Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Delivers 2017 State of the City Address

Pledging to Protect New York City’s Core Values of Diversity, Inclusion, Fairness and Equality, Speaker Mark-Viverito Lays Out her Vision to Lift Up All New Yorkers, Particularly the Most Vulnerable

 

Speaker Mark-Viverito: “We must make sure all New Yorkers are on equal footing–and that we are providing a pathway for all New Yorkers to be heard and to succeed. This is who we are.”

 

Brooklyn, New York – New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito delivered her third and final State of the City address, “Who We Are,” where she outlined a detailed agenda to empower communities through justice, access and fairness. From young women, children and small-business owners, to tenants, seniors and immigrants–Mark-Viverito spoke directly to New Yorkers and reaffirmed her commitment to protecting and supporting them. Unveiling innovative policies to strengthen our communities, critical reforms to our criminal justice system and a sweeping package of immigration reform legislation, the Council is leading the way towards greater justice and equality.

 

Mark-Viverito: “Insteading of succumbing to the current forces attempting to silence the most vulnerable and diminish America’s core values, we are laying out an ambitious agenda that empowers all of our communities. New York City finds strength in diversity, innovation in inclusion and justice in fairness–that’s how we overcome the odds and keep moving forward. Because that’s who we are.”

 

In the Speaker’s State of the City address, which was simultaneously broadcast in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and French, Speaker Mark-Viverito outlined a bold vision for New York City, including proposals to:

 

1.      Protect Our Immigrants

2.      Double Down on Criminal Justice Reform

3.      Support Women’s Reproductive Rights

4.      Improve Educational Outcomes for All Students

5.      Strive for Racial and Gender Equity in New York City

6.      Address Food Insecurities for All New Yorkers

7.      Strengthen Small Businesses through Innovative Reforms

8.      Protect and Support Tenant Rights

9.      Invest in Our Public Housing Residents

10.  Collaborate with Municipal Legislative Leaders Across the Country

 

PROTECT OUR IMMIGRANTS

 

We will not abandon our immigrant communities. They are members of our New York family. And we will continue to fight for their rights, safety and security.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

The City Council has been a national leader in establishing policy and enacting laws designed to protect our immigrant community from unfair and harsh enforcement of broken immigration laws. Our leadership on this issue stems not just from the moral imperative to protect vulnerable New Yorkers, but also from the role that our immigrant community plays in the City’s continued vitality and safety. Roughly 60 percent of New Yorkers are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. For the City to thrive it is imperative that immigrants, especially those who are undocumented, remain active and positive participants in City life. This is particularly important in the context of public safety, as studies show that communities are safer when they trust their government and law enforcement agencies. Indeed, a recent study by the Center for American Progress found that cities with policies that encourage civic participation of immigrants are safer and more prosperous than those that do not. The City has therefore worked hard to build trust between our immigrant communities and the Police Department that protects them. In the face of recent presidential actions regarding immigration which would undermine the trust we have built, it is imperative that we continue to acknowledge the role immigrants play in the successes of our City and to strengthen policies that support our values of fairness and the rule of law.

 

Accordingly, over the past several years the Council has passed legislation that significantly limits the circumstances under which the NYPD and Department of Correction may cooperate with federal immigration enforcement activities. Pursuant to these laws, the City does not cooperate with federal officials in apprehending individuals who pose no threat to public safety. Further, since immigrants facing deportation are ten times more likely to win their deportation case if they have legal representation, the City Council has funded multiple ground-breaking initiatives, such as the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), to provide immigrant New Yorkers with legal representation in deportation proceedings. The Council has also created IDNYC, a government-issued identification card that all New Yorkers—regardless of immigration status—are eligible for.

 

For 2017, the Council is proposing a comprehensive package of legislation that will further strengthen our commitment to keeping the City’s immigrants and all New Yorkers safe, secure and prosperous.

 

Enhancing the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

 

Expand MOIA’s Role. Addressing the needs of immigrant New Yorkers has never been more critical.  The rapid rate at which federal immigration policies are likely to change creates a need for additional support for immigrant New Yorkers, as well as the agencies that serve them.

 

The Council will expand the role of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), by enhancing its capabilities and the scope of its mission. MOIA will lead the City’s efforts to promote the welfare of immigrants, regardless of status, by establishing an inter-agency task force that will facilitate the coordination of city services; work closely with the Office of the Civil Justice Coordinator to assess the legal service needs of immigrants; establish a Federal Affairs unit to follow changing federal laws and policies; and monitor City agency compliance with laws and policies designed to protect immigrants and promote language access.

 

The Council will also create at least one MOIA-run “Immigrant Family Resource Center” in each borough. These centers will serve as hubs for information about immigrant resources and act as first responders by providing social and legal services referrals for families who have had a member apprehended for immigration detention or deportation.

 

Limiting Cooperation with Immigration Enforcement Efforts

 

Prohibit Law Enforcement from Acting as Immigration Officers. In January 2017, a presidential executive order called for a return to Secure Communities, a particularly harsh immigration enforcement program that was eliminated by the previous administration. The executive order also called for an increase in the number of 287(g) agreements, which “deputize” local police to act as immigration officers. Since at least 2011, the Council has significantly limited the circumstances under which the NYPD and Department of Correction may cooperate with immigration authorities.

 

The Council will expand on that work now by passing legislation that limits the Department of Probation’s cooperation with immigration authorities so that its protocols mirror those of the Department of Correction.

 

The Council will also pass legislation that bars the NYPD, the Department of Correction, and the Department of Probation from entering into 287(g) agreements that permit them to carry out immigration enforcement activities.

 

Block Access to Certain Areas of City Property. The recent escalation of dragnet immigration enforcement nationally makes clear that law-abiding undocumented immigrants are at high risk for deportation. The threat of ICE raids has caused immigrants to forego healthcare and City services for their families out of fear that they will be especially vulnerable to immigration enforcement activities on government property.

 

The Council will pass legislation prohibiting City agencies from granting immigration authorities access to areas of City property where public access is normally restricted, unless they have a judicial warrant. For publicly-accessible areas, signage with immigration enforcement-related “Know Your Rights” information will be prominently posted in multiple languages.

 

Blocking Access to DOE Schools, Students, and Records. Despite a longstanding Supreme Court decision that held that all children are entitled to public education, regardless of immigration status, many immigrant families live in constant fear that immigration authorities will engage in enforcement efforts at schools.

 

The Council will therefore require the Department of Education to refuse ICE access to school property without a warrant and inform parents when ICE officials request to interview a student or request student information.

 

The Council will also require that the Department of Education provide parents with information regarding the confidentiality of student records, their policies regarding requests from immigration authorities, and immigration-related “Know Your Rights” information twice a year.

 

Criminal Justice Reform

 

Disorderly Behavior. Federal immigration authorities prioritize individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system for deportation, no matter how minor the offense. In fact, a recent presidential executive order made those who have ever been arrested a priority for removal, even if they have not been convicted of any crime. Given the disproportionately negative consequences associated with arrests and convictions for low level, non-violent offenses, it is crucial that local law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges have tools at their disposal to avoid this result.

The Council will therefore pass legislation that creates “Disorderly Behavior,” a New York City alternative to the State penal law Disorderly Conduct. Disorderly Behavior will carry a maximum penalty of no more than 5 days in jail in order to avoid the negative immigration consequences of the longer state sentence.

 

Establishing Data Privacy Standards and Protocols

 

Personal Information Confidentiality. Individuals provide their personal information to the City with the expectation that it be kept confidential. For immigrant communities, honoring that expectation creates the bedrock of trust that allows immigrants to feel assured that engaging with City agencies, schools, and law enforcement will not put them at increased risk of deportation. The NYPD honors a decades-old policy of not inquiring about immigration status and, yet, there is other information the City collects that could be used by immigration authorities to track down law abiding immigrants who pose no threat to public safety.

