestrians killed in the ten years from 2003 through 2012, though they made up only 16.2% of the population. Those 75 years and older accounted for 5.6% of the total population, yet 19.9% of pedestrian fatalities.
Brooklyn Borough President Adams Announces Proposal for City’s Largest Expansion of Public Breastfeeding Zones at Rally for Family Friendly Brooklyn
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams announced his plans for the city’s largest expansion of public breastfeeding zones at a rally he held on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall for Family Friendly Brooklyn, his new initiative focusing on the wellness of the borough’s large number of families with young children. According to the United States Census, there are roughly 200,000 Brooklynites under the age of five, a figure higher than the New York State average. Borough President Adams unveiled his plans to open a public lactation room in Brooklyn Borough Hall, the largest City building to host such a space; partnering organizations including Delta Children, WellCare, and Worksites for Wellness made possible the provision of a hospital-grade pump, rocking chairs, a changing table, a small refrigerator, as well as educational posters and literature for the room. Additionally, he discussed his intention to work with legislators like Assembly Member Walter Mosley and Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., both of whom have previously established public lactation rooms in their district offices, to have public breastfeeding zones established in City-owned and State-owned buildings.
Borough President Adams’ Family Friendly Brooklyn initiative also calls for funding for the mental health screening of new mothers, addressing the complications of postpartum depression and anxiety, the most common complications of pregnancy. Left untreated, these conditions can develop into chronic depression and impair a child’s cognitive and emotional development. In 2014, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a maternal depression screening bill to provide much-needed support for women experiencing depression during pregnancy and the early postpartum period; however, the law remains unfunded. Borough President Adams advocated for fully funding this law, in addition to declaring the launch of a new series of maternal depression screening trainings and referral workshops with the Seleni Institute; the first of these events was held this morning at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Advocacy organizations supporting Borough President Adams’ Family Friendly Brooklyn initiative include 1199/SEIU Healthcare Workers East; A Better Balance; Brooklyn Perinatal Network, Inc.; Citizen Action of New York; Community Service Society of New York; Delta Children; New York City Breastfeeding Leadership Council; New York Working Families; New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign; New York Paid Leave Coalition; New York State Breastfeeding Coalition; Seleni Institute; Worksites for Wellness; and YWCA of Brooklyn.
Department of Housing Preservation and Development: HDC, HPD Join Best Development Group, Azimuth Development Group and Partners to Announce the Grand Opening of 201 New Affordable Apartments in the Bronx
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), joined Azimuth Development Group, Best Development Group, the Upper Manhattan Development Corporation and partners to celebrate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Morris Court Apartments. Morris Court Apartments include two connected six-story mid-rise buildings located at 253 East 142nd Street and 250 East 144th Street in the Mott Haven neighborhood of The Bronx. There are a combined total of 201 affordable apartments in this development that serve low-income families earning up to 60 percent and 80 percent of Area Median Income as well as formerly homeless individuals and families.
Morris Court Apartments contains approximately 273,077 square-feet of gross building area between its two buildings. The total development area encompasses an entire city block. The 253 East 142nd Street building includes a total of 101 apartments with a unit distribution of 10 studio, 41 one-bedroom, 43 two-bedroom, and six three-bedroom apartments. The 250 East 144th Street building includes a total of 100 apartments with a unit distribution of 21 studio, 27 one-bedroom, 45 two-bedroom, and six three-bedroom apartments.
Apartments in this development have been created to serve low-income and formerly homeless residents. Approximately 179 units are affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or an annual income of no more than $34,860 for an individual or $49,800 for a family of four. The remaining 20 units are affordable to households earning at or below 80 percent of AMI, or an annual income of no more than $46,500 for an individual or $66,400 for a family of four. Of the total units in this development, 41 units have been set aside for formerly homeless individuals. Income levels are calculated annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The above incomes are set according to HUD’s 2012 calculations.
The total development cost for Morris Court Apartments is approximately $69.7 million. HDC provided approximately $34.5 million in tax exempt bonds toward construction financing and $22 million in tax exempt bonds toward permanent financing. HDC also provided approximately $13 million from its corporate reserves. HPD provided Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to this project. HPD also provided approximately $8.3 million in 421a Funds. JP Morgan Chase acted as lender to this development and Raymond James acted as tax credit syndicator.
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Warns New Yorkers of Dangers of “Synthetic Marijuana” After Increase in Emergency Department Visits
The Health Department warned New Yorkers not to use synthetic cannabinoids – most commonly referred to as “synthetic marijuana” – after a significant increase in emergency department visits. Between April 8 and April 15, more than 120 emergency department visits related to synthetic cannabinoids were detected by the Health Department. During the first few months of 2015, an average of two to three synthetic-marijuana related emergency department visits occurred each day.
The majority of cases are in East Harlem. The median age of cases is 35 years old, and almost 90 percent of cases are male. In response to this troubling increase in emergency department visits, the Health Department will issue Commissioner’s Orders to stores in East Harlem and surrounding areas to remind owners that it is illegal to sell synthetic cannabinoids in New York City.
Synthetic cannabinoids refers to the many herbal mixtures inaccurately believed to be safe. Synthetic cannabinoids are known by several street names, including K2, Spice, Green Giant, Red Giant, Geeked Up, Caution, Smacked, Wicked X, AK-47 and “legal marijuana.” The packages can also be labeled “not for human consumption” and sold as “incense” or “potpourri.” The products contain dried, shredded plant material onto which chemicals are sprayed. Smoking the substance creates dangerous, mind-altering effects. People can buy synthetic cannabinoids in head shops, convenience stores, and on the Internet.
Some synthetic cannabinoid users develop extreme anxiety, confusion, sedation, paranoia and hallucinations. Other reported effects include rapid heart rate, vomiting, seizures and fainting. Synthetic cannabinoids can also cause kidney failure, raise blood pressure and reduce blood supply to the heart. In a few cases, it has been associated with heart attacks. Heavy users may also experience withdrawal and craving.
For more information about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, visit nyc.gov.