Councilman Levine Announces New District Office Service to Help Seniors, Disabled New Yorkers Stay in their Homes

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Harlem, NY -- Last week Councilman Mark Levine hosted a ‘Rent Freeze Kickoff’ event at the Hamilton Grange Senior Center with the NYC Public Engagement Unit’s Rent Freeze team to raise awareness about the City’s Rent Freeze Program, also known as the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE). During the event, which brought in over 40 seniors from the neighborhood, he announced a new service being offered by his District Office (500 West 141st Street) that will make applying for these programs quicker and easier.

Though Councilman Levine’s office always offers assistance in applying for SCRIE/DRIE during regular business hours, as of May 25th, seniors and disabled members of the community will now be able to have their applications processed instantly on Thursdays.

“Ensuring that New Yorkers are able to stay in their homes has been a top priority of mine since I took office,” said Councilman Mark Levine. “The New York City Rent Freeze program has been a runaway success at accomplishing this goal for the most vulnerable populations in our community—seniors and the disabled, so I’m excited that my office will now be making it even easier to get enrolled. I strongly urge everyone in our community to help spread the word, and if you think you’re eligible, don’t hesitate to call my office for assistance in applying.”

The cost savings of the NYC Rent Freeze program increase over time and have the potential to save some New Yorkers thousands of dollars over a period of just two years. There are an estimated 151,366 eligible households for SCRIE or DRIE, however only 39% of eligible New Yorkers are actually enrolled.

The NYC Rent Freeze Program (which includes SCRIE and DRIE), helps eligible seniors and disabled persons, many of them living on fixed incomes, stay in their homes by freezing their rent. Under this program, a person’s rent is frozen at the amount they pay when you enter into the program, and the City pays their landlord the difference between the prior legal rent and increases to your rent through a property tax credit.

Qualifying tenants must:

  • Live in a rent regulated apartment; and
  • Be 62 years of age OR have a disability; and
  • Have a household income of $50,000 or less; and
  • Spend more than one ­third of your monthly household income on rent

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Council Member Levine Leads City Council to Approve Morningside Heights Historic District

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov\

Morningside Heights, NY -- Following a decades long fight to designate the Morningside Heights Historic District (MHHD), today New York City Council Member Mark Levine declared victory for the community as he voted to approve the designation in the City Council with the unanimous support of his colleagues.

Earlier this year, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved the 115-building MHHD in Manhattan, citing their architectural, historic and cultural significance. In conjunction with the designation, the agency launched a 3-D webmap providing users with detailed information about the buildings comprising New York City’s newest landmark.

The new district consists of 115 residential and institutional buildings in an area stretching from West 109th Street to West 119th Street, Riverside Drive to Amsterdam Avenue. Like much of the Upper West Side, the earliest residential development in the proposed district includes private town houses such as 625-627 West 113th Street (1897-98) and speculative rows such as 604-616 West 114th Street (1896) that were built in the 1890s. However, it was the arrival of the IRT subway in 1904 with stops at 110th and 116th Streets that spurred development and rapidly transformed the area into a neighborhood of apartment buildings marketed to the middle class.

“More so than almost any other neighborhood in New York City, Morningside Heights is defined by its history,” said Council Member Mark Levinewho represents the area. “We are incredibly lucky that its unique architectural identity has survived remarkably intact into the 21st Century. As part of Morningside Heights’ new historic landmark designation, over 115 historic buildings essential to the identity and heritage of our community will now be preserved for decades to come. I am incredibly grateful to have worked with the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, and the countless residents who overwhelmingly supported this proposal, to shepherd this designation through the City Council.”

“If you ask most residents if Morningside Heights should be a Historic District, they would probably tell you that we already have one! At long last they will be correct,” said Laura Friedman, President of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee. “We thank Council Member Levine for his invaluable leadership in bringing a Historic District to Morningside Heights, and look forward to working with him in the second phase of this important project. Our community, in all its historic splendor, will finally achieve the recognition it deserves.”

On December 6th, 2016, Council Member Levine offered testimony in support of the MHHD before the LPC, which can be read in full here.

