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Monday, March 27, 2017 - 11:40am
"Ramarley Graham was a son, a friend and, most importantly, a young man with his whole life left to live. Nothing can take away the profound pain left after his loss, but I hope the conclusion of this difficult process brings some measure of justice to those who loved him. "The NYPD disciplinary trial of Richard Haste ended with the right decision: termination. "Our administration has taken unprecedented steps to strengthen the relationship between police and our neighborhoods, and increase transparency through important reforms -- from retraining the entire force, to deploying body cameras on officers. We are relentless in our efforts to ensure that lives will be saved as a result of the unspeakable loss of Ramarley Graham."
Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 7:40am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: I want to thank everyone for this chance to be with you. And look, I want to say a few things about what is going on right now in our city and in our country. This is a very powerful moment – I want to speak to it – but, first, I want to thank these great leaders. You will notice that the Dominican presence in the legislature seems to be growing all the time, and that is something very positive for New York City and for the whole State of New York. And it is not just that there are more leaders from the Dominican community in the legislature – and now, by the way, in the Congress – it is the quality of the people and the impact they’re making and the values they bring to this. So, I want to thank them all. Of course, I want to say everyone is proud of a man who made history – and now he’s fighting to protect all the progress we’ve made in our nation. Let’s thank our Congressman Adriano Espaillat. [Applause] I just want to note that Adriano goes to Washington and Donald Trump is immediately defeated on the Affordable Care Act. [Applause] Now, coincidence? I don’t think so, okay? I want to thank, of course, one of the newest members of the State Senate – someone I’ve had the pleasure of working with for many years and deeply appreciate the good work we’ve done together – Senator Marisol Alcantara, we thank you so much. [Applause] And one of the newest members of the Assembly and a bright rising star – Carmen De La Rosa, thank you. [Applause] I believe Victor Pichardo is here – I haven’t seen him, but I think he’s here. Assemblyman Victor Pichardo, thanks for all you do. And a crucial ally in so much we have done in City Hall on so many of the issues you heard about before, including Vision Zero. One of the biggest champions for Vision Zero – Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, thank you. [Applause] And, finally, a mentor of mine – where’d he go? There he is. A mentor of mine, going back many years to when I first was working for Mayor Dinkins – Dr. Rafael Lantigua, thank you for all you do for this community – a voice of conscience, always. Listen, I want to talk to you about what’s going on. This is a very powerful moment. And let me just start by saying this – we saw – we saw a moment of history with a defeat of Donald Trump’s effort to take away healthcare. We saw a moment of history. We saw the pendulum swinging back our way, didn’t we? [Applause] And I want you to understand how powerful this is – 2 million people in New York City got health insurance because of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act – 2 million people. Everyone here is involved in the community. You know people who have benefited. All that was in danger. All that was in danger. Our public hospitals were in horrible danger and everything was on the line, and people mobilized all over the country to fight the repeal of the ACA. Now, in case you hear from people that you can’t fight Donald Trump, well, guess what? We’ve just proven, you can fight Donald Trump, and you can beat him. [Applause] And that takes me to the second issue, which is what Donald Trump is trying to do on immigration and the way we’re going to beat him on that too. Did you see in the State of the Union address – did you see that Donald Trump suggested we need a whole federal office for “victims of immigrant crime.” What was that about? That was Donald Trump trying to demonize all immigrants, trying to paint all immigrants as negative and criminal. It’s not just about a few crimes – this is a much more systematic effort to demonize immigration and we will not allow that to happen. We are the city of immigrants, the state of immigrants. We will never allow our immigrants to be treated that way. [Applause] And we made clear this week in New York City that if ICE tries to come into our public schools, they will not be allowed in the door. [Applause] Let’s be clear. Let’s be clear, we in New York City – we control our own fate. We are not going to see our children terrorized. We’re not going to see our families torn apart. Can you imagine if you’re a child in one of our schools and you fear that you’re about to be taken away and forced our of the country. Or if you fear that you’ll go home at night and your parents won’t be there. That has what has been created in this environment, and we have to show our children that we will have their back and stand up for them. [Applause] So, if any ICE agent appears at one of our public schools or any of our other city buildings, they will have to deal with someone in one of our uniforms telling them they cannot come in the door – it’s as simple as that. [Applause] And I want to say, I was so proud – you saw a few weeks ago – it was on the cover of the Daily News – a picture of our Police Commissioner on one side and Donald Trump on the other side. I was so proud of our Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill, saying to our police officers – you are not going to be turned into immigration enforcement agents in New York City. [Applause] Finally, I want to say to you this – I want to ask your help and I want to talk about something that affects so many of us in New York City. Everyone here knows that we are fighting a battle in New York City to keep it a city for everyone. We’re fighting all of these bad policies in Washington, but we also are fighting to protect our own neighborhoods, our own communities. Too many people have been displaced. Too many people have lost their homes and their apartments because they couldn’t afford them anymore. We have an affordability crisis in New York City and we have to do something different. And what I’ve called for is what I call a mansion tax. It’s a simple idea that says if someone buys a home for more than $2 million, they should pay a little more in taxes so we can give affordable housing to our senior citizens. Now, I want to take a little survey here – how many people here believe that the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes? [Applause] Right? How many people here believe the wealthy right now are paying their fair share? We have a problem, don’t we? This is why the mansion tax is such a powerful idea. It’s an act of fairness. If someone’s wealthy enough to afford a $2 million, a $3 million, a $10 million-dollar home, they can give a little more and 25,000 senior citizens will get affordable housing. 25,000 of our neighbors will get affordable housing with the money we raise from this tax. Doesn’t that sound fair to you? Audience: Yes! Mayor: So, thank you, everyone. Listen, SOMOS every year is a time where we enjoy each other’s company, we network, we think together, and we get read to fight the battles ahead. We’ve got a lot to fight for this year, we’ve got a lot to fight against in Washington, but we are strong, and we have a great victory this week to prove how strong we are. Let’s go to win some more victories together. [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 5:10pm
"Our voices were heard. House Republicans have backed off repealing the Affordable Care Act, for now. We should feel good about what we helped to achieve, but our work is not over. One in five children and adults struggle with mental health conditions. Most insurance plans under the ACA are required to provide mental health and substance misuse coverage. That coverage has saved thousands of lives, and restored quality of life to so many families. We can do more, but we must continue to raise our voices and call on the GOP to put the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers and working families first."
Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 7:40am
"When President Trump was elected, it was a foregone conclusion that the new president and his Republican Congress would immediately throw millions of people off their health insurance. But a grassroots movement made up of millions of Americans standing together stopped that from happening. While the fight is far from over, Obamacare repeal efforts are now on life support as the law continues to keep Americans alive. I commend New York City's Congressional delegation for standing up against repeal efforts and a related amendment targeting New York City taxpayers."
Friday, March 24, 2017 - 5:20pm
Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. We begin today with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment – my questions and your questions for Mayor Bill de Blasio. Our lines are open for anyone at 2-1-2-4-3-3-W-N-Y-C, 2-1-2-4-3-3-9-6-9-2, or you can tweet a question. We will watch our Twitter feed too. Just use the #AskTheMayor, and we will see it. The Mayor is there or not there? Not there. Okay, he’s going to be here any second. He may be dealing with getting information about some breaking news that we are just starting to get some information on. Apparently, I’m being told by our producers that there has been some kind of train derailment at Penn Station. It’s not clear that anybody has been hurt in this. But there is something going on there, and it is affecting travel at very least at Penn Station. And WNYC’s Stephen Nessen has just sat down here in the studio with me to tell me what he knows. [...] Now Mayor Bill de Blasio joins me. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you, Brian. Lehrer: And I’ll just tell you what we’ve heard from Steve Nessen. I don’t know if this is the first time you’re hearing it – that there was some kind of Amtrak train collision or derailment, or something at Penn Station. It’s not clear that anyone was hurt or Steven said no LIRR impact on travel at this moment. But have you heard anything like that? Mayor: What I’ve heard is very similar, but I’ve heard there were no significant injuries. Obviously we’re waiting for more information. But it sounds like it is having an impact on some trains, not on others that go into Penn Station. So thank God, it’s a limited impact and also, to the best of my understanding – so far, no serious injuries. Lehrer: Okay, thanks for updating us on what you know. I already gave out the phone number. Listeners, we can also watch our Twitter feed. Use the #AsktheMayor, and we will see it. As well as calling – though all our lines are full already at 2-1-2-4-3-3-W-N-Y-C. And Mr. Mayor, let me start with a few topics in the news. Then we’ll take the calls from the listeners. The London attack this week was carried out in a way that’s becoming increasingly common for terrorists – driving a car off the road into a crowd. Has the City been taking new steps recently to protect against that kind of thing, in particular? Or in certain locations? Or in general? Mayor: Couple different things, Brian. First of all, my heart goes out to the people of London. And they’ve been through too much already. So, this is very painful for them. And it’s a city we feel very close to. So obviously it hits home here. Luckily, a couple years ago, in response to the Paris attacks, we created the Critical Response Command. So we have over 500 officers who are well-armed and well-trained, specifically for counterterror duty. That is all they do. And we have that force on duty 24 hours a day, obviously. What that has allowed us to do in a situation like this – is to move those assets into position in places we might think might be particularly vulnerable. In this case, obviously institutions related to Britain and the British government. Those were reinforced immediately. You also saw more of our CRC officers in front of other key locations around the city – sort of prominent places where we wanted to show more presence to ward off any attacks. So that – that presence – that clear strong presence differentiates New York from a lot of places. Obviously, we added 2,000 police officers in the last few years. That’s allowed us to do that. So that makes us different in terms of an ongoing deterrent impact. And then specifically, we recognize with major gatherings – like the St. Patrick’s Parade, or New Year’s Eve, or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – that we needed to change our approach. So a lot more officer presence, including CRC members, and we don’t allow in major parades vehicles to cross the parade route anymore. We’ve done that now over the last few months. And that has made a real difference in terms of defense. So those are changes we have made, but we’re constantly assessing what we see in terrorism around the world and making additional moves. So we’ll look at this incident and decide if there’s further actions we have to take. Lehrer: All right. Thank you for that. The horrible hate crime in Midtown this week against a 66-year-old black man – the NYPD, as you know, says the suspect came here from Baltimore to kill a random black person in New York and admitted it was from that – motivated by that racial hate. It’s, to me, the moral equivalent of a terrorist attack because with the history of lynching in this country, it could reinforce fear or terror in every black person – that they can be attacked at any time just for being. Is there anything you can do as Mayor, after a case like this, other than to denounce the hate? Mayor: I think it follows the same point we just talked about a moment ago with other types of terrorism. Look, this is domestic, racist terrorism. There’s no question. It is the equivalent of what happened in Charleston at the church, which was one of the most horrible incidents that’s occurred in this nation in many years – a racially motivated act of domestic terrorism. And I think part of it is making very clear that’s unacceptable in our society. But a lot of it comes down to both real consequences and deterrent impact – showing that we’re going to, any time we have a specific piece of information that suggests that such an attack might happen, we’re going to have our officers out there in force to protect whatever community is under attack. Now, the challenge here is that a dynamic of hatred has been growing in this country over the last year or more. It’s particularly come out in the open after the election and it’s clearly related to the rhetoric of Donald Trump and even other candidates during the Presidential election that have unleashed forces of hate all over the country. And by the way, a lot of these folks have been – the white supremacist organizations, the militias – they’ve been a threat to people in this country for a long time; they’ve been a threat to law enforcement for a long time. So when they are known, when the activities of any group or individual are known, there’s a lot we can do to stop them. And there’s a lot we can do to specifically deter and be prepared. When it’s an entirely random situation like this, it’s no less painful. It’s horrible. And it creates real fear. It is harder sometimes to stop in time. But it gets back to the core point – an atmosphere of hate has been created. We have to fight that atmosphere of hate with every tool we’ve got. One of the things we do very well in New York City is create consequences. Anyone who commits a bias crime, anyone who commits an attack based on hatred will – we will get them. And we’ve shown that consistently. We will find them. We will prosecute them. They will suffer the consequences. Lehrer: Next topic – the mansion tax. You want the State Legislature to pass a tax hike on $2 million-plus home purchases to fund 25,000 units of senior citizen housing. And you’ve been saying we all know that AARP has an extraordinary ability to influence legislators, but as you now know, WNYC’s Brigid Bergin called them and they said they’re very supportive of the housing plan, but neutral on the mansion tax and not involved in Albany on its behalf. And AARP put out a press release this morning to that effect. Did their officials lead you to believe they would get involved? Mayor: Yeah, first of all, I think there was some misunderstanding here, and I certainly will take responsibility for my team if we misunderstood that particular nuance in their position. But let me be clear, they put out a further statement this morning, and I want to read it to you. And I appreciate this statement by AARP because they’ve been crucial allies in the fight for affordable housing. It’s just a few sentences. They say: no New York City mayor in recent times has been more aggressive in the pursuit of affordable housing than Mayor de Blasio. Affordable housing is critical to keeping the city an attractive place to age and is a top concern among our 800,000 New York City members and the city’s 50-plus population. AARP fully supports Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to create more affordable housing, including his plan to provide rent subsidies for up to 25,000 seniors; however, AARP has taken no position on how that plan should be funded. So there, Brian, is the crux of it. Brigid, obviously, brought to light that there was a nuance here, and it’s a fair point to raise. But I also want to be clear: AARP believes the goal is the right goal; they want to see 25,000 more units for seniors; they believe that needs to be done and can be done. I understand as a matter of policy, they don’t weigh in on specific funding mechanisms, but their members have been extraordinarily supportive. And I think it’s going to make a big difference in the fight in Albany. Lehrer: Since you’ve been using them as leverage in talking to legislators or talking publicly about talking to legislators, regarding their influence – can you win the mansion tax without AARP lobbying? Mayor: Well, I’d say a couple things. Again, they’re saying very clearly they want to see 25,000 more apartments that are affordable for seniors. Their members are making that very clear. The organization, I understand, is they have a particular approach on funding mechanisms. I respect that. But their members have been deeply involved. So the word has gone out to their, as I said, 800,000 members in New York City. That means every legislator’s district has AARP members. A lot of them are answering the call and weighing in aggressively with their legislators. I think the effect is being felt in Albany. And Senator Diane Savino, as you know, is a member of the Independent Democratic Caucus, is now sponsoring the mansion tax legislation in the Senate. That’s a very positive sign. So this is going to be a real fight. And I think a lot of legislators have to think about this. Are they really going to say to 25,000 seniors: we’re not going to give you affordable housing because we want to take care of wealthy people. That’s what it comes down to. The mansion tax only affects folks who purchase a home of $2 million or more in value. Average home cost: $4.5 million. This is a tax that gets to the heart of what we’ve been talking about in this country for the last year or two – that the wealthy are not paying their fair share in taxes, while meanwhile, a huge percentage of people in this city cannot make ends meet. And I think this is an example of a fair act to help seniors who have given so much to our community. Lehrer: My colleagues in the City Hall press corps are reporting that you walked out of the press availability you had on the mansion tax when they tried to ask questions about other things. I know you answer my questions without restriction here every week and weekly on NY1. But the City Hall reporters are frustrated, in general, that you take questions on topics not of your own choosing less than your predecessor. You’re less transparent to the public in that way. Why do limit questions as much as you do? Mayor: Well, I disagree with that characterization. It’s a perfectly fair question, but I disagree with your characterization. Fact – I’m on your show every week; I’m on Errol Louis’s show every week. Those are open formats. I do, at least, one open format press conference every week. And then take this week, for example, on top of taking a wide range of questions, we took questions on the Vision Zero program, we took questions in Albany on the mansion tax and other Albany matters. So I’ve been in front of the media every day. Yesterday, I made clear we wanted to talk about the mansion tax. The reporters didn’t have a single question about a tax on the wealthy. It would help 25,000 senior citizens. If they’re more interested in other matters, that’s their prerogative. But I was holding a discussion about the mansion tax. And as you said on the show a few weeks back, Brian, number one issue in New York City that you hear from your callers is affordable housing. If the City Hall press corps doesn’t want to talk about affordable housing, that’s their choice. But then they’re not listening to what their readers care about. And one last point, by the end of this year, I will have had town hall meetings in 51 City Council districts. And those go for two or three hours, and people ask everything that they want to ask. So I think there’s plenty of transparency. We have a particular approach to how we bring up each issue and how we discuss each issue, but there’s plenty of transparency. Lehrer: NY1 and the New York Post won a lawsuit yesterday, forcing you to release emails