 

The Council will therefore require that every City employee and contractor protect sensitive information like sexual orientation, religion, and immigration status by limiting its disclosure, except where required by law. Further, the Council will require that each agency review its data collection, retention and disclosure policies so that, going forward, the City collects only what is necessary to efficiently provide quality services.

 

Create the Confidential Information Division within the Law Department.

The Council will create a team of experts within the New York City Law Department to advise and make appropriate policy and legal recommendations to the Mayor, the City Council, and individual agencies about confidential information policies, as well as shifting legal frameworks around government data. This team will work closely with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ newly established Federal Affairs unit to serve as the City’s watchdogs and ensure that we are putting New Yorkers’ privacy rights first.

 

The team will also guide agencies as they update their confidential information policies, as well as review requests for disclosure of personal information and determine what information, if any, may be released.  Additionally, this unit will process all immigration detainer requests received by the City. The centralized processing of these requests will ensure full and consistent compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

 

Buildinging a Coalition of Sanctuary Cities

 

Sanctuary City Convening. New York City has been at the forefront nationally in establishing law and policies that protect and serve immigrant communities. Other cities across the nation have instituted similar immigrant-friendly policies and still more localities are interested in our work. We could all benefit from our shared experiences, particularly in light of the recent dramatic changes to federal immigration enforcement.

The Council will therefore convene legislative leaders from Sanctuary Cities to identify mutual goals and concerns, discuss best practices, and develop a unified messaging and advocacy strategy.

 

DOUBLE DOWN ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

 

“The idea is simple: cut red tape, remove inefficiencies, and stop the churn of detainees- primarily young men of color, from unnecessary and harmful incarceration.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

The City Council has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform, establishing the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform to explore the possibility of closing Rikers Island, creating fairer and more proportionate penalties for low level, nonviolent offenses through the Criminal Justice Reform Act, and investing in tens of thousands of year-round and summer jobs to achieve positive outcomes for young people. The Council also pushed to fund 1,300 new police officers to support community policing efforts, demonstrating that criminal justice reform and enhanced public safety can be achieved simultaneously.

 

For 2017, the Council is proposing a wide-ranging slate of reforms to continue to promote fairer outcomes in our criminal justice system, reduce pre-trial incarceration rates and support community-based justice.

 

Promoting Fairer Outcomes

 

Clear low level, nonviolent Summons Warrants. The Council will work with Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the Administration and the NYPD to clear low level, nonviolent summons warrants that are 10 years or older, bringing criminal justice reform to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

 

There are at least 1.5 million active arrest warrants solely for low level, non-violent summonses  in the City, approximately half of which are over 10 years old. State law requires the NYPD to detain individuals with these warrants until they can be brought before a judge, a process that can take up to 24 hours, despite the fact that these cases are virtually impossible to prosecute. These warrants affect individuals who have no idea they are at risk of arrest, and who have had no contact with the criminal justice system for over a decade. Furthermore, because of the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA), starting this year the majority of these offenses will never be sent to criminal court, and will instead be processed in civil court.

The Council will work with the NYPD, the Administration and the District Attorneys over the coming months to implement certain public safety exceptions to the warrant clearance.

Establish a Conviction Integrity Unit in Staten Island.  The Council will work with Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon to create that borough’s first independent unit to review past convictions and claims of innocence. Conviction Integrity Units (CIU) in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx District Attorneys’ offices have already exonerated, vacated or dismissed charges against dozens of individuals who spent decades in prison. If we expect New Yorkers to put their full faith in the criminal justice system, there must be vigilant oversight, so that going forward, patterns or practices that lead to injustice are identified and addressed.

 

Seal Certain Older Criminal Records. The Council calls on the State to seal certain types of criminal records. A permanent record of a criminal conviction can continue to affect a person’s employment opportunities, benefits eligibility, immigration status, and financial aid, among other things, long after the individual has paid their debt to society. The State should follow the leads of other states like Massachusetts and New Jersey, and allow individuals to petition for sealing of certain criminal records after a certain amount of time has passed.

Reducing Pre-Trial Incarceration Rates

 

Decrease Admissions to Rikers by Reducing Bail Processing Time. The Council will pass legislation requiring the DOC to accept cash bail at or near all courthouses, and to release those who post bail within a few hours. This legislation will reduce the length of pre-trial detention, cut the costs of jailing defendants, and limit the negative collateral consequences that may accompany incarceration, including loss of employment and housing.

 

Those criminal defendants who can post bail often face unnecessary barriers to doing so, which can result in needless incarceration. Part of the reason this occurs is that once a judge sets bail on a defendant, that defendant’s friends and family have a very limited period to post bail before the defendant is sent to Rikers for the intake process. Once detained, a defendant may be unable to post bail for 24 hours or more due to such inefficiencies as DOC’s antiquated paper system for tracking inmates. The time you have to make bail before being sent to jail should not be dependent on when the next bus to Rikers is leaving the courthouse.

 

Support True Diversion Programs. The Council will work with District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to create a LEAD program in Brooklyn. This program will allow the NYPD to redirect low level drug offenders to support and treatment services, instead of jail and prosecution. The Council will also support a similar program in Staten Island (HOPE), developed by District Attorney McMahon to combat the opioid crisis in that borough.

 

Jail is not the answer to addiction. Yet many New Yorkers who suffer from substance abuse often cycle through the criminal justice system without being offered the means to address their underlying health issues. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs allow police officers to re-direct low level offenders to community-based support and treatment services, instead of jail and prosecution.

 

Raise the Age. The City Council renews its call for the State legislature to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18. New York and North Carolina are the only two states that currently automatically prosecute all 16 year olds as adults. Numerous studies show that trying defendants under 18 as adults does not reduce rates of recidivism and can actually increase the likelihood that those adolescents will become repeat offenders. Shifting cases of 16- and 17-year old offenders to Family Court is not only more just, but it will also give youthful offenders greater access to resources and rehabilitation.

 

Expand Alternatives to Pre-Trial Incarceration for Adolescents and Young Adults. The Council will work to increase alternatives to pre-trial incarceration, specifically targeting 16-19 year-olds and providing the enhanced supervision these individuals need. The City currently operates a successful supervised release program that is on pace to divert at least 3000 individuals from pre-trial detention. Sixteen to nineteen year olds are at a crucial age of development in their lives, where just one visit to Rikers can put them on a destructive path that leads back to jail and into a cycle of recidivism from which they may never escape.

 

Supporting Community-Based Justice

 

Establish Neighborhood Justice Panels. The Council will work with District Attorney Darcel Clark to create a Neighborhood Justice Panel in the Bronx to handle certain misdemeanor cases like petit larceny.

 

Misdemeanors and other low-level offenses are typically handled in a mechanical fashion, with outcomes that often do not relate to the nature of the offense itself. Victims rarely receive any compensation or other restorative gestures, and the offender may not see the effects of their acts on their community. Using the model of a Neighborhood Justice Panel, certain misdemeanant offenders will be offered the option of meeting with trained community members to resolve their cases, instead of being processed in criminal court. This panel will also meet with victims, and take both the unique circumstances of the offender’s life and the harm to the victim into account, reaching resolutions that the community believes is appropriate – possibly involving restitution, fines, offense-based community service, and other creative options. Other jurisdictions that have utilized this model, such as San Francisco, have found that it is both faster and more economically efficient than the normal criminal court system, and that it reduces recidivism.

 

SUPPORT WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

 

“When equal rights come under attack, when women are threatened, and when it seems as though we are being plunged back into the dark ages…We march. We protest. We come together. And we unite to beat back the blunt forces of ignorance, sexism and misogyny.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

Access to vital healthcare services, including birth control and abortion, are essential to the well-being of women and families. As was decided by the Supreme Court many years ago, a woman has a constitutional right to make decisions about her own body. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensures that most healthcare plans cover birth control at no cost, cover a wide range of preventative health services for women, and do not charge women more for their healthcare.

