SCRIE eligibility expansion will help thousands more NYC seniors
I support Councilmember Margaret Chin’s bill (Intro 243) to increase the eligibility cap for SCRIE eligibility from $29,000 to $50,000, and I’m grateful for the efforts of Manhattan Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh for his tireless efforts in getting this passed in Albany, and for Gov. Cuomo in agreeing to have the state pay for the first two years of newly-eligible seniors.
The SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) Program will now protect thousands of additional tenants, who are already paying at least a third of their income in rent, from additional increases. According to state estimates, approximately 24,000 NYC seniors will now be able to receive the benefit-- about one-third of them in Manhattan.
In a city as expensive as ours, programs like this help keep senior New Yorkers in their homes.
I’ll be working to extend a similar increase in the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) program. Those tenants, most of who are on fixed incomes, also desperately need this kind of help to remain in their homes.
Brewer hails signing of intern protections bill
First introduced by Brewer, law extends City’s Human Rights Law to protect interns from harassment
In more than 30 years of public service, I have sponsored over 1,000 interns in my career and they work as hard as many full-time employees I’ve seen. Interns deserve equal protection under the law, and this legislation does just that, extending the City’s Human Rights Law to include unpaid interns. I’m delighted that the Council, under the leadership of Speaker Mark-Viverito, passed this legislation and that Mayor de Blasio is signing it today. (April 15)
(Below: Interns from the Manhattan Borough President's Office attend the bill signing)
BP Brewer, Comptroller Stringer reach agreement with de Blasio administration for West 95th Street homeless shelter
Agree to examine long-term changes to City’s homeless policy
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on April 14 announced an agreement with New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Gilbert Taylor to reduce by half the number of families at Freedom House, a homeless shelter for adult families on West 95th Street in Manhattan. Freedom House currently serves 400 adults in two residential buildings on West 95th Street.
Under the agreement, the shelter population will be reduced to 200 adults by November 1st, 2014 as part of an effort to create a better environment for shelter clients, building tenants and the surrounding community.
In 2012, DHS sited Freedom House as an emergency contract agreement in two residential buildings that were also home to 71 tenants in rent-stabilized units. The shelter is operated by Aguila Inc., a Bronx-based nonprofit that moved their offices to the Upper West Side when the shelter opened.
"With homelessness in the City at record highs and shelter costs through the roof, I’m gratified that City Hall has agreed to focus on long-term planning instead of the use of emergency procurement to operate shelters," Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said. "The shelters at West 95th Street are emblematic of the problem with emergency contracts that are extended without community input or adequate oversight. We all need to work together to find solutions that take into account neighborhood views, the dignity and safety of our homeless, and the City’s budgetary needs."
As part of the agreement, the Administration also committed to an ongoing dialogue around the way homeless services are delivered in New York City. The City pays over $3,000 per unit in many locations to provide shelter and social services in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) buildings, appealing to landlords who seek out lucrative city contracts. This money could instead be used to help subsidize rents, which would save the City money while putting homeless families on the path to self-sufficiency. The agreement to reduce the number of adult families at Freedom House will open up at least 100 units that could be used as affordable housing for low- to moderate-income New Yorkers.
NOTICE: Manhattan Borough Board meets Thursday, April 17
The Manhattan Borough Board will meet Thursday, April 17, 2014, at 8:30 A.M., at the Safe Horizon Manhattan Child Advocacy Center, 1753 Park Ave., 2nd Floor, New York, N.Y. The meeting will include a vote on a resolution supporting Int. No. 1183, a Local Law to amend the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to after-hours work authorization.
Brewer co-sponsors bills to protect street trees, promote car-sharing
Part of aggressive legislative agenda
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer on April 10 co-sponsored bills to protect street trees from construction (Int. 268-2014) and reserve spaces in public parking facilities for car-sharing programs (Int. 267-2014) – part of an aggressive legislative agenda since taking borough-wide office.