between you and a private consultant you hired. Such emails are normally subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act. But you claim that Jonathan Rosen was an agent of the city even though he didn’t have a City contract. Will you release those emails now? Mayor: We said very clearly we’re going to appeal that decision for a simple reason. Put aside terminologies, a senior adviser who on the advice of the Mayor’s Office Counsel understood as did a handful of other advisers. And these are people who I’ve worked with for a long time that they could provide direct advice to me on a range of issues and that that would be treated in a certain manner in terms of confidentiality. That’s the legal guidance we got. That’s what we proceeded with. I believe it was appropriate. And we’re going to defend that again, and we’re going to appeal that decision. It comes down to a very basic concept – if we have gotten legal guidance on how to proceed, and if it was respecting the confidentiality of private conversations, there is still a place in this world for getting private advice from an adviser. Lehrer: Where’s the line? How informal, in your opinion, can a relationship be with the City be and have their communication shielded from public view as if they worked for the City? Mayor: What we’ve said going forward – because obviously I understood that this issue created a lot of confusion, so going forward, we just said to any advisors – don’t raise these issues directly to me on for example, government email. And there’s nothing there therefore to have an issue over. So we’re going to change – we have changed our approach to those communications. But in the end, I think there’s a human reality here. There’s people you want to seek advice from that are your friends, your personal advisers, everyone has those people in their life. And there still is a place in this world for a confidential conversation so that people can speak freely and think openly about issues, but in terms of anything involving City business and City email, and all that – we’ve instructed those individuals not to communicate. Lehrer: Diana, on the Upper East Side, you’re on WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hello, Diana. Question: Hi, I love your show, and I love this feature. It’s wonderful. I’m Diana Montford. We know each other – hi. Mayor: Hey, how are you doing? Question: I’m transgender. I do a television show called the Diana Montford show on cable. Trans people come to me, to Mel [inaudible], to Melissa [inaudible], to Joanne [inaudible], to those of us who are considered – you know – activists and politicians, and they say now with all the cuts that Trump is inflicting on social services what are we doing to do since so many trans people depend on social services literally for their survival? We have no answer for them. What are they going to do? Mayor: Well, look, Diana, we are going to fight those cuts. That’s – you know a lot of times I get this question from the media in terms of the cuts, and they treat it as a fait accompli. And we’ve said very clearly – I believe this fundamentally – there’s going to be a nationwide fight over the budget proposal that Trump put forward. It would – so many things – it would have a hugely negative impact on the trans community. It would have a hugely negative impact on people who need affordable housing, on seniors, on programs like Meals on Wheels. You know, in terms of keeping housing safe and healthy – it’s just a massive range of impacts, and the reality is that’s going to find disfavor all over the country including in red state and purple states. And the member of the House and Senate, if they vote for that budget, they’re buying into those cuts that are going to cut many tens of thousands of their constituents, and a lot of them are going to get queasy about that. So we have a fight ahead that I think we can win on many of the pieces, so we’re not giving in on any of that. But the bottom line is look – the City of New York in the meantime will continue, as we always have, a very robust approach to social services and an open and inclusive approach. That you can depend on in any situation, but my message back to people is let’s start working with people all over the country including all of our friends and colleagues in red and purple states and red and purple districts to fight these cuts. Lehrer: Joe on Staten Island, you’re on WNYC on Ask The Mayor. Hello. Question: Hello, Brian. Hello, Mr. Mayor. Mayor: Good morning, Joe. Question: I wanted to talk about your new initiatives to put more bike lanes on Staten Island, which I’m 100 percent for. I was reading in the Advance, which is of course the way we pronounce it, that, you know, there’s a lot of detractors, and one of the things that somebody said was you never seen anybody in the bike lanes on Staten Island. And I have to say that’s absolutely true because mainly people on Staten Island drive with, I think, malice in their hearts. And I’m all for Vision Zero. I know a lot of people I talk to there are not. They feel that it’s a money grab, but I’m wondering what you can do to go further on Staten Island, so that bikers feel that they can come out. We see people running red lights, people speeding, passing you in the oncoming traffic lane. It’s an everyday occurrence on Staten Island, and I just wanted to know if you knew about that, or you knew how bad traffic was, or if you have any plans to enforce more traffic rules on Staten Island? Mayor: A couple different points. Look, I think what we find with bike lanes in most places – I can’t speak to every community and every bike lane – but what we found in general is a little bit of a ‘if you build it, they will come’ reality. The more bike lanes are created and people see them and feel they’re safe, more people choose to take advantage of them, and they do have a positive traffic calming effect as well. That being said, as we talked about the Vision Zero press conference earlier in the week, bicyclists have to obey the same traffic laws as cars do. So it’s very important everyone recognize we want everyone in the equation to obey the laws and to be careful in terms of pedestrians, but the bottom line is in terms of enforcement – what we’ve found with Vision zero is we’ve greatly increased enforcement for speeding, we’ve greatly increased enforcement for failure to yield to pedestrians. We’re doing a lot more check points to get at folks who are driving under the influence, and I announced earlier in the week that there are going to be more such blitzes in the coming week. It’s not about revenue at all. It is about saving lives, and now for three years running Vision Zero has saved more and more lives. We have the fewest fatalities – traffic fatalities – last year we’ve ever had on record, and we’re down again this year already. So for everyone who cries foul about revenue, I have a very simple answer. I’d love to get no revenue. I’d love there to be no reason for the NYPD to pull people over for speeding. I’d love there to be no one who goes through a speed camera and gets a penalty, but then that’s about people correcting their own behavior because if you’re speeding, you’re putting other people’s lives in danger. It’s as simple as that. So we’re going to continue to enforce, and we’re going to continue to save lives, and I think ultimately the majority of people in the city support that. Lehrer: Reba in Brooklyn, you’re in WNYC with Mayor de Blasio. Hi, Reba. Question: Hi, good morning, Brian. I love your show, and Mr. Mayor I’m a huge supporter of yours. I’m just very concerned about broken windows policing and its effect on our immigrant community, and the fact that it exposes so many people to ICE action. And so my question is why can’t minor offenses be treated as civil instead of criminal offenses to really make this a sanctuary city and help protect our immigrant neighbors? Thank you. Mayor: Reba, I really appreciate the question because it gets at something that I think there’s been a lot of misunderstanding, and I want to help correct it. Quality of life policing is about minor crimes, but crimes that we still get a huge amount of complaints from communities about. And that’s what drives the vast majority of enforcement of quality of life offenses is because calls come into 311 with people complaining about something, and the local precinct acts on it. But one of the things that happened under Commissioner Bratton and now under Commission O’Neill is to increase – and certainly City Council’s been a big part of this – to increase the options that officers had. And Commissioner Bratton said this a few years ago, you know, arrest is not the goal. The goal is to solve a problem. Sometimes the best way to handle it – and officers have been trained this way under our NYPD, officers have been trained to think this way, and it actually gives them a lot more discretion, a lot more respect for their professionalism. If they think a situation is best handled by a warning, they issue warning. If they think a situation requires a summons, and in many of the quality of life offenses that’s a perfectly fine option, and there’s no arrest, there’s no finger printing – summons is the go-to in lots of situations. Arrest tends to occur when you either have a pattern of repeated offenses, or you have some other kind of outstanding warrant that’s in play. So I would argue that the way quality of life policing is being implemented now actually in a very significant percentage of situations there is no arrest, so there is no situation where there’s any database or any information flowing. Obviously as well the law of New York City says if someone is arrested – if there is a situation where they have to be arrested, but they do not commit a serious or violent crime, not one of the crimes that is part of the list of crimes that by city law would trigger our cooperation with ICE – we don’t inform ICE, we don’t cooperate with ICE in terms of those minor offenses. And what I think it comes down to in the end is that we have to protect the city. We do believe addressing quality of life offenses is part of making the city safe. That’s why crime has continued to go down. That’s one of the building blocks of continue decreases in crime, but we do not want to subject people to additional exposure if they’re undocumented, and I think the current balance we’ve struck allows us to achieve both those goals. Lehrer: Related to Reba’s broken windows question, the NYPD this week as you know forced out an employee who leaked the disciplinary history of office rPantaleo, the one who placed the chokehold in the death of Eric Garner. Your position is that you want the State to allow such records to be made public, but you basically fired someone for doing so while it’s still illegal? Did you have to go so far? Mayor: Okay, I didn’t do it personally, let’s start with that. I have agencies that report to me, and they make their own decisions on their own disciplinary measures. Look, the CCRB, which we have intensely reformed and strengthened as an organization – and this is really part and parcel of our whole discussion. For most of 20 years the CCRB did not have the power and the resources it deserved, and we have strengthened the CCRB. Bu the CCRB as an agency has to make decisions on the right way for its employees to act, and confidentially – I mean talk about an agency that specifically is all about discipline and personnel issues – confidentiality is a really important matter, so leaking someone’s record, which is clearly against state law, that’s a situation that has to be dealt with, and I think he agency did what any agency would do in a situation like that. Lehrer: That hadn’t been enforced for a long time, and I gather the NYPD discovered it recently or City Hall discovered it recently? Mayor: It was a FOIL request. I’m sorry to interrupt, but there was – there’s the irony. I certainly understand the importance of the Freedom of Information Act. There’s a FOIL request that dredged up the reality that the law was quite clear that these matters couldn’t be publicly released. And I don’t think it’s a good law. I’m very open about that fact, and by the way the governor, the assembly, the senate should get together in this legislative session and change the law in Albany – it’s called 50-a – and allow us to release disciplinary records of uniformed officers. That’s what I’m going to fight for. I think there’s going to be a very strong collation fighting for that, but what we found as a result of a FOIL request was is there has been an uneven practice by the city, and some of that practice wasn’t consist with the law. We have to follow the law until we change it. It’s as simple as that. Lehrer: And there was no lesser disciplinary action to take against the person who released the records? Mayor: I, again, I have not heard from the CCRB leadership how they make their own internal disciplinary decisions. I heard about it the same way you heard about it. But I would say if you’re an agency that specifically deals with confidential information – that’s the whole purpose of the CCRB, to deal with these matters in an adjudicatory fashion, and confidentiality is part of the arrangement, and someone violates confidentiality – there have to be consequences. As to what they should be, I leave that up to an agency to figure out according to the law. Lehrer: Martha near Union Square you’re on WNYC with Mayor d Blasio. Hello, Martha. Question: Hi. Hi, Brian and Mr. Mayor. Thank you so much for taking my call. My name is Martha Anderson, and I’m an employee at the New York Foundling. I’m the vice president over our ACS preventive programs. Mayor de Blasio, you’ve been very supportive and vital in serving vital programs for the citizens of New York City. However, the agencies that provide these services are chronically underfunded and at risk of remaining financially solvent. The ACS preventive contracts have not received an increase since 2008, yet our program expenses has continued to increase. And New York foundling is one of the few and very lucky agencies with an endowment that’s been grown over 150 years, but the fact is we lose an average of $3 million each year over the last five years, and our sister agencies are in a similar situation, and it’s just not sustainable. So my question is with this financial trend how do you ensure the doors of the agencies and the organization that serve our city’s most vulnerable populations remain open? Mayor: Well, Martha, I really appreciate the question, and I want to just say thank you to you and everyone at New York Foundling for what you do because basically, you know, we have a very close working relationship with your organization and many other nonprofits that are crucial to serving people of this city. Look, I – a couple of thing – on the plus side first and then we’ll speak to what we can do going forward. You know that over the last three years we have twice included cost of living increases in our budget for workers at nonprofit organization. That was not done for a very long time as you know. We’ve done it twice already to try and improve the mobility of your workers to make ends meet and obviously to make it easier to attract and retain good people. We also have put a lot more money into preventative services at ACS. There’s a lot more we have to do to improve and reform ACS, but one of the things we’ve already done in contrast to the previous administrations is put a lot more money into preventative services, which are the services that intervene in families in crisis and try to address their problems for the, you know, the safety and health of all. So those are areas where we have invested. We have a budget coming up in the next few weeks. We understand that folks in the nonprofit sector are hurting. We’re going to look at what we can to, and it’s going to be a very honest internal conversation to figure out what we can do. And I also have to be straightforward with you Martha. At the same time we have a challenge because there’s a looming dynamic in terms of the federal and state budgets that worries us a lot. I said earlier we’re going to fight those federal budget cuts, and we have you know five or six months to do that. I think we’re going to succeed on some of those fronts, working with mayors and likeminded folks all over the country, but we have to strike a balance. We know the nonprofit sector needs help. At the same time we have to be careful in how far we extend ourselves given the overall budget dynamic. So you will see more answers. I’m not sure you’ll agree with all of them, but you will see more answers when we put forward an executive budget. Lehrer: One more, Jaclyn in the Bronx, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Jaclyn. Question: Hello. Hi my name is Jackie from the Bronx, and I just read an article yesterday – well not yesterday but March 22 about the specialized testing. Now currently my son is in 7th grade, and he is being [inaudible] take this test – Lehrer: The specialized high school test – the selective high schools that only admit based on a high stakes test – Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant, schools like that. I’m just saying it so people know what high schools you’re talking about. Question: Oh, okay. So as [inaudible] in the 7th grade now, and based on these statistics I’m a little bit worried and concerned that if he does pass, does he have opportunities? Is anything going to change? Mayor: Well, Jaclyn, listen. I feel as you do that we’ve got a really problematic situation here. The specialized test – and Brian characterized it exactly correctly. It’s a high stakes test in a world – certainly in this city – where we’ve decided high stakes testing is the wrong way to go. It think it is outrageous, and this is state law, and it’s another reason why we should not have to make – you know, be at the whim of the State of New York on a situation that affects our children. I’m really sick of it in so many ways. I describe it as a semi-colonial relationship between the City of New York and the State of New York, and Brian a fact I came upon the other day – I want to confirm it – but I believe that there is no city in any state with a higher percentage of the state population than New York City. We are 43 percent of the population of New York state. We’re growing where some other parts of the state are shrinking. At some point in the near future we could be half the state’s population and yet we are at the whim of Albany on how we educate our own children. It makes no sense. So a single high stakes test determines whether a child gets this extraordinary educational opportunity. We learned a long time ago a single high stakes test does not tell you who a human being is. What we believe in in our school system today, contrasting with the previous administration, we believe in multiple measures. We believe we have to look at a lot of different indicators – grades and portfolios and a whole host of things to determine who each student is and that – if we can get to that kind of approach – you’re going to see a lot more opportunity and a lot more diversity in our specialized schools. But right now, particularly at Stuyvesant, we have a fundamentally unacceptable situation. The last I checked – it was six or seven percent of the students at Stuyvesant High School are African-American or Latino in a city that’s over 50 percent African-American or Latino. It’s absolutely unacceptable and it requires a State law change. We will fight for that again this year. I have not heard – the Assembly has been very supportive. I have heard very little support on the Senate side. But we’ll fight it anyway. But this – people should be outraged about this. It’s not democratic. It doesn’t reflect our values. Lehrer: Let me finish then with this: we talked earlier about the mansion tax, which is being considered in the State legislature. Jacklyn just brought up this, which is another example of the State Legislature having power over the City regarding something that the City just wants to do internally within the five boroughs. They’re crashing toward the budget deadline, where a lot of these kinds of things get dumped in by the end of this month. What besides, you hope the mansion tax, might be realistic to hope for in terms of Albany that’s high on the City’s agenda for right now? Mayor: We want to keep pushing for greater education aid. This is a fight that’s been going on for ten years, as you know, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision by our highest court in the state. We’re still not getting our fair share, nor are a lot of upstate cities and rural areas. So we’re going to fight to increase the amount of education aid. We’re going to fight to increase the amount of funding for the Housing Authority. We know that the Trump budget could massively defund the New York City Housing Authority. We’re going to fight that, but in the meantime Albany has been silent and absent. Albany passed some capital funding for NYCHA two years ago. We’ve seen hardly any of it after two years. And, the State Senate is proposing something like $100 million over five years, when NYCHA has $18 billion in capital needs. Come on, that’s 400,000 people who live in the Housing Authority, and they’re being treated like they don’t count in terms of Albany’s discussions. And again, the Assembly has been very, very supportive. But I’d like to see the Senate and the Governor step up for the 400,000 people who live in the Housing Authority, and so far, they’re doing almost nothing. So, we got to fight very hard on those fronts – obviously supportive housing for the homeless. We have not seen the specific plans. So, all of that activity is coming from the City right now, not from the State. There’s a host of things we’re fighting for in this budget. Lehrer: Mr. Mayor, as always, thank you very much. And I’ll talk to you next week. Mayor: Thanks so much, Brian.