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Council Member Levine’s 4th Annual Health Fair Draws in Nearly 800 Upper Manhattan Community Members

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Monday, May 22, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Harlem, NY -- In partnership with dozens of local community organizations, health advocacy groups and city agencies,  City Council Member Mark Levine hosted his office’s 4th Annual Community Health Fair this past Saturday in Riverbank State Park. The annual event drew in its largest crowd ever with nearly 800 community members taking part.

During the event, Council Member Levine gave away over 673 bike helmets for 304 Children and 369 adults with the Department of Transportation to help promote the City’s Vision Zero initiative.

Additionally, nearly 100 families received free smoke detectors courtesy of the FDNY, and dozens of free health exams were conducted through partnerships with the New York Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network, the American-Italian Cancer Foundation, WellCare and Mount Sinai Hospital.

Performances and demonstrations were also conducted by Urban Yoga, Dances for a Variable Population and local cultural organization Mano Mano.

“Every year I look forward to hosting this event for the community,” said Council Member Levine. “The importance of making informed choices about your health can’t be overstated, and I am so proud that we were able to reach out to so many organizations and members of the community to give away free fitted bike helmets, access to free health exams, and to expose them to the dozens of health advocacy organizations who are rooted right here in our community.”

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Council Members Propose New Incentive for New Yorkers to Drive Electric

 **FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- To incentivize New Yorkers to drive fully electric vehicles, City Council Members Mark Levine and Costa Constantinides have introduced a bill that would allow the owners of such cars to park at Muni-Meters for free on Saturdays.

As New York City seeks to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gasses 80% by 2050, this new legislation is designed to increase the number of New Yorkers using fully electric vehicles (EVs) by creating an additional benefit for owners. The New York Metro Area currently ranks third nationally in terms of the number of EVs in operation, lagging only behind Los Angeles and the Bay Area. However, between 2011 and 2015 only 2,230 EVs have been registered in New York City, showing substantial room for growth in a City with over 1.4 million cars.

Though there are currently numerous benefits for those seeking to drive electric vehicles including federal and state tax rebates, access to HOV lanes regardless of vehicle occupants, and discounts for City and state tolls, research shows that increasing EV adoption rates relies on creating incentives. Norway for example, which leads the world in EV adoption, offers up to $18,000 in incentives to purchase one.

The proposed law has the potential to add a significant financial incentive for New York drivers. For a driver in Manhattan, where the majority of the City’s public charging stations are available, this benefit could save an EV driver up to over $2,184 in parking costs annually. The average EV driver from the outer boroughs could save up to $624 annually.

Anticipating the program’s success in growing the number of EVs in New York City, the proposed law will expire after a period of three years.

Council Member Mark Levine said, “Creating new incentives for people to buy electric cars is imperative if we’re going to slash New York City’s carbon footprint 80% by 2050. This benefit has the potential to yield meaningful savings for those who drive electric cars--up to $2,184 annually--at minimal cost to the City, which took in over $545 million in parking fines last year alone. We’ve already made incredible strides towards encouraging New Yorkers to drive electric vehicles, but we need to keep doing more. New York should be leading the charge when it comes to electric vehicle use, and I am proud to work with my colleague, Council Member Constantinides, to make this benefit a reality.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “Over 20% of New York City’s energy usage – or around 9.1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions – comes from our transportation sector.If we are going to reach our city’s goal of reducing greenhouses gases 80% by 2050, we must ensure that we’re looking at innovative solutions to reduce fossil fuel usage. That’s why I’m proud to support this bill to exempt electric vehicles from Muni-Meter requirements on Saturdays, as it promotes sustainability without interfering in the total number of available parking spaces. I want to thank Council Member Levine for all the hard work he’s done on this issue.”

"If we are to meet our ambitious goals for getting 700,000 zero emissions vehicles on the road in New York State by 2025 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, we need a diverse array of incentives that encourage consumers to make the switch. We are pleased to see Council Member Levine and Council Member Constantinides proposing such a financial benefit in the form of free parking to boost electric vehicle adoption," said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

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Council Introduces Legislation to Protect Tenants From Harassment

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** April 5, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- To address the prevailing issue of tenant harassment in New York, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Council Members Mark Levine, Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torres, Helen Rosenthal and Jumaane Williams have introduced a package of legislation that will make it easier for tenants to win and pursue harassment cases against abusive landlords.

