CITY Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. https://www.gothamgazette.com/city 2022-06-24T23:14:56+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Joomla! - Open Source Content Management Max Politics Podcast: The State of CUNY, with Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez 2022-06-25T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-25T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11407-max-politics-podcast-chancellor-matos-rodriguez-cuny-2022 Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/max-politics-mat-rod-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez (photo: CUNY)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 23, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez on the State of CUNY<br /></strong></p> <p>CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez joined the show to discuss the "state of CUNY," including his message to this year's graduates, how CUNY is working to better prepare graduates for jobs and careers, pandemic enrollment challenges, hiring additional full-time professors, and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11407-max-politics-podcast-chancellor-matos-rodriguez-cuny-2022">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/max-politics-mat-rod-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez (photo: CUNY)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 23, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez on the State of CUNY<br /></strong></p> <p>CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez joined the show to discuss the "state of CUNY," including his message to this year's graduates, how CUNY is working to better prepare graduates for jobs and careers, pandemic enrollment challenges, hiring additional full-time professors, and much more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11407-max-politics-podcast-chancellor-matos-rodriguez-cuny-2022">Read More ...</a></p> Max Politics Podcast: Janno Lieber on the State of the MTA 2022-06-22T14:00:00+00:00 2022-06-22T14:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11399-max-politics-podcast-janno-lieber-state-mta-subways-buses Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2-max-politics-lieber-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, with Governor Hochul (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 22, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: CEO Janno Lieber on the State of the MTA</strong></p> <p>MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber joined host Ben Max for a conversation at an event hosted by Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation (publisher of Gotham Gazette). First, opening remarks by Lieber about the state of the MTA, particularly its New York City subways and buses, then the interview with Max about a wide variety of issues including subway service improvements, congestion pricing, MTA megaprojects, navigating climate change, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11399-max-politics-podcast-janno-lieber-state-mta-subways-buses">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2-max-politics-lieber-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, with Governor Hochul (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 22, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: CEO Janno Lieber on the State of the MTA</strong></p> <p>MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber joined host Ben Max for a conversation at an event hosted by Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation (publisher of Gotham Gazette). First, opening remarks by Lieber about the state of the MTA, particularly its New York City subways and buses, then the interview with Max about a wide variety of issues including subway service improvements, congestion pricing, MTA megaprojects, navigating climate change, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11399-max-politics-podcast-janno-lieber-state-mta-subways-buses">Read More ...</a></p> Rent Guidelines Board Votes Through Rent Increases for 1 Million NYC Apartments 2022-06-21T13:00:00+00:00 2022-06-21T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11401-rgb-board-vote-rent-stabilized-apartments-nyc Natalie Rash nrash@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/rgb-set-vote.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Housing in the Bronx (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Update: On Tuesday evening, the Rent Guidelines Board voted 5-4 to approve rent increases of 3.25% on one-year leases and 5% on two-year leases for the roughly 1 million rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.<br /></span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many elected officials quickly condemned the decision, calling the increases too high, though they are lower than what the board's independent analysis showed building owners need to cover rising costs. Still, many rent-stabilized tenants live on fixed or low incomes and are struggling with their own rising costs given inflation, and it is the highest increase in nearly a decade.</span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">“While we raised our voices and were successful in pushing the increases lower, the determination made by the Rent Guidelines Board today will unfortunately be a burden to tenants at this difficult time — and that is disappointing," Mayor Adams said in a statement Tuesday evening. "At the same time, small landlords are at risk of bankruptcy because of years of no increases at all, putting building owners of modest means at risk while threatening the quality of life for tenants who deserve to live in well-maintained, modern buildings."<br /><br />“This system is broken, and we cannot pit landlords against tenants as winners and losers every year," the mayor continued, adding that he "will be fighting in Albany for additional support for tenants who are at risk of missing rent payments and landlords who are struggling to maintain and upgrade their buildings.”</span></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/%20https:/wegov.nyc/charts-graphs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/rent-guidlines-board.png" width="450" /></span></em></a></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Read much more in Gotham Gazette's story about the Rent Guidelines Board published Tuesday morning:</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">***</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On Tuesday, June 21, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board is set to vote on rent increases for the tenants in roughly 1 million rent-stabilized apartments across the five boroughs, home to about 2 million people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rent-stabilized housing units are generally considered among those built before 1974, with six or more units, inducted through the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (EPTA), though other units that are derived from affordable housing and tax incentive programs may also be considered rent-stabilized, according to New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The board decision comes after it undertook its usual annual process — but is the first since the end of the pandemic era eviction moratorium and under new Mayor Eric Adams, who has expressed more solidarity with landlords than his predecessor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who exercised his power to help institute several years of rent freezes or very small increases through the mayor-appointed board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the HPD’s </span><a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdfs/services/2021-nychvs-selected-initial-findings.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">2021 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (NYCHVS) released in May of this year, there were 1,006,000 rent-stabilized housing units citywide, accounting for 44% of the city’s rental units, and 28% of the city’s overall housing stock. The survey also showed that the city’s overall rental apartment vacancy rate was 4.54% as of 2021.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It showed nearly 43,000 vacant units classified as rent-stabilized, raising questions about the status of that much-desired housing stock and how to get those apartments filled by tenants in need of affordable places to live.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2021, the median monthly rent for rent-stabilized units was $1,400. (For other renter-occupied units, the median was $1,500.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After issuing its annual report and holding several public hearings, the board is making its final decision based on its own proposed rent increases in the range of 2-4% for one-year leases and 4-6% for two-year leases for rent-stabilized apartments. The decision is likely to mark the highest rent increases in nearly a decade, and will apply to leases signed between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This year’s proposed rent increases by the Rent Guidelines Board have sparked controversy amid continued pandemic upheaval, significant inflation, and the rising costs of both providing and renting housing, as well as broader costs of living. The board is meant to take into account affordability for tenants as well as the costs for operating housing taken on by building owners and managers, including making repairs and upgrades. These and other factors, like the production of new housing falling far short of demand for many years, have been exacerbating New York’s ongoing housing crisis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many of the rules around rent-stabilized housing changed significantly in 2019 when the State Legislature passed and then-Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which removed mechanisms by which rent-stabilized units were regularly taken out of the stabilization system and put into the open market, as well as strict new limits on rent increases that landlords could assess outside of the annual Rent Guidelines Board process. Those changes, then followed by the pandemic, have made this year’s RGB decision additionally fraught.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This month, the Rent Guidelines Board has held four hearings to take testimony from the public about the possible rent increases before the final decision is made.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The board of nine, which contains two members appointed by Mayor Eric Adams and the rest holdovers of the de Blasio years, must make the decision by July 1, taking into account concerns from public officials, tenants, landlords, building owners, and developers, all while weighing data to decide what makes the most sense for the city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The board has scheduled its decisive hearing for the evening of Tuesday, June 21, as a flood of testimony comes in from interested parties and stakeholders.</span></p> <p><b>Rent Guidelines Board Make-Up and Recent History</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The RGB is made up of nine mayor-appointed members, with two meant to represent tenants, two to represent building owners, and five to represent the general public. Those five are where the mayor’s perspective and appointments are often especially decisive.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For the pairs of members representing tenants and owners, one of the two serves a two-year term, and the other a three-year term. For those representing the general public, one member serves a two-year term, another for three years, and the remaining three serve four-year terms.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Two current members, Arpit Gupta, representing the general public, and Chrystina Smith, representing owners, are Adams’ own appointees made this year by the Democratic mayor who took office January 1.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Each year, the Rent Guidelines Board uses its </span><a href="https://rentguidelinesboard.cityofnewyork.us/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/2022-IA.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Income and Affordability Study</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">—released annually in April—and relevant data, such as real estate taxes, insurance and vacancy rates, and overall housing supply to assess the appropriate rent increases for rent-stabilized units.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Recent history has also included full (2020) and partial (2021) rent freezes on rent-stabilized units, as the Rent Guidelines Board took extraordinary measures influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. Prior, the increases for both one- and two-year leases did not go higher than 2.5% from 2015 through 2019, a period that began in Mayor de Blasio’s second year in office, after he changed the constitution of the board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The partial freeze in 2021 meant rent increases took place after six months.</span></p> <p><b>This Year’s Process and Mayor Adams’ Role</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">In April of this year, the RGB voted through an initial set of proposed, unofficial ranges of increases of 2.7%-4.5% for one-year leases and 4.3%-9% for two-year leases. The high end of the two-year range, especially, set off a firestorm of criticism about the potential shock to renters, though the numbers were based on the board’s annual study.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After the board and Mayor Adams took considerable heat from tenants, activists, and elected officials, the board then decreased the ranges during a 5-4 vote by the RGB in May. Adams himself questioned the initial numbers, and took partial credit for influencing the board to decrease them to the percentages offered in the final unofficial proposed ranges.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We must be fair here,” he said when asked by reporters at an April news conference. “Allow tenants to be able to stay in their living arrangements, but we need to look after those small mom-and-pop owners.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But following the adjusted percentages proposed by the RGB, there has been continued discussion about the numbers being too high, with some claiming that increased rents could mean disaster for tenants who are already faced with other housing-related issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And though Adams was critical of the initial proposed potential increases by the Rent Guidelines Board, he has said he won’t interfere with the process. </span></p> <p><b>“</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Independence is independence. That's an independent board. I made it clear that we have to find the right position to look after those small property owners, which is—they've been decimated by the increase in fuel, property taxes, so many other things,” he said during a later press conference in May, where he also stressed that there needs to be systems in place to keep the city’s property owners who were impacted by COVID afloat. “Because if we lose those small property owners, you're going to have major developers come in and then we're going to have a real problem.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But Adams also expressed concerns for tenants, speaking as a small property owner and landlord himself. </span><b>“</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">I never raised the rent of my tenants since they lived in my building. When they signed a lease, they signed a lease with me signing I would never raise your rent as long as you're there,” he said. “So we can show the compassion. At the same time, I understand what the families are going through on both ends of the spectrum.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On June 20, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Queens Democrat (and no relation to the mayor), released testimony ahead of the RGB vote, calling for the lowest rent increase possible by the board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We cannot afford to plunge hundreds of thousands of rent-regulated New Yorkers into the chaos of a housing market that already does not have sufficient supply to meet demand, especially when our city is in the midst of demonstrating remarkable resilience in its recovery efforts,” </span><a href="https://council.nyc.gov/press/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2022/06/Speaker-Adams-RGB-Testimony-June-2022.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">her testimony</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> reads. “We cannot move forward if it means leaving our most vulnerable behind.”</span></p> <p><b>More Debate Over This Year’s Decision</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Between March and May, the RGB held six public hearings and meetings to discuss various housing-related reports, as well as take a good deal of testimony from invited tenant and owner groups about lease adjustments on rent-stabilized housing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In June, the board hosted a series of public hearings to take testimonies from concerned parties about the adjusted rent increases proposed in May. The first of these hearings were on June 6 and 8, dates that were added after complaints that the board would only be offering in-person hearings the week after.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A majority of testimony at the first two hearings in June was from tenants who live in rent-stabilized units, speaking in favor of lowering the percentages of the rent increases, or calling for a rent freeze in light of the pandemic and other economic issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At that second hearing, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine testified on behalf of himself and eight New York City Council members representing parts of the borough, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/MarkLevineNYC/status/1534711711491661829" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">calling for a rent freeze</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, citing homelessness and the pandemic as prominent reasons as to why the proposed increase could be catastrophic for tenants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Several people testified in favor of the proposed rent increases, some stating that the RGB should vote at the higher end of the percentages, and others claiming the numbers were still too low, including building owners and landlords. They cited inflation rates, costs of maintenance, increases in property taxes, and the costs of oil and water rates as their reasons for supporting the increases.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some tenants who testified said that their landlords have been holding out on maintenance, and that they do not believe the income from the proposed increases would be allocated toward repairs, claiming that there has not been any urgency to use revenue from tenants’ rent payments for maintenance.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among those testifying against the proposed rent increases were members of the tenant advocacy group Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and tenants from Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, a very large set of Manhattan developments with thousands of rent-stabilized apartments. Both highlighted the challenge the proposed rent increases would pose to low-income households, older tenants, and others impacted by the pandemic and ongoing housing crisis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among some of the other public officials who testified at the final in-person hearing and spoke in support of tenants, as well as called for an enactment of a rent freeze, were State Senator Robert Jackson of Manhattan, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz of the Bronx, and City Council Members Tiffany Cab</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">á</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">n of Queens and Althea Stevens of the Bronx.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The Rent Guidelines Board should pass a rent hike of no more than zero percent. That is a modest compromise,” said Cab</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">á</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">n at the close of her testimony, on the heels of stating that anything other than a rent freeze would be unfair to New Yorkers who are struggling to make ends meet otherwise.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bronx City Council Member Pierina Sanchez, chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, also spoke at the hearing. “I am more certain than ever before that the urgency of a rent freeze is most critical today. This is corroborated by the daily experience of speaking to neighbors visiting our office who are drowning in the housing crisis facing New York City, with a vacancy rate lower than 1% in the Bronx,” she said in </span><a href="https://twitter.com/CMPiSanchez/status/1537194149199462401" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">her statement</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on the impending RGB vote.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jay Martin, executive director of The Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), an association made up of about 4,000 owners and managers of over 400,000 rent-stabilized housing units, has argued in favor of the proposed rent increases, and expressed his concerns that the numbers are still too low given the costs owners are facing and the artificially low decisions of the RGB during the de Blasio years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In preparation for the upcoming vote, Martin—who also submitted testimony to the RGB—said on a </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11381-max-politics-podcast-building-owners-rent-guidelines-board" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">recent episode</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast that he expects the board “to understand that they have a duty to look at the expenses and try and balance what is a reasonable, proportional rent adjustment based on those rapidly-increasing expenses on rent-stabilized properties.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Like others in favor of the rent increases on the higher side of the percentage range, Martin expressed concerns about inflation, property taxes, and costs of maintenance. He also connected the RGB vote, the 42,000 vacant rent-stabilized units, and the city’s larger housing crisis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We need more housing. We absolutely need more housing. We need to be incentivizing development of new housing and getting new housing back on the market,” he said. “We need to be getting these units that need proper renovation back on the market.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Martin said that tens of thousands of those 42,000 vacant rent-stabilized units are offline because they need major repairs and due to the 2019 state law there is not enough incentive for building owners to fix those apartments up and get them rented.</span></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final meeting where the board is set to vote will be </span></i><a href="https://www.youtube.com/RentGuidelinesBoard" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">live streamed via YouTube</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on June 21 at 7:30 p.m.</span></i></p> <p>

***
Natalie Rash, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/rgb-set-vote.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Housing in the Bronx (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Update: On Tuesday evening, the Rent Guidelines Board voted 5-4 to approve rent increases of 3.25% on one-year leases and 5% on two-year leases for the roughly 1 million rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.<br /></span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many elected officials quickly condemned the decision, calling the increases too high, though they are lower than what the board's independent analysis showed building owners need to cover rising costs. Still, many rent-stabilized tenants live on fixed or low incomes and are struggling with their own rising costs given inflation, and it is the highest increase in nearly a decade.</span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">“While we raised our voices and were successful in pushing the increases lower, the determination made by the Rent Guidelines Board today will unfortunately be a burden to tenants at this difficult time — and that is disappointing," Mayor Adams said in a statement Tuesday evening. "At the same time, small landlords are at risk of bankruptcy because of years of no increases at all, putting building owners of modest means at risk while threatening the quality of life for tenants who deserve to live in well-maintained, modern buildings."<br /><br />“This system is broken, and we cannot pit landlords against tenants as winners and losers every year," the mayor continued, adding that he "will be fighting in Albany for additional support for tenants who are at risk of missing rent payments and landlords who are struggling to maintain and upgrade their buildings.”</span></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/%20https:/wegov.nyc/charts-graphs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/rent-guidlines-board.png" width="450" /></span></em></a></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Read much more in Gotham Gazette's story about the Rent Guidelines Board published Tuesday morning:</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">***</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On Tuesday, June 21, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board is set to vote on rent increases for the tenants in roughly 1 million rent-stabilized apartments across the five boroughs, home to about 2 million people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rent-stabilized housing units are generally considered among those built before 1974, with six or more units, inducted through the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (EPTA), though other units that are derived from affordable housing and tax incentive programs may also be considered rent-stabilized, according to New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The board decision comes after it undertook its usual annual process — but is the first since the end of the pandemic era eviction moratorium and under new Mayor Eric Adams, who has expressed more solidarity with landlords than his predecessor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who exercised his power to help institute several years of rent freezes or very small increases through the mayor-appointed board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the HPD’s </span><a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdfs/services/2021-nychvs-selected-initial-findings.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">2021 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (NYCHVS) released in May of this year, there were 1,006,000 rent-stabilized housing units citywide, accounting for 44% of the city’s rental units, and 28% of the city’s overall housing stock. The survey also showed that the city’s overall rental apartment vacancy rate was 4.54% as of 2021.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It showed nearly 43,000 vacant units classified as rent-stabilized, raising questions about the status of that much-desired housing stock and how to get those apartments filled by tenants in need of affordable places to live.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2021, the median monthly rent for rent-stabilized units was $1,400. (For other renter-occupied units, the median was $1,500.