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Free workshop for Inwood small businesses: (Re)Zoning 101

Learn more about Inwood’s rezoning process now, before the City’s ULURP clock starts ticking!

The city’s Department of City Planning could certify a “Rezoning Proposal Application” for the Inwood area as soon as the end of next month. That certification will start the clock on the official “Uniform Land Use Review Procedure,” which has strict legal deadlines for consideration by the local Community Board, Borough President, Planning Commission, and City Council.

The land use staff from the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer wants to help your business get ahead of the curve. Attend this information session and learn how the proposed rezoning could affect your business—get your questions answered and find out how you can make your opinions heard!

Join us Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 4 – 6 pm at the Isabella Geriatric Center Library, 525 Audubon Ave.

Brewer, Chin file rare zoning text amendment to protect Two Bridges from out-of-scale luxury development

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

NEW YORK – Late last week, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and Council Member Margaret S. Chin filed with the Department of City Planning to formally request a zoning text amendment to protect the Two Bridges neighborhood from new, out-of-scale luxury development. The application is the first submitted solely by elected officials in nearly 15 years.

“Council Member Chin and I have been down this road before: when we see loopholes in the law that hurt our communities, we act to close them,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I have great respect for the professionals at the Department of City Planning, but when you look at the Two Bridges community and the way these massive towers would loom over it, you can’t help but understand that ‘minor modification’ has lost its meaning and we need clearer rules.”

“After helping build up this community, Two Bridges residents deserve the right to take back control and shape the future of their neighborhood,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “Since we first heard about these proposed mega-developments, Borough President Brewer and I have made our demands clear: we need a real, transparent public review process. This year, we are delivering on the promise we made to the Two Bridges community by using every tool at our disposal to make their voices heard. These out-of-scale buildings threaten to displace hardworking residents, bring forth irreversible environmental hazards, and accelerate gentrification, which would endanger the very fabric of the Two Bridges community. This text amendment, alongside my latest bill, will work to push for ULURP without unnecessary delays.” 
The Two Bridges Large Scale Residential Permit, first issued in 1972, governs two blocks within the former Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area, which was created in 1967. These blocks’ zoning, in effect, was adopted as a single, highly specific special permit. Today, developers are attempting to carve pieces out of this comprehensively-planned area and proceed with out-of-scale luxury developments soaring to heights as high as 950 feet, departing dramatically from the special permit.

While Borough President Brewer, Council Member Chin, and the area’s other city, state, and federal elected officials argued in a joint letter to the Department of City Planning that these development proposals constituted major departures from the special permit and therefore required a full public review through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), staff at the Department of City Planning decided to treat these as “minor modifications” exempt from ULURP, requiring only a joint environmental impact review. Brewer, Chin, and attorneys from the Urban Justice Center all argued this interpretation was incorrect.

The draft zoning text amendment submitted by Brewer and Chin would require a new special permit for certain developments in the Two Bridges Large Scale Residential Area, to clarify that large, out-of-scale development proposals are not “minor modifications” to this area’s plan and would require public review.

Brewer and Chin filed a draft zoning text amendment and supporting materials with DCP on Thursday, Oct. 12. These were filed along with a cover letter explaining why a number of the pre-application steps DCP can require applicants to go through should be waived, so the application can receive timely consideration before the Two Bridges community is irreversibly changed by these out-of-scale developments. DCP has waived these requirements for government agencies’ applications in the past.

Chin also sponsors Int. 1685, legislation supported by Borough President Brewer, which would allow elected officials who submit land use applications to exempt these applications from DCP’s time-consuming pre-application filing and meeting requirements.

Brewer Announces Community Board Leadership Development training series

The Office of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer is pleased to announce our Fall 2017 Leadership Training series. This series will cover topics important to Community Board members and appointees. Trainings are open to the public, however registration priority will be given to Manhattan Community Board members and other Borough President appointees. Please register online to attend.

Click here for more information on the trainings, dates and locations.

Open House NY: Manhattan Municipal Building

As part of Open House New York, which takes place Saturday, October 14, 2017, you will once again be able to sign up for a viewing of New York City at the top of the McKim Mead & White-designed Municipal Building which houses our office. The cupola offers extraordinary views of lower Manhattan and the East River (with a slice of the Hudson River, too!). Visit www.ohny.org tomorrow, Thursday Oct. 5 at 11 am to register. Spaces are extraordinarily limited, and assigned by 15-minute time slots-be sure to log on right at of 11 am.

DACA renewals must be received by USCIS by this Thursday, October 5.

Renewal applications of current DACA beneficiaries whose benefits expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 must be received by THIS Thursday, October 5.

The official DHS website for information is located here.

If you need help, please investigate the following resources and legal services NOW:

ActionNYC provides free, safe immigration legal help in your language. Call 1-800-354-0365 between 9AM-6PM, Monday-Friday. You can also call 311 and say "ActionNYC."

The NYC Council has compiled a list of resources for DACA renewals as well as financial assistance for renewal fees.

The multi-lingual New York State New Americans Hotline provides free and confidential immigration information and referrals to trusted help. Information for immigrant New Yorkers include referrals to free English language classes, immigration legal services and more. Call the Hotline toll-free at 1-800-566-7636 open Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Department of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review has compiled a list of free or low-cost legal
service providers
operating in each state.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services offers tips on avoiding victimization by “notarios” unlicensed to practice law.

Fresh Food for Seniors receiving a dedicated delivery van!

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 28, 2017

Today, Borough President Brewer and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery announced the de Blasio Administration’s commitment to fund a van and part-time driver to support the Fresh Food for Seniors program, which makes bags of fresh, locally-sourced produce available to seniors in multiple Manhattan neighborhoods for just $8. A dedicated van for produce deliveries to pickup locations will make the program more sustainable and lay the groundwork for further expansion.