Friday, March 24, 2017 - 5:20pm
NEW YORK—Today, Mayor de Blasio announced the appointment of 15 members to the Archives, Reference and Research Advisory Board, which will consult with Commissioner Pauline Toole of the Department of Records and Information Services. DORIS has begun an extensive effort to revitalize the Municipal Archives and Municipal Library, to have these institutions serve a larger public and to help frame ongoing public policy discussions within a historical context. The revitalization efforts include digitizing holdings, making resources available online, developing exhibits to augment debates, forming partnerships with non-traditional organizations, and engaging new audiences. The Archives, Reference and Research Advisory Board will help develop and shape this revitalization by offering guidance, setting strategic goals, identifying funding sources, and connecting communities. “It is vital that we remember the rich history of the city and that we bring available historical resources to the forefront in order to engage new audiences,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This group of appointees will work diligently to revitalize these resources and to display the relevance that our history has had in the formation of the city and government that we see today. We appreciate the board’s efforts and I look forward to working with all of the new members.” “I am grateful to the Mayor and the new board members for their support as we work towards making the truly amazing holdings of the Archives and Library more broadly available. This is a diverse group who will help us develop and implement strategies for demonstrating the relevance and historical context of decisions made by government leaders that have affected communities throughout the City’s 400-year history,” said DORIS Commissioner Pauline Toole. “I have long been a fan of the Municipal Archives and Library and I am so pleased the Mayor has asked me to Chair the Advisory Board. I look forward to collaborating with my distinguished colleagues in strategizing how to bring City government’s historical treasures to new audiences,” said Incoming Chair Joan Millman. “I applaud the mayor and the administration for these appointments to an advisory board that will bring an array of expertise from community members and professionals who are dedicated to our rich history and institutions, and ensuring that the public has an opportunity to explore and treasure our historical resources,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations. The following board members are community leaders, historians, librarians, and archivists who will aid with this transition and provide insight on evolving practices in relevant fields. The Honorable Joan Millman – Chair: Former NY State Assemblymember Pamela Cruz: Archives Strategist and Advocate Dr. Johanna Fernandez: Assistant Professor, History Department, Baruch College of the City University of New York Glenda Grace: General Counsel & Chief of Staff, Queens College Idilio Gracia Peña: Chief Archivist, CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Kayhan Irani: Writer/producer Lillian Jean-Baptiste: Community Engager, Family Advocate & Cultural Ambassador Gregory Jost: Partner, Designing the WE Richard Moylan: President, Green-Wood Cemetery and Historic Fund Tom Shcherbenko: Community and political activist Dr. Robert Snyder: Professor of Journalism and American Studies, Rutgers University-Newark Dr. Jack Tchen: Professor, New York University Peter Williams: Executive Vice President for Programs, NAACP Mark Winston Griffith: Executive Director, Brooklyn Movement Center Mary Yearwood: Director of Collections and Information Services, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 5:10pm
“We are grateful to our local police and international law enforcement partners for tracking down and arresting a suspect connected to the recent wave of threats against Jewish institutions. Whatever their source, those threats were an assault on our values and our people. As the proud home of the world's largest Jewish community, New York City will always stand ready to face down intolerance and stand up for our persecuted neighbors. History teaches us that we can never be indifferent to the scourge of anti-Semitism, and we can never take lightly threats fueled by hate.”
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 5:10pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much. Well, I want to tell you, Elaine, thank you and thank you for speaking with such passion about this city. And Elaine is saying things that I am hearing from people all over this city. You’ve been in your apartment 40 years – that is amazing – but I have spoken to so many people including today at a senior center on the Upper East Side and a senior center in Astoria, Queens and I hear the same exact thing everywhere I go; people who are worried about being priced out and forced out of their neighborhood and forced out of their city, people who love this city and who have contributed so much to this city and need help. And Elaine, what you said, getting to the end of the month and having almost nothing left – this has become the common situation including for folks who have worked hard their whole life. So that is what we are trying to address with the mansion tax. And the response I am getting from New Yorkers in general and specifically from senior citizens it is very clear and very strong. They are going to fight for this mansion tax. Now, I need you to know that people understand if we don’t do something differently in this city the status quo is just not going to work for our senior citizens. That is the reality. And our seniors are becoming more and more of the population of our city with every passing year. So, the blunt reality is the laws we have right now do not support our senior citizens sufficiently and we have to do something different and a mansion tax is that kind of change we need. Let me thank my colleagues who are here; our Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha, our Housing Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer thank you for all you do and particularly all you do to make sure that seniors get affordable housing. Both of your departments lead the way in that. And I also want to note, we would have been joined but she is in session, by State Senator Liz Kruger who is a strong supporter of the mansion tax proposal and we appreciate her help. So, why are we here? 432 Fifth Avenue – I’m sorry Park Avenue – 432 Park Avenue; home to some of the wealthiest people on the earth, literally. And this is a building that you can see from all over the City. It is an example of ostentatious wealth. It’s also an example of a missed opportunity – a 96-story missed opportunity because when this building was built of course was no mansion tax in place to create affordable housing for our seniors. It still serves though an example of what could be. This building alone would have raised us $30 million for affordable housing for seniors. One building, through the mansion tax, would have produced $30 million. And that would have been based – ad this is stunning to me – on the sale of just 62 condominiums. But it would have meant enough money to subsidize affordable housing for 2,000 seniors. One luxury building taxed properly would have allowed 2,000 seniors to live a decent life in this city. So this is an example of how we have to change the rules to favor our seniors. Now, the grand total of people who will be helped by the mansion tax, 25,000. 25,000 seniors would get subsidized affordable housing. To give you a visual, that is many more people than you could fit into Madison Square Garden. And because it is going to reach so many people and have such a big impact it is also going to gain a lot of support in the coming days. And that is going to make a big impact in Albany. When I lay out the logic that this tax only applies on purchases of over $2 million; that the average typical home being purchased is $4.5 million, it is really clear really quickly to our legislators that we are asking only those who have done very well to contribute so seniors can get affordable housing. I was in Albany yesterday, part of a rally. Senior organizations like AARP – and everyone knows what a huge impact AARP has in Albany – labor groups, progressive groups gathered together with Speaker Heastie and leader Stuart-Cousins and members of the Senate and Assembly and momentum is building for the mansion tax. In fact, yesterday, a member of the Senate and specifically a member of the IDC, Senator Diane Savino, introduced the mansion tax in the Senate as the lead sponsor. And Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz had previously introduced it in the Assembly and it went into the Assembly one house budget. That indicates the kind of movement that is now happening on this issue. Today I was in senior centers giving out this simple flyer calling on seniors to call the State Senate and call the Governor to make clear that we need this mansion tax and we need it included in the budget. So look, I’ll conclude with this and then a few words in Spanish. I said in Albany, what we should remember the entire 2016 election was about the question of income inequality. It was about the anger people felt that their economic circumstances weren’t good enough and their demand that something change. The mansion tax is an example of that kind of change – asking the one percent to give a little more so 25,000 seniors can have a better life. This is the kind of thing that can win in Albany and we’re going to fight hard for that victory. In Spanish – [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish] With that, I welcome questions on this topic. Please, Mara. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Okay, Mara. You’re smart – I’m here to talk about this. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Mara, I’m here to talk about this. If you want to ask question about this – Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I’m here to talk about this. If you want to talk about this great, if not we’ll take questions another way, another time. Does anyone want to ask about the mansion tax? Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Same thing. Guys you can ask all you want. Here’s what we are here to talk about. Last call, anyone want to talk about mansion tax Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: About mansion tax. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: I’m going to do this again one more time. This is how we set things up guys. You don’t want to be a part of it you don’t have to come. We’re here to talk about something that would reach 25,000 seniors. Everything else you want to talk about you’ll get answers to through our press office. If someone has a question on this ask about this, if you don’t that’s cool. Do you have a question on this [inaudible]? Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Okay – that is great guys. I’m done, thank you.
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 5:10pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Thank you so much. Well, everyone it is such a pleasure to be here with you. And I’m going to talk for a few minutes and then I look forward to going around and getting a chance to say hello to everyone. But first of all, I want to thank [inaudible] for warmly welcoming me and thank you for all you do for this great center. And I want to thank Abigail for the great work she does; give her a big round of applause. Now look, I want to just talk to you for a few minutes and I want to tell you what I hear when I go in all five boroughs, every kind of neighborhood. I talk to people, I say what’s the number one thing on their mind; they say cost of housing and the cost of living here in New York City. This is what I hear from everyone is the most pressing concern – that it is so expensive to live I this city, right? And that affects everyone, but it affects no one more than senior citizens because so many – I’m sure people in this room and hundreds of thousands of seniors around this city, we all know what the reality is. Some people have a pension, but in many cases it is not a lot. Too many people don’t even have a pension at all. Social Security is great, but Social Security doesn’t pay that much. And meanwhile, we’re one of the most expensive cities in the country. So the reality is that for the first time in our history really in New York City there are more and more people who are finding it so difficult to live here. This wasn’t true 20 or 30 years ago. There was always affordable housing somewhere in New York City back then, but now there is an affordable housing crisis. So we have to do somethings differently. And I am here to ask for your help so we can make some changes. I want you to know we already have put in place the biggest affordable housing plan in the history of New York City. We are building enough affordable housing and subsidizing enough affordable housing over the next ten years for half-a-million people. So half-a-million people who do not have affordable housing now will be getting it over the next ten years. For people – [Applause] Please. [Applause] For people who are in rent-stabilized housing – who here is in rent-stabilized housing? Okay. For the last two years you have seen we have had a rent freeze in place; first time in the history of New York City we had a rent freeze to lighten the burden on people. [Applause] For folks – and there have been too many in New York City – who have been pressured by their landlords to leave their buildings. I have seen this all over the City. There have been people illegally evicted; there have been people who are not being given heat and hot water and repairs. For the first time in history, working with the City Council, we have a plan now that anyone who is threatened with eviction or harassed by their landlord and makes up to $50,000 a year annually has a right to a lawyer for free paid for by the City of New York to protect your interest. [Applause] So these are all new things. The affordable housing plan, the rent freeze, the lawyers being given to people for free to protect them, these are all new but it is still not enough. We need more and we particularly need more for senior citizens. One of the biggest parts of our city in terms of our population is all of you and all your fellow seniors. It is a growing part of our population as people are healthy and living longer and that is a blessing. But we want people to be able to live well and not struggle to make ends meet. [Applause] So I have talked to so many seniors who tell me, that what happens every month is they have to choose between rent and medicine and doctor’s appointments and food and they cannot do all of them each month; that they have to make a tough choice every month. And I don’t think that is fair. I think everyone in this room worked hard throughout your life. Everyone in this room contributed to this community and this city. We have gotten to lighten that burden. So, today I’m talking to you about another way we can do something different and better for our seniors. It is called the mansion tax. Now, we call it the mansion tax for a good reason. It says simply that anyone who buys a home in New York City worth $2 million or more pays a little more in their taxes so that we can provide affordable housing for senior citizens. This plan would produce $330 million a year. It would all go to senior affordable housing. That would allow us to provide enough new affordable housing for 25,000 senior citizens in New York City. [Applause] So, think about it for a moment. People who can afford a $2 million home – by the way, under this tax the average home cost that it would affect is a $4.5 million home. Okay, now can I just take a survey of the room? Would you agree if someone can afford a $4.5 million home that they are doing very well? Would you agree? And don’t you think someone doing that well can afford to give a little more to help 25,000 senior citizens? So the logic is clear and let me tell you we have gotten great support from your representatives in Albany. This has to be passed by the Legislature in Albany. And your State Senator Liz Kruger has been a strong supporter of this idea. And your Assembly member Becky Seawright has been a strong supporter of this idea. So the folks who represent this center have been outstanding in their support for the mansion tax. Now, I know people come here from different places so what I want to make sure you do is you’re going to get this flyer passed around and it is very, very clear we need people to call their State Senator and the phone number is here. Wherever you live you can call this number and they will connect you to the office of your State Senator. We need people to call the Governor and say we need this mansion tax now. This vote is scheduled to happen in Albany on April 1st. And we need everyone to raise their voices because if we can get this mansion tax passed 25,000 more seniors will not only have affordable housing now they will have it for the long haul. It will be something they can depend on. And then that is going to help us reach more and more people. We get this done we can go farther the next time. But it is time to do things differently. Look, I’m sick of a situation where people are struggling to make ends meet and I am sick of a situation where politicians pay lip service to senior citizens but don’t do enough to actually serve senior citizens. Here’s how we change things: ask the wealthy to pay their fair share, so senior citizens can live a decent life. It is as simple as that. But we need your voices to be raised. So, are you going to help me get this done? [Applause] I’m going to ask you again; you’re going to help me get this done? [Applause] Excellent, excellent – let me just say in conclusion I want to thank you again for the chance to be with you. I want to thank you for all you have to make this city great. I need your help so we can get this done and if we can get this done we can do even more after that because this is about changing the rules of the game in favor of the people who have done all of the hard work for so many years. We can do that together. Thank you, and God bless you all.