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After issuing its annual report and holding several public hearings, the board is making its final decision based on its own proposed rent increases in the range of 2-4% for one-year leases and 4-6% for two-year leases for rent-stabilized apartments. The decision is likely to mark the highest rent increases in nearly a decade, and will apply to leases signed between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This year’s proposed rent increases by the Rent Guidelines Board have sparked controversy amid continued pandemic upheaval, significant inflation, and the rising costs of both providing and renting housing, as well as broader costs of living. The board is meant to take into account affordability for tenants as well as the costs for operating housing taken on by building owners and managers, including making repairs and upgrades. These and other factors, like the production of new housing falling far short of demand for many years, have been exacerbating New York’s ongoing housing crisis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many of the rules around rent-stabilized housing changed significantly in 2019 when the State Legislature passed and then-Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which removed mechanisms by which rent-stabilized units were regularly taken out of the stabilization system and put into the open market, as well as strict new limits on rent increases that landlords could assess outside of the annual Rent Guidelines Board process. Those changes, then followed by the pandemic, have made this year’s RGB decision additionally fraught.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This month, the Rent Guidelines Board has held four hearings to take testimony from the public about the possible rent increases before the final decision is made.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The board of nine, which contains two members appointed by Mayor Eric Adams and the rest holdovers of the de Blasio years, must make the decision by July 1, taking into account concerns from public officials, tenants, landlords, building owners, and developers, all while weighing data to decide what makes the most sense for the city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The board has scheduled its decisive hearing for the evening of Tuesday, June 21, as a flood of testimony comes in from interested parties and stakeholders.</span></p> <p><b>Rent Guidelines Board Make-Up and Recent History</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The RGB is made up of nine mayor-appointed members, with two meant to represent tenants, two to represent building owners, and five to represent the general public. Those five are where the mayor’s perspective and appointments are often especially decisive.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For the pairs of members representing tenants and owners, one of the two serves a two-year term, and the other a three-year term. For those representing the general public, one member serves a two-year term, another for three years, and the remaining three serve four-year terms.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Two current members, Arpit Gupta, representing the general public, and Chrystina Smith, representing owners, are Adams’ own appointees made this year by the Democratic mayor who took office January 1.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Each year, the Rent Guidelines Board uses its </span><a href="https://rentguidelinesboard.cityofnewyork.us/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/2022-IA.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Income and Affordability Study</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">—released annually in April—and relevant data, such as real estate taxes, insurance and vacancy rates, and overall housing supply to assess the appropriate rent increases for rent-stabilized units.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Recent history has also included full (2020) and partial (2021) rent freezes on rent-stabilized units, as the Rent Guidelines Board took extraordinary measures influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. Prior, the increases for both one- and two-year leases did not go higher than 2.5% from 2015 through 2019, a period that began in Mayor de Blasio’s second year in office, after he changed the constitution of the board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The partial freeze in 2021 meant rent increases took place after six months.</span></p> <p><b>This Year’s Process and Mayor Adams’ Role</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">In April of this year, the RGB voted through an initial set of proposed, unofficial ranges of increases of 2.7%-4.5% for one-year leases and 4.3%-9% for two-year leases. The high end of the two-year range, especially, set off a firestorm of criticism about the potential shock to renters, though the numbers were based on the board’s annual study.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After the board and Mayor Adams took considerable heat from tenants, activists, and elected officials, the board then decreased the ranges during a 5-4 vote by the RGB in May. Adams himself questioned the initial numbers, and took partial credit for influencing the board to decrease them to the percentages offered in the final unofficial proposed ranges.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We must be fair here,” he said when asked by reporters at an April news conference. “Allow tenants to be able to stay in their living arrangements, but we need to look after those small mom-and-pop owners.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But following the adjusted percentages proposed by the RGB, there has been continued discussion about the numbers being too high, with some claiming that increased rents could mean disaster for tenants who are already faced with other housing-related issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And though Adams was critical of the initial proposed potential increases by the Rent Guidelines Board, he has said he won’t interfere with the process. </span></p> <p><b>“</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Independence is independence. That's an independent board. I made it clear that we have to find the right position to look after those small property owners, which is—they've been decimated by the increase in fuel, property taxes, so many other things,” he said during a later press conference in May, where he also stressed that there needs to be systems in place to keep the city’s property owners who were impacted by COVID afloat. “Because if we lose those small property owners, you're going to have major developers come in and then we're going to have a real problem.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But Adams also expressed concerns for tenants, speaking as a small property owner and landlord himself. </span><b>“</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">I never raised the rent of my tenants since they lived in my building. When they signed a lease, they signed a lease with me signing I would never raise your rent as long as you're there,” he said. “So we can show the compassion. At the same time, I understand what the families are going through on both ends of the spectrum.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On June 20, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Queens Democrat (and no relation to the mayor), released testimony ahead of the RGB vote, calling for the lowest rent increase possible by the board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We cannot afford to plunge hundreds of thousands of rent-regulated New Yorkers into the chaos of a housing market that already does not have sufficient supply to meet demand, especially when our city is in the midst of demonstrating remarkable resilience in its recovery efforts,” </span><a href="https://council.nyc.gov/press/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2022/06/Speaker-Adams-RGB-Testimony-June-2022.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">her testimony</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> reads. “We cannot move forward if it means leaving our most vulnerable behind.”</span></p> <p><b>More Debate Over This Year’s Decision</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Between March and May, the RGB held six public hearings and meetings to discuss various housing-related reports, as well as take a good deal of testimony from invited tenant and owner groups about lease adjustments on rent-stabilized housing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In June, the board hosted a series of public hearings to take testimonies from concerned parties about the adjusted rent increases proposed in May. The first of these hearings were on June 6 and 8, dates that were added after complaints that the board would only be offering in-person hearings the week after.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A majority of testimony at the first two hearings in June was from tenants who live in rent-stabilized units, speaking in favor of lowering the percentages of the rent increases, or calling for a rent freeze in light of the pandemic and other economic issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At that second hearing, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine testified on behalf of himself and eight New York City Council members representing parts of the borough, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/MarkLevineNYC/status/1534711711491661829" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">calling for a rent freeze</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, citing homelessness and the pandemic as prominent reasons as to why the proposed increase could be catastrophic for tenants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Several people testified in favor of the proposed rent increases, some stating that the RGB should vote at the higher end of the percentages, and others claiming the numbers were still too low, including building owners and landlords. They cited inflation rates, costs of maintenance, increases in property taxes, and the costs of oil and water rates as their reasons for supporting the increases.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some tenants who testified said that their landlords have been holding out on maintenance, and that they do not believe the income from the proposed increases would be allocated toward repairs, claiming that there has not been any urgency to use revenue from tenants’ rent payments for maintenance.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among those testifying against the proposed rent increases were members of the tenant advocacy group Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and tenants from Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, a very large set of Manhattan developments with thousands of rent-stabilized apartments. Both highlighted the challenge the proposed rent increases would pose to low-income households, older tenants, and others impacted by the pandemic and ongoing housing crisis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among some of the other public officials who testified at the final in-person hearing and spoke in support of tenants, as well as called for an enactment of a rent freeze, were State Senator Robert Jackson of Manhattan, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz of the Bronx, and City Council Members Tiffany Cab</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">á</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">n of Queens and Althea Stevens of the Bronx.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The Rent Guidelines Board should pass a rent hike of no more than zero percent. That is a modest compromise,” said Cab</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">á</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">n at the close of her testimony, on the heels of stating that anything other than a rent freeze would be unfair to New Yorkers who are struggling to make ends meet otherwise.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bronx City Council Member Pierina Sanchez, chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, also spoke at the hearing. “I am more certain than ever before that the urgency of a rent freeze is most critical today. This is corroborated by the daily experience of speaking to neighbors visiting our office who are drowning in the housing crisis facing New York City, with a vacancy rate lower than 1% in the Bronx,” she said in </span><a href="https://twitter.com/CMPiSanchez/status/1537194149199462401" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">her statement</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on the impending RGB vote.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jay Martin, executive director of The Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), an association made up of about 4,000 owners and managers of over 400,000 rent-stabilized housing units, has argued in favor of the proposed rent increases, and expressed his concerns that the numbers are still too low given the costs owners are facing and the artificially low decisions of the RGB during the de Blasio years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In preparation for the upcoming vote, Martin—who also submitted testimony to the RGB—said on a </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11381-max-politics-podcast-building-owners-rent-guidelines-board" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">recent episode</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast that he expects the board “to understand that they have a duty to look at the expenses and try and balance what is a reasonable, proportional rent adjustment based on those rapidly-increasing expenses on rent-stabilized properties.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Like others in favor of the rent increases on the higher side of the percentage range, Martin expressed concerns about inflation, property taxes, and costs of maintenance. He also connected the RGB vote, the 42,000 vacant rent-stabilized units, and the city’s larger housing crisis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We need more housing. We absolutely need more housing. We need to be incentivizing development of new housing and getting new housing back on the market,” he said. “We need to be getting these units that need proper renovation back on the market.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Martin said that tens of thousands of those 42,000 vacant rent-stabilized units are offline because they need major repairs and due to the 2019 state law there is not enough incentive for building owners to fix those apartments up and get them rented.</span></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final meeting where the board is set to vote will be </span></i><a href="https://www.youtube.com/RentGuidelinesBoard" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">live streamed via YouTube</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on June 21 at 7:30 p.m.</span></i></p> <p>

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Natalie Rash, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
New City Budget Incrementally Expands Composting Programs as Council Considers Citywide Mandate 2022-06-22T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-22T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11397-nyc-budget-composting-zero-waste Samar Khurshid & Jiada Valenza samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/city-budget-compost.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Community composting (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>When Mayor Eric Adams was running for City Hall, he pledged to expand the city’s incipient residential curbside composting program. But despite a push for more by some City Council members, the recently approved $101 billion budget for next fiscal year, beginning July 1, only marginally increases funding for other composting programs while halting the promised expansion of residential curbside composting. </p> <p>The city’s voluntary curbside composting program has moved forward in fits and starts. Organics account for about a third of the city’s waste and are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Unless diverted for composting, the waste is trucked out to landfills where it decomposes and releases methane, which is about 25 times more potent than CO2 in warming the planet.</p> <p>The curbside composting program launched in 2013 and, under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, was expanded to seven community districts in total – four in Brooklyn, two in Manhattan, and one in the Bronx – out of 59 in the city. But it was put on hold in 2020 as de Blasio made cuts to city spending because of the pandemic, along with initiatives including the school composting and food scrap drop-off programs, which all resumed last year.</p> <p>De Blasio had originally promised that the curbside program would eventually be expanded citywide as part of the goal he set in 2015 of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030 (which was part of the de Blasio administration’s larger OneNYC 2050 strategy aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by the half-century mark).</p> <p>But the Adams administration expressed concern that low participation in the program didn’t justify the cost of running it, and that a citywide expansion required further study.</p> <p>Consequently, the program received no new funding in the budget agreement between the mayor and the City Council, which included about $32 million in total for organics collections programs – including about $12 million for curbside collection, $7 million for organics drop-off sites (an increase of $3.5 million), and $9.2 million to expand the school organics collection program to every school in the city over the next two years and add 100 “Smart Bins” near schools for the public to drop off organics waste, and $2.9 million for the Zero Waste Schools Educational Program &amp; Stop’N’Swap programs.</p> <p>Sanitation, including restoring and expanding the composting program, was a major budget issue in the City Council this year, and several Council members mounted a full-court press to urge the administration to provide adequate funding for it. For those members, it was not only a quality of life and cleanliness issue but also a public health, climate, and environmental justice issue, and one that was intrinsically tied to the city’s zero waste goal.</p> <p>While the city is making little progress toward the zero waste goal, the City Council is considering a package of legislation to help get there.</p> <p>Council Member Shahana Hanif, a Brooklyn Democrat, has introduced legislation to create a citywide curbside organics program for residential buildings. Council Member Sandy Nurse, also a Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the Council’s sanitation committee, has introduced bills to enshrine the zero waste by 2030 goal into law and require regular reporting on progress by the administration. And Council Member Keith Powers, a Manhattan Democrat, has introduced bills to mandate that the Department of Sanitation establish at minimum one community recycling center and at least three organics drop-off sites in each community district. </p> <p>Nurse believes that mandatory composting would address the administration’s concerns about the viability of a citywide program. “We think that's the better route to go rather than continuing to then spend months advocating for money to expand the program that really does need some rethinking,” she said in a phone interview. Nurse is a co-sponsor of Hanif’s bill, which also has the backing of a supermajority of the Council. </p> <p>As Nurse noted, some of the issues around participation stem from the previous administration’s faltering steps to expand the program. “We had a program that started and stopped, started and stopped, and then was gutted during the pandemic. So we have an inefficient program that has very low participation,” she said. She decided that a legislative solution would be far better and immune to the vagaries of mayoral administrations.</p> <p>A mandatory program, she said, would require building managers to provide composting services in residential developments where they would otherwise be hesitant to opt-in to a voluntary program. And it would force a change in culture, making it a habit for New Yorkers (like required recycling of glass, aluminum, and other materials), raising awareness of the program and allowing fines for failure to comply.</p> <p>The New York City Independent Budget Office <a href="https://ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/going-green-can-the-organics-collection-program-be%20fiscally-and-environmentally-sustainable-fiscal-brief-october-2021.pdf">estimated</a> in an October 2021 report that a universal composting program could, in fact, save the city money over time. Collection and composting costs would rise by about $39 million in total in the first three years, over the $775 million annual cost of collecting and disposing of refuse, recycling, and organics waste in 2019. But, the expansion would begin to generate savings four years out and, eventually, the city would save about $33 million every year, the IBO estimates.</p> <p>The savings would come from larger amounts of refuse being collected in the same truck runs (which have fixed costs) and from reducing the number of truck runs as organic waste is diverted from the waste stream. The city would also have more leverage to negotiate lower costs with organics processing companies if the program is scaled up.  </p> <p>In a recently-released survey about city sanitation services, conducted by Comptroller Brad Lander’s office, about 67% of more than 3,000 respondents said that they wanted their organic waste to be collected and composted by the city.    </p> <p>“The legislative route, I think, is the best option,” said Nurse. “It is a very costly program if we don't have people using it to the degree that we need to justify it.”</p> <p>At a Council hearing on the zero waste bills on Wednesday of last week, the mandatory nature of the proposed program became a point of contention as Council members heard testimony from sanitation officials. </p> <p>“I believe that you have to give people voluntary access to curbside food waste collection, and allow them to develop the muscle memory of separating out their food waste material before we contemplate mandatory programs,” Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch, an appointee of Mayor Adams, said at the hearing. “Food waste separation requires complex cultural change that cannot, in its first instance, be strictly punitive.”</p> <p>Tisch shared the Council’s urgency around reaching the zero waste goal, but said it appears unlikely on the 2030 timeline. She noted that the city's waste diversion rate has only increased from 17.8% in 2015 to 20.8% this year, placing the city far off track in bridging the gap to achieve 100% diversion in the next seven years. “We are simply not on a path toward zero waste by 2030 on our current trajectory, nor do we have enough time left, in my opinion, before 2030 for me to sit here today and genuinely tell you that I think that the goal is achievable,” she said. </p> <p>Tisch’s statements are echoed in data trends seen across DSNY Waste Characterization Studies from 2005, 2013, and 2017 (the commissioner also noted a new study would be produced by 2024 using funding from the fiscal year 2023 adopted budget). While in 2017, DSNY found that waste generated was declining in comparison to 2005 and 2013, the decrease was not sizable. At 3.1 million tons of waste in 2017, and an only 400,000 ton decrease over 12 years, the road to zero waste appears blocked but for drastic measures.</p> <p>Hanif said at the hearing that an opt-in program doesn’t meet the moment. “An opt-in system that is disproportionately available to higher-income and whiter neighborhoods is not economically sustainable, and fails to reach the environmental impact that the current crisis moment demands,” she said. </p> <p>Besides the curbside program, the Council also wants to expand other aspects of organics collection. Powers’ bills, which he has dubbed the Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment (CORE) Act, would address the need for more organics drop-off sites and community recycling centers. </p> <p>There are currently 223 drop-off sites across all five boroughs, aimed at providing easy local access to composting for community members. They allow communities to dispose of organic waste, such as food scraps (excluding meat, fish, and dairy), at designated bins. But those bins are not equally distributed across the city’s 59 community districts. Large parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, for instance, don’t have drop-off sites.  </p> <p>In Astoria and Lower Manhattan, high-tech drop-off composting sites exist as part of the Smart Bins pilot program which was launched in the fall of 2021 and is being expanded under the new city budget. The sites are open 24/7 and do not require staff. The bins are only for use by community members, a measure upheld by lock systems on the bins that can only be opened with DSNY-issued key cards or a mobile app.</p> <p>The majority of drop-off sites, however, have limited hours, some only running on a seasonal basis. Many other sites are not located close enough for community members to easily access by walking, instead requiring travel by car, deterring would-be composters from making the trek towards sustainability.</p> <p>At the hearing, Tisch said that, with the rollout of 100 additional smart bins this year, the city would meet the requirements of Powers’ bill to put three drop-off sites in every district by the end of 2022.  </p> <p>“I do think a hundred is insufficient," Powers responded, "but I'm glad we're starting."</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Jiada Valenza contributed to this story.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/city-budget-compost.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Community composting (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>When Mayor Eric Adams was running for City Hall, he pledged to expand the city’s incipient residential curbside composting program. But despite a push for more by some City Council members, the recently approved $101 billion budget for next fiscal year, beginning July 1, only marginally increases funding for other composting programs while halting the promised expansion of residential curbside composting. </p> <p>The city’s voluntary curbside composting program has moved forward in fits and starts. Organics account for about a third of the city’s waste and are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Unless diverted for composting, the waste is trucked out to landfills where it decomposes and releases methane, which is about 25 times more potent than CO2 in warming the planet.</p> <p>The curbside composting program launched in 2013 and, under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, was expanded to seven community districts in total – four in Brooklyn, two in Manhattan, and one in the Bronx – out of 59 in the city. But it was put on hold in 2020 as de Blasio made cuts to city spending because of the pandemic, along with initiatives including the school composting and food scrap drop-off programs, which all resumed last year.</p> <p>De Blasio had originally promised that the curbside program would eventually be expanded citywide as part of the goal he set in 2015 of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030 (which was part of the de Blasio administration’s larger OneNYC 2050 strategy aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by the half-century mark).</p> <p>But the Adams administration expressed concern that low participation in the program didn’t justify the cost of running it, and that a citywide expansion required further study.