City's $92.8B budget funds mental health, abortion care

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council members on Friday afternoon announced an agreement on the city's $92.8 billion budget for fiscal 2020, with initiatives to improve health care access at its forefront.

The budget includes $26 million to place 200 additional social workers—including 85 working within the city's mental health initiative, ThriveNYC—in public schools to help students experiencing crises and mental health issues.

The mayor's office said ThriveNYC will undergo a redesign of its mental health training program. The so-called Mental Health Service Corps., it said, will partner with New York City Health + Hospitals to streamline its operational efficiency. As a result, the city expects to save $20 million, starting in fiscal 2020, and $11 million of that amount will be reinvested in the social worker program.

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Council WTC Bill Would Notify DOE Staff, Pupils

Under legislation drafted by the City Council, the de Blasio administration would have to report on its efforts to notify school staff and the students who attended dozens of public schools during the 2001-02 school year that were not far from the World Trade Center site about programs available for people at risk for contracting a WTC-related disease or cancer.

According to the United Federation of Teachers, there were 2,500 Teachers and support staff and 19,000 students who attended 29 public schools within the portion of lower Manhattan that is covered by the World Trade Center Health Program. Several colleges, including the City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College, are also located in the covered area.

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City Leases Could Push Relatives Out If Tenants Die: Officials

New York City Local News

Councilman Mark Levine is among those concerned about the new leases for the Tenant Interim Lease program.

The city is trying to have tenants sign new leases that only list one official occupant.

By Noah Manskar, Patch Staff

NEW YORK — New York City is forcing tenants of beleaguered buildings that it owns to sign new leases — and the conditions have raised hackles among lawyers and lawmakers.

The city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development is requiring residents of the 115 buildings in the Tenant Interim Lease program to sign new leases by June 30. The program, created in 1978, involves once-dilapidated buildings that the city took over with the goal of turning them into low-income cooperatives.

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Inquiries Into Reckless Loans to Taxi Drivers Ordered by State Attorney General and Mayor

By Brian M. Rosenthal

The New York attorney general’s office said Monday it had opened an inquiry into more than a decade of lending practices that left thousands of immigrant taxi drivers in crushing debt, while Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a separate investigation into the brokers who helped arrange the loans.

The efforts marked the government’s first steps toward addressing a crisis that has engulfed the city’s yellow cab industry. They came a day after The New York Times published a two-part investigation revealing that a handful of taxi industry leaders artificially inflated the price of a medallion — the coveted permit that allows a driver to own and operate a cab — and made hundreds of millions of dollars by issuing reckless loans to low-income buyers.

The investigation also found that regulators at every level of government ignored warning signs, and the city fed the frenzy by selling medallions and promoting them in ads as being “better than the stock market.”

The price of a medallion rose to more than $1 million before crashing in late 2014, which left borrowers with debt they had little hope of repaying. More than 950 medallion owners have filed for bankruptcy, and thousands more are struggling to stay afloat.

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Levine reveals participatory budgeting winners

Manhattan Times News

City Councilmember Mark Levine has announced the 2019 winners of participatory budgeting in his district, which includes parts of the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights and Washington Heights.

The projects to receive funding are:

  • $250,000 for air conditioning upgrades and new water fountains at P.S. 165 Robert E. Simon School
  • $250,000 for new computers at the Community Health Academy of the Heights
  • $250,000 for gymnasium upgrades at P.S. 153 Adam Clayton Powell School
  • $200,000 for bus countdown clocks

Voting for participatory budgeting took place between March 30 and April 7.

Projects selected as finalists are typically efforts designed to improve schools, housing and parks.

For more information, go to www.marklevine.nyc/pb.

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Council passes 17 bills to protect tenants from bad landlords

By Sabrina Mallot

Last fall, the City Council introduced a package of 18 bills aimed at preventing tenants from being displaced due to aggressive tactics from landlords like exploitative buyout agreements or nuisance construction. On Wednesday, May 8, all but one passed.

They still require the mayor’s signature, but he has indicated his support for them.

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Jane Meyer said, “From free access to legal services in housing court to the new Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants, this administration has been fighting for tenants from day one. These bills will help bolster our efforts to protect all New Yorkers.”

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Inside the Fight to Revamp Right to Counsel

Bronx Housing Court and City Councilman Mark Levine 

By Eddie Small

The hallways of Bronx Housing Court are crowded and chaotic on a typical weekday morning.

Lawyers and tenants scurry across the white tile floors and lounge on the worn-down benches of the Grand Concourse building, where occasionally the sound of one person shouting out a name will rise above the chatter.

The elevated discussion is usually from an attorney trying to find a tenant facing eviction who they want to assist. Even though New York City passed its Right to Counsel law two years ago guaranteeing that those tenants have the right to legal representation, lawyers still don’t have a better way of contacting the people they’ve been enlisted to help.

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Interactive Map Tracks NYC Evictions & The Landlords Who File For Them

By Elizabeth Kim

A collaboration between a group of housing rights advocates has produced the most comprehensive database yet to measure evictions across New York City and identify many of the landlords responsible for them.

Three advocacy groups — Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, JustFix.nyc, and the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project — on Monday launched a website, www.worstevictorsnyc.org, that incorporates newly analyzed and vetted public data as well as knowledge from tenant organizers. Users can zoom in to get a block-by-block picture of where city marshals are carrying out evictions and also, in many cases, learn who the associated landlords are. Users can also elect to map evictions by landlord.

This is by no means the first interactive eviction map: JustFix.nyc, one of the groups behind the new map, launched a mapping tool in 2017 that drew on eviction lawsuit filings. Less than 10 percent of eviction filings result in actual evictions, often because tenants choose to move out before city marshals show up.

Read the full article here.

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City Council Pushes Its Priorities at First Hearing on De Blasio's Executive Budget

By Samar Khurshid

The New York City Council and budget officials from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration engaged in a familiar push-and-pull on Monday, at the first hearing on the $92.5 billion executive budget proposal for the 2020 fiscal year that begins July 1.

The Council, disappointed that many of its priorities were not included in the latest spending plan presented by the mayor, pushed for more funding and pointed to hundreds of millions in revenue available to the city, but officials from the Office of Management and Budget urged restraint as they emphasized the dangers of a slowing economy and insisted the Council’s revenue estimate was far rosier than their own.

De Blasio presented his executive budget last month with $300 million more in proposed spending than his preliminary plan released in February. The $92.5 billion proposal would mark yet another record high in city spending, up nearly $3.4 billion from the current fiscal year and about $20 billion from the budget that de Blasio inherited from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Read the full article here.

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Councilman Funds Security Cameras On Harlem Block After Shootings

By Brendan Krisel

Following a recent rash of shooting on a West Harlem block, the area's local city council representative is allocating funds for NYPD security cameras.

City Councilman Mark Levine is allocating $80,000 in capital funding to the NYPD's 30th Precinct to install security cameras on West 134th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, the councilman announced this week. Three shootings occurred on the mainly-residential block in early March with two occurring within hours on the same day, police said.

"In response to the alarming crime statistics on West 134th Street, including multiple shootings this year already, I'm proud to be allocating this money to help the NYPD keep that street safe," Levine said in a statement.

Read the full article here.

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