Under current law, tenants in housing court are obligated to prove that an owner deliberately harassed them with the intent of causing said tenant to leave their dwelling. In addition to expanding the definition of what constitutes harassment, the proposed package would strengthen current protections by creating a rebuttable presumption for tenant harassment claims, meaning tenants would no longer be required to prove an owner’s intent in court.

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City Council’s Budget Response Steps Up to Invest in Parks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 04, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- Following the release of the City Council’s Response to Mayor de Blasio’s FY18 Preliminary Budget, Council Member Mark Levine praised the response for laying out a roadmap to bold, smart investment in the City’s parks system.

“This document is an unmistakably strong statement by the New York City Council that we believe the City needs to up its investment in parks,” said Council Member Levine, Chair of the Parks Committee. “At a time of record parks use - over 100 million last year alone - we are unequivocally demonstrating that the Council sees the parks system as an essential part of the New York’s infrastructure. This budget response recognizes that a thriving parks system isn’t just a luxury in a dense city of 8.5 million people, it’s essential to livability.”

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Council Member Levine Praises NYS Supreme Court Ruling Vindicating Rent Freeze


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
: March 28, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- Following the decision made by the New York State Supreme Court today regarding the Rent Stabilization Association’s lawsuit against the Rent Guidelines Board, New York City Council Member Mark Levine released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is a monumental victory in our continued pursuit of justice for 2.5 million rent regulated tenants in New York City. For years now, tenants in our city have faced record levels of displacement, an epidemic of evictions, and rents that go nowhere but up. But in that landscape of pain, the Rent Guidelines Board’s rent freeze was the one glimmer of good news, and this court ruling confirms what we all already knew - that tenants in this city deserve every break they can get. However, as the Board meets this Thursday, our work is not done yet. With a third of tenants paying more than half of their income towards rent, we need to fight for a rent rollback to give tenants a measure of relief from the damage done by decades of unjustified past increases.”

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Protecting New York's Communities from Hate Crimes


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To Combat the Dramatic Rise in Hate Crimes, City Council Members to Call for $50 Million Security Grant Program to Protect Jewish, Muslim, and Other Community Institutions

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

March 9, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov (Levine)
                Josh Levitt // 845-641-3654 // cd24levitt@gmail.com (Lancman)

City Hall, NY -- In response to the alarming rise in hate crimes in New York City, today members of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus and a diverse coalition of Council Members, city leaders, and nonprofit institutions called on the City to fund a $50 million security grant program to increase safety at community centers and cultural institutions at risk of being targeted in such attacks.

The coalition of Council Members is responding to the dramatic increase in hate crimes and attacks in NYC, which have risen at a rate outpacing the national trend, even conflicting with the City’s overall 2.8% decrease in crime this year. In fact, hate crimes in NYC are up by over 54% compared to this point in 2016. This increase has been driven in particular by a more than doubling of anti-Semitic hate crimes, including bomb threats against a variety of Jewish community institutions and advocacy organizations.

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The federal government and New York State both fund programs designed to improve safety and security at schools and daycare centers at risk of being targeted in hate crime attacks. Council Members called for the creation of a companion City-funded security grant program to assist community centers and cultural institutions that are considered at risk of being targeted because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. The grant funds would help local institutions pay for security upgrades to their facilities and/or cover the costs of increased and enhanced security staffing.

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City Council Passes CM Levine Car Sharing Bill

Intro 873, sponsored by CM Levine, requires the DOT to establish a pilot program providing car-sharing organizations with dedicated street parking

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- Today, the City Council voted to pass legislation prime sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, requiring the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish a pilot program providing car-sharing organizations with dedicated parking on city streets and in city-owned parking facilities (Intro 873). The legislation has 31 Council sponsors and has been endorsed by the New York League of Conservation Voters.

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Mayor’s Preliminary Budget Shows Loss of 150 Gardeners and Maintenance Workers

Parks Chair Levine Decries Return of the Budget Dance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2017

CONTACT: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

CITY HALL, NEW YORK – Following the release of Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary budget for FY 18, Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Parks Committee, decried the return of the “budget dance” related to funding of 150 critical parks workers.  These workers perform important gardening and maintenance functions all over the city, including in parks which are part of the mayor’s signature Community Parks Initiative.  In each of the past two years the City Council has had to fund these staff lines after the mayor failed to do so in his preliminary and executive budgets.

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