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 2022-07-04T12:56:07+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Joomla! - Open Source Content Management Election Results Roundup: June 2022 Primaries 2022-06-29T13:00:00+00:00 2022-06-29T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11424-election-results-june-2022-primaries-assembly-state Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/june-primaries-statewide1.jpg" /></p> <p>Voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first of two primary elections this year came to a conclusion on Tuesday, deciding the general election nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and state Assembly seats, along with choices for certain judicial and county-level party positions. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the statewide level in the Democratic primary, Governor Kathy Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado easily prevailed in their respective races and will formally run on a joint ticket in the general election. On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin won the nomination in a more closely decided four-way contest and will form a ticket with his running-mate Alison Esposito, who ran unopposed. Those two major party tickets will also see the nominees of smaller parties like Green and Libertarian on the general election ballot.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Overall, incumbents did very well in the primary, including Hochul and Delgado but also throughout the state Assembly whether they were establishment-backed members, moderates or progressives. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The statewide results were a particular disappointment for progressives, however. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams' bid for governor failed to establish the type of momentum that the left had garnered in previous election cycles. His running-mate, Ana Maria Archila, galvanized progressives and fared better in her race but nonetheless fell short. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In state Assembly races too, progressive challengers to incumbent Democrats saw few wins. The Working Families Party, the Democratic Socialists of America-New York City, and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all came together to support a slate of candidates in the Assembly primary, including four incumbents, four candidates challenging sitting Democrats, and one running for an open seat. While the incumbents held on, either one or two of the five new challengers was successful – in the 103rd District in upstate, Sarahana Shreshta defeated longtime Assemblymember Kevin Cahill; and the race in Brooklyn’s 54th Assembly District, where Samy Nemir Olivares challenged Assemblymember Erik Dilan, is still too close to call. Another candidate, Juan Ardila, who was endorsed by the WFP and Ocasio-Cortez but not by DSA, also won his race for an open seat in Queens' 37th District. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Two other incumbents lost their races on Tuesday. In the Bronx's 78th District, 40-year incumbent Assemblymember Jose Rivera lost to challenger George Alvarez. And in Westchester's 92nd District, Assemblymember Tom Abinanti lost to progressive challenger MaryJane Shimsky.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the more local level, there is <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11410-civil-war-brooklyn-democratic-party" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an ongoing civil war in the Brooklyn Democratic Party</a>, where a coalition of reformers are hoping to unseat the party chair, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. Under the banner of “Brooklyn Can’t Wait,” the coalition backed a slate of 20 candidates for district leader, including many who challenged incumbents that are allied with Bichotte Hermelyn. The party’s 44 district leaders in the borough elect the party chair.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The coalition saw several successes on primary day – 13 candidates won seats, including seven first-time candidates – which could shake things up within the Brooklyn Democrats as they join a batch of reformers already holding district leader seats. It remains to be seen, however, whether they will have enough votes to replace Bichotte Hermelyn at the next party chair election, though as of now it appears Bichotte Hermelyn will retain enough support to remain county leader.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here’s a full look at the results as of mid-day Wednesday, June 29, with some absentee ballots still being counted. In virtually every Assembly seat in New York City, the Democratic primary winner is all but certain to prevail in the general election given the overwhelming Democratic voter enrollment advantage in the city.</span></p> <p><strong>Assembly Races</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><i>Queens<br /></i>In District 24, Assemblymember David Weprin won, defeating two challengers.</p> <p>In District 28, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 29, Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 30, Steven Raga won an open race. </p> <p>In District 32, Assemblymember Vivian E. Cook won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 33, Assemblymember Clyde Vanel won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 35, Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry won, defeating his challenger, Hiram Monserrate.</p> <p>In District 37, Juan Ardila won an open race. </p> <p>In District 40, Assemblymember Ron Kim won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brooklyn<br /></span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 43, Assemblymember Brian Cunningham won, defeating three challengers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 46, Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 50, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 51, Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 54, Assemblymember Erik Dilan and challenger Samy Nemir Olivares are in a too-close-to-call race.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 55, Assemblymember Latrice Walker won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 57, Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 58, Assemblymember Monique Chandler-Waterman won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 60, Assemblymember Nikki Lucas won, defeating one challenger. </span></p> <p><i>Staten Island<br /></i>In District 61, Assemblymember Charles Fall won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 63, in the only Republican Assembly primary across the city, Sam Pirozzolo defeated Paul Ciurcina Jr.</p> <p><i>Manhattan<br /></i>In District 65, where there was an open race, Grace Lee won against three other candidates to become the likely successor to Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, who is running for Congress.</p> <p>In District 66, Assemblymember Deborah Glick won, beating one challenger. </p> <p>In District 68, Assemblymember Edward Gibbs won, beating three challengers.</p> <p>In District 70, Assemblymember Inez Dickens won, defeating two challengers. </p> <p>In District  71, Assemblymember Al Taylor won, beating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 72, Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos won, beating two challengers. </p> <p>In District 73, Alex Bores won an open seat with a tight margin, defeating four other candidates. </p> <p>In District 75, Tony Simone won an open seat, defeating four other candidates to become the likely replacement for Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, who is retiring after 52 years in the Assembly.</p> <p>In District 76, Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright won, defeating one challenger. </p> <p><em>The Bronx</em><b><br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 78, George Alvarez won, defeating incumbent Assemblymember Jose Rivera and one other candidate.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 81, Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 82, Assemblymember Michael Benedetto won, defeating two challengers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 84, Assemblymember Amanda Septimo won, defeating two challengers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 86, Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brooklyn Democratic Party District Leader Races contested by <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11410-civil-war-brooklyn-democratic-party" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the “Brooklyn Can’t Wait” Reform Slate</a></span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 43 <br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Akel Williams defeated incumbent Edu Hermelyn.<br /></span>Female State Committee – Kellan Calder lost to incumbent Sarana Purcell. </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 46<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Angela Kravtchenko lost to incumbent Dionne Brown-Jordan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 51<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Jacqui Painter defeated incumbent Arelis Martinez.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 52<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Aaron Ouyang won against two candidates. <br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Lydia Green won against two candidates. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 53<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Felix Ceballos defeated Tommy Torres.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 54<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Robert Camacho defeated Heriberto Mateo.  <br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Aciré Polight lost to incumbent Arleny Alvarado-McCalla.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 56<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Monae Priolenau lost to incumbent Kenesha Traynham Cooper.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 57<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Michael Boomer defeated Michael Cox.<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – incumbent Shaquana Boykin defeated Renee Collymore.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 59<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Naomi Hopkins lost to Roxanne Persaud.</span></p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated. </p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/june-primaries-statewide1.jpg" /></p> <p>Voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first of two primary elections this year came to a conclusion on Tuesday, deciding the general election nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and state Assembly seats, along with choices for certain judicial and county-level party positions. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the statewide level in the Democratic primary, Governor Kathy Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado easily prevailed in their respective races and will formally run on a joint ticket in the general election. On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin won the nomination in a more closely decided four-way contest and will form a ticket with his running-mate Alison Esposito, who ran unopposed. Those two major party tickets will also see the nominees of smaller parties like Green and Libertarian on the general election ballot.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Overall, incumbents did very well in the primary, including Hochul and Delgado but also throughout the state Assembly whether they were establishment-backed members, moderates or progressives. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The statewide results were a particular disappointment for progressives, however. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams' bid for governor failed to establish the type of momentum that the left had garnered in previous election cycles. His running-mate, Ana Maria Archila, galvanized progressives and fared better in her race but nonetheless fell short. