As members of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration faced questions regarding the Rivington House debacle in a contentious City Council hearing this afternoon, de Blasio’s office released a none-too-subtly timed press release announcing a plan to build a new affordable senior housing and health care facility on the Lower East Side. The new development is designed to replace essential services the neighborhood lost after the nursing home at 45 Rivington Street was sold to a luxury condominium developer under controversial circumstances in 2015.
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After 60 days on the table, the city’s offer to pay the former CitiStorage site’s owner $100 million for the final parcel of the long-promised Bushwick Inlet Park has officially expired. With Norman Brodsky’s default rejection of the offer (less than half the $250 million he was hoping for) questions emerge as to whether the Williamsburg waterfront park—which was first promised in 2005 as part of a rezoning deal that allowed for more high-rise developments in the sought-after neighborhood—will ever be completely finished.
The Rent Guidelines Board has voted to freeze the rents on rent-stabilized apartments that are up for a one-year lease renewal between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017, and has agreed on a 2-percent increase for two-year leases. It’s the second year in a row that one-year leases will not face a rent increase– a move that had previously been unprecedented in the 47-year history of the board.
In 2013 Mayor Bill De Blasio was voted into office with pledges to reign in police violence and stop-and-frisk policing targeted at blacks and latinos. (Remember that emotional video about needing to have stop-and-frisk conversations with his son, Dante?) And since he took office, street-stops have continued on a downward trend–there were about 24,000 stops last year, a far cry from the peak of 685,000 in 2011 under Bloomberg.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing proposal is one step closer to passing after he announced some changes earlier this week. The tweaks responded to many of the concerns expressed by city council members last month, including provisions for deeper affordability levels to help more low-income New Yorkers qualify for apartments. According to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the plan is all but certain to pass when it goes up for a vote next week.
It was freezing outside, but the 60-odd Chinatown community activists gathered in front of Gracie Mansion yesterday were fired up. In English, Spanish and Chinese, they decried Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning plan and ties to the real estate industry, flinging insults and calling for his resignation. “Coward!” “Racist!” “Shame!” they yelled. As the sun set, they even left him with a “gift.”
At an emotional Lower East Side town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon, hundreds of concerned residents, a number of small business owners, and representatives of community organizations were visibly upset. Instead of being met by Mayor Bill de Blasio himself, they were greeted by a representative from the administration. “We have been reaching out to him for months,” Jei Fong, a coalition representative, told B+B. “We personally invited him to this meeting. This is a real slap in the face.”
“You really have to be quick crossing the street, or they’ll totally run you down,” a friend of mine laughed. “I’m actually really scared that someday they’ll catch me not paying attention.” He was right– even after dark last night, garbage trucks were still rumbling down Thames Street periodically, past his apartment and toward the Brooklyn Waste Transfer Facility, which neighbors are saying is a particularly devious garbage deposit. I was on my way to a community meeting that brought together activists, workers, residents, and local business owners– all of them concerned about waste inequity– inside La Luz, a storefront and pop-up venue space.
To get to the meeting, I had to cross directly in front of the garbage processing warehouse where, per usual, the massive doors were wide open (which activists and residents say is the case several times an hour), revealing voluminous mounds of stinky refuse. I picked up the pace, realizing suddenly that I was in the crosshairs of an enormous white trash truck and a frantic bulldozer– I felt the distinct possibility that I could be mistaken for a passing ant. Had it been summer, my friend assured me, this experience would have been a more nauseating one.
A fight is brewing between the City and the Doe Fund, a non-profit dedicated to helping provide the homeless with shelter, temporary jobs, and vocational training. The Department of Homeless services has moved to place a number of sex offenders at the organization’s Bushwick facility, but the Doe Fund claims it lacks the resources for what it says is a fundamentally different type of homeless person. After filing a lawsuit against the city, the non-profit is now appealing to the community by way of a petition and a “town hall meeting” held yesterday at its Porter Avenue shelter. But City officials, including local Council Member Antionio Reynoso and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, are pushing back.
Nearly two hours after the Rent Guidelines Board was scheduled to vote on whether more than 1.2 million New Yorkers would be required to pay more for their rent-regulated apartments, the board made a historical decision to freeze rent increases for one-year leases. Amidst intermittent boos and cheers, the board’s chair, Rachel Godsil, announced that for the first time ever one-year leases would see a zero percent increase in rent, while two-year leases would be subject to a 2 percent increase.
In his State of the City address today, Mayor De Blasio announced a city-wide ferry network serving the Lower East Side and vowed to provide 1,500 units of affordable housing to artists and musicians.
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Mayor de Blasio received an unusual gift on Three King’s Day when picketers gathered outside City Hall to protest the loss of a beloved East Ninth Street community center. The protestors, backed by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, collected more than 500 signatures to go along with nearly 2,000 holiday cards, all addressed to the mayor and asking for just one thing this holiday season: That the former CHARAS/El Bohio building be returned to the community.
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