Putting my experiences of Life In NYC in a more personal perspective, and checking in with international/national, tech and some other news
Translation from English
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Council Member Mark Levine
From my first day in office Iâ€™ve focused intensely on the goal of bringing more fairness for tenants in New York Cityâ€™s housing court. Â I am happy to say weâ€™ve already made important progress towards that goal--and now weâ€™re taking another big step forward.
Unlike in criminal cases, there is no right to counsel in housing court. Â Tenants without resources must fend for themselves. Today only about a quarter of those facing eviction have the assistance of an attorney--as compared to nearly 100% of landlords.
The resulting unlevel playing field has been disastrous for tenants. In 2015, 21,988 New York City families were evicted. Many thousands more left their homes under duress mid-way through eviction proceedings.
Thatâ€™s why I authored Intro 214-A, which would establish a right to counsel for tenants in housing court.Mayor de Blasio and the City Council have taken the critical step of increasing funding for tenant legal representation more than tenfold--and evictions have dropped 24% as a result. Â But nearly three-quarters of low-income tenants are still left to fend for themselves. Thatâ€™s why we need to declare a right to counsel.
Next week, we will reach another major milestone in our ongoing effort, and I need your support. Â Please join me on Monday, September 26th at 9:30am for a press conference on the steps of City Hall and at 10am for a hearing at the Chambers on Intro 214-A, a local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to providing legal counsel for low-income eligible tenants who are subject to eviction, ejectment or foreclosure proceedings. RSVP now here. Join the broad coalition of leaders and organizations that has coalesced around the movement to expand representation in housing court, as well as the 42 Council Members sponsoring this game-changing legislation, and help us make New York City the first jurisdiction in America to take such historic action.
To make this happen - I need to hear from you! Please RSVP hereÂ and sign up at our Facebook event page here.
I hope to see you there.
Hundreds of Seniors Get Their Polling Site Back
A few years ago, the polling place at Morningside Gardens was removed by the Board of Elections (BOE) due to what was deemed an unsecured handrail. The BOE relocated the polling site to PS 036, which was concerning to many as the new location was quite a distance away and up a steep hill, making voting very difficult for many senior residents. As the Morningside Gardens Houses are home to over 900 residents, and the adjacent Grant Houses are home to thousands more, I felt that it was my responsibility to ensure that polling places are always accessible to all.
With that, I am very happy to announce that together with the residents of the Morningside Gardens Housing Cooperation, my office was able to successfully return the polling place back to its original location. A number of buildings adjacent to Morningside Gardens will also be happy to know that PS 036 is no longer their polling site, with much closer locationshaving been designated by the BOE.
If a polling site is not able to service the residents of the district, then that polling site is not fulfilling its proper purpose, and must be changed. If you feel that your polling site is inaccessible, please contact my office and we will investigate. Â
One More Participatory Budgeting Assembly Left!
On Wednesday, September 14th, I hosted the second of our three Participatory Budgeting assemblies at Bloomingdale Library. Assemblies are where local residents come together to share ideas on how to spend $1,000,000 on community improvement projects funded by my office. Funding has been used on projects such as updating playgrounds, tree planting and bringing new computers into local classroom, among others.
There will be one more assembly for community input at Riverstone Senior Center, located at 99 Fort Washington Avenue, on Wednesday, September 28th at 6:30 p.m. Please join us and make your voice heard on improvements in our neighborhood!
My office, in conjunction with the New York Women's Chamber of Commerce, invites residents to the official launch of the â€œExplore West Harlem Visitor's Guide â€œ on Thursday September 29th from 5:30pm - Â 8:30pm at the Baylander Marine Ship, located on the West Harlem Piers at West 125th Street and 12th Avenue. Featuring a host of locations in Manhattanville, Morningside Heights, and Hamilton Heights, the guide illustrates all that the beautiful and diverse community of West Harlem has to offer from local businesses, attractions, and historic places. We are sure that this guide will entice locals and tourists alike to explore, shop, taste, learn, enjoy and visit all the treasures of Harlem.
