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.

Recommendations

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.

B.P. Brewer writes letter in support of landmark designation for Washington Heights rowhouses

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer wrote a letter of support for a landmark designation for rowhouses located at 626-648 West 158th Street in Washington Heights.

 

2017-07-05 MBP Brewer to LPC Chair Srinivasan Re 626-648 West 158th Street by Gale A Brewer on Scribd

Brewer issues Manhattan supermarket survey and Age-Friendly Supermarket Guide, calls for policies to boost neighborhood supermarkets

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer released “Manhattan Supermarkets: How to Keep them Alive,” a survey of Manhattan’s supermarkets and grocers with policy recommendations to stem the tide of supermarket closures. The report also includes the Age-Friendly Supermarket Guide, a census of senior-friendly features at 229 Manhattan supermarkets (including wheelchair accessibility, restroom availability, delivery costs, and any available senior discounts).

“The first step in solving a lot of problems is to make a list,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “When we realized supermarket closures were a growing problem but couldn’t get a single, up-to-date list of supermarkets, their features, and their services, we decided to make our own. I’m happy we can provide that list to New Yorkers, along with findings to jumpstart the conversation about how government can help neighborhood supermarkets stay open.”

Recommendations
Brewer issued several recommendations to protect and boost Manhattan neighborhoods’ access to supermarkets, including:

  • Expanded zoning incentives for supermarkets – The nearly decade-old FRESH zoning incentive program doesn’t apply in many neighborhoods that are now feeling the threat of dwindling supermarkets. Programs created with the intention of helping existing ‘food deserts’ need to be retooled and expanded to help neighborhoods that aren’t yet food deserts, but are at risk of becoming them. New zoning incentives, offering floor area bonuses

  • Eliminating the Commercial Rent Tax (CRT) for supermarkets – Supermarkets in the area of Manhattan between 96th Street and Chambers Street pay the Commercial Rent Tax, a roughly 4 percent tax surcharge on commercial rent. Earlier this year, Brewer and Councilmember Corey Johnson introduced Intro 1472, legislation in the City Council to exempt supermarkets from this tax entirely. The legislation would cost the city a mere $5.6 million, but help many supermarkets struggling with rent to stay afloat.

  • Help reduce supermarkets’ costs – By reviewing and rolling back unnecessary rules and regulations increasing supermarkets’ costs, and by aggressively establishing and enforcing commercial loading zones in front of every supermarket, government can reduce supermarkets’ operating costs to help them stay in business.

Methodology. While city and state databases cite almost 2,000 establishments selling food in Manhattan, this study eliminated establishments such as bodegas, delis, and pharmacy chains, requiring stores in the dataset to sell all of the following products:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • fresh meat, poultry, and/or fish
  • prepared foods
  • dairy
  • dry and canned goods

Once this standard is applied, the total number of supermarkets included was 229 borough-wide.

Supermarkets by Community Board

 Community Board 

 Total supermarkets 

 Home delivery 

 SNAP/EBT 

1

11

11

5

2

15

13

12

3

25

15

20

4

18

18

15

5

8

7

6

6

11

10

9

7

27

23

17

8

31

29

24

9

13

10

13

10

18

11

18

11

16

13

15

12

36

25

33

Grand Total

229

185

187

Brewer announces return of Fresh Food for Seniors Program for 2017

Seniors can buy fresh, locally-grown produce for just $8 per bag at senior centers, other participating sites
 
Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer announced the relaunch of her Fresh Food for Seniors program for 2017, which will operate through November. The program makes bags of fresh, locally-grown produce available for purchase bimonthly at participating senior centers and buildings in multiple Manhattan neighborhoods.
 
“Access to fresh food, and especially fresh fruits and vegetables, is essential,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This affordable, low-commitment program makes it easy for Manhattan seniors to bring home delicious, healthy, locally-grown produce.”

"As the cost of living in New York rises, fresh fruits and vegetables can seem like a luxury," said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. "It’s crucial that we provide programs to assist those who built the city we love today to obtain the basic goods and services they not only need, but they deserve. I applaud Borough President Gale Brewer for creating and continuing this beloved initiative."
 
“The Fresh Food for Seniors program helps seniors get delicious, healthy foods in an affordable and reliable way—all while supporting local agriculture at the same time. It is a model for community programming that fits a local need and serves a broader good," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. "I want to thank the amazing volunteers for making the program possible as well as Borough President Brewer for her continued partnership.”

The program is made possible by partnerships between the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, local City Council members, multiple senior centers and senior residences, GrowNYC, the Corbin Hill Food Project, the Doe Fund, and the UJA-Federation of New York.
 
