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Assembly to Tackle Rent Laws
April 11th, 2011

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hasn’t wasted much time since the budget passed to get to work on another one of his conference’s major concerns:renewing and strengthening rent regulations. The Assembly is expected to pass a bill later this evening that according to Silver’s office would:

“-Repeal vacancy decontrol, which permits landlords to remove apartments from regulation by charging rents at or above $2,000 a month
-Reduce allowable rent increases after a landlord makes individual apartment improvements from 1/40th to 1/60th the cost of the improvement
-Cap the amount that can be collected for a major capital improvement to the actual cost of the improvement
-Bring certain units that were deregulated due to vacancy decontrol on or after Jan. 1, 2007, under the protection of rent regulation
-Cut in half the percentage increase by which a landlord can raise rents after a vacancy
-Increase the high income and high rent deregulation thresholds to $300,000 and $3,000 respectively
-Permit NYC to strengthen rent protections beyond what the state allows”

Tenant advocates hoped that these reforms would be part of a budget deal and put considerable lobbying energy into achieving that. Now that the budget is passed they are concerned the Assembly does not have the leverage by itself to strengthen the rent laws. They say they expect Senate Republicans to wait till as close to the the June 15 deadline as they can and then introduce legislation that weakens the rent laws. The Senate Republicans received major financial backing from the real estate industry last fall. Senate Republicans say they plan on taking up rent law renewal but want the Assembly to pass a property tax cap before they address rents laws.

Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party released this statement supporting the legislation and putting pressure on the Republican-controlled Senate to take similar action:

Todays forthcoming Assembly vote to extend and strengthen rent regulation laws is the first step in guaranteeing housing security to millions of working and middle-class New Yorkers. We thank Speaker Silver and Chairman Lopez for their leadership today.

In a time of stagnating wages and job insecurity, the government has an obligation to make sure it doesnt make a difficult situation even more perilous for struggling families. Failure to strengthen and extend the rent laws would indeed put many hardworking and vulnerable New Yorkers in peril, with thousands of affordable housing units at risk for destabilization.

With the Assemblys action today, the Governors support, and a majority of both Democratic and Republican voters in favor,* we are confident that the Senate leadership will agree to strengthen the law and protect renters.

By on April 11, 2011, 5:01 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Housing | 3 Comments »

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Cuomo Appoints Towns (the Younger One)
February 10th, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has named Brooklyn Assemblymember Darryl Towns commissioner and CEO of the state’s Homes and Community Renewal, which includes the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the state mortgage agency and other housing agencies.

Towns, who has served in the legislature since 1992, is the son of U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns and has often been mentioned as a possible successor to him.

In the release from the governor’s office both Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, and Duncan MacKenzie, chief of the New York State Association of Realtors, praised the appointment, as did the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, a trade group. The statement did not include comments from any tenant groups.

Towns currently chairs the Assembly’s Committee on Banks and the Black, Puerto Rican/Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. During his time in the legislature, Towns, whose district includes parts of Cypress Hills, Bushwick and East New York, helped win passage of the ANCHOR Program. He has backed the Atlantic Yards project and recently penned an op-ed for the Post, essentially supporting the idea of a Walmart in East New York. He was a sponsor of a bill that would have end the city police’s shoot to kill policy, instead requiring them to wound suspects if forced to fire.

Town’s appointment opens the way for a special elections to fill the seat from the 54th Assembly district. While that might come as a relief to political junkies going cold turkey in this non-election year, don’t expect too much excitement. For all intents and purposes, the party bosses fill vacant legislative seats mid-term, not the voters. We’ll keep you posted, though.

By on February 10, 2011, 2:11 pm
In category: Albany,Community Development,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany,Housing | 2 Comments »

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The Developer's Tax Break
February 9th, 2011

This post was written by Alshawn Kelly Rushing.

As the city tries to rebuild its crumbling real estate industry, City Council members and community organizers gathered at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development‘s headquarters today to protest an extension of a property tax reprieve.