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In state Assembly races too, progressive challengers to incumbent Democrats saw few wins. The Working Families Party, the Democratic Socialists of America-New York City, and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all came together to support a slate of candidates in the Assembly primary, including four incumbents, four candidates challenging sitting Democrats, and one running for an open seat. While the incumbents held on, either one or two of the five new challengers was successful – in the 103rd District in upstate, Sarahana Shreshta defeated longtime Assemblymember Kevin Cahill; and the race in Brooklyn’s 54th Assembly District, where Samy Nemir Olivares challenged Assemblymember Erik Dilan, is still too close to call. Another candidate, Juan Ardila, who was endorsed by the WFP and Ocasio-Cortez but not by DSA, also won his race for an open seat in Queens' 37th District. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Two other incumbents lost their races on Tuesday. In the Bronx's 78th District, 40-year incumbent Assemblymember Jose Rivera lost to challenger George Alvarez. And in Westchester's 92nd District, Assemblymember Tom Abinanti lost to progressive challenger MaryJane Shimsky.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the more local level, there is <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11410-civil-war-brooklyn-democratic-party" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an ongoing civil war in the Brooklyn Democratic Party</a>, where a coalition of reformers are hoping to unseat the party chair, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. Under the banner of “Brooklyn Can’t Wait,” the coalition backed a slate of 20 candidates for district leader, including many who challenged incumbents that are allied with Bichotte Hermelyn. The party’s 44 district leaders in the borough elect the party chair.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The coalition saw several successes on primary day – 13 candidates won seats, including seven first-time candidates – which could shake things up within the Brooklyn Democrats as they join a batch of reformers already holding district leader seats. It remains to be seen, however, whether they will have enough votes to replace Bichotte Hermelyn at the next party chair election, though as of now it appears Bichotte Hermelyn will retain enough support to remain county leader.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here’s a full look at the results as of mid-day Wednesday, June 29, with some absentee ballots still being counted. In virtually every Assembly seat in New York City, the Democratic primary winner is all but certain to prevail in the general election given the overwhelming Democratic voter enrollment advantage in the city.</span></p> <p><strong>Assembly Races</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><i>Queens<br /></i>In District 24, Assemblymember David Weprin won, defeating two challengers.</p> <p>In District 28, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 29, Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 30, Steven Raga won an open race. </p> <p>In District 32, Assemblymember Vivian E. Cook won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 33, Assemblymember Clyde Vanel won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 35, Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry won, defeating his challenger, Hiram Monserrate.</p> <p>In District 37, Juan Ardila won an open race. </p> <p>In District 40, Assemblymember Ron Kim won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brooklyn<br /></span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 43, Assemblymember Brian Cunningham won, defeating three challengers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 46, Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 50, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 51, Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 54, Assemblymember Erik Dilan and challenger Samy Nemir Olivares are in a too-close-to-call race.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 55, Assemblymember Latrice Walker won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 57, Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 58, Assemblymember Monique Chandler-Waterman won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 60, Assemblymember Nikki Lucas won, defeating one challenger. </span></p> <p><i>Staten Island<br /></i>In District 61, Assemblymember Charles Fall won, defeating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 63, in the only Republican Assembly primary across the city, Sam Pirozzolo defeated Paul Ciurcina Jr.</p> <p><i>Manhattan<br /></i>In District 65, where there was an open race, Grace Lee won against three other candidates to become the likely successor to Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, who is running for Congress.</p> <p>In District 66, Assemblymember Deborah Glick won, beating one challenger. </p> <p>In District 68, Assemblymember Edward Gibbs won, beating three challengers.</p> <p>In District 70, Assemblymember Inez Dickens won, defeating two challengers. </p> <p>In District  71, Assemblymember Al Taylor won, beating one challenger.</p> <p>In District 72, Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos won, beating two challengers. </p> <p>In District 73, Alex Bores won an open seat with a tight margin, defeating four other candidates. </p> <p>In District 75, Tony Simone won an open seat, defeating four other candidates to become the likely replacement for Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, who is retiring after 52 years in the Assembly.</p> <p>In District 76, Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright won, defeating one challenger. </p> <p><em>The Bronx</em><b><br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 78, George Alvarez won, defeating incumbent Assemblymember Jose Rivera and one other candidate.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 81, Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 82, Assemblymember Michael Benedetto won, defeating two challengers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 84, Assemblymember Amanda Septimo won, defeating two challengers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In District 86, Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia won, defeating one challenger.</span></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brooklyn Democratic Party District Leader Races contested by <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11410-civil-war-brooklyn-democratic-party" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the “Brooklyn Can’t Wait” Reform Slate</a></span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 43 <br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Akel Williams defeated incumbent Edu Hermelyn.<br /></span>Female State Committee – Kellan Calder lost to incumbent Sarana Purcell. </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 46<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Angela Kravtchenko lost to incumbent Dionne Brown-Jordan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 51<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Jacqui Painter defeated incumbent Arelis Martinez.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 52<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Aaron Ouyang won against two candidates. <br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Lydia Green won against two candidates. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 53<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Felix Ceballos defeated Tommy Torres.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 54<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Robert Camacho defeated Heriberto Mateo.  <br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Aciré Polight lost to incumbent Arleny Alvarado-McCalla.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 56<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Monae Priolenau lost to incumbent Kenesha Traynham Cooper.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 57<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Male State Committee – Michael Boomer defeated Michael Cox.<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – incumbent Shaquana Boykin defeated Renee Collymore.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">District 59<br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Female State Committee – Naomi Hopkins lost to Roxanne Persaud.</span></p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated. </p>
New Brownsville Complex Offers Housing for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals, Dent in New York's Prison-to-Shelter Pipeline 2022-06-30T04:00:00+00:00 2022-06-30T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11432-housing-formerly-incarcerated-brooklyn Natalie Rash nrash@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/461-Chester-Exterior.jpg" /></p> <p>The Marcus Garvey Extension Project (photo: The Osborne Association)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A new supportive housing development with 52 units designated for recently incarcerated individuals is now open in Brownsville, Brooklyn. This past week, the Osborne Association, a nonprofit focused on helping justice-involved people, celebrated the opening of their first housing initiative of its kind, part of their broader $179 million Marcus Garvey Extension Project.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The effort to provide stable, permanent housing for those who have recently been incarcerated takes aim at an oft-ignored New York crisis: </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11353-new-york-prison-shelter-pipeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">the prison-to-shelter pipeline</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that has seen 25,000 people go straight from state prisons to New York City homeless shelters over the past 8 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As recently </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11353-new-york-prison-shelter-pipeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reported by Gotham Gazette</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, two out of five people returning from prison last year were released to shelters and other placements for homeless adults, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). A lack of stable housing has been found to correlate with recidivism, while supportive housing can help reduce it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The new Osborne subsidized housing development, built in partnership with L+M Development, a real estate firm, includes 174 units overall — beyond the 52 units for recently-incarcerated individuals, are 122 more affordable housing units. To qualify for the supportive housing units, applicants must be over 50 years old and make under $30,000 in financial income.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The project is included among three buildings, with 348 apartments total, in Brownsville. A second building contains 96 affordable homes, including 52 units of supportive housing dedicated to families coming out of shelters, with services and programs provided by WIN, a nonprofit that serves homeless women and children. The third building includes another 78 affordable housing units and over 5,000 feet of community facility space.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“For the first time in 30 years, I can say that I have a home,” said Jose Vega, 51, who spoke at the opening of the supportive housing program, and will be moving into one of the apartments by the end of the month.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vega, who is a wheelchair bound, level T-3 paraplegic, spent nearly 25 years incarcerated, and was released from Five Points Correctional Facility in June 2018. Upon his release, he wanted to avoid the shelter system, after hearing horror stories about its inaccessibility and the mistreatment of people with disabilities who live in shelters. And though he was able to stay out of the city’s shelter system, Vega was also turned away from multiple other housing assistance programs following his release.