Lots of exciting news this morning!
Overall, the budget that the City Council and Mayor agreed to last night is a win for NYC residents and businesses. Over 100 hours of budget hearings revealed much information that helped to shape our final agreement. As a member of the City Council’s Finance Committee and the Budget Negotiating Team, I can honestly say that all 51 members of the Council had input to ensure that New Yorkers in every borough will get the services they need. In addition to major investments in neighborhood police, there is additional funding for mental health services, veterans, and Vision Zero education.
My particular areas of focus were education, tenant protections, seniors, New York City contract human services workers, and support for small businesses.
Education and Youth
- There will be an increase of 80 school crossing guards citywide, and the Upper West Side will gain more crossing guards. Renewed focus on recruitment and retention will happen in discussions over the summer.
- There are unprecedented amounts of funding for our young adults from summer jobs and year-round jobs to support for City University of New York (CUNY) students to keep them in college and help them graduate.
- The additional $39 million for libraries will yield 6-7 day a week service in every borough.
- The free lunch program in middle schools will continue, and there will be an expansion of the “breakfast after the bell” program, so that all elementary schools will offer it by 2018.
- Teachers will receive up to $125 in reimbursement for school supplies that they bring into the classroom. While this is an improvement, it is not enough. We must give teachers all the tools they need to teach well, and I will continue to work to improve this system in the next fiscal year.
- Over $35 million for lawyers, clinics, and advocacy to support tenants who experience harassment by landlords – the largest the City has ever dedicated to this issue.
- Dedicated legal advice for public housing (NYCHA) residents in housing court at 250 Broadway.
- Dedicated team of inspectors to investigate particularly egregious landlords.
Seniors and Safety Net
- Elimination of the wait list for seniors needing home care services.
- Commitment to build 5,000 new units of senior affordable housing over the next five years with dedicated on-site social services.
- Additional funding for the emergency food program and local food banks.
- The largest investment in addressing elder abuse through outreach and social services.
Small Business Support
- Dedicated funds to local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and civic associations. Council members will be able to designate money to support small business in their area.
- Double the investments in worker cooperative support yielding an additional 30-40 new worker-owned businesses throughout the City.
- Increase of the minimum wage of “Human Service” contract workers to $11.50/hour with targeted career ladder support.
- Funding to continue providing local services from small, community non-profits that lost contracts through the citywide process.
The City Council will formally “adopt” the City’s budget at a Stated meeting later this week. At that time, we will have additional information about my dedicated funding for the Upper West Side.
This morning the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to extend the Riverside-West End Historic District. I am happy to announce that LPC has included the P.S. 75 public school building (between 95th and 96th Streets on West End Avenue). This site was excluded in the latest iteration of the proposal and the school site was potentially at risk for development consideration by the Educational Development Fund.
I am deeply disappointed that LPC did not include Broadway as part of this District. However, there was support voiced by some Commissioners to seriously consider a separate Historic District proposal for the Broadway corridor going forward. That is a call to action, so let’s get to work on giving Broadway the preservation status it deserves. While this vote was not everything we were looking for, it does extend the existing historic district to include an additional 344 buildings along and between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive.
This extension spent five years on LPC’s calendar awaiting a vote. I want to thank Erika Peterson and Josette Amato along with the rest of the West End Preservation Society for their leadership in protecting this essential corridor of the Upper West Side.