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 5:10pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Thank you, everyone. What a pleasure to be with you today. I really appreciate the warm welcome and I want to say a few words – and then I look forward to going around and meeting each and every one of you. First, all the wonderful people here at HANAC deserve our appreciation. So, I want to thank John for his great work – let’s give him a round of applause. [Applause] Evangiline Douris – the chair of the board – let’s give her a big round of applause. [Applause] And Allison Simmons Brownley, who does this wonderful programming here. [Applause] Now, I want to talk to you about affordable housing, because, just like John said, wherever I go in New York City – this is the number one issue on people’s minds, because we all, for decades, knew this to be a city where you could find a place to live you could afford. But that has changed in recent years. And, right now, I would say the number-one issue to New Yorkers is the affordability crisis. It’s [inaudible] people are afraid that they won’t be able to live in their own neighborhood and they won’t even be able to live in their own city, including so many people like you who helped to make this neighborhood great and helped to make this city great. So, we have a situation we have to deal with in a different way. And, I’ve got to tell you, it’s our job not just to pay lip service to senior citizens, but to give senior citizens what they need – more affordable housing. And we can do that – we can do it if we are willing to do bolder things. Now, right now, we have the biggest affordable housing program in the history of New York City. Right this minute, we’re in the process of creating enough affordable housing for half-a-million people – half-a-million people – but there’s still so much need. We have to do more. We’re doing more than ever to make sure that anybody threatened with eviction from their apartment, or anybody not getting heat and hot water, or services they deserve, can get a lawyer for free to defend their interests – and you can do that by calling 3-1-1. We’re doing things differently. For anyone here who – even if you, or anyone in your family is in rent-stabilized housing, we’ve had a rent freeze for the last two years. Now, that’s made a big difference in people’s lives, but we have to do more. So, I’m here today to talk to you about an idea that could give affordable housing to 25,000 seniors in New York City. 25,000 people would know they have an affordable place to live for the rest of their lives. And the way we would achieve that is by an idea we call the mansion tax. Now, it’s called the mansion tax for a good reason – this is a tax that only applies to people who buy homes in New York City worth more than $2 million, okay? I think if someone can afford a home worth more than $2 million, they can afford to pay a little bit more on the transaction tax so seniors can have affordable housing. To give you an example of the kind of people who would be affected by this tax – the typical home that this tax will cover sells for $4.5 million. Now, will you agree with me that if someone can by a home for $4.5 million they are doing pretty well, would you agree? Unknown: They’re doing very well. Mayor: They’re doing very well, exactly. And, therefore, they can afford to give a little more to help people who are struggling to make ends meet, because, I’ll tell you something – Unknown: But they won’t. Mayor: Well, yes they will, if we get your help and we can pass the legislation we need in Albany. Let me just put it in really simple, human terms – I have talked to seniors all over this city who tell me they work their whole life, they did everything right, and now because a lot of them don’t have a pension or don’t have a very big pension – Social Security doesn’t pay enough – a lot of people who worked hard their whole life now are choosing between rent and medicine, and doctor’s appointments, and food, and they literally cannot get them all into their monthly budget. I was with some seniors in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, all of whom had lived great lives, but they all said I can’t go to a doctor appointment when I need to because I can’t afford it – I can’t even afford the copays, or dental is not covered by my insurance and so I have to find a dentist who will put me on a payment plan. We’re in the richest country in the world and the richest city in the country, and yet people who do things right are forced to make those tough choices all the time. It shouldn’t be that way. We can right those wrongs if we can help cover the number-one cost in everyone’s life. For all of us, the number-one cost is housing, in this city especially. People pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing on a regular basis. So, let’s do something bold and create affordable housing for people who need it. But the only way that’s going to happen is if we tax the wealthy – those who have done very well – and we can do that if we get the votes in Albany. So, here’s the state of play, and we need you. Right now, the New York State Assembly has gone on record and said they support the mansion tax. So, that is – one of the two branches of the legislature already says they support it. Now, we need to move the State Senate, and more and more State Senators are coming onboard with this idea. If we can get the State Senate to vote for it, then it goes to the Governor, and we’ll need your help getting him to sign it. But if we do that and 25,000 senior citizens get affordable housing – and, I have to tell you, so many organizations have come forward, including AARP, and LiveOn, and so many organizations representing seniors to fight for this legislation because they understand what difference it would make. We need you now to make your voices heard. Now, we have a flier, which I’m going to hold up, thank you very much. This flier is real simple – tell Albany to pass the mansion tax now. And it gives you the phone number for the State Senate and it gives you the phone number for the Governor. And it’s a democracy, my friends – if enough people start calling, then the politicians pay attention. So, you need to call your Senator, call the Governor – tell them you need this minion tax for people like you. And if we get it done, we can provide that affordable housing that changes people’s lives. So, I just want to finish by saying – you know, a lot of times, people try and convince us that we should accept the status quo. I am not a big fan of the status quo when it is not working for people. I have met too many good people who can’t make ends meet, so something’s wrong. You remember that Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? If we just do what we’re doing today, a lot of people will not be able to make ends meet, a lot of people will not be able to afford to live here, a lot of people would be forced to move away from their loved ones. That’s not acceptable to me. That’s not a status quo we should find acceptable. We need everyone in this room to stand up and make your voices heard. If we do that, we can pass this mansion tax and change the lives of tens of thousands of seniors, and then go beyond that and keep getting affordable housing to more and more people who need it. So, are you going to help out? Audience: Yes. Mayor: I can’t hear you – are you going to help out? Audience: Yes! Mayor: Excellent. Make them hear your voice in Albany, okay? Thank you, everyone.
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 5:10pm
Jail population reaches record lows during safest year in CompStat history NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the New York City jail population has fallen by 18% since taking office, outpacing any three year decline since 2001. The average daily population declined from 11,478 in December 2013, just before Mayor de Blasio took office, to an average of 9,362 this month. In the last year alone, the jail population has fallen by 6% from 9,981 in March of last year. This drop was largely driven by intentional efforts to reduce the number of people who go into jail and how long they stay while protecting public safety. “The number of people incarcerated in the U.S. did not fall in the last year, and our nation’s incarcerated population remains the largest in the world,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “But New York City has a different story to tell – we are making every effort to ensure that people who do not need to be behind bars are not, all while keeping crime at historic lows. In the last three years, we’ve been working from every angle to keep lower-level offenders out of jail and speed up case delays, and the total jail population has dropped 18% and the population just at Rikers Island has sunk 23% – that’s significant progress.” Key achievements: * New York City is unique proof that we can have both more safety and smaller jails. o The City’s jail population has fallen to the lowest in decades alongside record crime lows: 2016 was the safest year in CompStat history, with homicides down 5%, shootings down 12%, and burglaries down 15% from 2015. Both crime and use of jail have been falling steadily in New York City for twenty years: major crime has declined by 76% and the average daily jail population has been reduced by half over the last 20 years. * New York City’s use of jail is among the lowest nationally. o While jail and prison populations grew by 11% nationally between 1996 and 2013, NYC’s jail population declined by 39%. New York City’s use of jail is among the lowest nationally (167 individuals detained per 100,000 residents), lower than Los Angeles (263/100,000), Chicago (281/100,000), and the national average (341/100,000). * New York City leads the nation in the number of defendants who are in the community instead of in jail while their case is being resolved. o Over 70% of defendants in New York City are released without any conditions after their first appearance before a judge. This is nearly double the percentage of Washington, D.C., the next highest user in the county of release without conditions. * New York City has significantly reduced its jail population while simultaneously focusing enforcement resources on serious, violent crime. o In 2015, arrests for murder were up 16% and gun arrests were up 10.5%. o The proportion of the jail population detained on violent offenses has increased by 56% over the past 20 years, even while the overall population has dropped precipitously. * New York City has dramatically reduced detention for those charged with drug and other low-level misdemeanors. o Between 1996 and 2016, the number of people held on felony drug charges declined by 78%, and the number of people held on misdemeanor drug charges declined by 62%. These trends have accelerated in the last three years: the number of jail admissions for misdemeanor detainees has dropped by 25% since 2014. “New York, singularly among the nation’s large cities, has reduced the size of the jail population even while reducing crime,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “Jails hold up a mirror to the fair functioning of society and reflect how the many different parts of the criminal justice system, and New Yorkers themselves, affect whether the population grows or shrinks. The significant progress over the last three years to reduce the number of people who enter jail and how long they stay is a shared success, possible because of the close coordination of every part of the criminal justice system and the participation of New Yorkers in keeping crime low.” Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte said, “The many strategies NYC is using to reduce the numbers of individuals who end up in jail help us in our drive to create a culture of safety in our facilities. In particular, reducing the number of short stays and people with mental health needs and low-level drug charges allows us to focus on managing serious offenders and persistently violent inmates. Such strategies increase safety for all New Yorkers.” Key strategies: To achieve these reductions while ensuring New York City remains the safest big city in the United States, the City has implemented an array of strategies including: Reducing the Number of People Who Enter Jail New York City is taking various steps to reduce reliance on money bail and jail time for low-risk individuals, while the number of people detained on bail of $2,000 and under has fallen by 36% in the last three years. Results: * Expanded community-based alternatives to jail: Supervised Release – a bail alternative program that gives judges the option of allowing eligible, low-risk defendants to remain home with their families and continue working while waiting for trial – has diverted over 3,000 people from jail since the program was launched in March 2016. * Reduced short stays in jail: About 11,000 people were detained on bail for less than one week in 2015. To make it easier to post bail more quickly, and thus reduce these short jail stays, the City is installing ATMs in every courthouse to ensure people have easy access to cash to post bail, and is also rolling out an online bail payment system. * Reduced the number of people with behavioral health needs in City jails: After increasing steadily for five years, the number of people with behavioral health needs in City jails has fallen by 5% in the last two years following the implementation of the Mayor’s Action Plan on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System . Reducing the Length of Jail Stay Detainees awaiting trial at Rikers for long periods of time are the single biggest driver of the City’s jail population. In April 2015, the Mayor’s Office, the courts, the city’s five district attorneys and the defense bar launched the Justice Reboot initiative to clear the backlog of old cases and reduce case delay in a lasting, systemic way. Results: * Cleared the existing backlog: 93% of the 1,427 cases that were more than a year old when Justice Reboot was announced have been resolved. 50% of those cases were cleared within the first 4 months of the initiative. * Reduced case length for the first time in decades: The length of Supreme Court cases has been reduced by an average of 18 days. * Dramatically reduced the number of oldest cases: Since Justice Reboot was launched, the number of cases older than three years has been reduced by half. Reducing Repeated, Short Stays in Jail Individuals serving frequent, short jail sentences on low-level offenses tend to be dealing with chronic homelessness and behavioral health needs. In New York City, this relatively small number of people consumes a disproportionate share of shelter, jail and emergency room resources. The 400 “highest use” individuals among this population entered the City’s custody an average of 12.42 times over four years, with each stay averaging 30 days. In 2016, New York City has targeted this “frequent use” population with various interventions, including permanent supportive housing, which has been shown to reduce returns to jail by 38% and to save $16,000 per individual in annual jail, shelter, and emergency room costs. Results: * Reduced chronic recidivism: 97 individuals who are among the highest users of jail in New York City have been placed in permanent supportive housing. Collectively, these individuals have served over 36,000 days in jail and spent over 22,000 days in shelter over the last five years. Permanent housing, coupled with supportive services to help these individuals stabilize, will save the City an estimated $1.6 million annually through reduced hospital visits, shelter admissions, and trips to jail. The City will rollout additional strategies in the coming weeks to continue reducing the number of people who enter jail. Two new reports are available today that give additional detail on the jail population and opportunities for reduction: a study from the Center for Court Innovation, commissioned by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, thoroughly examines the baseline jail population in 2014 when Mayor de Blasio took office, available here ; and a complete data breakdown of the current jail population and opportunities for further reduction, released today by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. Former Chief Judge of the State of New York Jonathan Lippman said, "The drop in the City's jail population is worth celebrating. This doesn't happen by accident. Rather, it is the product of a sustained focus by the Mayor's Office and others to rethink business as usual and improve justice. In New York City, we have shown, contrary to conventional wisdom, that you can promote public safety without increasing the use of incarceration.” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, “I join with Mayor de Blasio in acknowledging the significant drop in our City’s jail population. The sharp decline offers clear and compelling evidence that our law enforcement initiatives continue to have a profound impact in making Queens County and our City one of the safest places in the nation. I believe that one of the contributing factors responsible for the decline in the jail population is the broad array of alternative and cost-effective sentencing programs we offer here in Queens, such as, for example, our felony and misdemeanor Drug Treatment Courts, our DWI Treatment Court, our Mental Health Court – and Courts that respond to the needs of our youthful offenders as well as our returning veterans. These programs are an effective way to reduce recidivism by treating the underlying problems that fuel criminal behavior.” Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “I commend the Mayor for his focus on reducing the jail population on Rikers Island. In Brooklyn, we have contributed to that effort by significantly reducing the number of detainees awaiting trial, and by focusing on strategies to reduce crime. This approach results in a safer workplace for Correction Officers and inmates, and keeps our streets safe at the same time.” State Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, "I am very happy that Mayor de Blasio has made this worthwhile investment in reducing the jail population by addressing the underlying needs of defendants. When we provide those involved in the criminal justice system with assistance we are rewarded with safer, more productive communities and significant savings to the City. I look forward to the Mayor’s continued support of community based alternatives to incarceration, especially for youth. We are fortunate to have nationally recognized programs such as the Red Hook Community Justice Center and DREAMS Youthbuild. I hope that our efforts to Raise the Age at the state level will be successful and keep our children out of Rikers and other jails which would contribute to driving this number down even further." Assembly Member David Weprin, Chair of the Committee on Correction, said “New York, our nation’s most populous city, has the unique challenge of managing a large jail population, while also ensuring the safety of people in prisons and public protection” said Assemblyman David Weprin, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Correction. “By reducing the jail population in New York while overseeing a decrease in violent crime, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Joseph Ponte prove that it is possible to reform our criminal justice system while protecting everyday New Yorkers from violent crime.” Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda said, “As chairman of the Assembly Subcommittee on Transitional Services, which deals with post-release issues and services for former inmates, this is an issue of great importance to me. I can't say I am surprised at the results of this multi-pronged approach to dealing with the city's jail population. It is not the first major issue that Mayor de Blasio has tackled in this city that is showing positive results -- as I am sure he will be successful with a number of other efforts already under way or to come during his administration.” “I congratulate Mayor de Blasio on reducing the city’s jail population by 16% since the start of his administration. I am particularly impressed by the work they have done towards reducing the number of people with behavioral health needs in jail, through alternatives to incarceration, ensuring available and accessible community services, and more mental health programs through Thrive NYC. As Chair of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, I applaud such a significant impact, because it means people are being treated outside instead of ending up inside Rikers Island, which for too long has been the default hospital of last resort,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Disability Services. “A comprehensive and measured approach to managing our jail population makes the community safer,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “One size does not fit all. Allowing our judges more discretion results in more fair and just outcomes. For some individuals, community-based supervised release, or access to mental health care, is more appropriate than a jail cell. No one benefits from needlessly long or frequent jail sentences – not the defendant, not the family, and not the community. The drop in our City’s jail population is directly tied to the administration’s commitment to innovative and public safety centered reform. I applaud the Mayor and hope we can continue making our city safer and more just.” “By implementing progressive policies that support those who have lost their way or need medical attention, this City has been on the forefront of how to keep crime low while reducing the number we incarcerate” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “This has worked for Southeast Queens, and by supporting programs for bail alternatives, reducing backlog, and connecting people with mental support services, we have given some of our most vulnerable citizen’s options they would not otherwise would have had while increasing the quality of life for those communities who have been historically disproportionality by incarceration.” "New York City's decreasing crime numbers combined with a decreased jail population is a clear sign that incarceration should not always be the go to solution to address crime," said Council Member Donovan Richards, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. "While we still have a lot more work to do to address the dangerous conditions in Rikers, as well as providing better access to local jobs in low-income communities, lowering the amount of people waiting for trials will be a big boost for families and New Yorkers waiting for their day in court. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio for working to address the wrongs of the past caused by policies that focused on mass incarceration." “Over the past three years, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Liz Glazer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, have done a splendid job in significantly reducing New York City’s jail population,” said Herbert Sturz of Open Society Foundation. “Importantly, this has been accomplished while increasing the percentage of released detainees who return to court when required.” “Once again, NYC is the national leader in criminal justice reform. The historic decline in crime rates has now been matched by an equally historic decline in the city’s jail population. The impressive progress achieved over the past three years shows that, with focused attention and creative reforms, the detention population can be driven down even more in years to come,” said Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It is great news that the over 20 year trend for New York City of simultaneous declines in crime and jail population is continuing,” said Michael Jacobson, Director of CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance and former Department of Correction Commissioner. “The current jail population is less than 10,000 which would have been unthinkable a decade ago and the fact that this decline has been accompanied by historic crime declines is a credit to New York City and is a valuable lesson to the rest of the country on how it is possible to significantly reduce both crime and the use of jail.” “Overcrowded jails are assumed to be a big city problem. But as today’s announcement shows and New York City’s continuing leadership demonstrates, large cities can be models for how to reduce jail populations while keeping people safe. As jurisdictions nationwide grapple with overcrowded jails that too often warehouse people who can't afford bail, struggle with behavioral health disorders, or serve repeated short stints in jail, New York City’s bold innovations have spurred a significant decline in both crime and the number of people in jail. This benefits taxpayers and allows law enforcement to focus on persistent public safety issues. But most importantly, because of these measures, thousands of New Yorkers and their families have already experienced a more just system. We applaud Mayor de Blasio’s leadership and ongoing commitment to reducing the overuse of jail in New York City,” said Nicholas Turner, President of the Vera Institute of Justice. Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation, said “New York City's jail population is already at an historic low. By continuing to implement concrete reforms in areas such as pretrial decision-making and the handling of low-level offenses, along with increasing the use of proven alternatives to incarceration, the city can safely build on that success.” “New York City has proven that incarceration and low crime are not linked – and the efforts of the de Blasio Administration continue to demonstrate that truth while maintaining a historic level of safety in our city. Crime has gone down and the jail population with it because we’re attacking crime and its causes more precisely and more intelligently through innovation, strategy and technology. We are also bringing our justice system in line with that way of thinking, acknowledging that jail is not always the answer to crime – and that, in many cases, it actually makes a bad situation worse. The results have been outstanding for New Yorkers and our public safety,” said Richard Aborn, President of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York. “Young New Yorkers celebrates the Mayor's efforts to significantly reduce the number people being held in jail. By providing diversion programs to 16- to 25-year-olds in the adult courts, who may otherwise be facing jail time, we will continue to support all collaborative-justice efforts to further reduce the use of incarceration, which disproportionately effects our city's young Black and Latino people,” said Rachel Barnard, Founder and Executive Director of Young New Yorkers. “By launching the Mayor’s Behavioral Health Task Force and by forming the Diversion and Reentry Council, Mayor de Blasio has created a blueprint for the nation as to how to end mass incarceration and replace it with highly successful, efficient and cost-effective community-based alternatives,” said David Condliffe, Executive Director of the Center for Community Alternatives. “We are pleased and encouraged by the reduction in New York City's jail population. While there is more to be done, this is an important first step in bringing about the sorts of changes that we all agree are needed to transform the City's criminal justice system. Disturbing reports of violence and abuse in City jails are a blight on our society that all of us must take responsibility for changing. These statistics should give us hope that things are starting to turn in the right direction,” said Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of Alliance of Families for Justice. "Effective pretrial reform means ensuring jail beds are filled with only the comparatively small number of individuals for whom no combination of conditions or supervision can reasonably assure they will stay out of trouble before trial and appear in court. New York City should be celebrated for implementing creative reforms like is its Supervised Release program for lower risk people and channeling those who return to jail again and again for minor infractions to alternatives to incarceration that meet their chronic needs, such as permanent supportive housing. These are important steps toward reducing unnecessary incarceration and the use of money bail, which unfairly penalizes poor and working class defendants, wastes taxpayer dollars, and leaves us all less safe," said Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute. “New York City is succeeding in substantially reducing the jail population while keeping crime rates low,” said Ann Jacobs, Director of the Prisoner Reentry Institute. “This focus on the front end of the criminal justice process brings us closer to our ideals of fairness, legitimacy, and dignity, and a system in which we feel safe and confident.” “Supervised Release and the expansion of the Bronx Freedom Fund and Brooklyn Community Bail Fund to all five boroughs has created enormous positive change in the lives of our clients. Being home with family, having the ability to go to work or school and not being forced to plead guilty to simply avoid being held at Rikers is critical and reinforces the principles of justice and fairness. We look forward to an expansion of efforts that will continue to increase the number of people released to their communities,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Legal Aid Society . “Exodus Transitional Community applauds the Mayor on his strategic initiative in reducing the city's jail population while remaining vigilant in his stance on keeping New Yorkers safe,” said Julio Medina, Executive Director of Exodus Transitional Community. “A reduction of 16% is a great start, and as his crime prevention methods become more effectively integrated into our criminal justice agenda, I'm certain we can expect to live in a safer and more just city! Mayor de Blasio, thank you for your courage and discipline in creating humane ways to treat those entangled in our NYC jails. These are historic moments we are witnessing and I'm proud to be a life-long New Yorker who, although once, knew the pangs of a prison cell, is now proud to support you. Diversion, mental health and strengthening the ability of justice involved non-profits to be viable alternatives to incarceration, is the start of building a better and more effective justice system.” “What is so attractive about the Mayor’s strategy to reduce recidivism and homelessness, both of which directly impact jail stay and population numbers, is his reliance on solutions we know work to keep people housed and improve public safety,” said Kristin Miller, Director of the Corporation for Supportive Housing program that has advised the City of New York on leveraging supportive housing to curtail re-incarceration. “By focusing on frequent users cycling through jail, homeless shelters and then custody again, and embracing a long-term plan that offers them access to affordable housing and services through Justice Involved Supportive Housing, the City is pursuing the right course that will continue to drive the jail population, homelessness and crime rates down.” Christine Pahigian, Executive Director of Friends of Island Academy, said, "Reducing reliance on detention is a significant step toward restoring dignity and humanity in our City’s justice system, most especially for the youngest and most vulnerable in its custody. The coordinated and effective stances taken to reduce lengths of stay and readmission in NYC over the past 30 months are like no other time in NYC’s history. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for this combination of proactive policy initiatives and hope that City Hall will continue to provide national leadership to ensure jail is used as a last rather than the first resort. The City is rich in neighborhood-based advocates and organizations which are prepared and on hand to support people whose lives could be forever altered by unnecessary detention and custody. Reducing reliance on detention and working with communities is better policy, more cost-effective and the permanent impact on lives is palpable." Ezra Ritchin, Project Director of the Bronx Freedom Fund, said, “Reducing the jail population not only makes our city safer, as the data show. It also makes our communities more whole. More of New York City's most marginalized can remain in their jobs and neighborhoods, alongside their families rather than behind bars. By continuing to reduce unnecessary incarceration, especially among the pretrial population, we can move towards a smarter, less costly, and more humane system.” Paul Samuels, President and Director of the Legal Action Center said, "The Legal Action Center applauds New York City’s elected and appointed leaders for taking important steps toward creating a more equitable and efficient criminal justice system. Programs that provide alternatives to incarceration and reentry supports are critical building blocks for meeting the achievable goal of eliminating all unnecessary incarceration”.
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 5:10pm
Sales at a single super-tall luxury building would have generated $30 million under the Mayor’s Mansion Tax, and funded rental assistance for 2,000 seniors struggling to pay rent NEW YORK—Standing in front of Manhattan’s tallest residential building, Mayor Bill de Blasio today urged Albany to approve a Mansion Tax for New York City. If it was on the books, the Mayor’s proposed 2.5 percent marginal tax would have raised $30.2 million dollars for the “Elderly Rental Assistance Program” from 62 sales at Manhattan’s 432 Park Avenue since December 2015, according to Department of Finance records. The levy from this one building would have helped 2,000 low-income seniors cover their rent. All told, the Mayor’s proposed Mansion Tax would generate $336 million annually, enough to support 25,000 seniors with rental assistance of up to $1,300 a month. “We’re in a housing crisis pushing seniors out of their neighborhoods. We can’t afford more missed opportunities like this. Sales at this one building alone would have kept 2,000 seniors in their homes. With tax cuts for the wealthy coming from Washington, New York needs to stand up. We need Albany to support those who built this city and pass the Mansion Tax,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “When I put my name on a piece of legislation, I fight tooth and nail to see it through. This is worth the fight. I will work to make each of my colleagues aware how much of an impact this will make,” said State Senator Diane J. Savino, lead sponsor of Senate Bill S.5336. “In New York City, there are hundreds of thousands of fixed-income seniors who cannot afford to pay their rent and still buy medication, food and other necessities, and many of them simply do not have the luxury of waiting years for an affordable apartment to become available,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Committee on Housing and lead sponsor of Assembly Bill A.6584. “For a population desperately in need of safe and affordable housing options, the Elder Rental Assistance Program – an initiative created jointly by the Assembly and the Mayor's Office – is an innovative response that will restore hope to 25,000 struggling seniors, giving them the ability to remain in their homes and communities and age in place with the dignity that they so deserve." With Mansion Tax bills pending in Albany – Assembly bill A.6584 and Senate bill S.5336 – the facts are clear: At 432 Park Ave., the penthouse apartment sold for $65.6 million in January. Had the Mansion Tax been in place, the funds raised for seniors: $1.6 million, enough to help more than 100 seniors now struggling to afford rent. The 10 most expensive homes in the building sold for a combined total of $426 million, and would have generated $10.2 million for the proposed rental assistance program under the Mansion Tax. Even in this white-glove building, a dozen apartments that sold for less than $2 million would not have been subject to the tax. Citywide, only 8.5 percent of the City’s residential property sales in the most recent fiscal year would have been impacted by the tax. “Seniors who live on fixed incomes are among the hardest hit by the City’s affordable housing shortage. The Mayor’s proposed Mansion Tax will allow seniors to remain in their communities at rents they can afford,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna M. Corrado. “We owe it to our seniors, who helped build our city and make it great, to help them stay in their homes and neighborhoods,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “With federal support for housing programs under threat, the Mayor's proposed mansion tax would ensure a source of much-needed funding for rental assistance for low-income seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. We urge Albany to act.” “In order to address this historic affordability crisis, we need new tools to allow seniors to age with dignity in the City they helped build,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Chair of the Committee on Aging. “That is why I call on Albany to act on the Mayor’s proposal, which would aid thousands of seniors who are at risk of getting pushed out of their homes and their neighborhoods. For these vulnerable New Yorkers, the time to act is now.” Earlier today, Mayor de Blasio visited two senior centers – the Hanac Harmony JVL Innovative Senior Center in Astoria, Queens and the Carter Burden Luncheon Club & Senior Program on the Upper East Side, two neighborhoods with some of the highest rent burdened seniors in New York City. The bills pending in Albany establish the Elder Rental Assistance Program, funded by the Mansion Tax. The tax institutes a 2.5 percent marginal tax for incremental sales price over $2 million. According to recent data, the policy would affect the top 4,500 residential real estate transactions in the upcoming fiscal year and would generate approximately $336 million. Those funds would be devoted to ERAP, and aid 25,000 New Yorkers, 62 years and older who earn less than $50,000 per year. The rental assistance would ensure a senior living on a Social Security check of $1,350 per month would spend no more than $450 per month on rent – helping them stay in their home and age with dignity.
