Today, the New York City Council will vote on legislation establishing a Division of Paid Care within the City’s Office of Labor Standards to support paid care workers

Today, the New York City Council will vote on legislation establishing a Division of Paid Care within the City’s Office of Labor Standards to support paid care workers. The Council will also vote on legislation requiring the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) to survey unpaid caregivers and service providers to assess existing services and to develop and release a comprehensive citywide plan in conjunction with other city agencies and community partners to address the needs of unpaid caregivers. Additionally, the Council will vote on legislation to establish a Municipal Division of Transitional Services to assist individuals reentering the community after a period of incarceration.   The Council will next vote on legislation to create neighborhood support teams responsible for addressing quality of life concerns in communities with such needs. The Council will also vote on a package of legislation establishing consumer protection outreach and education programs that respond to certain issues experienced by women, immigrants, and seniors. Furthermore, the Council will vote on legislation re-establishing the Waterfront Management Advisory Board.  Finally, the Council will vote on legislation banning fracking waste.

Establishing a Division of Paid care and addressing the needs of caregivers

The Council will vote on a package of legislation to support the city’s caregivers. First proposed in the Speaker’s 2016 State of the City address, this legislation will connect both workers in the caregiver industry and unpaid family and friend caregivers with the support they need to provide the best care for our seniors, children living with grandparents, and adults with disabilities.

Introduction 1081-A, sponsored by Council Members Margaret Chin, Debi Rose, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would initially require DFTA to develop and conduct a survey of unpaid caregivers and service providers to assess existing unpaid caregiver services and to identify the needs of unpaid caregivers.

According to the DFTA, approximately 1.3 million individuals in New York City serve as unpaid caregivers for family, friends, or other loved ones, although this number is likely much higher. These caregivers include those providing care to individuals 60 and older, care to individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, grandparents caring for grandchildren, and care to adults with disabilities. Despite the essential services unpaid caregivers provide, many struggle to balance the demands of providing care with their own needs.

This bill would require DFTA to deliver to the Mayor and Speaker a comprehensive plan, incorporating the findings of the survey, with recommendations to address the needs of New York City’s unpaid caregivers by August 30, 2017. In the development of the plan, DFTA would be required to consult with the Human Resources Administration, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and other agencies, as well as unpaid caregivers, academic experts in caregiver issues, service providers, and advocates for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities.

“With this bill, we are sending the estimated 1.3 million unpaid caregivers in New York City an important message: ‘We’ve got your back,'” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging. “For too long, these caregivers have performed important tasks for people with Alzheimer’s, with disabilities, and with other care-intensive medical conditions without adequate support. This legislation will require our City to survey these unpaid caregivers in order to formulate a plan to prop up these unsung heroes of our healthcare system — many of whom are women who struggle to manage work and family responsibilities. I want to thank the Speaker for her vision and leadership in advocating for our seniors, as well as Council Member Rose for partnering with me on this important legislation.”

“We recognize that more and more New Yorkers are caring for children and elderly parents while juggling other family and professional responsibilities,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “With the population of disabled, elderly adults projected to grow significantly in the next 20 years, this bill proactively requires the city to develop a comprehensive plan to help address the needs of the tens of thousands of unpaid, informal caregivers in New York City. I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilmember Margaret Chin for their collaboration on this important issue, and I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this bill today.”

Int. No. 1084-A, sponsored by Council Member Andrew Cohen and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would establish a new Division of Paid Care within the City’s Office of Labor Standards to support paid care workers.

By 2030, more than 1.8 million people in New York City will be aged 60 or older. Paid homecare workers enable seniors to continue to live independently in their homes and communities. Homecare workers, however, are undervalued and underpaid. One in seven low-wage workers in the City is a homecare worker. Homecare workers are overwhelmingly female and of color, and a significant portion of the population is undocumented. They labor within a federal and state regulatory landscape so complex that it is difficult to learn about, let alone enforce, their rights. Caregivers who provide paid in-home care for children—childcare workers—face many of the same labor violations and hardships as homecare workers, including pay below the minimum wage, inadequate benefits, and a lack of control over working conditions.