The 421-a tax benefit program exempts developers from paying increases in property taxes on new multifamily buildings for up to 25 years. Originally created in the 1970s to encourage development in the city, the program was changed in 2008 to focus more on affordable housing.

For a new residential development to be eligible for the tax exemption, 20 percent of the units in it must be affordable. Any project that received a permit by June 2008 was exempt from the stricter rules, as long as it was complete or near completion by June 2011.

The Bloomberg administration has proposed extending the deadline in the hopes of reenergizing the real estate market in the city that took a huge hit during the financial crisis. If passed, the new deadline for developers would be June 2014. The break would apply to 7,000 to 10,000 new units currently under development.

The extensions drew criticism from supporters of affordable housing. Outside the Housing Preservation and Development headquarters, protesters held up banners and chanted “no more bailouts.”

“We simply cannot afford to extend hundreds of millions in tax breaks to bail out luxury housing development,” said Councilmember Brad Lander. “These developers should follow the rules, just like everyone else: include affordable units or pay your taxes.”
Read the rest of this entry »

By on February 9, 2011, 7:49 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Housing,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

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Quinn Denies Member Item Unequal Distribution
January 5th, 2011

Are member items distributed equally at the City Council?

Council Speaker Christine Quinn says so.

Refuting a report in the New York Times this week, Quinn said all of the council’s discretionary dollars, which come in the form of individual member items, capital funding and more, are spread throughout the five boroughs sans favoritism.

“The report looked at one of the funding sources the council allocated in the budget,” Quinn said before today’s meeting. “There are numerous different funding sources: initiatives, member items, the speaker’s list.”

She continued: “If you looked at all of those collectively, I think you see a set of data that shows a diverse distribution through out the city.”

We started examining those lists back in 2007 (and have done it every year since). In other funding areas, take capital funding, we have seen a similar pattern: those in leadership get more cash.

For our past coverage, go here and here and here and here and here.

By on January 5, 2011, 3:11 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance | Comments Off on Quinn Denies Member Item Unequal Distribution

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Bloomberg Mulls Over ATM Bill
December 20th, 2010

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is mulling over whether to sign a bill that would drastically increase fines for property owners with illegal sidewalk ATMs after small business owners expressed concern over the bill’s impact this afternoon.

According to a spokesperson, the mayor will take the next couple of days to consider the bill and announce his decision after Christmas.

“I dont want to be the Grinch that stole Christmas,” the mayor said today. “On the other hand the city has requirements, where one of the issues here is the ability to pass on the sidewalk.”

Up until this morning, the mayor was expected to sign the measure, which the council approved earlier this month. At today’s bill signing, small business owners reportedly said the legislation would limit access to cash for neighborhoods without banks and hurt small businesses.

Under the current version of the bill, fines could increase from $250 to $5,000. These ATMs are already illegal, but there is barely any enforcement or regulation of them, council officials said.

If the mayor vetoes the measure, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the council would move to override it.

“This will give the power for them to be taken off the street,” said Quinn. “It actually gives the city the power and the tools to make this illegal behavior end. That’s a good thing.”

Here is the mayor’s statement this morning courtesy of the City Hall press office:
Read the rest of this entry »

By on December 20, 2010, 2:49 pm
In category: Community Development,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

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Council Kicks Off Budget Battle
December 6th, 2010

City Budget Director Mark Page brought his usual good tidings to the City Council this morning (insert sarcasm here), as he urged the body to propose alternative cuts if it wants to save any specific program from his budget ax.

The warning occurred at the first of several hearings the City Council has scheduled on the mayor’s $1.6 billion proposed mid-year budget cuts. Released last month, the unusual mid-year proposal is an attempt by the Bloomberg adminsitration to minimize an even larger looming budget deficit for the next fiscal year. If these cuts are enacted, the city will still face at least a $2.4 billion hole come July.

“The $2.4 billion gap is obviously considerable in itself,” said Page. “Unfortunately, the reality we are facing is likely to be considerably worse.”

