Mayor Bill de Blasio

Policy

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces findings on tenant representation last August. Image: nyc.gov

6sqft reported last year on a new bill that would guarantee a lawyer for all low-income residents facing eviction. On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed that bill into law, guaranteeing legal representation for low-income residents who face eviction (h/t Citylab). The legislation is the nation’s first that provides right to counsel in housing matters. The new law is the result of efforts of activists and organizers that began in 2014.

Find out more about the new law

Policy, Transportation

NYC subway, subway platform

After months of what has seemed like rapidly accelerating deterioration, scary incidents, complaints and finger-pointing, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority revealed on Tuesday an $800 million emergency rescue plan for the city’s beleaguered subway system, the New York Times reports. Some key solutions identified for the initial phase of the plan, called “MTA Moving Forward,” included taking out seats on some cars–Boston’s transit system has done this in some cases to make room for more commuters. When asked when riders would begin to see the benefits of the plan, MTA chairman Joseph Lhota said that key parts of the plan’s initial phase would be implemented “relatively quickly.”

A hefty tab and a bitter feud

City Living, Transportation, Urban Design

east river greenway

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that the city would develop the gap in the Manhattan waterfront greenway that runs between 41st and 61st Streets along the East River. The city has pledged to spend $100 million on closing the largest unfinished space in the 32-mile loop, including a new esplanade, with an additional $5 million to be spent on filling smaller gaps in East Harlem and Inwood. “The Hudson River Greenway has vastly improved quality of life on the West Side, and we want families in every corner in the borough to have that same access to bike, walk and play along the water,” said the mayor in a statement. “This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality.”

Find out more

Transportation

Queensboro Bridge, 59th street bridge, new york bridges

In what will be the largest capital investment in the East River bridges since 2010, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2017 Capital Commitment Plan has allocated $392 million for the project, reports DNAInfo. The Queensboro Bridge–the busiest of the East River crossings–will get $110 million, the biggest chunk of the project’s funding according to a report from the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO). The bridge received only a “fair” grade in a recent DOT rating system (the Brooklyn Bridge got the lowest rating). The repairs will happen over the next three years.

Find out more

affordable housing, Policy

The exact details of the mayor’s proposal, to be announced Tuesday afternoon, are not yet known, but the focus will undoubtedly be the mayor’s ongoing battle to significantly beef up the city’s overwhelmed shelter system, according to the New York Times. New York–along with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C,– has experienced an increase in homelessness in recent years, though the number of homeless people has declined nationwide. The city’s shelter infrastructure is over capacity to the point that, as 6sqft previously reported, around $400,000 a day is being spent on using hotel rooms as temporary shelters. Homelessness is one of the mayor’s thorniest problems; the proposal will reportedly increase the number of shelters throughout the city by nearly one third.

Why the opposition?

Midtown West, Policy

Image via Wiki Commons

The de Blasio administration pulled the plug Monday on proposed legislation that would give the city a 20 percent cut of any air rights sales in midtown Manhattan’s Theater District, according to Crain’s. The reversal followed disputes with City Council members over a key element–a floor price for the sales. The proposal had been part of a long effort to get theater owners to up the amount they contribute to a fund used for venue maintenance and support for smaller theaters. There is now speculation as to whether the move could cast a shadow on the administration’s Midtown East rezoning plan, which is a similar policy initiative.

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affordable housing, Policy

A study released Thursday by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) suggests that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiatives to ease the city’s housing woes should include a program that would convert the 38,000 or so basements in the city’s single-family homes without having to make big changes to city or state laws. As Crain’s reports, the study is part of the CHPC’s Making Room initiative that explores how alternative housing typologies can better meet the needs of New York’s diverse households. The council introduced the study by stating their belief that “based on the findings we present here, that a basement conversion program in New York City would be an efficient and exciting way to add residential density and expand housing choices in our expensive and highly constrained urban market.”

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City Living

Put your favorite local, non-franchise businesses “on the map” and help them apply for a share of a $1.8 million grant. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Small Business Services have announced the launch of “NYC Love Your Local,” a new opportunity to celebrate and promote the city’s many independent small businesses. The program allows New Yorkers to add their favorite mom-and-pop shops to an interactive map so they can get funding and access to expert advice.

Find out how to add your local

City Living, Policy

In the state’s capital on Monday, Mayor de Blasio spoke in defense of various policies including NYC’s “sanctuary city” designation, WNYC reports. The mayor was in Albany to ask state legislators for funding for items like education, public health and affordable housing. In the face of criticism from Staten Island assembly members Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina (both Republicans), who questioned the mayor’s pledge not to aid in the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants by the new administration, de Blasio said he had discussed the issue with then-President-elect Trump, and would continue to resist mass deportation for “moral, economic and security reasons.” Though Castorina said de Blasio would be risking the loss of billions of dollars in federal aid, the mayor said the money withheld by the federal government would only be $100-150 million and that his legal advisers say the city could fight back in court.

Sanctuary cities are safer

Policy

New bill would guarantee a lawyer for tenants facing eviction

By Michelle Cohen, Tue, September 27, 2016

The City Council held a hearing Monday on a bill that would guarantee lawyers for all low-income residents facing eviction. The New York Times reports that the bill, which has the support of an overwhelming majority of council members, would make New York City the country’s first jurisdiction to do so. Currently more than 70 percent of low-income tenants in New York City head to Housing Court without legal representation according to a recent report by the city’s Office of Civil Justice, while landlords are almost always represented by lawyers. This leaves tenants at a disadvantage from the start, say tenant advocates. Last year nearly 22,000 tenants were evicted from their homes across the city.

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