</p> <p>Consequently, the program received no new funding in the budget agreement between the mayor and the City Council, which included about $32 million in total for organics collections programs – including about $12 million for curbside collection, $7 million for organics drop-off sites (an increase of $3.5 million), and $9.2 million to expand the school organics collection program to every school in the city over the next two years and add 100 “Smart Bins” near schools for the public to drop off organics waste, and $2.9 million for the Zero Waste Schools Educational Program &amp; Stop’N’Swap programs.</p> <p>Sanitation, including restoring and expanding the composting program, was a major budget issue in the City Council this year, and several Council members mounted a full-court press to urge the administration to provide adequate funding for it. For those members, it was not only a quality of life and cleanliness issue but also a public health, climate, and environmental justice issue, and one that was intrinsically tied to the city’s zero waste goal.</p> <p>While the city is making little progress toward the zero waste goal, the City Council is considering a package of legislation to help get there.</p> <p>Council Member Shahana Hanif, a Brooklyn Democrat, has introduced legislation to create a citywide curbside organics program for residential buildings. Council Member Sandy Nurse, also a Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the Council’s sanitation committee, has introduced bills to enshrine the zero waste by 2030 goal into law and require regular reporting on progress by the administration. And Council Member Keith Powers, a Manhattan Democrat, has introduced bills to mandate that the Department of Sanitation establish at minimum one community recycling center and at least three organics drop-off sites in each community district. </p> <p>Nurse believes that mandatory composting would address the administration’s concerns about the viability of a citywide program. “We think that's the better route to go rather than continuing to then spend months advocating for money to expand the program that really does need some rethinking,” she said in a phone interview. Nurse is a co-sponsor of Hanif’s bill, which also has the backing of a supermajority of the Council. </p> <p>As Nurse noted, some of the issues around participation stem from the previous administration’s faltering steps to expand the program. “We had a program that started and stopped, started and stopped, and then was gutted during the pandemic. So we have an inefficient program that has very low participation,” she said. She decided that a legislative solution would be far better and immune to the vagaries of mayoral administrations.</p> <p>A mandatory program, she said, would require building managers to provide composting services in residential developments where they would otherwise be hesitant to opt-in to a voluntary program. And it would force a change in culture, making it a habit for New Yorkers (like required recycling of glass, aluminum, and other materials), raising awareness of the program and allowing fines for failure to comply.</p> <p>The New York City Independent Budget Office <a href="https://ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/going-green-can-the-organics-collection-program-be%20fiscally-and-environmentally-sustainable-fiscal-brief-october-2021.pdf">estimated</a> in an October 2021 report that a universal composting program could, in fact, save the city money over time. Collection and composting costs would rise by about $39 million in total in the first three years, over the $775 million annual cost of collecting and disposing of refuse, recycling, and organics waste in 2019. But, the expansion would begin to generate savings four years out and, eventually, the city would save about $33 million every year, the IBO estimates.</p> <p>The savings would come from larger amounts of refuse being collected in the same truck runs (which have fixed costs) and from reducing the number of truck runs as organic waste is diverted from the waste stream. The city would also have more leverage to negotiate lower costs with organics processing companies if the program is scaled up.  </p> <p>In a recently-released survey about city sanitation services, conducted by Comptroller Brad Lander’s office, about 67% of more than 3,000 respondents said that they wanted their organic waste to be collected and composted by the city.    </p> <p>“The legislative route, I think, is the best option,” said Nurse. “It is a very costly program if we don't have people using it to the degree that we need to justify it.”</p> <p>At a Council hearing on the zero waste bills on Wednesday of last week, the mandatory nature of the proposed program became a point of contention as Council members heard testimony from sanitation officials. </p> <p>“I believe that you have to give people voluntary access to curbside food waste collection, and allow them to develop the muscle memory of separating out their food waste material before we contemplate mandatory programs,” Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch, an appointee of Mayor Adams, said at the hearing. “Food waste separation requires complex cultural change that cannot, in its first instance, be strictly punitive.”</p> <p>Tisch shared the Council’s urgency around reaching the zero waste goal, but said it appears unlikely on the 2030 timeline. She noted that the city's waste diversion rate has only increased from 17.8% in 2015 to 20.8% this year, placing the city far off track in bridging the gap to achieve 100% diversion in the next seven years. “We are simply not on a path toward zero waste by 2030 on our current trajectory, nor do we have enough time left, in my opinion, before 2030 for me to sit here today and genuinely tell you that I think that the goal is achievable,” she said. </p> <p>Tisch’s statements are echoed in data trends seen across DSNY Waste Characterization Studies from 2005, 2013, and 2017 (the commissioner also noted a new study would be produced by 2024 using funding from the fiscal year 2023 adopted budget). While in 2017, DSNY found that waste generated was declining in comparison to 2005 and 2013, the decrease was not sizable. At 3.1 million tons of waste in 2017, and an only 400,000 ton decrease over 12 years, the road to zero waste appears blocked but for drastic measures.</p> <p>Hanif said at the hearing that an opt-in program doesn’t meet the moment. “An opt-in system that is disproportionately available to higher-income and whiter neighborhoods is not economically sustainable, and fails to reach the environmental impact that the current crisis moment demands,” she said. </p> <p>Besides the curbside program, the Council also wants to expand other aspects of organics collection. Powers’ bills, which he has dubbed the Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment (CORE) Act, would address the need for more organics drop-off sites and community recycling centers. </p> <p>There are currently 223 drop-off sites across all five boroughs, aimed at providing easy local access to composting for community members. They allow communities to dispose of organic waste, such as food scraps (excluding meat, fish, and dairy), at designated bins. But those bins are not equally distributed across the city’s 59 community districts. Large parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, for instance, don’t have drop-off sites.  </p> <p>In Astoria and Lower Manhattan, high-tech drop-off composting sites exist as part of the Smart Bins pilot program which was launched in the fall of 2021 and is being expanded under the new city budget. The sites are open 24/7 and do not require staff. The bins are only for use by community members, a measure upheld by lock systems on the bins that can only be opened with DSNY-issued key cards or a mobile app.</p> <p>The majority of drop-off sites, however, have limited hours, some only running on a seasonal basis. Many other sites are not located close enough for community members to easily access by walking, instead requiring travel by car, deterring would-be composters from making the trek towards sustainability.</p> <p>At the hearing, Tisch said that, with the rollout of 100 additional smart bins this year, the city would meet the requirements of Powers’ bill to put three drop-off sites in every district by the end of 2022.  </p> <p>“I do think a hundred is insufficient," Powers responded, "but I'm glad we're starting."</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Jiada Valenza contributed to this story.</p>
New City Budget Includes Some Added Funding to Implement Landmark Building Emissions Law 2022-06-17T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-17T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11387-nyc-city-budget-climate-mobilization-act Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2-cm-env.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>A rally for green jobs outside City Hall (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2024, New York City will begin capping emissions from the city’s largest buildings – which are its worst polluters – under Local Law 97, which was approved as part of the city’s Climate Mobilization Act of 2019. The law requires buildings to be retrofitted with energy-efficient and sustainable systems – upgrading heating and cooling systems, possibly installing solar energy, for instance – to significantly reduce their carbon footprint to meet those emissions caps, or otherwise face hefty fines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the city has just over six months to issue rules and regulations for property owners and managers to follow, and activists and officials say that the recently approved city budget falls short of what the city’s Department of Buildings will need to accomplish that task.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are 50,000 buildings in the city over 25,000 square feet each, which in sum account for about 71% of the city’s emissions. Local Law 97 will require that those emissions are cut by 40% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050, a major step in reaching the long-term overarching goal of a net-zero carbon city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first set of caps, for about 20% of the city’s biggest buildings, will be effective starting in 2024, and stronger limits will be instituted in 2030, affecting 75% of those buildings. Besides cutting pollution, the law will directly lead to thousands of jobs from construction to building design and renovation — part of why it has been billed by some as a key part of the city’s version of a “Green New Deal.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Elected officials and activists spent months pressing Mayor Eric Adams, a first-year Democrat, to wholly commit to implementing and enforcing the law, in particular by providing funding for additional staff at the Department of Buildings (DOB), which will play a key role. The law created a new Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance at DOB, tasked with calculating emissions formulas and setting emissions limits, among other roles, much of which will require formal rulemaking through a public review and input process that has not yet begun. (The city also has a separate program called Property Assessed Clean Energy which helps property owners finance energy upgrades and renewable energy projects). </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Officials and activists argued that the new office would be unable to do its job effectively unless its current complement of six full-time staff was boosted by another 10-15 workers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Asked about that demand on Earth Day, April 22, Adams said, “We're still in the budgetary talks, still in conversation. So many people will say, ‘Well, you know what, Eric is not going to be aggressive about that.’ Wrong. I'm going to be extremely aggressive about it. I did not start as mayor talking about improving our environment. This is something I'm committed to, I'm going to continue to do so.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final $101 billion budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which begins July 1, agreed upon by Adams and the City Council includes $400,000 in additional funding for five more staff members at the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance (BEEP). According to the mayor’s office, that allocation was based on DOB’s assessment of its staffing needs. The mayor’s office also said the budget added $2 million to support the BEEP office’s work, which includes monitoring building energy use and emissions, creating an online portal for the submission of building assessments, auditing assessments and inspecting buildings, among other responsibilities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor and his administration have raised several concerns about the building emissions law, especially its penalty structure, which they say could be overly punitive even as building owners attempt to comply with it. He has said his goal is to see compliance, not fines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, to activists, the mayor has been parroting allies in the real estate industry, which has similarly argued against the enforcement mechanisms of the law and questioned the timeline of the mandates. A group of property owners and managers have already filed a lawsuit against the city over the law, calling it “ill conceived and unconstitutional” and its penalties “draconian,” according to </span><a href="https://citylimits.org/2022/05/23/building-owners-file-lawsuit-to-block-key-nyc-climate-law/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">a City Limits report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“What we're continuing to see is the administration double-talking about the implementation and enforcement of the law, which is really disappointing and echoes the real estate industry’s talking points,” said Pete Sikora, climate and inequality campaigns director for New York Communities for Change, a nonprofit advocacy group that pushed hard for the passage of Local Law 97. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sikora said the addition of five staff to BEEP was a “minimal” step towards implementing the law. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The mayor needs to disabuse himself of the notion that he can satisfy the real estate lobby and produce jobs and cut pollution,” he said. “You can't square that circle. You're either on one side or on the other side, and it is time to pick the right side for working people in the city.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At an April 13 hearing on Local Law 97, the city’s Chief Climate Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection Rohit Aggarwala told the City Council, “We have no intention of giving anyone a free pass or letting anyone off the hook. But we also see no benefit to the environment in punishing someone who is actually doing everything possible.”  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adams has also insisted that the city needs to make it easier for building owners to retrofit systems and make energy upgrades. “Fines don’t serve the goal of GHG reductions, but retrofits and upgrades create jobs,” a mayoral spokesperson told Gotham Gazette in March. “That is why [the mayor] has supported City subsidies to assist property owners in need with the cost of retrofitting and called for significant investment in retrofitting the City’s own buildings as part of a broader strategy to ensure NYC is a national leader in reducing carbon emissions and in creating a green economy.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Comptroller Brad Lander, who co-sponsored Local Law 97 when he was a City Council member, has also been calling on the administration to continue increasing funding for its implementation. “I am encouraged to see some additional funding in place for the implementation of LL97 at this critical time, but we have a long road ahead towards ensuring effective implementation and compliance,” he said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “As we move closer to the first compliance period in 2024, it is critical that the city continue to expand the resources to implement this landmark law and enhance programs that can support building owners in their compliance.”</span></p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2-cm-env.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>A rally for green jobs outside City Hall (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2024, New York City will begin capping emissions from the city’s largest buildings – which are its worst polluters – under Local Law 97, which was approved as part of the city’s Climate Mobilization Act of 2019. The law requires buildings to be retrofitted with energy-efficient and sustainable systems – upgrading heating and cooling systems, possibly installing solar energy, for instance – to significantly reduce their carbon footprint to meet those emissions caps, or otherwise face hefty fines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the city has just over six months to issue rules and regulations for property owners and managers to follow, and activists and officials say that the recently approved city budget falls short of what the city’s Department of Buildings will need to accomplish that task.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are 50,000 buildings in the city over 25,000 square feet each, which in sum account for about 71% of the city’s emissions. Local Law 97 will require that those emissions are cut by 40% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050, a major step in reaching the long-term overarching goal of a net-zero carbon city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first set of caps, for about 20% of the city’s biggest buildings, will be effective starting in 2024, and stronger limits will be instituted in 2030, affecting 75% of those buildings. Besides cutting pollution, the law will directly lead to thousands of jobs from construction to building design and renovation — part of why it has been billed by some as a key part of the city’s version of a “Green New Deal.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Elected officials and activists spent months pressing Mayor Eric Adams, a first-year Democrat, to wholly commit to implementing and enforcing the law, in particular by providing funding for additional staff at the Department of Buildings (DOB), which will play a key role. The law created a new Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance at DOB, tasked with calculating emissions formulas and setting emissions limits, among other roles, much of which will require formal rulemaking through a public review and input process that has not yet begun. (The city also has a separate program called Property Assessed Clean Energy which helps property owners finance energy upgrades and renewable energy projects). </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Officials and activists argued that the new office would be unable to do its job effectively unless its current complement of six full-time staff was boosted by another 10-15 workers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Asked about that demand on Earth Day, April 22, Adams said, “We're still in the budgetary talks, still in conversation. So many people will say, ‘Well, you know what, Eric is not going to be aggressive about that.’ Wrong. I'm going to be extremely aggressive about it. I did not start as mayor talking about improving our environment. This is something I'm committed to, I'm going to continue to do so.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final $101 billion budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which begins July 1, agreed upon by Adams and the City Council includes $400,000 in additional funding for five more staff members at the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance (BEEP). According to the mayor’s office, that allocation was based on DOB’s assessment of its staffing needs. The mayor’s office also said the budget added $2 million to support the BEEP office’s work, which includes monitoring building energy use and emissions, creating an online portal for the submission of building assessments, auditing assessments and inspecting buildings, among other responsibilities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor and his administration have raised several concerns about the building emissions law, especially its penalty structure, which they say could be overly punitive even as building owners attempt to comply with it. He has said his goal is to see compliance, not fines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, to activists, the mayor has been parroting allies in the real estate industry, which has similarly argued against the enforcement mechanisms of the law and questioned the timeline of the mandates. A group of property owners and managers have already filed a lawsuit against the city over the law, calling it “ill conceived and unconstitutional” and its penalties “draconian,” according to </span><a href="https://citylimits.org/2022/05/23/building-owners-file-lawsuit-to-block-key-nyc-climate-law/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">a City Limits report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“What we're continuing to see is the administration double-talking about the implementation and enforcement of the law, which is really disappointing and echoes the real estate industry’s talking points,” said Pete Sikora, climate and inequality campaigns director for New York Communities for Change, a nonprofit advocacy group that pushed hard for the passage of Local Law 97. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sikora said the addition of five staff to BEEP was a “minimal” step towards implementing the law. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The mayor needs to disabuse himself of the notion that he can satisfy the real estate lobby and produce jobs and cut pollution,” he said. “You can't square that circle. You're either on one side or on the other side, and it is time to pick the right side for working people in the city.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At an April 13 hearing on Local Law 97, the city’s Chief Climate Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection Rohit Aggarwala told the City Council, “We have no intention of giving anyone a free pass or letting anyone off the hook. But we also see no benefit to the environment in punishing someone who is actually doing everything possible.”  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adams has also insisted that the city needs to make it easier for building owners to retrofit systems and make energy upgrades. “Fines don’t serve the goal of GHG reductions, but retrofits and upgrades create jobs,” a mayoral spokesperson told Gotham Gazette in March. “That is why [the mayor] has supported City subsidies to assist property owners in need with the cost of retrofitting and called for significant investment in retrofitting the City’s own buildings as part of a broader strategy to ensure NYC is a national leader in reducing carbon emissions and in creating a green economy.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Comptroller Brad Lander, who co-sponsored Local Law 97 when he was a City Council member, has also been calling on the administration to continue increasing funding for its implementation. “I am encouraged to see some additional funding in place for the implementation of LL97 at this critical time, but we have a long road ahead towards ensuring effective implementation and compliance,” he said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “As we move closer to the first compliance period in 2024, it is critical that the city continue to expand the resources to implement this landmark law and enhance programs that can support building owners in their compliance.”</span></p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Max Politics Podcast: What Building Owners Want from the Rent Guidelines Board and Policy-Makers 2022-06-14T14:00:00+00:00 2022-06-14T14:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11381-max-politics-podcast-building-owners-rent-guidelines-board Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/what-land-want600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Housing New York City (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 14, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: What Building Owners Want from the Rent Guidelines Board and Policy-Makers<br /></strong></p> <p>Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP, The Community Housing Improvement Program, which represents 4,000 owners and managers of over 400,000 rent-stabilized rental properties in New York City, joined the show to discuss what his members want to see from the NYC Rent Guidelines Board and policy-makers at the city and state levels.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11381-max-politics-podcast-building-owners-rent-guidelines-board">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/what-land-want600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Housing New York City (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 14, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: What Building Owners Want from the Rent Guidelines Board and Policy-Makers<br /></strong></p> <p>Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP, The Community Housing Improvement Program, which represents 4,000 owners and managers of over 400,000 rent-stabilized rental properties in New York City, joined the show to discuss what his members want to see from the NYC Rent Guidelines Board and policy-makers at the city and state levels.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11381-max-politics-podcast-building-owners-rent-guidelines-board">Read More ...</a></p> 'Housing Cannot Be A Privilege': Mayor Adams Releases Highly-Anticipated Housing Plan 2022-06-15T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-15T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11384-mayor-adams-affordable-housing-plan Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/may-rel-high.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Mayor Adams building housing (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Five-and-a-half months into his administration, Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday released a comprehensive plan for housing and homelessness that aims to build new mixed-income rental housing, preserve existing affordable units, improve public housing stock, expedite the creation of supportive housing, cut red tape that prevents homeless people from accessing housing, and help New Yorkers buy affordable homes. </p> <p>The mayor’s plan, dubbed “Housing Our Neighbors: A Blueprint for Housing and Homelessness,” reflects a paradigm shift from his predecessor who tackled the city’s lack of affordable housing, its crumbling public housing stock, and rampant homelessness largely as separate problems. Adams and his team have instead looked at the issues on a spectrum, an approach that housing experts have long advocated and Adams, among others, promised during last year’s campaign.</p> <p>The plan is built on five pillars: transforming the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the public housing system that houses more than 400,000 New Yorkers; directly addressing homelessness and housing instability; building and preserving affordable housing; improving health and safety; and reducing administrative burdens. </p> <p>“Housing cannot be a privilege…It’s the key to living a healthy lifestyle,” Adams said Tuesday. “Safe, stable and affordable housing is fundamental to our prosperity and right now, a majority of New Yorkers that are living on the street don't have that and don't believe in the system.”