Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/margaret-chin 2017-10-18T07:34:16+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Hearing Showcases Frustrations Over Stagnant Aging Department Budget 2017-05-08T04:00:00+00:00 2017-05-08T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6919:hearing-showcases-frustrations-over-stagnant-aging-department-budget Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/chin_vallone_mccarten.jpg" alt="chin vallone mccarten" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Council Members Chin, left, &amp; Vallone (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council Committee on Aging held a hearing on Monday to examine the allotment for the Department of the Aging (DFTA) in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recently-released executive budget plan.</p> <p>Council members and DFTA representatives for the de Blasio administration discussed the situation that seniors may be facing given reduced funding numbers in de Blasio’s $84.86 billion budget proposal. The Council, in its response to the mayor’s preliminary budget, had called for $60 million in additional funding for DFTA for Fiscal Year 2018, a request shared by senior advocates such as LiveOn NY. According to the City Council, none of that request was added for DFTA in the mayor's new iteration of the city spending plan.</p> <p>The mayor’s executive budget, presented to the public on April 26, includes $194.6 million in city funding for DFTA, representing 63% of DFTA’s proposed budget. This is a $21.8 million, or 11%, reduction in funding from the current fiscal year, which, along with proposed cuts in federal funding by the Republican-controlled Congress, has senior advocates and City Council members worried, despite an increase in funding from the state government. Among other things, the proposed agency budget includes $171.8 million for senior centers and meals, a $24 million reduction from the 2017 adopted budget, and $35.9 million for case management services, an increase of $2.9 million.</p> <p>Donna Corrado, the Commissioner of DFTA, assured Council members that despite the apparent cut in funding for the agency, seniors were not necessarily being thrown under the bus by the de Blasio administration.</p> <p>“In addition to these funds,” she said, “the mayor has committed tens of millions of dollars to other city agencies that will directly benefit older New Yorkers, such as to set aside 15,000 affordable housing units targeted to households where older people reside, and a recently announced proposal which will require city and state legislative approval to raise the Senior Citizen Homeowner’s Exemption household income eligibility from $37,400 to $58,400, which would benefit an estimated 32,000 households in New York City.”</p> <p>One of the major issues at hand was the executive budget’s failure to address the issue of seniors being stuck on waiting lists for case management services -- a long-standing problem.</p> <p>Seniors ineligible for Medicaid services are eligible for counseling, meals, transportation, and other services through city case management, but the services are chronically underfunded, with high numbers of cases per caseworker, who are paid low salaries on top of that, which creates additional problems. The City Council, led by aging committee chair Council Member Margaret Chin, earlier this year declared 2017 “The Year of the Senior,” in part with an eye on the large number of seniors on waitlists -- currently 1,864, although the Commissioner claimed a slightly lower number of 1700 -- for case management services, as well as the 900 seniors sitting on the waitlist for home care services.</p> <p>Council Member Chaim Deutsch asked Corrado what the criteria is for who goes on the waitlist.</p> <p>“There’s no criteria necessarily that’s systematic across the board,” she said. “Some agencies don’t keep a waitlist because they try either -- one, they close intake, which is very unfortunate but because it’s a finite service with a finite amount of funding and staff and resources, they do close intake, so they won’t take on any new clients.” She also mentioned the fact that some clients may be referred to other programs.</p> <p>When finance committee chair Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland pressed Corrado on how much money would be necessary to clear the waitlists, Corrado refused to answer, saying that the cost “fluctuates” every day.</p> <p>The other major issue addressed by the committee was that of senior centers, which were recognized across the board as inadequate. The budget does not allocate money towards new senior centers, and their funding has decreased by 12% in the proposal.</p> <p>“To me, senior centers save lives,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz, noting that she has never seen a new senior center in her community in the long time that she’s lived there, despite the existing ones being packed.</p> <p>The hearing was attended by many members of AARP, distinguished by their trademark red shirts, who are frustrated by the city’s inaction. Council Member Chin shared this sentiment, declaring that she was “angry, but yet determined,” demanding that everyone in the room work collectively to “secure additional funding for the agency before the budget is adopted.”</p> <p>After a series of executive budget hearings at the Council, negotiations will continue behind closed doors, leading to a budget deal between de Blasio and the Council by the July 1 start of next fiscal year.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/chin_vallone_mccarten.jpg" alt="chin vallone mccarten" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Council Members Chin, left, &amp; Vallone (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council Committee on Aging held a hearing on Monday to examine the allotment for the Department of the Aging (DFTA) in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recently-released executive budget plan.</p> <p>Council members and DFTA representatives for the de Blasio administration discussed the situation that seniors may be facing given reduced funding numbers in de Blasio’s $84.86 billion budget proposal. The Council, in its response to the mayor’s preliminary budget, had called for $60 million in additional funding for DFTA for Fiscal Year 2018, a request shared by senior advocates such as LiveOn NY. According to the City Council, none of that request was added for DFTA in the mayor's new iteration of the city spending plan.</p> <p>The mayor’s executive budget, presented to the public on April 26, includes $194.6 million in city funding for DFTA, representing 63% of DFTA’s proposed budget. This is a $21.8 million, or 11%, reduction in funding from the current fiscal year, which, along with proposed cuts in federal funding by the Republican-controlled Congress, has senior advocates and City Council members worried, despite an increase in funding from the state government. Among other things, the proposed agency budget includes $171.8 million for senior centers and meals, a $24 million reduction from the 2017 adopted budget, and $35.9 million for case management services, an increase of $2.9 million.</p> <p>Donna Corrado, the Commissioner of DFTA, assured Council members that despite the apparent cut in funding for the agency, seniors were not necessarily being thrown under the bus by the de Blasio administration.</p> <p>“In addition to these funds,” she said, “the mayor has committed tens of millions of dollars to other city agencies that will directly benefit older New Yorkers, such as to set aside 15,000 affordable housing units targeted to households where older people reside, and a recently announced proposal which will require city and state legislative approval to raise the Senior Citizen Homeowner’s Exemption household income eligibility from $37,400 to $58,400, which would benefit an estimated 32,000 households in New York City.”</p> <p>One of the major issues at hand was the executive budget’s failure to address the issue of seniors being stuck on waiting lists for case management services -- a long-standing problem.</p> <p>Seniors ineligible for Medicaid services are eligible for counseling, meals, transportation, and other services through city case management, but the services are chronically underfunded, with high numbers of cases per caseworker, who are paid low salaries on top of that, which creates additional problems. The City Council, led by aging committee chair Council Member Margaret Chin, earlier this year declared 2017 “The Year of the Senior,” in part with an eye on the large number of seniors on waitlists -- currently 1,864, although the Commissioner claimed a slightly lower number of 1700 -- for case management services, as well as the 900 seniors sitting on the waitlist for home care services.</p> <p>Council Member Chaim Deutsch asked Corrado what the criteria is for who goes on the waitlist.</p> <p>“There’s no criteria necessarily that’s systematic across the board,” she said. “Some agencies don’t keep a waitlist because they try either -- one, they close intake, which is very unfortunate but because it’s a finite service with a finite amount of funding and staff and resources, they do close intake, so they won’t take on any new clients.” She also mentioned the fact that some clients may be referred to other programs.</p> <p>When finance committee chair Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland pressed Corrado on how much money would be necessary to clear the waitlists, Corrado refused to answer, saying that the cost “fluctuates” every day.</p> <p>The other major issue addressed by the committee was that of senior centers, which were recognized across the board as inadequate. The budget does not allocate money towards new senior centers, and their funding has decreased by 12% in the proposal.</p> <p>“To me, senior centers save lives,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz, noting that she has never seen a new senior center in her community in the long time that she’s lived there, despite the existing ones being packed.</p> <p>The hearing was attended by many members of AARP, distinguished by their trademark red shirts, who are frustrated by the city’s inaction. Council Member Chin shared this sentiment, declaring that she was “angry, but yet determined,” demanding that everyone in the room work collectively to “secure additional funding for the agency before the budget is adopted.”</p> <p>After a series of executive budget hearings at the Council, negotiations will continue behind closed doors, leading to a budget deal between de Blasio and the Council by the July 1 start of next fiscal year.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
City Council Women's Caucus Rallies for Equity Legislation 2016-11-30T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-30T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6644:city-council-women-s-caucus-rallies-for-equity-legislation Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/womens_equality_rally_pic_via_cumbo.jpg" width="600" height="450" alt="womens equality rally pic via cumbo" /></p> <p>Equality rally at City Hall (photo via Council Member Cumbo)</p> <hr /> <p>The Women’s Caucus of the New York City Council announced a legislative package Tuesday aimed at equal rights and opportunities for women. With an “equality rally” outside City Hall before the full Council held a meeting at which some of the bills were introduced, legislators, advocates, and service providers expressed support for the legislation and argued for its necessity in light of Donald Trump’s election as President.</p> <p>The co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus, Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Helen Rosenthal, spearheaded this first-of-its-kind legislative effort by the caucus. The 11 bills and resolutions range widely, while some have already been passed into law and others are completely new. The entire package should be enacted at the city level in conjunction with other state and federal policies, those who rallied said. The concern, though, is that the federal government will not be advancing gender equity under President Trump. Council Member Cumbo, who represents District 35 in central Brooklyn, said she’s worried about Trump’s treatment of women and his misogynistic <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/us/donald-trump-tape-transcript.html?_r=0" target="_blank">language</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>The legislative package seeks to address issues like the needs of unpaid caregivers, access to feminine hygiene products, services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the gender pay gap, and more.</p> <p>“We have seen all across this nation the challenges that women face when attempting to become leaders,” Cumbo said. “All across this country we have seen the level of disrespect. We have seen women who want to have families, who want to have babies, and a president-elect saying that pregnancy in the workplace is a problem.”</p> <p>While Council Member Rosenthal praised the City Council and the de Blasio administration for their efforts to help women achieve equal opportunities through legislation and by creating the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/genderequity/index.page" target="_blank">Committee on Gender Equity</a>, she said advocacy groups and public officials should still push for progress.</p> <p>“With the challenges that we now face, it is critical that we redouble our efforts towards the promise of equality and we refocus our outreach and organization as a caucus to ensure there’s a success in that effort,” said Rosenthal, who represents District 6 on the Upper West Side. “This legislative package will make a difference in the lives of not just women, but all of New York.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents District 1 in Lower Manhattan, said this presidential election served as a reminder of the long fight ahead for equal rights under a Trump presidency: “When a President-elect with a record of belittling, harassing and abusing women is about to take office, we have the responsibility to act now — to demand equal rights in our city and across the nation.”</p> <p>Last July, Governor Cuomo signed <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-legislation-exempt-sales-and-use-taxes-feminine-hygiene-products" target="_blank">legislation</a> to eliminate sales tax on feminine hygiene products in New York. One of the bills in the package, sponsored by Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, would provide feminine hygiene products at no cost for students on Department of Education premises. Ferreras-Copeland has been at the forefront of other city legislation to improve access to feminine hygiene products at city schools, shelters, and jails.</p> <p>Additional components of the legislative package include a new resolution, sponsored by Rosenthal, pushing the state to give domestic violence survivors greater ability to break leases with landlords; legislation, sponsored by Chin and already passed into law, that helps address needs of unpaid caregivers; and a resolution, sponsored by Council Member Annabel Palma that calls for passage of a state law to prohibit employers from asking salary history. (Public Advocate Letitia James, a former Council member, has such legislation at the city level.)</p> <p>According to a <a href="http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/sites/advocate.nyc.gov/files/opa_pay_equity_report_final.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released by James, women in New York City earn annually approximately $5.8 billion less in wages than men. Women of color face the greatest wage gap, with Hispanic, black, and Asian women experiencing a gap of 55, 54 and 37 percent, respectively, relative to white men. New York City ranks higher for racial disparities in salary than most cities in the country, according to James’ report.</p> <p>Council Member Rosenthal said she was especially impressed by the show of support on Tuesday from so many advocacy and nonprofit groups. “In the city, nonprofits are hungry to do what they can to support anyone who might suffer consequences of a Trump administration....based on outcomes of his misogynistic view of the world,” Rosenthal said in an interview.</p> <p>The Women’s Caucus, which includes 14 members in the 51-seat Council, said the package serves not only women of New York, but all of its residents by providing improved transparency into city programs, support for families, and efforts to reduce sexual assault and domestic violence against all genders.</p> <p>“As a national model, we must maintain our upward momentum to end gender and racial inequality through public policy that celebrates our diversity,” Council Member Cumbo said at the rally, pointing to other city and state efforts like the municipal identification card program and a higher minimum wage.</p> <p>The Women’s Caucus includes the Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is one of several women term-limited out of the Council at the end of 2017. Mark-Viverito, Rosenthal, James, Ferreras-Copeland, and other city elected officials have been involved with efforts to encourage more women to run for elected office.</p> <p>***<br />by Devin Gannon and Milka Nissinen<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/womens_equality_rally_pic_via_cumbo.jpg" width="600" height="450" alt="womens equality rally pic via cumbo" /></p> <p>Equality rally at City Hall (photo via Council Member Cumbo)</p> <hr /> <p>The Women’s Caucus of the New York City Council announced a legislative package Tuesday aimed at equal rights and opportunities for women. With an “equality rally” outside City Hall before the full Council held a meeting at which some of the bills were introduced, legislators, advocates, and service providers expressed support for the legislation and argued for its necessity in light of Donald Trump’s election as President.</p> <p>The co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus, Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Helen Rosenthal, spearheaded this first-of-its-kind legislative effort by the caucus. The 11 bills and resolutions range widely, while some have already been passed into law and others are completely new. The entire package should be enacted at the city level in conjunction with other state and federal policies, those who rallied said. The concern, though, is that the federal government will not be advancing gender equity under President Trump. Council Member Cumbo, who represents District 35 in central Brooklyn, said she’s worried about Trump’s treatment of women and his misogynistic <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/us/donald-trump-tape-transcript.html?_r=0" target="_blank">language</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>The legislative package seeks to address issues like the needs of unpaid caregivers, access to feminine hygiene products, services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the gender pay gap, and more.</p> <p>“We have seen all across this nation the challenges that women face when attempting to become leaders,” Cumbo said. “All across this country we have seen the level of disrespect. We have seen women who want to have families, who want to have babies, and a president-elect saying that pregnancy in the workplace is a problem.”</p> <p>While Council Member Rosenthal praised the City Council and the de Blasio administration for their efforts to help women achieve equal opportunities through legislation and by creating the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/genderequity/index.page" target="_blank">Committee on Gender Equity</a>, she said advocacy groups and public officials should still push for progress.</p> <p>“With the challenges that we now face, it is critical that we redouble our efforts towards the promise of equality and we refocus our outreach and organization as a caucus to ensure there’s a success in that effort,” said Rosenthal, who represents District 6 on the Upper West Side. “This legislative package will make a difference in the lives of not just women, but all of New York.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents District 1 in Lower Manhattan, said this presidential election served as a reminder of the long fight ahead for equal rights under a Trump presidency: “When a President-elect with a record of belittling, harassing and abusing women is about to take office, we have the responsibility to act now — to demand equal rights in our city and across the nation.”