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ultimately, Vega’s parents took him into their one-bedroom senior citizen apartment, which was not wheelchair or ADA accessible. His parents also had to hide the fact that he was staying with them to avoid eviction or punishment from their landlord, something that they lived in “constant fear” of, he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“They willingly gave up their tranquility and privacy for me,” Vega said. On nights where he wasn’t able to get past the security at his parents’ building, he stayed with friends, and slept on their couch.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Right now, the city is facing what the Osborne Association referred to in the opening’s press release as “twin crises of an aging prison population.” As the population of incarcerated individuals drops, the percentage of people older than 50 who are incarcerated continues to grow. At the same time, the challenge to find affordable and supportive housing after release is increasing, contributing to an already burdened shelter system and the breadth of other challenges faced by older people who have been released.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Older people face unique challenges coming home that include a digital world that may feel completely foreign to them and immediate existential needs like health care, gaining proper identification, reconnecting with family, employment, and resources to address the trauma of long-term incarceration,” reads a press release about the Marcus Garvey housing opening.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2022/01/new-yorks-prison-population-continues-decline-share-older-adults-keeps-rising" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office showed that the state’s population of older incarcerated individuals doubled during a 13-year period, even as the overall population of incarcerated people decreased. In March 2021, 24.3% </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">of the state’s 31,262 prison inmates were 50 and older. Whereas in March 2008, just 12% of the then-prison population of 62,597 were part of this same demographic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For four more years, Vega continued to apply for other re-entry programs, and says he filled out hundreds of housing applications. It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that Vega was connected with Osborne through the city’s Health Justice Network. Now, after living at his parents’ apartment since his release, Vega received his keys for his new ADA accessible apartment on Monday, June 27, something he says he would have never expected to happen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“As happy as I am today, my journey does not end until ADA housing is available for all disabled and wheelchair-bound returning citizens,” Vega said. “Toward this goal, I am honored to be a part of Osborne to help in any possible way I can. They reached out to me and helped me when no other organization would.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Archana Jayaram, the President and CEO of the Osborne Association, called the project a “critical part” of the nonprofit’s work, and said that they hope to continue to step into this area of housing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As a commitment to helping residents at Marcus Garvey re-enter society after incarceration, other resources at the facility include technology courses from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, wellness services and clinical groups, and providing residents with everyday items like laundry and dish detergent to alleviate financial burdens.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The facility also has in-building laundry facilities, a bike room, a gym, parking space for 36 cars, and a community room with a computer lab. All common spaces have access to Wi-Fi.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Later this year, the Osborne Association expects to open a transitional housing facility in the Bronx, described as a “re-entry community center” with 135 beds for individuals recently released from incarceration.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">State Senator Roxanne Persaud, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Social Services, also attended the opening in her senatorial district, and spoke about the importance of providing housing and easier transitions for formerly incarcerated individuals upon their release.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It's our obligation to ensure that when you are returning home, you're not just given a ticket to a bus and a couple of dollars and no place to go, and that you're not just told, ‘find a shelter,’” Persaud said. “The shelter system was not built for that. The shelter system on its best day has many challenges. Think about it on its worst day. As a chair of social services in New York State Senate, that is my commitment: to ensure that we work with the systems to change the issues and the obstacles that we see on a daily basis.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Persaud’s comments do to some extent belie </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11353-new-york-prison-shelter-pipeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">the limited amount being done at the state level to stop the prison-to-shelter pipeline</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the event, Christina Green, a program director for Osborne, also spoke.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Green started working as a community health worker with the Health Justice Network after she was released from prison in 2019, and following her participation in a workforce development program with the Osborne Association. While she was incarcerated, Green went back to school, and also worked as a mentor for young incarcerated women.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After working with the Health Justice Network, she applied for a position as a supervisor with Osborne, and has since worked her way up to her role as a director.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When Green met Vega on a Zoom call, she said his story stuck with her, and once housing applications for the Marcus Garvey units were open, she urged him to apply right away. She said that most applicants who have been approved spent about 20-40 years incarcerated.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think that people are concerned about having apartments like this in their neighborhood, but nobody wants to be judged by the worst mistake that they've done in their lives,” Green said in an interview with Gotham Gazette. “If you got caught doing the worst thing you ever did in your entire life, that's not something that you would be proud of. You'd want another opportunity, right? There's a lot of people here that have done a lot of good. They did make a mistake, including myself, and we're trying to move on from that, and I'm trying to help people coming in behind me.”</span></p> <p>

***
Natalie Rash, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/461-Chester-Exterior.jpg" /></p> <p>The Marcus Garvey Extension Project (photo: The Osborne Association)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A new supportive housing development with 52 units designated for recently incarcerated individuals is now open in Brownsville, Brooklyn. This past week, the Osborne Association, a nonprofit focused on helping justice-involved people, celebrated the opening of their first housing initiative of its kind, part of their broader $179 million Marcus Garvey Extension Project.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The effort to provide stable, permanent housing for those who have recently been incarcerated takes aim at an oft-ignored New York crisis: </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11353-new-york-prison-shelter-pipeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">the prison-to-shelter pipeline</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that has seen 25,000 people go straight from state prisons to New York City homeless shelters over the past 8 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As recently </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11353-new-york-prison-shelter-pipeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reported by Gotham Gazette</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, two out of five people returning from prison last year were released to shelters and other placements for homeless adults, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). A lack of stable housing has been found to correlate with recidivism, while supportive housing can help reduce it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The new Osborne subsidized housing development, built in partnership with L+M Development, a real estate firm, includes 174 units overall — beyond the 52 units for recently-incarcerated individuals, are 122 more affordable housing units. To qualify for the supportive housing units, applicants must be over 50 years old and make under $30,000 in financial income.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The project is included among three buildings, with 348 apartments total, in Brownsville. A second building contains 96 affordable homes, including 52 units of supportive housing dedicated to families coming out of shelters, with services and programs provided by WIN, a nonprofit that serves homeless women and children. The third building includes another 78 affordable housing units and over 5,000 feet of community facility space.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“For the first time in 30 years, I can say that I have a home,” said Jose Vega, 51, who spoke at the opening of the supportive housing program, and will be moving into one of the apartments by the end of the month.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vega, who is a wheelchair bound, level T-3 paraplegic, spent nearly 25 years incarcerated, and was released from Five Points Correctional Facility in June 2018. Upon his release, he wanted to avoid the shelter system, after hearing horror stories about its inaccessibility and the mistreatment of people with disabilities who live in shelters. And though he was able to stay out of the city’s shelter system, Vega was also turned away from multiple other housing assistance programs following his release.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ultimately, Vega’s parents took him into their one-bedroom senior citizen apartment, which was not wheelchair or ADA accessible. His parents also had to hide the fact that he was staying with them to avoid eviction or punishment from their landlord, something that they lived in “constant fear” of, he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“They willingly gave up their tranquility and privacy for me,” Vega said. On nights where he wasn’t able to get past the security at his parents’ building, he stayed with friends, and slept on their couch.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Right now, the city is facing what the Osborne Association referred to in the opening’s press release as “twin crises of an aging prison population.” As the population of incarcerated individuals drops, the percentage of people older than 50 who are incarcerated continues to grow. At the same time, the challenge to find affordable and supportive housing after release is increasing, contributing to an already burdened shelter system and the breadth of other challenges faced by older people who have been released.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Older people face unique challenges coming home that include a digital world that may feel completely foreign to them and immediate existential needs like health care, gaining proper identification, reconnecting with family, employment, and resources to address the trauma of long-term incarceration,” reads a press release about the Marcus Garvey housing opening.