Read more on the announcement...

Learn more about Fresh Food for Seniors...

Brewer, Vacca bringing “Open Data Law 2.0” to Council hearing tomorrow

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 19, 2017

NEW YORK – Tomorrow, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and New York City Council Member James Vacca will bring Intro 1707, a bill upgrading the City’s first-in-the-nation Open Data Law, to the City Council for a public hearing. Council Member Vacca, who chairs the Technology Committee, will lead the hearing and sponsors the legislation in partnership with Borough President Brewer, who authored the city’s original Open Data Law.
“On the surface, it’s hard to think of two things that look and feel more different than legislation and technology, but both laws and software need to be tested, refined, and rebuilt with new features over time,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This bill will help us build on what the Open Data Law has already made possible, by making compliance easier for City agencies and improving technical standards for the data we publish. I look forward to hearing what the administration and advocates have to say about Open Data 2.0, and I thank Chairman Vacca for his partnership on this bill and our city’s open data policy as a whole.”
“The original Open Data Law that Manhattan Borough President Brewer helped enact was a landmark piece of legislation,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Technology. “Over the past 5 years, our City has remained at the forefront of the global open data movement, and this new legislation will ensure the City’s open data offerings continue to improve well into the future. I look forward to working with the administration, advocates, and the Manhattan Borough President on moving this bill forward.”
With the passage of the original Open Data Law in 2012, New York City became the first municipality in the nation to require government agencies make their non-confidential data sets publicly available online, in machine-readable formats. So far more than 1,500 data sets have been published, containing more than 750 million rows of data. This data has given birth to a wealth of new possibilities for academic research, businesses, and app development, as well as a new and growing “civic hacking” community in New York.
The Brewer-Vacca bill before the Council’s Technology Committee tomorrow would make the following changes:

• Improving technical standards for open data sets by: 
 - Establishing a two-year schedule for the review of the Open Data Technical Standards Manual.
 - Mandating that the review produce a public report, which will include any changes to the Technical Standards Manual.
• Requiring the development of a process to allow public comment on changes to the Technical Standards Manual.
• Extending the Open Data Law, setting a 2021 deadline for agency compliance.
• Adjusting periodic compliance reporting dates to dovetail with the natural compliance cycle that has emerged since agencies began finding, preparing, and publishing data sets after the passage of the original Open Data Law.
• Codifying the requirement that each agency have an Open Data Coordinator responsible for ensuring compliance with the law.
• Requiring collection, analysis, and public reporting of analytics on the use of the Open Data Portal.
Representatives of the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Reinvent Albany, and BetaNYC are expected to testify at tomorrow’s hearing on the bill. The hearing will also serve as an opportunity for the Council to conduct oversight on the de Blasio Administration’s Annual Open Data Plan.
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer served as the founding chair of the City Council Committee on Technology during her time on the New York City Council. She is the author of New York City’s Open Data Law and a noted advocate for the use of technology in government, government transparency, and New York’s growing civic technology sector.
Council Member James Vacca represents the East Bronx and has served as the Chair of the City Council Committee on Technology since 2014. He has been a passionate advocate for government transparency and accountability, and sponsored two amendments to strengthen the City’s Open Data laws. 

Brewer greets students and parents on first day of school

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer greeted students and parents at P.S. 189 in northern Washington Heights on Thursday, Sept. 7, the first day of the new school year.

Greeting students and parents, Brewer and her staff handed out help guides in both English and Spanish with contact information for school administrators, parent coordinators, and other key officials, to help parents remain engaged with their kids' education and communicate directly with school leaders. While Brewer greeted families at P.S. 189, staff and volunteers from her office fanned out to more than 40 other schools across Manhattan to hand out help guides as well.

Pictures are available here.

Hurricane Harvey Relief: How to Donate

For those of us who either experienced Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy directly, or helped others cope with those storms' aftermath, watching the news coverage of Hurricane Harvey over the last week has been a chilling reminder of the impact and severity of major storms.

If you are among those who want to take action to help the victims in the path of Harvey, here is a list of organizations that you should consider. The list contains both national and local Texas-based charities doing relief work in the affected areas, and is compiled by Charity Navigator, a nonprofit which examines the financial statements of charities and rates them on their financial health, accountability and transparency. (And please do consider using Charity Navigator to vet any groups you're considering donating to.)

The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City is also collecting donations earmarked for Houston-area Hurricane Harvey relief efforts at this page. More information is available through Mayor's Fund's web site.

For more insight, here's a useful piece on New York Magazine's website, titled "How Houston’s Hunger-Relief Organizations Are Handling Harvey."

Our hearts are with the victims and with the heroes who are helping in the affected areas, including the 120 New York City Police Department, Fire Department, and EMS personnel who are on the ground in Texas already.

Brewer, garment stakeholders say Garment District zoning “phase-in” essential

For Immediate Release: Friday, August 18, 2017

Garment District Steering Committee Report: Web | PDF
NEW YORK – Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer released the Garment District Steering Committee’s final report and recommendations ( Web | PDF), and called upon the de Blasio administration to commit to what she highlighted as the group’s single most important recommendation: that any repeal of Garment District zoning protections be tied to the actual preservation of long-term garment manufacturing space in or near the garment center.
Brewer was joined at a press conference announcing the report’s release by Steering Committee members and garment industry stakeholders including designers, manufacturing business owners, garment manufacturing workers, labor leaders, theatrical wardrobe workers, and others.
Formed at the request of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and composed of herself, Council Member Corey Johnson, the area’s other elected officials, and Garment District stakeholders, the Steering Committee met for three months, hearing from experts and poring over research to determine what changes and additions were needed to support the Industry’s presence in mid-Manhattan and ensure a core of garment manufacturing continues to thrive in the Garment District.