“More than 1.3 million New Yorkers serve as unpaid caregivers for family, friends and loved ones,” saidSpeaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Our legislation will help support New York City’s caregivers by requiring the Department for Aging to better assess and address the needs of unpaid caregivers and I thank Council Member Chin and Council Member Rose for their work on this important legislation.”

The Division would conduct campaigns and clinics to inform paid care workers of their rights and their eligibility for benefits. The Division also would engage in research on the paid care industry; coordinate with key stakeholders; and develop related policies and programs. Further, an Advocate in the Division would develop an intake and  referral system for paid care workers to submit complaints regarding potential labor and employment law violations and would notify appropriate agencies about potential systemic legal violations.

Establishing a Municipal Division of Transitional Services

Introduction 1150-A, sponsored by Council Member Corey Johnson and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would establish a Municipal Division of Transitional Services. This legislation was proposed in the Speaker’s 2016 State of the Address as part of the Council’s efforts to bring more justice and equality to public safety and criminal justice in New York City.

“This legislation is going to make our City a safer and more compassionate place,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “By improving social and health services for individuals recently released from our correctional system, we can help break the cycle of incarceration. When our City makes a positive impact on the lives of these individuals, it has the power to help lift up entire communities and benefit all New Yorkers. I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has been a tireless leader on this front, as well as my colleagues in the City Council for overwhelmingly supporting this important legislation.”

The majority of individuals released from City jails leave without a discharge plan or access to services that would assist them to reenter into the community after a period of incarceration.

The Division would be headed by a Coordinator charged with creating a coordinated system of reentry services including access to housing, job training, and public benefits.  The bill requires these services to be provided in areas where a substantial number of people in need of reentry services reside.  The Division would contract with reentry service providers and review budget requests of all agencies related to reentry programming.  In addition, the bill requires the Division to conduct outreach and education on the availability of reentry services.

Neighborhood Support Teams

Introduction 1135-A, sponsored by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would establish neighborhood support teams. First proposed in  Speaker Mark-Viverito’s 2016 State of the City address, these teams would be overseen by a coordinating agency designated by the Mayor, and would be responsible for addressing quality of life concerns in communities.

“Over two years ago, I’ve held community stakeholder meetings to address quality of life issues in my neighborhood along with leading city agencies on a walk through to give them a first-hand look of the issues that were plaguing our community,” said Speaker Mark-Viverito. “By focusing at a local level, we can begin to address the systemic issues that plague neighborhoods and start to actually fix them.

The coordinating agency would review requests from Council Members, community boards, business improvement districts, and any other sources determined by the agency, and develop a priority list of no less than three areas, no larger than a community district, that the agency deems will benefit from inter-agency collaboration to address and improve quality of life conditions. For the selected areas, the bill would require the agency to develop and execute plans to address the issues, including through visits to the areas and community meetings.

Consumer protection for women, immigrants, and seniors

The Council will also vote on a package of legislation that was proposed during the Speaker’s 2016 State of the City address to establish consumer protection outreach and education programs that respond to the particular needs and experiences of certain communities, specifically women, immigrants, and seniors.

Introduction 1085-A, sponsored by Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Rafael Espinal, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would require the Department of Consumer Affairs to establish and implement an outreach and education program on consumer protection issues that uniquely affect women. The program would be developed in consultation with the Commission on Gender Equity, the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and other city agencies as appropriate. The program would provide information on issues such as short- and long- term financial planning, navigation of public benefits programs, the prevalence of gender-based pricing and deceptive business practices and predatory consumer and financial products.

“The City of New York is home to thousands of domestic violence (DV) survivors, many of whom are unknown and their stories untold, fearing the stigma that they can not step into the light because of financial dependency from their abuser. Supported by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment, Intro 1085 will provide women in the city an opportunity to take advantage of valuable resources, through increased awareness, outreach and financial literacy workshops that address some of the unique challenges faced by women, DV survivors and immigrants. While money does not equate independence, it surely can assist in ones journey to becoming a confident and whole person again. Thank you to my co-primes on this bill, Council Member Rafael Espinal and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for your vision and support,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.