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2022/01/new-yorks-prison-population-continues-decline-share-older-adults-keeps-rising" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office showed that the state’s population of older incarcerated individuals doubled during a 13-year period, even as the overall population of incarcerated people decreased. In March 2021, 24.3% </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">of the state’s 31,262 prison inmates were 50 and older. Whereas in March 2008, just 12% of the then-prison population of 62,597 were part of this same demographic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For four more years, Vega continued to apply for other re-entry programs, and says he filled out hundreds of housing applications. It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that Vega was connected with Osborne through the city’s Health Justice Network. Now, after living at his parents’ apartment since his release, Vega received his keys for his new ADA accessible apartment on Monday, June 27, something he says he would have never expected to happen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“As happy as I am today, my journey does not end until ADA housing is available for all disabled and wheelchair-bound returning citizens,” Vega said. “Toward this goal, I am honored to be a part of Osborne to help in any possible way I can. They reached out to me and helped me when no other organization would.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Archana Jayaram, the President and CEO of the Osborne Association, called the project a “critical part” of the nonprofit’s work, and said that they hope to continue to step into this area of housing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As a commitment to helping residents at Marcus Garvey re-enter society after incarceration, other resources at the facility include technology courses from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, wellness services and clinical groups, and providing residents with everyday items like laundry and dish detergent to alleviate financial burdens.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The facility also has in-building laundry facilities, a bike room, a gym, parking space for 36 cars, and a community room with a computer lab. All common spaces have access to Wi-Fi.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Later this year, the Osborne Association expects to open a transitional housing facility in the Bronx, described as a “re-entry community center” with 135 beds for individuals recently released from incarceration.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">State Senator Roxanne Persaud, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Social Services, also attended the opening in her senatorial district, and spoke about the importance of providing housing and easier transitions for formerly incarcerated individuals upon their release.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It's our obligation to ensure that when you are returning home, you're not just given a ticket to a bus and a couple of dollars and no place to go, and that you're not just told, ‘find a shelter,’” Persaud said. “The shelter system was not built for that. The shelter system on its best day has many challenges. Think about it on its worst day. As a chair of social services in New York State Senate, that is my commitment: to ensure that we work with the systems to change the issues and the obstacles that we see on a daily basis.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Persaud’s comments do to some extent belie </span><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/11353-new-york-prison-shelter-pipeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">the limited amount being done at the state level to stop the prison-to-shelter pipeline</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the event, Christina Green, a program director for Osborne, also spoke.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Green started working as a community health worker with the Health Justice Network after she was released from prison in 2019, and following her participation in a workforce development program with the Osborne Association. While she was incarcerated, Green went back to school, and also worked as a mentor for young incarcerated women.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After working with the Health Justice Network, she applied for a position as a supervisor with Osborne, and has since worked her way up to her role as a director.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When Green met Vega on a Zoom call, she said his story stuck with her, and once housing applications for the Marcus Garvey units were open, she urged him to apply right away. She said that most applicants who have been approved spent about 20-40 years incarcerated.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think that people are concerned about having apartments like this in their neighborhood, but nobody wants to be judged by the worst mistake that they've done in their lives,” Green said in an interview with Gotham Gazette. “If you got caught doing the worst thing you ever did in your entire life, that's not something that you would be proud of. You'd want another opportunity, right? There's a lot of people here that have done a lot of good. They did make a mistake, including myself, and we're trying to move on from that, and I'm trying to help people coming in behind me.”</span></p> <p>

***
Natalie Rash, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Next Battle in Brooklyn Democratic Party Civil War Set to be Decided 2022-06-27T15:00:00+00:00 2022-06-27T15:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11410-civil-war-brooklyn-democratic-party Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/4x3-inside-civil.jpg" /></p> <p>(l-r) Top: Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Antonio Reynoso, Nydia Velazquez, Hakeem Jeffries; Bottom: Eric Adams, Brad Lander, &amp; Jumaane Williams</p> <hr /> <p>Update: <i>The</i> <i>'Brooklyn Can't Wait' campaign ran 20 candidates for district leader who pledged to reform the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Thirteen of them, including incumbents, won their races in the June 28 primary. Read the full story below for background and other context about the 'civil war' in the Brooklyn Democratic Party:</i></p> <p>Brooklyn is the center of political power in New York City, and its influence has grown in recent years. It’s the home borough for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, considered among the top candidates to be the next Democratic Speaker of the House, New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Comptroller Brad Lander, and others. The borough was instrumental in electing Adams and his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, also a longtime Brooklynite.</p> <p>But the Brooklyn Democratic Party — one of the largest county organizations in the country, representing 1.14 million registered Democratic voters — is in turmoil, contending with an internecine conflict between county officials clinging to power and a slate of young reformers seeking to depose them. The next battle in this civil war will be decided in this month’s elections, which could have broad ramifications for the political landscape across the city’s most populous borough and beyond.</p> <p>The conflict has played out publicly over the last year. The county party leader, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, fended off calls for her resignation after her husband allegedly made derogatory remarks about a sitting Assemblymember, the latest in a list of complaints lodged against her.</p> <p>More recently, the party has faced allegations of <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/politics/2022/4/14/23026153/brooklyn-democratic-party-ballot-petition-challenges">forging ballot petition signatures</a>, <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/5/4/23057779/20-people-listed-brooklyn-democratic-primary-candidates-without-knowledge">signing up</a> people as candidates for county committee seats without their consent, and <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-dead-woman-signed-up-for-brooklyn-democratic-party-20220508-37s42g4qzzfk7ld7okvgce6ynu-story.html">appointing</a> dead people to empty party posts – several good government groups have <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/brooklyn/2022/6/16/23171436/brooklyn-democrats-da-probe-demand">called</a> on Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonazalez to investigate the forgery allegations even as his office is already <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-brooklyn-da-looking-into-brooklyn-democratic-party-20220510-pjxsen6nyre2tcsmcqwsh5yebe-story.html">examining</a> the appointments of dead people and people without their knowledge to party positions. And Hermelyn herself has been <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/6/16/23171693/poll-workers-brooklyn-democratic-party">accused of retaliating</a> against party officials who refuse to toe the party line, all while running the party with limited transparency and making attempts to marginalize opposing views.</p> <p>There are many competitive and contentious local races playing out this month for local party positions as well as seats in the State Assembly, while reformers also look to boost the progressive slate in the imminent Democratic primaries for Governor, Jumaane Williams, and Lieutenant Governor, Ana Maria Archila while the party establishment backs Governor Kathy Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. The lines drawn are indicative of battles over the last several years, with each round of elections intensifying the split.</p> <p><strong>All Politics Local</strong><br />County parties are the most local form of party governance. The Kings County Democratic Party’s state committee is made up of 44 district leaders – one male and one female from each Assembly district – who are unpaid party functionaries elected every two years and who choose the party chair. District leaders also help craft the party’s policy positions and candidate endorsements, nominate poll workers and pick candidates for Civil and Supreme Court judgeships. District leaders often wind up becoming candidates for City Council and state legislative offices.</p> <p>In 2020, Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn, who represents District 42 centered in Flatbush and is also the elected female district leader, became the first woman to lead the Brooklyn Democratic Party, succeeding former longtime county boss Frank Seddio. There are also nearly 5,000 county committee positions, which are mostly unfilled, elected from election districts that cover small numbers of city blocks. The county committee members help pick judicial candidates, choose the party’s nominee in certain special elections, and otherwise help in deciding the policy platform for the party. </p> <p>Though it isn’t always apparent to the public, the county party wields significant power. The party throws its fundraising and organizing heft behind its chosen candidates in local elections, often all but assuring their victory. It selects judicial delegates who, more often than not, run unopposed and go on to decide the candidates that will seek election as judges, a process tightly controlled by party bosses.</p> <p>The party chooses nominees in special elections, a process typically more akin to an appointment than an election. And party bosses help fill top positions at the New York City Board of Elections, a patronage hiring process that has long been a target for reform.</p> <p>County parties can be influential but not nearly always determinative in many races for City Council, the State Senate and Assembly, the borough presidency, and citywide seats. In Brooklyn in the 2021 city elections, for example, the county party appeared to be helpful to Eric Adams in his victorious mayoral campaign, but reform-minded progressive Antonio Reynoso, who is aligned with the movement seeking to remove Bichotte Hermelyn and her allies, won the borough presidency. And while Public Advocate Williams and Comptroller Lander are Brooklynites holding the other two citywide positions along with Mayor Adams, they are more aligned with the reformers than the county party.</p> <p>When Bichotte Hermelyn took over the party, she promised a new era of transparency, collaboration, and reform. “I have been extremely vocal about our plan for more transparency and accountability in our financials,” she <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/personality/2020/03/rodneyse-bichotte-definitely-not-the-old-boss/176219/">told City &amp; State</a> in March 2020, after taking over the party that January and conducting a listening tour with Democratic clubs in the borough.