Starting today, seniors can sign up to receive fresh food bags at locations in the West Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper West Side, and Roosevelt Island. Later this summer, the program will also relaunch in multiple northern Manhattan neighborhoods, including Yorkville and East Harlem, Central Harlem, West Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood.
 
Locations and Delivery Dates
 
Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and West Village -- In partnership with Council Member Corey Johnson and GrowNYC

Delivery dates: July 5, July 19, Aug. 2, Aug. 16, Aug. 30, Sept. 13, Sept. 27, Oct. 11, Oct. 25, Nov. 8

Site open to all seniors:

Site open to senior center members only:

Upper West Side -- In partnership with Council Member Helen Rosenthal and GrowNYC

Delivery dates: July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, Sept. 6, Sept. 20, Oct. 4, Oct. 18, Nov. 1, Nov. 15

Site open to all seniors:

  • Goddard Riverside: Senior Center
    Sign up: Mondays and Tuesdays, 1-3pm
    Pick up: Wednesday the week after signing up, 1-3pm

Sites open to senior center members and/or building residents only:


Roosevelt Island -- In partnership with GrowNYC and the Roosevelt Island Senior Center, a program of Carter Burden Network

Delivery dates: July 5, July 19, Aug. 2, Aug. 16, Aug. 30, Sept. 13, Sept. 27, Oct. 11, Oct. 25, Nov. 8
 
Site open to all seniors:

  • Roosevelt Island Senior Center
    546 Main Street
    (212) 980-1888

Northern Manhattan -- In partnership with Corbin Hill Food Project, The Doe Fund, and UJA-Federation of New York

Deliveries will begin August 2017; dates and locations to be announced.
Program will include Yorkville, East Harlem, Central Harlem, West Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood.

B.P. Brewer hosts Iftar Celebration for Ramadan

My office held its annual Iftar Dinner this past Tuesday, June 20, at my downtown office, where we broke fast with our Muslim neighbors, and celebrated local Community Board leaders. We were joined by Aisha Bah of the International High School at Union Square, who recited the Qur’an, and called to prayer by the imam of the Islamic Society of Mid Manhattan, Sheikh Ahmed Dewidar.

I was pleased to honor the following Muslim leaders on Manhattan community boards pictured above: Ahsia Badi of Community Board 6, Mahfuzur Rahman of Community Board 11, (not pictured) Shah Ally of Community Board 12, Natasha Kazmi of Community Board 7, and Aissata Camara of Community Board 6. This evening was a great celebration of faith and fellowship.

BP Brewer requests explanation & clarification of lifting of Stop Work Order for Rivington House

I have written to the Department of Buildings asking why a Stop Work Order was lifted at 45 Rivington Street, also known as Rivington House. I am also calling for the original Stop Work Order to be reinstated, given the uncertainty around the original transaction, as well as the hope that the site be returned to community use.

6-15-17 Letter to DOB Re Rivington House Stop Work Order

Brewer promotes free summer meals for kids with Friday Day of Action

Manhattan B.P. to greet commuters and deploy staff, volunteers to 82 schools with detailed flyers on how, when, and where to get free summer meals for kids

On Friday, June 16, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer will lead a borough-wide Day of Action to provide parents and children with detailed information about free meals available this summer through New York City’s Summer Meals Program.

Brewer will personally greet commuters and hand out flyers promoting the program at the Broadway and West 96th Street subway station, starting at approximately 7:45 am.

“The Free Summer Meals available across Manhattan this summer are a crucial element in the fight against childhood hunger, but the program only helps if families know about it,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Every year my office creates and distributes detailed flyers in multiple languages, with neighborhood-specific Summer Meals sites listed, so Manhattan students and parents know where to go for healthy, free meals over the summer.”

The Summer Meals program is federally funded and serves free, nutritious meals for kids during the summer at hundreds of public schools, public pools and recreation centers, and other sites. For years, Brewer has enthusiastically boosted the program with flyering and outreach efforts. Brewer has also urged city officials to publish detailed information on the Summer Meals program earlier in the school year, before the start of exams and graduations, to make it easier to get detailed information to parents and families.

Friday morning, dozens of volunteers and staff will fan out to Manhattan’s 82 Title One elementary schools with flyers detailing when and where free meals will be available this summer.

Brewer's office produced and printed the flyers based on information recently obtained from the Dept. of Education and other city agencies.

The flyers, which are customized with Summer Meals locations and times in each of Manhattan's neighborhoods, will be available online in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.

Independent Budget Office: old signals strand subways, but replacement is behind schedule more than half the time

NEW YORK – Responding to a request from Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) today released an analysis of MTA capital repair and improvement work on the New York City subway’s signal systems, finding more than half of signal projects are late and that signal work on the 7 (Flushing) line is more than 50 percent over budget.