The two bills introduced today were co-sponsored with Council Member Rosie Mendez and were re-introductions of legislation Brewer first introduced while in the council. Under the City Charter, the borough president can introduce legislation in partnership with a Council Member, and the bill’s list of sponsors includes the notation "by request of the Manhattan Borough President."
Since January, Brewer has co-sponsored 22 bills and one resolution – two have passed, including expanded paid-sick leave legislation and a law to protect unpaid interns from harassment, the latter co-sponsored with Council Member James Vacca.
Other bills that have been introduced include expanding the number of accessible pedestrian signals for the vision-impaired to improve traffic safety, requiring agency inspection and correction for multiple-unit dwellings with dangerous violations, and prohibiting employment discrimination based on an individual’s status as a caregiver.
"My top priority has always been improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers, and as borough president I will continue in that vein both via the traditional powers of the office and by advancing legislation that serves New Yorkers," Brewer said.
Brewer has also announced plans to introduce legislation to reform the landmarking process to help protect buildings that are part of the City’s heritage.
Brewer, leading preservationists call for reforms to landmarking process
As Rizzoli Bookstore prepares to close and the fate of its building unknown, Brewer calls for preservation of remaining “icons from another era”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and representatives from the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Historic Districts Council called April 4 for reforms to the landmarking process on the heels of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) refusing to consider landmark status for the Rizzoli building at 31 West 57th Street.
“The landmarks process requires reform; we must avoid more Rizzoli-like ambushes on our history. We are here today to ask that the LPC immediately study those remaining buildings on West 57th Street to identify and landmark those that represent the best of their eras, and I will introduce legislation which will require the LPC to follow transparent and consistent time frames in responding to future designation requests,” Borough President Brewer said.
“I ask that building owners and managers consider the special needs of bookstores and other small cultural businesses when they are designing and leasing space. Without a lively streetscape and diversity within our commercial districts, we will lose what makes Manhattan Manhattan—that which draws people to live here, work here, shop here, and the millions who come to visit here. With greater transparency and consistent timeframes, both preservation and building ownership can benefit,” Brewer said.
“The loss of Rizzoli should be a wake-up call. With all of the development pressures on 57th Street, there should be a comprehensive look at which buildings should be landmarked so that other new development doesn’t further erode the layers of architectural history that make this such a special street,” Peg Breen, Executive Director of the New York Landmarks Conservancy said.
“New York City’s history belongs to everyone and we are in the process of losing it. The Rizzoli Building is not a hidden gem – it was a known quantity which the City never acted to protect, despite community requests. The Landmarks Preservation Commission and the de Blasio administration must take a strong stand to protect New York City’s existing history as we move forward in building a New York City open to all,” Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director, Historic Districts Council.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission ignored requests by Community Board 5 to consider the Rizzoli Building in 2007, and rejected a similar request by B.P. Brewer last month. Alteration permits are reported to have been granted.
Over 15,000 signatures were gathered on this change.org petition seeking designation of the Rizzoli building as an interior and exterior landmark.
Brewer criticizes Albany proposal on charter schools
Last I checked, the Mayor was still in charge of New York City Public Schools. It would be a mistake for Albany to disregard its own laws by forcing the City to provide public space for all charters or else require the DOE to pay charter rent for private space. Our City doesn't benefit from Albany's meddling; it can only breed resentment and the vast majority of New Yorkers will not stand for it.
If Albany truly wanted to be helpful, it would make funding available to alleviate overcrowding and support class size reduction. In too many Manhattan school districts, pre-k seats have been eliminated to make room for kindergarten seats; and, year after year, class sizes continue to rise. New York City must have the ability to determine best uses for our public school buildings without intervention from Albany.
(Below: BP Brewer speaks out against the mandatory co-location of charter schools, at a rally on the steps of Tweed Courthouse, March 27, 2014.)
Brewer praises March 26 passage of intern protections bill
Unpaid interns deserve protections against harassment, which is why I am proud to have co-sponsored today’s City Council bill to unsure they enjoy the full protection of the New York City Human Rights Law. In more than 30 years of public service, I have had over 1,000 interns. They have been invaluable – and we should value them in turn.
