Inwood Literacy Program Tackles Summer Reading Slump for Kids

logo.pngBy Carolina Pichardo

INWOOD — A local literacy program kicked off a monthlong initiative this month to decrease the summer reading slump that impacts low-income, school-aged students, organizers said.

The program, "Reading Everywhere Month," now in its second year, is intended to provide children with more opportunities to read beyond the classroom, according to Sarah Morgridge, development associate for Literacy Inc. (LINC), which is organizing the initiative.

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Airbnb Blamed for NYC’s High Rents and Dwindling Housing Market

New_York_Daily_News_logo.pngBy Jennifer Fermino

Airbnb is hurting the city’s already limited housing supply, and is likely removing thousands of units from the market and driving up rents for everyone, according to a study released Monday...“The loss of these units is pushing prices up for everyone,” said City Councilman Mark Levine, one of several pols denouncing Airbnb at a press conference on the study at City Hall.

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Residents Ask For a Rent Rollback as Board Prepares to Vote

logo.pngBy Dartunorro Clark

HARLEM — Dozens of residents offered emotional testimony Tuesday night as the Rent Guidelines Board held its final meeting before voting next week on whether to raise the rent for nearly 1 million rent-regulated apartments.

Inside the auditorium at the Oberia D. Dempsey Multi Services Center, at 127 W. 127th St., resident after resident pleaded with the eight board members to rollback rents in light of the board’s historic decision last year to pass a one-year freeze for rent-stabilized tenants...Local politicians also offered testimony to the board calling for a rent rollback — or at least a rent freeze — including Harlem City Councilmembers Mark Levine and Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, and Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright.

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Uptown Associated Supermarket Saved From Eviction After Community Outcry

logo.pngBy Carolina Pichardo

HUDSON HEIGHTS — An Associated Supermarket in Upper Manhattan will not be evicted — following a series of rallies, thousands of signatures, town hall meetings and protests to keep it from closing — officials announced at a rally on Sunday.

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West 103rd Street at Broadway Dubbed Norman Rockwell Place After High School Students' Fight for the Change

New_York_Daily_News_logo.pngBy Lauren Klose

A corner of urban New York was transformed into a Norman Rockwell portrait Thursday when a Manhattan street corner was named to honor the iconic artist.

The Upper West Side isn’t the typical canvas for any work associated with the artist.

But when students from a neighborhood high school learned on a field trip about Rockwell’s local roots, they began a campaign to put his portrait in perspective...“These kids, through sheer determination, surmounted obstacle after obstacle to make this come into reality,” said City Councilman Mark Levine, who spearheaded the change.

At the unveiling, Levine presented an official proclamation to Mills and her students from the City Council, for Norman Rockwell Place.

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Manhattan Street Is Renamed After Norman Rockwell

nytimes.pngBy James Barron

You never know what students will learn on a field trip. A couple of years ago, students from the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, an alternative high school on West 102nd Street, went to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. The guides said that Rockwell’s birthplace was on West 103rd Street...The next stop was the City Council’s Parks Committee. Fortunately for the students, the chairman of that committee, Councilman Mark Levine, represents the neighborhood.

“My first reaction was, Norman Rockwell’s from New York City?” he recalled, adding that the students had changed his perception of Rockwell.

“You really understand Rockwell’s work in a whole new way when you realize he grew up on the West Side,” Mr. Levine said. “He formed a view of the world that can be traced right back to 103rd Street. You’ve got to imagine he was struck by the great disparities of wealth in New York City even then, and that awareness stuck with him through his career. You can see it in subtle but important ways in so much of his work.”

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Participatory Budgeting Reaches Historically Disenfranchised Neighbors

NextCity.pngBy Oscar Perry Abello

An audience of at least 70 people packed into the library of P.S. 192 in a far uptown corner of Harlem. It was June 2014, and they were there to attend one of a series of events to kick off the first participatory budgeting cycle in the history of NYC Council District 7.

“Does anybody know why this process is so important?” asked Council Member Mark Levine. Participatory budgeting allows communities to have a direct say in how resources get deployed in their own neighborhoods. From 2014 to 2015, more than 70,000 residents in 46 jurisdictions across the United States and Canada directly decided how their cities and districts should spend nearly $50 million in public funds through participatory budgeting.

“The neighbors know best,” replied one constituent, seconded by many nodding heads and murmurs of approval. That was supposed to be the easy question.

“Does anybody know what capital budget means?” Levine asked next. It’s an important concept, as NYC’s participatory budgeting only involves capital or “bricks and mortar” funding, not funding to hire people or organizations to run programs. Someone in the audience knew the answer, but that wasn’t the whole point. With something new like participatory budgeting, elected officials in cities are taking the opportunity to use moments like that one in P.S. 192 to begin to strengthen democracy and citizenship among constituents, especially with people who have historically been disenfranchised from the political process.

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Bronx Planting Caps Off a Drive to Add a Million Trees

nytimes.pngBy Lisa Foderaro

In a park named for the poet who wrote the poem “Trees,” New York is planting its one millionth tree on Wednesday, capping a campaign that reflected the city’s determination to be in the vanguard of fighting climate change.

The tree, a lacebark elm that is eight years old, 25 feet tall and 6,500 pounds, was installed on Tuesday at Joyce Kilmer Park in the South Bronx. Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a rare joint appearance, will be there on Wednesday to finish the planting.

The final planting in the campaign begun by Mr. Bloomberg, a political independent, in 2007 punctuates a broad environmental initiative by him in which he worked to create new parkland, make the city more resilient and gird against climate change. Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, built on those efforts with his pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 80 percent by 2050

...“The campaign to plant a million trees has been wildly successful,” said Councilman Mark D. Levine, the chairman of the parks committee. “Now we need to follow it up with a campaign titled ‘Love a Tree,’ where New Yorkers step up to be stewards of trees on their block and the city puts in the resources needed to help these trees thrive in a very harsh urban environment.”

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Op-Ed: How to Fight Homelessness

nytimes.pngBy Council Member Mark Levine & Mary Brosnahan

WITH over 58,000 people in our shelter system every night, and thousands more sleeping on the streets, concern about homelessness in New York City has reached a fever pitch. We must attack this challenge on every front: through construction of more housing with on-site services, expanded federal support for homeless families and improvements in city-run shelters.

But the best solution to homelessness is preventing it before it even occurs.

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Council Mulls Hate Crime Bill

jewishweek.gifBy Amy Clark

The City Council is considering a bill that would require the NYPD to include a hate crimes category in its weekly report on neighborhood crime statistics.

The hate crime category would include (but not be limited to) crimes motivated by hostility towards Jews, blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, people of any other ethnicity or religious group, members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities.

...“We’re already collecting the data on hate crimes,” Levine told The Jewish Week. But currently the NYPD only distributes the data once a year, which Levine said isn’t nearly enough.

“More than any other class of crime, hate crimes often spike due to current events,” he said. “For policy makers and the general public to understand those trends, we need data much more often than once a year.”


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