</p> <p>The mayor’s plan comes at a time when New York’s housing and homelessness crisis has been escalating. The city’s 2021 Housing and Vacancy Survey, recently released by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, showed the overall vacancy rate of 4.5% across the city, and a less than 1% vacancy rate for apartments renting below $1,500 a month. Millions of New Yorkers are rent-burdened or severely rent-burdened. NYCHA’s capital need for maintenance and repairs has reached as high as $40 billion. And, as of Tuesday, 46,532 people spent the night in a city shelter, while more than 2,300 people were unsheltered according to the city’s last estimate in January. </p> <p>The major aspects of the Adams administration’s new plan involve raising billions of dollars for NYCHA and expediting repairs and capital projects at the public housing agency, incentivizing developers to build new affordable housing with more density and in varying sizes, preserving affordable housing with greater city investment, providing financial assistance to property owners and first-time homebuyers, easing access to shelters and the transition to supportive housing. Notably, the plan does not make a mention of large-scale neighborhood rezonings, which the administration is said to be actively pursuing. </p> <p>But unlike his predecessors, Adams did not commit to any numerical targets for affordable housing units or promise a specific level of annual housing production.</p> <p>“Our measurement of success was wrong,” Adams said of the past. “We want to look at number one, whether we're building for people at every income level, whether we're reducing the number of rent-burdened households, and our measurement will focus on people, not just money.” </p> <p>While he said his focus was on how many New Yorkers access affordable housing, he declined to set a target for that number as well. Pressed by a reporter on the plan’s metrics for success, he repeatedly responded, “As many people as possible to get into housing.” Among the only concrete targets the plan does include is to build 15,000 units of supportive housing by 2028, two years ahead of the city’s previous schedule. </p> <p>The mayor also emphasized that his plan would not focus solely on the lowest-income New Yorkers. “We're going to do as much as we can for low- and middle-income housing. We often abandoned middle-income housing, and we need to stop doing that,” he said, echoing Mayor Bill de Blasio and his top housing officials, who regularly stressed the same point and crafted their plans accordingly.</p> <p>The release of the housing plan came just after the City Council approved the new city budget negotiated with Adams, $101 billion in operating expenses and $14.3 billion in capital spending for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.</p> <p>In that budget, Adams failed to live up to broad promises on funding for housing.  The mayor added $5 billion in capital funds over ten years for affordable and public housing, bringing the city’s total allocation to $22 billion out of a $133.7 billion ten-year capital strategy. But during his run for City Hall, Adams was among the Democratic candidates who had pledged to spend $4 billion in capital funding each year on housing, meeting the request laid out by a large housing coalition. That funding goes toward maintenance and repairs for public housing, and subsidizing construction of new affordable housing and preservation of existing affordable units.</p> <p>Adams has been criticized for not living up to that housing funding promise and for his initial approach to homeless people living on the streets and subways. At Tuesday’s announcement, the mayor hit back at his critics. “In spite of all the noise that's going on around us, all the naysayers…we’re getting it done,” Adams said. </p> <p>The mayor’s plan covers a broad array of solutions across city government. Some have already been put in motion. Earlier this month, he announced three citywide zoning text amendment proposals to incentivize small businesses, build affordable housing, and promote sustainability. Those ideas will be the subject of negotiation with the City Council, which must pass them, and other stakeholders like borough presidents and the City Planning Commission, and could take at least a year to be approved in some form.</p> <p>The first amendment, ​​Zoning for Economic Opportunity, would remove geographic limitations on certain businesses, remove obstacles to repurposing space and give businesses flexibility to expand without relocating or having to build more parking. The second, Zoning for Housing Opportunity, would increase the floor area ratio for all types of affordable housing, expand acceptable housing types and sizes, ease conversions of underutilized commercial space into housing and reduce parking requirements. The third amendment, Zoning for Zero Carbon, would remove hurdles to deploying new clean energy storage and uses, facilitate sustainable energy retrofits and remove barriers to building electrification.</p> <p>To accelerate the pace of building new affordable housing, the mayor has promised to reform construction regulations, support new construction technologies, change regulations on density through zoning, converting unused hotels to housing (recently allowed through state legislation) and pursuing regulatory changes to encourage the developments of Accessory Dwelling Units.</p> <p>The plan includes a proposal to reduce parking space requirements tied to new housing, particularly in neighborhoods well served by public transit, and redeveloping underutilized public properties for housing and other uses. There are also a series of measures to promote permanent and supportive housing for seniors, extremely low-income New Yorkers, and other at-risk populations.</p> <p>“This plan goes beyond anything the city has tried to do before…This plan is going to take some work because we're calling for bold structural change,” said Jessica Katz, chief housing officer, at the announcement. “The Adams administration strongly believes that homelessness is a housing issue, and that NYCHA cannot remain a side project while we wait for some attention from D.C. We must align our different housing-related agencies under one plan together if we're going to make the lives of New Yorkers better.”</p> <p>To deal with the impacts of climate change, the administration is continuing to advocate for the legalization of basement apartments to prevent risks from flooding. The city will also incorporate climate resiliency guidelines into building codes and promote decarbonization and beneficial electrification – which replaces direct fossil fuel use with electricity, and lowers emissions – in low-income homes. </p> <p>The plan promises improved housing code enforcement to protect the health and safety of renters, increased lead paint inspections, and greater fire safety efforts.</p> <p>The mayor’s administration recently celebrated state approval of the NYCHA Public Housing Preservation Trust, which will help the city receive billions more in federal funding for the struggling public housing authority to address a portion of its $40 billion capital need. It is also currently in the process of converting thousands of NYCHA units into the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program that unlocks funds for maintenance and repairs through the use of private management of public housing properties. The administration is also continuing to consider infill projects, allowing private development on underused NYCHA land, and the sale of NYCHA air rights to raise revenue for the agency. </p> <p>The Adams plan for NYCHA also includes overhauling services by localizing property management at the neighborhood level, reforming the work-order system to cut down on delays and duplication, creating a new NYCHA STAT unit to measure and track performance, launching a web-based capital projects tracker, piloting mechanical waste collection, and more. The administration also plans to allow for greater resident input in decisions on capital projects and property management. </p> <p>Adams has often talked about breaking down government silos and his plan promises just that to address homelessness. It will expand eligibility for supportive housing for families, crack down on source-of-income discrimination for people with housing vouchers, and hire new dedicated housing navigators in the Health + Hospitals system.</p> <p>Additionally, the plan includes a new system for more accurately tracking homelessness in order to adapt planning and measure progress, strengthening access to emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness, and greater resources to tackle tenant harassment.</p> <p>The administration also plans to improve shelter services by increasing medical respite beds for those who have experienced major health episodes, expanding services for homeless youth and young adults, building new high-quality shelters ,and improving health care services. Crucially, the plan does away with a rule that a family must remain in a shelter for four months before beginning the process of applying for housing. </p> <p>In order to address the bureaucratic hurdles to accessing housing, the plan lays out a series of short- and long-term reforms. They include eliminating certain burdensome requirements for Section 8 voucher applications, overhauling and digitizing the Section 8 application process, eliminating clinical evaluations in certain cases for supportive housing access, streamlining the application and lease-up processes for affordable housing, and more.</p> <p>To help promote homeownership, particularly in Black, Latino, and Asian neighborhoods, the plan will increase financial assistance for first-time homebuyers while also helping low- and middle-income homeowners maintain and repair their properties. “We have a hemorrhaging of Black and brown families leaving New York because it's no longer affordable,” Adams said. “We've decimated the middle class and we need to refocus our attention on stabilizing these families and stabilizing the city that they made prosperous.”</p> <p>Adams’ plan was created in collaboration among city agencies and through a series of roundtables with housing developers and advocates. Notably, it included direct consultation with people who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness and among them was activist Shams DaBaron, who appeared at Tuesday’s announcement to praise the plan. </p> <p>“Never in the history of America…has people that have been impacted by homelessness and housing insecurity been given an opportunity to help shape policy at such a high level,” he said.</p> <p>Since he took office, Adams has faced criticism for his administration’s crackdown on street and subway homelessness while not offering sufficient options for those being removed from encampments and trains or a broader housing plan. Police-led sweeps to remove homeless people from the subway system and street encampments are being done, Adams says, prioritizing the health and safety of those living in squalid conditions as well as the broader safety and quality of life of the city.</p> <p>The city has sought to offer placements in shelters, but a limited number have availed themselves of the opportunity. The mayor and City Council have also allocated $171 million to build 1,400 new Safe Haven and stabilization beds for homeless people by 2024.</p> <p>Other advocates offered a mix of praise and concerns.</p> <p>“While Mayor Adams’ plan has some laudable goals for addressing many of the problems encountered by homeless New Yorkers, more action and investment is needed to actually reduce homelessness,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director of Coalition for the Homeless, in a statement. “Mayor Adams must dramatically expand the supply of permanent and supportive housing for homeless New Yorkers and extremely low-income households – which takes far bolder housing investments than are included in this plan.”</p> <p>"We also call on the Mayor to recognize the dignity and humanity of those who will continue to feel safer sleeping on the streets until they can obtain permanent housing by ceasing the cruel and counterproductive sweeps that merely criminalize the most vulnerable among us,” she added.  </p> <p>Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), which represents owners and managers of rental properties, including 400,000 rent-stabilized units, applauded the mayor’s plan.</p> <p>“For too long the city's leaders have been focused on blaming and ignoring the causes of homelessness instead of directly addressing the very real needs of New Yorkers,”  he said. “The small- and medium-sized rent-stabilized property owners we represent stand ready and willing to work with the mayor to advocate for more effective voucher distribution, vastly increased housing development, fully-funding our neighbors in NYCHA, and providing important health services to those who struggle with homelessness.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/may-rel-high.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Mayor Adams building housing (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Five-and-a-half months into his administration, Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday released a comprehensive plan for housing and homelessness that aims to build new mixed-income rental housing, preserve existing affordable units, improve public housing stock, expedite the creation of supportive housing, cut red tape that prevents homeless people from accessing housing, and help New Yorkers buy affordable homes. </p> <p>The mayor’s plan, dubbed “Housing Our Neighbors: A Blueprint for Housing and Homelessness,” reflects a paradigm shift from his predecessor who tackled the city’s lack of affordable housing, its crumbling public housing stock, and rampant homelessness largely as separate problems. Adams and his team have instead looked at the issues on a spectrum, an approach that housing experts have long advocated and Adams, among others, promised during last year’s campaign.</p> <p>The plan is built on five pillars: transforming the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the public housing system that houses more than 400,000 New Yorkers; directly addressing homelessness and housing instability; building and preserving affordable housing; improving health and safety; and reducing administrative burdens. </p> <p>“Housing cannot be a privilege…It’s the key to living a healthy lifestyle,” Adams said Tuesday. “Safe, stable and affordable housing is fundamental to our prosperity and right now, a majority of New Yorkers that are living on the street don't have that and don't believe in the system.”</p> <p>The mayor’s plan comes at a time when New York’s housing and homelessness crisis has been escalating. The city’s 2021 Housing and Vacancy Survey, recently released by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, showed the overall vacancy rate of 4.5% across the city, and a less than 1% vacancy rate for apartments renting below $1,500 a month. Millions of New Yorkers are rent-burdened or severely rent-burdened. NYCHA’s capital need for maintenance and repairs has reached as high as $40 billion. And, as of Tuesday, 46,532 people spent the night in a city shelter, while more than 2,300 people were unsheltered according to the city’s last estimate in January. </p> <p>The major aspects of the Adams administration’s new plan involve raising billions of dollars for NYCHA and expediting repairs and capital projects at the public housing agency, incentivizing developers to build new affordable housing with more density and in varying sizes, preserving affordable housing with greater city investment, providing financial assistance to property owners and first-time homebuyers, easing access to shelters and the transition to supportive housing. Notably, the plan does not make a mention of large-scale neighborhood rezonings, which the administration is said to be actively pursuing. </p> <p>But unlike his predecessors, Adams did not commit to any numerical targets for affordable housing units or promise a specific level of annual housing production.</p> <p>“Our measurement of success was wrong,” Adams said of the past. “We want to look at number one, whether we're building for people at every income level, whether we're reducing the number of rent-burdened households, and our measurement will focus on people, not just money.” </p> <p>While he said his focus was on how many New Yorkers access affordable housing, he declined to set a target for that number as well. Pressed by a reporter on the plan’s metrics for success, he repeatedly responded, “As many people as possible to get into housing.” Among the only concrete targets the plan does include is to build 15,000 units of supportive housing by 2028, two years ahead of the city’s previous schedule. </p> <p>The mayor also emphasized that his plan would not focus solely on the lowest-income New Yorkers. “We're going to do as much as we can for low- and middle-income housing. We often abandoned middle-income housing, and we need to stop doing that,” he said, echoing Mayor Bill de Blasio and his top housing officials, who regularly stressed the same point and crafted their plans accordingly.</p> <p>The release of the housing plan came just after the City Council approved the new city budget negotiated with Adams, $101 billion in operating expenses and $14.3 billion in capital spending for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.</p> <p>In that budget, Adams failed to live up to broad promises on funding for housing.  The mayor added $5 billion in capital funds over ten years for affordable and public housing, bringing the city’s total allocation to $22 billion out of a $133.7 billion ten-year capital strategy. But during his run for City Hall, Adams was among the Democratic candidates who had pledged to spend $4 billion in capital funding each year on housing, meeting the request laid out by a large housing coalition. That funding goes toward maintenance and repairs for public housing, and subsidizing construction of new affordable housing and preservation of existing affordable units.</p> <p>Adams has been criticized for not living up to that housing funding promise and for his initial approach to homeless people living on the streets and subways. At Tuesday’s announcement, the mayor hit back at his critics. “In spite of all the noise that's going on around us, all the naysayers…we’re getting it done,” Adams said. </p> <p>The mayor’s plan covers a broad array of solutions across city government. Some have already been put in motion. Earlier this month, he announced three citywide zoning text amendment proposals to incentivize small businesses, build affordable housing, and promote sustainability. Those ideas will be the subject of negotiation with the City Council, which must pass them, and other stakeholders like borough presidents and the City Planning Commission, and could take at least a year to be approved in some form.</p> <p>The first amendment, ​​Zoning for Economic Opportunity, would remove geographic limitations on certain businesses, remove obstacles to repurposing space and give businesses flexibility to expand without relocating or having to build more parking. The second, Zoning for Housing Opportunity, would increase the floor area ratio for all types of affordable housing, expand acceptable housing types and sizes, ease conversions of underutilized commercial space into housing and reduce parking requirements. The third amendment, Zoning for Zero Carbon, would remove hurdles to deploying new clean energy storage and uses, facilitate sustainable energy retrofits and remove barriers to building electrification.</p> <p>To accelerate the pace of building new affordable housing, the mayor has promised to reform construction regulations, support new construction technologies, change regulations on density through zoning, converting unused hotels to housing (recently allowed through state legislation) and pursuing regulatory changes to encourage the developments of Accessory Dwelling Units.</p> <p>The plan includes a proposal to reduce parking space requirements tied to new housing, particularly in neighborhoods well served by public transit, and redeveloping underutilized public properties for housing and other uses. There are also a series of measures to promote permanent and supportive housing for seniors, extremely low-income New Yorkers, and other at-risk populations.</p> <p>“This plan goes beyond anything the city has tried to do before…This plan is going to take some work because we're calling for bold structural change,” said Jessica Katz, chief housing officer, at the announcement. “The Adams administration strongly believes that homelessness is a housing issue, and that NYCHA cannot remain a side project while we wait for some attention from D.C. We must align our different housing-related agencies under one plan together if we're going to make the lives of New Yorkers better.”</p> <p>To deal with the impacts of climate change, the administration is continuing to advocate for the legalization of basement apartments to prevent risks from flooding. The city will also incorporate climate resiliency guidelines into building codes and promote decarbonization and beneficial electrification – which replaces direct fossil fuel use with electricity, and lowers emissions – in low-income homes. </p> <p>The plan promises improved housing code enforcement to protect the health and safety of renters, increased lead paint inspections, and greater fire safety efforts.</p> <p>The mayor’s administration recently celebrated state approval of the NYCHA Public Housing Preservation Trust, which will help the city receive billions more in federal funding for the struggling public housing authority to address a portion of its $40 billion capital need. It is also currently in the process of converting thousands of NYCHA units into the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program that unlocks funds for maintenance and repairs through the use of private management of public housing properties. The administration is also continuing to consider infill projects, allowing private development on underused NYCHA land, and the sale of NYCHA air rights to raise revenue for the agency. </p> <p>The Adams plan for NYCHA also includes overhauling services by localizing property management at the neighborhood level, reforming the work-order system to cut down on delays and duplication, creating a new NYCHA STAT unit to measure and track performance, launching a web-based capital projects tracker, piloting mechanical waste collection, and more. The administration also plans to allow for greater resident input in decisions on capital projects and property management. </p> <p>Adams has often talked about breaking down government silos and his plan promises just that to address homelessness. It will expand eligibility for supportive housing for families, crack down on source-of-income discrimination for people with housing vouchers, and hire new dedicated housing navigators in the Health + Hospitals system.</p> <p>Additionally, the plan includes a new system for more accurately tracking homelessness in order to adapt planning and measure progress, strengthening access to emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness, and greater resources to tackle tenant harassment.</p> <p>The administration also plans to improve shelter services by increasing medical respite beds for those who have experienced major health episodes, expanding services for homeless youth and young adults, building new high-quality shelters ,and improving health care services. Crucially, the plan does away with a rule that a family must remain in a shelter for four months before beginning the process of applying for housing. </p> <p>In order to address the bureaucratic hurdles to accessing housing, the plan lays out a series of short- and long-term reforms. They include eliminating certain burdensome requirements for Section 8 voucher applications, overhauling and digitizing the Section 8 application process, eliminating clinical evaluations in certain cases for supportive housing access, streamlining the application and lease-up processes for affordable housing, and more.</p> <p>To help promote homeownership, particularly in Black, Latino, and Asian neighborhoods, the plan will increase financial assistance for first-time homebuyers while also helping low- and middle-income homeowners maintain and repair their properties. “We have a hemorrhaging of Black and brown families leaving New York because it's no longer affordable,” Adams said. “We've decimated the middle class and we need to refocus our attention on stabilizing these families and stabilizing the city that they made prosperous.”</p> <p>Adams’ plan was created in collaboration among city agencies and through a series of roundtables with housing developers and advocates. Notably, it included direct consultation with people who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness and among them was activist Shams DaBaron, who appeared at Tuesday’s announcement to praise the plan. </p> <p>“Never in the history of America…has people that have been impacted by homelessness and housing insecurity been given an opportunity to help shape policy at such a high level,” he said.</p> <p>Since he took office, Adams has faced criticism for his administration’s crackdown on street and subway homelessness while not offering sufficient options for those being removed from encampments and trains or a broader housing plan. Police-led sweeps to remove homeless people from the subway system and street encampments are being done, Adams says, prioritizing the health and safety of those living in squalid conditions as well as the broader safety and quality of life of the city.</p> <p>The city has sought to offer placements in shelters, but a limited number have availed themselves of the opportunity. The mayor and City Council have also allocated $171 million to build 1,400 new Safe Haven and stabilization beds for homeless people by 2024.</p> <p>Other advocates offered a mix of praise and concerns.</p> <p>“While Mayor Adams’ plan has some laudable goals for addressing many of the problems encountered by homeless New Yorkers, more action and investment is needed to actually reduce homelessness,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director of Coalition for the Homeless, in a statement. “Mayor Adams must dramatically expand the supply of permanent and supportive housing for homeless New Yorkers and extremely low-income households – which takes far bolder housing investments than are included in this plan.”</p> <p>"We also call on the Mayor to recognize the dignity and humanity of those who will continue to feel safer sleeping on the streets until they can obtain permanent housing by ceasing the cruel and counterproductive sweeps that merely criminalize the most vulnerable among us,” she added.  </p> <p>Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), which represents owners and managers of rental properties, including 400,000 rent-stabilized units, applauded the mayor’s plan.</p> <p>“For too long the city's leaders have been focused on blaming and ignoring the causes of homelessness instead of directly addressing the very real needs of New Yorkers,”  he said. “The small- and medium-sized rent-stabilized property owners we represent stand ready and willing to work with the mayor to advocate for more effective voucher distribution, vastly increased housing development, fully-funding our neighbors in NYCHA, and providing important health services to those who struggle with homelessness.”</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Mayor Adams and City Council Announce Deal on $101 Billion NYC Budget 2022-06-10T13:00:00+00:00 2022-06-10T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11376-mayor-adams-council-speaker-adams-nyc-budget-deal-fy23 Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mayor-adams-deal.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Mayor Adams, Speaker Adams, and Council Members (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mayor Eric Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Friday announced their first budget agreement, a $101 billion spending deal for the 2023 fiscal year beginning July 1, reflecting an increase of about $2.3 billion over the budget that was adopted in June of last year. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Buoyed by higher-than-expected tax revenues and federal aid, the administration and Council massively increased the city’s reserves and invested in a long list of services and programs, including public safety, affordable housing, nonprofit human service providers, childcare, adult literacy, parks, sanitation, cultural institutions, food assistance, and more.