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 11:40am
Coupled with new, user-friendly certification applications, the low-interest loans of up to $500,000 will allow M/WBEs to better position themselves to contract with the City NEW YORK-First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, Citywide Director of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs), today announced the launch of the Contract Financing Loan Fund, allowing M/WBEs to apply for low-interest contract financing loans of up to $500,000 for M/WBEs. The loans, offered by the Department of Small Business Services, include flexible repayment schedules to help M/WBEs increase access to capital and grow their business. In addition, the First Lady and Deputy Mayor unveiled a streamlined application for M/WBE certification and a separate, more accessible and user-friendly M/WBE certification application for small businesses owned and operated by one person (sole proprietors). The latter will directly benefit women business owners, who comprise 90 percent of sole proprietors across the United States. “Our city reaches its greatest socioeconomic potential when every New Yorker, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, have the tools and support they need to succeed in our economy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Today, my team is following up on a commitment announced in September by launching a low-interest Contract Financing Loan Fund that will help minority and women-owned businesses get their foot in the door, as well as sustain and grow their businesses. We are also streamlining our certification process to make it easier and faster for M/WBEs to stay up to date on the latest contracting opportunities. With these new initiatives, we are ensuring that all New Yorkers have the means they need to thrive.” “In order to create a fifty-fifty world, we need to create a fifty-fifty economy. The tools we are announcing today will help women who are entrepreneurs in New York City go from getting by to becoming business owners on their own terms,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Through the Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, we are unleashing one of our city's greatest resources – the talent of thousands of women who need a little support to turn their savvy and fierce work ethic into successful companies.” “We launched the Mayor’s Office of M/WBE’s last fall to assist businesses that play a vital role in our City’s economy but are often restricted in their ability to contract with the City. Today, we take another step toward fulfilling that promise by providing a critical resource M/WBEs actually need to compete and complete ever-larger projects. I encourage all minority and women small business owners to take advantage of this tool for increasing capacity – apply for a loan and benefit from the lowest rates of its kind in the state!,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Citywide Director of M/WBE’s. The plan to make low-interest loans of up to $500,000 available through a City-financed, $10 million revolving loan fund was first announced in September 2016 when Mayor de Blasio proclaimed his bold new vision for the City’s M/WBE program and created the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs . A key pillar of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs is to increase accessibility for minority and women business owners seeking to do business with the City. By offering loans capped at three percent and by streamlining the certification process, this Administration is addressing barriers that have historically made it difficult for more businesses to get in the market and compete. Today’s launch of the low interest rate loan application, along with the new certification applications, provides a path for more M/WBEs to win and successfully perform on City contracts. They are key to achieving Mayor Bill de Blasio’s aggressive goals that include: * Awarding 30 percent of the value of City contracts to M/WBEs by 2021; * Awarding $16 billion to M/WBEs by 2025; * and certifying 9,000 M/WBEs by 2019. Certified M/WBEs have access to the latest contracting opportunities and are included in the NYC Business Directories that agencies use to proactively search for M/WBEs that specialize in specific fields to offer them contracting opportunities. In addition, this past February, the Mayor announced that the City and its partners will coach M/WBE firms on how to improve their directory profiles to stand out and be most competitive. “Providing low-interest loans and streamlining the application process are two significant steps forward for M/WBEs participating in the City’s procurement process,” said Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs. “This loan fund will help improve access to capital for M/WBEs and small City contractors, which will increase their ability to successfully win and compete for City contracts. These M/WBEs and small contractors will now have the proper resources they need to expand their portfolio of work to grow and sustain their businesses.” “Small business owners face a multitude of challenges daily. Contracting with the City should not be one of them,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “We’re taking steps to ensure the City is a supportive partner to all potential and existing vendors by streamlining our process and providing critical, financing support through our new loan fund.” Contract Financing Loan Fund The opening of the Contract Financing Loan Fund announced today gives M/WBEs and other small City vendors greater access to affordable capital to better position them to perform on City contracts. Loans will reduce interest rates for borrowers to a low three percent annual rate and allow these small businesses to borrow up to $500,000. Repayment schedules will be flexible and timed to align with City contract payment schedules, helping businesses improve their cash flow. The increased availability of affordable financing is intended to help M/WBEs and other small businesses grow and better compete for City contracts. M/WBEs and other small City contractors will be eligible to apply for a contract financing loan. Contract financing loans can help businesses successfully perform on a contract, including purchasing equipment and hiring employees. Loans from this fund are available to prime and sub-contractors that are bidding on or performing a contract with a New York City agency or the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The Contract Financing Loan Fund is a revolving loan fund, allowing for a continuous supply of funding for additional borrowers. Paired with capacity building programs offered by SBS, this fund will help M/WBEs and small businesses grow and better compete for larger contracts. Businesses interested in receiving a contract financing loan can visit nyc.gov/contractfinancing to apply online. A participating lender will follow up with eligible businesses. Participating lenders include BOC Capital, Inc., TruFund Financial Services and Excelsior Growth Fund. New M/WBE Applications The City’s newly streamlined M/WBE certification applications will provide a more efficient path to getting certified and obtain contracts with the City. The new, user-friendly applications are simplified and sequenced to expedite the completion process. The City also created a separate application for small businesses that are sole proprietors, to make the application process more accessible and user-friendly. Changes to the application process will make it easier for M/WBE business owners to certify with the City, while maintaining the integrity of the process. Since 90 percent of women-owned businesses across the United States are sole proprietors, this will directly benefit women business owners across New York City. Minority and women-business owners interested in contracting with the City by becoming a certified M/WBE should visit nyc.gov/sbs to complete an online application. There are currently over 4,500 M/WBE businesses certified with the City, an all-time high. Mayor de Blasio set a bold, new goal to double this record number by 2019. Applicants in need of assistance can attend our certification workshops held at our Business Solutions Centers across the city. More information can be found at nyc.gov/sbs . Today’s announcements were made by the First Lady and Deputy Mayor at a women’s entrepreneurs panel discussion hosted by the City’s WE NYC program. Earlier this month, the City announced the expanded 2017 class of WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs) mentors . WE NYC is a City program that includes a mentorship program for budding women business owners. Experienced mentors volunteer to offer guidance to other women entrepreneurs starting and growing their companies. WE NYC was announced by the First Lady in 2015 with the goal of lifting up thousands of New York City women, and with them entire families and communities. Since her announcement, the initiative has reached more than 1,500 NYC women. “It’s one thing to put a commitment to minority and women-owned businesses on paper, but following through with support services and robust outreach is what makes that commitment real,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This Contract Financing Loan Fund and improvements to the certification application process are both steps in the right direction to increase the number of MWBEs that are ready to do business with the city.” "Access to capital is crucial to expanding opportunities for minority and women business owners," said State Senator Leroy Comrie. "I am pleased to work alongside a mayor who understands this. The Contact Financing Loan Fund will hopefully provide hundreds of M/WBEs with the affordable financing options they need to succeed." State Senator James Sanders, Jr. said, “As the newly appointed leader of the Senate Democratic Conference’s M/WBE Task Force, I believe we should be doing all we can to empower these entrepreneurs and level the playing field in a way that helps them realize their full potential. This $10 million low-interest loan fund and user friendly certification application process are worthy steps forward by the Mayor to help M/WBEs gain access to capital and grow their businesses.” “I am excited about the launch of the $10 million loan fund that will help M/WBE’s access the capital necessary to grow and sustain their businesses,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, Chair of the Subcommittee on Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises. “Mayor de Blasio, First Lady McCray, Deputy Mayor Buery, Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop and Jonnel Doris, Director of the Mayor's Office of M/WBE continue to be at the forefront of increasing opportunities for M/WBE’s and small business owners in this city. The Contract Financing Loan fund, which caps the loan interest at 3 percent and allows businesses to borrow up to $500,000, in conjunction with the new streamlined M/WBE application certification process, is an incredible win for M/WBE’s wishing to do business with the city and for their ability to compete in the market.” “I salute Mayor de Blasio and his administration for their continuing efforts to level the playing field for MWBE enterprises. Today's announcement follows up on one he made in September of last year pledging that the city will award 30 percent all contracts to businesses owned by minorities and women by the year 2021, as well as plans to establish the low interest revolving loan fund announced today to help M/WBEs that can't qualify for loans elsewhere. This is all to the good in a city where M/WBEs should be integral to a healthy business climate for everyone,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda. “Mayor de Blasio is following through on his promise to strengthen Minority/Women Business Enterprises with affordable capital through the Contract Financing Loan Fund. The new and concise certification process will also open doors for more M/WBE New York entrepreneurs to become eligible to bid and win City contracts,” said Assembly Member Jeffrion L. Aubry. "Small businesses all face challenges, but minority and women-owned businesses face extra challenges in obtaining loans. This move by the city to make loans easier to obtain, low-interest, and with flexible repayment options will allow all our city businesses to thrive. It is my hope that this will allow more minority and women owned businesses to obtain city contract and benefit our city," said Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley. “We are excited that the Mayor’s Administration is launching a new revolving loan program for M/WBE’s. We know so many MWBE’s looking for capital to help expand their business, low interest loan programs like these are going to make it easier for vendors to sustain their businesses,” said Assembly Member Latrice Walker. "The growth of the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise program in New York City will ensure a more vibrant economy and benefit entrepreneurs and communities alike. If we are serious about addressing income inequality, it is essential that we also address head on the systemic barriers and lack of opportunity faced by women and people of color in the City’s contracting processes. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, and Commissioner Gregg Bishop for their leadership on this bold initiative," said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “By streamlining the M/WBE certification process and offering low interest Contract Financing Loans we are making it easier for small businesses to compete and enter into contracts with the City. I applaud the Mayor and First Lady for taking this issue head on, M/WBE support boosts our economy and helps our communities,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez. “As chair of the Contracts Committee, supporting our M/WBE and small city contractors is one of the most important parts of my job. This program represents the administration’s commitment to creating innovative and effective new tools for us to do exactly that. I want to thank the Mayor, the First Lady, the Deputy Mayor, and Commissioner Bishop for their leadership and partnership on this issue,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Contracts. “This continues to be a great time for M/WBEs in New York City. I applaud Mayor de Blasio’s commitment for earnestly working, along with the SBS, to achieve the goals he set in place last September. The investment of $10 million dollars to help M/WBEs gain access to capital and business growth directly places them in a more equitable position. Allowing M/WBEs to easily maneuver the application process to gain City certification will help many. I am proud to continue to support the efforts of the Mayor, the First Lady, Commissioner Bishop, and unwavering support to M/WBEs,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy, Chair of the Committee on Small Business. Colleen Molter, President of QED National, said, “Access to affordable capital for women- and minority-owned firms has historically been a problem in our city and across our nation. The new loan program released today by Mayor de Blasio is a sure way to address these needs head on. Additionally, streamlining the certification process, which makes MWBE certification more practical for sole proprietors and small businesses, is exactly the kind of solution our communities need to participate in government contracting. I continue to applaud Mayor de Blasio, and I am proud to be a long standing supporter of the minority and woman business enterprise program.” “As a member of the de Blasio Administration’s M/WBE Advisory Council and as an owner of a M/BE business, I am excited about the creation of the Contract Financing Loan Fund and the streamlined certification process for sole proprietors,” said B. Seth Bryant, Managing Partner of Bryant Rabbino LLP, an MBE law firm based in Manhattan. “Making low interest loans available to M/WBE firms shows the de Blasio administration’s commitment to facilitating M/WBE business growth in New York City. Streamlining the certification process for sole proprietors is a practical step that should encourage minority and women entrepreneurs to pursue certification.” “We know from our collaboration with the City of New York on WE NYC and other small business programs that access to growth capital remains a barrier for many minority and women-owned businesses,” said Eileen Auld, New York Tristate Director for Citi Community Development. “We congratulate the Mayor and his team at SBS on the launch of this initiative, which will help empower more M/WBEs to compete for City contracts.” “As a nonprofit community lender, we are thrilled to partner with the City of New York to help minority- and women-owned firms and other small businesses,” said Steve Cohen, President of Excelsior Growth Fund. “By making it easier to secure financing, the City is increasing opportunity and removing barriers to accessing City contracts.” “TruFund is proud to work with the NYC Economic Development Corporation and NYC Department of Small Business Services to find innovative solutions that support economic growth and increase access to capital for New York City’s MWBE small business community,” said James H. Bason, President and CEO of TruFund Financial Services, Inc. “As a mission-based lender, BOC Capital is devoted to helping minority-owned, woman-owned and small-scale businesses succeed and grow. The Contract Financing Loan Fund is an important strategy, and we are extremely privileged to partner with New York City in achieving greater equity in access to contracts and capital. As part of this effort, BOC Capital will expand both our loan offerings and business technical assistance resources. By providing much needed capital at favorable rates coupled with management support, hard-working entrepreneurs will have a greater access to opportunities and success,” said Nancy Carin, Executive Director of BOC Capital Corp. About the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Administration seeks to increase contracting opportunities for M/WBEs as an essential component in tackling income inequality across the city. Mayor de Blasio created the Mayor’s Office for Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) to address the disparity between City contracts awarded to certain ethnic and gender groups and their overall representation in City contracting. The Office is responsible for oversight, policy, interagency coordination and accountability of the City’s M/WBE Program. It will serve as a One-Stop-Shop for M/WBEs interested in doing business with the city and its agencies. About NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit nyc.gov/sbs , call 311, and follow us on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram . ###
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 7:40am
"On Monday evening an innocent man was stabbed to death in what appears to be an unprovoked attacked prompted by the victim’s race. More than an unspeakable human tragedy, this is an assault on what makes this the greatest city in the world: our inclusiveness and our diversity. The NYPD has put the alleged perpetrator behind bars where he belongs. Now it’s our collective responsibility to speak clearly and forcefully in the face of intolerance and violence – here or across the country. We are a safe city because we are inclusive. We are a nation of unrivaled strength because we are diverse. No act of violence can undermine who we are."
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 7:40am
Mayor Bill de Blasio: …meeting with Speaker Heastie and our priorities are very much aligned. I came up here today to continue building momentum for the mansion tax and for the expansion of the millionaire’s tax. And the coalition that came together today represents a very powerful gathering of labor unions, senior citizen organizations, and nonprofit issue groups from all over the City, all over the State; particularly clear that the strong presence of senior citizen organizations like AARP is going to make a very big impact on our fight for the mansion tax. And all know that AARP has an extraordinary ability to influence legislators on both side of the aisle. So this coalition has been growing. We feel increasingly hopeful of what we can get done here. The fact that Speaker Heastie and the Assembly included the mansion tax in their one house budget is crucially important. I want to thank the Assembly sponsor – Assemblyman Cymbrowitz who is also the Chair of the Housing Committee. We see that as an important point of building momentum. But in addition just in the last hours on the Senate side – Senator Diane Savino put forward a companion bill in the Senate, Senate 5336. So she will be the lead sponsor of the mansion tax bill in the Senate and we think with her leadership that will help us to draw more support in the Senate and continue this momentum. Finally, just to say I’ve been down this road several times with the early prognostications on these kinds of things. We all know that we heard words like dead on arrival in terms of the Pre-k plan, in terms of paid family leave, in terms of the minimum wage increase – all of those things came to pass. But what s different on top of that is we now have this Washington situation. Literally, in the course of the last week we have seen new actions in Washington that could have billions of dollars of negative effect on the State of New York and certainly the City of New York. We see this excessive move in Washington towards greater tax cuts for the wealthy and businesses. Unfortunately we’re at the point now we can say between whatever happens on the Affordable Care Act and on the tax reform it is essentially inevitability that there will be huge tax cuts for the wealthy, huge reductions in federal revenue, and then a huge negative domino effect on the State budget and the City budget. So, the mansion tax and the expansion of the millionaire’s tax are taking on new meaning, literally, with every passing day because of what we see in Washington. But I also think that is the reason why they are going to be politically that much more important to people and why we’re going to be able to build support. Question: The Governor has just called for a simple extension of the millionaire’s tax. He is not saying anything about your mansion tax [inaudible]. Mayor: I would welcome the Governor’s support. And I want the Governor and everyone else to remember this is to benefit 25,000 seniors. It is an extraordinary number of seniors who will be reached by this mansion tax. And the people who pay the mansion tax are buying homes of $2 million or more. I don’t think anyone doubts that that means they are someone of means, if you can afford a home of $2 million or more. Again, the average home under the mansion tax has a value of $4.5 million. So, we need the Governor’s support. There are a lot of seniors depending on him. And look, the voices of seniors are going to be felt. And I know in terms of the New York City Senate Delegation, they are all going to hear from AARP. They are all going to hear the strong voices of seniors on this matter. And again, I think that is going to be a game changer. Question: Mr. Mayor, on 421-a [inaudible] would you like to see that program or a version of it brought back here in Albany? Mayor: Look, we presented a vision a couple of years ago with some very simple concepts in relation to what happened in the past. The previous 421-a, that governed for years, was simply a giveaway to developers. You know, very high-cost luxury condos got subsidized; taxpayers didn’t get their monies worth, there wasn’t enough affordable housing. The plan we put forward addressed all those issues. Obviously, there have been some changes since. What we’re going to be focused on is staying as close to the original vision as possible. And I know the Assembly is very sympathetic on this point; we have to make sure we’re maximizing affordability whatever the final version of 421-a is and we have to protect New York City taxpayers. And if additional elements are added to 421-a [inaudible] that is going to be untenable at a certain point. And I know the Speaker understands that for sure. Question: New documents show that Officer Pantaleo who was involved in the death of Eric Garner had a number of excessive force claims against him before the incident on Staten Island. At one point does excessive force complaints against and officer disqualify them from active duty? Mayor: Look, I have not seen those – those were just leaked out yesterday. I still have to look at them and review them, but the bigger point is this, under Commissioner Bratton and now continuing under Commissioner O’Neill there is a comprehensive effort in the Department not only to recruit and train differently but also to monitor officers to make sure that there – if there is any consistent problems they get addressed by retraining or other methodologies. Officer Pantaleo was recruited and trained in a very different system. The NYPD officers of this time are learning how to deescalate conflicts. Our [inaudible] neighborhood policing strategy puts a whole different premium relationship with the community. So, we also have a much stronger civilian review board then we had previously since this administration came in. So, I can’t speak to the specifics because haven’t seen the documents. I can speak to the fact that the approach being taken today – almost three years after the death of Eric Garner – is a very, very different approach. Question: Will you catch future people in this situation? Mayor: Again, I think you’re talking about people being recruited and trained very differently and additional monitoring. I think it is going to lead to different outcomes. Question: Mr. Mayor, do you have any direct talks with the Governor, with the Senate Republicans? Is there any improvement on the relationship? And is it necessary to improve that relationship? Mayor: Okay. Look, let me start at the beginning. The necessary element to pass these proposals is public support. Again, I don’t think anyone doubts how important senior citizens are in our society and certainly their political weight. And no one doubts the important of an organization like AARP. The more their voices are heard the more it is going to affect the views of members of the Senate for example. Seeing Senator Savino come onboard publicly is going to affect the views of members of the Senate. We’re focused on building that grassroots support. That’s what changed things with the minimum wage, with paid family leave, with pre-k. It was not a top down situation. It wasn’t three men in a room. It was grassroots support that made the leaders feel they had to go along. So that will be the game plan. Again, the members of the Senate Delegation from New York City including members of the majority – they will be hearing from seniors in their districts for sure. I know that is going to have an impact on her thinking. In terms of the overall relationship, look, I’ve had very cordial conversations with Senator Flanagan, Senator Klein over the last months. We have an open dialogue, but I don’t think that is what is going to be decisive. I think it’s going to be what their constituents say that is going to be decisive. Question: [Inaudible] Mayor: Hold on. Let me get someone who hasn’t gone – go ahead. Question: The Governor has been extremely critical of House Republicans when it comes to the Medicaid situation, but he has made a point of stopping short of criticizing President Trump. We have seen that in the past with some of the Washington issues. Is that the right strategy? Mayor: I have been very clear, there is only way to deal with President Trump and that is from a position of strength. He has to be held responsible for what he is doing. So President Trump is the leading force behind the effort to repeal Obama Care. That is going to hurt millions of New Yorkers – two million people in New York City alone and then so many more all over the State. So, I’ll say it in my own terms; President Trump has to be held responsible for everything in the package that would repeal the Affordable Care Act. The millions who will lose healthcare coverage; the huge negative impact it is going to happen in the State budget, which is only going to end up hurting people in localities across the State in a variety of ways. All of that is on President Trump’s plate because he is the driving force behind this legislation. So, of course, you have to say who is behind it and hold them accountable. Question: [Inaudible] Medicaid cost for the City? Mayor: Look, the existing arrangement has been in place for quite a whole and that is the arrangement that works and it should not be disrupted by the federal government. If they do it will have disastrous impact on healthcare and on the budget of localities all over the State. Question: The Governor has been outspoken about Rikers Island. Should he be doing more if he is going to be that outspoken about it? Mayor: Let’s be clear, first of all, about the fact that for years and years before I took office Rikers Island was ignored. And let’s be blunt, it was ignored by the City leadership and the State leadership alike. And that situation festered for years; thinks like solitary confinement of juveniles was tolerated by City and State leaders. I came into office and wanted to fundamentally change the situation at Rikers. We ended solitary confinement for juveniles. We end solitary confinement for those 18 to 21 years old. We put in place a host of reforms in how we recruit and train officers. We have security cameras to make sure people are treated properly all around. We are providing a lot more programming for inmates in terms of education training so they have something productive and redemptive to do with their days. None of that was in place just three years ago when I took office. Our focus is on fixing our Correction system and was also going to make decisions soon about the future of Corrections system. Meanwhile, the State of New York has its own issues and its own problems. So, I’m going to focus on fixing my jails and the Governor should focus on fixing his prisons. It is as simple as that. Question: Can you comment on the situation in London? Mayor: Yes, I have been briefed by Commissioner O’Neill. Look, it is obviously deeply distressing. There is no nation we feel closer to than Great Britain. And London is one of the cities most like New York and that we’re closest to in the whole world. So, this is an attack near the parliament, a place that is one of the great symbols of democracy in the world, which makes it even more troubling. What we have done in response, as we always do, we’ve activated special efforts by our Critical Response Command – our dedicated anti-terror force. They are protecting key British locations in New York City including the Consulate and the Mission to the United Nations. We will keep that protection in place as long as we deem necessary. It’s a reminder that it’s a very dangerous environment in this world and a place like London, just like New York City, is a leading terror target. And that is why we are fundamentally convinced that all of the investments we made – 500-plus members of the Critical Response Command. That investment was necessary to protect New York City. We’re going to keep that investment in place. But for now our hearts go out to everyone in London and for British citizens here in New York City, I want them to know we’re going to do everything that we can’t keep them safe. Thanks, everyone.