Page was referring to a potential cut from the state, which faces an approximately $10 billion to $12 billion deficit. He estimates the city could see an additional cut of between $2 billion and $3 billion in state aid.

The council has already proposed more than $130 million in alternative cuts and identified several areas it would like to see held harmless, including case managers at the Department for the Aging and layoffs at the Administration for Children’s Services. Nonetheless, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said this morning the council recognizes the city has to cut back.

“Most of those we support,” said Quinn of the administration’s plan. “I don’t want that to be lost in the conversation today.”

“That said, there are many troubling cuts,” the speaker added and then rattled off her list, including the nightly closures of certain fire companies.

Council members took aim at the adminsitration over a slew of other slashes — from cuts to outreach for homeless youth (which we cover today) to funding reductions at libraries. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, said some libraries could reduce service to two or three days a week under the current cut.

And, of course, the conversation turned to politics.

Councilmember Jimmy Oddo, the council’s minority leader, questioned the administration’s reasoning for extending term limits — an argument based on its ability to use creative solutions for fiscal problems.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on December 6, 2010, 5:19 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services,Work and Labor | Comments Off on Council Kicks Off Budget Battle

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Council Set to Expand Housing Law
November 30th, 2010

For some New Yorkers, their apartments are far from welcoming.

Their one or two-bedroom abodes actually make them sick.

Three years ago, the City Council approved legislation to target buildings with the worst housing code violations — those perennially without heat or hot water or collapsed floors and roofs. Together, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the City Council targeted 200 buildings a year and forced landlords to make the repairs.

Now, Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced this morning, the council is set to consider legislation to expand the program to target larger buildings with hazardous conditions related specifically to asthma, such as vermin or mold.

“We are recognizing peoples’ homes can actually make them sick,” said Quinn, surrounded by a crowd of officials and advocates on the steps of City Hall.

Hazardous building conditions have long been connected to the city’s concentrated asthma pockets, which affect neighborhoods like Sunset Park, Corona or Bushwick. By using targeted enforcement of these violations, Quinn said the city could curtail asthma rates in these areas.

The legislation, she said, promises to more than double the amount of units in the program. The council will have its first hearing on the proposal on Dec. 14.

By on November 30, 2010, 12:04 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Immigrants,Land Use,Law,nextNY | Comments Off on Council Set to Expand Housing Law

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Stringer Responds to Quinn... Again
October 5th, 2010

Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, both anticipated candidates for mayor in 2013, are once again clashing over a bill to count vacant buildings and lots stalled at the council.

After Quinn’s spokesperson responded to Stringer’s criticism in the Wonkster late last week, Stringer, once again, sent over a response.

This is the response to Quinn’s response to Stringer’s criticism. Follow me?

From Stringer:

Lets set the record straight: My 2007 report on vacant, under-utilized land in Manhattan produced major policy changes. As a result of these efforts, and with my strong support, Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell and Senator Jose M. Serrano introduced legislation in 2008which Gov. David Paterson signed into lawremoving special tax treatments for vacant residential sites above 110th street. The measure also provided financial incentives for owners who build affordable housing on these sites. In approving this bill, the state legislature took decisive action. But the city council has dropped the ball. With my endorsement, then Council member David Yassky introduced a measure calling for an annual citywide survey of such properties, to see if they could be used as new housing resources for homeless people, as well as hospitals, schools community gardens and the like. Armed with the results, we could fill so many unmet needs in our city. But unfortunately the legislation has languished in the city council without a full hearing or discussion. Then as now, I call upon the council to conduct an annual survey of vacant properties that could be transformed into vibrant new uses and benefit all New Yorkers.

By on October 5, 2010, 8:11 am
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services | Comments Off on Stringer Responds to Quinn... Again

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Quinn, Stringer Showdown?
October 1st, 2010

Yes, both are potential mayoral candidates in 2013.