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Given the city’s strong fiscal position, both the mayor and the Council were able to invest in a variety of priorities and there were few fights to be had. The mayor conceded to several Council demands for new or additional funding in certain areas while moving ahead on some of his priorities that the Council opposed, like cuts to school budgets based on dropping student enrollment, and the Council beat back the mayor’s push for more funding at the NYPD and Department of Correction. Overall, there was a great deal of agreement, both city leaders said on Friday.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“In this budget, we are investing in young people, our communities, those underserved by our government for too long and all New Yorkers,” said Speaker Adams, a Queens Democrat, at the announcement at City Hall. Adams said the budget deal included $1.15 billion in additional funding for Council priorities compared to the mayor’s previous proposal, his executive budget released in April. “We're making critical investments in programs and services as the path to our collective success as a city,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor, for his part, said his priorities were closely aligned with the Council’s. “That's why we have this early handshake,” he said of the budget agreement. “Because what we produced is what we believed in and was brought forward by this body here.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Throughout the process, we stayed focused on the basics: building reserves, responsible planning, and cautious management,” he added. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Record level Wall Street profits boosted the city’s personal income tax collections, with the city forecasting $3 billion in additional revenue for the current fiscal year and $1.5 billion more in the 2023 fiscal year compared to revenue predictions from April when the executive budget was released. The budget reflects $2.7 billion in savings across the current and next fiscal year, and projects another $4 billion in savings through fiscal year 2026.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With additional revenue, the mayor and Council added another $750 million each to the city’s rainy day fund and the Retiree Health Benefits Trust fund, and $500 million to the general reserves. Those additions bring city reserves to $8.3 billion, with $1.9 billion total in the rainy day fund, $4.5 billion in the RHBT, $1.6 billion in the general reserve, and $250 million in the capital stabilization reserve. Though reserves are higher than ever before, they are still well under 10% of city spending, where fiscal watchdogs say they should be between 12-18%.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The budget deal also sets aside an additional $3 billion over the course of four years in the labor reserve, bringing it to $4.7 billion as the city moves to negotiating expired labor contracts for the municipal workforce that are likely to prove costly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor also insisted that projected budget gaps in future years are “manageable” at roughly $4 billion each year. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Funding for the police department has been a particularly contentious issue in recent budget cycles, particularly in the wake of the “Defund the NYPD” movement that engulfed the city in 2020 during the George Floyd protests. But Adams, a former NYPD captain, has insisted that he wants to improve policing with existing resources, deploying officers more efficiently and controlling overtime costs. In keeping with that promise, the NYPD budget increased only slightly, by about $152 million compared to last year, in the final agreement. “I believe we can save a substantial number based on what the police commissioner and I are doing around the deployment of personnel,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“​​We want to see NYPD managed more appropriately because the money is there,” said Speaker Adams. “We feel the money's been there and instead of growing, we want to see NYPD manage that funding a lot better.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Throughout the budget process, the Council pushed the administration for more transparency, particularly by adding additional units of appropriation to clearly track spending. The police department was among the agencies the Council pinpointed for those units and the speaker said the budget agreement accomplished that goal, and created new terms and conditions for agency spending. “Now we will be better positioned to conduct oversight and achieve budget accountability,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The agreement also dropped the mayor’s planned increase of 574 personnel for the Department of Correction, a proposal that received significant pushback from the Council as well as New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, both of which have pointed to ongoing issues with staff absenteeism and the immense costs of detainment, at roughly half a million dollars per year per detainee. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This budget is really a downpayment on the comeback of New York City,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, a Brooklyn Democrat who chairs the finance committee. “From day one, this Council said our recovery would require real and meaningful investments in every community. We knew we couldn't cut our way to prosperity so we doubled down on what matters.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In his initial reaction, Comptroller Lander praised the mayor and Council for making crucial investments and increasing reserves. “This budget takes some good steps forward, but of course much work remains,” he said in a statement. The $1.5 billion increase in reserves was below the $1.8 billion that Lander had recommended, he noted, and he urged the two sides to set a formula for annual deposits and safeguards against withdrawals to prepare for a possible recession.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lander critiqued what he and advocates are calling a failure to include adequate capital funds for housing. The budget includes about $5 billion more over ten years for affordable and public housing, bringing the city’s total investment to about $22 billion over that period, part of the larger $133.7 billion capital strategy. Lander, the Council, and housing advocates, however, had called on the mayor to spend at least $4 billion each year. While Mayor Adams had pledged to do just that during last year’s campaign, he has declined to follow through at this point, while touting the increases he has made. Adams is expected to release a housing plan any day, coming during an immense affordability crisis and with depleted staff at city housing agencies that the budget seeks to address on the expense side.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lander also pushed back against cuts at the Department of Education for individual schools that have lost student enrollment, much of it during the pandemic. “[W]e should not be forcing schools to implement sharp cuts to their budgets this summer,” he said. Instead, Lander said that while the city evaluates enrollment numbers over the next year, the city should revisit Fair Student Funding formulas and continue to use a portion of billions in unspent federal stimulus funding for education.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Asked about those cuts -- which amount to roughly $215 million in the coming fiscal year -- at Friday’s budget agreement announcement, the mayor described them as necessary right-sizing. “We're not cutting, we are adjusting the amount based on the student population,” he said, though they will be felt by individual schools as budget cuts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor also pointed to the recent state approval of an extension of mayoral control of city schools that he was granted for two years, which came with mandates to reduce class sizes by 2027. The Adams administration is estimating that it will cost the city about $20 billion in capital funds and $500 million in expense funding, though those numbers have yet to be vetted and the mayor’s pushback against the new mandates has been refuted by state lawmakers, especially Senator John Liu, the chair of the Senate’s New York City Education Committee, who has pointed to additional state education aid on its way to the city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If we don't do this right, this city can be in real fiscal crisis and we have to make the smart decisions,” Mayor Adams said Thursday. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Andrew Rein, president of Citizens Budget Commission, a nonprofit fiscal watchdog, said the budget should have put more money towards the Rainy Day Fund. “While the budget funds priorities and takes some steps to save for a future recession and stabilize the budget, it misses the opportunity to make a substantially higher RDF deposit and massively increases spending to a level not sustainable over time with City revenues,” he said in a statement.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rein also warned against future risks including a fiscal cliff from federal stimulus running out, the cost of labor contracts and economic uncertainty. “While this year’s revenue windfall made it easier to increase spending in the short run, the City will need to take actions to bring recurring revenues and recurring spending in line. Restructuring operations and focusing on priorities will be essential,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor and Council sought to invest in public safety, both in the city’s response to emergencies and in the root causes of crime.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The budget includes $226 million in the 2023 fiscal year for the mayor’s Subway Safety Plan, which involves funding the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD) initiative that sends health professionals to respond to mental health-related 911 calls, and 1,400 new safe haven and stabilization beds for homeless individuals.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Speaker Adams also announced a new “speaker’s initiative” to provide $100,000 to each Council member to fund community safety and victim services programs. “This new initiative is a key part of my goal to balance our safety priorities by investing in holistic safety solutions for New York City,” she said.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There was also agreement for $237 million in funding to increase the value of FHEPS vouchers – which prevent evictions for families with children on cash assistance – to bring them in line with federal Section 8 vouchers. The move was praised by the Family Homelessness Coalition, which represents housing providers and children’s advocacy groups.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“At a time when thousands of New York City families are experiencing homelessness or on the brink of losing their homes, we applaud Mayor Adams and the City Council for advancing a budget that prioritizes rental assistance and helps ensure that more families with children will have the support they need to thrive,” the coalition said in a statement. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city will also spend $54 million to expand the Precision Employment Initiative, connecting up to 3,000 people who are at risk of participating in gun violence with green jobs; another $1.5 million will be spent on dyslexia screenings at the Department of Correction, a key priority for the mayor who suffered from dyslexia as a child and has repeatedly spoken of the high rates of dyslexia in the city’s jail population, while the city is also implementing such screenings throughout the public school system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As the mayor emphasized, the budget invests heavily in working families. “We're placing real money in the pockets of New Yorkers,” he said. The budget includes $250 million to expand the city’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which the state Legislature approved in the state budget this year. The budget will also provide a $150 property tax rebate to roughly 600,000 homeowners, at a cost of about $90 million.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Other investments include $30 million for the New Family Home Visits program, which will provide health services to first-time mothers in 33 neighborhoods that were hardest hit by the pandemic; $25 million for a property tax abatement to incentivize retrofits for childcare space; $25 million for tax credits for businesses that provide free or discounted childcare; $19.2 million for childcare vouchers for low-income and immigrant families, of which $10 million is allocated for undocumented families; $6.7 million to enhance adult literacy programs; and $1 million in capital funds for low-interest home repair loans for one- to four-family homeowners.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among the Council’s major budget priorities were increases in funding to improve the city’s public spaces by improving parks, cleaning litter and making the streets safer for pedestrians. The budget included additional funding compared to the executive budget along all those fronts.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final spending plan has $43 million more to improve and maintain city parks, $4 million more to hire 50 more Urban Park Rangers, and $2 million more for tree stump removal. There’s also $488 million more in capital funds for broader park improvements, including planting 20,000 trees annually. The budget does, however, fail to fund the mayor’s campaign promise to dedicate 1% of the city’s total budget to the parks department.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There is a lot for parks supporters to appreciate in the new budget, including increased investment across forestry and key staffing areas; we look forward to learning more details,” said Adam Ganser, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, an advocacy group. “However, it is clear that this budget falls significantly short of Mayor Adams’ campaign pledge to devote 1% of the City’s budget to Parks. New Yorkers for Parks and our partners will continue to work to see that NYC’s parks and public spaces get the full funding they deserve."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city will spend an additional $53 million in expense funding in fiscal year 2023 and $580 million in capital funds over five years for the Streets Plan to improve traffic and street safety infrastructure; $2 million was allocated to restore twice-per-week alternate side parking.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sanitation became a prominent budget issue this year and the budget agreement includes additional funding from the executive budget for many of the Council’s requests. It allocates $22 million more to increase litter basket service above pre-pandemic levels, $20 million more to expand the incipient organics collection program; $12.4 million more for precision cleaning teams and lot cleaning staff; and $5 million for a waste containerization study and 1,000 rat-resistant litter baskets.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Recognizing the previous fiscal state of the city’s many human service providers — nonprofit organizations that contract with the city — the administration and Council provided $60 million to provide cost of living adjustments to providers. The budget also includes $14 million for community-based organizations to help increase access to benefits for New Yorkers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The budget includes major investments in education and career development for young New yorkers. With $101 million in fiscal year 2023, the city wil fund 210,000 slots for the Summer Rising academic enrichment program, an increase of 110,000 slots from last year. The city also increased the baseline funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program by $79 million, for a total of $236 million in funding for 100,000 summer youth jobs. And the budget increased funding for the Fair Futures program – which provides mentoring and tutoring services to foster care youth aging out of the system – by $13.5 million for a total of $30 million.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Council also successfully negotiated to add $1.6 million to the Department of Investigation to increase staffing and $452,000 for the City Commission on Human Rights to restore staffing for the unit that investigates source of income discrimination.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city cultural institutions took a major hit from the pandemic and the budget is meant to provide them assistance with $40 million allocated to the Cultural Development Fund and Cultural Institutions Group. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To help tackle food insecurity, the budget includes a $30 million increase, for a total of $53 million, for the Emergency Food Assistance Program and $10 million to launch a “Groceries to Go” pilot program for online access to local grocery stores to food insecure residents. </span></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated. </p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mayor-adams-deal.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Mayor Adams, Speaker Adams, and Council Members (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mayor Eric Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Friday announced their first budget agreement, a $101 billion spending deal for the 2023 fiscal year beginning July 1, reflecting an increase of about $2.3 billion over the budget that was adopted in June of last year. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Buoyed by higher-than-expected tax revenues and federal aid, the administration and Council massively increased the city’s reserves and invested in a long list of services and programs, including public safety, affordable housing, nonprofit human service providers, childcare, adult literacy, parks, sanitation, cultural institutions, food assistance, and more.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Given the city’s strong fiscal position, both the mayor and the Council were able to invest in a variety of priorities and there were few fights to be had. The mayor conceded to several Council demands for new or additional funding in certain areas while moving ahead on some of his priorities that the Council opposed, like cuts to school budgets based on dropping student enrollment, and the Council beat back the mayor’s push for more funding at the NYPD and Department of Correction. Overall, there was a great deal of agreement, both city leaders said on Friday.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“In this budget, we are investing in young people, our communities, those underserved by our government for too long and all New Yorkers,” said Speaker Adams, a Queens Democrat, at the announcement at City Hall. Adams said the budget deal included $1.15 billion in additional funding for Council priorities compared to the mayor’s previous proposal, his executive budget released in April. “We're making critical investments in programs and services as the path to our collective success as a city,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor, for his part, said his priorities were closely aligned with the Council’s. “That's why we have this early handshake,” he said of the budget agreement. “Because what we produced is what we believed in and was brought forward by this body here.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Throughout the process, we stayed focused on the basics: building reserves, responsible planning, and cautious management,” he added. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Record level Wall Street profits boosted the city’s personal income tax collections, with the city forecasting $3 billion in additional revenue for the current fiscal year and $1.5 billion more in the 2023 fiscal year compared to revenue predictions from April when the executive budget was released. The budget reflects $2.7 billion in savings across the current and next fiscal year, and projects another $4 billion in savings through fiscal year 2026.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With additional revenue, the mayor and Council added another $750 million each to the city’s rainy day fund and the Retiree Health Benefits Trust fund, and $500 million to the general reserves. Those additions bring city reserves to $8.3 billion, with $1.9 billion total in the rainy day fund, $4.5 billion in the RHBT, $1.6 billion in the general reserve, and $250 million in the capital stabilization reserve. Though reserves are higher than ever before, they are still well under 10% of city spending, where fiscal watchdogs say they should be between 12-18%.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The budget deal also sets aside an additional $3 billion over the course of four years in the labor reserve, bringing it to $4.7 billion as the city moves to negotiating expired labor contracts for the municipal workforce that are likely to prove costly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor also insisted that projected budget gaps in future years are “manageable” at roughly $4 billion each year. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Funding for the police department has been a particularly contentious issue in recent budget cycles, particularly in the wake of the “Defund the NYPD” movement that engulfed the city in 2020 during the George Floyd protests. But Adams, a former NYPD captain, has insisted that he wants to improve policing with existing resources, deploying officers more efficiently and controlling overtime costs. In keeping with that promise, the NYPD budget increased only slightly, by about $152 million compared to last year, in the final agreement. “I believe we can save a substantial number based on what the police commissioner and I are doing around the deployment of personnel,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“​​We want to see NYPD managed more appropriately because the money is there,” said Speaker Adams. “We feel the money's been there and instead of growing, we want to see NYPD manage that funding a lot better.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Throughout the budget process, the Council pushed the administration for more transparency, particularly by adding additional units of appropriation to clearly track spending. The police department was among the agencies the Council pinpointed for those units and the speaker said the budget agreement accomplished that goal, and created new terms and conditions for agency spending. “Now we will be better positioned to conduct oversight and achieve budget accountability,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The agreement also dropped the mayor’s planned increase of 574 personnel for the Department of Correction, a proposal that received significant pushback from the Council as well as New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, both of which have pointed to ongoing issues with staff absenteeism and the immense costs of detainment, at roughly half a million dollars per year per detainee. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This budget is really a downpayment on the comeback of New York City,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, a Brooklyn Democrat who chairs the finance committee. “From day one, this Council said our recovery would require real and meaningful investments in every community. We knew we couldn't cut our way to prosperity so we doubled down on what matters.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In his initial reaction, Comptroller Lander praised the mayor and Council for making crucial investments and increasing reserves. “This budget takes some good steps forward, but of course much work remains,” he said in a statement. The $1.5 billion increase in reserves was below the $1.8 billion that Lander had recommended, he noted, and he urged the two sides to set a formula for annual deposits and safeguards against withdrawals to prepare for a possible recession.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lander critiqued what he and advocates are calling a failure to include adequate capital funds for housing. The budget includes about $5 billion more over ten years for affordable and public housing, bringing the city’s total investment to about $22 billion over that period, part of the larger $133.7 billion capital strategy. Lander, the Council, and housing advocates, however, had called on the mayor to spend at least $4 billion each year. While Mayor Adams had pledged to do just that during last year’s campaign, he has declined to follow through at this point, while touting the increases he has made. Adams is expected to release a housing plan any day, coming during an immense affordability crisis and with depleted staff at city housing agencies that the budget seeks to address on the expense side.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lander also pushed back against cuts at the Department of Education for individual schools that have lost student enrollment, much of it during the pandemic. “[W]e should not be forcing schools to implement sharp cuts to their budgets this summer,” he said. Instead, Lander said that while the city evaluates enrollment numbers over the next year, the city should revisit Fair Student Funding formulas and continue to use a portion of billions in unspent federal stimulus funding for education.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Asked about those cuts -- which amount to roughly $215 million in the coming fiscal year -- at Friday’s budget agreement announcement, the mayor described them as necessary right-sizing. “We're not cutting, we are adjusting the amount based on the student population,” he said, though they will be felt by individual schools as budget cuts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor also pointed to the recent state approval of an extension of mayoral control of city schools that he was granted for two years, which came with mandates to reduce class sizes by 2027. The Adams administration is estimating that it will cost the city about $20 billion in capital funds and $500 million in expense funding, though those numbers have yet to be vetted and the mayor’s pushback against the new mandates has been refuted by state lawmakers, especially Senator John Liu, the chair of the Senate’s New York City Education Committee, who has pointed to additional state education aid on its way to the city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If we don't do this right, this city can be in real fiscal crisis and we have to make the smart decisions,” Mayor Adams said Thursday. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Andrew Rein, president of Citizens Budget Commission, a nonprofit fiscal watchdog, said the budget should have put more money towards the Rainy Day Fund. “While the budget funds priorities and takes some steps to save for a future recession and stabilize the budget, it misses the opportunity to make a substantially higher RDF deposit and massively increases spending to a level not sustainable over time with City revenues,” he said in a statement.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rein also warned against future risks including a fiscal cliff from federal stimulus running out, the cost of labor contracts and economic uncertainty. “While this year’s revenue windfall made it easier to increase spending in the short run, the City will need to take actions to bring recurring revenues and recurring spending in line. Restructuring operations and focusing on priorities will be essential,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mayor and Council sought to invest in public safety, both in the city’s response to emergencies and in the root causes of crime.