</p> <p>In December that year, a marathon 26-hour organizational meeting of the party took place over two days in which reformers led by the New Kings Democrats club attempted to pass a series of rules changes but were overruled. Shortly after, in an<a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/personality/2020/12/bichotte-makes-the-case-for-being-a-unifier/175320/"> interview with City &amp; State</a>, Bichotte Hermelyn said, “As a Black woman, I’m trying to save the party, I’m trying to be unified, but I’m trying to do the right thing. I consider myself a reformer, a reform county leader because that’s where I came from. I didn’t come from the establishment. I want to work with New Kings Democrats, I do. And I want every other group and clubs to work with each other and be more active.”</p> <p>But several elected officials like U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Borough President Reynoso, along with a group of reform-minded insurgent candidates, say she has led the party with an iron fist, silencing dissent and shutting down efforts to improve party functioning. They have tried to bring attention to various problematic long-running practices – the use of proxy votes, petition challenges, running candidates without their consent – to highlight what they see as fraud and corruption as they attempt to bring more democracy to the Brooklyn Democratic Party.</p> <p>The split in the party is also apparent at higher levels. While Rep. Velazquez has been aligned with the reformers, Rep. Jeffries, her fellow Democrat, has backed candidates favored by the county party running against progressives. Jeffries recently endorsed Dionne Brown-Jordan’s county-backed primary challenge against Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus. Brown-Jordan is currently a district leader in the 46th district and assistant treasurer for the Brooklyn Democratic Party, while Frontus is aligned with the New Kings Democrats.</p> <p>Notably, Jeffries did not follow the Brooklyn Democrats in endorsing Adams mayoral campaign. Jeffries and Adams have a history of backing opposing candidates but have long <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/politics/2019/08/eric-adams-hakeem-jeffries-is-not-my-rival/176997/">insisted</a> that they are not political rivals. Jeffries instead endorsed Wiley, though he eventually announced Adams as his second choice in the ranked-choice primary.</p> <p><strong>Reform from the Inside</strong><br />The movement to reform the party from within has been underway for years, as far back as 2008 when veterans of the Obama campaign formed the New Kings Democrats (NKD) to help induct young progressives into the ranks of the party. In recent years, NKD has led the “Rep Your Block” campaign to encourage Democrats to get in on the ground floor by running for county committee.</p> <p>Those efforts culminated this year in “Brooklyn Can’t Wait,” the newest manifestation of the reform campaign backed by several political clubs including NKD, the Brooklyn Young Democrats, the North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats, the Lambda Independent Democrats, the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, South Central Brooklyn United for Progress, and the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats.</p> <p>They have aligned behind a slate of 20 candidates who are running for district leader in this month’s election – 16 are challenging sitting Democrats while four are incumbents. If all are successful, those candidates would make up nearly half of the 44 district leaders who elect the county chair. While such a sweep is very unlikely, there are many existing district leaders who are either already opposed to Bichotte Hermelyn or are wavering in their support, said NKD spokesperson Tony Melone. “It's kind of a moving target. And my sense is that more and more people are frustrated with what the county leadership is doing,” he said of the potential for reformers to hold a majority of the district leader positions.</p> <p>The “Brooklyn Can’t Wait” candidates have each signed on to a platform aimed at changing how the party functions, promising broader participation for members and voters, and greater transparency in the judicial nominating process, among other changes. The candidates have also been endorsed by a long list of Brooklyn elected officials indicative of the size and power of the progressive movement out of the borough, including Rep. Velazquez, Borough President Reynoso, Public Advocate Williams, Comptroller Lander, State Senators Julia Salazar, Andrew Gounardes, and Zellnor Myrie, Assemblymembers Jo Anne Simon, Emily Gallagher, Bobby Carroll, and Phara Souffrant Forrest, and City Council Members Lincoln Restler, Jennifer Gutierrez, Sandy Nurse, and Shahana Hanif.</p> <p>Last year, Reynoso and Velazquez were among those who called on Bichotte Hermelyn to resign following <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/11/11/22777485/brooklyn-democratic-party-fight-over-a-raunchy-song">an incident</a> where her husband, Edu Hermelyn – himself a district leader from District 43, which neighbors Bichotte Hermelyn’s Assembly district – apparently made offensive remarks during a meeting towards Assemblymember Maritza Davila.</p> <p>“It’s gotten to the point where, as elected officials, there’s a really severe lack of respect of culture,” Davila <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/11/11/22777485/brooklyn-democratic-party-fight-over-a-raunchy-song">told The City</a> at the time. “I’m not the only one — a lot of district leaders have been disrespected.”</p> <p>Though the push to reform the party has been ongoing for more than a decade, it’s intensified in recent years. And the complaints of the reformers are many. They say decisions are made by leadership without consulting the rank-and-file members of the party (a complaint that existed well before Bichotte Hermelyn’s time), that incumbents are protected at the cost of inducting new blood and energy into the party, and that loyalty to the party is rewarded over qualifications.</p> <p>In December 2020, when the party held the 26-hour Zoom meeting for the county committee, reformers had managed to get several new rules approved in the first half of the meeting that would have decentralized power in some ways. But, in the next half of the meeting, those rules were rescinded when a parliamentarian, Rob Robinson, hired by the party, ruled that the vote to adopt the changes violated the party’s rules and a judge’s order.</p> <p>Prior to that meeting, the party held two county committee meetings every year but has held none since. By law, the party is required to hold at least one meeting every two years.</p> <p>This year, The City and The New York Daily News have reported on several irregularities in the party’s election operations. <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/politics/2022/4/14/23026153/brooklyn-democratic-party-ballot-petition-challenges">The City reported</a> in April that the county submitted forged signatures on ballot challenges to the Board of Elections, an allegation leveled by Rep Your Block. The publication also <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/5/4/23057779/20-people-listed-brooklyn-democratic-primary-candidates-without-knowledge">reported</a> that the party had listed (at least) 20 people as candidates for county committee without their consent. The Daily News <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-dead-woman-signed-up-for-brooklyn-democratic-party-20220508-37s42g4qzzfk7ld7okvgce6ynu-story.html">found</a> that the party had even listed people who were deceased. Both those cases are being examined by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office.</p> <p>Many of the reform candidates also faced legal hurdles when they filed their petitions to get on the ballot. More than 200 individual objections were filed against various candidates, all of them being handled by the county-affiliated law firm of Abrams Fensterman, which was until recently headed in part by Mayor Eric Adams’ chief of staff Frank Carone. Seddio, the former party boss, was also once Carone’s law partner. At a rally outside Brooklyn Borough Hall this spring, reform groups and elected officials called on the party to reject old-school political tactics and “drop the objections” to the candidates.</p> <p>Brooklyn City Council Member Lincoln Restler criticized the “endemic corruption” of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. “Tragically, it's as bad as it's ever been,” he said, adding that he was “deeply disappointed” in Bichotte Hermelyn’s leadership. “The actions she has taken this cycle are confounding and indefensible and I hope she pays the ultimate price in being dethroned as chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party this summer,” said Restler, who has long been aligned with Reynoso, Velazquez, and New Kings Democrats.</p> <p>Some candidates have also pointed to more direct interventions by Bichotte Hermelyn. District leaders typically choose election inspectors to prepare poll sites, assist voters and other poll workers. But in certain districts, Bichotte Hermelyn decided to go around incumbent district leaders who are opposed to the county leadership and chose special election liaisons who will get to choose the inspectors, one of the many ways small and large in which the party leader can steer power and pay to allies.</p> <p>The conflict has also come to a head in very ugly and public ways. In late April, Assemblymember Bobby Carroll, a progressive who represents District 44, publicly expressed frustrations with the party after his ballot challenge against a slate of county-backed judicial candidates was rejected by the New York City Board of Elections.</p> <p>“So I guess this now means in @AMBichotte’s BOE, she can challenge anyone and no one can challenge her,” he <a href="https://twitter.com/Bobby4Brooklyn/status/1519359555418869761?s=20&amp;t=QPiqAdWXCGluOAqiUM5kGg">tweeted</a>. “She is breaking the Democratic Party. Rules should be followed but she clearly doesn’t care. Seems like we have our own Donald Trump in Brooklyn.”</p> <p>Bichotte Hermelyn struck back at Carroll, <a href="https://twitter.com/AMBichotte/status/1519476364000337929?s=20&amp;t=jfeeE42NIot_QAeIwHclfQ">saying</a> he “failed to succeed at your attempt to throw a slate of people of color &amp; first-time women candidates - off the ballot.”</p> <p>“The only story here is that a privileged man is claiming the rules are stacked against him when they aren't,” she tweeted.</p> <p>The county organization has sought to broadly rubbish most of the criticisms leveled against it from the petition challenges to the rules changes.</p> <p>“New Kings Democrats and their allies have challenged the petitions of lots of candidates, including a slate of Pakistanis and Muslims trying to become active in the County Committee, so their protests about facing challenges are hollow and self-serving,” said Bichotte Hermelyn, in part, in a statement to Gotham Gazette through a spokesperson. “The County Committee has welcomed their participation, including the adoption of many rules changes they have proposed, but they apparently cannot take yes for an answer.”</p> <p>The statement singled out Ali Najmi, an election lawyer representing New Kings Democrats. “The rules are the rules, even when Ali Najmi and his allies use a registered Republican to challenge Democratic petitions. If there is some difference between what Ali Najmi and his allies do in challenging petitions, and what others do in challenging petitions of candidates he is getting paid to represent, maybe someone can explain that,” Bichotte Hermelyn said. “The Brooklyn Democratic Party is a diverse and unified party, expanding representation through opening up County Committee membership to <a href="https://gaycitynews.com/brooklyn-dems-finally-allow-non-binary-candidates-to-run-for-party-posts/">non-binary Democrats</a>, while New Kings Democrats-affiliated groups in North Brooklyn challenge whether mothers can also run for state senate, an outrageous and sexist action that they have yet to fully denounce.” (The statement referred to a Zoom endorsement meeting of the North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats in which two members <a href="https://www.brooklynpaper.com/senate-candidate-sexist-question-motherhood/">questioned</a> Francoise Olivas, a candidate for Senate District 17, if she could handle being in office and the responsibilities of being a mother. The organization later tweeted that the comments did not reflect the opinions of their executive committee.)