It might be a little early for a full-blown rivalry, but Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer definitely disagree on a proposal to survey the city’s vacant properties stalled at the City Council. The bill, which has 28 sponsors, would create an annual accounting of all of the city’s vacant buildings and lots.

The group pushing the proposal, Picture the Homeless, hope it would spur the development of those properties as temporary housing for the homeless. Quinn said this week the survey would be “enormously expensive” and the money for it would be better used serving the homeless.

In response to our reporting on the issue, Stringer sent over the following statement.

I am disappointed that the City Council quashed legislation that would survey vacant buildings throughout the city, in order to identify new sources of temporary housing for the homeless.

In 2007 I released the results of Manhattan’s first ever survey of vacant properties, finding that there is a significant number of vacancies in the borough representing potential for thousands of new affordable housing units. Along with the results, I proposed an annual survey of vacant buildings which had been actively backed by Anti-Homeless organizations. Although there is a cost to this idea, its potential long-term value to the city is so obvious.

If a citywide vacant lot count would indeed cost millions of dollars, then I believe we should look to more creative options, rather than throw up our hands and pull the plug on this important initiative.

One possible approach to a vacant lot count that keeps costs low would be to utilize volunteers from the Mayors NYC Service program. The City already dispatches volunteers for its annual street homeless count, so this approach would not be without precedent. And, to be honest, counting vacant lots isnt rocket science. It would require a minimal amount of training. Most able bodied New Yorkers interested in enhancing the long-term vitality of their communities could make a positive contribution by participating in a city-wide vacant lot count.

I call on the City Council to reconsider this decision and let this badly-needed housing program go forward. We cannot afford to be pennywise and pound foolish at a time when the recession has made day to day survival for the homeless tougher than ever.

In response to Stringer’s statement, Maria Alvarado, Quinn’s spokesperson, said the bill at the council would require the survey of vacant buildings, which is “more complicated” than just counting empty lots. The council applauds the borough president for his study, Alvarado said, but simultaneously asks what “clear policy changes” came out of it?

By on October 1, 2010, 1:35 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance,Social Services | 2 Comments »

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No Home and Then No School
September 24th, 2010

Efforts to improve New York City schools may be leaving some homeless students behind, according to a new study. The report by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness in New York City found that several of the high schools slated for closure last year — notably Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx — had a far higher proportion of homeless students than other high schools in their boroughs.

The report said that more research needs to be done on the effect closing these schools would have on the homeless “given that these students are already housing displaced, at an educational disadvantage, and highly likely to fall through the cracks during transfers and phase-outs.” The institute also called for helping homeless students in schools slated for closure transfer to other schools.

The closings seem to represent just one arc of a vicious circle for homeless students. As Education Week reports today, studies have found they are more likely to repeat a grade than their counterparts. They are also more likely to attend low-performing high schools, which are the schools officials in New York and elsewhere try to close. And, then studies of New York and Chicago have shown, they are at risk of transferring to another low performing school. According to Ed Week, a 2009 study in Chicago concluded that the effects of having to shift to another school eliminated the benefit for students of closing the first low-performing school.

The report is likely to reinforce calls that, before closing schools, the New York City Department of Education more fully consider the impacts that closing would have on the students, community and other schools. The courts earlier this year halted the closing of 20 schools, ruling that the Department of Education had not adequately addressed possible impact. The department has indicated it will try to close the schools again this year.

By on September 24, 2010, 1:23 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City,Housing | Comments Off on No Home and Then No School

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Sweet Result for Domino Developers
June 29th, 2010

Alana Horowitz filed this post.

A six-year battle over the fate of the former Domino Sugar factory site neared its close today as two key City Council committees unanimously approving its redevelopment. A vote by the full council is expected later today.

The zoning subcommittee and Land Use committee voted 9-0 and 23-0 respectively in favor of the plan, which would replace the old buildings with high-rise residential towers. The ayes included the district’s council member, Stephen Levin, who had previously opposed the project, which has the enthusiastic backing of the Bloomberg administration.