The recommendations came after 90 days of regular meetings and ahead of this coming Monday’s anticipated Department of City Planning (DCP) referral of a proposed text change to the area’s zoning, which, if passed at the end of the review process, would lift a longstanding provision that requires property owners to preserve manufacturing space in the area.
A large majority of Steering Committee members were convinced that the lifting of the restriction without a mechanism to ensure the continued existence of long-term, affordable space for garment manufacturing will put the entire New York garment industry at risk. However, the de Blasio administration has not yet committed to accept the group’s key recommendation: a phase-in provision tying the repeal of the Garment District’s current zoning protections to the preservation of a set amount of space for garment manufacturing in the area through purchase or long-term leases.

“Virtually every garment industry-connected Steering Committee member understands that we can’t scrap our last defense against commercial conversions until we’ve preserved a reasonable minimum amount of space to keep this industry successful,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.
“Whether the administration’s garment industry plans succeed or fail is up to them: what we’ve produced is the recipe for success, and the most important ingredient is the phase-in requirement,” Brewer continued. “I’m trying to get us to a deal that will work for the garment industry, because the highly skilled Manhattan garment manufacturers and workers are essential to the success of the whole fashion ecosystem in New York.”
Among the Steering Committee members and other industry stakeholders who attended and spoke at today’s press conference on the importance of a phase-in provision for Garment District zoning changes were:
• U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler
• State Senator Brad Hoylman
• State Senator Marisol Alcantara
• Yeohlee Teng, designer and founder of YEOHLEE, Inc.
• Nicole Miller, designer and entrepreneur
• Anna Sui, designer and entrepreneur
• Representatives of Nanette Lepore
• Representatives and members of SEIU-Workers United
• Representatives and members of the Theatrical Wardrobe Union (Local 764 IATSE)
• Joe Ferrara, president of the Garment Center Suppliers’ Association
• Susan Chin, executive director of the Design Trust for Public Space
• Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

The zoning text amendment review process requires the proposal be reviewed by the area’s Community Boards, the Borough President’s office, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council. The City Council may vote to approve, disapprove, or modify proposed text amendments.
“With the release of the Steering Committee report, the elected officials who represent the Garment Center believe that while the current zoning needs to be revised to better reflect the realities of the garment industry and the district today, it must be done in a phased approach and only after sufficient long-term garment manufacturing is preserved in Manhattan,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “That is why we are calling upon the City Administration to not remove any of the zoning protections until a sufficient core amount of space is permanently preserved in the Garment Center in Manhattan. This industry is fragile; they want and need to stay in Manhattan. Its entire ecosystem is reliant on manufacturers and designers’ close proximity to each other, and any change to the zoning without sufficient protections will destroy this industry and New York City’s status as the fashion capital of the world.”
“New York City is the fashion capitol of the world,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “That isn’t hyperbole. It’s a fact, backed up with evidence from numerous reports I have commissioned as senior House Democrat on the Joint Economic Committee. Our city generates billions of dollars in revenue each year from the fashion industry, and part of that success is due to the consolidation of companies in the Garment District. For this industry to continue to thrive, we cannot simply scrap what is there and expect the industry to continue on as usual. That is why I stand strong with my colleagues on the Garment District Steering Committee in calling on City Hall to protect garment manufacturing in Manhattan and fully support the recommendations we have put forward today.”
"Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has assembled a diverse group of community stakeholders and industry experts to weigh in on the future of the Garment Center, an important component of NYC's fashion industry and an historic base of manufacturing jobs,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “I'm extremely grateful to Borough President Brewer and my colleagues on the Steering Committee for their hard work and join them in calling on the City to support our recommendations."
“The New York City Garment Center is a manufacturing hub for garment makers and producers citywide. This historic area must be preserved and protected from rising rents and market forces which would lead to displaced workers and shuttered companies,” said State Senator Marisol Alcantara. “I urge City Hall to re-evaluate its decision to remove zoning restrictions in the Garment Center until adequate square footage has been preserved to ensure a manufacturing hub remains and the Garment District can continue into the 21st century and beyond.”
“Manhattan Community Board 4 thanks Borough President Brewer and her staff for fulfilling her promise of a true community planning process. Community Board 4 agrees with Borough President Brewer and supports the recommendations of the Garment Center Steering Committee,” said Manhattan Community Board 4 Chair Delores Rubin. “The key issue identified by the industry was a phased lifting of the garment industry preservation restrictions. This phased lifting must be coupled with financial tax incentives tied to a land use program to ensure industry stability. This action is needed to protect a unique industrial ecosystem which creates both major economic activity and thousands of jobs for the City of New York. We urge the administration to review the recommendations of the report and return to the community and the industry with a thorough and comprehensive plan."
“The Mayor has the opportunity to dramatically strengthen the City’s fashion industry by helping the industry to take ownership of the space it needs, allowing the remaining space to be used for new business growth” said Adam Friedman, Director of the Pratt Center For Community Development. “This is no time for business as usual. The Mayor needs to commit to helping finance industry ownership before the zoning is changed and companies and jobs are displaced.”
“Garment manufacturing represents over 20 percent of NYC’s manufacturing jobs, with the Garment District as its heart. This historical center of fashion-related businesses in a tight-knit district forms a symbiotic network that developed over 100 years. Combining design, technology and handcraft, this unique ecosystem supports the city’s cutting edge fashion industry in all five boroughs,” said Susan Chin, FAIA, Hon. ASLA, Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space. “The Steering Committee’s suite of recommendations are a total package, not a mix-and-match menu. The key recommendation to ‘create a mechanism in the zoning text to phase out the Preservation Requirements in sub areas P1 and P2...’ will determine if NYC remains a global fashion capital. If zoning protections are removed too soon, before a target amount of square footage is preserved, we stand to lose this significant manufacturing sector.”
“The strength of New York City's fashion industry relies on the vitality of its core in the midtown Garment District,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the Municipal Art Society. “We call on the Mayor to continue to protect mid-Manhattan's Garment District until other safeguards are in place.”
"Any agreement on rezoning the Garment District, must ensure that hardworking garment workers have the tools and space they need to continue to create the designs and trends that have helped earn New York City the distinction of being the fashion capital of the world," said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "As this process continues, there must be appropriate level of transparency to be certain that New York City's garment industry is able to grow and thrive."