Introduction 1086-A, sponsored by Council Members Chaim Deutsch, Rafael Espinal, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would require the Department of Consumer Affairs to establish and implement an outreach and education program on consumer protection issues that affect seniors. The outreach and education program would be developed in consultation with the Department for the Aging and would provide information on consumer protection issues that uniquely affect individuals ages 60 and older, including: (i) telemarketing and internet fraud; (ii) social security, medicare and healthcare fraud; (iii) reverse mortgage products; and (iv) investment schemes.

“Scams plague one in every five seniors, who are often targeted because of qualities that make them more vulnerable to those looking to cause harm for personal gain,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch. “The outreach that will be generated because of the passage of this bill is a key tool in the fight to protect our elderly. I am really grateful for the support of NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee Councilman Rafael Espinal, and all of my colleagues who voted in favor of this legislation.”

Introduction 1087-A,  sponsored by Council Member Rafael Espinal and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would require the Department of Consumer Affairs to establish and implement an outreach and education program on consumer protection issues that affect immigrants. The outreach and education program would be developed in consultation with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and would provide information on consumer protection issues that affect immigrants, such as the risks associated with check cashing and money transfer businesses,   immigration assistance services, tax preparers and others, as well as guidance on local institutions offering preferred products and services to immigrants and immigrant communities, such as community based organizations and credit unions.

“In a city as diverse as ours, we can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to consumer protection programs.Introduction 1085-A, 1086-A, 1087-A  will require the Department of Consumer Affairs to implement outreach and education programs designed specifically for the groups most often targeted by unscrupulous actors: women, seniors, and immigrants. I want to thank the Speaker for her leadership and look forward to working with DCA on this important issue,” stated Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr.

Re-establishing the Waterfront Management Advisory Board

Introduction 507-A, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would re-establish the Waterfront Management Advisory Board (WMAB) to advise the City on issues related to the waterfront. The new WMAB would add the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation and the Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development to the ex officio members, and increase the number of Council Members on the board to two members. It would expand the number of public appointees of the board to 18, with the Mayor and Speaker of the Council each selecting 9 of those appointees.  It would also permit representatives from federal, state and bi-state agencies and authorities to participate in board meetings in non-voting capacities and allow the WMAB to provide recommendations to the Department of City Planning in the drafting of the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan every 10 years.

“Climate change with rising sea levels will have a direct impact on New York City’s waterfronts and with millions of New Yorkers living along 520 miles of shoreline, a Waterfront Management Advisory Board is more important than ever,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who represents Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side along the East River. “The Waterfront Management Advisory Board can not only plan ahead, but keep our city on track between ten year plans, so that our waterfront is resilient and ready for climate change. Thank you to Speaker Mark-Virerito for her support of this legislation and to Waterfronts Committee Chair Debi Rosefor her leadership on this bill to reconstitute the Waterfront Management Advisory Board for the future.”

Banning Fracking Waste

Introduction 446-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would protect the City’s water by prohibiting the discharge of any oil or natural gas waste to any surface water bodies located within the City or to any wastewater treatment plant located within the City, and would prohibit application of any oil or natural gas waste upon any road, real property or landfill located within the city. The bill also requires all city bids or contracts for the construction or maintenance of a city road to include a provision stating that no materials containing or manufactured from oil or natural gas waste shall be utilized in providing the service. Penalties for violation of this section are between $2,500 and $25,000.

“The New York City Council breaks new ground today by passing what we believe to be the first comprehensive municipal ban on the discharge or use of waste products associated with all methods of oil and gas extraction,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “This crucial bill will protect New York City communities from toxic pollutants and protect our water—and I hope that other legislative bodies will follow suit. I have been honored to work with Chairman Constantinides and a team of dedicated advocates to build momentum around this bill and I thank them for their steadfast commitment to protecting our environment.”