Levin had criticized the development proposed by CPC Resources as “too big” and worried that the 660 units of affordable housing — 30 percent of the total — would not be enough to meet his community’s needs. He wanted the project’s highest towers to be reduced from 40 stories to 28 and the project to include additional low-cost housing.

But last minute negotiations seemed to satisfy the Williamsburg lawmaker. The plan still includes only 660 low-cost units, but the towers are now capped at 34 stories.

“The goal has always been to bring the maximum number of affordable housing units to the Williamsburg community,” said Levin.

Councilmember Diana Reyna, a longtime supporter of the project, was thrilled with the council’s decision.

“I believed in this project, my community believed in this project,” she said. “We’re very happy.”

Councilmember Charles Barron also voted for the plan, but said he was frustrated over the amount of affordable housing.

“You’re talking about 70 percent luxury now and that could change the complexity and direction of the community,” he said.

Though the developer expects the project to create over 1,000 jobs for local residents, Barron expressed skepticism. “This project needs to be monitored,” he said, or the contractors could just employ their own laborers.

The council agreed to create a community advisory board to oversee the development, as well as a shuttle service between the site and the Marcy Avenue subway station.

Besides new apartments, the project also will include a school, parks and a waterside walkway. Construction is set to start next year and last about a decade.

Any changes to the aforementioned community facilities will have be to made through the city’s land use review process.

Several council members commended Levin’s efforts during the negotiation process. “He made a difficult project much better than its original version,” said Councilman Vincent Ignizio.

By on June 29, 2010, 5:43 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Housing,Land Use | 1 Comment »

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Court Rejects Extra Hike in Low Rents
June 22nd, 2010

A New York State appeals court has upheld a lower court decision throwing out a rent increase that applied only to New York City residents paying less than $1,000 in rent.

Appellate Division ruled on a January decision by state Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman finding that the Rent Guidelines Board overstepped its authority when it levied a minimum increase on people paying low rents who had lived in their apartments for more than six years. In 2008, the board, while hiking rents on regulated apartment by 4.5 percent for one-year leases and 8.5 percent for two-year leases, also established a minimum $45 increase for one-year leases and $85 for two-year leases. As a result, Goodman calculated, one plaintiff in the case against the increase faced a 12 percent rental increase.

Critics termed the minimum increase a “poor tax,” with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn saying it constituted ” a direct attack by the Rent Guidelines Board on low income tenants — the very New Yorkers hit hardest by the current recession.” In September 2008, the Legal Aid Society and Legal Services of New York filed suit against the hike.

At the time of Goodman’s decision, the Times reported that some 300,000 tenants in rent-stabilized apartments could receive rebates and rent reductions if the Rent Guidelines Board order was overturned. Ellen Davidson of the Legal Aid Society estimated the tenants could get a total of $36 million to $100 million in refunds.

The city had appealed Goodman’s ruling.

(Goodman is a regular contributor to Gotham Gazette.)

By on June 22, 2010, 6:20 pm
In category: Housing,Law | 1 Comment »

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Housing Works Sues City Over HASA Cuts
June 22nd, 2010

The city’s budget hasn’t even been approved, and they are already in court over it.

Housing Works, which provides housing services to the homeless living with HIV and AIDS, is making good on a promise to sue over cuts to the city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration. The adminsitration plans to slash 248 caseworkers, which advocates at Housing Works say violates a court order requiring certain case worker to client ratios at the agency.

As part of the cut, the adminsitration has proposed to count caseworkers it contracts with in the mandated ratios. The city says it reduces service redundancies. Advocates charge those caseworkers play a different role than the city’s workers and counting them towards the ratio would be illegal.

“We’ve shown in the past that when they cut HASA our folks suffer tremendously,” said Armen Merjian, a senior staff attorney at Housing Works. “We dont want to wait for further devastating consequences to befall our plaintiffs.”