The Steering Committee calls for leaving the manufacturing preservation rule in place until a threshold level of square footage in the district is made available. To accomplish this, the Steering Committee recommends that the City and EDC should:

• Create a mechanism in the zoning text to phase out the Preservation Requirements in sub areas P1 and P2 of the Special Garment Center District. This requires amending the zoning text to tie the lifting of the Preservation Requirements to an amount of square footage reserved for garment production in the historic location of the Garment Center in Manhattan. Under this framework, the Chair of the City Planning Commission would certify that the target amount of space has been achieved for permanent lifting of the restriction.

• Create a custom IDA program. Make creative use of IDA [through EDC] to create a tailored Garment Center program that provides tax relief to property owners in exchange for increased real estate stability for production tenants.

• Advance a framework for a Garment Center building purchase. The city partners (EDC, MBPO, and Councilmember) agree to make best efforts to facilitate and support, the purchase of a property with a combination of public and private funds that would maintain dedicated space for garment manufacturers in mid-Manhattan. Potential owners could include: nonprofit manager, manufacturing cooperative, or condo association.

• Support the role of a non-profit partner. In trying to achieve long-term affordable space for manufacturing through incentives and building purchase, the City should work to engage with and provide funding assistance to a non-profit partner to facilitate implementation and/or ongoing operations. The non-profit could act as an intermediary and assist with compliance or could even own/manage some of the space.

• Institute hotel restrictions in the Garment Center. Create a special permit or other restrictions applicable in the Special Garment Center District to limit hotel use by development, enlargement or conversion.

 Other recommendations of the Steering Committee involve workforce development, support for garment-related businesses, and preservation of the unique and historic identity of the Garment Center. These recommendations include:

• Support and develop new & existing talent pipelines. Develop long-term training programs that supply the industry with skilled workers through employer-driven training and apprenticeships.

• Support business planning and marketing among garment manufacturers. Leverage existing programs offered through SBS and tailor where necessary to offer business planning assistance that will position garment manufacturers to proactively enhance their efficiency and competitiveness.

• Develop communications platform to elevate garment manufacturers. Develop a communications platform and strategy, coordinated by the City, industry leaders and program partners, to promote production activities from garments to costumes as well as associated retail opportunities in the Garment Center to audiences within New York City, the country and across the world.

• Enhance neighborhood circulation and streetscape. Improve circulation and movement within the Garment Center to enable garment manufacturers to more easily transport goods and bolster their ability to conduct business, and to better accommodate diverse users of the neighborhood, including pedestrians and bike riders, with connections to nearby transit hubs and adjoining neighborhoods.

• Strengthen the visibility of garment businesses. Enable garment manufacturers and related businesses to interact and find each other through improved signage for businesses, wayfinding, online directories, and/or a mobile application that would serve as a current and historical directory for the district.

• Preserve Garment Center’s unique identity. Strategies to retain a sense of place and historic context could include: individual landmark designation of select significant structures in the district, the exploration of a permanent museum with storefront visibility, and warehouse space for machinery, costumes, designs, and materials that includes an archive component to serve as a resource for students, designers, film and video and print editorial.

The full report of the Garment Steering Committee is available in PDF form here and on a webpage here.

PDF form here and on a webpage here.

Overstretched mental health consultants are only support for 1/3 of Manhattan schools: Brewer report

Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued “Who’s Caring: The State of School-Based Mental Health Care in NYC Schools,” (PDF) a report opening a window for parents and concerned New Yorkers into the city’s school mental health system.
The report describes a fractured system. Some schools benefit from a patchwork of clinics funded from sources like state Medicaid programs, or from permanent social workers funded to provide mandated services to individual students with special needs. More than 100 of Manhattan’s 307 public schools, however, have no mental health services beyond the Mental Health Consultants provided through ThriveNYC. Privately funded through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, these consultants are stretched far too thin, with each one acting as the lead mental health representative for up to 10 different campuses serving 8,000 students.
Meanwhile the clinic system, already under-resourced, is faced with a new threat this year. One round of state cuts hit clinic programs serving New York City schools in June, affecting 55 different Manhattan public schools at 28 campuses throughout the borough. Changes to the state’s Medicaid program threaten to cut additional funding from Article 28 clinics, which serve 103 Manhattan public schools, this coming October.
“Our school mental health system, if you can call it that, is a quilt of mismatched pieces slapped together to do more with less. But when it comes to our kids’ futures, we should be doing more with more,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “School-based mental health services – and dedicated staff members who are part of their schools, not occasional visitors – can make an enormous difference, literally changing the course of students’ entire lives for the better. We need to fund a comprehensive system that’s built to work well, and transition away from less-effective stopgap measures.”
The result of this patchwork system, constructed to take advantage of a variety of funding streams, is a school system with only one social per worker per 800 Manhattan public school students, where dozens of schools go without a single full-time social worker or mental health professional on staff.