</p> <p>New Kings and Najmi said the party’s response was misleading in parts and even outright false. The petition challenges against Muslim candidates for county committee took place in Assembly District 44, represented by Assemblymember Carroll, and neither New Kings nor Najmi were involved. The registered Republican that the statement referred to was one of the objectors to petition signatures filed by Sabrina Rezzy, a staffer for Bichotte Hermelyn’s Assembly office who was attempting to run for district leader in Assembly District 64. Najmi said he did not pick the objector and that they had filed a change of party registration from Republican to Democrat, which had yet to be processed. Nonetheless, Rezzy failed to qualify for the ballot.</p> <p>“To me personally, [ballot] objections in and of themselves are not inherently bad,” Najmi said in a phone interview. “But I take exception to those objections that are not real objections, that are products of fraud and forgery. So that's the distinction.”</p> <p>Melone of New Kings also insisted that most of the rules reforms they want have been rejected, citing the December 2020 meeting. The only rule change that has been successful is allowing nonbinary and transgender candidates to run for county committee seats, which were previously split between male and female representatives. “On the one hand, they're including more folks, but on the other hand, they've taken away all the opportunities for those folks to make any meaningful impacts,” Melone said.</p> <p>In the end, the party chair said the reform movement is not about improving the party but a mere power grab. “Let’s be honest. This is not about rules. This is about power. The so-called ‘reformers’ want it. This is resolved at the ballot box. We will meet them there,” she said, in part echoing what the late Brooklyn county leader Meade Esposito once said, that “today’s reformer is tomorrow’s hack.”</p> <p>“We want a party that is inviting people in and encourages people to participate and is open to having elections,” said Comptroller Lander, a reform-minded progressive Democrat who previously represented parts of Brooklyn in the City Council and was at the Brooklyn Borough Hall rally, in a brief interview with Gotham Gazette. “That's what a democracy is.” </p> <p>“When you have a machine, a party organization that exists, that is going to file objections against any challengers, that's objectionable to begin with. But to be willing to do it fraudulently is no good,” he added. “The way the Brooklyn Democratic Party is currently operating is not consistent with small-d democratic values.”</p> <p>Melone said that Bichotte Hermelyn has been, at minimum, “divisive, for sure.”</p> <p>“There were times when there was some give-and-take and there were some compromises. It was few and far between, but in the past, there have been times when county committee members have been able to work out some compromises with party leaders, but that really hasn't happened in the past few years,” he said. He noted that under former county chair Seddio, the party changed rules to hold county committee meetings twice a year and made changes to proxy voting forms to reduce Seddio’s hold over it. “It feels like party leaders are very much in the mode of consolidating power right now. And that's how it's been for the past few years through the pandemic.”</p> <p>Melone noted that party loyalty has been rewarding for its members, particularly under Mayor Adams’ administration with Carone as a top aide. Edu Hermelyn, Bichotte Hermelyn’s husband, was given a plum position within the administration with a $190,000 annual salary, though he soon resigned so he could keep his unpaid district leader seat, indicating how important it is to the couple that they retain more power in the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Edu Hermelyn was also paid $81,000 for consulting work he did for Adams’ campaign.</p> <p>“A lot of it feels like the old fashioned patronage system,” Melone said. “And I think that you see it even more in the court system, where people who want judicial positions have a history of contributing money to the party and promoting district leaders in hopes of eventually getting picked for a judge.”</p> <p><strong>Insurgent Candidates</strong><br />Akel Williams and Naomi Hopkins are among the “Brooklyn Can’t Wait” slate of candidates who are challenging incumbents allied with the county. In interviews, each of them shared similar complaints about the party as they outlined their reasons for running this year.</p> <p>Williams is running for male district leader in Assembly District 43 in Central Brooklyn against Edu Hermelyn in likely one of the most challenging district leader races for New Kings to win in the primary.</p> <p>Williams said he became active in his local political scene in 2018, when there was a groundswell of Democratic activism and insurgent candidates running for office in response to the Trump presidency. Williams knew little of how the political system worked and over time, he “started to realize there's a lot of cronyism and things that are in a way that they shouldn't be,” he said. He tried to run in a primary for district leader in the same district in 2020 but was kicked off the ballot after the incumbent challenged some of his ballot petition signatures before the BOE and was successful. That incumbent, Geoffrey Davis, abruptly resigned weeks later, allowing the county party to appoint Hermelyn to replace him.</p> <p>Williams, like the other challengers, wants to make the county party more representative of a broader array of voices. “We generally believe in the Democratic Party where dissenting voices should be allowed,” he said. “The way how things currently stand with the current leadership is if you have a different view or a different opinion and you speak up, they find ways to silence you, challenge you or do something to get rid of you.”</p> <p>“I would go on the record to state that I will support a change in the leadership of the [Brooklyn] Democratic Party, because at the end of the day, I personally believe that I want a party chair, not a party boss,” he said.</p> <p>“We have not had a district leader race in my community where I live for decades,” said Hopkins, who was chief of staff for then-City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. Hopkins is running for female district leader in Assembly District 59 against State Senator Roxanne Persaud in Southeast Brooklyn. The district’s prominent political power is the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, co-led by former county boss Seddio and Assemblymember Jaime Williams.</p> <p>Seddio, who did not respond to multiple requests to comment for this article, is the male district leader and Williams recently became the female district leader, appointed after the previous one left for a community board job. Hopkins and Persaud are running to replace her.</p> <p>Hopkins expressed exasperation with district leaders running unopposed for their positions, effectively being appointed by county leadership rather than competitively elected, as was the case with Williams.</p> <p>“I am stirring the pot…but I'm not attempting to make trouble. I just want people to be aware of what is possible,” she said, insisting that the district’s representatives have failed to pay attention to the issues affecting their communities such as rising housing unaffordability, increasing home foreclosures, and an uptick in scams aimed at the elderly.</p> <p>Of Williams, Hopkins said, “She's also not moving the needle in any direction. She's just kind of there, faithful for the Democrats, all is well, status quo. She again is not a person that ever is going outside of the box and engaging with anyone that doesn't engage with them first.”</p> <p>“We don't talk about the role of the state committee or district leader because the status quo is very happy to continue to utilize them to push a corrupt agenda,” she added. “All of this is corruption. And that's a really big word and folks don't like to use it, but I'm using it. I have literally nothing to lose in speaking truth to the powers that be and that's what it is.”</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated. </p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/4x3-inside-civil.jpg" /></p> <p>(l-r) Top: Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Antonio Reynoso, Nydia Velazquez, Hakeem Jeffries; Bottom: Eric Adams, Brad Lander, &amp; Jumaane Williams</p> <hr /> <p>Update: <i>The</i> <i>'Brooklyn Can't Wait' campaign ran 20 candidates for district leader who pledged to reform the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Thirteen of them, including incumbents, won their races in the June 28 primary. Read the full story below for background and other context about the 'civil war' in the Brooklyn Democratic Party:</i></p> <p>Brooklyn is the center of political power in New York City, and its influence has grown in recent years. It’s the home borough for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, considered among the top candidates to be the next Democratic Speaker of the House, New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Comptroller Brad Lander, and others. The borough was instrumental in electing Adams and his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, also a longtime Brooklynite.</p> <p>But the Brooklyn Democratic Party — one of the largest county organizations in the country, representing 1.14 million registered Democratic voters — is in turmoil, contending with an internecine conflict between county officials clinging to power and a slate of young reformers seeking to depose them. The next battle in this civil war will be decided in this month’s elections, which could have broad ramifications for the political landscape across the city’s most populous borough and beyond.</p> <p>The conflict has played out publicly over the last year. The county party leader, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, fended off calls for her resignation after her husband allegedly made derogatory remarks about a sitting Assemblymember, the latest in a list of complaints lodged against her.</p> <p>More recently, the party has faced allegations of <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/politics/2022/4/14/23026153/brooklyn-democratic-party-ballot-petition-challenges">forging ballot petition signatures</a>, <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/5/4/23057779/20-people-listed-brooklyn-democratic-primary-candidates-without-knowledge">signing up</a> people as candidates for county committee seats without their consent, and <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-dead-woman-signed-up-for-brooklyn-democratic-party-20220508-37s42g4qzzfk7ld7okvgce6ynu-story.html">appointing</a> dead people to empty party posts – several good government groups have <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/brooklyn/2022/6/16/23171436/brooklyn-democrats-da-probe-demand">called</a> on Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonazalez to investigate the forgery allegations even as his office is already <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-brooklyn-da-looking-into-brooklyn-democratic-party-20220510-pjxsen6nyre2tcsmcqwsh5yebe-story.html">examining</a> the appointments of dead people and people without their knowledge to party positions. And Hermelyn herself has been <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/6/16/23171693/poll-workers-brooklyn-democratic-party">accused of retaliating</a> against party officials who refuse to toe the party line, all while running the party with limited transparency and making attempts to marginalize opposing views.</p> <p>There are many competitive and contentious local races playing out this month for local party positions as well as seats in the State Assembly, while reformers also look to boost the progressive slate in the imminent Democratic primaries for Governor, Jumaane Williams, and Lieutenant Governor, Ana Maria Archila while the party establishment backs Governor Kathy Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. The lines drawn are indicative of battles over the last several years, with each round of elections intensifying the split.