This statement was e-mailed over from a spokesperson at the Human Resources Administration, which oversees the HIV/AIDS program:

“The Human Resources Administration has received the plaintiffs papers and is in the process of reviewing them. However we do not believe there is any violation of the court order or the local law. Because this is now in active litigation, we will strenuously defend the authority of the Administration.”

The first motion from Housing Works, which was filed in federal court in Brooklyn this morning, is below. The state is also named in the suit.

TRO Brief

By on June 22, 2010, 5:43 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services | 1 Comment »

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Domino Moves Forward
June 7th, 2010


Photo (cc) 2009 Tach_RedGold&Green

The City Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal to convert the landmarked Domino Sugar refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront into a mixed-use development.

Here is Commissioner Amanda M. Burden statement on the project:

The New Domino project will revitalize an 11-acre vacant and inaccessible waterfront site and adaptively reuse the recently landmarked sugar Refinery Building with 2,200 units of housing, including 660 affordable units, four acres of high quality public open space, 143,000 square feet of community facility space, and office and retail uses.

This development will, for the first time, create a significant publicly accessible open space along the quarter-mile South Williamsburg waterfront that has been closed to the surrounding community for decades.

The proposed architecture and site plan successfully accommodate the projects density with a variety of building types. The approvals granted would require the massing and materials as part of the grant of Special Permits.

The applicant has withdrawn the parking special permit application in response to input throughout the public process, and concerns raised by this Commission. In addition, changes made by the Commission to reduce the height of the northern-most commercial building will improve the relationship between that building and Grand Ferry Park. Further, provisions have been added to the projects Restrictive Declaration which will help facilitate the construction of a school in the Refinery Building, if warranted in the future.

This project will bring high-quality design and architecture, ample public open space, significant community facilities, and much needed housing, both market rate and affordable, to the Williamsburg community. I am extremely pleased to vote yes.

And for the other side, here is a statement from Councilmember Steve Levin:

“Assemblyman Lopez and I still firmly oppose the New Domino project as it is currently proposed. While I am pleased that the applicant withdrew the special permit for extra parking spaces and that the City Planning Commission reduced the height of the northernmost tower, the plan is still deeply flawed. The applicant has not adequately addressed the transportation and congestion problems associated with the project. The overall plan is simply too big. The height and density of the Domino plan will have a negative impact on the community.”

By on June 7, 2010, 6:24 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Gotham City,Housing,Land Use,nextNY,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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It's Back
May 25th, 2010

The living wage bill, first introduced following the demise of the Kingsbridge Armory last year, is back at the City Council.

It will be officially introduced this afternoon by council members Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma at the request of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (It’s also the first time I can recall seeing a borough president introduce legislation.) The bill would require any city subsidized development pay employees on the premises a living wage. It includes any tenant of that development project, but would exempt any projects exclusively for affordable housing, cultural groups or social service organizations. It will give the comptroller the power to monitor the bill’s compliance.

The bill defines a living wage as $10 an hour plus benefits.

On hand today, Palma said the bill, which is sure to divide the council and the adminsitration, would get its fair hearing.

“We are creating a workforce lifted out of poverty to self sufficiency,” said Palma today at City Hall. Palma said she hasn’t received a commitment from Council Speaker Christine Quinn that the bill will get a hearing.

But, she added, “I think it will get its due process.”
Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 25, 2010, 3:13 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Land Use,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | Comments Off on It's Back

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A Budget Breakdown
May 24th, 2010

Not all is fair in fiscal year 2011 — at least to the hordes of advocates and politicians vying to save their favorite projects and programs.

Below you can find out how your favorite agency has fared, whether its proposed cuts are deeper than other departments and how much it’s slated to spend this year.

Click on the chart to interact. You can click through agencies on the side and roll over the graphic to view the funding level by fiscal year. If you want an expanded view, you can click on the title.


