Council will also strengthen City services for runaway, homeless, and sexually exploited youth

City Hall – Today the City Council will vote on a modified version of the City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability plan. The Council will also vote on two bills related to City services for homeless, runaway, and sexually exploited youth. Additionally, the Council will vote on legislation to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco in sports venues. Finally, the Council will vote on a bill that closes a loophole in the City’s Human Rights Law.

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability

The Council will vote on a series of modifications to the City’s proposals for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing [MIH] and Zoning for Quality and Affordability [ZQA] plans. The Council’s modifications to MIH are centered on providing deeper affordability while retaining the program’s flexibility, tightening regulations to emphasize production of equitable on-site affordable housing, and improving transparency to ensure that the program fulfills its goals. The City Council’s modifications to ZQA centered on ensuring robust public review, narrowing and focusing the proposal to maximize affordable and senior housing development, meeting the parking needs of communities with limited transit access, and protecting the character of our neighborhoods.

The Council has also secured commitments from the administration to support new legislation to combat tenant harassment and displacement, and establish new standards for construction safety and local hiring.

The Council modifications include:
• New and deeper affordability in MIH for more lower-income New Yorkers
• Closing loopholes in MIH and ensuring robust public review
• Support for economic integration.
• Combating displacement and tenant harassment
• Protecting fundamentals of neighborhood context
• Support for local hiring and community development.
• Focusing ZQA on the development of affordable housing & senior affordable housing.
• Modulating parking changes in neighborhoods with the poorest transit access.

“This plan will work for New Yorkers and address the very real concerns that we heard from residents advocacy groups and community boards,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The City Council heard New Yorkers loud and clear in every community board meeting, every rally, and at every town hall. After months of engagement in all five boroughs and across the City, the Council now has a landmark plan that works for the diverse communities of this city. I thank Zoning Subcommittee Chair Donovan Richards and Land Use Chair David Greenfield for their leadership and all the Council Members who contributed to this process.”

“This legislation is an enormous step toward making New York more affordable and more livable for all of its citizens,” said Council Member David Greenfield, Chair of the Committee on Land Use. “The City Council has worked tirelessly and has crafted a plan that is even more ambitious in terms of affordability than was originally envisioned, but which is also responsive to the concerns that were raised in our conversations with constituents, community boards, and advocacy groups over the last several months. I thank my colleagues, particularly Zoning Subcommittee Chair Donovan Richards for his partnership and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for making this the most open and collaborative process that I have been part of in my six year in the City Council.”

“After very productive negotiations, I am confident that we have crafted an affordable housing plan that promotes responsible community development and serves a larger percentage of New Yorkers than the original proposal,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. “Since the current voluntary system is not doing enough to serve New Yorkers earning a wide range of incomes, it is clear that we need a program that mandates affordable housing. We have found that balance of responsible development, while avoiding a program that stifles growth. After working through the Council’s concerns with the de Blasio administration, I am in support of both MIH and ZQA in its newly-crafted form as it is the most aggressive affordable housing policy in the country. I’d like to thank Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, my colleagues in the Council, Raju Mann and the Council’s Land Use staff, and every resident and community organization that came out to our hearings to help us shape a program that factors in the needs and concerns of our diverse city. I look forward to getting to work on all the upcoming neighborhood rezonings that now must feature affordable units for working families and seniors.”

Read the Council’s reports on the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan and Zoning for Quality and Affordability plan at the New York City Council Website.

Services for Runaway, Homeless, or Sexually Exploited Youth

Introduction 554-A, sponsored by Council Member Matthieu Eugene, will establish a Training Coordinator to train agency staff at the Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Homeless Services, and the Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services on how to identify runaway, homeless or sexually exploited youth and connect them with appropriate services.

The Coordinator will be appointed by the Mayor’s Office and will work with these agencies to determine the employees who are in contact with youth and best suited to receive the training. The coordinator will also be responsible for outreach efforts to other entities including, but not limited to, the Department of Education, Police Department, Department of Probation, health clinics, libraries and hospitals.