</p> <p>Last July, Governor Cuomo signed <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-legislation-exempt-sales-and-use-taxes-feminine-hygiene-products" target="_blank">legislation</a> to eliminate sales tax on feminine hygiene products in New York. One of the bills in the package, sponsored by Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, would provide feminine hygiene products at no cost for students on Department of Education premises. Ferreras-Copeland has been at the forefront of other city legislation to improve access to feminine hygiene products at city schools, shelters, and jails.</p> <p>Additional components of the legislative package include a new resolution, sponsored by Rosenthal, pushing the state to give domestic violence survivors greater ability to break leases with landlords; legislation, sponsored by Chin and already passed into law, that helps address needs of unpaid caregivers; and a resolution, sponsored by Council Member Annabel Palma that calls for passage of a state law to prohibit employers from asking salary history. (Public Advocate Letitia James, a former Council member, has such legislation at the city level.)</p> <p>According to a <a href="http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/sites/advocate.nyc.gov/files/opa_pay_equity_report_final.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released by James, women in New York City earn annually approximately $5.8 billion less in wages than men. Women of color face the greatest wage gap, with Hispanic, black, and Asian women experiencing a gap of 55, 54 and 37 percent, respectively, relative to white men. New York City ranks higher for racial disparities in salary than most cities in the country, according to James’ report.</p> <p>Council Member Rosenthal said she was especially impressed by the show of support on Tuesday from so many advocacy and nonprofit groups. “In the city, nonprofits are hungry to do what they can to support anyone who might suffer consequences of a Trump administration....based on outcomes of his misogynistic view of the world,” Rosenthal said in an interview.</p> <p>The Women’s Caucus, which includes 14 members in the 51-seat Council, said the package serves not only women of New York, but all of its residents by providing improved transparency into city programs, support for families, and efforts to reduce sexual assault and domestic violence against all genders.</p> <p>“As a national model, we must maintain our upward momentum to end gender and racial inequality through public policy that celebrates our diversity,” Council Member Cumbo said at the rally, pointing to other city and state efforts like the municipal identification card program and a higher minimum wage.</p> <p>The Women’s Caucus includes the Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is one of several women term-limited out of the Council at the end of 2017. Mark-Viverito, Rosenthal, James, Ferreras-Copeland, and other city elected officials have been involved with efforts to encourage more women to run for elected office.</p> <p>***<br />by Devin Gannon and Milka Nissinen<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Correcting the Record on the Misguided Plan to Develop Elizabeth Street Garden 2016-10-13T04:00:00+00:00 2016-10-13T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6571:correcting-the-record-on-the-misguided-plan-to-develop-elizabeth-street-garden Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/eliz-st-garden-protest.jpg" alt="eliz st garden protest" width="600" height="384" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo: Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr"><em>In response to<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6558-new-affordable-housing-in-every-neighborhood-including-mine" target="_blank">&nbsp;City Council Member Margaret Chin&rsquo;s op-ed column</a>&nbsp;in Gotham Gazette published Oct. 6; from Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden President Jeannine Kiely and D. Kristin Shea:</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Margaret Chin is our only elected official who supports developing Elizabeth Street Garden. She seems dead set on &ldquo;winning&rdquo; development of the Garden at all costs, even if it means giving up the opportunity to build five times more senior affordable housing at another nearby location within our community. In her attempts to sway public opinion, Council Member Chin has repeatedly released misleading information.</p> <p dir="ltr">Allow us to correct the record:</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: NOT A PUBLIC PROCESS<br />Chin says she is &ldquo;proud of the public process&rdquo; and the &ldquo;substantial amount of public review.&rdquo; But her decision to build on Elizabeth Street Garden was a backroom deal at City Hall, without proper public review or discussion. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: COMMUNITY IGNORED, DESPITE TREMENDOUS SUPPORT<br />Since learning about this secret deal in 2013, Manhattan Community Board 2 has held four public hearings, and<a href="http://elizabethstreetgarden.org/supporters/" target="_blank">&nbsp;overwhelming sentiment</a>&nbsp;has been for saving the Garden, including support from every local elected official other than Chin and 16 parks and community organizations.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Garden brings joy to thousands, including many seniors who live nearby. That&rsquo;s why Mayor de Blasio, the city&rsquo;s housing agency (HPD), and Chin received 5,000 letters in support of the Garden &mdash; far more than the &ldquo;<a href="http://elizabethstreetgarden.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/160920_Been_Letter.pdf" target="_blank">hundreds of letters</a>&rdquo; cited by HPD &mdash; and only one in support of the housing proposal from an organization that receives thousands of dollars each year through Chin.</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: BETTER AFFORDABLE HOUSING ALTERNATIVES EXIST<br />Chin claims that &ldquo;identifying sites for affordable housing...can be a monumental challenge.&rdquo; CB 2 took up that challenge and identified several alternative sites, including a vacant lot on Hudson and Clarkson streets where five times more senior housing can be built. Because this site was previously committed for parkland, it will not be available if Elizabeth Street Garden is destroyed.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition, a proposed project at<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/applicants/env-review/550_washington_street/00-feis.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;550 Washington St.</a>, currently being rezoned, will have 476 affordable units, including 178 for seniors.</p> <p dir="ltr">We agree with Council Member Chin and the mayor that parking lots are &ldquo;<a href="http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/07/08/chin-asks-de-blasio-to-choose-affordable-housing-over-cheap-parking/" target="_blank">ripe for affordable housing development</a>&rdquo; and, therefore, encourage consideration of the garage on 2 Howard St. located in the heart of Little Italy, but outside the height-restrictive<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/zoning/zoning-text/art10c09.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;Special Little Italy District</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: CHIN&rsquo;S PROMISE THAT RESIDENTS CAN &ldquo;AGE IN PLACE&rdquo; IS MISLEADING<br />All residents of CB 2 receive preference for 50 percent of any senior housing built in the district, which extends from 14th Street to Canal Street and the Hudson River to Bowery. Remaining units would be available to anyone in the five boroughs. Preference is via lottery and applies only to the first round of rentals. Therefore, if 60 units were built on the Garden, as few as 30 residents currently living in all of CB 2 would live there, and possibly none from Little Italy.</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: 5,000 SF OF &ldquo;<a href="http://elizabethstreetgarden.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/NYC_HPD_Mott-Elizabeth_Streets_RFP.pdf" target="_blank">PUBLICLY-ACCESSIBLE OPEN SPACE</a>&rdquo; IS A RUSE<br />The City is asking for proposals to create &ldquo;lawns, trees, walks and planting and seating areas with a variety of sun and shade conditions, and also to provide for continuation of current educational and recreational programs and events,&rdquo; all in an area the size of a basketball court, surrounded by seven-story buildings. When asked about building on Elizabeth Street Garden, former<a href="http://thevillager.com/2015/10/15/ex-parks-chief-supports-saving-eliz-st-garden/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe</a>&nbsp;said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very small site. You&rsquo;d be shortchanging either one. I think the site is barely large enough for housing. You might be able to have a little sitting area.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Ultimately, privately-owned public spaces often end up<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/plans/pops-inventory/pops-inventory.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;&ldquo;inaccessible or devoid&rdquo; of &ldquo;amenities that attract public use</a>,&rdquo; or may be converted into retail space in the future, as<a href="http://media.wix.com/ugd/639aeb_0f4c99d55346461cab783e42f71e335b.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;Chin supported on Water Street</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio is right when he said &ldquo;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/press_releases/16-083pr.shtml#.V_qb2zKZN-U" target="_blank">Every New Yorker deserves access to clean, safe green spaces, no matter what neighborhood they live in.</a>&rdquo; Had Chin acted upon her declaration that &ldquo;Communities must be consulted about changes coming to their neighborhoods,&rdquo; Elizabeth Street Garden already would be a public park.</p> <p dir="ltr">Instead of allowing politics to determine policy, we encourage Council Member Chin and the de Blasio administration to work with CB 2 and our elected officials to build more affordable housing and to preserve the precious little public green, open space we have left, for our seniors, our children and all the residents of our community.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden President Jeannine Kiely and D. Kristin Shea. On Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://elizabethstreetgarden.org" target="_blank">@elizabethstgrdn</a>. (Both Kiely and Shea are members of Community Board 2 but are not writing on behalf of CB 2.)</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/eliz-st-garden-protest.jpg" alt="eliz st garden protest" width="600" height="384" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo: Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr"><em>In response to<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6558-new-affordable-housing-in-every-neighborhood-including-mine" target="_blank">&nbsp;City Council Member Margaret Chin&rsquo;s op-ed column</a>&nbsp;in Gotham Gazette published Oct. 6; from Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden President Jeannine Kiely and D. Kristin Shea:</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Margaret Chin is our only elected official who supports developing Elizabeth Street Garden. She seems dead set on &ldquo;winning&rdquo; development of the Garden at all costs, even if it means giving up the opportunity to build five times more senior affordable housing at another nearby location within our community. In her attempts to sway public opinion, Council Member Chin has repeatedly released misleading information.</p> <p dir="ltr">Allow us to correct the record:</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: NOT A PUBLIC PROCESS<br />Chin says she is &ldquo;proud of the public process&rdquo; and the &ldquo;substantial amount of public review.&rdquo; But her decision to build on Elizabeth Street Garden was a backroom deal at City Hall, without proper public review or discussion. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: COMMUNITY IGNORED, DESPITE TREMENDOUS SUPPORT<br />Since learning about this secret deal in 2013, Manhattan Community Board 2 has held four public hearings, and<a href="http://elizabethstreetgarden.org/supporters/" target="_blank">&nbsp;overwhelming sentiment</a>&nbsp;has been for saving the Garden, including support from every local elected official other than Chin and 16 parks and community organizations.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Garden brings joy to thousands, including many seniors who live nearby. That&rsquo;s why Mayor de Blasio, the city&rsquo;s housing agency (HPD), and Chin received 5,000 letters in support of the Garden &mdash; far more than the &ldquo;<a href="http://elizabethstreetgarden.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/160920_Been_Letter.pdf" target="_blank">hundreds of letters</a>&rdquo; cited by HPD &mdash; and only one in support of the housing proposal from an organization that receives thousands of dollars each year through Chin.</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: BETTER AFFORDABLE HOUSING ALTERNATIVES EXIST<br />Chin claims that &ldquo;identifying sites for affordable housing...can be a monumental challenge.&rdquo; CB 2 took up that challenge and identified several alternative sites, including a vacant lot on Hudson and Clarkson streets where five times more senior housing can be built. Because this site was previously committed for parkland, it will not be available if Elizabeth Street Garden is destroyed.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition, a proposed project at<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/applicants/env-review/550_washington_street/00-feis.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;550 Washington St.</a>, currently being rezoned, will have 476 affordable units, including 178 for seniors.</p> <p dir="ltr">We agree with Council Member Chin and the mayor that parking lots are &ldquo;<a href="http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/07/08/chin-asks-de-blasio-to-choose-affordable-housing-over-cheap-parking/" target="_blank">ripe for affordable housing development</a>&rdquo; and, therefore, encourage consideration of the garage on 2 Howard St. located in the heart of Little Italy, but outside the height-restrictive<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/zoning/zoning-text/art10c09.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;Special Little Italy District</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: CHIN&rsquo;S PROMISE THAT RESIDENTS CAN &ldquo;AGE IN PLACE&rdquo; IS MISLEADING<br />All residents of CB 2 receive preference for 50 percent of any senior housing built in the district, which extends from 14th Street to Canal Street and the Hudson River to Bowery. Remaining units would be available to anyone in the five boroughs. Preference is via lottery and applies only to the first round of rentals. Therefore, if 60 units were built on the Garden, as few as 30 residents currently living in all of CB 2 would live there, and possibly none from Little Italy.</p> <p dir="ltr">FACT: 5,000 SF OF &ldquo;<a href="http://elizabethstreetgarden.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/NYC_HPD_Mott-Elizabeth_Streets_RFP.pdf" target="_blank">PUBLICLY-ACCESSIBLE OPEN SPACE</a>&rdquo; IS A RUSE<br />The City is asking for proposals to create &ldquo;lawns, trees, walks and planting and seating areas with a variety of sun and shade conditions, and also to provide for continuation of current educational and recreational programs and events,&rdquo; all in an area the size of a basketball court, surrounded by seven-story buildings. When asked about building on Elizabeth Street Garden, former<a href="http://thevillager.com/2015/10/15/ex-parks-chief-supports-saving-eliz-st-garden/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe</a>&nbsp;said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very small site. You&rsquo;d be shortchanging either one. I think the site is barely large enough for housing. You might be able to have a little sitting area.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Ultimately, privately-owned public spaces often end up<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/plans/pops-inventory/pops-inventory.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;&ldquo;inaccessible or devoid&rdquo; of &ldquo;amenities that attract public use</a>,&rdquo; or may be converted into retail space in the future, as<a href="http://media.wix.com/ugd/639aeb_0f4c99d55346461cab783e42f71e335b.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;Chin supported on Water Street</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio is right when he said &ldquo;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/press_releases/16-083pr.shtml#.V_qb2zKZN-U" target="_blank">Every New Yorker deserves access to clean, safe green spaces, no matter what neighborhood they live in.</a>&rdquo; Had Chin acted upon her declaration that &ldquo;Communities must be consulted about changes coming to their neighborhoods,&rdquo; Elizabeth Street Garden already would be a public park.</p> <p dir="ltr">Instead of allowing politics to determine policy, we encourage Council Member Chin and the de Blasio administration to work with CB 2 and our elected officials to build more affordable housing and to preserve the precious little public green, open space we have left, for our seniors, our children and all the residents of our community.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden President Jeannine Kiely and D. Kristin Shea. On Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://elizabethstreetgarden.org" target="_blank">@elizabethstgrdn</a>. (Both Kiely and Shea are members of Community Board 2 but are not writing on behalf of CB 2.)</p> <p>