Snapshot of a fractured system 

  • School-based clinics threatened by state Medicaid changes: 103 Manhattan schools have “Article 28” clinics, which receive more than 90 percent of their funding through Medicaid reimbursements. However, changes to the state’s Medicaid program slated to begin in October could slash more than $16 million in funding from these clinics. 62 Manhattan schools have Article 31 clinics that offer more limited services, and (unlike Article 28 clinics) cannot bill Medicaid directly.
  • In-house social workers stretched beyond mandated services: Of Manhattan’s 307 public schools, 164 have in-house social workers, which are primarily funded through special needs students’ Individualized Education Plan allotments. But this funding exists to provide these students with mandated services, not to provide services for the school’s general population. Consequently these social workers are stretched too thin, forced to do far more than the funding scheme was designed to allow.
  • Mental health consultants serving up to 10 different schools at a time: 114 Manhattan public schools have been assigned mental health consultants. Schools without their own clinics rely on these consultants, made available through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City as part of ThriveNYC. But each consultant is assigned up to ten campuses, which enroll up to 8,000 students. This results in a bureaucratized process where students, teachers, and administrators have difficulty making use of these consultants’ services.
  • Mobile response teams on call for crises, but not a substitute for permanent services: Manhattan public schools also have access to Mobile Response Teams, which are on call to offer temporary services during and after crisis situations. The Borough President’s office found seven Manhattan schools receiving ongoing service from these teams currently.


Brewer’s report offers a slate of recommended actions for the city Department of Education and the state to take to improve the situation including:
State of New York

  • Keep Medicaid reimbursement rates constant for Article 28 clinics for an additional two years, to give in-school providers time to adapt to the Medicaid managed-care changes and new billing structures.

  • Create new permanent operational funding sources for preventative and administrative services like in-classroom outreach to students and mental health training for teachers.

  • Create a centralized billing system to help all school-based mental health centers bill insurers efficiently.

City Dept. of Education

  • Conduct a pilot study of school-based mental health centers to measure their effectiveness and the potential benefits with respect to suspension, graduation, attendance, and other outcomes if they were deployed more comprehensively.
  • Create funding structures to provide school-based mental health services at schools that do not currently have them.
  • Leverage underutilized youth services budgets that already exist for multiple city agencies, such as the Dept. of Corrections, to provide school-based mental health services.
  • Create a mechanism for social work interns to provide services at schools with off-site supervision, so schools without full-time social workers can still host social work interns for field placements.
  • Provide comprehensive bystander intervention, anti-racism, and anti-bullying training to school staff.
Brewer says no to East Harlem rezoning proposal

"Rezoning done the wrong way": Brewer says no to current East Harlem rezoning proposal

This morning, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer released her formal recommendation rejecting the de Blasio administration's East Harlem neighborhood rezoning proposal.

Brewer cited the lack of significant progress on Community Board 11's areas of greatest concern and the plan's failure to satisfy the principles of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan as major factors in her decision. The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, a roadmap for rezoning and community planning in the neighborhood, was developed through an 18-month process of stakeholder engagement. The process involved input from local organizations and neighborhood residents, and included a steering committee led by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and co-chaired by Borough President Brewer, with the participation of Community Voices Heard and Community Board 11.

Statement from Borough President Gale A. Brewer:

"Under the current zoning, gentrification is taking a yearly toll on East Harlem residents. The neighborhood has already lost approximately 3,444 units of affordable housing since 2007 and is expected to lose another 3,666 affordable units from expiring affordability programs between now and 2029 if nothing is done. This is unacceptable when more than a quarter of East Harlem's 46,000 households are coping with severe housing needs like rent burdens exceeding half of household income, overcrowding, and homelessness.

"A rezoning done the right way offers the opportunity to create many new affordable units, including units affordable to low-income East Harlem residents, while actually reducing the effects of gentrification and reinvigorating neighborhood small businesses and retail.

"What the administration has put in front of us, however, is rezoning done the wrong way.

"This proposal concentrates new development in too small an area with too much density, likely worsening the effects of gentrification. This proposal lacks a meaningful preservation plan and sufficient up-front commitments to save existing affordable housing units. It is uncertain whether 20 percent of the newly-developed units generated under this proposal would be affordable to the average East Harlem resident. This proposal was driven in a top-down process that largely set aside the 18-plus months of work and engagement with residents, local organizations, and experts that went into the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan. And finally, this proposal has not undergone any significant changes to address the very real problems identified by Community Board 11.

"For these reasons, I must say no to this proposal. East Harlem needs a plan that better preserves neighborhood context, makes real up-front commitments to affordable housing preservation, spreads new development across a wider area, and addresses the many other needs that were identified by this community in the process that produced the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan."

Borough President Brewer's formal recommendation on this proposal can be downloaded here and is  also available below.

Final Manhattan B.P. Recommendation Re Nos C 170358 ZMM Et Al - East Harlem Rezoning 

Manhattan Community Awards Program (MCAP) Application Now Open

The application for the Manhattan Community Award Program (MCAP) for Fiscal Year 2018 is now available!

The Manhattan Community Award Program (MCAP) provides small funding awards—typically between $3,500 and $5,000—to nonprofit organizations and public schools to help support programming or operational expenses. Each award is contracted through one of five City agencies – Department for the Aging (DFTA), Department of Corrections (DOC), Department of Education (DOE), Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), or Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR). Proposals must relate to the specific agency’s overall mission and goals.