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 7:40am
Listen to the remarks at mansion tax rally Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you to everyone who organized this gathering. To Speaker Heastie and Leader Stewart-Cousins, thank you for your leadership. Look, the 2016 election was about income inequality. That’s what this whole country talked about for a year – how to address something that had gotten out of hand; how to take care of working people that were falling father and farther behind. Well, unfortunately what people are finding now as they look at the Trump administration – they’re seeing a president who wants to give more and more tax cuts to the wealthy, and tax cuts to the corporations, and tax cuts to the health insurance companies – that’s what’s happening right now. And there is an anger in this country and an anger in this state as people feel they have been lied to. They thought they were going to get some relief from their economic distress and what they’re finding is quite the opposite – that the rich are getting richer. Right now, as we speak, the whole debate over the Affordable Care Act is proceeding and the Republican plan would give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and the insurance companies. So, before you even get to “tax reform” that President Trump’s been taking about, which is really a tax giveaway to the wealthy, you can already see a whole change on the healthcare front that will already advantage those who have so much. So, right now, people are expecting the rest of us to fight back. They’re expecting our leaders in Albany to do something about it and to right the situation by asking the wealthy to pay more in State and local taxes. That’s how we address the madness we’re seeing in Washington and the lies we’re seeing in Washington. We have a chance here in New York State to live up to our reputation as the most progressive state in the country. We have a chance to do something about it by passing the Mansion Tax and passing the expanded millionaires’ tax. I wish I could tell you that we were dealing with a situation of equity and fairness, but we’re not. As we’re having this discussion here in Albany, there are many, many wealthy people in this country who are getting ready to have a lot more money in their pocket – that’s what’s going on. They are planning on huge tax cuts up ahead. And what’s the going to do to every-day people? That’s going to take away money from what the federal government does to support every-day Americans and every-day New Yorkers. It’s then going to have a negative impact on the State budget, and it’s certainly going to have a negative impact on my city’s budget, and cities and counties all over the State. All of that is playing out right now, but we have a chance to provide the antidote here in New York State by expanding the millionaires’ tax. That would bring in over $2 billion. It would help us address all of the things that are not being addressed right now sufficiently – education for our kids, public safety, infrastructure, affordable housing. We need more on all those fronts all over the state, but imagine how much more we’re going to need if these Trump tax cuts for the wealthy go through and federal revenue plummets. We have one chance to get it right before the federal government passes their budget later in the year – this is our one chance. And, second – the Mansion Tax. The Mansion Tax makes so much sense. It says anyone who buys a home in New York City of over $2 million in value pays a little bit more so senior citizens can have a affordable housing. 25,000 senior citizens would get affordable housing through the Mansion Tax. You know what the average cost of a home covered by this tax [inaudible]? $4.5 million. I think we can all agree, if someone can afford to buy a $4.5 million-dollar home, they can give a little more so our seniors can have affordable housing, right? [Applause] I’ll finish with this – again, with profound thanks to all those here and the great leadership of the Assembly. Thank you, Speaker, for including the expanded millionaires’ tax and the Mansion Tax in a [inaudible] budget. Thank you to all of our allies in the Senate. Here’s the bottom line – right now, there are seniors struggling to get by in New York City and all over New York State. There are seniors struggling to get by because so many of them are on fixed incomes. So many of them don’t have a way to get more income but the cost of housing keeps going up. We say as a society, we honor our elders. We say that we want to make sure they’re taken care of in their golden years. But, for too many of them, they cannot afford the rent. They’re choosing between rent, and medicine, and food. I’ve talked to seniors – I know people have here too – who literally have to make that choice each month. We owe it to them to get it right and asking the wealthy to pay their fair share so our seniors can have decent life is a thing we call common sense. Let’s pass this Mansion Tax. Let’s pass this expanded millionaires’ tax. Let’s serve the people of New York City and New York State. Thank you. ###
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 11:40am
Vessel set to arrive in NYC in Early April for final testing; Citywide Ferry on schedule to launch this summer NEW YORK-Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the first of twenty new boats built for the soon-to-be-launched Citywide Ferry Service has departed Horizon Shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Alabama and is on its way to New York City. The vessel, which departed Tuesday afternoon, will travel 1,742 nautical miles, across the Gulf of Mexico, through Lake Okeechobee, and up the East Coast of the United States. The vessel will cover approximately 280 nautical miles every 12-18 hours, with periodic port calls for refueling and any needed mechanical and system adjustments. Depending on weather and other conditions, the vessel is expected to arrive in New York Harbor early next month. You can follow the boat’s progress by following @CitywideFerry or . “The brand new boats are hitting the water. Construction on our docks is in full swing. And we’re hiring the crews that will carry New Yorkers across the city. This is an exciting time as we prepare to launch a whole new public transit service for our people,” Mayor de Blasio said. From start to first splash (when a new boat hits water), each Citywide Ferry vessel takes roughly eight months to complete. The vessel then undergoes a sea trial to ensure it is fit for service and for its maiden voyage up the East Coast. Video of the first Citywide Ferry leaving port and at sea and photos can be accessed here . “The first Citywide Ferry boat is officially on its way,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett. “Soon you’ll be seeing these modern, efficient vessels right here in New York Harbor. This is a major milestone toward launching Citywide Ferry this summer, and connecting more New Yorkers to good jobs and opportunities all along our waterfront.” “The first of 20 Citywide Ferry vessels is homeward bound for New York City – the newest way for New Yorkers and visitors to “work, live, play” throughout the boroughs when we launch this summer,” said Cameron Clark, Senior Vice President and Project Manager for Citywide Ferry by Hornblower . “These brand new state-of-the-art vessels will create new links to tech hubs, job centers, educational opportunities and so much more, all for the price of a subway ride and with regular, reliable service.” Each sea trial, which lasts about a week, includes a series of tests conducted by the shipyard, the vessel’s owner and the U.S. Coast Guard. A professional team of engineers, captains and other technical crew members thoroughly vet the vessel’s equipment, speed, safety and overall performance. Once the vessel is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, the vessel can sail up to New York City. With 20 vessels operating at 21 landings across New York City, Citywide Ferry will carry an estimated 4.6 million trips per year across six routes – providing a new and easily accessible transit option for traditionally underserved communities and where jobs and housing are growing rapidly. Mayor de Blasio recently announced hiring for the first of 200 new jobs to be created by Citywide Ferry Service. All boats will now be docked, fueled and maintained out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where an additional passenger stop also will be added in 2018. All Citywide Ferry jobs will pay the City’s Living Wage or higher, and provide comprehensive benefits. Workforce1 Career Centers will be accepting applicants for captain and deckhand jobs throughout the spring and summer. The first interviews will be March 24 at the downtown Brooklyn Workforce1 Career Center. The next round of hiring will take place in early summer for positions ranging from concessions to deckhands and operations. For a list of all Workforce1 locations, click here . Applicant may also apply through the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Employment Center, here or via the Citywide Ferry by Hornblower Website. For more information on Citywide Ferry and to stay up-to-date on the latest information, visit www.CitywideFerry.NYC . More Details on Citywide Ferry Service Routes: * Rockaway, South Brooklyn and Astoria routes are scheduled to launch in 2017. * Rockaway route will connect to the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Wall Street. * Astoria route will connect to Astoria, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, East 34th Street and Wall Street. * South Brooklyn route will connect Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 and Pier 6, and Wall Street, with an optional link to Governors Island. * Soundview and Lower East Side routes to launch in 2018. * Routes from Coney Island and Stapleton on Staten Island are in the planning stages for future expansion. * Combined routes will cover over 60 miles of waterway. Commuting Times: * Rockaway to Wall Street (1 stop): Approximately 1 hour * Astoria to E 34th Street (2 stops): Approximately 22 minutes * Astoria to Wall Street (3 stops): Approximately 38 minutes * Soundview to Wall Street (2 stops): Approximately 43 minutes * Bay Ridge to Wall Street (4 stops): Approximately 48 minutes Pricing: * Cost per ride will equal that of a single subway ride. * Over 4,000 daily East River Ferry customers will see fares reduced from $4 to the cost of a single subway ride. * Fare will allow for free transfers to any other ferry route within the system, including the East River Ferry. * Both paper and smartphone ticketing will be available, with payments accepted via cash, credit, or debit card. Discounts will be available for seniors, children and New Yorkers with disabilities. * Passengers will be allowed to bring bicycles on board for a $1 fee. The Boats: * Each boat will be able to carry 150 passengers. * All boats will be equipped with WiFi. * Boats will be fully accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities, and will comply with the requirements of both the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York City Local Law 68 of 2005. * New boats will be equipped with the most modern engine design available to reduce emissions and noise, as well as an efficient hull design that will limit wakes and maximize fuel economy. City Support: * The city is investing $55 million in infrastructure upgrades, including building 10 new ferry landings. Barge construction is currently underway at a facility on Staten Island. * The city is providing $30 million in operating support per year, over a period of six years. Based on a projection of 4.6 million annual trips, the per-trip subsidy for Citywide Ferry Service will be $6.60, lower than the nearly $8 per trip subsidy on the Long Island Railroad or the nearly $15 per trip subsidy for express buses. The city is providing $10 million for additional startup costs, such as vessel upgrades and ticketing machines. * City negotiated an option to acquire ferry vessels, allowing for greater operational flexibility and providing significant savings to taxpayers over the life of the service (roughly up to $5 million per year). * City will receive a portion of fare-box revenue if ridership exceeds 5.6 million passengers. ###
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 7:40am
NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio today held public hearings for and signed 14 pieces of legislation– Intros. 1161-A in relation to requiring DOHMH report annually on immunization rates of New Yorkers for Human Papillomavirus; Intro. 1162-A in relation to requiring DOHMH to report annually on the use of contraceptives; Intro 1172-A in relation to requiring DOHMH to report annually on maternal mortality; Intro. 748-B in relation to amending the New York City charter in relation to drug strategy; Intro. 882-A in relation to requiring that a hearing loop – which helps people with hearing loss hear better – be installed in certain capital projects; Intro. 1280-B in relation to requiring NYPD to make collision reports available online to individuals involved; Intro. 1071-A in relation to requiring DOT to conduct a study of private streets; Intro. 1474-A in relation to lowering the tax on the transfer of a taxi medallion; Intro. 1475-A in relation to removing restrictions on the transfer of taxi medallions; Intro 873-A in relation to establishing a car-sharing pilot program that reserves some street parking spaces for car-share vehicles; Intro. 267-A in relation to requiring DOT to designate parking spaces in municipal parking lots for car-share organizations; Intro. 247-A in relation to increasing the fines for performing electrical work without a license; Intro. 820-A in relation to requiring DSNY to consider programs that would incentivize recycling in public housing; and Intro. 1198-A in relation to requiring DEP to publish a plan for reducing flooding in Queens Community Districts 12 and 13, and to report annually on progress. "Hearing loops allow those with hearing loss to fully participate in daily, civic life. Intro 882-A will ensure appropriate accommodations are made in City facilities for those with hearing loss whenever the City does major capital renovations," said Mayor de Blasio. "Additionally, Intros 873-A and 267-A provide a new mobility service in City neighborhoods that will reduce the need for personal car ownership, provide greater access to motor vehicle use for the majority of New Yorkers who don't own one, and help reduce congestion on City streets." "The slate of bills being considered today represent real opportunities to improve the lives of a dramatic range of New Yorkers," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "Reserving city parking spots for car share vehicles will reduce the number of cars on our roads and the amount of pollution in our air, while assistive listening systems in public spaces will aid hearing-impaired individuals seeking to remain tuned in to the world around them. Importantly – a municipal drug strategy and advisory council will go far toward combatting the overdose epidemic affecting so many local communities, and a package of healthcare legislation will provide valuable insight into reducing reproductive illness cases around the city. The wide number of issues addressed by this docket affects visitors and residents of every type, and I thank my colleagues on the City Council for their diligent work on what has truly been several collaborative initiatives and Mayor de Blasio for signing that work into law today." Intro. 882-A requires that a hearing loop – which helps people with hearing loss hear better – be installed for certain capital projects. "With this bill, the City of New York will ensure that more and more spaces every year will be truly accessible to those hard of hearing. Hearing loop technology makes such a radical difference in the ability of so many to participate fully in public life, and I'm proud that as a City we have moved to make it not just a priority but a requirement in our public investments. I want to thank the advocates whose hard work made this possible, educating me and other policymakers on the importance of this issue and helping us reach a path toward getting this landmark legislation passed," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Intro. 1161-A requires DOHMH to report annually on immunization rates of New Yorkers for Human Papillomavirus. Intro. 1162-A requires DOHMH to report annually on the use of contraceptives. Intro 1172-A requires DOHMH to report annually on maternal mortality. Intro. 748-B requires the City of NY to issue a biennial report on strategies to address drug misuse in NYC. Intro. 1280-B requires NYPD to make collision reports available online to individuals involved. "Today's signing of Intro 1280-B is a victory to streamline online access to collision reports. Prior to the launch of the NYPD's Collision Report Retrieval Portal, drivers involved in car accidents were required to appear in person at their local precinct to obtain a copy of the report. This often made an already stressful situation even more aggravating. Now, motorists can conveniently print that report from the comfort of their home, without interrupting their busy daily schedule," said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. Intro. 1071-A requires DOT to conduct a study of private streets. "I am pleased to sponsor Int. 1071-A which will require the Department of Transportation to conduct a study of private streets that are not within New York City's jurisdiction. Throughout our city there are many private streets that have been built on, that need to be identified, and possibly acquired. For far too long, these private streets have been overlooked and unfortunately so have the problems plaguing them. This study will bring the much needed conversation and action to assist those who have purchased property on a private street," stated Council Member Alan Maisel. Intro. 1474-A lowers the tax on the transfer of a taxi medallion. Intro. 