</p> <p><strong>All Politics Local</strong><br />County parties are the most local form of party governance. The Kings County Democratic Party’s state committee is made up of 44 district leaders – one male and one female from each Assembly district – who are unpaid party functionaries elected every two years and who choose the party chair. District leaders also help craft the party’s policy positions and candidate endorsements, nominate poll workers and pick candidates for Civil and Supreme Court judgeships. District leaders often wind up becoming candidates for City Council and state legislative offices.</p> <p>In 2020, Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn, who represents District 42 centered in Flatbush and is also the elected female district leader, became the first woman to lead the Brooklyn Democratic Party, succeeding former longtime county boss Frank Seddio. There are also nearly 5,000 county committee positions, which are mostly unfilled, elected from election districts that cover small numbers of city blocks. The county committee members help pick judicial candidates, choose the party’s nominee in certain special elections, and otherwise help in deciding the policy platform for the party. </p> <p>Though it isn’t always apparent to the public, the county party wields significant power. The party throws its fundraising and organizing heft behind its chosen candidates in local elections, often all but assuring their victory. It selects judicial delegates who, more often than not, run unopposed and go on to decide the candidates that will seek election as judges, a process tightly controlled by party bosses.</p> <p>The party chooses nominees in special elections, a process typically more akin to an appointment than an election. And party bosses help fill top positions at the New York City Board of Elections, a patronage hiring process that has long been a target for reform.</p> <p>County parties can be influential but not nearly always determinative in many races for City Council, the State Senate and Assembly, the borough presidency, and citywide seats. In Brooklyn in the 2021 city elections, for example, the county party appeared to be helpful to Eric Adams in his victorious mayoral campaign, but reform-minded progressive Antonio Reynoso, who is aligned with the movement seeking to remove Bichotte Hermelyn and her allies, won the borough presidency. And while Public Advocate Williams and Comptroller Lander are Brooklynites holding the other two citywide positions along with Mayor Adams, they are more aligned with the reformers than the county party.</p> <p>When Bichotte Hermelyn took over the party, she promised a new era of transparency, collaboration, and reform. “I have been extremely vocal about our plan for more transparency and accountability in our financials,” she <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/personality/2020/03/rodneyse-bichotte-definitely-not-the-old-boss/176219/">told City &amp; State</a> in March 2020, after taking over the party that January and conducting a listening tour with Democratic clubs in the borough.</p> <p>In December that year, a marathon 26-hour organizational meeting of the party took place over two days in which reformers led by the New Kings Democrats club attempted to pass a series of rules changes but were overruled. Shortly after, in an<a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/personality/2020/12/bichotte-makes-the-case-for-being-a-unifier/175320/"> interview with City &amp; State</a>, Bichotte Hermelyn said, “As a Black woman, I’m trying to save the party, I’m trying to be unified, but I’m trying to do the right thing. I consider myself a reformer, a reform county leader because that’s where I came from. I didn’t come from the establishment. I want to work with New Kings Democrats, I do. And I want every other group and clubs to work with each other and be more active.”</p> <p>But several elected officials like U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Borough President Reynoso, along with a group of reform-minded insurgent candidates, say she has led the party with an iron fist, silencing dissent and shutting down efforts to improve party functioning. They have tried to bring attention to various problematic long-running practices – the use of proxy votes, petition challenges, running candidates without their consent – to highlight what they see as fraud and corruption as they attempt to bring more democracy to the Brooklyn Democratic Party.</p> <p>The split in the party is also apparent at higher levels. While Rep. Velazquez has been aligned with the reformers, Rep. Jeffries, her fellow Democrat, has backed candidates favored by the county party running against progressives. Jeffries recently endorsed Dionne Brown-Jordan’s county-backed primary challenge against Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus. Brown-Jordan is currently a district leader in the 46th district and assistant treasurer for the Brooklyn Democratic Party, while Frontus is aligned with the New Kings Democrats.</p> <p>Notably, Jeffries did not follow the Brooklyn Democrats in endorsing Adams mayoral campaign. Jeffries and Adams have a history of backing opposing candidates but have long <a href="https://www.cityandstateny.com/politics/2019/08/eric-adams-hakeem-jeffries-is-not-my-rival/176997/">insisted</a> that they are not political rivals. Jeffries instead endorsed Wiley, though he eventually announced Adams as his second choice in the ranked-choice primary.</p> <p><strong>Reform from the Inside</strong><br />The movement to reform the party from within has been underway for years, as far back as 2008 when veterans of the Obama campaign formed the New Kings Democrats (NKD) to help induct young progressives into the ranks of the party. In recent years, NKD has led the “Rep Your Block” campaign to encourage Democrats to get in on the ground floor by running for county committee.</p> <p>Those efforts culminated this year in “Brooklyn Can’t Wait,” the newest manifestation of the reform campaign backed by several political clubs including NKD, the Brooklyn Young Democrats, the North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats, the Lambda Independent Democrats, the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, South Central Brooklyn United for Progress, and the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats.</p> <p>They have aligned behind a slate of 20 candidates who are running for district leader in this month’s election – 16 are challenging sitting Democrats while four are incumbents. If all are successful, those candidates would make up nearly half of the 44 district leaders who elect the county chair. While such a sweep is very unlikely, there are many existing district leaders who are either already opposed to Bichotte Hermelyn or are wavering in their support, said NKD spokesperson Tony Melone. “It's kind of a moving target. And my sense is that more and more people are frustrated with what the county leadership is doing,” he said of the potential for reformers to hold a majority of the district leader positions.</p> <p>The “Brooklyn Can’t Wait” candidates have each signed on to a platform aimed at changing how the party functions, promising broader participation for members and voters, and greater transparency in the judicial nominating process, among other changes. The candidates have also been endorsed by a long list of Brooklyn elected officials indicative of the size and power of the progressive movement out of the borough, including Rep. Velazquez, Borough President Reynoso, Public Advocate Williams, Comptroller Lander, State Senators Julia Salazar, Andrew Gounardes, and Zellnor Myrie, Assemblymembers Jo Anne Simon, Emily Gallagher, Bobby Carroll, and Phara Souffrant Forrest, and City Council Members Lincoln Restler, Jennifer Gutierrez, Sandy Nurse, and Shahana Hanif.</p> <p>Last year, Reynoso and Velazquez were among those who called on Bichotte Hermelyn to resign following <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/11/11/22777485/brooklyn-democratic-party-fight-over-a-raunchy-song">an incident</a> where her husband, Edu Hermelyn – himself a district leader from District 43, which neighbors Bichotte Hermelyn’s Assembly district – apparently made offensive remarks during a meeting towards Assemblymember Maritza Davila.</p> <p>“It’s gotten to the point where, as elected officials, there’s a really severe lack of respect of culture,” Davila <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/11/11/22777485/brooklyn-democratic-party-fight-over-a-raunchy-song">told The City</a> at the time. “I’m not the only one — a lot of district leaders have been disrespected.”</p> <p>Though the push to reform the party has been ongoing for more than a decade, it’s intensified in recent years. And the complaints of the reformers are many. They say decisions are made by leadership without consulting the rank-and-file members of the party (a complaint that existed well before Bichotte Hermelyn’s time), that incumbents are protected at the cost of inducting new blood and energy into the party, and that loyalty to the party is rewarded over qualifications.</p> <p>In December 2020, when the party held the 26-hour Zoom meeting for the county committee, reformers had managed to get several new rules approved in the first half of the meeting that would have decentralized power in some ways. But, in the next half of the meeting, those rules were rescinded when a parliamentarian, Rob Robinson, hired by the party, ruled that the vote to adopt the changes violated the party’s rules and a judge’s order.</p> <p>Prior to that meeting, the party held two county committee meetings every year but has held none since. By law, the party is required to hold at least one meeting every two years.</p> <p>This year, The City and The New York Daily News have reported on several irregularities in the party’s election operations. <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/politics/2022/4/14/23026153/brooklyn-democratic-party-ballot-petition-challenges">The City reported</a> in April that the county submitted forged signatures on ballot challenges to the Board of Elections, an allegation leveled by Rep Your Block. The publication also <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/5/4/23057779/20-people-listed-brooklyn-democratic-primary-candidates-without-knowledge">reported</a> that the party had listed (at least) 20 people as candidates for county committee without their consent. The Daily News <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-dead-woman-signed-up-for-brooklyn-democratic-party-20220508-37s42g4qzzfk7ld7okvgce6ynu-story.html">found</a> that the party had even listed people who were deceased. Both those cases are being examined by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office.</p> <p>Many of the reform candidates also faced legal hurdles when they filed their petitions to get on the ballot. More than 200 individual objections were filed against various candidates, all of them being handled by the county-affiliated law firm of Abrams Fensterman, which was until recently headed in part by Mayor Eric Adams’ chief of staff Frank Carone. Seddio, the former party boss, was also once Carone’s law partner. At a rally outside Brooklyn Borough Hall this spring, reform groups and elected officials called on the party to reject old-school political tactics and “drop the objections” to the candidates.</p> <p>Brooklyn City Council Member Lincoln Restler criticized the “endemic corruption” of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. “Tragically, it's as bad as it's ever been,” he said, adding that he was “deeply disappointed” in Bichotte Hermelyn’s leadership. “The actions she has taken this cycle are confounding and indefensible and I hope she pays the ultimate price in being dethroned as chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party this summer,” said Restler, who has long been aligned with Reynoso, Velazquez, and New Kings Democrats.