By on May 24, 2010, 12:13 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Crime & Safety,Economy,Education,Electoral Politics,Environment,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Immigrants,Law,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance,Social Services,Tech,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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Budget Hearings Breakdown
May 13th, 2010

The City Council kicked off its executive budget hearings this morning, and over the next month there will be dozens more.

This schedule is subject to change, but here is how it’s laid out now.

Friday, May 14

Human Rights Commission, 10 a.m.
City University of New York, 10:30 a.m.
Education and School Construction Authority (Capital), 12 p.m.

Monday, May 17
Citywide Administrative Services, 10 a.m.
Board of Elections, 10:45 a.m.
Campaign Finance Board, 11:45 a.m.
Aging, 12:30 p.m.
Juvenile Justice, 2 p.m.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 13, 2010, 6:00 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Crime & Safety,Economy,Education,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Land Use,Law,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance,Social Services,sustainability,Tech,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Rikers Beds Won't go to ICE
May 7th, 2010

Empty beds on Rikers Island are going on the rental market.

Tenants, however, won’t include federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

To help close a city budget gap, the Department of Correction has proposed to lease several hundred vacant beds on Rikers Island to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. They will charge $150 per bed a day, raking in about $13.2 million every year. Stephen Morello of the Department of Correction called in to say those beds won’t go to federal immigration officials, whose presence on Rikers has been the subject of some controversy.

“We had an exploratory conversation with them,” said Morello of federal immigration officials renting beds. “They are not interested in our space.”

Federal immigration officials do not have a separate facility on Rikers, but they do have staff members that review inmate files and select people for interrogation — and potentially deportation. A Freedom of Information Act request by immigration advocacy groups last year found between 2004 and 2009, 13,000 Rikers inmates were put in deportation proceedings because of this practice.

This is not the first time the city has leased space in its correction facilities to other law enforcement agencies. When Suffolk County was out of room, the city leased out its beds to them.

By on May 7, 2010, 2:27 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Civil Rights,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Immigrants,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance | Comments Off on Rikers Beds Won't go to ICE

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Sour on Domino
May 5th, 2010

Anya Khalamayzer filed this post.

Williamsburg community activists are continuing their efforts to block or change plans that would convert the old Domino Sugar Refinery into a luxury apartment complex. Members of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, formerly Neighbors Against Garbage, gathered at the group’s offices on Kent Avenue and North 7th Street in Williamsburg last night to discuss how the redevelopment might change their community and the waterfront.

“The Domino Sugar refinery literally used to be the lifeblood of this community,” said tenant organizer Ryan Kuonen, a history buff.

Neighbors Allied members fear that the construction of 2,200 new apartments will displace current tenants, harm the district’s environment and further crowd the L train. As more market-rate apartments follow and bring with them chainstores such as the Duane Reade being constructed on North 3rd and Bedford, the Poles, Latinos, Hasidim, artists and mom-and-pop businesses now in the neighborhood face being forced out.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 5, 2010, 6:46 pm
In category: Community Development,Housing,Land Use | 4 Comments »

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In and Out at Homeless Services
April 19th, 2010

With the Bloomberg administration under attack for its plan to charge some families rent for living in homeless shelters, the city’s commissioner of homeless services, Robert Hess, is leaving his job.

By most accounts, Hess’ four years on the job could hardly be considered a success. He came from Philadelphia promising to “fulfill the mayor’s commitment to ending homelessness as we know it within five years.” Although street homelessness declined during his tenure, the latest Mayor’s Management Report found the number of families with children entering the shelter system increased by 34 percent from fiscal year 2008 to 2009. In Hess’ time at the agency, the number of people living in shelters grew by 5,000 and now stands at 36,000 people.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has selected Seth Diamond, executive deputy commissioner at the Human Resources Administration, to try to make a dent in these numbers. Hess will take a job with the Doe Fund, a nonprofit that works with the homeless and one of the mayor’s favored charities.

By on April 19, 2010, 12:38 pm
In category: City Hall,Gotham City,Housing,Social Services | Comments Off on In and Out at Homeless Services

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