 

Unfortunately, our constitutional rights are under threat by the federal government, as are the gains made by the ACA. We must secure these rights for women in New York City. The recent Women’s Marches across the country –  what some have called the largest one-day march in American history – have demonstrated the passion and dedication of millions of Americans to preserving and expanding the hard fought victories of the women’s rights movement.

 

The Council will fight to protect a woman’s constitutional right to control her own body by:

 

Ensuring Access to Free Birth Control for All Women in New York City. The Affordable Care Act requires that most insurance plans cover at least one brand of every FDA-approved method of birth control at no cost to the recipient. Governor Cuomo recently announced new state regulations to ensure that the potential repeal of this requirement at the federal level would not affect most women in New York State. Despite these positive steps, many women in New York continue to lack access to no-cost birth control because they do not have insurance, are covered by “grandfathered” insurance plans that are not required to provide this benefit, or do not wish to use the insurance they receive through a family member to obtain birth control for privacy or safety reasons.

 

The Council will work to provide all women in New York City with free access to birth control, including City workers who are currently in “grandfathered” plans. The Council will also continue its support of a stand-alone fund for birth control. Based on a proposal from the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), the Council has already allocated $800,000 for long acting reversible contraceptives. Going forward, the Council will advocate for this money to be baselined and expanded so that free, effective contraception is available to all women in New York City, regardless of insurance.

 

Advocating for State Passage of the Reproductive Health Act. The State’s Reproductive Health Act would provide important safeguards by aligning New York State law with the federal constitutional guarantees afforded women in the Roe v. Wade decision. The Reproductive Health Act passed in the New York State Assembly in January 2017 and is being held up by the Senate. This legislation is more important now than ever, given the federal government’s threats to take away this basic human right.

 

IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES FOR ALL STUDENTS

 

“We are a City that embraces our differences and celebrates diversity, and we will teach our children the same.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

The Council recognizes that the educational outcomes of the City’s public school students are dependent on multiple factors – from the role models they learn about in history class, to the amount of individualized instructional time they receive from their teachers, to the way they understand their own bodies and health. If we want to ensure our students are well prepared for the future, we must take a multi-pronged approach to provide them with a solid educational foundation.

 

The Council will demonstrate its commitment to improving our children’s futures by providing educators with the resources they need to discuss diversity and equality in a culturally competent manner; engaging students in dialogue about the ill effects of cyberbullying; addressing school planning, siting, and overcrowding, so that students can receive the individualized attention they need to learn and grow; and advocating for comprehensive sexual health education, so that our children have the knowledge they need to lead healthy lives.

 

The Council will act to strengthen and support education for all students by:

 

Promoting Culturally Responsive Education and Encouraging Tolerance. Our students’ education should reflect their identity and experiences so that they feel connected to what they are learning, are inspired by role models, and understand inclusion and acceptance. Unfortunately, most curricula do not consider all students’ backgrounds, and instances of cyberbullying are on the rise. We must send a message to our students, particularly those in marginalized groups, that in our City, all identities are valued and deserve respect. The Council will act to support our teachers and students in this endeavor by:

 

·         Allocating more than a half of a million dollars to expand the Critically Conscious Educators Rising Series, a program that offers professional development on culturally responsive education to teachers. Through this initiative, approximately 360 educators in 180 public schools will examine privilege, racism, and classism as those concepts relate to education, and develop strategies to make their lessons culturally responsive.

 

·         Supporting new teachers by collaborating with Border Crossers, an organization that provides training focused on talking about race in the classroom and addressing unconscious bias. Through this partnership, Border Crossers will provide training to aspiring educators on how to talk about race in a culturally responsive manner.

 

·         Calling upon New York State to convene a task force to assess the cultural relevance of State learning standards across subject areas in elementary, middle, and high school, and explore the grounding of standards in core content that challenges racism, ableism, and sexism, and is LGB and TGNC-affirming.

 

·         Co-hosting anti-cyber-bullying events across the City. Students who are cyberbullied are more likely to skip school, withdraw from activities, and have lower self-esteem. In 2016, AT&T, the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and the All American High School Film Festival invited student filmmakers from across the country to create short films to address cyber-bullying and its effects on students. The Council will co-host events in several Council districts to screen the winning short films from the contest. The events will include facilitated discussions between students, parents and educators, and will provide a platform for sharing anti-bullying resources.

 

Advocating for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education for all Students in all Grades. Comprehensive sexual health education is connected with positive educational outcomes for students; yet, many New York City public school students are not currently receiving such education. Furthermore, discussions about how to prevent and address the trauma of sexual abuse are not required to be part of students’ health education. The Council will pass legislation creating a task force to review the current recommended sexual education curriculum and the implementation of sexual health education in New York City schools, and to make recommendations for improvement and expansion. The task force will include experts in sexual health education, teacher and student representatives, and LGBTQ experts, and will seek input from parents and other community stakeholders.

Re-Imagining the School Planning and Siting Process. School overcrowding has a significant impact on student outcomes, and is a serious and growing problem in many of the City’s neighborhoods. As the student population increases, the current planning and siting process has struggled to keep pace. To address this problem, the Council will create an internal working group to study the issues of school planning, siting, and overcrowding.  The working group will consult with experts in the fields of school planning and real estate, review best practices from other cities, and develop a policy report with recommendations. The working group will consider issues such as improving coordination between city agencies; amending the formulas used to gauge overcrowding so that they more accurately capture needs; rethinking the CEQR methodology to more adequately forecast seat needs; examining school assignment policy; creating incentives for developers to include new schools in large housing developments; and exploring alternative methods for school siting.

 

STRIVE FOR RACIAL AND GENDER EQUITY IN NEW YORK CITY

 

“So, whether you are transgender or gender non-conforming, an immigrant or a person of color… or someone whose voice has been marginalized or silenced, we must do a better job of providing equitable services to all New Yorkers.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

The Council has worked over the last three years to address structural inequity through supporting such measures as the Criminal Justice Reform Act, the Young Women’s Initiative, the Nurse Family Partnership Program, and year-round and summer jobs to provide our City’s youth with opportunities for a brighter future.

 

There has also been an effort to reduce disparities based on race and gender at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH), which created the Center for Health Equity to focus on this important work. Furthermore, cities like San Francisco and Seattle have taken innovative steps to create dedicated initiatives to focus on ways in which institutional racism and sexism lead to poverty. Through a gender analysis of San Francisco’s Juvenile Probation Department, for example, the city learned that girls in its juvenile justice system were receiving trauma-focused services originally created for boys, and moved toward providing more gender-specific services for young women and girls.

 

By recognizing how our City can combat racial and gender disparities, we can target our programming and resources, and be even more effective at fighting against hunger, educating our children, and reducing incarceration rates.

 

The Council will act to support racial and gender equity by passing legislation that will:

 

Require City agencies to complete racial and gender assessments. Certain City agencies like DOHMH will be required to complete racial and gender assessments of their services and programs, employment practices, contracting practices, and budgeting. The first step in combating racial and gender disparities is to identify where they exist, so that agencies can work to address these gaps.

 

Require City agencies to set racial and gender equity goals and develop action plans to achieve these goals. Certain City agencies will be required to set goals to address the findings of their racial and gender equity assessments, and to prepare an action plan to achieve these goals.

 

Create a racial and gender equity committee. The Committee will advise the City with respect to the nature and scope of racial and gender equity assessments, and the development and implementation of racial and gender equity action plans.

 

Require City agencies to provide equity training. Certain City agencies will be required to provide their employees with trainings on implicit bias, structural racism, cultural competency and gender inequity, and on how these factors impact their work.