Each applicant must complete an online application. The application includes questions related to the operations of the applicant and information about how awarded funds would be utilized. A review panel made up the Borough President’s budget staff will assess applications based on a factors that are listed on our website. Please use this link to access the Grants Portal: https://goo.gl/kx3rKD

For more information of MCAP, and on all of the other funding opportunities from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, please follow this link: https://goo.gl/FHFRqz

The deadline for submission via the Grants Portal is September 15th, 2017.

For any remaining questions, or feedback, please contact our budget staff at budget@manhattanbp.nyc.gov or call Sania Ahmed at 212-669-2969 or Debbie Timothy at 212-669-2029.

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and NYC & Company Foundation announce grants to support cultural institutions and tourism in New York

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and the NYC & Company Foundation have announced this year’s Manhattan recipients of Borough Cultural Tourism Development Grants.
The grant program promotes culture and the arts across all five boroughs by supporting the promotion of cultural events and exhibits and increasing visitor awareness of each borough’s cultural offerings.
“Manhattan’s greatest wealth is its array of cultural gems, and not just our massive institutions known all over the world but our neighborhood museums, studios, and cultural institutions that both preserve old traditions and incubate innovative new works and artists,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Exposing visitors to the true diversity of experiences our borough’s neighborhoods have to offer boosts tourism, helps local neighborhoods and businesses, and exposes the true breadth of what our city has to offer the world.”
“Supporting new cultural opportunities keeps New York City exciting and vital,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of the NYC & Company Foundation. “Encouraging cultural tourism increases visitor spending and job creation essential to the local economy.”
This year’s recipients are:

Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance of New York, Inc.
15th Anniversary Season of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra - $2,000

Arts Horizon Leroy Neiman Art Center, Inc.
Artist Development – Gallery Exhibitions & Special Events Program - $2,000

Battery Dance Corporation
Battery Dance Festival, Especially From New Jersey - $2,000

Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association
Pilot Year of a Theater Festival in Honor Of Vaclav Havel - $2,000
Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD)
50th Anniversary Branding & Digital Marketing Initiative - $2,000

Center for Book Arts
Book Arts Marketing Project - $2,000
Chashama Arts
Anita’s Way 2017 Performance Season - $2,000

Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp.
Everyday Chinatown - $2,000

Dance Parade, Inc.
11th Annual Dance Parade and Festival - $2,000

Ensemble Studio Theatre
36th Marathon of One-Act Plays - $2,000

Harlem Park 2 Park
Harlem Days Harlem Nights - $2,000
Harlem School of the Arts
Harlem School of the Arts Seasonal Calendar - $2,000

Harlem Tourism Board (HTB)
Harlem Holiday Windows 2017 - $2,000
Kehila Kedosha Janina Preservation and Cultural Fund, Inc.
Greek Jewish Festival - $2,000

Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage
Community-Based Storytelling Series - $2,000

LIT Fund Incorporated (d/b/a The Indie Theater Fund)
Recruitment and Marketing of Indie Theater in New York City Project - $2,000

Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC)
Web Design Initiative - $2,000

Make Music New York, Inc.
Make Music New York, Manhattan Marketing Campaign - $2,000
Morris-Jumel Mansion, Inc.
Interactive Theatre Productions Project - $2,000

El Museo Del Barrio
Three Kings Day Parade and Celebration: Parade and Celebration January 5, 2018 - $2,000 

Museum At Eldridge Street
18th Annual Egg Rolls and Egg Creams and Empanadas Festival - $2,000

The New Festival, Inc.
Newfest, New York’s LGBT Film Festival - $2,000

New York African Chorus Ensemble, Inc.
The Gathering Xi Concert Series and Two-Day 8th Annual NYC Multicultural Festival - $2,000

New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF)
New York International Children’s Film Festival 2017- $2,000

Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA)
2017 Uptown Arts Stroll - $2,000

Pan American Musical Art Research
Latin American Cultural Week - $2,000

Spanish Theatre Repertory Company, Ltd.
Voces De Mujeres En El Siglo De Oro (Women Voices from Spanish Golden Age of Dreams) - $2,000

Theater for the New City Foundation
Theater for the New City 2017 Season - $2,000
West Side Community Garden
Garden Summer Festival - $2,000
World Music Institute Inc.
Production of Promo and Event Materials For WMI Performances - $2,000

Borough Cultural Tourism Development Grants are privately funded by donations to the NYC & Company Foundation, the mission of which is to support tourism in all five boroughs by promoting local cultural events and institutions. The grant program is administered by the Borough President’s Office, and cultural groups are invited to apply for funding annually through the Borough President’s online grant portal. Recipients are selected by the Borough President based on the merit of the program.
More information on this grant program and how to apply can be found on the Borough President’s Cultural Tourism Grants web page, here: http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/budget/cultural-tourism-grants.shtml

A Brighter Future for East Midtown: Council Member Dan Garodnick Stands with B.P. Gale A. Brewer and New York City Leaders to Support East Midtown Rezoning

New Zoning Rules Unlock 6.5 Million Square Feet of New Commercial Office Space in New York City’s Premier Business District

Will Generate Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Public Improvements as Buildings Come Online -- Alleviating Sidewalk Congestion and Creating Open Spaces

Developers Will Also Contribute Approximately Half a Billion Dollars For Specific Subway Upgrades In Nearby Stations

Additional $50 Million in Immediate Public Investment to Activate Open Spaces, including a Brand New  East 43rd Street 

Historic Landmarks Will Have New Revenue Stream to Preserve Iconic Buildings

Immediately after a unanimous vote by the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick joined New York City leaders on the steps of City Hall to announce the details of the nearly 78-block Greater East Midtown rezoning plan.

“East Midtown is back, it’s full of optimism, and open for business,” said Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick. “With this rezoning, we are delivering a framework that will unlock development while delivering extraordinary benefits to the public.  We are not only enabling Class A office spaces, but we are also creating a Class A office district to go with them.”  