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Protecting Our Open Public Space Must Be A Top Priority 2016-10-06T04:00:00+00:00 2016-10-06T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6562:protecting-our-open-public-space-must-be-a-top-priority Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/elizabeth_street_garden_protest.jpg" alt="elizabeth street garden protest" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>From Thursday&rsquo;s protest (photo: @ElizabethStGrdn)</p> <hr /> <p><strong><em>In response to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6558-new-affordable-housing-in-every-neighborhood-including-mine" target="_blank">City Council Member Margaret Chin&rsquo;s op-ed column</a> in Gotham Gazette published Oct. 6, from New York City Community Garden Coalition Executive Director Aziz Dehkan:</em></strong></p> <p>The threat to Elizabeth Street Garden violates Mayor de Blasio&rsquo;s mandate to promote livability for New Yorkers. Supporters of the garden rallied early on Thursday at the pre-submission conference for the Request for Proposals to demand the preservation of this treasured resource, the last open green space in Soho.</p> <p>The RFP requires 30 years of affordable housing, perhaps a single generation, in a city where the senior population is outpacing all other demographic groups. In three decades, the senior apartments could exit affordability, but a new building would remain atop a community garden sacrificed for fleeting gain.</p> <p>Council Member Margaret Chin, alone among the local representatives, opposes the community garden under a misguided sense of what &ldquo;livability&rdquo; entails. Liveable communities require affordable housing, services, and access to open spaces, most urgently in densifying communities. Her &ldquo;tough decision&rdquo; to advocate for housing in place of the Elizabeth Street Garden capitulates to pervasive development pressure.</p> <p>Public review of the site gave voice to steady opposition of residents, business owners, the community board, and elected officials. The process yielded a resounding &ldquo;no&rdquo; to destroying the garden and urged the administration to consider an alternative site within the community district, one that would allow many more units while preserving the community garden.</p> <p>Council Member Chin acknowledges the impact of the construction boom on the quality of life, but in identifying sites for affordable housing, constant construction has deafened her to constituent calls. Additional park space is needed district-wide, yet she supported the destruction of LaGuardia Corner Gardens, a casualty of NYU&rsquo;s massive expansion plan in the South Village. She again fails to show consideration for Elizabeth Street Garden.</p> <p>The coalition of advocates for Elizabeth Street Garden demand the land be dedicated as parkland. Today Elizabeth Street Garden enlivens Soho with year-round programs and sculpture. The City, in a weak effort to assuage the community, asks developers to reserve barely a quarter of the existing garden site for future open space. Operation of the diminished space will be a challenge to integrate into the community and serve the actual needs of visitors.</p> <p>Privately owned public spaces throughout Manhattan have attracted criticism for using unwelcoming designs and restricting, or effectively eliminating, public use. Our City made this same deal for open space within developments without ensuring accountability decades ago. We should know better than to accept a plan that will wrest land from its public stewards.</p> <p>The New York City Community Garden Coalition seeks the development of policies for creating community gardens and against their removal. Politicians too commonly position open space against housing, driving a wedge that need not exist. The two are essential aspects of healthy neighborhoods that side-by-side serve long-term needs of a community. Promoting a falsehood that affordable housing and open space are incompatible is disingenuous to the complicated negotiation around the City&rsquo;s distribution of public land. The Mayor can do better to promote livability by preserving Elizabeth Street Garden in a park-starved neighborhood and redirecting efforts to the larger alternative site.</p> <p>***<br />Aziz Dehkan is Executive Director of&nbsp;<a href="http://nyccgc.org/" target="_blank">the New York City Community Garden Coalition</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/elizabeth_street_garden_protest.jpg" alt="elizabeth street garden protest" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>From Thursday&rsquo;s protest (photo: @ElizabethStGrdn)</p> <hr /> <p><strong><em>In response to <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6558-new-affordable-housing-in-every-neighborhood-including-mine" target="_blank">City Council Member Margaret Chin&rsquo;s op-ed column</a> in Gotham Gazette published Oct. 6, from New York City Community Garden Coalition Executive Director Aziz Dehkan:</em></strong></p> <p>The threat to Elizabeth Street Garden violates Mayor de Blasio&rsquo;s mandate to promote livability for New Yorkers. Supporters of the garden rallied early on Thursday at the pre-submission conference for the Request for Proposals to demand the preservation of this treasured resource, the last open green space in Soho.</p> <p>The RFP requires 30 years of affordable housing, perhaps a single generation, in a city where the senior population is outpacing all other demographic groups. In three decades, the senior apartments could exit affordability, but a new building would remain atop a community garden sacrificed for fleeting gain.</p> <p>Council Member Margaret Chin, alone among the local representatives, opposes the community garden under a misguided sense of what &ldquo;livability&rdquo; entails. Liveable communities require affordable housing, services, and access to open spaces, most urgently in densifying communities. Her &ldquo;tough decision&rdquo; to advocate for housing in place of the Elizabeth Street Garden capitulates to pervasive development pressure.</p> <p>Public review of the site gave voice to steady opposition of residents, business owners, the community board, and elected officials. The process yielded a resounding &ldquo;no&rdquo; to destroying the garden and urged the administration to consider an alternative site within the community district, one that would allow many more units while preserving the community garden.</p> <p>Council Member Chin acknowledges the impact of the construction boom on the quality of life, but in identifying sites for affordable housing, constant construction has deafened her to constituent calls. Additional park space is needed district-wide, yet she supported the destruction of LaGuardia Corner Gardens, a casualty of NYU&rsquo;s massive expansion plan in the South Village. She again fails to show consideration for Elizabeth Street Garden.</p> <p>The coalition of advocates for Elizabeth Street Garden demand the land be dedicated as parkland. Today Elizabeth Street Garden enlivens Soho with year-round programs and sculpture. The City, in a weak effort to assuage the community, asks developers to reserve barely a quarter of the existing garden site for future open space. Operation of the diminished space will be a challenge to integrate into the community and serve the actual needs of visitors.</p> <p>Privately owned public spaces throughout Manhattan have attracted criticism for using unwelcoming designs and restricting, or effectively eliminating, public use. Our City made this same deal for open space within developments without ensuring accountability decades ago. We should know better than to accept a plan that will wrest land from its public stewards.</p> <p>The New York City Community Garden Coalition seeks the development of policies for creating community gardens and against their removal. Politicians too commonly position open space against housing, driving a wedge that need not exist. The two are essential aspects of healthy neighborhoods that side-by-side serve long-term needs of a community. Promoting a falsehood that affordable housing and open space are incompatible is disingenuous to the complicated negotiation around the City&rsquo;s distribution of public land. The Mayor can do better to promote livability by preserving Elizabeth Street Garden in a park-starved neighborhood and redirecting efforts to the larger alternative site.</p> <p>***<br />Aziz Dehkan is Executive Director of&nbsp;<a href="http://nyccgc.org/" target="_blank">the New York City Community Garden Coalition</a>.</p> <p>

***
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New Affordable Housing in Every Neighborhood, Including Mine 2016-10-04T04:00:00+00:00 2016-10-04T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6558:new-affordable-housing-in-every-neighborhood-including-mine Ben Max <p>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/margaret-chin-committee.jpg" alt="margaret chin committee" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Council Member Chin, the author (photo:&nbsp;Charles Eshelman)</p> <hr /> <p>No one said it would be easy.</p> <p>When voters overwhelmingly elected Mayor de Blasio almost three years ago, New Yorkers chose an elected official who pledged to tackle the tough issues plaguing us &mdash; including a promise to create 80,000 units of new affordable housing for a city in desperate need.</p> <p>Almost three years later, Mayor de Blasio &mdash; in partnership with many of my City Council colleagues &mdash; is making steady progress towards that goal. In March, after a substantial amount of public review, I joined an overwhelming majority of Council members to approve a sweeping change in zoning law that promises to accelerate the creation of affordable housing where none would otherwise be built.</p> <p>Identifying sites for affordable housing in a city as crowded as ours can be a monumental challenge. Communities must be consulted about changes coming to their neighborhoods. It is they, after all, who bear the brunt of nearly constant construction and other serious quality of life issues affecting a city in the midst of an unprecedented building boom.</p> <p>But in almost every case, the question before us must not be if, but how affordable housing is to be created.</p> <p>We are not living in ordinary times. People who have lived in their neighborhoods for decades, whether it be in Battery Park City or Little Italy in my Council district or elsewhere, are facing the reality of losing their homes.</p> <p>Some have already received a letter from their landlord informing them of a double-digit rent increase. Others, including too many of our seniors, are desperately searching for any space available in a city that seemingly has none.</p> <p>It is true that our city needs more open space for residents of all ages. But this crisis demands that we make tough decisions to accommodate the pressing needs of all New Yorkers.</p> <p>That is why I am proud of the public process that led to the inclusion of at least 5,000 square feet of publicly-accessible space at a new affordable senior housing project on Elizabeth and Mott streets in Little Italy in my Council District.</p> <p>When it is built, this permanent open space will be the result of the advocacy of a group of passionate neighbors fighting for more places for New Yorkers to play, relax, and enjoy the natural world around us. These neighbors, along with the local Community Board, have spoken in a clear voice, and I hear them.</p> <p>I also hear the pleas of our seniors for housing that is safe, age-friendly, and above all, affordable. Their voices matter, and must be taken into consideration.</p> <p>The decision to pursue this 100 percent affordable housing project has not been an easy one. But in my heart, I know that this is the correct decision. Because for me, leadership isn&rsquo;t about always doing what is popular, but what is right.</p> <p>By pursuing this project in the heart of Little Italy &mdash; a place steeped in history that welcomed my newly-arrived immigrant family a half-century ago &mdash; I am fulfilling my promise to those who elected me to preserve what makes this tiny slice of our city great, and to ensure that the people who made it great can afford to stay there.</p> <p>***<br />Margaret S. Chin is the City Council member representing Lower Manhattan. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/CM_MargaretChin" target="_blank">@CM_MargaretChin</a>.</p> <p>

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<p>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/margaret-chin-committee.jpg" alt="margaret chin committee" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Council Member Chin, the author (photo:&nbsp;Charles Eshelman)</p> <hr /> <p>No one said it would be easy.</p> <p>When voters overwhelmingly elected Mayor de Blasio almost three years ago, New Yorkers chose an elected official who pledged to tackle the tough issues plaguing us &mdash; including a promise to create 80,000 units of new affordable housing for a city in desperate need.</p> <p>Almost three years later, Mayor de Blasio &mdash; in partnership with many of my City Council colleagues &mdash; is making steady progress towards that goal. In March, after a substantial amount of public review, I joined an overwhelming majority of Council members to approve a sweeping change in zoning law that promises to accelerate the creation of affordable housing where none would otherwise be built.</p> <p>Identifying sites for affordable housing in a city as crowded as ours can be a monumental challenge. Communities must be consulted about changes coming to their neighborhoods. It is they, after all, who bear the brunt of nearly constant construction and other serious quality of life issues affecting a city in the midst of an unprecedented building boom.</p> <p>But in almost every case, the question before us must not be if, but how affordable housing is to be created.</p> <p>We are not living in ordinary times. People who have lived in their neighborhoods for decades, whether it be in Battery Park City or Little Italy in my Council district or elsewhere, are facing the reality of losing their homes.</p> <p>Some have already received a letter from their landlord informing them of a double-digit rent increase. Others, including too many of our seniors, are desperately searching for any space available in a city that seemingly has none.</p> <p>It is true that our city needs more open space for residents of all ages. But this crisis demands that we make tough decisions to accommodate the pressing needs of all New Yorkers.</p> <p>That is why I am proud of the public process that led to the inclusion of at least 5,000 square feet of publicly-accessible space at a new affordable senior housing project on Elizabeth and Mott streets in Little Italy in my Council District.</p> <p>When it is built, this permanent open space will be the result of the advocacy of a group of passionate neighbors fighting for more places for New Yorkers to play, relax, and enjoy the natural world around us. These neighbors, along with the local Community Board, have spoken in a clear voice, and I hear them.</p> <p>I also hear the pleas of our seniors for housing that is safe, age-friendly, and above all, affordable. Their voices matter, and must be taken into consideration.</p> <p>The decision to pursue this 100 percent affordable housing project has not been an easy one. But in my heart, I know that this is the correct decision. Because for me, leadership isn&rsquo;t about always doing what is popular, but what is right.</p> <p>By pursuing this project in the heart of Little Italy &mdash; a place steeped in history that welcomed my newly-arrived immigrant family a half-century ago &mdash; I am fulfilling my promise to those who elected me to preserve what makes this tiny slice of our city great, and to ensure that the people who made it great can afford to stay there.</p> <p>***<br />Margaret S. Chin is the City Council member representing Lower Manhattan. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/CM_MargaretChin" target="_blank">@CM_MargaretChin</a>.</p> <p>

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Funding Issues, Waitlists Plague City’s Services for Seniors 2016-09-26T04:00:00+00:00 2016-09-26T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6550:funding-issues-waitlists-plague-city-s-services-for-seniors Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/seniors_city_hall.jpg" alt="seniors city hall" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Seniors at City Hall (photo: @nonprofittalk)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">A June City Council<a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pr/061416stated.shtml" target="_blank"> report</a> on the budget for the city Department for the Aging (DFTA) detailed that there are approximately 1,400 seniors on waiting lists for case management services. The average age of these seniors is &ldquo;85+,&rdquo; with an average income of &ldquo;$12,000-$20,000,&rdquo;<a href="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/562a3197e4b0493d4ffd3105/t/571644e89f7266703b62c3d7/1461077224933/case+mgt+waiting+list+last+updated+4_18_16.pdf" target="_blank"> according</a> to LiveOn, a senior advocacy organization. The City Council report examined the adopted budget for the new fiscal year, which began July 1, and makes clear that DFTA is not being funded with a sense of urgency to quickly reduce waitlists and serve the city&rsquo;s oldest, often neediest residents.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Department for the Aging uses federal, state, and city funds to provide advocacy, education, and services that range from hot meals at senior centers to transportation and legal aid. DFTA provides case management services for those not covered by Medicaid; those waitlisted are without access to trained employees of city-contracted nonprofits that evaluate seniors&rsquo; needs and coordinate appropriate care.</p> <p dir="ltr">Seniors are one of the city&rsquo;s fastest growing demographics: in a July<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dfta/downloads/pdf/press_release/AginginPlaceGuidePRV2.pdf" target="_blank"> press release</a> announcing an &ldquo;&lsquo;Aging in Place&rsquo; guide to help older New Yorkers,&rdquo; Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado reported that there were 1.4 million adults over the age of 60 living in New York City, with an expected 2 million by 2040. Ninety-six percent of this group chooses to stay in their apartments over relocation as they age and need more attention. "So many seniors are held captive in their homes because of a lack of accessibility," Corrado said. Often, this accessibility takes the form of physical frailty, disability, chronic illness and disease.</p> <p dir="ltr">DFTA reaches homebound seniors through case management services. Part of the state-funded Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly, case management provides seniors ineligible for Medicaid, with counseling, advocacy, referrals, and information. The service is made possible through referrals to local senior centers and community-based social service and healthcare agencies.</p> <p dir="ltr">Case management is also an entry point to homecare services, which include medical assessments and referrals and information to ensure appropriate care. Seniors are unable to receive homecare services without access to a case manager. In its May report, the City Council reported a homecare waitlist of 500-550.</p> <p dir="ltr">The case management problem stems in part from high turnover among case managers, fueled by low salaries. The same LiveOn report claims an average annual turnover rate of 32%, with seven nonprofit agencies reporting over 40%, and each with 100 to 300-plus waitlisted seniors, as of February.</p> <p dir="ltr">While,<a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/budget/2017/ex/dfta.pdf" target="_blank"> this year</a>, the City Council called for $12 million to raise case manager salaries to $55,000 and supervisor salaries to $65,000, $4.8 million was allocated in the fiscal year 2017 budget and $7.3 million in 2018 to raise salaries to $50,000 and $60,000, respectively. Currently, each case manager is responsible for up to 65 clients at a time. Although this number may seem high, as of a few years ago it was in the neighborhood of 90, according to experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has also declined to provide funding to address other causes of the waitlist, independent of salary woes. The June City Council report showed that $1.8 million was baselined to strengthen existing services, short of the $3 million allocated in fiscal year 2016. The $3 million would have, at a very minimum, allowed DFTA to maintain its then-level of service. Bobbie Sackman, director of public policy at LiveOn, told Gotham Gazette that the city&rsquo;s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told LiveOn that the $1.2 million difference has been added since. Sackman could not confirm this information and an inquiry from Gotham Gazette to a budget spokesperson in the mayor&rsquo;s press office was not returned by publication.</p> <p dir="ltr">"We still have a way to go to restore aging funding to pre-recessionary levels," City Council Member Margaret Chin, chair of the Council's Committee On Aging, said in the Council report.</p> <p dir="ltr">Chin refers to the heavy budget cuts that took place under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure. Taking action to address the fallout of the Great Recession, Bloomberg oversaw a $30 million reduction in the DFTA budget, according to a 2010<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/101855-city-agencies-react-across-board-budget-cuts/" target="_blank">&nbsp;WNYC report</a>. DFTA was left with a $264 million budget, far short of the current $330 million adopted agency budget for the new fiscal year, and a sliver of the city's $82 billion in expenses.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Seniors should not be on any waiting list,&rdquo; Chin said in an interview. &ldquo;Our senior population is growing tremendously, so as the numbers grow, the needs grow also&hellip;by 2030, one in five is going to be a senior, so we have to make sure the budget reflects that."</p> <p dir="ltr">Chin was critical of the lack of salary parity between case managers and comparable government positions. "If other agencies are paying a higher salary for the same type of job, it's very hard for the agency that has these case managers to compete, so there's a lot of turnover, and we don't want that to happen," Chin said. "We have to make sure there are enough case managers.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Sackman of LiveOn lamented that "There is no plan.&rdquo; &ldquo;The fastest-growing segment of the city's population, and there is no plan," she said. Sackman offered a potential explanation: "I think some of it is because you can't get any more invisible than being a homebound 85-year-old person."</p> <p dir="ltr">"There's not enough money,&rdquo; Sackman concluded after discussing the problems facing the city&rsquo;s older population and the city government response. No one from DFTA was made available for comment for this story.