</p> <p>Some candidates have also pointed to more direct interventions by Bichotte Hermelyn. District leaders typically choose election inspectors to prepare poll sites, assist voters and other poll workers. But in certain districts, Bichotte Hermelyn decided to go around incumbent district leaders who are opposed to the county leadership and chose special election liaisons who will get to choose the inspectors, one of the many ways small and large in which the party leader can steer power and pay to allies.</p> <p>The conflict has also come to a head in very ugly and public ways. In late April, Assemblymember Bobby Carroll, a progressive who represents District 44, publicly expressed frustrations with the party after his ballot challenge against a slate of county-backed judicial candidates was rejected by the New York City Board of Elections.</p> <p>“So I guess this now means in @AMBichotte’s BOE, she can challenge anyone and no one can challenge her,” he <a href="https://twitter.com/Bobby4Brooklyn/status/1519359555418869761?s=20&amp;t=QPiqAdWXCGluOAqiUM5kGg">tweeted</a>. “She is breaking the Democratic Party. Rules should be followed but she clearly doesn’t care. Seems like we have our own Donald Trump in Brooklyn.”</p> <p>Bichotte Hermelyn struck back at Carroll, <a href="https://twitter.com/AMBichotte/status/1519476364000337929?s=20&amp;t=jfeeE42NIot_QAeIwHclfQ">saying</a> he “failed to succeed at your attempt to throw a slate of people of color &amp; first-time women candidates - off the ballot.”</p> <p>“The only story here is that a privileged man is claiming the rules are stacked against him when they aren't,” she tweeted.</p> <p>The county organization has sought to broadly rubbish most of the criticisms leveled against it from the petition challenges to the rules changes.</p> <p>“New Kings Democrats and their allies have challenged the petitions of lots of candidates, including a slate of Pakistanis and Muslims trying to become active in the County Committee, so their protests about facing challenges are hollow and self-serving,” said Bichotte Hermelyn, in part, in a statement to Gotham Gazette through a spokesperson. “The County Committee has welcomed their participation, including the adoption of many rules changes they have proposed, but they apparently cannot take yes for an answer.”</p> <p>The statement singled out Ali Najmi, an election lawyer representing New Kings Democrats. “The rules are the rules, even when Ali Najmi and his allies use a registered Republican to challenge Democratic petitions. If there is some difference between what Ali Najmi and his allies do in challenging petitions, and what others do in challenging petitions of candidates he is getting paid to represent, maybe someone can explain that,” Bichotte Hermelyn said. “The Brooklyn Democratic Party is a diverse and unified party, expanding representation through opening up County Committee membership to <a href="https://gaycitynews.com/brooklyn-dems-finally-allow-non-binary-candidates-to-run-for-party-posts/">non-binary Democrats</a>, while New Kings Democrats-affiliated groups in North Brooklyn challenge whether mothers can also run for state senate, an outrageous and sexist action that they have yet to fully denounce.” (The statement referred to a Zoom endorsement meeting of the North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats in which two members <a href="https://www.brooklynpaper.com/senate-candidate-sexist-question-motherhood/">questioned</a> Francoise Olivas, a candidate for Senate District 17, if she could handle being in office and the responsibilities of being a mother. The organization later tweeted that the comments did not reflect the opinions of their executive committee.)</p> <p>New Kings and Najmi said the party’s response was misleading in parts and even outright false. The petition challenges against Muslim candidates for county committee took place in Assembly District 44, represented by Assemblymember Carroll, and neither New Kings nor Najmi were involved. The registered Republican that the statement referred to was one of the objectors to petition signatures filed by Sabrina Rezzy, a staffer for Bichotte Hermelyn’s Assembly office who was attempting to run for district leader in Assembly District 64. Najmi said he did not pick the objector and that they had filed a change of party registration from Republican to Democrat, which had yet to be processed. Nonetheless, Rezzy failed to qualify for the ballot.</p> <p>“To me personally, [ballot] objections in and of themselves are not inherently bad,” Najmi said in a phone interview. “But I take exception to those objections that are not real objections, that are products of fraud and forgery. So that's the distinction.”</p> <p>Melone of New Kings also insisted that most of the rules reforms they want have been rejected, citing the December 2020 meeting. The only rule change that has been successful is allowing nonbinary and transgender candidates to run for county committee seats, which were previously split between male and female representatives. “On the one hand, they're including more folks, but on the other hand, they've taken away all the opportunities for those folks to make any meaningful impacts,” Melone said.</p> <p>In the end, the party chair said the reform movement is not about improving the party but a mere power grab. “Let’s be honest. This is not about rules. This is about power. The so-called ‘reformers’ want it. This is resolved at the ballot box. We will meet them there,” she said, in part echoing what the late Brooklyn county leader Meade Esposito once said, that “today’s reformer is tomorrow’s hack.”</p> <p>“We want a party that is inviting people in and encourages people to participate and is open to having elections,” said Comptroller Lander, a reform-minded progressive Democrat who previously represented parts of Brooklyn in the City Council and was at the Brooklyn Borough Hall rally, in a brief interview with Gotham Gazette. “That's what a democracy is.” </p> <p>“When you have a machine, a party organization that exists, that is going to file objections against any challengers, that's objectionable to begin with. But to be willing to do it fraudulently is no good,” he added. “The way the Brooklyn Democratic Party is currently operating is not consistent with small-d democratic values.”</p> <p>Melone said that Bichotte Hermelyn has been, at minimum, “divisive, for sure.”</p> <p>“There were times when there was some give-and-take and there were some compromises. It was few and far between, but in the past, there have been times when county committee members have been able to work out some compromises with party leaders, but that really hasn't happened in the past few years,” he said. He noted that under former county chair Seddio, the party changed rules to hold county committee meetings twice a year and made changes to proxy voting forms to reduce Seddio’s hold over it. “It feels like party leaders are very much in the mode of consolidating power right now. And that's how it's been for the past few years through the pandemic.”</p> <p>Melone noted that party loyalty has been rewarding for its members, particularly under Mayor Adams’ administration with Carone as a top aide. Edu Hermelyn, Bichotte Hermelyn’s husband, was given a plum position within the administration with a $190,000 annual salary, though he soon resigned so he could keep his unpaid district leader seat, indicating how important it is to the couple that they retain more power in the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Edu Hermelyn was also paid $81,000 for consulting work he did for Adams’ campaign.</p> <p>“A lot of it feels like the old fashioned patronage system,” Melone said. “And I think that you see it even more in the court system, where people who want judicial positions have a history of contributing money to the party and promoting district leaders in hopes of eventually getting picked for a judge.”</p> <p><strong>Insurgent Candidates</strong><br />Akel Williams and Naomi Hopkins are among the “Brooklyn Can’t Wait” slate of candidates who are challenging incumbents allied with the county. In interviews, each of them shared similar complaints about the party as they outlined their reasons for running this year.</p> <p>Williams is running for male district leader in Assembly District 43 in Central Brooklyn against Edu Hermelyn in likely one of the most challenging district leader races for New Kings to win in the primary.</p> <p>Williams said he became active in his local political scene in 2018, when there was a groundswell of Democratic activism and insurgent candidates running for office in response to the Trump presidency. Williams knew little of how the political system worked and over time, he “started to realize there's a lot of cronyism and things that are in a way that they shouldn't be,” he said. He tried to run in a primary for district leader in the same district in 2020 but was kicked off the ballot after the incumbent challenged some of his ballot petition signatures before the BOE and was successful. That incumbent, Geoffrey Davis, abruptly resigned weeks later, allowing the county party to appoint Hermelyn to replace him.</p> <p>Williams, like the other challengers, wants to make the county party more representative of a broader array of voices. “We generally believe in the Democratic Party where dissenting voices should be allowed,” he said. “The way how things currently stand with the current leadership is if you have a different view or a different opinion and you speak up, they find ways to silence you, challenge you or do something to get rid of you.”</p> <p>“I would go on the record to state that I will support a change in the leadership of the [Brooklyn] Democratic Party, because at the end of the day, I personally believe that I want a party chair, not a party boss,” he said.</p> <p>“We have not had a district leader race in my community where I live for decades,” said Hopkins, who was chief of staff for then-City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. Hopkins is running for female district leader in Assembly District 59 against State Senator Roxanne Persaud in Southeast Brooklyn. The district’s prominent political power is the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, co-led by former county boss Seddio and Assemblymember Jaime Williams.</p> <p>Seddio, who did not respond to multiple requests to comment for this article, is the male district leader and Williams recently became the female district leader, appointed after the previous one left for a community board job. Hopkins and Persaud are running to replace her.</p> <p>Hopkins expressed exasperation with district leaders running unopposed for their positions, effectively being appointed by county leadership rather than competitively elected, as was the case with Williams.</p> <p>“I am stirring the pot…but I'm not attempting to make trouble. I just want people to be aware of what is possible,” she said, insisting that the district’s representatives have failed to pay attention to the issues affecting their communities such as rising housing unaffordability, increasing home foreclosures, and an uptick in scams aimed at the elderly.</p> <p>Of Williams, Hopkins said, “She's also not moving the needle in any direction. She's just kind of there, faithful for the Democrats, all is well, status quo. She again is not a person that ever is going outside of the box and engaging with anyone that doesn't engage with them first.”</p> <p>“We don't talk about the role of the state committee or district leader because the status quo is very happy to continue to utilize them to push a corrupt agenda,” she added. “All of this is corruption. And that's a really big word and folks don't like to use it, but I'm using it. I have literally nothing to lose in speaking truth to the powers that be and that's what it is.”</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated. </p>
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>

***
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>

***
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>

***
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>

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

Read more by this writer.

</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>

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

Read more by this writer.

</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>

***
Rachel Cohen, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</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>