All of the MTA’s subway lines except the recently upgraded L (Canarsie) line use antiquated signal systems that are unreliable and difficult to repair, and limit rail capacity even when they are working properly.

The IBO’s analysis found 19 out of 33 signal upgrade and repair projects in the MTA’s previous two capital plans were completed behind schedule or are still pending and behind schedule. In the current MTA capital plan, 14 signal projects were scheduled to begin by the end of 2017, but eight of these are delayed.

The IBO also found that the next line slated for completion of signal upgrades, the 7 line, is more than 50 percent over budget. The new signal system on the 7 line has an expected cost at completion of $405.7 million, up from an original budgeted amount of $265.6 million.

The number of subway delays has increased by 250 percent in the last five years, from 28,000 to 70,000 delays per month. Only two thirds of subway trains make it to their destination on time or less than five minutes late, whereas in 2012 more than 80 percent of trains hit that benchmark.

Despite the dramatic increase in subway delays and the consistent delays and budget overruns in signal upgrade work, capital funding has not kept pace with the system’s needs. Experts widely regard the signal system as a principal obstacle to improving both subway reliability and capacity, but the percentage share of New York City Transit capital funding devoted to repair and modernization of this system has declined in the past three MTA capital plans:

Percentage share of NYCT capital funds for subway signal repair and modernization:

  • 2005-2009 Capital Plan 20%
  • 2009-2014 Capital Plan 17%
  • 2015-2019 Capital Plan 14%

Moreover, more than half of this money is spent on repairs for the increasingly unreliable legacy signal system, rather than upgrading and replacing it.

Statement from Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer: “If the subway is New York City’s heart, then the mounting delays and catastrophic service failures we’re seeing are congestive heart failure, threatening the very life of our city. The subway’s antiquated signal system is a big reason why.

“In 1997 the deadline for all signal upgrades was set for this year. Today, only one line is finished, the 2017 deadline has been pushed back by 28 years to 2045, and The New York Times has reported that even the 2045 date ‘seems unrealistic.’

“This is intolerable. The city is doing its part. The mayor has increased the city’s contribution to the MTA capital budget. City taxpayers already pay a disproportionate share of the system’s costs. We’re now even using zoning policy to finance subway improvements.

“Our state government – which actually controls the MTA – must do its part by finding and appropriating the $20 billion needed to overhaul the signal system. “

I thank the professionals at the IBO for quickly preparing this analysis.”

The IBO’s full letter to Borough President Brewer can be downloaded here.

B.P. Brewer releases results of survey of empty storefronts on Broadway

188 street-level vacancies identified from The Battery to Inwood

NEW YORK—Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer today released results of a survey of vacant storefronts along the entire length of Broadway, conducted Sunday, May 21, 2017 by several dozen volunteers and interns organized by her office.  Along the 244 blocks of Broadway, from The Battery to Inwood, the survey identified 188 empty street-level storefronts.

“Empty storefronts can sap the vitality from a neighborhood if they are not reoccupied quickly,” said Brewer. “The normal ‘invisible hand’ of capitalism--old businesses closing and new ones quickly replacing them--too often doesn’t seem to work in Manhattan. Almost every neighborhood seems to have a storefront that’s been vacant for years. It can be a mystery, but I’m interested in solving the mystery and rejuvenating our streetscapes. This data will be the starting point in finding policy solutions to this problem.”

It was often hard for surveyors to discern the storefront’s status. Many were papered over, suggesting renovations or new tenants. Others had what appeared to be pop-up temporary stores in place. But too many were empty and fallow, with no signs of life.

Broadway was chosen subjectively, as a street that encompassed a cross-section of Manhattan neighborhoods, spanning the downtown Financial District to college-driven neighborhoods in the Village and Morningside Heights to ordinary ‘bedroom blocks’ of apartment houses with ground-level stores.

Methodology. Surveyors were each assigned a section of Broadway and asked to scrutinize every ground floor commercial storefront space to gauge whether or not it was vacant and to describe the details of its vacancy and, if possible, to identify what once stood in that space. Some storefronts still contained equipment or signage from the previous tenant. The list of addresses identified as vacant is downloadable here in PDF, XLSX, and CSV formats.

This Friday! Summer meals day of action.

This coming Friday, June 16, my office will be mobilizing volunteers in a "Day of Action" to distribute the locations of the free Summer Meals for Kids program offered by the NYC Department of Education. Too many families don’t know that their children are eligible, and don’t know where to go for free breakfast and lunch during the summer when schools are out of session.

To help inform them, I need your help this Friday morning, June 16, distributing flyers at public schools across Manhattan. We'll be flyering from 7:30
8:30 am. Then, at 9:30 am, please join your fellow volunteers for a breakfast at my office! Please sign up online to volunteer at bit.ly/2rJACn6.


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