“East Midtown is where New York City competes as the world capital of commerce. Today, we’ve reached agreement on a plan that will tackle the twin challenges of the district’s out of date office buildings and its overburdened public transit. We are opening the door to a new generation of modern office buildings that will spur new jobs and new companies, and linking that growth with direct investments in the area’s subways and streets. This is a powerful promise to the people who live and work in East Midtown, and a clear signal that New York City embraces growth and innovation. I congratulate Council Member Garodnick, Borough President Brewer, the steering committee and the team at City Planning who made this plan a reality,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.

"Today marks a significant milestone in our quest to assure that Greater East Midtown remains the globe's premier business district - a district that works for the employees, residents and tourists who fill its streets every day.  Incenting as-of-right redevelopment of aging buildings, facilitating the upkeep of beloved landmarks, and providing a private-sector funding stream for transit and streetscape improvements - that's a winning combination.  Today's success has its roots in the excellent work of the many individuals who participated in a steering committee led by Borough President Brewer and Council Member Garodnick," City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago.

“The Greater East Midtown rezoning plan is a victory for everyone who lives, works, walks, or rides a subway through the East Side, and it also proves that stakeholder-driven planning works,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Putting all the stakeholders around a table before the plan was certified meant we could forge consensus on a sound blueprint for East Midtown’s future. This plan, based on that blueprint, will spur new, state-of-the-art office construction, attract jobs, and deliver major investments in transit and street-level infrastructure, open space, and local landmarks.”

Summary  The zoning, as amended, will:

• Generate 6.5 million square feet in new commercial office space over the next 20 years;
• Deliver hundreds of millions of dollars for public improvements as buildings come online, including a $50 million upfront investment from the City; 
• Convert 43rd Street between Third and Lexington Avenues, into a “shared street” with, and new public space;
• Directly improve area subways in connection with development, with the real estate community funding approximately half a billion dollars of specific improvements in nearby stations as they build new office buildings.
• Allow area landmarks to sell 3.6 million square feet of unused air rights, and use proceeds to renovate historic structures
• Require the biggest new buildings to include privately owned public spaces (POPS) on site.
• Create 28,000 new permanent jobs and over 23,000 construction jobs in the next two decades.

Background   East Midtown office buildings have an average age of 75 years, and do not meet the 21st century standards expected by many commercial tenants.  For too long, the zoning code discouraged new buildings from being erected -- with many buildings already too large for the existing zoning.  At the same time, public spaces are scarce, sidewalks are overflowing with people and subway access is challenging. An area which provides 10% of New York City’s real estate tax revenues needs an upgrade that provides certainty and benefits for both the private sector and the public.

After a prior plan failed at the City Council in 2013, Mayor de Blasio asked Council Member Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to co-chair the East Midtown Steering Committee. This group consisted of representatives of community boards, BIDs, labor, landmarks, and the real estate community in Midtown East, and met nineteen times over nine months to develop guidelines for a new rezoning. This served as the  framework for the Greater East Midtown rezoning, as certified by the Department of City Planning in January 2017.

The East Midtown Rezoning Creates and Secures Public Space  Garodnick and the de Blasio Administration today announced the City’s $50 million commitment to ensure that public realm improvements get immediately off the ground before a single new building is built.  They also announced a brand new open space in the heart of East Midtown, turning 43rd Street adjacent to Grand Central Terminal into a “shared street.” This space will offer much needed respite for nearby office workers and commuters and address sidewalk overflow.   This is in addition to the public plaza to be constructed on the west side of Grand Central that is part of the $220 million that had been delivered as part of the Vanderbilt Avenue Rezoning.   

The Council also today amended the rezoning plan to require developers to deliver Privately Owned Public Spaces (“POPS”) in sites over 30,000 square feet. This is expected to generate 16 new POPS, ensuring that open space is distributed and accessible throughout the district.  

The East Midtown Rezoning Funds Transit Improvements  For the first time in New York City history, a developer will be able to earn density by delivering transit improvements that are explicitly delineated in the Zoning Resolution.  They could include constructing a new street-level exit, widening staircases, and/or other measures to improve passenger flow.  Added together, these steps will reduce platform crowding, speed up travel, and minimize delays. Because these upgrades are written directly into the zoning text, it prescribes exactly how the public will benefit as density in the district increases.  All together, these improvements are expected to total approximately $500 million.   

The East Midtown Rezoning Strengthens Landmarks for the Next Generation   From St. Patrick Cathedral, St. Bart’s, and Central Synagogue to Grand Central itself, East Midtown is home to some of New York City’s most iconic landmarks.  The Greater East Midtown rezoning allows area landmarks to sell their unused air rights to qualified sites within the district.  This revenue stream will ensure landmarks have sufficient funds for renovations and preservation.  Additionally, a portion of dollars from each air rights sale will go towards the public realm improvement fund. Specifically, minimum contributions must be either $61.49 per square foot or 20% -- whichever is higher. As more sales occur and more buildings are developed, this fund will collect nearly $350 million, to be used solely on public realm improvements in East Midtown.

The Council amendments to the text include:

  • Setting the minimum contribution to the public fund at $61.49 per square foot, or 20%, whichever is higher.
  • Requiring Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) on sites that are larger than 30,000 square feet.  This is expected to generate 16 new POPS in the district. 
  • Prohibiting buildings from keeping poor light and air scores when constructing new buildings.
  • Excluding several blocks of Third Avenue from the plan to address concerns from the Turtle Bay Community. 
  • Defining the Governing Group for the allocation of public funds as a local development corporation, and giving process rights to non-mayoral members.
  • Requiring 75 feet of minimum street frontage for buildings taking advantage of the zoning.