Back to School
I was happy to join parents and children recently at PS 192, PS 325 and many more for the first days of school. It was wonderful to meet and distribute bookbags to hundreds of students to ensure that they were well equipped to start the school year. My office has worked tirelessly to secure resources so that our children have every opportunity to grow academically. I am proud to say that my office has secured and invested over one and a half million dollars in funding in Fiscal Year 2017 for schools throughout our district. This funding has gone to much needed updates in technology, libraries, auditoriums and playgrounds, all of which promote a happy and healthy education. Have a wonderful school year!
Housing Connect Workshop
This past Monday, September 12th, over 65 people were in attendance for our New York City Housing Connect workshop. With affordable housing in high demand in our community, I was happy to help residents get a better understanding of the New York City Housing Connect system. Through our workshop, individuals learned to navigate the Housing Connect lottery system, which allows families to apply for affordable apartments in newly constructed buildings which vary in eligibility requirements. Residents at our workshop received one-on-one consultation on creating an account, applying for housing lotteries and checking their application status. I look forward to hosting another housing workshop in the near future to ensure that all who need affordable housing have the tools to attain it.
No Cost Breast Cancer Screenings
Come and receive important breast cancer screening by the American Italian Cancer Foundation (AICF) on Wednesday, October 26th from 10am - 4pm in front of my District Office, located at 500 West 141st Street between Hamilton Place and Amsterdam Avenue. Organized by my office, the AICF mobile care clinic offers no cost mammograms and clinical breast exams to residents aged 40 and older. These examinations are critical to detecting and treating breast cancer at an early stage and I am glad that together we can make sure that they are available to women in our community regardless of economic or insurance status. To RSVP, please call Manuel Belliard at (212) 928-6814.
The New York City Department of Finance (DOF) is offering penalty and interest forgiveness through â€œForgiving Fines: New York City Amnesty Programâ€. The one-time 90-day period program by the DOF forgives unpaid penalties and interest on violations received by individuals and business owners from the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings and other City agencies that are currently in judgement. To find out if you qualify, please visit nyc.gov/forgivingfines. Â
West 131st Street Closure Forum
The New York City Department of Transportation in collaboration with Columbia University will be holding a public forum to present information on Tuesday, September 27th about the temporary street closure of West 131st Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue. Columbia University, the developer of the Manhattanville Campus in West Harlem, has applied for temporary closure of these streets to facilitate construction of below-grade facilities which require construction of the new street structure. The affected street segment will close in September 2016 and is now proposed for closure through Fall 2018. Members of the public and affected Community Board are invited to attend and will be given the opportunity to make comments.
The Public Forum will be held at Columbia Universityâ€™s Studebaker Building, located at 615 West 131st Street Room 207 from 4 â€“ 6 pm.
Bloomingdale Family Day
Play, eat and relax on a car-free Amsterdam Avenue (between 106th to 110th Streets) on Sunday, September 25th from 11am â€“ 5pm. Sponsored by the Columbus-Amsterdam BID, the event will feature live music, dance performances by local groups, arts & crafts, face-painting, bike lessons and more. A treat for many will be its â€œFlavors of the World: Taste of Bloomingdaleâ€ event with local restaurants sharing bites of their sweet and savory local fare with everyone in attendance. For more information, please visitÂ www.columbusamsterdambid.org.
National Public Lands Day
Help beautify our local parks on Saturday, September 24th from 10am â€“ 1pm for the 23rd Annual National Public Lands Day, the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Bring your family, friends, students or coworkers out to Riverside Park North at West 148th Street for vital cleanup efforts. As the major entryway to the park, planting, weeding, trash pickup and other beautification efforts help make this highly used area safe for its users.
Early Education and Child Care Fair
The Columbia University's Office of Government and Community Affairs and Office of Work/Life will host its Annual Early Education and Child Care Fair on Tuesday, September 20th at Alfred Lerner Hall Auditorium, 2920 Broadway (between West 114th and West 115th Streets) from 4 â€“ 6pm.Â For more information, please contact Carolyn Singer at (212) 851-9184 or email Carolyn.Singer@columbia.edu.