“As we all know, runaway and homeless youth experience life-threatening situations on our streets. To address this unfortunate reality, I introduced Intro. 554-A, which requires City agencies to properly identify young people who are interacting with them, and send them to places where they can be provided with services that are appropriate to their needs. As the Chairman of the Youth Services Committee, I firmly believe that we as a City should do everything possible to fulfill the needs of our young people, especially those who are the most vulnerable members of our society, and this legislation will have an immediate and positive impact on their lives,” said Council Member Matthieu Eugene.

Local Law 23 of 2013 requires the Department of Youth and Community Development and the Administration of Children’s Services to report information on sexually exploited children. Introduction 993-A sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, will change the date by which reports are due. The reported information will also be placed online and other changes will be made to enhance transparency. The next report would be due to the Council on April 30th, 2016 and then annually no later than April 1st.

“In order to combat the scourge of youth sexual exploitation, we must have a good handle on the facts. It is important that we give our agencies on the front lines adequate time to prepare on this important figure. It is better for us to know the true extent of the problem many youth face, so that we may take the proper steps to fight it,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

Smokeless Tobacco

Introduction 1068-A, sponsored by Council Member Corey Johnson, would prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco in baseball and other sports arenas and recreational areas. It would cover only those arenas and recreational areas that issue tickets. The use of smokeless tobacco by professional athletes, particularly baseball players, sends the wrong message to young people. Partially as a result of this modeled behavior, high school athletes are disproportionately likely to use smokeless tobacco compared to their peers. The use of smokeless tobacco by youth has remained stubbornly high despite steady declines in youth smoking. This bill would go into effect immediately, except for a provision requiring signage indicating that no tobacco use is permitted, which would go into effect in 120 days.

“Today we’re taking tobacco out of baseball in New York City,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “In New York City we’ve seen smoking rates precipitously decline, but chewing tobacco use has remained steady. When athletes who are role models to children are regularly shown on TV using smokeless tobacco, that sends a harmful message. By allowing smokeless tobacco at the ballparks, we are sending mixed signals about the dangers of tobacco use. There may not be many baseball issues where Mets and Yankees fans can agree, but this certainly is one of them.”

Broadening Human Rights Law

Introduction 815-B, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, will broaden or incorporate a right to truthful information for various activities covered by the Human Rights Law. The Human Rights Law already bars real estate brokers and salespeople from lying about the availability of housing, land, or commercial space for a discriminatory reason (such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation), a protection usually called a “right to truthful information.” This bill would extend that right not to be lied to for discriminatory reasons to many other areas of the law, including housing, employment, and access to public accommodations like stores and restaurants.

This protection will apply to everyone, but will be especially useful for organizations that use “testers”- that is, people who pose as apartment seekers or job hunters in order to test whether a particular entity is discriminating.

This bill also would give principals and employers a cause of action when their rights are violated by discrimination against their agents or employees, as long as the discrimination happened during the course of the agent or employee’s work for the principal or employer.

“We are taking two more steps today to make sure New Yorkers are even better protected from discrimination: Establishing a stronger ‘right to truthful information’ and making clear that companies, non-profits, and other entities have recourse when they are discriminated against based on the characteristics of their employees or those acting on their behalf,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “A stronger right to truthful information will be especially valuable to civil rights testing organizations who send out undercover testers, often in matched-pairs, to uncover discrimination. Tester organizations have proven effective in rooting out discrimination that is otherwise hard to prove. Thank you to Council Speaker Mark-Viverito for her support of Intro 815-B and for making clear, both by working to pass a number pieces of legislation updating and expanding our protections, and by supporting real, robust enforcement, that whatever may be happening elsewhere in the country, we will zealously defend the rights of New Yorkers, in the knowledge that our City can only achieve its promise when all of us – regardless of our background – have full and equal ability to achieve our potential.”