In 2017, the de Blasio administration announced a five-year “Turning the Tide on Homelessness” plan to convert hundreds of cluster apartments, occupied by homeless families across the city, into permanently affordable units. Earlier this year, the City was able to complete the first phase of that plan by financing not-for-profit developers to acquire 17 buildings, rehabilitate them, and turn them into permanent affordable housing. Now the administration is moving forward with a second phase that will convert 14 more “cluster site” buildings. The first phase created housing for roughly 450 homeless families and the second phase is expected to aid another 200 families.
More than 2,460 residents at the LaGuardia Houses on the LES were affected by the outages Tuesday; photo via Wikimedia
Thousands of public housing residents did not have heat and hot water on Tuesday, making it the second widespread outage in less than two weeks. As first reported by Gothamist, 10,000 New York City Housing Authority tenants across six complexes suffered from the outages this week. And last week, when temperatures dropped below freezing, roughly 23,000 NYCHA residents did not have heat or hot water at some point.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday unveiled its proposed $17 billion 2020 budget and its four-year financial plan as the agency grapples with massive impending debt. With a projected operating deficit of $426 million by 2023, the MTA wants to lay off 2,700 workers and raise fares twice by four percent over the next four years. Despite the impending financial crisis, the agency plans to spend nearly $250 million over the next four years to hire 500 police officers to patrol subway stations.
On Thursday, the New York City Council approved legislation that transfers ownership of Hart Island, the nation’s largest public cemetery where over 1 million people are buried, to the city’s Parks Department. The 101-acre island off the coast of the Bronx contains a potters field that has been the final resting place for destitute New Yorkers as far back as the Civil War. The island is currently operated by the Department of Correction (DOC), with Rikers Island inmates paid $1 an hour to bury bodies there. This week’s vote comes after a years-long fight to end the onerous process required of visitors who wish to pay their respects to loved ones buried there; its intent is to make the island more accessible to the public and improve its dilapidated conditions.
Rendering courtesy of the Department of Design and Construction
The $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), designed to protect a section of Manhattan’s east side from flooding, was approved on Thursday in a full City Council vote. The vote is the final City Council approval of the project, which passed the city’s land use committee earlier this week and is the culmination of a long and at-times controversial process. As 6sqft previously reported, the project was born in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and was designed to flood-proof over two miles of Manhattan’s east side between East 25th Street and Montgomery Street and improve waterfront access to waterfront space. According to the city, the ESCR project would protect over 110,000 New Yorkers.
“Mass surveillance” or massive outreach effort? The verdict seems to still be out on Mayor de Blasio’s new initiative to help solve the homelessness crisis in New York City. In a press release today announcing the new Outreach NYC program, the city says it will “mobilize thousands of frontline City Agency staff to request outreach assistance via 311 when they observe individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness” as a way to help them into shelters. To be exact, the total number of city employees who will receive this training is 18,000. But the Coalition for the Homeless feels that the plan merely implements “mass surveillance of homeless New Yorkers” without making investments in solutions.
Staten Island officials this week said they will push forward plans for the borough to leave New York City, reviving a fight partially won over 25 years ago. As first reported by the Staten Island Advance, Republican Council Members Joe Borelli and Steven Matteo, who represent the borough, plan to introduce two pieces of legislation that would create a committee to determine the logistics and costs of the secession, as well as a commission a study to look at the feasibility of designating county governments within the city. In 1993, Staten Island residents voted to leave the Big Apple, but the measure never went further after failing to pass in Albany.
The New York Times recently told of a pair of visitors from Boston who signed up for a sweet Airbnb deal on a Chelsea pad for $90 a night–and were surprised to have it turn out to be a seventh-floor unit in the neighborhood’s 11-building NYCHA Fulton Houses complex. The would-be guests noticed that “something seemed off,” starting with the roach trap next to the bed. The travelers tipped off the company, who refunded their money, and their story quickly became internet history as yet another way homestay platforms are being taken advantage of and another log on the fire of the debate that rages over what to do about it.
Aerial view of the developer’s planned updates. Credit: Davis Brody Bond
Manhattan Community Board 10 voted Wednesday night against a developer’s plan that would substantially rezone the Lenox Terrace neighborhood in Central Harlem and pave the way for construction of five new 28-story luxury towers and big-box retail stores. The rezoning application, filed by the Olnick Organization, asked the city to rezone Lenox Terrace from its current residential status to the C6-2 designation found in “the central business district and regional commercial centers,” according to the city’s zoning resolution. The community board’s vote sided with the Lenox Terrace Association of Concerned Tenants (LT-ACT), which opposes the rezoning and has demanded the developer withdraw the application.
With rents on the rise and the e-commerce industry showing no signs of slowing, the livelihood of small businesses in New York City remains under threat. Council Member Stephen Levin, who represents parts of Brooklyn, hopes to address the high rate of retail vacancies across the city with legislation to regulate commercial rents, as Gothamist first reported. “It’s a complex problem,” Levin, who will introduce a bill to the City Council next week, told the website. “We think it’s time to introduce this into the conversation.”