</p> <p dir="ltr">One key issue, Sackman noted, is that case management services are for seniors above the Medicaid level. "So, no one's running to the bank," she said. "If you're eligible for Medicaid, it's an entitlement, and you get a pretty broad array of services&hellip;if you're not eligible you're really out in the cold a lot."</p> <p dir="ltr">The same is true for homecare services. "If you are on Medicaid, you can get 10 hours a day of homecare, and while it's more difficult, you could still get 24 hours care. On the EISEP (Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly), it's not an entitlement, you might get one to 12 hours a week," said Sackman. "Remember, to get homecare you've got to be assessed by a case manager. They are the gatekeepers. So if you're sitting on a waiting list, you can't get home services. It's a vicious cycle."</p> <p dir="ltr">Both and Sackman and Chin were quick to highlight that the waitlist issue also impacts family members and loved ones already acting as unpaid adult caregivers. "They are struggling day-to-day, figuring out how to juggle work and other responsibilities in life while taking care of their elderly parents," Sackman said. "They just don't have a system in place to help them."</p> <p dir="ltr">Chin offered an example of what this looks like: "Imagine someone in their sixties taking care of someone in their eighties and nineties."</p> <p dir="ltr">Sandy Myers, director of government and external relations at Selfhelp community services, a city contracted nonprofit, knows case management waitlists firsthand. Selfhelp&rsquo;s two DFTA funded case management programs have a combined 170 waitlisted seniors.</p> <p dir="ltr">"All seniors are needy, regardless of their needs," Myers said in an interview. She emphasized the relevance of senior issues. "We want to have good people in the field who will be caring for all of us when we age."</p> <p dir="ltr">Selfhelp was founded in 1936 to serve those fleeing Nazi persecution. After World War II, the organization began serving survivors as well, providing them with job training, resettlement, and case management, among other services. As the refugees and survivors continued to age, Selfhelp evolved into a senior-focused organization to help vulnerable populations "age with independence and dignity."</p> <p dir="ltr">Today, Selfhelp serves 20,000 seniors at 27 across four boroughs and Nassau County. This includes five senior centers and four Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCS). A number of sites are located in Queens, many of which serve the Chinese community, as well as Korean, Latino, and other immigrant populations. Selfhelp emphasizes hiring culturally sensitive staff, including employees fluent in Russian for the 25% of clients who are WWII survivors. These professionals are well-versed in relevant topics of interest, like Soviet Union reparations, for one.</p> <p dir="ltr">Myers views the case management dilemma through a humanitarian lens. "For some of our clients, their interaction with the case manager is really one of their only interactions, if not the only interaction,&rdquo; she said. "When you have people who are constantly leaving, the quality of service suffers, as well as the client-worker relationship&hellip;there is obviously a lag between the time that someone leaves and when we are able to bring in someone new to train them." Myers noted that this turnover time is often two to four months, or more.</p> <p dir="ltr">Above all, Myers classified case managers as an invaluable safety net. She told a story of a 102-year-old client who one day didn't answer the door for her meal delivery. The service provider contacted Selfhelp, who proceeded to call her house, to no avail. Selfhelp alerted case management staff, who went to her apartment, opened up her door with another key, and found the woman lying on the floor, unable to move. "It's probably not an exaggeration to say that we saved her life," Myers remarked.</p> <p>Mayor de Blasio often talks about budgets as indicators of values and about the need for government to treat its most vulnerable citizens well. It is especially difficult to advocate for senior services funding and reform, Sackman said, because "it's not the sexiest issue." Told she was the second person to use those exact words, Sackman laughed and said, "Well, it's true. Except, if you're in my world, it's very sexy."</p> <p>

***
by Benjamin Jurney for Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/seniors_city_hall.jpg" alt="seniors city hall" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Seniors at City Hall (photo: @nonprofittalk)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">A June City Council<a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pr/061416stated.shtml" target="_blank"> report</a> on the budget for the city Department for the Aging (DFTA) detailed that there are approximately 1,400 seniors on waiting lists for case management services. The average age of these seniors is &ldquo;85+,&rdquo; with an average income of &ldquo;$12,000-$20,000,&rdquo;<a href="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/562a3197e4b0493d4ffd3105/t/571644e89f7266703b62c3d7/1461077224933/case+mgt+waiting+list+last+updated+4_18_16.pdf" target="_blank"> according</a> to LiveOn, a senior advocacy organization. The City Council report examined the adopted budget for the new fiscal year, which began July 1, and makes clear that DFTA is not being funded with a sense of urgency to quickly reduce waitlists and serve the city&rsquo;s oldest, often neediest residents.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Department for the Aging uses federal, state, and city funds to provide advocacy, education, and services that range from hot meals at senior centers to transportation and legal aid. DFTA provides case management services for those not covered by Medicaid; those waitlisted are without access to trained employees of city-contracted nonprofits that evaluate seniors&rsquo; needs and coordinate appropriate care.</p> <p dir="ltr">Seniors are one of the city&rsquo;s fastest growing demographics: in a July<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dfta/downloads/pdf/press_release/AginginPlaceGuidePRV2.pdf" target="_blank"> press release</a> announcing an &ldquo;&lsquo;Aging in Place&rsquo; guide to help older New Yorkers,&rdquo; Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado reported that there were 1.4 million adults over the age of 60 living in New York City, with an expected 2 million by 2040. Ninety-six percent of this group chooses to stay in their apartments over relocation as they age and need more attention. "So many seniors are held captive in their homes because of a lack of accessibility," Corrado said. Often, this accessibility takes the form of physical frailty, disability, chronic illness and disease.</p> <p dir="ltr">DFTA reaches homebound seniors through case management services. Part of the state-funded Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly, case management provides seniors ineligible for Medicaid, with counseling, advocacy, referrals, and information. The service is made possible through referrals to local senior centers and community-based social service and healthcare agencies.</p> <p dir="ltr">Case management is also an entry point to homecare services, which include medical assessments and referrals and information to ensure appropriate care. Seniors are unable to receive homecare services without access to a case manager. In its May report, the City Council reported a homecare waitlist of 500-550.</p> <p dir="ltr">The case management problem stems in part from high turnover among case managers, fueled by low salaries. The same LiveOn report claims an average annual turnover rate of 32%, with seven nonprofit agencies reporting over 40%, and each with 100 to 300-plus waitlisted seniors, as of February.</p> <p dir="ltr">While,<a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/budget/2017/ex/dfta.pdf" target="_blank"> this year</a>, the City Council called for $12 million to raise case manager salaries to $55,000 and supervisor salaries to $65,000, $4.8 million was allocated in the fiscal year 2017 budget and $7.3 million in 2018 to raise salaries to $50,000 and $60,000, respectively. Currently, each case manager is responsible for up to 65 clients at a time. Although this number may seem high, as of a few years ago it was in the neighborhood of 90, according to experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has also declined to provide funding to address other causes of the waitlist, independent of salary woes. The June City Council report showed that $1.8 million was baselined to strengthen existing services, short of the $3 million allocated in fiscal year 2016. The $3 million would have, at a very minimum, allowed DFTA to maintain its then-level of service. Bobbie Sackman, director of public policy at LiveOn, told Gotham Gazette that the city&rsquo;s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told LiveOn that the $1.2 million difference has been added since. Sackman could not confirm this information and an inquiry from Gotham Gazette to a budget spokesperson in the mayor&rsquo;s press office was not returned by publication.</p> <p dir="ltr">"We still have a way to go to restore aging funding to pre-recessionary levels," City Council Member Margaret Chin, chair of the Council's Committee On Aging, said in the Council report.</p> <p dir="ltr">Chin refers to the heavy budget cuts that took place under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure. Taking action to address the fallout of the Great Recession, Bloomberg oversaw a $30 million reduction in the DFTA budget, according to a 2010<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/101855-city-agencies-react-across-board-budget-cuts/" target="_blank">&nbsp;WNYC report</a>. DFTA was left with a $264 million budget, far short of the current $330 million adopted agency budget for the new fiscal year, and a sliver of the city's $82 billion in expenses.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Seniors should not be on any waiting list,&rdquo; Chin said in an interview. &ldquo;Our senior population is growing tremendously, so as the numbers grow, the needs grow also&hellip;by 2030, one in five is going to be a senior, so we have to make sure the budget reflects that."</p> <p dir="ltr">Chin was critical of the lack of salary parity between case managers and comparable government positions. "If other agencies are paying a higher salary for the same type of job, it's very hard for the agency that has these case managers to compete, so there's a lot of turnover, and we don't want that to happen," Chin said. "We have to make sure there are enough case managers.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Sackman of LiveOn lamented that "There is no plan.&rdquo; &ldquo;The fastest-growing segment of the city's population, and there is no plan," she said. Sackman offered a potential explanation: "I think some of it is because you can't get any more invisible than being a homebound 85-year-old person."</p> <p dir="ltr">"There's not enough money,&rdquo; Sackman concluded after discussing the problems facing the city&rsquo;s older population and the city government response. No one from DFTA was made available for comment for this story.</p> <p dir="ltr">One key issue, Sackman noted, is that case management services are for seniors above the Medicaid level. "So, no one's running to the bank," she said. "If you're eligible for Medicaid, it's an entitlement, and you get a pretty broad array of services&hellip;if you're not eligible you're really out in the cold a lot."</p> <p dir="ltr">The same is true for homecare services. "If you are on Medicaid, you can get 10 hours a day of homecare, and while it's more difficult, you could still get 24 hours care. On the EISEP (Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly), it's not an entitlement, you might get one to 12 hours a week," said Sackman. "Remember, to get homecare you've got to be assessed by a case manager. They are the gatekeepers. So if you're sitting on a waiting list, you can't get home services. It's a vicious cycle."</p> <p dir="ltr">Both and Sackman and Chin were quick to highlight that the waitlist issue also impacts family members and loved ones already acting as unpaid adult caregivers. "They are struggling day-to-day, figuring out how to juggle work and other responsibilities in life while taking care of their elderly parents," Sackman said. "They just don't have a system in place to help them."</p> <p dir="ltr">Chin offered an example of what this looks like: "Imagine someone in their sixties taking care of someone in their eighties and nineties."</p> <p dir="ltr">Sandy Myers, director of government and external relations at Selfhelp community services, a city contracted nonprofit, knows case management waitlists firsthand. Selfhelp&rsquo;s two DFTA funded case management programs have a combined 170 waitlisted seniors.</p> <p dir="ltr">"All seniors are needy, regardless of their needs," Myers said in an interview. She emphasized the relevance of senior issues. "We want to have good people in the field who will be caring for all of us when we age."</p> <p dir="ltr">Selfhelp was founded in 1936 to serve those fleeing Nazi persecution. After World War II, the organization began serving survivors as well, providing them with job training, resettlement, and case management, among other services. As the refugees and survivors continued to age, Selfhelp evolved into a senior-focused organization to help vulnerable populations "age with independence and dignity."</p> <p dir="ltr">Today, Selfhelp serves 20,000 seniors at 27 across four boroughs and Nassau County. This includes five senior centers and four Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCS). A number of sites are located in Queens, many of which serve the Chinese community, as well as Korean, Latino, and other immigrant populations. Selfhelp emphasizes hiring culturally sensitive staff, including employees fluent in Russian for the 25% of clients who are WWII survivors. These professionals are well-versed in relevant topics of interest, like Soviet Union reparations, for one.</p> <p dir="ltr">Myers views the case management dilemma through a humanitarian lens. "For some of our clients, their interaction with the case manager is really one of their only interactions, if not the only interaction,&rdquo; she said. "When you have people who are constantly leaving, the quality of service suffers, as well as the client-worker relationship&hellip;there is obviously a lag between the time that someone leaves and when we are able to bring in someone new to train them." Myers noted that this turnover time is often two to four months, or more.</p> <p dir="ltr">Above all, Myers classified case managers as an invaluable safety net. She told a story of a 102-year-old client who one day didn't answer the door for her meal delivery. The service provider contacted Selfhelp, who proceeded to call her house, to no avail. Selfhelp alerted case management staff, who went to her apartment, opened up her door with another key, and found the woman lying on the floor, unable to move. "It's probably not an exaggeration to say that we saved her life," Myers remarked.</p> <p>Mayor de Blasio often talks about budgets as indicators of values and about the need for government to treat its most vulnerable citizens well. It is especially difficult to advocate for senior services funding and reform, Sackman said, because "it's not the sexiest issue." Told she was the second person to use those exact words, Sackman laughed and said, "Well, it's true. Except, if you're in my world, it's very sexy."</p> <p>

***
by Benjamin Jurney for Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Hearing Shows Lack of Communication on Young Men’s Initiative 2016-09-23T04:00:00+00:00 2016-09-23T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6546:hearing-shows-lack-of-communication-on-young-men-s-initiative Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Eugene_bdb.jpg" alt="Eugene bdb" width="600" height="397" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Eugene (photo: CMMathieuEugene)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">There was confusion and some angst at the City Council on Wednesday. At an oversight hearing held by the Council&rsquo;s Youth Services Committee, several Council members said they were unaware of the programming of the city&rsquo;s Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative, which was the focus of the hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Mathieu Eugene chairs the committee and led the hearing. Only one other committee member, Council Member Margaret Chin, was present when Cyrus Garrett, executive director of YMI, gave his opening remarks. Garrett, who has led YMI since being appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in late 2014, briefed those in attendance on the history of YMI, which began under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and focuses on opportunities for young men of color; its work under the current mayor; and its most recent partnerships and programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the morning progressed with a question-and-answer session between Council members and Garrett, all of the members of the Council committee, with the exception of Council Member Darlene Mealy, made an appearance, and most asked questions of Garrett.</p> <p dir="ltr">Garrett outlined changes and progress at YMI since he took over at the start of 2015. &ldquo;To deepen our impact,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;YMI has sharpened its focus and over the last two years, has invested in the support and creation of data-informed strategies aimed at addressing inequities in education, justice, employment and health.&rdquo; Many of these strategies were the focus of the hearing, which also served as an occasionally heated forum wherein Council members pushed Garrett about YMI&rsquo;s lack of communication with them and the rest of the city.</p> <p dir="ltr">After Garrett&rsquo;s appointment, YMI acquired a new Executive Steering Committee, aligned programs with select goals set by President Obama&rsquo;s<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper" target="_blank"> My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper</a> initiative, which was in part modeled after YMI, and released a <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/ymi/downloads/pdf/Disparity_Report.pdf" target="_blank">"Disparity Report"</a> in collaboration with the Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence, all under the banner of &ldquo;YMI 2.0.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">The unifying feature of YMI 2.0 is a framework that goes beyond YMI&rsquo;s original 16-24 age demographic, while still focusing on males of color. Aligned with My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper, YMI has made it a priority to engage with younger New Yorkers. YMI 2.0 envisions all youth of color reading at grade level by 2nd grade; citywide completion of high-school, post-secondary education, or training; and safe from violent crime.</p> <p dir="ltr">In different ways, under Garrett YMI has been both broadened and narrowed. While the goals of YMI 2.0 now target a much wider age group, the neighborhoods and populations it prioritizes have become more specific. The Executive Steering Committee supported YMI 2.0 as it transitioned from a city-wide initiative under Bloomberg to a neighborhood-specific initiative under de Blasio. It now targets the South Bronx, South Jamaica, Brownsville, East New York, East Harlem, and the North Shore of Staten Island.</p> <p dir="ltr">Before his opening remarks ended and the questions began, Garrett was sure to outline a few programs YMI 2.0 is currently &ldquo;testing.&rdquo; <a href="https://www.readingrescue.org/partners/read-more-corps/" target="_blank">Readmore Corps</a>, a tutoring service for children in kindergarten through second grade, is one of them. In fiscal year 2016, Garrett said, &ldquo;YMI&rsquo;s support in 30 schools resulted in an additional 387 first and second graders receiving literacy support. We are well underway to serve 707 students in FY17, and with anticipated private funding, could potentially be in an additional 45 schools by the end of this school year.