 

ADDRESS FOOD INSECURITY FOR ALL NEW YORKERS

 

“The shocking reality is that every year, over one million of our fellow New Yorkers struggle with not having enough food to feed themselves or their families. The epidemic of hunger in our City is real, and it disproportionately affects women, children, seniors and communities of color.”– Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

Food insecurity continues to be a persistent problem in New York City. According to the USDA, in 2014, over 16 percent of New York City residents reported being food insecure – meaning that at one point during the year, they had difficulty providing enough food for everyone in their family. According to Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger relief organization, New York City residents missed approximately 242 million meals in a single year.

In our fight against hunger, one of our main resources is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While nearly 1.7 million New Yorkers rely on SNAP benefits to meet their basic nutrition needs, only 73 percent of eligible participants are enrolled in the program. Furthermore, each year over 1.4 million New Yorkers rely on food pantries and soup kitchens to feed themselves and their families.

The Council has fought to combat food insecurity by funding 180 emergency food assistance programs in all 5 boroughs, and by launching a pilot program which put food pantries in 16 public schools, so families have access to nutritious foods. In addition, the Council has continually supported the City’s network of senior centers, which provides meals to attendees, as well as home delivered meals for frail and vulnerable seniors. The Council will continue to combat hunger, fighting to:

Increase the City’s investment in Emergency Food. Emergency food is a crucial part of our social safety net. SNAP recipients often report turning to food pantries and soup kitchens after their benefits run out. Moreover, pantries ensure that no person goes hungry, regardless of their immigration status. To guarantee that our food pantries and soup kitchens never have to turn away a hungry New Yorker, the Council is calling for the Administration to baseline and increase Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) funding, from $8 million to $22 million dollars for food purchasing. A $14 million increase will meet the basic needs of all food pantries and soup kitchens in the EFAP network across the City, and provide food relief for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

 

Provide universal free lunch to 1.1 million students in public schools. Currently, all children enrolled in the City’s pre-K program receive free lunch, as do all middle school students who attend stand-alone middle schools. However, all students enrolled in a school that serves kindergarten through 8th grade and high school do not receive a free or subsidized school lunch unless they qualify based on their parents’ income.  Universal Free Lunch is a federal entitlement program in which localities can participate where at least 40 percent their students qualify for public assistance. One of the advantages of the Universal Free Lunch program is that because all students are eligible to participate, it removes the stigma of receiving a free meal at school.

 

Develop a City Web portal to facilitate food donations. Many food rescue organizations, particularly smaller ones, are often not aware when and where edible food that would otherwise go to waste is available. Furthermore, many food establishments discarding this food do not have the time and resources to reach out to these organizations individually to see if they can take the food. The Council will pass legislation creating a Web portal to connect food establishments with food to donate, with local food rescue organizations that feed hungry New Yorkers.

 

Increase seniors’ enrollment in SNAP. New York City houses two of the top five Congressional districts in the nation with the highest percentage of seniors facing hunger. Part of this stems from the fact that not enough eligible seniors enroll in SNAP, which provides nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families. While SNAP enrollment among seniors has increased in recent years, many seniors still believe they are not eligible for a variety of reasons, including their savings and incomes, and others have never heard of the program at all. In fact, more than 30 percent of eligible seniors are not receiving the SNAP benefits to which they are entitled. The Council will pass legislation to increase low-income seniors’ participation in the SNAP program through better coordination between the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Department for the Aging (DFTA). Outreach workers will visit local senior centers to explain the benefits of SNAP and sign up eligible seniors.

 

Call on the federal government to not block grant SNAP funding. Under the 2017 House Budget Committee-approved budget plan, Congress proposed to block grant SNAP and potentially cut funding by 20 percent, or $150 billion, over ten years. A cut this large in SNAP funding would jeopardize food assistance for millions of low-income families. States would be left to decide whose benefits to reduce or terminate. The Council will push to ensure that Congress does not cut this critical benefit in the upcoming budget.

 

STRENGTHEN SMALL BUSINESSES THROUGH INNOVATIVE REFORMS

 

“We must continue to support our small businesses and eliminate barriers that hinder their success.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

Supporting the City’s small businesses promotes economic growth and employment opportunities for New Yorkers. Through the 2014 Small Business Relief Package, the Council implemented a number of reforms to reduce the number and cost of violations for small businesses and expand outreach and education. Within a year, fines assessed against small businesses declined from $32.5 million to just over $15.7 million, and the number of violations issued declined from 19,409 to 11,923.

 

Going forward, the Council will introduce a package of legislation to support innovative ways to reform the way businesses satisfy civil penalties, while ensuring greater compliance with the City’s laws and generating benefits for the City as a whole. We will also employ these innovative strategies to support safe and energy efficient housing.

Online Business Tools. Some small businesses and startups may not have access to accounting, recordkeeping, bookkeeping, and other tools that can help their businesses grow and increase their compliance with the law, so this legislation will require the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to post these and other free tools online.

 

Record Keeping Assistance Program. Existing City laws require businesses to keep detailed and complex records. This legislation will create a record keeping assistance program that will mitigate civil penalties for attending a recordkeeping course, which will be offered in multiple languages.

 

Mitigate Certain Civil Penalties

 

·         Legislation will mitigate certain civil penalties if businesses agree to take positive action in their communities, including donating leftover food to pantries and soup kitchens, opening their restrooms to the public, and composting.

 

·         Legislation will create and expand the use of compliance consultation programs for building and business owners. These programs will allow owners to request compliance consultations, which are mock inspections that flag potential violations, in order to make sure that they are complying with the law.

 

·         Legislation will mitigate civil penalties when business or building owners undertake energy efficient measures, such as retrofitting lighting systems. This will allow owners to reinvest in their businesses or buildings, while helping the City reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 

·         Legislation will mitigate certain civil penalties for non-hazardous violations where an owner can show that they began serious efforts to correct the condition causing a violation.

 

PROTECT AND SUPPORT TENANT RIGHTS

 

Tenant harassment is all too rampant. But because it can be hard to prove in court, most harassment goes unchecked. And even when a tenant does beat the odds and win, they typically get nothing. We’re going to change that.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

The City Council will be taking important steps to better protect and support our City’s tenants.

 

First, as recently announced with the Administration, the Council will pass legislation to ensure universal access to legal counsel for tenants facing eviction. This will include legal representation for low-income tenants and a one-time legal counseling session for other tenants.

 

Second, although the City’s existing tenant harassment laws provide important protections for tenants, improvements are needed. The Council will tighten harassment protections by:

 

Adding common sense presumptions for harassment cases. Tenants facing harassment can go to court for relief, but proving harassment is hard – a tenant has to either be forced out of their apartment or show their landlord intended to force them out. The Council will amend the harassment laws so that, where a harassing act has occurred (like a threat or use of force), the landlord would have the burden of proving that the act was justifiable and not intended to force the tenant to leave.

 

The City Council will also pass legislation allowing groups of tenants to band together and show that a landlord has engaged in a campaign of building-wide harassment, even where an individual tenant may not be able to prove harassment alone.

 

Providing relief to tenants who win in court. Even when a tenant defies the odds and wins a harassment case, the landlord’s only punishment is a civil penalty – and none of that money goes to the victimized tenant. So, the Council will amend the law to let prevailing tenants recover fair relief.

Expanding harassment protections. Although most harassment occurs in small buildings, tenants in the smallest buildings (one- and two-family homes) do not have access to even the limited relief offered by existing harassment laws. The Council will expand harassment protections to these tenants.

 

Expanding what constitutes harassment. The Council will expand the definition of harassment to include behaviors that were not necessarily contemplated when the original law was passed, such as contacting or visiting tenants at odd hours or adding unexplained (and unapproved) fees to rent bills.

 

The Council will also examine the use of construction as a form of harassment, and the ways that practice can be stopped.