BP Brewer first introduced the interns protection bill in December 2013, while a member of the New York City Council.
Her March 17 testimony in support of the current bill is here.
BP Brewer also co-sponored several bills at the Council's March 26 meeting.
Int. 205-2014 – with Council Member Lancman: Requiring hotels to provide their housekeeping staff with silent alarms for their protection.
Int. 215-2014 – with Council Member Levine: Requiring biographical information regarding street and park renamings to be posted online.
Int. 216-2014 – with Council Member Levine: Expanding the number of accessible pedestrian signals for the vision-impaired to improve traffic safety.
Int. 219-2014 – with Council Member Mendez: Creating a bicycle safety task force.
Int. 220-2014 – with Public Advocate James, and Council Members Mendez and Chin: Requiring agency inspection and correction for multiple-unit dwellings with dangerous violations.
Int. 222-2014 – with Council Member Mendez and Public Advocate James: Requring 72-hour prior notice to tenants for non-emergency repairs.
Int. 223-2014 – with Council Member Mendez: Creation of an annual report to assess the City's indigent legal representation.
Borough Board budget priorities
Education, housing, and transportation are the top three budget priorities according to a Manhattan Borough Board survey – with responses from all 12 Community Boards and nearly every zip code in Manhattan.
“As the City sets its FY 2015 budget, Manhattan residents surveyed expressed deep concern over the City’s looming budget challenges – not least of which are preparing our schoolchildren for the 21st century economy, ensuring there is enough affordable housing so Manhattan doesn’t become a borough of the 1 percent, and improving our faltering public transportation,” said Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Our goals are clear. Let’s work to achieve them.”
The survey results are included in the Manhattan Borough Board Budget Priorities Report for Fiscal Year 2015, approved at this month’s borough board meeting and submitted to the Mayor, City Council, and Director of Management and Budget.
Additional pressing concerns of the Borough President’s office include the state of the City’s physical infrastructure – a problem highlighted by this month’s deadly explosion in East Harlem – as well as the impact of the City’s expired labor contracts and continued effects of the recent recession on social services and employment.
Respondents were asked to rate priorities in terms of overall importance on scale of 1 to 5. With 425 responses, the results were:
- K-High School Education (75%) - Affordable Housing (70%) - Public Transportation (69%) - Youth Services (67%) - Public Infrastructure (64%) - Parks (62%) - Human / Social Services (62%) - Public Health (59%) - Higher Education (58%) - Senior Services (58%) - Pre-K Education (56%) - Economic / Business Development (54%) - Homeless Services (54%) - Technology Infrastructure (47%) - Cultural Affairs (47%)
Brewer praises expansion of paid sick leave signed into law by Mayor de Blasio
This is a great day for New York, because expanding paid sick leave makes for a healthier city. Since laws are only effective if those they govern understand their rights and responsibilities, I look forward to an active role in educating both workers and employers. A successful roll-out will require broad community outreach to implement the best practices that have worked in cities that have already enacted paid sick leave.
I’m both humbled and proud that the years of work put in by countless workers and activists-- hundreds of conference calls, press conferences & rallies, along with meetings with thousands of parents, employees, health care workers, unions, advocacy groups, non-profits, and businesses large and small-- brought us to today’s expansion.
Thanks are due to Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Viverito, and the City Council for making New York City a healthier place for all.
NOTICE: Manhattan Borough Board meets Thursday, March 20
The Manhattan Borough Board will meet Thursday, March 20, 2014, at 8:30 A.M. in the Manhattan Borough President's Office, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor South, New York, N.Y. -- and the meeting will include a public hearing on the board's statement on borough budget priorities.
The Borough Board the will hold two votes: (1) On the Borough Board’s statement on borough budget priorities; and (2) on a resolution supporting Int. No. 1183, A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to after-hours work authorization.
Additional legislative efforts
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer on March 12 co-sponsored additional legislation in the City Council:
Int. 150-2014 – with Council Member Lander: Amending the City Charter to allow instant run-off voting.