1475-A removes certain restrictions on the transfer of taxi medallions. "Today, I dedicate these 2 pieces of legislation to the more than 6,000 independent medallion owners who depend on its value to send their kids to college or buy a home. With the signing of these bills, we are taking important steps to ease some of the unnecessary restrictions that face those taxi medallion owners, which will make owning a medallion more attractive and hopefully spur much-needed investment in the yellow taxi industry. New York City's taxi and for-hire vehicle industry consists of a broad and diverse group of sectors that offer New Yorkers a multitude of transportation options and present drivers with more choices than ever before for how to make a living. The yellow taxi is an iconic component of that system and it is important that it remain strong and vibrant for years to come. I would like to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership and support, and Mayor de Blasio and his Administration, especially TLC Chair Meera Joshi, for their collaboration and partnership," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. Intro 873-A establishes a car-sharing pilot program that reserves some street parking spaces for car-share vehicles. "New York is home to more than 1.4 million cars, and as anyone who's ever looked for a parking spot in Borough Park, Forest Hills or anywhere in Manhattan knows all too well, it is a brutal and time consuming process. The research is clear that for every one shared car put on a city street, between 5 and 10 less fuel efficient cars are taken off. Car sharing programs have extraordinary potential to reduce road congestion, while actually growing the number of people who have access to cars, especially in the outer boroughs. The quality of life, economic, and environmental benefits of these programs are significant and I thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this legislation in to law today," said Council Member Mark Levine . Intro. 267-A requires DOT to designate parking spaces in municipal parking lots for car-share organizations. "Today's expanding sharing economy makes Intro 267A common sense legislation that would allow for the Department of Transportation ("DOT") to create a pilot program that would allow designate 600 parking spaces in municipal parking facilities, as well as on designated street parking spaces for the use of car-sharing organizations throughout the five boroughs. I want to thank Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for introducing this bill many years ago and trusting me to steer it into passage. Also, I want to thank DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Mayor de Blasio for working with us to make this bill a reality," Council Member Rosie Mendez. Intro. 247-A increases the fines for performing electrical work without a license. "When electrical work is done by unlicensed contractors, both workers and civilians are put at grave risk of either fires or explosions. I believe that stiffer penalties are necessary to effectively deter unlicensed contractors from engaging in this work that could danger New Yorkers. In a city that never sleeps, it's imperative that electrical work is done by skilled, trained professionals. It is a matter of public safety, and I thank the City Council and the mayor for their dedication in passing this bill and making it law," said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. Intro. 820-A requires DSNY to consider programs that would incentivize recycling in public housing. "We have an obligation to protect our planet for future generations and one of the easiest ways to do that is to be mindful of our consumption habits. Utilizing incentive programs not only educates New Yorkers about the importance of recycling, but also supports small businesses by injecting money back into the local economy and saving our City millions each year. This new program will go a long way in making recycling more accessible and commonplace – an important step in the right direction for both our environment and our pocketbooks," said Public Advocate Letitia James. Intro. 1198-A requires DEP to publish a plan for reducing flooding in Queens Community Districts 12 and 13, and to report annually on progress. "For decades, residents of Southeast Queens have lived with the fact that a slight rain could end in their home being flooded. Thankfully, the de Blasio administration answered the call and came up with a real solution with a 10-year plan and a $1.5 billion commitment. This bill will ensure that the plan is implemented in a timely fashion and the community can be updated on the progress on a regular basis. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio, former DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd, Acting DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members Miller, Constantinides, and Ulrich for all of their work and support in making this bill come to fruition," said Council Member Donovan Richards.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 7:40am
NEW YORK––Mayor de Blasio today announced the selection of former federal Judge Stephen Robinson as the Independent Civilian Representative to the NYPD Handschu Committee. Judge Robinson served as a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of New York as well as the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut. His appointment as the Civilian Representative follows a federal court's approval of proposed modifications to the Handschu Guidelines which will resolve two lawsuits alleging the improper investigations of Muslims. As part of the settlements, the City agreed to add an independent civilian representative to the internal NYPD committee to foster public confidence that the department maintains best practices in intelligence investigations and decisions. Currently a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's New York office, Judge Robinson is a nationally-respected lawyer and former Deputy General Counsel of the FBI where he participated in the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing. With decades of experience in state and federal court, Judge Robinson will work with the NYPD's internal team of advisors to ensure continued compliance with the Handschu guidelines when the NYPD opens or extends investigations into political activity including terrorism. He was selected by the Mayor in consultation with Commissioner Bratton. The position requires at least a five year term of service. "Every New Yorker should feel safe and protected, no matter their background or faith. And in times like these, our resolve to build trust and respect across all religions only grows stronger. Our city's Muslim communities are valued partners in our ongoing efforts to keep New York City the safest big city in America, and Judge Stephen Robinson's selection will help ensure we continue to work closely and respectfully with those of every origin and background. Judge Robinson has spent his career working to ensure Americans are treated equally and justly under the law, and I know he shares this administration's commitment to transparency and fairness," said Mayor de Blasio. "Judge Stephen Robinson has served as a jurist, a prosecutor, a national security counsel for the government and a guardian of civil liberties. There is no one more uniquely qualified to help guide and advise the team that conducts investigations under the rules of the Handschu Agreement," said Commissioner James O'Neill. "Judge Robinson's decades-long experience in both law enforcement and as a protector of civil rights makes him the perfect choice as civilian representative," said Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter. "He is uniquely qualified to ensure that there is independent oversight that will help all communities to have confidence in the NYPD's intelligence gathering processes under the Handschu rules to both strengthen police community relations and to keep our City safe. We are pleased with this appointment and with the formal resolution of these cases by the Court." "I am honored that Mayor de Blasio has chosen to select me as the Independent Civilian Representative to the NYPD Handschu Committee. The Police Department and the Handschu Committee serve vitally important roles in keeping New Yorkers safe from terrorist activity. In the course of that effort, all New Yorkers deserve to know that the Police Department is working just as diligently to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all our citizens. I look forward to adding my efforts to those of the Handschu Committee," said Judge Stephen Robinson.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 7:40am
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and elected officials today celebrate the one year anniversary of the passage of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), a program that requires developers to build permanently affordable housing in areas zoned for growth to ensure that all of the city’s neighborhoods will be diverse and inclusive. In the first year alone, 11 applications for nearly 4,700 new affordable homes have been approved by the City Council. At least 1,600 are required to be permanently affordable under MIH. This landmark MIH legislation, the strongest inclusionary program in the nation, was adopted by the City Council on March 22, 2016. It was the result of months of advocacy by the Mayor, his administration, and the New York City Council working to create a program that protects our neighborhoods by mandating affordability. Compared to MIH programs in other cities, New York City’s requires a higher percentage of affordable housing, serves lower income families and a broader range of households, and will result in more affordable housing being located in the same building as market rate housing. MIH ensures balanced growth and economically diverse neighborhoods, while also providing a tool for communities to shape development. The Council also adopted Zoning for Quality & Affordability , a far-reaching overhaul of the City’s zoning resolution that encourages the construction of affordable housing across the city, especially for seniors, by lowering costs and adding flexibility. ZQA also allows for better-ground floor retail and community-facility spaces. MIH and ZQA works with other housing programs to achieve ambitious affordability targets set in Housing New York . “Among our most important achievements as we strive to secure affordability for millions of New Yorkers was passing these historic zoning changes, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality & Affordability. With them, we will build tens of thousands of affordable homes for seniors, veterans and working families,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “After hearing the concerns from communities across New York City and after months of deliberations last year the City Council adopted with significant changes two far reaching proposals to better align our housing policy with the real housing needs of New Yorkers. Since then the Council has voted on a number of projects which will produce thousands of affordable units for New Yorkers with many more affordable apartments on the way. I want to thank again Chair Greenfield and Chair Richards for their extraordinary efforts shepherding these proposals through the City Council and the Mayor, DCP, HPD for having the courage to take these issues head on,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “Last year, the New York City Council and Planning Commission marked the centennial of our Zoning Resolution with what will long be viewed as among the most historic changes to urban land use and housing policy. Mandatory Inclusionary Housing uses zoning to give New Yorkers of all walks of life a future in this city. I am immensely proud to have been a key part of passing this law that creates so much affordable housing. I am also proud that the complementary Zoning for Quality and Affordability make it easier to construct affordable homes. I look forward to working with my colleagues and our diverse constituencies to see this historic legislation take root and flourish in neighborhoods across the city,” said Council Member David G. Greenfield, chair of the Land Use Committee. “During the last year since MIH and ZQA were implemented, the City Council and Mayor de Blasio’s administration have delivered thousands of units of affordable housing that would not have been part of the discussion previously,” Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, said. “I’m proud to be a part of the process that helped get us this far, but we have a lot more work to do and I look forward to ensuring that we maximize every opportunity to find housing for New Yorkers who need it the most.” “MIH and ZQA are powerful affordability tools to help make New York work for everyone. While it has been just one year, they are already bearing fruit. We must continue to use MIH and ZQA to facilitate affordable housing as we plan for growth in targeted locations throughout our city. These zoning regulations, together with the formidable tools of our partners at HPD and HDC, position us to work effectively with communities and their elected representatives to achieve the affordability goals of Housing New York: providing opportunity to New Yorkers with a range of incomes and strengthening our neighborhoods,” said City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago. “MIH and ZQA changed the paradigm for how New York City will grow for generations to come,” said Housing, Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “Thanks to this landmark victory, the city now has a robust MIH pipeline of permanently affordable housing to ensure inclusive growth in our neighborhoods. By overhauling the zoning code, ZQA is already resulting in buildings with better design and more affordable housing, especially for our seniors. HPD is grateful to Mayor de Blasio and the entire City Council for their leadership, and to our partners at City Planning for this monumental achievement to keep our neighborhoods affordable and diverse and our city strong.” "The passage of MIH and ZQA have provided critical new tools to address our City’s affordable housing crisis,” said Eric Enderlin for President of the City’s Housing Development Corporation. “By ensuring the development of affordable housing is not just mandatory, but permanently affordable, MIH enables us to provide long term housing solutions for more New Yorkers at a wide range of incomes. This visionary legislation demonstrates the City’s commitment to ensuring New York City truly remains a city for everyone.” Approved Projects: Borough Project Name Total Units Total Affordable Units MIH Permanently Affordable Units Projected Queens One Flushing 231 231 83 Bronx La Central (Bronxchester RFP) 992 992 248-298 Bronx Lambert Houses 1,655 1,655 331-413 Bronx Concourse Village West 265 265 68 Bronx 1932 Bryant Ave 327 327 82-98 Manhattan Lexington Gardens II 400 400 160 Manhattan The Robeson 79 79 22 Manhattan The Frederick 74 74 19 Bronx 147th St Rezoning 165 165 58-81 Brooklyn 141 Willoughby Street 202 60 60 Manhattan 550 Washington Street 1,586 476 476 5,976 4,724 1,607-1,778 “The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program is undoubtedly one of Mayor de Blasio’s most important achievements, and it will help greatly expand access to affordable housing units in the Bronx. On behalf of the Bronx, I thank and applaud Mayor de Blasio and the City Council for this important and ambitious effort to tackle what is perhaps the most pressing issue for NYC working families,” said Congressman José E. Serrano. “The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program has been an essential resource in our ability to provide and maintain affordable housing for thousands of New York residents,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “The MIH program has proven successful in our efforts to create more economically diverse communities across New York City and to ensure that a share of new housing in growing communities is affordable and accessible to all residents.” “MIH and ZQA are among the strongest mandates for affordable housing in the United States,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal. “As the first and only Council Member to secure a comprehensive rezoning plan under Mayor de Blasio’s administration, I am proud that we had these tools at our disposal to ensure permanent affordable housing for our community.” “It took decades for New York City to require affordable units in new developments, and it was a win that will pay off for decades to come. Thanks to MIH, we can think about planning for neighborhoods like Gowanus in a way that will make them inclusive and affordable to a wide range of New Yorkers,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “One year later, I am prouder than ever of our City’s collective effort to institute these zoning changes for the creation of affordable housing that New Yorkers desperately need,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “The passage of MIH and ZQA is proof of the power of principled action to address one of the greatest challenges of our time. I thank our Mayor, my Council colleagues and community members for working together to create a program to preserve our neighborhoods and to increase affordability for current and future generations.” Council Member Helen Rosenthal said, “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability represent a critical step toward addressing New York’s affordable housing crisis. That these programs have already begun to deliver results is greatly encouraging and is just the beginning. Thousands more New Yorkers will find an affordable home as a result of these programs going forward, and I’m so proud that Mayor de Blasio, the City Council, and housing advocates across New York City were able to come together to make it happen.” "The passing of the Zoning for Quality and Affordability text amendment was a remarkable feat of policy-making to develop affordable housing. It was a difficult and complex approach but the City remained committed and it has proved to be hugely effective. At a time when new housing is urgently needed, ZQA removed unnecessary regulatory barriers and it has allowed for more affordable housing to be built,” said Sarah Watson, Deputy Director CHPC. Bobbie Sackman, Associate Executive Director of Public Policy, LiveOn NY, said, "LiveOn NY greatly appreciates the accomplishments that the passage of ZQA, working closely with Mayor de Blasio and City Council, brought to fostering more affordable housing for seniors. One year ago we reported that over 200,000 older New Yorkers are on waiting lists for affordable housing throughout the city. This poignantly portrays the depth of the affordable housing crisis for seniors. While we cannot build our way out of this housing crisis, we do believe that modernizing the zoning laws has made a difference in communities across the city to build affordable senior housing.” “MIH and ZQA are playing a transformative role in producing much-needed affordable housing for low- and middle-income families across our city,” said Jolie Milstein, president and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH). “Along with leading the nation’s most ambitious MIH program, Mayor de Blasio has demonstrated his tireless commitment to affordable housing by working with all community and industry stakeholders to get the job done.”