 

INVEST IN OUR PUBLIC HOUSING RESIDENTS

 

“We will work to make sure that NYCHA isn’t just the cornerstone of affordable housing, but a center of opportunity.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

New York City is home to the largest public housing authority in the country, the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”). NYCHA’s Public Housing program serves over 400,000 New Yorkers, which means NYCHA is home to nearly 5% of the City’s population. NYCHA provides housing to some of our lowest-income New Yorkers, most of whom pay, on average, under $500 in rent per month. Clearly, NYCHA fills a critical need for affordable housing in the City and, as such, the City Council must invest not only in its infrastructure, but also in its residents.

 

The City Council will act to support our public housing residents by:

 

Creating a Resident Leadership Academy. The Council, in partnership with NYCHA and the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City University of New York (“CUNY”), will create a Resident Leadership Academy. The Resident Leadership Academy will transform resident engagement and provide robust training and capacity building to help current and emerging resident leaders be more effective advocates for their communities. Through this initiative, participating residents can also earn up to 16 college credits through CUNY towards a degree.

 

Expanding FlexOps. The Council will work to expand the number of NYCHA developments participating in Flexible Operations, or FlexOps, throughout the City. FlexOps is a NYCHA initiative to extend property service hours by creating multiple, staggered shifts for NYCHA’s frontline staff. The purpose of FlexOps is to improve customer service and quality of life for residents through extending the hours, including early morning and evening hours, to tackle property cleanliness, repairs and other critical issues.

 

Increasing the Number of Urban Farms. The Council will work to increase the number of urban farms at NYCHA developments. NYCHA’s urban farms serve as a source of fresh produce for the community, while also providing a center for education, job training and community engagement for residents. Additionally, through partnerships with groups like Green City Force, an AmeriCorps program that recruits and trains young adults and pays them to work on environmental sustainability and energy-efficiency programs, these urban farms will provide jobs for NYCHA residents.

 

Expanding Childcare Business Pathways. The Council will fund an expansion of the Childcare Business Pathways program – a free business accelerator program for NYCHA residents who want to open a home-based daycare business. Residents who are accepted into the program receive a free 10-week intensive business course; training, licensing, and technical assistance; and business coaching to move their home-based childcare business forward.

 

Expanding Food Business Pathways. The Council will fund an expansion of the Food Business Pathways Program – a free business training program that helps NYCHA residents start food businesses in New York City. Residents who are accepted into the program receive a free 8-week intensive business course; free licenses and permits; group and one-on-one business coaching designed to move a business forward; and an opportunity to compete for the chance to receive one of five free incubator spaces for 5 months. Additionally, all participants receive assistance to secure alternative space in which to operate their food businesses.

 

Increasing the Number of Digital Vans. The Council will support an increase in the number of digital vans, so that more people have access to technology services in their communities. NYCHA’s digital vans are computer labs on wheels, allowing NYCHA residents and community members to use the internet to search for job opportunities, fill out tenant recertifications, and more. The vans travel around the city and stop in areas that have limited or no access to high-speed internet service. NYCHA’s three existing digital vans have already served over 15,000 NYCHA residents and community members.

 

COLLABORATE WITH MUNICIPAL LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

 

“The possibilities for national solidarity on almost any issue are endless.” – Speaker Mark-Viverito

 

Today’s largest American cities face daunting challenges. From policy matters like reforming policing and providing adequate affordable housing, to administrative matters like managing staff and utilizing technology to inform governmental decision-making, successful contemporary municipalities must take advantage of every available resource. Intercity-partnership and collaboration is a useful way for cities to learn from the experiences of others, as well as to advocate for their interests on the state and national stages.

 

While some efforts to promote inter-city partnership or collaboration exist, most focus on the chief executives of municipalities, leaving legislative bodies without similar opportunities. In particular, large cities (those with populations greater than 500,000) share many of the same challenges and opportunities.

 

The Council will take the lead in fostering inter-city legislative collaboration by:

 

Partnering with the National League of Cities to convene municipal legislative leaders. The National League of Cities (NLC) is an advocacy organization that represents the interests of over 1,600 cities across the United States. The Council will partner with NLC to host the first convening of large city council presidents and speakers, to be held in Council Chambers in April of 2017. This convening will provide a forum for city leaders to come together to network, exchange best practices and share ideas among peers on how to address the challenges unique to the nation’s largest cities. The agenda for this convening will be defined by shared interests and priorities of attendees.

 

AND HERE’S WHAT LEADING ADVOCATES, EXPERTS AND ACTIVISTS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT SPEAKER MARK-VIVERITO’S BOLD PROPOSALS TO EMPOWER, LIFT UP AND PROTECT NEW YORKERS:

 

Protecting Our Immigrants

“As a city legislative body, we know the fight for justice has arrived at our doorstep. We gather our strength from all the New Yorkers who protest and rally in the streets and those too afraid to leave the shadows, but who fight in their own ways,” said Council Member and Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca. “Today, we’ve taken bold steps to protect our immigrant families and deepen the commitment of a Sanctuary City. We are in this for the long haul. The legislative package announced by Speaker Mark-Viverito will shape and sustain our resistance movement.”

 

“New Yorkers have called on our City to protect against President Trump’s reckless and discriminatory anti-immigrant agenda,” said Alisa Wellek, Executive Director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “With the announcement of this sweeping package of proposals, Speaker Mark-Viverito has delivered a strong response that will improve the safety and well-being of the immigrant communities that make New York City thrive.”

 

“Today, Speaker Mark-Viverito’s announced legislation that, when enacted, will show the country that New York City is leading the way in protecting the immigrant community from the menace of Donald Trump,” said Make the Road New York Executive Director Javier H. Valdés. “By prioritizing the confidentiality of City-collected information, limiting the physical presence of ICE to city property, and expanding the role of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Speaker’s proposals offer key solutions that immigrant New Yorkers need to feel safe at a moment when the federal government has taken steps to come after them. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with Speaker Mark-Viverito and the Council to pass these pieces of legislation.”

 

“At a time when the Trump Administration is targeting New York’s immigrant communities, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has stepped up with strong, common-sense measures to protect, secure and empower our 3 million immigrants,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “By limiting access by ICE to city property, moving further to protect confidentiality and data, and proactively stopping ICE from using the City’s law enforcement from doing their dirty work, Speaker Mark-Viverito is making sure that New York becomes a national model in how to protect our immigrant communities. We thank her and applaud her initiatives.”

 

“Catholic Charities has long been committed to helping New York State welcome all immigrants, be they families seeking to reunify, refugees, day workers, or children. Our mission is rooted in the respect for the inherent dignity of each person and in striving to create a just and compassionate society,” said Mario Russell, Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities. “Especially in these difficult and troubling times for our nation’s immigrants and refugees, we are heartened by the package of proposals announced by the Speaker and offered by the New York City Council today. These bills are steps towards ensuring the safety and security of newcomers and longtime residents, while also reinforcing New York City’s commitment as a city that will stand by those who are vulnerable.”

 

“Immigrant families in this city and around the country are now at constant risk of being broken apart by White House executive orders and overzealous ICE enforcement raids. More than ever, states and cities must pursue policies that shield families from these growing federal threats,” said Adriene Holder, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “We applaud the visionary leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in proposing a package of protections that serves that exact purpose. The Legal Aid Society shares this commitment and we stand lockstep with the City Council ready to defend the city’s most vulnerable communities in their time of need.”

 

“That every detained immigrant facing deportation in the City of New York who cannot afford a lawyer receives representation is a tremendous credit to the visionary leadership of Speaker Mark-Viverito,” said Oren Root, director of the Center on Immigration and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice. “The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) ensures that no New Yorkers are detained and deported simply because they could not afford an attorney.  The Vera Institute of Justice enthusiastically supports the Speaker’s call for permanent funding of NYIFUP through inclusion in the Mayor’s upcoming Executive Budget.”