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The budget includes $226 million in the 2023 fiscal year for the mayor’s Subway Safety Plan, which involves funding the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD) initiative that sends health professionals to respond to mental health-related 911 calls, and 1,400 new safe haven and stabilization beds for homeless individuals.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Speaker Adams also announced a new “speaker’s initiative” to provide $100,000 to each Council member to fund community safety and victim services programs. “This new initiative is a key part of my goal to balance our safety priorities by investing in holistic safety solutions for New York City,” she said.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There was also agreement for $237 million in funding to increase the value of FHEPS vouchers – which prevent evictions for families with children on cash assistance – to bring them in line with federal Section 8 vouchers. The move was praised by the Family Homelessness Coalition, which represents housing providers and children’s advocacy groups.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“At a time when thousands of New York City families are experiencing homelessness or on the brink of losing their homes, we applaud Mayor Adams and the City Council for advancing a budget that prioritizes rental assistance and helps ensure that more families with children will have the support they need to thrive,” the coalition said in a statement. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city will also spend $54 million to expand the Precision Employment Initiative, connecting up to 3,000 people who are at risk of participating in gun violence with green jobs; another $1.5 million will be spent on dyslexia screenings at the Department of Correction, a key priority for the mayor who suffered from dyslexia as a child and has repeatedly spoken of the high rates of dyslexia in the city’s jail population, while the city is also implementing such screenings throughout the public school system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As the mayor emphasized, the budget invests heavily in working families. “We're placing real money in the pockets of New Yorkers,” he said. The budget includes $250 million to expand the city’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which the state Legislature approved in the state budget this year. The budget will also provide a $150 property tax rebate to roughly 600,000 homeowners, at a cost of about $90 million.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Other investments include $30 million for the New Family Home Visits program, which will provide health services to first-time mothers in 33 neighborhoods that were hardest hit by the pandemic; $25 million for a property tax abatement to incentivize retrofits for childcare space; $25 million for tax credits for businesses that provide free or discounted childcare; $19.2 million for childcare vouchers for low-income and immigrant families, of which $10 million is allocated for undocumented families; $6.7 million to enhance adult literacy programs; and $1 million in capital funds for low-interest home repair loans for one- to four-family homeowners.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among the Council’s major budget priorities were increases in funding to improve the city’s public spaces by improving parks, cleaning litter and making the streets safer for pedestrians. The budget included additional funding compared to the executive budget along all those fronts.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final spending plan has $43 million more to improve and maintain city parks, $4 million more to hire 50 more Urban Park Rangers, and $2 million more for tree stump removal. There’s also $488 million more in capital funds for broader park improvements, including planting 20,000 trees annually. The budget does, however, fail to fund the mayor’s campaign promise to dedicate 1% of the city’s total budget to the parks department.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There is a lot for parks supporters to appreciate in the new budget, including increased investment across forestry and key staffing areas; we look forward to learning more details,” said Adam Ganser, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, an advocacy group. “However, it is clear that this budget falls significantly short of Mayor Adams’ campaign pledge to devote 1% of the City’s budget to Parks. New Yorkers for Parks and our partners will continue to work to see that NYC’s parks and public spaces get the full funding they deserve."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city will spend an additional $53 million in expense funding in fiscal year 2023 and $580 million in capital funds over five years for the Streets Plan to improve traffic and street safety infrastructure; $2 million was allocated to restore twice-per-week alternate side parking.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sanitation became a prominent budget issue this year and the budget agreement includes additional funding from the executive budget for many of the Council’s requests. It allocates $22 million more to increase litter basket service above pre-pandemic levels, $20 million more to expand the incipient organics collection program; $12.4 million more for precision cleaning teams and lot cleaning staff; and $5 million for a waste containerization study and 1,000 rat-resistant litter baskets.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Recognizing the previous fiscal state of the city’s many human service providers — nonprofit organizations that contract with the city — the administration and Council provided $60 million to provide cost of living adjustments to providers. The budget also includes $14 million for community-based organizations to help increase access to benefits for New Yorkers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The budget includes major investments in education and career development for young New yorkers. With $101 million in fiscal year 2023, the city wil fund 210,000 slots for the Summer Rising academic enrichment program, an increase of 110,000 slots from last year. The city also increased the baseline funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program by $79 million, for a total of $236 million in funding for 100,000 summer youth jobs. And the budget increased funding for the Fair Futures program – which provides mentoring and tutoring services to foster care youth aging out of the system – by $13.5 million for a total of $30 million.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Council also successfully negotiated to add $1.6 million to the Department of Investigation to increase staffing and $452,000 for the City Commission on Human Rights to restore staffing for the unit that investigates source of income discrimination.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city cultural institutions took a major hit from the pandemic and the budget is meant to provide them assistance with $40 million allocated to the Cultural Development Fund and Cultural Institutions Group. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To help tackle food insecurity, the budget includes a $30 million increase, for a total of $53 million, for the Emergency Food Assistance Program and $10 million to launch a “Groceries to Go” pilot program for online access to local grocery stores to food insecure residents. </span></p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated. </p>
‘A City Everyone Can See Themselves In’: Carlina Rivera Launches Bid for New York's New 10th Congressional District 2022-06-10T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-10T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11355-carlina-rivera-new-york-10th-congressional-district Rachel Cohen rcohen@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/rivera-10-bid.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>City Council Member Carlina Rivera (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>City Council Member Carlina Rivera is running for Congress in New York’s newly-drawn 10th congressional district, jumping into what is looking like a crowded August Democratic primary that is all but certain to determine who winds up with the seat in the heavily-Democratic district spanning parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.</p> <p>Rivera, who was raised on the Lower East Side and represents that neighborhood and others in City Council District 2 in Manhattan, announced her congressional candidacy June 1 and <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">discussed it on the Max Politics podcast from Gotham Gazette</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">During the interview</a> with Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max, Rivera explained why she is running for Congress, what issues she is prioritizing, and some of what she sees as her top past accomplishments — touching on housing, jobs, public safety, reproductive rights, and climate change. Rivera, who is stressing that she is the only candidate born and raised in the district, argues that her local experience, ways she has delivered for constituents in the Council, and vision will help separate her from her opponents.</p> <p>“I am someone who wants to make New York a city everyone can see themselves in,” said Rivera, who represents the East Village, Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Rose Hill, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, and the Lower East Side. “I get the job done. This is my home, and the community is behind me.”</p> <p>During the interview, Rivera touted City Council accomplishments on abortion access (naming creation of the first municipal abortion access fund in the country), affordable housing (referencing the Soho rezoning she supported and helped approve in 2021), climate action (naming the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project), and use of public space (naming her efforts to create a permanent Open Streets program).</p> <p><a href="https://newyork.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=cd&amp;propA=current_2012&amp;propB=congress_specialmastercorrected_20220604&amp;selected=-74.010,40.704#%26map=10.12/40.7397/-74.0043">The new 10th district</a>, which consists of a number of Downtown Manhattan neighborhoods and parts of Brooklyn including Park Slope, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and more, is home to what will undoubtedly be one of the most watched primaries in New York City — it is the only congressional district in the five boroughs without an incumbent running. The district is home to some of the highest voter-turnout neighborhoods in the city. It will be among the congressional and State Senate primaries set for August, while primaries for Assembly, statewide, and other seats will take place this month (June).</p> <p>Alongside Rivera, other Democrats who have declared their bids for the open congressional seat include several former or current elected officials and big names. Also in the running in the new 10th Congressional District primary are former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Brooklyn Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, attorney Daniel S. Goldman, activist Maud Mauron, and others.</p> <p>Among them is also Rep. Mondaire Jones, who is currently in his first term representing the 17th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley, but is running in the new 10th district after Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (who currently represents the 18th district and is head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) declared his candidacy in the 17th based on the new maps, which drew Maloney’s home into that district, even though most of the new 17th overlaps with the current district Jones represents. Jones quickly announced for the new 10th and sought to make his case to voters there.</p> <p>Rivera said she differentiates herself from her opponents in having a local understanding of the most pressing problems that New Yorkers face as the city rebounds from the pandemic and rebuilds for the future.</p> <p>"This is a very highly-engaged district," Rivera said when asked how she is thinking about the constituents and communities of the new 10th district. "These are people and families that take voting very, very seriously. I also think that they look at their congressional members, their representatives, as very local positions. They want someone who is going to understand what's going on in their streets and on their block."</p> <p>"The future of New York is up for grabs," she said, noting the series of major issues facing New Yorkers.</p> <p>When asked if the Democratic Party and federal government need a new and younger generation of leadership, Rivera did not answer the question directly, but said her policies have tackled several urgent national issues. She emphasized how she wants to translate her record of accomplishments to the national level while maintaining a focus on delivering for her constituents locally.</p> <p>“When I think about our vision as a city, revitalizing our city is my top priority in our pandemic recovery and beyond,” Rivera said. “New Yorkers are certainly very hungry for leadership and vision that's as bold as it is pragmatic in taking on those fights. I've used my platform, my own identity, to try to talk about these issues that are really affecting us in a very, very deep way.”</p> <p>If elected to Congress with a Democratic majority, Rivera said one of her top priorities would be to codify Roe v. Wade, which has granted the constitutional right to an abortion for a half-century but appears at grave risk after a leaked Supreme Court ruling detailed it potentially being overturned — a decision that is expected to be finalized this month. She said that the strike down of reproductive rights protection will have consequences for other civil rights and social issues.</p> <p>Rivera also discussed how she would combat climate change through investing in mass transit systems and reducing levels of carbon emissions across all cities. She highlighted her work with the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project to protect parts of Manhattan from flooding, passing the Climate Mobilization Act, a law that requires city buildings to lower their emissions starting in 2024, and the Open Streets program to turn more streetspace over to pedestrians, bike-riders, and patrons as opposed to vehicle traffic.</p> <p>Rivera said a key priority for her is and in Congress would remain to fight for affordable and accessible public housing.</p> <p>“There are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of families — people that are living in public housing here and across the country — their apartments are in disrepair and they’re living in such terrible conditions that it’s just not the New York way,” Rivera said. “We have to care for these families. We have to go further and we have to make sure that we’re preserving, and of course, really stepping up the supply.”</p> <p>When asked about what more can be done to save public housing beyond securing billions of dollars in direct aid to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) for repairs, Rivera said families living in public housing and their tenant associations need to be supported in making decisions about their own developments. She vaguely noted there are several proposed solutions but did not endorse any of the programs that are currently in play or in the offing, and instead encouraged candidates and officials to walk through public housing sites to learn about the experiences of residents  — something that she said she has done on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">During the interview</a>, Rivera also stressed the need for more housing supply in New York to combat the affordable housing crisis.</p> <p>Toward the end of the discussion, Max asked Rivera if there should be federal intervention of the city’s jails, especially on Rikers Island, a particularly pertinent question for Rivera as she now chairs the City Council committee with oversight of the city’s jails and Department of Correction while conditions remain unhealthy, violent, and deadly at the Rikers jails.</p> <p>Rivera said federal receivership of Rikers appears imminent, noting how she does not see a plan by the administration of Mayor Eric Adams to make concrete changes in the short time period needed. She said the interagency task force recently launched by Mayor Adams seems like a “plan to make a plan” and does not signify the necessary urgency.</p> <p>“Unless they can really turn it around and come forward with actual reform and a plan to which I hope ultimately closes Rikers Island, but to at least get conditions up to the point where we are not at vigils or reading news about people who have died within the facilities themselves, then this administration should get on board in choosing a receiver and getting on board with federal intervention that they themselves could participate in.”</p> <p>[LISTEN to the full conversation: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10">Max Politics Podcast: Carlina Rivera On Running For Congress In The New NY - 10</a>]</p> <p>

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Rachel Cohen, Gotham Gazette

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/rivera-10-bid.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>City Council Member Carlina Rivera (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>City Council Member Carlina Rivera is running for Congress in New York’s newly-drawn 10th congressional district, jumping into what is looking like a crowded August Democratic primary that is all but certain to determine who winds up with the seat in the heavily-Democratic district spanning parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.</p> <p>Rivera, who was raised on the Lower East Side and represents that neighborhood and others in City Council District 2 in Manhattan, announced her congressional candidacy June 1 and <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">discussed it on the Max Politics podcast from Gotham Gazette</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">During the interview</a> with Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max, Rivera explained why she is running for Congress, what issues she is prioritizing, and some of what she sees as her top past accomplishments — touching on housing, jobs, public safety, reproductive rights, and climate change. Rivera, who is stressing that she is the only candidate born and raised in the district, argues that her local experience, ways she has delivered for constituents in the Council, and vision will help separate her from her opponents.</p> <p>“I am someone who wants to make New York a city everyone can see themselves in,” said Rivera, who represents the East Village, Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Rose Hill, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, and the Lower East Side. “I get the job done. This is my home, and the community is behind me.”</p> <p>During the interview, Rivera touted City Council accomplishments on abortion access (naming creation of the first municipal abortion access fund in the country), affordable housing (referencing the Soho rezoning she supported and helped approve in 2021), climate action (naming the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project), and use of public space (naming her efforts to create a permanent Open Streets program).</p> <p><a href="https://newyork.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=cd&amp;propA=current_2012&amp;propB=congress_specialmastercorrected_20220604&amp;selected=-74.010,40.704#%26map=10.12/40.7397/-74.0043">The new 10th district</a>, which consists of a number of Downtown Manhattan neighborhoods and parts of Brooklyn including Park Slope, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and more, is home to what will undoubtedly be one of the most watched primaries in New York City — it is the only congressional district in the five boroughs without an incumbent running. The district is home to some of the highest voter-turnout neighborhoods in the city. It will be among the congressional and State Senate primaries set for August, while primaries for Assembly, statewide, and other seats will take place this month (June).</p> <p>Alongside Rivera, other Democrats who have declared their bids for the open congressional seat include several former or current elected officials and big names. Also in the running in the new 10th Congressional District primary are former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Brooklyn Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, attorney Daniel S. Goldman, activist Maud Mauron, and others.</p> <p>Among them is also Rep. Mondaire Jones, who is currently in his first term representing the 17th Congressional District in the Hudson Valley, but is running in the new 10th district after Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (who currently represents the 18th district and is head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) declared his candidacy in the 17th based on the new maps, which drew Maloney’s home into that district, even though most of the new 17th overlaps with the current district Jones represents. Jones quickly announced for the new 10th and sought to make his case to voters there.</p> <p>Rivera said she differentiates herself from her opponents in having a local understanding of the most pressing problems that New Yorkers face as the city rebounds from the pandemic and rebuilds for the future.</p> <p>"This is a very highly-engaged district," Rivera said when asked how she is thinking about the constituents and communities of the new 10th district. "These are people and families that take voting very, very seriously. I also think that they look at their congressional members, their representatives, as very local positions. They want someone who is going to understand what's going on in their streets and on their block."</p> <p>"The future of New York is up for grabs," she said, noting the series of major issues facing New Yorkers.</p> <p>When asked if the Democratic Party and federal government need a new and younger generation of leadership, Rivera did not answer the question directly, but said her policies have tackled several urgent national issues. She emphasized how she wants to translate her record of accomplishments to the national level while maintaining a focus on delivering for her constituents locally.</p> <p>“When I think about our vision as a city, revitalizing our city is my top priority in our pandemic recovery and beyond,” Rivera said. “New Yorkers are certainly very hungry for leadership and vision that's as bold as it is pragmatic in taking on those fights. I've used my platform, my own identity, to try to talk about these issues that are really affecting us in a very, very deep way.”</p> <p>If elected to Congress with a Democratic majority, Rivera said one of her top priorities would be to codify Roe v. Wade, which has granted the constitutional right to an abortion for a half-century but appears at grave risk after a leaked Supreme Court ruling detailed it potentially being overturned — a decision that is expected to be finalized this month. She said that the strike down of reproductive rights protection will have consequences for other civil rights and social issues.</p> <p>Rivera also discussed how she would combat climate change through investing in mass transit systems and reducing levels of carbon emissions across all cities. She highlighted her work with the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project to protect parts of Manhattan from flooding, passing the Climate Mobilization Act, a law that requires city buildings to lower their emissions starting in 2024, and the Open Streets program to turn more streetspace over to pedestrians, bike-riders, and patrons as opposed to vehicle traffic.</p> <p>Rivera said a key priority for her is and in Congress would remain to fight for affordable and accessible public housing.</p> <p>“There are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of families — people that are living in public housing here and across the country — their apartments are in disrepair and they’re living in such terrible conditions that it’s just not the New York way,” Rivera said. “We have to care for these families. We have to go further and we have to make sure that we’re preserving, and of course, really stepping up the supply.”</p> <p>When asked about what more can be done to save public housing beyond securing billions of dollars in direct aid to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) for repairs, Rivera said families living in public housing and their tenant associations need to be supported in making decisions about their own developments. She vaguely noted there are several proposed solutions but did not endorse any of the programs that are currently in play or in the offing, and instead encouraged candidates and officials to walk through public housing sites to learn about the experiences of residents  — something that she said she has done on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">During the interview</a>, Rivera also stressed the need for more housing supply in New York to combat the affordable housing crisis.</p> <p>Toward the end of the discussion, Max asked Rivera if there should be federal intervention of the city’s jails, especially on Rikers Island, a particularly pertinent question for Rivera as she now chairs the City Council committee with oversight of the city’s jails and Department of Correction while conditions remain unhealthy, violent, and deadly at the Rikers jails.</p> <p>Rivera said federal receivership of Rikers appears imminent, noting how she does not see a plan by the administration of Mayor Eric Adams to make concrete changes in the short time period needed. She said the interagency task force recently launched by Mayor Adams seems like a “plan to make a plan” and does not signify the necessary urgency.</p> <p>“Unless they can really turn it around and come forward with actual reform and a plan to which I hope ultimately closes Rikers Island, but to at least get conditions up to the point where we are not at vigils or reading news about people who have died within the facilities themselves, then this administration should get on board in choosing a receiver and getting on board with federal intervention that they themselves could participate in.”</p> <p>[LISTEN to the full conversation: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10">Max Politics Podcast: Carlina Rivera On Running For Congress In The New NY - 10</a>]</p> <p>