With input from Community Boards 5 and 6, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the City Planning Commission, and City Council, this proposal represents the best example of collaborative, community input and is a tremendous improvement upon previous plans.

"It is critical for New York City's midtown to remain the central business district for our area, and that requires state-of-the-art buildings that will accommodate today's businesses," said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.  "This rezoning will encourage new development while ensuring new amenities that will benefit the people who live and work here.  This agreement will bring better transportation, new pocket parks and other badly needed improvements to midtown. I want to congratulate Councilman Dan Garodnick and the Land Use Committee, Borough President Gale Brewer and the de Blasio Administration for working together to reach an agreement that addresses community concerns and business needs."

The plan being voted on today by the zoning subcommittee and land use committee represents a turning point in future of East Midtown and will produce new state of the art office buildings, improved transit connectivity, additional resources for some of New York's most treasured landmarks, and significant new public space. I want to congratulate Council Member Garodnick on the years of hard work to build consensus within the community, work with the administration to craft a zoning proposal, and finally vote on a series of important modifications and secure capital funding to kickstart public space improvements.  I thank Chair Richards and Chair Greenfield, as always, for all of their hard work,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.  

"East Midtown has long been the world's premiere business district. It is the business and revenue center of New York City with historic iconic buildings and unparalleled transportation options. After years of hard work, East Midtown now has the zoning framework to maintain that preeminent status with 21st century buildings and unparalleled access, amenities and new transportation and streetscape improvements. This is truly a historic day for the future of our city. I want to congratulate my colleague, Council Member Dan Garodnick, for having the tremendous foresight and perseverance to meet the needs of a truly daunting number of stakeholders and get the job done right. I also thank Borough President Gale Brewer for her partnership and all of the members of the steering committee for working collaboratively to make this happen. We should all be proud of the end result," said Council Member David Greenfield, Chair of the Committee on Land Use.

"This rezoning will finally tap into the true potential of East Midtown and deliver transit improvements, office space, open space and preserve historic landmarks," said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. "This has been a long time coming, but residents and business owners will feel the benefits of this plan for decades to come. I'd like to congratulate Council Member Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for showing true leadership in negotiating a big victory for their residents."

"I am very pleased that a deal has been reached to move forward on the East Midtown rezoning after a long, comprehensive, and inclusive process. I applaud Borough President Brewer and Council Member Garodnick for working diligently with Mayor de Blasio's administration to ensure that this extremely complex rezoning balances the needs of those who already live and work in East Midtown, vital infrastructure and open space improvements, and our historic structures, while encouraging the planned development of 21st Century commercial buildings," said State Senator Liz Krueger.

"In order to compete in a 21st century economy, we must attract world-class businesses," said Assemblymember Dan Quart. "Rezoning East Midtown is long overdue and will create jobs, public spaces, and a thriving business district. I applaud all involved in securing this victory for our city."

"While the City's priorities for the rezoning of East Midtown were never ones with which we fully agreed, we applaud and deeply appreciate the efforts of our Council Member, Dan Garodnick, and Borough President Gale Brewer to make it a better plan. They successfully fought for more public space and for a more attractive and pedestrian-friendly environment for the tens of thousands of workers who will spend their days around and within these new towers," said Vicki Barbero, Chair of Community Board 5.

B.P. Brewers Prepared Remarks at Equality NY's Rally Against Proposed Transgender Military Ban

The people in the White House want to divide us.

They want a war over who gets to be a real American. They want a war over who gets to be a person.

Gender identity, just like sexual orientation, just like race, just like where you were born, has no bearing on courage, excellence, or professionalism. Trans Americans have the right to serve just like everyone else.

Fear and distrust are what this White House keeps going back to because this White House is run by weak men who are afraid of what America is.
America IS diversity. Gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, birthplace…we’re all different in so many ways, and those differences are our strength.

These weak men are afraid of America. They are afraid of us.

And they should fear us, because we are going to go to court and fight them, and we are going to the ballot box and put them out of their jobs.
Now we need to call this what it is: bigotry and discrimination.

We must be outraged. We must be united. AND we must NEVER stop fighting.

Injustice toward anyone is injustice for everyone.

B.P. Brewer requests Landmarks Preservation Commission act to protect 316 Fifth Avenue property

Borough President Gale Brewer wrote a letter to Meenakshi Srinivasan, chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, requesting the commission's action to protect the 316 Fifth Avenue property at West 32nd Street. A copy of a letter is provided below.

MBP Brewer to LPC Chair Srinivasan Re 316 Fifth Avenue 

B.P. Brewer Hosts African Consuls General

I was so pleased to host a meeting with the African Consul Generals at my office on Thursday, July 6. Helping the African immigrant community in Northern Manhattan has long been a priority of mine.

In 2014, I established the African Immigrant Task Force, which meets regularly. There, I am able to hear the cares and concerns of these populations — and then address solutions with leaders from these same neighborhoods.

Meeting with the Consul Generals furthered these discussions. They brought a diverse set of perspectives to the conversation, and together we addressed issues that affect each of the populations that they represent. We also spoke about potential collaborative efforts that will bring together the African immigrant community in New York City.

The African-born community is a fast-growing part of the New York City population — according to the Department of City Planning’s analysis of census estimates, it increased 39% from 2000 to 2011 — and an important one.

Working with the Hon. Yvonne Walker-Borobo of Gabon, the Hon. Rudolph Sherman of Liberia, the Hon. Amadou Ndao of Senegal, and the Hon. Thulisile Mathula Nkosi of South Africa provided another great forum for recognizing that importance.

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