 

“With ICE raids underway and xenophobia on the rise, we must fortify our cities as places of sanctuary. But no city can do it on its own. Local Progress is excited to partner with Speaker Mark-Viverito to bring cities together to form a unified front in protecting our immigrants. Our cities have thrived thanks to our immigrant residents, and we have worked hard to adopt policies that help them thrive: rejecting ICE detainers for non-violent offenders, creating municipal ID programs, offering access-to-counsel, providing language access, adult education, job training, protection from discrimination, and more,” said Local Progress Board Members Brad Lander (NYC Council), Helen Gym (Philadelphia City Council), and Greg Casar (Austin City Council). “Together, we can strengthen our sanctuary policies, learn from each other’s experience, and strategize to resist policies of injustice, hatred, and bigotry.”

 

Doubling Down on Criminal Justice Reform

“I want to congratulate Speaker Mark-Viverito on her final State of the City address and thank her for her leadership on criminal justice reform. I am proud, as Public Safety Committee Chair, to have worked hand in hand with the Speaker over the last three years to propose and implement policy and legislative changes that provide a fairer and more just system for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “The agenda the Speaker is announcing today will expand on the work we’ve done and continue to enhance public safety and improve our justice system.”

 

“In Brooklyn, we’ve long been committed to reducing the unreasonable number of outstanding summons warrants, and have taken concrete steps to do so. We are pleased Speaker Mark-Viverito and the Council recognize the importance of this issue and  that they will join us in a citywide effort to vacate summons warrants issued more than 10 years ago. This initiative promotes fairness without compromising safety, and goes a long way toward improving police and community relations,” said Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “We also look forward to the Council’s support of our efforts to create a pre-booking diversion program following the model of the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) programs in other jurisdictions that places eligible participants with treatment and service providers before they ever set foot in a courtroom, offering appropriate alternatives to prosecution and incarceration.”

 

“I am pleased to partner with the Center for Court Innovation and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to establish  Neighborhood Accountability Panels and I join in the Speaker’s call to clear warrants older than ten years. These are bold, new approaches to handling low level, nonviolent offenses,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, “By keeping people with minor infractions from entering the criminal justice system, these measures will allow us to prosecute serious crimes more efficiently and strengthen our relationship with the community.”

 

“Speaker Mark-Viverito’s leadership on criminal justice reform has been critical in driving meaningful change in our City’s system. By creating more opportunities for people, especially adolescents, to resolve their arrests outside of jail through early diversion and supervised release, we can create a more rehabilitative, dynamic, and humane system for all and I commend Speaker Mark-Viverito for championing these important reforms,” said Judge and Chairman of the Independent Commission Jonathan Lippman. “In the year since Speaker Mark-Viverito boldly called for the creation of an Independent Commission to study Rikers Island, we have brought together a diverse group of policymakers, and advocates with a wealth of diverse experience and viewpoints. We’ve studied and assessed the latest research and data on our justice system and spoken both to leaders across the criminal justice spectrum and ordinary New Yorkers who live through our imperfect system every day. In collaboration with visionary leaders like Speaker Mark-Viverito, I believe New York City’s jail system can become a symbol of safety, humanity, justice, and vision for cities across the country and world.”

 

“The announcement of criminal justice reforms today by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito affirms what has been clear for some time: New York City is setting the bar for the rest of the country in terms of driving down crime while also reducing the use of jail,” said Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation. “The City Council’s commitment to creating a justice system that is fair, humane, and effective should be celebrated and emulated. The Center for Court Innovation is pleased to be a part of this effort.”

 

“The City Council has truly been in the vanguard championing criminal justice reform and today’s State of the City proposals reinforce that commitment to addressing the broken system. These proposed reforms – which aim to end a regressive bail practice that results in needless incarceration and erase old low-level warrants – are exactly what is needed for our clients and the many others who shoulder the burdens of an antiquated and discriminatory system every day. Equally critical are the calls for Albany to finally pass and sign legislation raising the age of criminality to 18, joining 48 other states who know that treating 16 and 17 year olds as adults before the law is flawed policy and simply inhumane,” said Seymour W. James Jr., Attorney-in-Chief at The Legal Aid Society. “We support any and all efforts that prioritize diversion programs advocating treatment and recovery over jail. The Legal Aid Society commends Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership, vision, and the robustness of this proposal, which furthers the tenets of equity, fairness and justice in our city.”

 

“I want to thank the Speaker of the City Council for recognizing how serious the heroin and opioid crisis is on Staten Island and reaffirming her commitment to supporting our endeavors through such initiatives as the Heroin Overdose Prevention & Education (HOPE) program. Together we will combat this issue head on and save lives. Last year’s welcome and much needed increase in funding for our office has allowed us to make tremendous strides in properly staffing and addressing the serious public safety issues facing Staten Island,” said Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon. “We were grateful for the Speaker’s support in securing that funding and for her continued support and partnership in efforts that will improve and modernize the Staten Island DAs Office–particularly with the addition of a Conviction Integrity Review Unit, which is a tool that will provide us with the staff and resources to implement what is widely considered a best practice in modern prosecutorial offices.”

 

“Taken together, these important reforms will help break the cycle of unemployment, incarceration, and court involvement that so often ensnares low-income New Yorkers in heavily policed communities. Although more must be done to fix our broken bail system, reducing bail-processing times to mitigate the human cost of cash bail is a much-needed intervention and a step the right direction,” said Justine Olderman, Managing Director of the Bronx Defenders. “Similarly, clearing low-level, non-violent summons warrants is a concrete way of mitigating the damage caused by decades of discriminatory broken-windows policing, allowing people to get on with their lives, and making those in our immigrant communities less vulnerable to dragnet deportation. And creating community panels to resolve misdemeanor cases, instead of shoveling more people into criminal court for low-level offenses, is the kind of creative solution that promotes a fairer and more humane justice system. We applaud the City Council for having the vision to push for these kinds of reforms and look forward to lending our support in their implementation.”

 

“Despite the best efforts of courts and prosecutors to do justice, it has become increasingly clear in recent decades that the innocent can be convicted and terrible, life-altering injustices done,” said Lynn Fahey, Attorney in Charge at Apellate Advocates. “As we have seen in Brooklyn, conviction integrity units within District Attorneys’ offices can serve a unique and invaluable role in identifying and rectifying wrongful convictions.  I firmly believe that every District Attorney’s office should have such a unit.”

 

“We applaud Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito for successfully spearheading the effort to vacate decade-old bench warrants in three boroughs which left hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers vulnerable to arrests even though they posed no risk to public safety,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “These open warrants for noncriminal offenses not only put peoples’ jobs, homes and families in jeopardy, they pose catastrophic risks to immigrants who the Trump administration can target through the criminal justice system.”

 

“Establishing Neighborhood Justice Panels is a logical extension of neighborhood policing, which encourages police and residents to work closely together to build stronger, safer communities,” said Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City. “These panels will empower residents to judge offenses that disrupt local life in their own backyard while sending the message to offenders that their conduct is unacceptable. Neighborhood Justice Panels will also give residents a greater sense of control – and the responsibility that accompanies that authority – over local life, which will improve community cohesiveness. The Crime Commission is pleased to work with Speaker Mark Viverito and the Center for Court Innovation on this important public safety initiative.”

 

“We welcome the speakers recognition that using the criminal justice system to deal with people who use drugs is a failed approach,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director at Drug Policy Alliance. “As the opioid crisis continues, it is important for our elected officials to promote innovative programs and solutions that move us away from criminalization. We implore that any program that is implemented directly address reducing racial disparities in arrests and prosecutions and create avenues to repair the harms of over-policing and the drug war.”