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Garrett also spoke about a partnership with NYC Service and the Center for Youth Employment on a college and career mentoring strategy for high schoolers, and the Fatherhood Academy, a program that promotes responsible parenting and economic stability for unemployed and underemployed young fathers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Eugene asked for more quantitative data on YMI, information which was supplied by the other YMI representative at the hearing, Carson Hicks, the deputy executive director at the city&rsquo;s Center for Economic Opportunity, which does data analysis for YMI and other city programs. According to Hicks, 80,000 young people were served by YMI 2.0 in 2016, which is an increase from when the program started, though she didn&rsquo;t say by how much.</p> <p dir="ltr">Hicks also informed Council members that the current budget allocation for YMI is $30 million, including an increase in the amount of city funds devoted to the initiative from under Bloomberg, but a decrease in total funding from its early years. (In 2011 Bloomberg and George Soros donated $30 million each to the inaugural YMI programs over the course of three years.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Eugene was also curious about how YMI advertises its programming, to which Garrett said that YMI programming largely is promoted through YMI itself, partner community-based organizations, and through word of mouth. Garrett listed organizations like Make the Road, the YMCA, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Goodwill, and the University Settlement Society of New York, and clarified that the YMI has 300 to 400 CBO partners in the city, located in every borough. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A French philosopher, I think Rousseau&rdquo; Eugene mused at one point, &ldquo;spoke about the importance of family when raising children.&rdquo; Eugene asked Garrett if YMI 2.0 was positioning itself as an intergenerational resource that could help parents reinforce the work that YMI does with its own programming. He said his own Brooklyn district has parents who would benefit from this kind of two-pronged programming, and also said that he would have gladly partnered with YMI, if the city had tried.</p> <p dir="ltr">This was a common theme throughout the hearing. In fact, all Council members who spoke either chided Garrett for YMI&rsquo;s lack of communication with their offices, or expressed surprise that they hadn&rsquo;t heard more extensively about YMI and its work. &ldquo;We have 51 Council members,&ldquo; Eugene said. &ldquo;And you&rsquo;ve only partnered with six of them? You could have allies with all 51 members.&rdquo; (None of the six partner Council members are on the Youth Services Committee, which has <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/DepartmentDetail.aspx?ID=6918&amp;GUID=E7F0BF95-991E-43FB-B304-772DBD06D465&amp;Search=" target="_blank">seven members</a> including Eugene, the chair.)</p> <p dir="ltr">When Council Member Chin spoke, she expressed shock that this was the first time her committee was getting a report about the initiative. She said the Council &ldquo;should have been a partner.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Laurie Cumbo asked about how YMI approaches the problem of neighborhood gang violence. She said that before the annual Labor Day parade, J&rsquo;ouvert, in her Crown Heights district, over 20 different gangs were identified, and asked if YMI had any anti-gun initiatives. Garrett replied that YMI looks at gangs as a part of the community, though he did give an anecdote about &ldquo;Chuckie,&rdquo; a member of the Crips gang who brought members of the gang to <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/prob/html/young_men/arches.shtml" target="_blank">ARCHES</a>, a group-mentoring YMI program designed to help men on probation get out of the criminal justice system. He recalled that the sessions were therapeutic.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cumbo suggested that some of her own initiatives, like <a href="http://fortgreenefocus.com/blog/2015/12/22/cumbo-city-council-anti-gun-violence-groups-unite-promote-art-a-catalyst-for-change/" target="_blank">Art as a Catalyst For Change</a>, were also good models, and that YMI might want to think about introducing more arts programming.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Andy King, seizing on an excerpt from the City Council briefing paper that was distributed before the hearing, also asked Garrett about what YMI was doing to help relationships between young men of color and the NYPD. King pointed out that &ldquo;you never have to tell white boys how to act around the police. But you do have to teach black boys.&rdquo; While the briefing paper, which is prepared by the committee staff, pointed out that &ldquo;stop and frisk has been greatly reduced, from 700,000 stops in 2011 to 47,000 stops in 2015,&rdquo; it also said that &ldquo;the legacy of distrust continues to endure and many stakeholders have called for a continued engagement between the community and the NYPD.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Garrett said that as a former advisor in the Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement is an area he is particularly attuned to. He said YMI is working with the NYPD on speaking with frontline officers, to see if there are systems officers can follow for crime and arrest deterrence. The NYPD is in the middle of implementing a new neighborhood policing model is that focused on building community relationships.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another theme throughout the hearing was how YMI measures successes and phases out programs that appear to be ineffective.</p> <p dir="ltr">Garrett gave the example of the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ymi/downloads/pdf/nyc_justice_corps.pdf" target="_blank">Justice Corps</a>, a job-coaching program for young men involved in the criminal justice system. The program was launched in 2008 and was re-tooled for expansion this year, after evaluation from the current YMI. However, an education program for former inmates, the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/prob/html/young_men/yajs.shtml" target="_blank">Justice Scholars</a>, is being phased out because it was found that people&rsquo;s levels of education varied too widely to have a consistent positive impact.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many of Garrett&rsquo;s talking points from the hearing are laid out in more detail through the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/operations/downloads/pdf/mmr2016/young_mens_initiative.pdf" target="_blank">YMI section of the Mayor&rsquo;s Management Report</a> for Fiscal Year 2016, which was released earlier this week.</p> <p>At the conclusion of the hearing, Council Member Eugene asked Garrett to estimate the success of YMI 2.0. &ldquo;Would you say you&rsquo;re at 90%? 70%? 50%?&rdquo; Eugene asked. After a second of hesitation, Garrett said that he&rsquo;d estimate YMI was 55% of the way to success. Earlier in the hearing, Garrett conceded that YMI is in a place that it wanted to be three years ago, but after discontinuing unsuccessful programming, he thought that YMI is heading in a better direction. The hearing closed with Garrett agreeing to send all Council members updates on the progress of YMI, and pledges from all there that there would be more collaboration between YMI and the City Council going forward.</p> <p>

***
by Elena Burger, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this story has been updated to remove question about the estimate from Hicks, which was verified by the mayor's office.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Eugene_bdb.jpg" alt="Eugene bdb" width="600" height="397" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Eugene (photo: CMMathieuEugene)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">There was confusion and some angst at the City Council on Wednesday. At an oversight hearing held by the Council&rsquo;s Youth Services Committee, several Council members said they were unaware of the programming of the city&rsquo;s Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative, which was the focus of the hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Mathieu Eugene chairs the committee and led the hearing. Only one other committee member, Council Member Margaret Chin, was present when Cyrus Garrett, executive director of YMI, gave his opening remarks. Garrett, who has led YMI since being appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in late 2014, briefed those in attendance on the history of YMI, which began under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and focuses on opportunities for young men of color; its work under the current mayor; and its most recent partnerships and programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the morning progressed with a question-and-answer session between Council members and Garrett, all of the members of the Council committee, with the exception of Council Member Darlene Mealy, made an appearance, and most asked questions of Garrett.</p> <p dir="ltr">Garrett outlined changes and progress at YMI since he took over at the start of 2015. &ldquo;To deepen our impact,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;YMI has sharpened its focus and over the last two years, has invested in the support and creation of data-informed strategies aimed at addressing inequities in education, justice, employment and health.&rdquo; Many of these strategies were the focus of the hearing, which also served as an occasionally heated forum wherein Council members pushed Garrett about YMI&rsquo;s lack of communication with them and the rest of the city.</p> <p dir="ltr">After Garrett&rsquo;s appointment, YMI acquired a new Executive Steering Committee, aligned programs with select goals set by President Obama&rsquo;s<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper" target="_blank"> My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper</a> initiative, which was in part modeled after YMI, and released a <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/ymi/downloads/pdf/Disparity_Report.pdf" target="_blank">"Disparity Report"</a> in collaboration with the Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence, all under the banner of &ldquo;YMI 2.0.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">The unifying feature of YMI 2.0 is a framework that goes beyond YMI&rsquo;s original 16-24 age demographic, while still focusing on males of color. Aligned with My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper, YMI has made it a priority to engage with younger New Yorkers. YMI 2.0 envisions all youth of color reading at grade level by 2nd grade; citywide completion of high-school, post-secondary education, or training; and safe from violent crime.</p> <p dir="ltr">In different ways, under Garrett YMI has been both broadened and narrowed. While the goals of YMI 2.0 now target a much wider age group, the neighborhoods and populations it prioritizes have become more specific. The Executive Steering Committee supported YMI 2.0 as it transitioned from a city-wide initiative under Bloomberg to a neighborhood-specific initiative under de Blasio. It now targets the South Bronx, South Jamaica, Brownsville, East New York, East Harlem, and the North Shore of Staten Island.</p> <p dir="ltr">Before his opening remarks ended and the questions began, Garrett was sure to outline a few programs YMI 2.0 is currently &ldquo;testing.&rdquo; <a href="https://www.readingrescue.org/partners/read-more-corps/" target="_blank">Readmore Corps</a>, a tutoring service for children in kindergarten through second grade, is one of them. In fiscal year 2016, Garrett said, &ldquo;YMI&rsquo;s support in 30 schools resulted in an additional 387 first and second graders receiving literacy support. We are well underway to serve 707 students in FY17, and with anticipated private funding, could potentially be in an additional 45 schools by the end of this school year.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Garrett also spoke about a partnership with NYC Service and the Center for Youth Employment on a college and career mentoring strategy for high schoolers, and the Fatherhood Academy, a program that promotes responsible parenting and economic stability for unemployed and underemployed young fathers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Eugene asked for more quantitative data on YMI, information which was supplied by the other YMI representative at the hearing, Carson Hicks, the deputy executive director at the city&rsquo;s Center for Economic Opportunity, which does data analysis for YMI and other city programs. According to Hicks, 80,000 young people were served by YMI 2.0 in 2016, which is an increase from when the program started, though she didn&rsquo;t say by how much.</p> <p dir="ltr">Hicks also informed Council members that the current budget allocation for YMI is $30 million, including an increase in the amount of city funds devoted to the initiative from under Bloomberg, but a decrease in total funding from its early years. (In 2011 Bloomberg and George Soros donated $30 million each to the inaugural YMI programs over the course of three years.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Eugene was also curious about how YMI advertises its programming, to which Garrett said that YMI programming largely is promoted through YMI itself, partner community-based organizations, and through word of mouth. Garrett listed organizations like Make the Road, the YMCA, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Goodwill, and the University Settlement Society of New York, and clarified that the YMI has 300 to 400 CBO partners in the city, located in every borough. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A French philosopher, I think Rousseau&rdquo; Eugene mused at one point, &ldquo;spoke about the importance of family when raising children.&rdquo; Eugene asked Garrett if YMI 2.0 was positioning itself as an intergenerational resource that could help parents reinforce the work that YMI does with its own programming. He said his own Brooklyn district has parents who would benefit from this kind of two-pronged programming, and also said that he would have gladly partnered with YMI, if the city had tried.</p> <p dir="ltr">This was a common theme throughout the hearing. In fact, all Council members who spoke either chided Garrett for YMI&rsquo;s lack of communication with their offices, or expressed surprise that they hadn&rsquo;t heard more extensively about YMI and its work. &ldquo;We have 51 Council members,&ldquo; Eugene said. &ldquo;And you&rsquo;ve only partnered with six of them? You could have allies with all 51 members.&rdquo; (None of the six partner Council members are on the Youth Services Committee, which has <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/DepartmentDetail.aspx?ID=6918&amp;GUID=E7F0BF95-991E-43FB-B304-772DBD06D465&amp;Search=" target="_blank">seven members</a> including Eugene, the chair.)</p> <p dir="ltr">When Council Member Chin spoke, she expressed shock that this was the first time her committee was getting a report about the initiative. She said the Council &ldquo;should have been a partner.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Laurie Cumbo asked about how YMI approaches the problem of neighborhood gang violence. She said that before the annual Labor Day parade, J&rsquo;ouvert, in her Crown Heights district, over 20 different gangs were identified, and asked if YMI had any anti-gun initiatives. Garrett replied that YMI looks at gangs as a part of the community, though he did give an anecdote about &ldquo;Chuckie,&rdquo; a member of the Crips gang who brought members of the gang to <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/prob/html/young_men/arches.shtml" target="_blank">ARCHES</a>, a group-mentoring YMI program designed to help men on probation get out of the criminal justice system. He recalled that the sessions were therapeutic.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cumbo suggested that some of her own initiatives, like <a href="http://fortgreenefocus.com/blog/2015/12/22/cumbo-city-council-anti-gun-violence-groups-unite-promote-art-a-catalyst-for-change/" target="_blank">Art as a Catalyst For Change</a>, were also good models, and that YMI might want to think about introducing more arts programming.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Andy King, seizing on an excerpt from the City Council briefing paper that was distributed before the hearing, also asked Garrett about what YMI was doing to help relationships between young men of color and the NYPD. King pointed out that &ldquo;you never have to tell white boys how to act around the police. But you do have to teach black boys.&rdquo; While the briefing paper, which is prepared by the committee staff, pointed out that &ldquo;stop and frisk has been greatly reduced, from 700,000 stops in 2011 to 47,000 stops in 2015,&rdquo; it also said that &ldquo;the legacy of distrust continues to endure and many stakeholders have called for a continued engagement between the community and the NYPD.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Garrett said that as a former advisor in the Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement is an area he is particularly attuned to. He said YMI is working with the NYPD on speaking with frontline officers, to see if there are systems officers can follow for crime and arrest deterrence. The NYPD is in the middle of implementing a new neighborhood policing model is that focused on building community relationships.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another theme throughout the hearing was how YMI measures successes and phases out programs that appear to be ineffective.</p> <p dir="ltr">Garrett gave the example of the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ymi/downloads/pdf/nyc_justice_corps.pdf" target="_blank">Justice Corps</a>, a job-coaching program for young men involved in the criminal justice system. The program was launched in 2008 and was re-tooled for expansion this year, after evaluation from the current YMI. However, an education program for former inmates, the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/prob/html/young_men/yajs.shtml" target="_blank">Justice Scholars</a>, is being phased out because it was found that people&rsquo;s levels of education varied too widely to have a consistent positive impact.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many of Garrett&rsquo;s talking points from the hearing are laid out in more detail through the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/operations/downloads/pdf/mmr2016/young_mens_initiative.pdf" target="_blank">YMI section of the Mayor&rsquo;s Management Report</a> for Fiscal Year 2016, which was released earlier this week.</p> <p>At the conclusion of the hearing, Council Member Eugene asked Garrett to estimate the success of YMI 2.0. &ldquo;Would you say you&rsquo;re at 90%? 70%? 50%?&rdquo; Eugene asked. After a second of hesitation, Garrett said that he&rsquo;d estimate YMI was 55% of the way to success. Earlier in the hearing, Garrett conceded that YMI is in a place that it wanted to be three years ago, but after discontinuing unsuccessful programming, he thought that YMI is heading in a better direction. The hearing closed with Garrett agreeing to send all Council members updates on the progress of YMI, and pledges from all there that there would be more collaboration between YMI and the City Council going forward.</p> <p>

***
by Elena Burger, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this story has been updated to remove question about the estimate from Hicks, which was verified by the mayor's office.</p>