***
Rachel Cohen, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Crowded Field Forms for Democratic Primary in New Manhattan-Brooklyn 10th Congressional District 2022-06-03T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-03T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11352-democratic-primary-10-congressional-district-ny-field Rachel Cohen rcohen@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/4x4-ny-10-b.jpg" /></p> <p>Bill de Blasio, Yuh-Line Niou, Carlina Rivera, Jo Anne Simon, Mondaire Jones, Daniel S Goldman, Elizabeth Holtzman, Maud Maron</p> <hr /> <p>More than a dozen New York City Democrats are vying to represent the newly redrawn 10th congressional district, which will span much of Lower Manhattan and a large swathe of Brooklyn. The candidate who wins the August primary is expected to win the general election in November given the district is heavily Democratic.</p> <p>The reconfigured New York congressional map, approved by a New York Supreme Court judge last month, has shifted district boundaries and political aspirations. Given national population trends, New York has lost another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the new lines had to account for state and city demographics as well as that loss, with the delegation set to go from 27 to 26 members. It is extremely rare for there to be a seat without an incumbent running, but that is the case in the new NY-10.</p> <p>The current 10th congressional district is represented by Rep. Jerry Nadler, whose Upper West Side home and base were drawn into the new 12th district, where he is running against Rep. Carolyn Maloney and others.</p> <p>The redistricted 10th congressional district consists of a diverse set of neighborhoods, including the East and West Villages, Soho and Noho, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Battery Park City, the Financial District, parts of Downtown Brooklyn, Gowanus, Park Slope, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Borough Park and more. The district includes two large predominantly Hispanic communities, two large predominantly Asian communities, an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and several predominantly white communities home to many liberal and progressive voters.</p> <p>The total population of the reconfigured district, based on 2020 Census data, is 48.6% white, 21.6% Asian, 19.2% Hispanic and 5.6% Black, <a href="https://newyork.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=cd&amp;propA=current_2012&amp;propB=congress_specialmastermay20_20220520&amp;selected=-74.010,40.704#%26map=10.42/40.7285/-73.985">according to Redistricting &amp; You: New York from the CUNY Mapping Service</a>.</p> <p>The district is home to high voter turnout neighborhoods, as seen in last year’s Democratic primary for mayor. During the race, 38.2% of registered Democrats voted, while the citywide average was 28.3%, <a href="https://gothamist.com/news/an-uphill-battle-as-de-blasio-dives-into-congressional-run-weary-and-angry-voters-await-him">according to Gothamist</a>. During that primary, the neighborhoods now in NY-10 were dominated by Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley, with some areas favoring Andrew Yang and only a small part voting for the winner, Eric Adams.</p> <p>Here is a brief rundown of the many candidates who have declared their campaigns for the August primary, although it is not yet clear who will actually be on the ballot:</p> <p><strong>Bill de Blasio</strong><br />Bill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York City, announced that he would run for Congress in the 10th congressional district on May 20. De Blasio was mayor for eight years, and before that, a public advocate for four years and a City Council member for eight years, representing a significant slice of the Brooklyn side of the new NY-10.</p> <p>While de Blasio is very well-known in the district, his time as mayor appears to have soured at least some of the voters in his Brooklyn electoral base on him, and he faces challenges in other parts of the district based on some high-profile decisions as mayor. Yet de Blasio also has a list of local accomplishments from his mayoral tenure to tout on the campaign trail, such as universal pre-kindergarten.</p> <p>De Blasio previously considered a bid for governor in this year’s election, and had a brief unsuccessful run for president in 2019, mid-way through his second term as mayor.</p> <p><strong>Mondaire Jones</strong><br />Rep. Mondaire Jones currently represents the 17th congressional district in the lower Hudson Valley, but he is running in the 10th district after redistricting led Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, currently of the 18th district, to announce his candidacy in the 17th.</p> <p>Jones has started to run on roots in the 10th district but will have to bridge the particularly awkward gap between where he currently lives and represents and the district he’s running in much further south.</p> <p>He is the freshman representative to House Democratic Leadership in the 117th Congress and co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus who made history as one of the two first openly gay and Black members of Congress, along with New York’s Ritchie Torres.</p> <p>Jones, who has made a name for himself arguing for the expansion of the Supreme Court and a number of other progressive positions, currently serves on the House Judiciary, Education and Labor, and Ethics Committees.</p> <p><strong>Yuh-Line Niou</strong><br />New York State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, the first Asian American to be elected to represent her Lower Manhattan district, has represented the 65th district, which includes Chinatown, the Financial District, Battery Park City, and the Lower East Side, since 2016.</p> <p>Niou, a progressive often aligned with leftist groups and colleagues, was previously chief of staff for Assemblymember Ron Kim of Queens and has focused much of her legislative work on immigrant and low-income communities.</p> <p><strong>Carlina Rivera</strong><br />Carlina Rivera, a progressive City Council member for the 2nd Council District, represents several Manhattan neighborhoods, including the East Village, Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Rose Hill, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, and the Lower East Side. She has focused and pledges to continue to focus on issues including housing, climate change, reproductive rights, and community empowerment.</p> <p>Rivera was previously an aide to her predecessor, Council Member Rosie Mendez, and ran unsuccessfully to become Council Speaker heading into this, her second, term. She previously chaired the Council’s hospitals committee and now chairs its criminal justice committee.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Jo Anne Simon</strong><br />Jo Anne Simon, a New York State Assemblymember for the 52nd district and disability civil rights lawyer and activist, represents parts of Brooklyn.</p> <p>She has focused on education, gun control, and reproductive rights, among other issues. Simon is the chair of the Assembly Committee on Ethics and Guidance.</p> <p><strong>Elizabeth Holtzman</strong><br />Elizabeth Holtzman, a former New York City Comptroller, was the youngest woman to be elected to Congress in 1972 after defeating Rep. Emanuel Celler, who represented Brooklyn for 50 years. She was also the first woman to ever serve as the Brooklyn District Attorney.</p> <p>She was a member of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 during the impeachment inquiry into President Richard Nixon. Holtzman has been vocal in fighting against gun violence and supporting women’s rights, and co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues and helped pass an extension of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1997.</p> <p><strong>Maud Maron</strong><br />Maud Maron has worked as a defense attorney at the nonprofit Legal Aid Society for more than 20 years. She has also been a volunteer leader of the community education council in her Manhattan neighborhood, and an outspoken advocate against covid era school closures and against requiring students to wear masks during school amid the pandemic. She has also opposed calls to reduce NYPD funding and redirect it to social services and community programs.</p> <p><strong>Daniel S. Goldman</strong><br />Former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman served as the lead counsel for House Democrats during the first impeachment of President Donald Trump. He’s focused on protecting democratic institutions, reproductive rights, public safety, and the climate.</p> <p>Goldman previously entered the race for New York attorney general last year, but exited like all the other Democratic candidates after incumbent Letita James announced she would run for reelection, abandoning her short-lived gubernatorial campaign. He worked for former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York.</p> <p><strong>Yan Xiong</strong><br />Yan Xiong, a U.S. Army veteran and chaplain, was a student protester during the Tiananmen Pro-Democracy Movement in China in 1989. He became known as one of the most wanted movement leaders in China, and he was imprisoned from 1989 to 1991. In 1992, Xiong came to the United States and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1994.</p> <p>Xiong has been outspoken in Lower Manhattan against the plan to build a new Chinatown jail as part of the plan to close the Rikers Island jail complex.</p> <p><strong>Elizabeth Kim</strong><br />Elizabeth Kim is an applied behavior social scientist at Spotify, and previously worked for Jet.com. She is running for Congress in hopes of prioritizing social science evidence in policy making. Kim graduated from Duke University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and was the first in her family to attend college.</p> <p><strong>Ashmi Sheth</strong><br />Ashmi Sheth, a first-generation Asian-American who lives in Hell’s Kitchen, says she decided to enter the race to build a 21st century economy and combat climate change. Before deciding to run, she was the membership chair for the League of Women Voters of New York City and previously worked as an associate at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.</p> <p><strong>Brian Robinson</strong><br />Tribeca resident Brian Robinson says he sold his debt relief company for small businesses, Churchill Credit Solutions, in January to run for Congress. He says he decided to enter the race to bring new and younger leadership to policy-making, with a focus on public safety and small businesses. Robinson is on the board of Bogardus Plaza, a pedestrian plaza in Lower Manhattan, and has written a book, “Adderall Blues,” on his experience with attention deficit disorder.</p> <p><strong>Voting<br /></strong>Voting in this and other party primaries will be in August, with early voting August 13-21 and primary day August 23. This NY-10 Democratic primary will be open to Democratic voters who live in the newly-drawn district. The August primaries will also include races for State Senate.</p> <p>In June, there are primaries for statewide and state Assembly seats.</p> <p>***<br />by Rachel Cohen, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/4x4-ny-10-b.jpg" /></p> <p>Bill de Blasio, Yuh-Line Niou, Carlina Rivera, Jo Anne Simon, Mondaire Jones, Daniel S Goldman, Elizabeth Holtzman, Maud Maron</p> <hr /> <p>More than a dozen New York City Democrats are vying to represent the newly redrawn 10th congressional district, which will span much of Lower Manhattan and a large swathe of Brooklyn. The candidate who wins the August primary is expected to win the general election in November given the district is heavily Democratic.</p> <p>The reconfigured New York congressional map, approved by a New York Supreme Court judge last month, has shifted district boundaries and political aspirations. Given national population trends, New York has lost another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the new lines had to account for state and city demographics as well as that loss, with the delegation set to go from 27 to 26 members. It is extremely rare for there to be a seat without an incumbent running, but that is the case in the new NY-10.</p> <p>The current 10th congressional district is represented by Rep. Jerry Nadler, whose Upper West Side home and base were drawn into the new 12th district, where he is running against Rep. Carolyn Maloney and others.</p> <p>The redistricted 10th congressional district consists of a diverse set of neighborhoods, including the East and West Villages, Soho and Noho, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Battery Park City, the Financial District, parts of Downtown Brooklyn, Gowanus, Park Slope, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Borough Park and more. The district includes two large predominantly Hispanic communities, two large predominantly Asian communities, an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and several predominantly white communities home to many liberal and progressive voters.</p> <p>The total population of the reconfigured district, based on 2020 Census data, is 48.6% white, 21.6% Asian, 19.2% Hispanic and 5.6% Black, <a href="https://newyork.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=cd&amp;propA=current_2012&amp;propB=congress_specialmastermay20_20220520&amp;selected=-74.010,40.704#%26map=10.42/40.7285/-73.985">according to Redistricting &amp; You: New York from the CUNY Mapping Service</a>.</p> <p>The district is home to high voter turnout neighborhoods, as seen in last year’s Democratic primary for mayor. During the race, 38.2% of registered Democrats voted, while the citywide average was 28.3%, <a href="https://gothamist.com/news/an-uphill-battle-as-de-blasio-dives-into-congressional-run-weary-and-angry-voters-await-him">according to Gothamist</a>. During that primary, the neighborhoods now in NY-10 were dominated by Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley, with some areas favoring Andrew Yang and only a small part voting for the winner, Eric Adams.</p> <p>Here is a brief rundown of the many candidates who have declared their campaigns for the August primary, although it is not yet clear who will actually be on the ballot:</p> <p><strong>Bill de Blasio</strong><br />Bill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York City, announced that he would run for Congress in the 10th congressional district on May 20. De Blasio was mayor for eight years, and before that, a public advocate for four years and a City Council member for eight years, representing a significant slice of the Brooklyn side of the new NY-10.</p> <p>While de Blasio is very well-known in the district, his time as mayor appears to have soured at least some of the voters in his Brooklyn electoral base on him, and he faces challenges in other parts of the district based on some high-profile decisions as mayor. Yet de Blasio also has a list of local accomplishments from his mayoral tenure to tout on the campaign trail, such as universal pre-kindergarten.</p> <p>De Blasio previously considered a bid for governor in this year’s election, and had a brief unsuccessful run for president in 2019, mid-way through his second term as mayor.</p> <p><strong>Mondaire Jones</strong><br />Rep. Mondaire Jones currently represents the 17th congressional district in the lower Hudson Valley, but he is running in the 10th district after redistricting led Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, currently of the 18th district, to announce his candidacy in the 17th.</p> <p>Jones has started to run on roots in the 10th district but will have to bridge the particularly awkward gap between where he currently lives and represents and the district he’s running in much further south.</p> <p>He is the freshman representative to House Democratic Leadership in the 117th Congress and co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus who made history as one of the two first openly gay and Black members of Congress, along with New York’s Ritchie Torres.</p> <p>Jones, who has made a name for himself arguing for the expansion of the Supreme Court and a number of other progressive positions, currently serves on the House Judiciary, Education and Labor, and Ethics Committees.</p> <p><strong>Yuh-Line Niou</strong><br />New York State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, the first Asian American to be elected to represent her Lower Manhattan district, has represented the 65th district, which includes Chinatown, the Financial District, Battery Park City, and the Lower East Side, since 2016.</p> <p>Niou, a progressive often aligned with leftist groups and colleagues, was previously chief of staff for Assemblymember Ron Kim of Queens and has focused much of her legislative work on immigrant and low-income communities.</p> <p><strong>Carlina Rivera</strong><br />Carlina Rivera, a progressive City Council member for the 2nd Council District, represents several Manhattan neighborhoods, including the East Village, Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Rose Hill, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, and the Lower East Side. She has focused and pledges to continue to focus on issues including housing, climate change, reproductive rights, and community empowerment.</p> <p>Rivera was previously an aide to her predecessor, Council Member Rosie Mendez, and ran unsuccessfully to become Council Speaker heading into this, her second, term. She previously chaired the Council’s hospitals committee and now chairs its criminal justice committee.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Jo Anne Simon</strong><br />Jo Anne Simon, a New York State Assemblymember for the 52nd district and disability civil rights lawyer and activist, represents parts of Brooklyn.</p> <p>She has focused on education, gun control, and reproductive rights, among other issues. Simon is the chair of the Assembly Committee on Ethics and Guidance.</p> <p><strong>Elizabeth Holtzman</strong><br />Elizabeth Holtzman, a former New York City Comptroller, was the youngest woman to be elected to Congress in 1972 after defeating Rep. Emanuel Celler, who represented Brooklyn for 50 years. She was also the first woman to ever serve as the Brooklyn District Attorney.</p> <p>She was a member of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 during the impeachment inquiry into President Richard Nixon. Holtzman has been vocal in fighting against gun violence and supporting women’s rights, and co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues and helped pass an extension of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1997.</p> <p><strong>Maud Maron</strong><br />Maud Maron has worked as a defense attorney at the nonprofit Legal Aid Society for more than 20 years. She has also been a volunteer leader of the community education council in her Manhattan neighborhood, and an outspoken advocate against covid era school closures and against requiring students to wear masks during school amid the pandemic. She has also opposed calls to reduce NYPD funding and redirect it to social services and community programs.</p> <p><strong>Daniel S. Goldman</strong><br />Former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman served as the lead counsel for House Democrats during the first impeachment of President Donald Trump. He’s focused on protecting democratic institutions, reproductive rights, public safety, and the climate.</p> <p>Goldman previously entered the race for New York attorney general last year, but exited like all the other Democratic candidates after incumbent Letita James announced she would run for reelection, abandoning her short-lived gubernatorial campaign. He worked for former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York.</p> <p><strong>Yan Xiong</strong><br />Yan Xiong, a U.S. Army veteran and chaplain, was a student protester during the Tiananmen Pro-Democracy Movement in China in 1989. He became known as one of the most wanted movement leaders in China, and he was imprisoned from 1989 to 1991. In 1992, Xiong came to the United States and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1994.</p> <p>Xiong has been outspoken in Lower Manhattan against the plan to build a new Chinatown jail as part of the plan to close the Rikers Island jail complex.</p> <p><strong>Elizabeth Kim</strong><br />Elizabeth Kim is an applied behavior social scientist at Spotify, and previously worked for Jet.com. She is running for Congress in hopes of prioritizing social science evidence in policy making. Kim graduated from Duke University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and was the first in her family to attend college.</p> <p><strong>Ashmi Sheth</strong><br />Ashmi Sheth, a first-generation Asian-American who lives in Hell’s Kitchen, says she decided to enter the race to build a 21st century economy and combat climate change. Before deciding to run, she was the membership chair for the League of Women Voters of New York City and previously worked as an associate at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.</p> <p><strong>Brian Robinson</strong><br />Tribeca resident Brian Robinson says he sold his debt relief company for small businesses, Churchill Credit Solutions, in January to run for Congress. He says he decided to enter the race to bring new and younger leadership to policy-making, with a focus on public safety and small businesses. Robinson is on the board of Bogardus Plaza, a pedestrian plaza in Lower Manhattan, and has written a book, “Adderall Blues,” on his experience with attention deficit disorder.</p> <p><strong>Voting<br /></strong>Voting in this and other party primaries will be in August, with early voting August 13-21 and primary day August 23. This NY-10 Democratic primary will be open to Democratic voters who live in the newly-drawn district. The August primaries will also include races for State Senate.</p> <p>In June, there are primaries for statewide and state Assembly seats.</p> <p>***<br />by Rachel Cohen, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@GothamGazette</a></p> Max Politics Podcast: Carlina Rivera on Running for Congress in the New NY-10 2022-06-01T13:00:00+00:00 2022-06-01T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10 Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/carlina-riv-running600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Carlina Rivera (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 1, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Carlina Rivera on Running for Congress in the New NY-10<br /></strong></p> <p>City Council Member Carlina <span class="il">Rivera</span>, a Manhattan Democrat, joined the show to discuss the launch of her campaign for Congress in the new 10th Congressional District of New York. <span class="il">Rivera</span> discussed her vision for representing the district that now includes much of Downtown Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, her priority issues, and what separates her from the rest of the crowded field.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/carlina-riv-running600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Carlina Rivera (photo: John McCarten/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>June 1, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Carlina Rivera on Running for Congress in the New NY-10<br /></strong></p> <p>City Council Member Carlina <span class="il">Rivera</span>, a Manhattan Democrat, joined the show to discuss the launch of her campaign for Congress in the new 10th Congressional District of New York. <span class="il">Rivera</span> discussed her vision for representing the district that now includes much of Downtown Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, her priority issues, and what separates her from the rest of the crowded field.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11348-max-politics-podcast-carlina-rivera-running-congress-ny-10">Read More ...</a></p> ‘The Streets are Increasingly More Crowded and Dynamic’: Jessica Lappin on the Present and Future of Lower Manhattan 2022-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11330-future-lower-manhattan-jobs-economcy Anna Kaufman akaufman@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/assessing-post-future.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Lower Manhattan (photo: Edwin J. Torres/ Mayoral Photo Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York’s post-pandemic comeback has been the subject of near constant debate and conversation among city leaders. Among the areas of the city home to the most uncertainty is Lower Manhattan, a hub of business and tourism where leaders are adjusting to new commuting and international travel patterns and strategizing about affordable housing and uses of public space.</p> <p>Jessica Lappin, the President of the Alliance for Downtown New York since 2014 and a former New York City Council member, <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11287-max-politics-podcast-future-lower-manhattan-lappin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently joined Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast to discuss</a> what recovery looks like for Lower Manhattan, changes in progress, and major challenges and opportunities for the present and future.</p> <p>Chief among those trends is that some of the office towers in the Lower Manhattan central business district sit mostly empty on work days as remote and hybrid work schedules have proliferated since March 2020 and the onset of the pandemic, which has a significant impact on the local economy. But, activity has ramped up and there is a lot to be hopeful about, Lappin said.</p> <p>“The first thing I say to people is there is definitely kind of a different feel on the streets today than there was six months ago or twelve months ago,” Lappin told Ben Max, Gotham Gazette executive editor and host of the podcast. “It feels different in a good way, the streets are increasingly more crowded and more dynamic.”</p> <p>As a central business district, Lower Manhattan has suffered tremendously by the massive drop in commuting during the pandemic, Lappin acknowledged, but the area’s high population density from its residential areas helped fill in some of those gaps. </p> <p>The Alliance for Downtown New York -- which runs the Lower Manhattan business improvement district, advocates for policies to improve the area, and provides services including hospitality, sanitation, and security -- recently released its first quarter report, which indicates that though office vacancy rates remain high, commercial leasing activity is growing and rents are at a historic high.</p> <p>Though the first quarter is never the best quarter, Lappin noted, it was the second strongest quarter the Alliance had seen since the start of the pandemic, in large part thanks to increased tourism. With hotels seeing better room rates and bookings, she called the rebound “promising” and mentioned that hoteliers have been pleasantly surprised by the return of business travelers and tourists alike. “We’re already seeing tourists coming back to the city and the truth is if you’re coming to New York you’re coming downtown,” <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11287-max-politics-podcast-future-lower-manhattan-lappin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Lappin said</a>, “and that wasn’t true ten or fifteen years ago.”</p> <p>Noting the $4,400 a month median residential rent in Lower Manhattan, Lappin said, “That is a strong sign that no matter where you’re working or what your work schedule is like, people are choosing with their feet and their pocketbooks to live in this neighborhood.” </p> <p>Along with her optimism and list of exciting projects in the area, Lappin noted “quality of life” and “bread and butter” issues as her principal concerns for Lower Manhattan right now and in the near future. She wants residents, visitors, commuters, and others to have clean and safe streets and to be able to rely on subways that run well, she said. The Downtown Alliance she runs does a lot, she said, but can’t replace what the NYPD or sanitation departments do. In particular, Lappin mentioned a strong desire to work with the city on a pilot program to containerize residential trash.</p> <p>“We are still an incredibly safe city when you look at the history and the numbers,” Lappin explained, harkening back to her childhood in a very different and more dangerous time during the ‘70s and ‘80s in New York City. But, she said, there are still very real issues that need to be addressed as the city recovers.</p> <p>On pandemic workplace trends, Lappin said she finds it hard to imagine the return of a five-day-a-week, 9-to-5 culture, but that that doesn’t mean people won’t come back into offices more than they are now. “We’re going to have fits and starts in terms of the disease and people’s attitudes and people’s desires,” she said, adding that she has heard from both the employer and employee sides that it is difficult to mentor and maintain a robust talent pipeline without at least some significant in-person office work.</p> <p>Though there are many companies that have downsized office space and will continue to do so, Lappin mentioned that some financial technology (fintech) companies have expanded, adding that she doesn’t worry long term for the health of the business district because new companies will come in and backfill office space. “There’s a reason why this business district formed, because you can get here from anywhere,” Lappin said, mentioning the various train and ferry routes that lead downtown.  </p> <p>That doesn’t mean that the neighborhood can remain stagnant though. Lappin mentioned the need for evolution, saying, “I hope there’s more creative thinking that comes out of this — what are the needs we’re facing and how can we make those transitions?” </p> <p>That evolution may look like an emphasis on arts and culture programming in the area and drawing in more and more native New Yorkers for day trips to Lower Manhattan. This last point was part of a conscious marketing effort on the Alliance’s part during the pandemic to make the neighborhood a destination for New Yorkers when people weren’t traveling nationally or internationally and wanted to experience New York. In some ways, it was a bonus for New Yorkers looking to explore that international and national tourism was down. </p> <p>In order to make the neighborhood even more desirable, Lappin said the Alliance hopes to expand on green spaces on the water, add bike lanes, and continue to explore other changes to how land is used. But, Lappin expressed hesitation about closing more streets to vehicle traffic, saying logistically there are not as many alternative routes for neighborhood residents and that there have been complaints from residents and business owners when it has been tried in some places. She does want to improve the already-pedestrianized area around the New York Sock Exchange and to build on grants for small businesses including one of particular success during the pandemic that paired retailers who relied largely on foot traffic with expert social media marketers to help bring in revenue. </p> <p>Returning once more to housing, Lappin mentioned that, although the hotels have rebounded more quickly than they expected, she would still like to advocate for more flexibility to convert hotel rooms to affordable or supportive housing, but lamented the zoning issues that come into play and make such projects nearly impossible. She agreed there has been slow movement at the city and state levels on zoning changes to make conversations more feasible, but chalked it up to how government works.</p> <p>Speaking on a proposed housing project set to be built at the World Trade Center site, Lappin called herself a pragmatic idealist, saying she hoped to push for the greatest number of affordable units possible, while acknowledging that it helps no one if it doesn’t get built at all. She said the push from some to see it built as fully affordable housing is not realistic.</p> <p>She also said the state should look to extend in some fashion the expiring “421-a” development tax break that helps encourage some affordable housing in new, largely market-rate buildings.</p> <p>“There has to be a real discussion, if policymakers want to see more affordable housing,” <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11287-max-politics-podcast-future-lower-manhattan-lappin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said Lappin</a>, a former City Council member very familiar with housing and zoning debates, “then you have to create some mechanism to incentivize people to do it. That's just the system that we live in.”</p> <p>[LISTEN to the full conversation: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11287-max-politics-podcast-future-lower-manhattan-lappin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Max Politics Podcast: The Future of Lower Manhattan</a>]</p> <p> </p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/assessing-post-future.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Lower Manhattan (photo: Edwin J. Torres/ Mayoral Photo Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York’s post-pandemic comeback has been the subject of near constant debate and conversation among city leaders. Among the areas of the city home to the most uncertainty is Lower Manhattan, a hub of business and tourism where leaders are adjusting to new commuting and international travel patterns and strategizing about affordable housing and uses of public space.</p> <p>Jessica Lappin, the President of the Alliance for Downtown New York since 2014 and a former New York City Council member, <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11287-max-politics-podcast-future-lower-manhattan-lappin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently joined Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast to discuss</a> what recovery looks like for Lower Manhattan, changes in progress, and major challenges and opportunities for the present and future.</p> <p>Chief among those trends is that some of the office towers in the Lower Manhattan central business district sit mostly empty on work days as remote and hybrid work schedules have proliferated since March 2020 and the onset of the pandemic, which has a significant impact on the local economy. But, activity has ramped up and there is a lot to be hopeful about, Lappin said.</p> <p>“The first thing I say to people is there is definitely kind of a different feel on the streets today than there was six months ago or twelve months ago,” Lappin told Ben Max, Gotham Gazette executive editor and host of the podcast. “It feels different in a good way, the streets are increasingly more crowded and more dynamic.”</p> <p>As a central business district, Lower Manhattan has suffered tremendously by the massive drop in commuting during the pandemic, Lappin acknowledged, but the area’s high population density from its residential areas helped fill in some of those gaps. </p> <p>The Alliance for Downtown New York -- which runs the Lower Manhattan business improvement district, advocates for policies to improve the area, and provides services including hospitality, sanitation, and security -- recently released its first quarter report, which indicates that though office vacancy rates remain high, commercial leasing activity is growing and rents are at a historic high.</p> <p>Though the first quarter is never the best quarter, Lappin noted, it was the second strongest quarter the Alliance had seen since the start of the pandemic, in large part thanks to increased tourism. With hotels seeing better room rates and bookings, she called the rebound “promising” and mentioned that hoteliers have been pleasantly surprised by the return of business travelers and tourists alike. “We’re already seeing tourists coming back to the city and the truth is if you’re coming to New York you’re coming downtown,” <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11287-max-politics-podcast-future-lower-manhattan-lappin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Lappin said</a>, “and that wasn’t true ten or fifteen years ago.”</p> <p>Noting the $4,400 a month median residential rent in Lower Manhattan, Lappin said, “That is a strong sign that no matter where you’re working or what your work schedule is like, people are choosing with their feet and their pocketbooks to live in this neighborhood.” </p> <p>Along with her optimism and list of exciting projects in the area, Lappin noted “quality of life” and “bread and butter” issues as her principal concerns for Lower Manhattan right now and in the near future. She wants residents, visitors, commuters, and others to have clean and safe streets and to be able to rely on subways that run well, she said. The Downtown Alliance she runs does a lot, she said, but can’t replace what the NYPD or sanitation departments do. In particular, Lappin mentioned a strong desire to work with the city on a pilot program to containerize residential trash.</p> <p>“We are still an incredibly safe city when you look at the history and the numbers,” Lappin explained, harkening back to her childhood in a very different and more dangerous time during the ‘70s and ‘80s in New York City. But, she said, there are still very real issues that need to be addressed as the city recovers.</p> <p>On pandemic workplace trends, Lappin said she finds it hard to imagine the return of a five-day-a-week, 9-to-5 culture, but that that doesn’t mean people won’t come back into offices more than they are now. “We’re going to have fits and starts in terms of the disease and people’s attitudes and people’s desires,” she said, adding that she has heard from both the employer and employee sides that it is difficult to mentor and maintain a robust talent pipeline without at least some significant in-person office work.</p> <p>Though there are many companies that have downsized office space and will continue to do so, Lappin mentioned that some financial technology (fintech) companies have expanded, adding that she doesn’t worry long term for the health of the business district because new companies will come in and backfill office space. “There’s a reason why this business district formed, because you can get here from anywhere,” Lappin said, mentioning the various train and ferry routes that lead downtown.  </p> <p>That doesn’t mean that the neighborhood can remain stagnant though. Lappin mentioned the need for evolution, saying, “I hope there’s more creative thinking that comes out of this — what are the needs we’re facing and how can we make those transitions?” </p> <p>That evolution may look like an emphasis on arts and culture programming in the area and drawing in more and more native New Yorkers for day trips to Lower Manhattan. This last point was part of a conscious marketing effort on the Alliance’s part during the pandemic to make the neighborhood a destination for New Yorkers when people weren’t traveling nationally or internationally and wanted to experience New York. In some ways, it was a bonus for New Yorkers looking to explore that international and national tourism was down. </p> <p>In order to make the neighborhood even more desirable, Lappin said the Alliance hopes to expand on green spaces on the water, add bike lanes, and continue to explore other changes to how land is used. But, Lappin expressed hesitation about closing more streets to vehicle traffic, saying logistically there are not as many alternative routes for neighborhood residents and that there have been complaints from residents and business owners when it has been tried in some places. She does want to improve the already-pedestrianized area around the New York Sock Exchange and to build on grants for small businesses including one of particular success during the pandemic that paired retailers who relied largely on foot traffic with expert social media marketers to help bring in revenue. </p> <p>Returning once more to housing, Lappin mentioned that, although the hotels have rebounded more quickly than they expected, she would still like to advocate for more flexibility to convert hotel rooms to affordable or supportive housing, but lamented the zoning issues that come into play and make such projects nearly impossible. She agreed there has been slow movement at the city and state levels on zoning changes to make conversations more feasible, but chalked it up to how government works.</p> <p>Speaking on a proposed housing project set to be built at the World Trade Center site, Lappin called herself a pragmatic idealist, saying she hoped to push for the greatest number of affordable units possible, while acknowledging that it helps no one if it doesn’t get built at all. She said the push from some to see it built as fully affordable housing is not realistic.</p> <p>She also said the state should look to extend in some fashion the expiring “421-a” development tax break that helps encourage some affordable housing in new, largely market-rate buildings.</p> <p>“There has to be a real discussion, if policymakers want to see more affordable housing,” <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11287-max-politics-podcast-future-lower-manhattan-lappin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said Lappin</a>, a former City Council member very familiar with housing and zoning debates, “then you have to create some mechanism to incentivize people to do it. That's just the system that we live in.”</p> <p>[LISTEN to the full conversation: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11287-max-politics-podcast-future-lower-manhattan-lappin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Max Politics Podcast: The Future of Lower Manhattan</a>]</p> <p> </p> ‘We’re Going Through a Period of Profound Change’: Kathryn Wylde on Shifting Economic Trends and the Future of NYC Central Business Districts 2022-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-01T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11331-nyc-economic-workplace-manhattan-central-business-wylde Anna Kaufman akaufman@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/shifting-the-of.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Back to the office (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York, the business capital of the United States, if not the world, is facing major questions about its post-pandemic recovery based on economic, workplace, and workforce trends. While the city’s major employers have for the most part done very well throughout the pandemic, some sectors are still struggling and remote work has altered the landscape in terms of office occupancy. This has raised questions about the city’s economic recovery given everything from reduced subway ridership and the many economic reverberations from less full office buildings to the value of those buildings and the related property taxes that the city relies on.</p> <p>Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul have been vocal about encouraging businesses to bring their employees back to the office more often, noting how important that commuting is to the bottom lines of the city, state, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and many local businesses.</p> <p>Kathryn Wylde, the President and CEO of Partnership for New York City, a leading nonprofit business organization representing hundreds of the city’s largest employers and top business-people, <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11289-max-politics-podcast-nyc-economic-workplace-trends-kathryn-wylde" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently joined Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast to discuss</a> the interests of the city’s business community and its outlook going forward.</p> <p>“We’re going through a period of profound change,” Wylde told host Ben Max, Gotham Gazette’s executive editor and the podcast host. “The biggest problem is the overall insecurity about the state of the Manhattan business districts” <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11289-max-politics-podcast-nyc-economic-workplace-trends-kathryn-wylde">she said</a>, attributing some of this insecurity to fear around criminal activity, particularly on the subway which is essential to many workers’ commutes. On top of that, Wylde referenced the so-called great resignation and increasing covid burnout as sources for possible workplace unrest.</p> <p>“There’s a whole level of uncertainty among companies and employees, among New Yorkers in general, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds,” she said, asserting that if the city can reinstate a feeling of safety, cleanliness, and ingenuity things will improve, but “if that deteriorates over the summer then we’re in trouble.” </p> <p>The Partnership recently released a survey of Manhattan’s big employers meant to take the temperature on return-to-work trends. It showed that a 100% return where workers are in their offices five days a week is not on the horizon, but that there has been some increase in how often workers are at their desks, often in Lower and Midtown Manhattan towers, and possibly more to come in September. As of late April 2022, the study shows, 38% of Manhattan office workers were at the workplace on an average weekday.</p> <p>The longer remote work has gone on, the harder it is to get people back to the office, Wylde said, attributing some of this to “human inertia” and some to lingering covid and crime fears. Pre-covid more than 80% of Manhattan employers required workers to be in office five days a week, Wylde said, now 78% offer a hybrid model allowing work from home. The shift has major impacts on the central business districts, including the restaurants and other small businesses, as well as the MTA, which runs the subways, buses, and commuter rails.</p> <p>High-profile attacks on the subway have raised additional commuting fears, Wylde said, which creates more uncertainty across the board. The city has seen an increase in subway ridership but has recently hit a pandemic-era plateau as hybrid work models have appeared more cemented.</p> <p> Looking forward, Wylde said it will be important to understand both the city’s economic strengths and weaknesses. For example, she said, residential real estate values and rents are higher than ever, but some high earners (and thus high taxpayers) are deserting the city in response to comparatively high income taxes. But, she noted, a previous Partnership survey indicated some 70% of employees are committed to being part of the recovery of New York, while over 50% of companies intend to increase or maintain their headcount in the city.</p> <p>As for commercial real estate and fears around the need to keep office tenancy up, Wylde seemed to think this was more cultural than financial. “Honestly, Ben, commercial real estate, large office real estate, their tenants paid their rent even though their offices were empty. So don’t shed any tears.” she said, adding, “the problem they had was with the retailers, that’s where the gap is, not with the major office employers.”</p> <p>While the recent Partnership survey indicated that companies would be more likely to push for employees to return to offices more often if their peer companies did the same, Wylde said, “Honestly it’s not the companies that will drive the return to office, it’s the employees.”</p> <p>Right now businesses are trying to listen to their employees and build spaces that are ideal to work in. Midtown in particular has struggled, Wylde said, given how much commuting to the offices there used to happen from outside the city, and many employees now get more hours to their day at home when they aren’t making the long trips on Long Island Rail Road or MetroNorth. Like others, Wylde also noted that the quality of the office space is a factor, and that the newer spaces see more workers voluntary seek to come into the office more often.</p> <p>“There has to be a reality of things being comfortable,” Wylde said, with additional reference to homelessness and public safety, particularly in Midtown commuter hubs like Penn Station, Times Square, and Grand Central.  </p> <p>Wylde is particularly supportive of Mayor Adams, a Democrat just a few months into his term, backing his governing thus far, and commending both him and Governor Hochul for putting “real resources” behind policing and mental health care. Adams is fulfilling his campaign promise to “lead from the front,” Wylde said, arguing it’s important to unite behind the mayor in his efforts to increase public safety and improve both quality of life and the economic climate in the city.</p> <p>As for recent criticism of Adams’ early travel outside the city to “sell” New York to other regions, Wylde said crime and homelessness are a national problem and it’s important for New York leadership to take a look at how other mayors are handling these challenges. The need to sell New York is a real one, she added, saying: “there is no doubt that our International brand has suffered.” </p> <p>Asked about the city’s larger future, including around economic and housing development, which Wylde has an extensive background in, she said she hopes to see a return of community-led organizations that support and pursue pro-community development infrastructure. Many of the community-led organizations are now anti-development or driven by political activism, Wylde said, arguing that a return of those groups who have credibility with the community and expertise in development would be crucial.</p> <p>Wylde expressed confidence in the new mayor and City Council, as well as Mayor Adams’ pick to lead the Department of City Planning, former City Council Member Dan Garodnick, to pursue more flexible zoning, affordable housing, and economic development. “We’ve got a lot of positive activity going on,” she said. </p> <p>[LISTEN to the full conversation: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11289-max-politics-podcast-nyc-economic-workplace-trends-kathryn-wylde" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Max Politics Podcast: NYC Economic and Workplace Trends, with Kathy Wylde of Partnership for New York City</a>]</p> <p> </p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/shifting-the-of.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Back to the office (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York, the business capital of the United States, if not the world, is facing major questions about its post-pandemic recovery based on economic, workplace, and workforce trends. While the city’s major employers have for the most part done very well throughout the pandemic, some sectors are still struggling and remote work has altered the landscape in terms of office occupancy. This has raised questions about the city’s economic recovery given everything from reduced subway ridership and the many economic reverberations from less full office buildings to the value of those buildings and the related property taxes that the city relies on.</p> <p>Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul have been vocal about encouraging businesses to bring their employees back to the office more often, noting how important that commuting is to the bottom lines of the city, state, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and many local businesses.</p> <p>Kathryn Wylde, the President and CEO of Partnership for New York City, a leading nonprofit business organization representing hundreds of the city’s largest employers and top business-people, <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11289-max-politics-podcast-nyc-economic-workplace-trends-kathryn-wylde" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently joined Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast to discuss</a> the interests of the city’s business community and its outlook going forward.</p> <p>“We’re going through a period of profound change,” Wylde told host Ben Max, Gotham Gazette’s executive editor and the podcast host. “The biggest problem is the overall insecurity about the state of the Manhattan business districts” <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11289-max-politics-podcast-nyc-economic-workplace-trends-kathryn-wylde">she said</a>, attributing some of this insecurity to fear around criminal activity, particularly on the subway which is essential to many workers’ commutes. On top of that, Wylde referenced the so-called great resignation and increasing covid burnout as sources for possible workplace unrest.</p> <p>“There’s a whole level of uncertainty among companies and employees, among New Yorkers in general, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds,” she said, asserting that if the city can reinstate a feeling of safety, cleanliness, and ingenuity things will improve, but “if that deteriorates over the summer then we’re in trouble.” </p> <p>The Partnership recently released a survey of Manhattan’s big employers meant to take the temperature on return-to-work trends. It showed that a 100% return where workers are in their offices five days a week is not on the horizon, but that there has been some increase in how often workers are at their desks, often in Lower and Midtown Manhattan towers, and possibly more to come in September. As of late April 2022, the study shows, 38% of Manhattan office workers were at the workplace on an average weekday.</p> <p>The longer remote work has gone on, the harder it is to get people back to the office, Wylde said, attributing some of this to “human inertia” and some to lingering covid and crime fears. Pre-covid more than 80% of Manhattan employers required workers to be in office five days a week, Wylde said, now 78% offer a hybrid model allowing work from home. The shift has major impacts on the central business districts, including the restaurants and other small businesses, as well as the MTA, which runs the subways, buses, and commuter rails.</p> <p>High-profile attacks on the subway have raised additional commuting fears, Wylde said, which creates more uncertainty across the board. The city has seen an increase in subway ridership but has recently hit a pandemic-era plateau as hybrid work models have appeared more cemented.</p> <p> Looking forward, Wylde said it will be important to understand both the city’s economic strengths and weaknesses. For example, she said, residential real estate values and rents are higher than ever, but some high earners (and thus high taxpayers) are deserting the city in response to comparatively high income taxes. But, she noted, a previous Partnership survey indicated some 70% of employees are committed to being part of the recovery of New York, while over 50% of companies intend to increase or maintain their headcount in the city.</p> <p>As for commercial real estate and fears around the need to keep office tenancy up, Wylde seemed to think this was more cultural than financial. “Honestly, Ben, commercial real estate, large office real estate, their tenants paid their rent even though their offices were empty. So don’t shed any tears.” she said, adding, “the problem they had was with the retailers, that’s where the gap is, not with the major office employers.”</p> <p>While the recent Partnership survey indicated that companies would be more likely to push for employees to return to offices more often if their peer companies did the same, Wylde said, “Honestly it’s not the companies that will drive the return to office, it’s the employees.”</p> <p>Right now businesses are trying to listen to their employees and build spaces that are ideal to work in. Midtown in particular has struggled, Wylde said, given how much commuting to the offices there used to happen from outside the city, and many employees now get more hours to their day at home when they aren’t making the long trips on Long Island Rail Road or MetroNorth. Like others, Wylde also noted that the quality of the office space is a factor, and that the newer spaces see more workers voluntary seek to come into the office more often.</p> <p>“There has to be a reality of things being comfortable,” Wylde said, with additional reference to homelessness and public safety, particularly in Midtown commuter hubs like Penn Station, Times Square, and Grand Central.  </p> <p>Wylde is particularly supportive of Mayor Adams, a Democrat just a few months into his term, backing his governing thus far, and commending both him and Governor Hochul for putting “real resources” behind policing and mental health care. Adams is fulfilling his campaign promise to “lead from the front,” Wylde said, arguing it’s important to unite behind the mayor in his efforts to increase public safety and improve both quality of life and the economic climate in the city.</p> <p>As for recent criticism of Adams’ early travel outside the city to “sell” New York to other regions, Wylde said crime and homelessness are a national problem and it’s important for New York leadership to take a look at how other mayors are handling these challenges. The need to sell New York is a real one, she added, saying: “there is no doubt that our International brand has suffered.” </p> <p>Asked about the city’s larger future, including around economic and housing development, which Wylde has an extensive background in, she said she hopes to see a return of community-led organizations that support and pursue pro-community development infrastructure. Many of the community-led organizations are now anti-development or driven by political activism, Wylde said, arguing that a return of those groups who have credibility with the community and expertise in development would be crucial.</p> <p>Wylde expressed confidence in the new mayor and City Council, as well as Mayor Adams’ pick to lead the Department of City Planning, former City Council Member Dan Garodnick, to pursue more flexible zoning, affordable housing, and economic development. “We’ve got a lot of positive activity going on,” she said. </p> <p>[LISTEN to the full conversation: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11289-max-politics-podcast-nyc-economic-workplace-trends-kathryn-wylde" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Max Politics Podcast: NYC Economic and Workplace Trends, with Kathy Wylde of Partnership for New York City</a>]</p> <p> </p>