 

Supporting Women’s Rights

“As Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus, I applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito’s strong defense of reproductive rights. Every woman must be guaranteed free access to birth control,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “Especially given threats to women’s reproductive autonomy from a federal level, New York City must play a leadership role in defending and advancing the fight for women’s constitutional rights over their own bodies.”

 

“When we are faced with a president who is hostile to real healthcare needs of women and girls, it is critical that our New York City leadership take action to preserve contraception and abortion access. Women rely on comprehensive  reproductive healthcare and they should not be forced to choose between their birth control and other essential expenses,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of NOW NYC. “We are proud to support Speaker Mark-Viverito and our New York City Council’s actions to resist Trump’s anit-woman agenda.”

 

“Now more than ever, we need bold local leaders willing to stand up and speak out in support of our basic rights,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Affordable birth control and access to safe, legal abortion are critical to the health and well-being of women and their families.  We commend New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her continued leadership in ensuring women can get the care they need without political interference.”

 

“Planned Parenthood of New York City applauds Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for demonstrating her commitment to creating a better city for all New Yorkers by calling for a number of measures that will reduce sexual and reproductive health inequality as well as improve educational outcomes in public schools. The Speaker’s call for greater access to contraception, including increased funding for long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) as well as access to birth control without a co-pay, including those covered under ‘grandfathered’ plans, is a critical step in protecting New Yorkers’ rights to reproductive and sexual health care,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “We applaud the Speaker for prioritizing the health and education of New Yorkers, and for putting forth a set of recommendations that will help make our city a place where all people can lead empowered lives.”

 

“It’s an honor to work with Speaker Mark-Viverito’s inspired leadership as co-chair of the YWI Advisory Council. She champions today reforms that put a much needed spotlight on the growing power and unmet needs of New York City’s young women of color,” said Carol Robles Roman, President and CEO of Legal Momentum. “We now work together for all of our daughters to ensure their safety, education and success.”

 

“As a woman of color, professor, and NYC resident, I support Speaker Mark-Viverito’s bold vision to address racial and gender disparities among the city’s youth,” said Dr. Adriana Villavicencia, Deputy Director at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools and Professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Cultural Development. “Her commitment to bring so many voices to the table – from students and policymakers, to advocates and researchers – will help make that vision a reality that NYC can be proud of.”

 

“Every woman in this country should have the right to choose what she does with her own body. With the threats of this new administration and the balance of the highest court at stake, it is more important than ever that New York State affirm our belief in this basic right,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. “We have a responsibility to protect all New Yorkers and our State Senators must fulfill this duty by passing the Reproductive Health Act. I am proud to partner with the Speaker as we fight to codify this fundamental right into law.”

 

“The National Institute applauds the New York City Council for its leadership protecting and advancing reproductive and sexual health. In her State of the City address, Speaker Mark-Viverito sent an unequivocal message that ensuring access to contraception and abortion and improving comprehensive sex education are among the City Council’s highest priorities,” said Andrea Miller, President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute of Reproductive Health. “These critical components of reproductive freedom work in tandem to improve outcomes and enable all women to determine whether and when to have children. With reproductive rights imperiled at the federal level, our local leaders are providing the necessary backstop to the assaults on women and bolding pushing forward a proactive agenda that will enhance women’s lives.”

 

“I am so amazed and encouraged by the depth and breadth of the insights and recommendations aimed at improving life for girls and young women in our city that came out of the NYC Council’s Young Women’s Initiative under Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s leadership,” said Dr. Danielle Moss Lee, President and CEO of the YWCA of New York City; Commissioner of NYC Commission on Gender Equity; and Co-Chair of the Young Women’s Initiative Advisory Council. “As a Native New Yorker, former teacher, and lifetime youth advocate, it gives me great pride to stand with the Speaker, the Council, my co-chairs, my colleagues at the YWCA of the City of New York, and everyone who made this initiative successful as we take another monumental step toward institutional change to ensure that girls in this city have access to the educational, health, and justice support they need and deserve to become the women leaders of tomorrow.”

 

“The Young Women’s Initiative – only two years old – has already proved its success spotlighting some of the most pressing problems facing cis and transgender young women in our city and presenting meaningful solutions. Regarding the criminal justice proposals included in this address that concern local young women, we laud any expansion to low-level diversion programs that center on treatment, and wholeheartedly endorse the Speaker’s position on eradicating low-level warrants that only serve as a dark cloud over one’s head,” said Tina Luongo, Adriene Holder, and Tami Steckler of The Legal Aid Society. “These are some of the meaningful solutions YWI has contributed to, and as a coalition member, The Legal Aid Society is proud of this work. We look forward to our continued collaboration with YWI partners on policies that improve young women’s lives in every borough.”

 

“Per Scholas supports the speaker 100% in continuing to push for gender equity and highlighting how the public and private sectors can improve the opportunities, information, and services to our city’s young women,” said Angie Kamath, Executive Vice President of Per Scholas. “We need to make sure that our young women know about the opportunities to explore careers and training in high demand industries like the tech sector, so that they have the access and ability to participate fully in our great city’s robust economy.”

 

“In this political climate, it’s more important than ever that our city’s leaders take bold steps to assure protections and progress for women and people of color,” said Annetta Seecharan, Executive Director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation. “The Speaker’s vision plans to do exactly that!”

the necessary backstop to the assaults on women and bolding pushing forward a proactive agenda that will enhance women’s lives.”

 

“Our city’s sisters, mothers and grandmothers are the heart of New York,” said Maya Wiley, Henry Cohen Professor at The New School. “The Speaker’s leadership in proposing strategies to ensure fairness and opportunity have never been more important than they are now.”

 

Improving Educational Outcomes for All Students

“Now, more than ever, we need to teach our students about acceptance, tolerance and inclusion, and provide them with curricula that reflect their own experiences. Our strength is in our diversity, and promoting culturally responsive education is vitally important,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education. “I want to thank the Speaker for her leadership in making this a priority and supporting our teachers by providing training on how to address these complex issues.”

 

“As New York City continues to grow, our school system must keep pace with the changing and growing needs of our population as it serves more and more students. A more comprehensive approach to school siting is sorely needed–one that takes into account long-term growth patterns, changing demographics, and efforts to integrate our public schools,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “I thank the Speaker for her attention to this critical issue.”

 

“Improving outcomes for our students means ensuring that they are educated in adequate spaces that foster learning. Overcrowding in schools has long been an issue of concern,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “I applaud the Speaker for highlighting these issues and making a commitment to address the school siting and planning process. Exploring possible solutions through a formal working group is an important step forward.”

 

“We can no longer pretend that cyberbullying is something that happens to ‘someone else’s child.’ Just last year, AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation conducted a first-of-its-kind poll on this issue, finding that nearly half of New York City-area teens have been bullied online,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York State President of AT&T. “Through this unique public-private initiative, we can combat this growing crisis by educating parents and students in their own words. AT&T applauds the New York City Council, the Department of Education and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for helping us to spark a meaningful dialogue in our schools and communities.”

 

“We need more school seats and we need a better way to factor that need into the calculations for new development,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers. “Creating a workgroup that brings all the players together, earlier in the process, will help our students, their families and the city as a whole.”

 

“The call to institute culturally responsive education in our city schools is a potential game changer,” said Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest A. Logan. “Helping our school leaders, administrators, teachers and students learn more about the many cultures that are a part of our country can only benefit the most diverse student bodies in the nation, and will create greater understanding between these groups and a deeper appreciation of our great city.”

 

“I am delighted to hear the Speaker’s education agenda that focuses on creating a path toward abolishing racism and other biases in our society, reforming the way we plan for school capacity so that we prevent school overcrowding before it happens and providing free lunches to all our children,” said Shino Tanikawa, Vice President of CEC2 and Co-Chair of Blue Book Working Group. “These are forward-looking initiatives that will have long term positive impact on our students.”