Calls Grow for New Council-Led Deed Restriction Process 2016-07-21T04:00:00+00:00 2016-07-21T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6448:calls-grow-louder-for-new-deed-restriction-process Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/MMV_deed_restriction_presser.jpg" alt="MMV deed restriction presser" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Chin, Mark-Viverito, Brewer (l-r) at Wednesday's presser (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Armed with the findings of a newly-released investigation that faults City Hall for a &ldquo;lack of accountability,&rdquo; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Margaret Chin called for reform to the city&rsquo;s deed restriction removal process at a press conference on Wednesday outside City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a show of strength and seriousness, Brewer and Chin were joined by Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and others.</p> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doi/downloads/pdf/2016/July%202016/pr22rivington_7142016.pdf" target="_blank">report</a>, issued by the Department of Investigations last Thursday, found that the Mayor&rsquo;s Office and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) failed to stop the removal of a deed restriction at 45 Rivington Street in Manhattan and neglected to weigh whether the removal was in the city&rsquo;s best interests.</p> <p dir="ltr">Because of &ldquo;communication failures&rdquo; between DCAS and City Hall, the site that formerly housed a not-for-profit nursing home known as Rivington House was sold to a developer of luxury condominiums without objection from the administration, according to the DOI report. Deed restrictions are in place on a fairly small number of properties around the city, often ones that once belonged to the city, and establish certain restrictions on what a piece of land can be used for. The result on Rivington House has become a point for criticism of the de Blasio administration, and the process is still under investigation by the city comptroller and state attorney general.</p> <p dir="ltr">Brewer, Chin, Council Members Ben Kallos and Rosie Mendez, Public Advocate James, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and members of various community boards, blamed the mishandling of Rivington House and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/14/nyregion/builder-acquires-valuable-harlem-plot-after-deed-change.html" target="_blank">a similar deed restriction removal at Dance Theater of Harlem</a> on the current &ldquo;murky, opaque&rdquo; process by which deed restriction changes are approved at the press conference.</p> <p dir="ltr">Brewer added that the issue would be solved by treating deed restriction changes using the same process as land use decisions, as well as passing <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2735475&amp;GUID=C514BD10-3BCE-4529-B12B-2C345CD4C387" target="_blank">a bill she recommended and Chin sponsors</a> aimed at increasing transparency in the process.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These are land use questions, but they weren&rsquo;t being handled like land use questions. Decisions to lift deed restrictions were being managed by the wrong people at the wrong agencies in the wrong process,&rdquo; Brewer said. &ldquo;We have a tried and true way to manage land use decisions. It&rsquo;s called ULURP.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Brewer refers to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Unlike the current procedure for deed restriction changes, ULURP would mandate input from community boards and the borough president, and would require final action by the City Council before deed restrictions could be lifted.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Planning Commission is the only entity with the charter-mandated power to alter the deed restriction review process, meaning the Council must receive the recommendation of the CPC before it can enact a local law subjecting deed restriction changes to ULURP. The Commission will hold its next review session on July 25 and a public meeting on July 27.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appoints the CPC Chair and six of its 13 members, indicated in a July 8 press release that the CPC will adopt a series of reforms that align with some of Chin and Brewer&rsquo;s suggestions, such as involving Borough Presidents and City Planning in the deed review process. He also announced that the city will re-invest $16 million in proceeds from the Rivington House sale &ldquo;in the affected community on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio&rsquo;s plan, however, does not establish ULURP as the norm for deed restriction changes, instead favoring a plan that does not give the Council ultimate decisionmaking power in reviewing deed restriction changes. Chin said the Mayor&rsquo;s plan is &ldquo;not enough,&rdquo; a stance that Brewer echoed. Brewer also said the $16 million restitution was &ldquo;not sufficient&rdquo; as securing a building the size of Rivington House for the community would cost &ldquo;closer to $200 million.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Further, Chin criticized the administration&rsquo;s lack of action to discipline those responsible for overseeing Rivington House&rsquo;s deed restriction removal. According to the DOI report, City Hall First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris was sent memos regarding the removal months in advance by former DCAS Commissioner Stacey Cumberbatch, but did not read the memos as he did not believe the matter to be important at the time.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think the people who are responsible should be held accountable. The mayor should reconsider,&rdquo; Chin said at the press conference. When asked whether she believed Shorris specifically should be held accountable, Chin simply repeated, &ldquo;those who are responsible.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">When reached for comment, a mayoral spokesperson did not respond to Chin and Brewer&rsquo;s criticisms, and instead reiterated the goals of the mayor&rsquo;s proposed reforms in a statement sent to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The Mayor's instituting a series of reforms aimed at overhauling a broken, decades-old deed modification process. Our focus is on making sure these reforms deliver for local communities," the spokesperson said.</p> <p dir="ltr">For her part, Mark-Viverito was careful not to condemn any City Hall officials at the press conference. She did, however, speak in support of Chin and Brewer&rsquo;s proposal to grant the Council final decision-making power by instituting ULURP for deed restriction changes.</p> <p>&ldquo;The removal of the deed restrictions at the Rivington House and Dance Theater of Harlem wasn&rsquo;t malicious but it was inexcusably sloppy,&rdquo; Mark-Viverito said. &ldquo;Although we cannot change the actions of the last year, we can enact measures to insure nothing like this happens again.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by Aaron Holmes, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/MMV_deed_restriction_presser.jpg" alt="MMV deed restriction presser" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Chin, Mark-Viverito, Brewer (l-r) at Wednesday's presser (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Armed with the findings of a newly-released investigation that faults City Hall for a &ldquo;lack of accountability,&rdquo; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Margaret Chin called for reform to the city&rsquo;s deed restriction removal process at a press conference on Wednesday outside City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a show of strength and seriousness, Brewer and Chin were joined by Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and others.</p> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doi/downloads/pdf/2016/July%202016/pr22rivington_7142016.pdf" target="_blank">report</a>, issued by the Department of Investigations last Thursday, found that the Mayor&rsquo;s Office and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) failed to stop the removal of a deed restriction at 45 Rivington Street in Manhattan and neglected to weigh whether the removal was in the city&rsquo;s best interests.</p> <p dir="ltr">Because of &ldquo;communication failures&rdquo; between DCAS and City Hall, the site that formerly housed a not-for-profit nursing home known as Rivington House was sold to a developer of luxury condominiums without objection from the administration, according to the DOI report. Deed restrictions are in place on a fairly small number of properties around the city, often ones that once belonged to the city, and establish certain restrictions on what a piece of land can be used for. The result on Rivington House has become a point for criticism of the de Blasio administration, and the process is still under investigation by the city comptroller and state attorney general.</p> <p dir="ltr">Brewer, Chin, Council Members Ben Kallos and Rosie Mendez, Public Advocate James, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and members of various community boards, blamed the mishandling of Rivington House and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/14/nyregion/builder-acquires-valuable-harlem-plot-after-deed-change.html" target="_blank">a similar deed restriction removal at Dance Theater of Harlem</a> on the current &ldquo;murky, opaque&rdquo; process by which deed restriction changes are approved at the press conference.</p> <p dir="ltr">Brewer added that the issue would be solved by treating deed restriction changes using the same process as land use decisions, as well as passing <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2735475&amp;GUID=C514BD10-3BCE-4529-B12B-2C345CD4C387" target="_blank">a bill she recommended and Chin sponsors</a> aimed at increasing transparency in the process.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These are land use questions, but they weren&rsquo;t being handled like land use questions. Decisions to lift deed restrictions were being managed by the wrong people at the wrong agencies in the wrong process,&rdquo; Brewer said. &ldquo;We have a tried and true way to manage land use decisions. It&rsquo;s called ULURP.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Brewer refers to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Unlike the current procedure for deed restriction changes, ULURP would mandate input from community boards and the borough president, and would require final action by the City Council before deed restrictions could be lifted.</p> <p dir="ltr">The City Planning Commission is the only entity with the charter-mandated power to alter the deed restriction review process, meaning the Council must receive the recommendation of the CPC before it can enact a local law subjecting deed restriction changes to ULURP. The Commission will hold its next review session on July 25 and a public meeting on July 27.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appoints the CPC Chair and six of its 13 members, indicated in a July 8 press release that the CPC will adopt a series of reforms that align with some of Chin and Brewer&rsquo;s suggestions, such as involving Borough Presidents and City Planning in the deed review process. He also announced that the city will re-invest $16 million in proceeds from the Rivington House sale &ldquo;in the affected community on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio&rsquo;s plan, however, does not establish ULURP as the norm for deed restriction changes, instead favoring a plan that does not give the Council ultimate decisionmaking power in reviewing deed restriction changes. Chin said the Mayor&rsquo;s plan is &ldquo;not enough,&rdquo; a stance that Brewer echoed. Brewer also said the $16 million restitution was &ldquo;not sufficient&rdquo; as securing a building the size of Rivington House for the community would cost &ldquo;closer to $200 million.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Further, Chin criticized the administration&rsquo;s lack of action to discipline those responsible for overseeing Rivington House&rsquo;s deed restriction removal. According to the DOI report, City Hall First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris was sent memos regarding the removal months in advance by former DCAS Commissioner Stacey Cumberbatch, but did not read the memos as he did not believe the matter to be important at the time.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think the people who are responsible should be held accountable. The mayor should reconsider,&rdquo; Chin said at the press conference. When asked whether she believed Shorris specifically should be held accountable, Chin simply repeated, &ldquo;those who are responsible.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">When reached for comment, a mayoral spokesperson did not respond to Chin and Brewer&rsquo;s criticisms, and instead reiterated the goals of the mayor&rsquo;s proposed reforms in a statement sent to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The Mayor's instituting a series of reforms aimed at overhauling a broken, decades-old deed modification process. Our focus is on making sure these reforms deliver for local communities," the spokesperson said.</p> <p dir="ltr">For her part, Mark-Viverito was careful not to condemn any City Hall officials at the press conference. She did, however, speak in support of Chin and Brewer&rsquo;s proposal to grant the Council final decision-making power by instituting ULURP for deed restriction changes.</p> <p>&ldquo;The removal of the deed restrictions at the Rivington House and Dance Theater of Harlem wasn&rsquo;t malicious but it was inexcusably sloppy,&rdquo; Mark-Viverito said. &ldquo;Although we cannot change the actions of the last year, we can enact measures to insure nothing like this happens again.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by Aaron Holmes, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
New Facility Classification Allows Better Options for City Seniors, If Built 2016-07-10T04:00:00+00:00 2016-07-10T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6432:new-facility-classification-allows-better-options-for-city-seniors-if-built Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/27636133915_05b90ab3d9_z.jpg" alt="Hebrew Home Bronx property" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Along the property of the Hebrew Home in the Bronx (Sofie Hecht)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council recently passed a series of amendments to the city's zoning regulations aimed, in part, at encouraging the construction and expansion of senior housing and elder care facilities. With the package, known as Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), one goal was to address the issue of inadequate options for seniors who want to age in place. An outdated land use code has made it nearly impossible to build flexible senior care facilities, they said.</p> <p dir="ltr">For older New Yorkers and those heading toward senior citizenship, city government&rsquo;s first priority with ZQA was creating additional opportunity for building affordable housing. This was accomplished, they exclaimed, through a variety of tweaks to land use rules, including reducing requirements for parking spaces to accompany senior housing. Senior advocates in the City Council and groups like AARP-NY and LiveOn NY pushed hard for and celebrated passage of ZQA for this reason.</p> <p dir="ltr">Less publicized was the creation, through ZQA, of a new building category called &ldquo;long term care facility,&rdquo; which could have significant implications for the city&rsquo;s aging population and senior care.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new category allows developers to build nursing homes and residential units on the same property, making it easier to build facilities called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in New York City. CCRCs provide seniors with increasing levels of care as they age without requiring they move. While there are currently <a href="http://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/long_term_care/retirement_communities/continuing_care/" target="_blank">12 CCRCs</a> across New York state, none exist in New York City. Though city planners and senior advocates look forward to the proliferation of CCRCs, the potential first such facility is mired in controversy.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It is especially jarring to uproot elderly residents from homes and communities that are familiar to them and from their loved ones in order to accommodate their changing needs,&rdquo; said Rachaele Raynoff, a spokesperson from the Department of City Planning. &ldquo;That's why a model with a continuum of care was developed. Under ZQA, NYC zoning now recognizes this model, allowing for the development of new options for aging for our growing elderly population.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Prior to the creation of the new zoning category, it was effectively impossible to build a CCRC in the city, according to Dan Reingold, CEO of <a href="http://www.riverspringhealth.org/" target="_blank">RiverSpring Health</a>. RiverSpring, which owns a nursing home called <a href="http://www.riverspringhealth.org/nursing-home" target="_blank">Hebrew Home</a> in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, plans to build the city&rsquo;s first CCRC by adding a residential campus on a piece of land contiguous to the nursing home.</p> <p dir="ltr">CCRCs are typically made up of independent living, assisted living, and health care units, which make it possible for residents to move into a CCRC and then age in place with more care and little housing change (other than on-site room shifts). These facilities allow seniors to stay in the same community as they age and make it possible for couples who need different levels of care to stay together.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the development of CCRCs is exactly what the City Council and the de Blasio administration&rsquo;s Department of City Planning hoped to encourage by adding the &ldquo;long term care facility&rdquo; category to the city&rsquo;s building code, RiverSpring&rsquo;s plan has revealed a contentious aspect of the new zoning code. CCRCs may erode zoning protections enjoyed by residents of neighborhoods zoned for low-rise residential housing (&ldquo;R-1&rdquo; and &ldquo;R-2&rdquo; in zoning parlance).</p> <p dir="ltr">RiverSpring&rsquo;s plan involves the construction of four- to six-story apartment buildings for its CCRC on land in Riverdale that is zoned for single-family housing. This is allowed under the new zoning regulations, so long as RiverSpring is able to secure special permission from the Department of City Planning. Community leaders in Riverdale, as well as City Council Member Andrew Cohen, who represents the district including Riverdale, have opposed RiverSpring&rsquo;s proposal on the grounds that the apartment-style residential units of the CCRC will alter the character of the neighborhood.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;CCRCs are typically designed as apartment buildings, the form and scale of which are not compatible with the single-family homes in this neighborhood,&rdquo; said Sherida Paulsen, chair of the Riverdale Nature Preservancy. The Riverdale community went through a process in 2006 to down-zone the land now owned by RiverSpring in order to protect the residential nature of the area along the river, according to Paulsen. &ldquo;This change to the zoning code has opened the door to development that would be non-contextual to the property around it, and it could easily go out of business, leaving the neighborhood changed forever,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Paul Vallone of Queens, who chairs the Council&rsquo;s senior center subcommittee, opposed ZQA prior to its approval for the same reason. &ldquo;These sweeping changes to zoning regulations would effectively erase many of the protections that our civic organizations and community boards have fought for years to obtain,&rdquo; he said in a press release ahead of the Council&rsquo;s approval of ZQA. He continues to advocate for zoning that he believes will protect the integrity of neighborhoods like Riverdale. "A balance must exist between addressing senior housing in our city and proper community engagement,&rdquo; he said in a statement for this story.</p> <p dir="ltr">The initial ZQA proposal would have allowed CCRCs to be built in residential zones as-of-right, according to Council Member Cohen, but the Council interceded. They developed criteria, outlined in ZQA, that require the new facility or expansion be "compatible with the character of the surrounding area," that it's entrance, orientation, and landscaping "create an adequate buffer between the proposed facility and nearby residences," and that the streets leading to the facility are "adequate to handle the traffic generated thereby&rdquo; (<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/plans-studies/zqa/approved-zoning-text-032216.pdf" target="_blank">ZQA section 74-901</a>).</p> <p dir="ltr">Proposals to build CCRCs in residential zones must go through the city&rsquo;s Uniform Land Use Review Policy (ULURP) in order to ensure they comply with these criteria. If they are found to comply, the developer is given a special permit to build.