Int. 151-2014 – with Council Member Lander: To establish minimum neighborhood service standards and require environmental mitigation reports on certain large-scale developments.
Int. 152-2014 – with Council Member Lander: Harassment protection during building conversions.
Int. 163-2014 – with Council Member Mendez: To require a lease-signing information checklist for tenants.
Int. 164-2014 – with Council Member Mendez: Extending J-51 benefits to owners of multiple dwellings for green roofs.
Int. 165-2014 – with Council Member Mendez: Regarding the use of handheld computers for enforcing parking regulations.
Int. 173-2014 – with Council Member Vacca: Prohibition of discrimination against interns.
Int. 179-2014 – with Council Member Williams: Requiring buildings to display street numbers.
Reso. 115-2014 – with Council Member Kallos: Resolution calling upon the State Legislature and Governor to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to be appointed to NYC Community Boards.
All were re-introductions. Under the City Charter, the Borough President can introduce legislation in partnership with a Council Member, and the bill’s list of sponsors includes the notation “by request of the Manhattan Borough President.”
Brewer co-sponsors four bills
Pressing forward with an active legislative agenda, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer on Feb. 26 co-sponsored four pieces of legislation in the City Council. All were reintroductions from her time in the Council.
Int. 89-2014 – with Council Member Levin: A bill to require the Department of Social Services to provide semiannual reports to the Council regarding referrals to adult protective services.
Int. 97-2014 – with Council Member Mendez: A bill to protect student pedestrians by installing warning systems near schools that are close to parking garages, placing a stop sign at the garage exit, and placing a sign alerting drivers to the presence of students in the area.
Int. 72-2014 – with Council Member Johnson: A bill to require the Department of Health to post information online about mobile and temporary food vendors, including the numbers of permits and borough-specific licenses.
Borough President Brewer also previously co-sponsored Int. 1-2014, the expansion of Paid Sick Leave.
Background: Under the City Charter, the Borough President can introduce legislation in partnership with a Council Member, and the bill’s list of sponsors includes the notation “by request of the Manhattan Borough President.”
2014 Community-Scale Composting Grant
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board (MSWAB), and Citizens Committee for New York City invite you to apply for a grant to start, expand, and grow composting programs.
• Completed proposal submitted by March 28, 2014
• Community association, community garden, friends of park group, housing development group, nonprofit, school, college/university, hospital, or private business
• Group must have permission to start or expand this project in the form of a letter of support or contract
• Groups can be located within any of the five boroughs of New York City
Small grants, ranging from $100-$750 will be available to awardees
Download either the Word or PDF document, save a copy, fill it out, re-save, and send completed proposal to Sabine Bernards at sbernards AT citizensnyc.org no later than March 28, 2014
For more details, visit http://www.citizensnyc.org/grants/composting-grant. If you have any questions, please contact Sabine Bernards at 212-822-9578 or sbernards AT citizensnyc.org. Grants will be announced by April 28, 2014
Brewer statement on the Vision Zero Action Plan
I'm glad that the Mayor has so quickly put a plan together to achieve Vision Zero. In Manhattan, we started an outreach process already, working with each of the 12 Community Boards to identify known traffic hotspots and recommend remedies for DOT to implement. Any safety programs going forward must also include audible, accessible pedestrian signals-- which, I'm proud to say, is mandated by a law I wrote.
Brewer statement on the Mayor's State of the City Address
Paid sick leave means better workers, healthier workplaces, and a shift to preventative instead of costly emergency health care – and the Mayor is right in seeking to expand it to more workers.
I also applaud the Mayor’s jobs plan to expand science, technology, engineering, math, and health-care education at City high schools and CUNY – and connect every high school with a specific, in-demand industry. After all, children who grow up here should be full participants in the City’s strength.
And like the Mayor I am committed to ensuring that the people’s interests are accounted for in every real estate deal made with the City. Building in Manhattan is a privilege. Communities and developers must collaborate on smart development that takes into account the impact on roads and subways, school enrollment, recreational spaces, business diversity and all the things that make developers want to build here in the first place.