For Tenants Facing Eviction, New York May Guarantee a Lawyer

NYTimes.pngBy Jessica Silver-Greenberg

...“Housing Court is a weapon that unscrupulous landlords use to displace tenants,” Councilman Mark D. Levine, who along with Councilwoman Vanessa L. Gibson, a fellow Democrat, sponsored the legislation, said in an interview on Monday. He added the bill is “about leveling the playing field.”

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The Lost Keith Haring Mural in Manhattan

Newsweek.pngBy Stav Ziv

Keith Haring practiced making art quickly. In the early ’80s, he would ride the New York City subway, scouting the stations for spots where sheets of plain black paper hung until advertisements replaced them. He’d saunter up, look around for police and fill the paper with cartoonlike figures. Sometimes, it got him arrested.

...In the meantime, the mural captured the attention of the local news site DNAinfo, whose coverage sparked a wave of publicity, and New York City Councilman Mark Levine, who wants to ensure that it cannot be ruined and believes the “only rock-solid way to protect it is to landmark it.” He has approached the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission about beginning that process.

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New York City Council Votes to Denounce Israel Boycott

New_York_Daily_News_logo.png By Erin Durkin

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict roiled up City Hall again Wednesday as the City Council approved a resolution to condemn the movement to boycott Israel.

...“You have the right to free speech, and that includes the most hateful forms of speech. You have the right to boycott anyone and anything you want,” said Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan). “But we also have the right, and actually an obligation, to denounce the kind of hateful attacks which are being leveled on people in this city who express any support for Israel.”

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More New Yorkers Facing Eviction Are Getting Lawyers

NextCity.pngBy Oscar Abello

...“For years, landlords have been operating under the assumption that they won’t have to face a lawyer on the other side,” says New York City Council Member Mark Levine, who has been pushing for more tenant legal services funding since before he took office in 2014. “In addition to OCJ’s numbers, we’ve heard anecdotally that landlords, when they see that tenants now have representation on a court case, just drop the case.”

In his previous life, Levine helped found Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union, serving the largely Latino communities in uptown Manhattan. “We had many members of the credit union dragged into housing court, who would often come to us for loans to pay off back rent. For many reasons, we were not able to make all those loans,” he remembers.

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Parents, Pols Call on DOE to Fix Space Issues at Harlem Elementary School

logo.pngBy Dartunorro Clark

HARLEM — A West Harlem elementary school is facing space issues even after eliminating its art and music rooms as enrollment demand outpaces the school’s space, parents and officials said.

...In a letter provided to DNAinfo New York, City Councilman Mark Levine, state Sen. Bill Perkins and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer called on the DOE to fix the space issue.

“We strongly urge the DOE to have a solution on October 2016, when the Middle School Directory is published, so that the school’s status will be clear,” the officials wrote.

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Pest-control Scam Using City Health Department Logo

NY-Post.pngBy Yoav Gonen

Those dirty rats.

The latest scam New Yorkers have to worry about comes from “Vermin Control of New York” — a sham entity demanding that homeowners mail $120 checks for “assessment and eradication of vermin” to an address in Queens, city officials said Friday.

...The fakery was first exposed by a tweet from Manhattan City Council member Mark Levine, whose staffers saw chatter about it on Reddit.

“This unusually sophisticated fraud should serve as a wake-up call to all New Yorkers,” Levine told The Post on Friday.

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VIDEO: Scammers Sending Fake Pest Control Letters To New Yorkers, Demanding Hundreds

CBS.pngBy Tracee Carrasco

A fake pest control violation letter is circulating in the city and its asking its recipients to pay up big bucks. On Friday, Henry Gelfand received the official looking letter claiming to be from the City of New York.

“They’re using the city logo on top, they’re using the city logo on the bottom,” Gelfand said told CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco...New York City Councilmember Mark Levine (D-7th) is warning New Yorkers to be on the lookout.

“You make your checks out to the City of New York– if you get a letter saying to make it out to an agency, a private company or something called ‘Vermin Control’ that should be a red flag,” he said.

See the video and corresponding story here.

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More New Yorkers Facing Eviction Have Lawyers, But No Right to Counsel Yet

Observer.pngBy Jillian Jorgensen

...After the press conference, Levine said the money the city was investing in legal services was a good start.

“We’ve made huge headway as the money we’re spending has been ramped up and has been proven to be so effective, and as the needs become ever more glaring in this age of anxiety about displacement,” he said in a telephone interview.

With 27 percent of tenants covered already, Levine said that number would climb even higher when all the city’s new programs were online and with other help pledged for those in neighborhoods being up-zoned through the mayor’s affordable housing plan. If  those measures could extend legal coverage to about 40 to 50 percent of tenants, and if the knowledge they may face lawyers dissuades unscrupulous landlords from taking tenants to court, a right to counsel “becomes a very reasonable proposition,” he said.

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OpEd: Shrinking Garbage Truck Traffic

ourtown.gifBy Council Member Mark Levine

I hear all the time from constituents about garbage truck traffic in our community. So I was unsurprised when a new study last month confirmed what many of us have experienced: Upper Manhattan has one of the highest levels of private sanitation traffic in the city. A simple change could make a world of difference.

The study, commissioned by the Department of Sanitation, finds that the private sanitation industry is needlessly adding millions of miles of truck traffic to our streets and diesel exhaust to our air. The de Blasio administration announced plans to reduce this traffic by two-thirds — and even more in Manhattan — through a new waste zone system that will ensure only one private sanitation company is operating in each neighborhood, rather than dozens.

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“Anchors” Reweigh: Investment Focuses on Parks Revamp

ManhattanTimes.pngBy Gregg McQueen

They’ve been at the heart of their communities – and now they’re being transfused with a big funding boost.

Five large, long-neglected parks are about to get major upgrades, thanks to a $150 million investment from the city...Levine suggested that the five Anchor Parks failed to receive adequate attention from the city for decades.

“You see ball fields that need to be fixed up, rec centers that need renovation,” he said. “We’re going to change that. We’re going to be there for communities who desperately need these wonderful green spaces to be brought to life.”

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