</p> <p dir="ltr">Prior to ZQA, RiverSpring made multiple attempts to get its proposal approved, according to Paulsen. In its first attempt, RiverSpring asked that the zoning of the land be changed so that RiverSpring would not need a special permit. When this failed, RiverSpring attempted to redefine its proposed development as a healthcare facility in its building application, but the city rejected that definition on the grounds that the facility would be primarily residential, according to Paulsen.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bronx Community Board 8, which represents the area where the Hebrew Home campus is located, opposes the Hebrew Home expansion, as well. CB8 will get a chance to review RiverSpring&rsquo;s plans as part of the ULURP process, but the City Council will have the final word on whether or not the expansion&mdash;and the construction of the city&rsquo;s first continuing care retirement community&mdash;occurs.</p> <p dir="ltr">On land use decisions, the Council defers to the local Council member, making Cohen&rsquo;s opinion utmost important. &ldquo;Hebrew Home, to their credit, has briefed me on their plans, and we've had frank conversations about the project, but we are in no way on the same page yet,&rdquo; he said, citing RiverSpring&rsquo;s disregard for the neighborhood&rsquo;s residential zoning as his primary objection.</p> <p dir="ltr">RiverSpring submitted its plan to the Department of City Planning on April 27 and it has yet to go to CB8 or Cohen for review. Ultimately, Council Member Cohen believes the ULURP process for obtaining a special permit will protect the community&rsquo;s interests. &ldquo;I'm satisfied that there are a significant number of safeguards that the development on that site will be thoroughly vetted by the community,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If Hebrew Home is able to muster significant community support, then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Charles Moerdler, president of Bronx Community Board 8, says that the board has seen at least three proposals of the Hebrew Home expansion plan since the organization bought the property in 2011. According to Moerdler, RiverSpring took many of CB8&rsquo;s recommendations, such as lowering the apartment tower heights from eight to six stories and building more of the residential units on the current Hebrew Home campus, which is zoned R-4, as opposed to the new land (R-1). But the latest plan presented to the board is still not satisfactory to the majority of its members, he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The issue the Board has with ZQA is not the development of CCRCs but the process by which City Planning is going about doing it," Moerdler said, despite the fact that the City Council will get final say. "ZQA undermines the opinion of the community, which has done so much to preserve the residential zoning status of this land."</p> <p dir="ltr">Before it passed, there was a great deal of debate over ZQA in relation to it being a &ldquo;one-size-fits-all&rdquo; change to zoning and land use rules. The final product includes a number of neighborhood-specific tweaks inserted by the City Council, but given its potpourri nature, ZQA still has something for almost every community to take issue with. As Mayor Bill de Blasio regularly pointed out when ZQA and its companion change to city land use rules, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), were being debated, community boards are well-known for opposing changes to the neighborhoods under their purview.</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Cohen says that while there is a significant need for senior housing in his district, options other than a new CCRC exist. &ldquo;We have a full spectrum of options for seniors living in Riverdale. The ideal situation is for people to age in place, but there&rsquo;s already a lot of infrastructure in Riverdale for people to do that,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">One way seniors living in Riverdale and in other areas of New York City can age in place is through&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dfta/html/services/retirement.shtml" target="_blank">Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities</a> (NORCs), which include publicly funded programs that help seniors stay in their own apartments by providing services like shopping and transportation assistance, on-site nursing, and social activities. NORCs are not easily formed, requiring pre-conditions and lobbying. Currently, Riverdale has one NORC in the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative, which has 1,500 units. Cohen says he is currently advocating for the creation of another NORC at the Knolls Cooperative, which has 240 units.</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Margaret Chin, who chairs the Council&rsquo;s aging committee, is an advocate of NORCs as an option for seniors who want to age in place, as well. NORCs have historically received money from the state, but the city has had to provide support for them lately, according to Chin. &ldquo;The state was trying to cut some of that funding last year, and we have been trying to save it,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;</p> <p>Ultimately, Chin is supportive of the development of CCRCs in addition to NORCs, and was an advocate for passing ZQA. &ldquo;There is just not enough senior housing to go around,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I'm looking forward to seeing some integrative long term care facilities go up in New York City.&rdquo;</p> <p>***<br />by Kate Groetzinger for Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/27636133915_05b90ab3d9_z.jpg" alt="Hebrew Home Bronx property" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Along the property of the Hebrew Home in the Bronx (Sofie Hecht)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council recently passed a series of amendments to the city's zoning regulations aimed, in part, at encouraging the construction and expansion of senior housing and elder care facilities. With the package, known as Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), one goal was to address the issue of inadequate options for seniors who want to age in place. An outdated land use code has made it nearly impossible to build flexible senior care facilities, they said.</p> <p dir="ltr">For older New Yorkers and those heading toward senior citizenship, city government&rsquo;s first priority with ZQA was creating additional opportunity for building affordable housing. This was accomplished, they exclaimed, through a variety of tweaks to land use rules, including reducing requirements for parking spaces to accompany senior housing. Senior advocates in the City Council and groups like AARP-NY and LiveOn NY pushed hard for and celebrated passage of ZQA for this reason.</p> <p dir="ltr">Less publicized was the creation, through ZQA, of a new building category called &ldquo;long term care facility,&rdquo; which could have significant implications for the city&rsquo;s aging population and senior care.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new category allows developers to build nursing homes and residential units on the same property, making it easier to build facilities called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in New York City. CCRCs provide seniors with increasing levels of care as they age without requiring they move. While there are currently <a href="http://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/long_term_care/retirement_communities/continuing_care/" target="_blank">12 CCRCs</a> across New York state, none exist in New York City. Though city planners and senior advocates look forward to the proliferation of CCRCs, the potential first such facility is mired in controversy.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It is especially jarring to uproot elderly residents from homes and communities that are familiar to them and from their loved ones in order to accommodate their changing needs,&rdquo; said Rachaele Raynoff, a spokesperson from the Department of City Planning. &ldquo;That's why a model with a continuum of care was developed. Under ZQA, NYC zoning now recognizes this model, allowing for the development of new options for aging for our growing elderly population.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Prior to the creation of the new zoning category, it was effectively impossible to build a CCRC in the city, according to Dan Reingold, CEO of <a href="http://www.riverspringhealth.org/" target="_blank">RiverSpring Health</a>. RiverSpring, which owns a nursing home called <a href="http://www.riverspringhealth.org/nursing-home" target="_blank">Hebrew Home</a> in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, plans to build the city&rsquo;s first CCRC by adding a residential campus on a piece of land contiguous to the nursing home.</p> <p dir="ltr">CCRCs are typically made up of independent living, assisted living, and health care units, which make it possible for residents to move into a CCRC and then age in place with more care and little housing change (other than on-site room shifts). These facilities allow seniors to stay in the same community as they age and make it possible for couples who need different levels of care to stay together.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the development of CCRCs is exactly what the City Council and the de Blasio administration&rsquo;s Department of City Planning hoped to encourage by adding the &ldquo;long term care facility&rdquo; category to the city&rsquo;s building code, RiverSpring&rsquo;s plan has revealed a contentious aspect of the new zoning code. CCRCs may erode zoning protections enjoyed by residents of neighborhoods zoned for low-rise residential housing (&ldquo;R-1&rdquo; and &ldquo;R-2&rdquo; in zoning parlance).</p> <p dir="ltr">RiverSpring&rsquo;s plan involves the construction of four- to six-story apartment buildings for its CCRC on land in Riverdale that is zoned for single-family housing. This is allowed under the new zoning regulations, so long as RiverSpring is able to secure special permission from the Department of City Planning. Community leaders in Riverdale, as well as City Council Member Andrew Cohen, who represents the district including Riverdale, have opposed RiverSpring&rsquo;s proposal on the grounds that the apartment-style residential units of the CCRC will alter the character of the neighborhood.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;CCRCs are typically designed as apartment buildings, the form and scale of which are not compatible with the single-family homes in this neighborhood,&rdquo; said Sherida Paulsen, chair of the Riverdale Nature Preservancy. The Riverdale community went through a process in 2006 to down-zone the land now owned by RiverSpring in order to protect the residential nature of the area along the river, according to Paulsen. &ldquo;This change to the zoning code has opened the door to development that would be non-contextual to the property around it, and it could easily go out of business, leaving the neighborhood changed forever,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Paul Vallone of Queens, who chairs the Council&rsquo;s senior center subcommittee, opposed ZQA prior to its approval for the same reason. &ldquo;These sweeping changes to zoning regulations would effectively erase many of the protections that our civic organizations and community boards have fought for years to obtain,&rdquo; he said in a press release ahead of the Council&rsquo;s approval of ZQA. He continues to advocate for zoning that he believes will protect the integrity of neighborhoods like Riverdale. "A balance must exist between addressing senior housing in our city and proper community engagement,&rdquo; he said in a statement for this story.</p> <p dir="ltr">The initial ZQA proposal would have allowed CCRCs to be built in residential zones as-of-right, according to Council Member Cohen, but the Council interceded. They developed criteria, outlined in ZQA, that require the new facility or expansion be "compatible with the character of the surrounding area," that it's entrance, orientation, and landscaping "create an adequate buffer between the proposed facility and nearby residences," and that the streets leading to the facility are "adequate to handle the traffic generated thereby&rdquo; (<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/plans-studies/zqa/approved-zoning-text-032216.pdf" target="_blank">ZQA section 74-901</a>).</p> <p dir="ltr">Proposals to build CCRCs in residential zones must go through the city&rsquo;s Uniform Land Use Review Policy (ULURP) in order to ensure they comply with these criteria. If they are found to comply, the developer is given a special permit to build.</p> <p dir="ltr">Prior to ZQA, RiverSpring made multiple attempts to get its proposal approved, according to Paulsen. In its first attempt, RiverSpring asked that the zoning of the land be changed so that RiverSpring would not need a special permit. When this failed, RiverSpring attempted to redefine its proposed development as a healthcare facility in its building application, but the city rejected that definition on the grounds that the facility would be primarily residential, according to Paulsen.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bronx Community Board 8, which represents the area where the Hebrew Home campus is located, opposes the Hebrew Home expansion, as well. CB8 will get a chance to review RiverSpring&rsquo;s plans as part of the ULURP process, but the City Council will have the final word on whether or not the expansion&mdash;and the construction of the city&rsquo;s first continuing care retirement community&mdash;occurs.</p> <p dir="ltr">On land use decisions, the Council defers to the local Council member, making Cohen&rsquo;s opinion utmost important. &ldquo;Hebrew Home, to their credit, has briefed me on their plans, and we've had frank conversations about the project, but we are in no way on the same page yet,&rdquo; he said, citing RiverSpring&rsquo;s disregard for the neighborhood&rsquo;s residential zoning as his primary objection.</p> <p dir="ltr">RiverSpring submitted its plan to the Department of City Planning on April 27 and it has yet to go to CB8 or Cohen for review. Ultimately, Council Member Cohen believes the ULURP process for obtaining a special permit will protect the community&rsquo;s interests. &ldquo;I'm satisfied that there are a significant number of safeguards that the development on that site will be thoroughly vetted by the community,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If Hebrew Home is able to muster significant community support, then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Charles Moerdler, president of Bronx Community Board 8, says that the board has seen at least three proposals of the Hebrew Home expansion plan since the organization bought the property in 2011. According to Moerdler, RiverSpring took many of CB8&rsquo;s recommendations, such as lowering the apartment tower heights from eight to six stories and building more of the residential units on the current Hebrew Home campus, which is zoned R-4, as opposed to the new land (R-1). But the latest plan presented to the board is still not satisfactory to the majority of its members, he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The issue the Board has with ZQA is not the development of CCRCs but the process by which City Planning is going about doing it," Moerdler said, despite the fact that the City Council will get final say. "ZQA undermines the opinion of the community, which has done so much to preserve the residential zoning status of this land."</p> <p dir="ltr">Before it passed, there was a great deal of debate over ZQA in relation to it being a &ldquo;one-size-fits-all&rdquo; change to zoning and land use rules. The final product includes a number of neighborhood-specific tweaks inserted by the City Council, but given its potpourri nature, ZQA still has something for almost every community to take issue with. As Mayor Bill de Blasio regularly pointed out when ZQA and its companion change to city land use rules, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), were being debated, community boards are well-known for opposing changes to the neighborhoods under their purview.</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Cohen says that while there is a significant need for senior housing in his district, options other than a new CCRC exist. &ldquo;We have a full spectrum of options for seniors living in Riverdale. The ideal situation is for people to age in place, but there&rsquo;s already a lot of infrastructure in Riverdale for people to do that,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">One way seniors living in Riverdale and in other areas of New York City can age in place is through&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dfta/html/services/retirement.shtml" target="_blank">Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities</a> (NORCs), which include publicly funded programs that help seniors stay in their own apartments by providing services like shopping and transportation assistance, on-site nursing, and social activities. NORCs are not easily formed, requiring pre-conditions and lobbying. Currently, Riverdale has one NORC in the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative, which has 1,500 units. Cohen says he is currently advocating for the creation of another NORC at the Knolls Cooperative, which has 240 units.</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Margaret Chin, who chairs the Council&rsquo;s aging committee, is an advocate of NORCs as an option for seniors who want to age in place, as well. NORCs have historically received money from the state, but the city has had to provide support for them lately, according to Chin. &ldquo;The state was trying to cut some of that funding last year, and we have been trying to save it,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;</p> <p>Ultimately, Chin is supportive of the development of CCRCs in addition to NORCs, and was an advocate for passing ZQA. &ldquo;There is just not enough senior housing to go around,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I'm looking forward to seeing some integrative long term care facilities go up in New York City.&rdquo;</p> <p>***<br />by Kate Groetzinger for Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Several Council Asks Remain as City Budget Negotiations Hit Home Stretch 2016-05-30T04:00:00+00:00 2016-05-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6367:several-council-asks-remain-as-city-budget-negotiations-hit-home-stretch Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26640452436_9ff5b15f01_z.jpg" width="600" height="402" alt="de blasio council budget briefing" /></p> <p dir="ltr">The Mayor and Council discuss the budget (all photos: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">City budget season entered its home stretch last week when the City Council conducted its final hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82.2 billion executive budget for fiscal year 2017. With a deal between the Council and the mayor due by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year, the parties will largely negotiate behind closed doors, with funding levels for a number of major priorities on the table. There are also lingering questions about savings and how much the de Blasio administration is asking its agencies to trim as spending grows.</p> <p dir="ltr">On the Council side, negotiations will be led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the finance committee. This past Tuesday, Ferreras-Copeland reiterated concerns she had expressed at the first executive budget hearing that de Blasio’s latest spending plan, his executive budget, largely ignored the Council’s priorities while adding massive appropriations for the administration’s proposals.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I can say today, after presiding over nearly 65 hours of Executive Budget hearings, that the testimony we heard from the agencies only reinforced this notion,” she said in her opening statement at the final executive budget hearing. “Over the past two weeks, we questioned each commissioner about the items from the Council’s budget response that were not included and were repeatedly told that they were just not a priority.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ferreras-Copeland called out agencies for assuming that the Council would fill budget gaps with its discretionary funding - particularly for the Department for the Aging and the Department of Youth and Community Development - and also pointed out that they had given few details about how $2 billion in new funding would be implemented. Throughout the budget process, she said, “the Council’s ability to fulfill its Charter-mandated review and oversight role was hindered by the administration’s delay in providing vital information, despite public assurances that documents and data would be provided promptly.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Specifically citing the administration’s ambitious plan to overhaul the municipal hospitals system, New York City Health + Hospitals, as problematic, Ferreras-Copeland (pictured) said that the plan was provided to the Council less than a day before the first executive budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/27075718955_baaf1e6ca5_z.jpg" width="250" height="186" alt="julissa ferreras-copeland budget hearing" style="margin: 8px; float: left;" />The issue of savings, which has underscored the entire budget process, was raised again last week. The mayor’s executive budget shows $5.4 billion in savings through the Citywide Savings Program through Fiscal 2020. For 2017, however, Ferreras-Copeland stressed that the city’s reserves are largely flat, and Council Member Helen Rosenthal pointed out later that the CSP depends heavily on debt refinancing, spending re-estimates and accruals (delays in spending from earlier years) rather than programmatic efficiencies.</p> <p dir="ltr">An <a href="http://www.cbcny.org/cbc-blogs/blogs/citywide-savings-program-bolder-steps-needed-make-government-more-efficient" target="_blank">analysis</a> by Citizens Budget Commission, the nonpartisan nonprofit budget watchdog, showed that $189 million of the nearly $1 billion in savings proposed just for fiscal 2017 comes from agency efficiencies. “The increased size of the CSP is a step in the right direction,” says the report, “but too little of the savings are from agencies thinking strategically and creatively about how to provide value to taxpayers and do more with less.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Since coming into office, de Blasio has on one hand been praised for what he is socking away and the general health of the city economy and his fiscal prudence, but on the other hand he’s been criticized for not demanding more in savings from his commissioners and not having the recommended budget “cushion” in savings. Under de Blasio, savings have grown, but as the city economy has boomed, union contracts have been settled, and the mayor has implemented many new programs, spending has grown rapidly and the cushion does not meet the percentage of city spending that watchdogs like city Comptroller Scott Stringer say is wise.</p> <p dir="ltr">At a press conference on Wednesday, Speaker Mark-Viverito said Council members would start discussions on the negotiations by Thursday. “We’re starting to have the formal process internally to delineate the priorities and engage with the administration,” she said in response to a question from Gotham Gazette. She pointed out that many of the Council’s top priorities had already been identified over the course of budget hearings.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council members have publicly called on the mayor to increase funding for a variety of initiatives and programs including summer jobs for youth, emergency food assistance, cultural institutions, human services nonprofits, seniors, and the offices of the five district attorneys.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Summer Youth Employment</strong><br />Council members and community advocates have been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6338-armed-with-new-report-supporters-to-push-de-blasio-on-summer-youth-employment" target="_blank">pushing</a> for increased baseline funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), which provides six weeks of paid work to youth 14 to 24 years old. Last year, the program served 54,000 young people and supporters want to increase that to 60,000 this year, reaching their eventual goal of 100,000 by the 2019 fiscal year. Currently, the city is allocating $36.5 million for SYEP which, along with $15.6 million from the state, would fund about 35,000 jobs.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26613971614_4e115f2ec8_z.jpg" width="250" height="167" alt="dean fuleihan" style="margin: 8px; float: left;" />At last week’s final executive budget hearing, Dean Fuleihan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, stressed that the administration has made huge commitments to DYCD, increasing the agency budget by nearly $250 million over the years, but the SYEP was not a priority. “I understand that the Council wants this to be a priority and that’s going to be a part of our conversation,” Fuleihan (pictured) said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Emergency Food Assistance</strong><br />The executive budget includes $8.2 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP), but 48 Council members signed a letter calling on the mayor to increase this to $22 million and baseline it in the budget. “Millions of New Yorkers rely on meals from food banks and soup kitchens, and the need is greater than ever before,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, chair of the general welfare committee, in a statement last week. “No family should have to choose between paying for necessary expenses and being able to eat,” he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Fuleihan pointed out that this increased need was due to significant cuts in federal funding for emergency food programs and that the administration was open to discussing the funding with the Council.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Cultural Programs</strong><br />A number of Council members are pushing to increase the budget for the Department of Cultural Affairs. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, chair of the cultural affairs committee, pointed out at last week’s hearing that the City Council’s cultural initiatives have increased over the last two years but the administration is not sharing that commitment. He and many of his colleagues want the city to increase funding for nonprofit cultural institutions by $40 million - it has remained flat for the last three budgets - and to baseline $43 million for six-day service at city libraries. Currently the city has baselined about half of that library funding. Again, Fuleihan promised to work with the Council on the issue.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Department for the Aging</strong><br />Council Member Margaret Chin said that the previous administration “was all about cuts” to funding for seniors and the Council expects this administration to be “quicker and faster” in funding services for a growing senior population.</p> <p dir="ltr">In his testimony, Fuleihan emphasized that the administration has committed to senior services and increased Department for the Aging’s budget by $30 million since Mayor de Blasio took office, reversing a trend of at least ten years of reductions in DFTA’s budget. He insisted to Chin that the administration has increased DFTA case manager salaries and that it would eliminate waiting lists for homecare, one of Chin’s priorities.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>District Attorney Offices</strong><br />The executive budget did not include any additional funding that the five District Attorney offices <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6351-district-attorneys-city-council-agree-mayor-is-underfunding-das" target="_blank">had requested</a> after the preliminary budget was released. The Council, which listed public safety as one of its top priorities in its budget response, called on the mayor to heed these requests, which total about $21 million. Citing the Council’s own commitment to criminal justice reform, including the funding of 1,300 new officers for the NYPD last year, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the public safety committee, said, “What I fail to understand is, in the executive, is why we have a big whopping zero for the district attorneys.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Fuleihan said the dialogue with the district attorneys was ongoing, particularly the two new DAs in the Bronx and Staten Island. “We do believe that’s part of the adopted budget,” he said at last Tuesday’s hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Human Services Nonprofits</strong><br />On Thursday morning, Council members rallied with nonprofit groups at City Hall to push the mayor for $25 million to cover administrative costs at contracted nonprofits that provide social services. These nonprofits, according to <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/sites/default/files/Nonprofits%20in%20the%20Aftermath%20of%20FEGS%202016.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> by the Human Services Council, are facing a budget crisis owing to government underfunding. In a letter, 47 Council members asked the mayor “to offer some critical budget relief” to nonprofits and help them invest in equipment, technology, and staff development.</p> <p>In a statement on Thursday, mayoral spokesperson Karen Hinton said, “We look forward to working with the Council throughout the budget process.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26640452436_9ff5b15f01_z.jpg" width="600" height="402" alt="de blasio council budget briefing" /></p> <p dir="ltr">The Mayor and Council discuss the budget (all photos: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">City budget season entered its home stretch last week when the City Council conducted its final hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82.2 billion executive budget for fiscal year 2017. With a deal between the Council and the mayor due by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year, the parties will largely negotiate behind closed doors, with funding levels for a number of major priorities on the table. There are also lingering questions about savings and how much the de Blasio administration is asking its agencies to trim as spending grows.</p> <p dir="ltr">On the Council side, negotiations will be led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the finance committee. This past Tuesday, Ferreras-Copeland reiterated concerns she had expressed at the first executive budget hearing that de Blasio’s latest spending plan, his executive budget, largely ignored the Council’s priorities while adding massive appropriations for the administration’s proposals.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I can say today, after presiding over nearly 65 hours of Executive Budget hearings, that the testimony we heard from the agencies only reinforced this notion,” she said in her opening statement at the final executive budget hearing. “Over the past two weeks, we questioned each commissioner about the items from the Council’s budget response that were not included and were repeatedly told that they were just not a priority.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ferreras-Copeland called out agencies for assuming that the Council would fill budget gaps with its discretionary funding - particularly for the Department for the Aging and the Department of Youth and Community Development - and also pointed out that they had given few details about how $2 billion in new funding would be implemented. Throughout the budget process, she said, “the Council’s ability to fulfill its Charter-mandated review and oversight role was hindered by the administration’s delay in providing vital information, despite public assurances that documents and data would be provided promptly.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Specifically citing the administration’s ambitious plan to overhaul the municipal hospitals system, New York City Health + Hospitals, as problematic, Ferreras-Copeland (pictured) said that the plan was provided to the Council less than a day before the first executive budget hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/27075718955_baaf1e6ca5_z.jpg" width="250" height="186" alt="julissa ferreras-copeland budget hearing" style="margin: 8px; float: left;" />The issue of savings, which has underscored the entire budget process, was raised again last week. The mayor’s executive budget shows $5.4 billion in savings through the Citywide Savings Program through Fiscal 2020. For 2017, however, Ferreras-Copeland stressed that the city’s reserves are largely flat, and Council Member Helen Rosenthal pointed out later that the CSP depends heavily on debt refinancing, spending re-estimates and accruals (delays in spending from earlier years) rather than programmatic efficiencies.</p> <p dir="ltr">An <a href="http://www.cbcny.org/cbc-blogs/blogs/citywide-savings-program-bolder-steps-needed-make-government-more-efficient" target="_blank">analysis</a> by Citizens Budget Commission, the nonpartisan nonprofit budget watchdog, showed that $189 million of the nearly $1 billion in savings proposed just for fiscal 2017 comes from agency efficiencies. “The increased size of the CSP is a step in the right direction,” says the report, “but too little of the savings are from agencies thinking strategically and creatively about how to provide value to taxpayers and do more with less.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Since coming into office, de Blasio has on one hand been praised for what he is socking away and the general health of the city economy and his fiscal prudence, but on the other hand he’s been criticized for not demanding more in savings from his commissioners and not having the recommended budget “cushion” in savings. Under de Blasio, savings have grown, but as the city economy has boomed, union contracts have been settled, and the mayor has implemented many new programs, spending has grown rapidly and the cushion does not meet the percentage of city spending that watchdogs like city Comptroller Scott Stringer say is wise.</p> <p dir="ltr">At a press conference on Wednesday, Speaker Mark-Viverito said Council members would start discussions on the negotiations by Thursday. “We’re starting to have the formal process internally to delineate the priorities and engage with the administration,” she said in response to a question from Gotham Gazette. She pointed out that many of the Council’s top priorities had already been identified over the course of budget hearings.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council members have publicly called on the mayor to increase funding for a variety of initiatives and programs including summer jobs for youth, emergency food assistance, cultural institutions, human services nonprofits, seniors, and the offices of the five district attorneys.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Summer Youth Employment</strong><br />Council members and community advocates have been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6338-armed-with-new-report-supporters-to-push-de-blasio-on-summer-youth-employment" target="_blank">pushing</a> for increased baseline funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), which provides six weeks of paid work to youth 14 to 24 years old. Last year, the program served 54,000 young people and supporters want to increase that to 60,000 this year, reaching their eventual goal of 100,000 by the 2019 fiscal year. Currently, the city is allocating $36.5 million for SYEP which, along with $15.6 million from the state, would fund about 35,000 jobs.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/26613971614_4e115f2ec8_z.jpg" width="250" height="167" alt="dean fuleihan" style="margin: 8px; float: left;" />At last week’s final executive budget hearing, Dean Fuleihan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, stressed that the administration has made huge commitments to DYCD, increasing the agency budget by nearly $250 million over the years, but the SYEP was not a priority. “I understand that the Council wants this to be a priority and that’s going to be a part of our conversation,” Fuleihan (pictured) said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Emergency Food Assistance</strong><br />The executive budget includes $8.2 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP), but 48 Council members signed a letter calling on the mayor to increase this to $22 million and baseline it in the budget. “Millions of New Yorkers rely on meals from food banks and soup kitchens, and the need is greater than ever before,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, chair of the general welfare committee, in a statement last week. “No family should have to choose between paying for necessary expenses and being able to eat,” he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Fuleihan pointed out that this increased need was due to significant cuts in federal funding for emergency food programs and that the administration was open to discussing the funding with the Council.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Cultural Programs</strong><br />A number of Council members are pushing to increase the budget for the Department of Cultural Affairs. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, chair of the cultural affairs committee, pointed out at last week’s hearing that the City Council’s cultural initiatives have increased over the last two years but the administration is not sharing that commitment. He and many of his colleagues want the city to increase funding for nonprofit cultural institutions by $40 million - it has remained flat for the last three budgets - and to baseline $43 million for six-day service at city libraries. Currently the city has baselined about half of that library funding. Again, Fuleihan promised to work with the Council on the issue.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Department for the Aging</strong><br />Council Member Margaret Chin said that the previous administration “was all about cuts” to funding for seniors and the Council expects this administration to be “quicker and faster” in funding services for a growing senior population.</p> <p dir="ltr">In his testimony, Fuleihan emphasized that the administration has committed to senior services and increased Department for the Aging’s budget by $30 million since Mayor de Blasio took office, reversing a trend of at least ten years of reductions in DFTA’s budget. He insisted to Chin that the administration has increased DFTA case manager salaries and that it would eliminate waiting lists for homecare, one of Chin’s priorities.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>District Attorney Offices</strong><br />The executive budget did not include any additional funding that the five District Attorney offices <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6351-district-attorneys-city-council-agree-mayor-is-underfunding-das" target="_blank">had requested</a> after the preliminary budget was released. The Council, which listed public safety as one of its top priorities in its budget response, called on the mayor to heed these requests, which total about $21 million. Citing the Council’s own commitment to criminal justice reform, including the funding of 1,300 new officers for the NYPD last year, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, chair of the public safety committee, said, “What I fail to understand is, in the executive, is why we have a big whopping zero for the district attorneys.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Fuleihan said the dialogue with the district attorneys was ongoing, particularly the two new DAs in the Bronx and Staten Island. “We do believe that’s part of the adopted budget,” he said at last Tuesday’s hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Human Services Nonprofits</strong><br />On Thursday morning, Council members rallied with nonprofit groups at City Hall to push the mayor for $25 million to cover administrative costs at contracted nonprofits that provide social services. These nonprofits, according to <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/sites/default/files/Nonprofits%20in%20the%20Aftermath%20of%20FEGS%202016.pdf" target="_blank">a report</a> by the Human Services Council, are facing a budget crisis owing to government underfunding. In a letter, 47 Council members asked the mayor “to offer some critical budget relief” to nonprofits and help them invest in equipment, technology, and staff development.</p> <p>In a statement on Thursday, mayoral spokesperson Karen Hinton said, “We look forward to working with the Council throughout the budget process.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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