 

“The Sexuality Education Alliance of New York City (SEANYC), a longstanding citywide coalition of sexual health educators, organizations, and advocates, commends Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership in calling for comprehensive sexual health education for students at all grade levels (K – 12) in public schools. We know that real sex ed works and we applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito’s proposed legislation and calls for a state standards task force. Like the Speaker, SEANYC recognizes that education must address the root causes of inequities and be inclusive of all experiences and cultural backgrounds in order for students to thrive,” said Elizabeth Adams of Planned Parenthood of New York City and Emily Kadar of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Co-Chairs of the Sexuality Education Alliance of New York City (SEANYC). “SEANYC also commends the Speaker’s Young Women’s Initiative for leading this work and the Young Women’s Advisory Council (YWAC) for ensuring young people’s voices are involved in government. SEANYC’s own Youth Advisory Council is committed to students’ leadership in driving advocacy and policy and is proud to support the push for sex ed for all students. We thank the Speaker for her vigorous promotion of updated, relevant and culturally responsive sexual health education in NYC’s schools, and her support for enhancing all young people’s health and wellbeing.”

 

“Border Crossers is excited to partner with City Council to support our educators in building schools that are grounded in racial justice and equity, where all students thrive, free from racial discrimination and harm,” said Benny Vásquez and Laura Shmishkiss, Co-Executive Directors of Border Crossers.

 

“Now more than ever it is imperative that we, as educators, are consciously aware of, and actively confronting, the impact of our personal biases and the institutionalized inequities that marginalize our racially, culturally and linguistically diverse students,” said Natalie McCabe-Zwerger, Director of the Center for Strategic Solutions at NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. “We are excited to partner with the City Council to offer this series for educators who will develop individual and collective consciousness that is explicitly tied to curriculum and instruction. These critically conscious educators will collaborate to design and implement culturally responsive education that centers and honors the identities of our students.”

 

“The parents from the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito for the actions she has taken toward making sure that NYC public schools are safe havens from racism and bias of all kinds. CEJ has long believed that culturally responsive education, including trainings that confront overt and implicit bias in schools, is a crucial component of the academic and social-emotional success of students,” said Natasha Capers, Coordinator and Parent Leader at NYC Coalition for Educational Justice. “Especially in this political environment, when young people are living with heightened anxiety amid a surge of hateful incidents and policies, schools must be places where students are honored for all aspects of their identities, and racism and bias have no place. We look forward to working with the Speaker’s Office and the forthcoming State Task Force so that this initiative can be the beginning of a city- and state-wide shift toward embracing culturally responsive education on a systemic level.”

 

Striving for Racial and Gender Equity in New York City

“As the Co-Chair of the Black Latino and Asian Caucus, I welcome the creation of measures to address the issue of Race and Gender Equity as both have continuously come under attack,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “I am encouraged that we are taking a real look at these issues and I will continue to work diligently to address these inequities.”

 

“As Co-Chair of the Black, Latino and Asian caucus and member of the LGBT Caucus, fighting for ways that our City can best serve those who have faced structural barriers to opportunity is part of my mission,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “I am eager for the City to take racial and gender inequity head on and applaud the Speaker for her leadership on this initiative.”

 

“When city agencies place racial and gender equity at the center of their decision-making, the whole city benefits. The City of New York is no exception. One’s race and/or gender should not determine how one fares in life. But, because of business-as-usual policies and practices, they often do. That is not right, nor fair,” said Glenn Harris, President of the Center for Social Inclusion. “It is within the power of government to address root causes of racial and gender inequity. We commend the plan to pass legislation that will require city agencies to set goals and action plans to advance equity as a critical first step, and we recommend all NYC city agencies go through the same process.”

 

“New York is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, home to millions of people, many of whom identify as persons of color, women, and LGBTQIA. While we are a city that thrives on diversity, we must also acknowledge the direct link between discrimination, lack of access to resources, and poverty. To attain true equity, fairness and justice we must begin to assess and address the role race, gender, identity, and sexual orientation has played in marginalizing specific communities and the additional barriers created by both explicit and implicit bias,” said Jennifer Jones-Austin, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. “Instituting legislation requiring Racial and Gender Equity Impact Assessments for select government agencies will not only acknowledge long-standing institutional biases, but will also establish a basis and process that can ultimately eliminate racial and gender disparities across all NYC systems. We commend Speaker Viverito for putting forth this bold legislation and look forward to continuing our work with the Speaker’s office and the Council to ensure the proposed bill is passed into law.”

 

“Speaker Mark-Viverito’s State of the City initiatives work to tackle some of the root causes of poverty that New Yorkers experience everyday,” said Lilliam Barios-Paoli, Senior Advisor at Hunter College. “From education to criminal justice reform to women’s issues and more, I thrilled to see the Council’s continued focus on making New York the best it can be for every single resident.”

 

Addressing Food Insecurities for All New Yorkers

“As President Trump threatens to weaken social safety net programs in our country, we must fight to preserve and increase funding for emergency food assistance,” said Council Member and General Welfare Chair Stephen Levin. “More than a million New Yorkers rely on pantries and soup kitchens to feed themselves and their families. There is no acceptable excuse to cut this budget line and I applaud the Speaker’s support for restoring funds for emergency food. Leadership is about helping out the most needy, not leaving them behind — and we as a Council must be bold in fighting to protect vulnerable individuals and families. New York must be a true sanctuary, not just for immigrants, but for all who all who call this city home.”

 

“Food Bank For New York City and our network of 1,000 charities across the five boroughs applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the entire City Council for their commitment towards ending hunger. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) is a vital resource for the 1.4 million New Yorkers who rely on our city’s network of food pantries and soup kitchens to put food on the table. By calling for an additional $14 million in baseline food dollars for EFAP, the Speaker recognizes that pervasive food shortages at food pantries and soup kitchens are unacceptable,” said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. “The agenda laid out today includes bold and critical steps toward leveling the nutritional playing field for all New Yorkers and to ensure that hunger does not hold anyone back from realizing their full potential.”

 

“Food security continues to be a challenge for many low-income New Yorkers. Recent proposals by President Trump and Congressional leaders to cut food benefits may worsen the situation,” said Nicholas Freudenberg, Professor of Public Health and Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute at the CUNY School of Public Health. “By investing in programs that provide additional resources to ensure food security for school children, seniors, and immigrants, the Speaker’s food proposals protect the city’s most vulnerable populations.

 

“Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies applauds Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for outlining a plan to support policies that seek to reduce hunger in New York City. In addition, we commend the Speaker’s efforts to better coordinate SNAP enrollment for older adults knowing that 18% of this population lives below the poverty line,” said Jennifer Jones-Austin, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of FPWA. “More and more people are forced to make an impossible choice between paying rent and paying for food. Today’s announcement is a first step in the fight to end hunger and we look forward to working with the Speaker and Council to ensure its success.”

 

“Single Stop applauds Speaker Mark-Viverito and the City Council for working thoughtfully to address the widespread hunger and food insecurity in New York City. SNAP, free school meals, and emergency food are critically important resources for the 1.4 million New Yorkers that struggle with poverty and getting enough to eat. By providing more resources to the city’s most vulnerable populations—including children and seniors—the city will help low-income families reach financial stability, and allow them to benefit from the long-lasting impacts of good nutrition, such as improved student academic performance and better health,” said Christy Reeves, Executive Director of Single Stop. “Single Stop thanks the Speaker for recognizing the importance of investment in these resources, as well as the role that innovative technological solutions can play in helping people overcome the challenges of food insecurity.”

 

“We are thankful for the Speaker’s forceful leadership in the fight against hunger,“ said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a NYC-based national advocacy group. “She understands that New York is only as strong as our least well-fed resident, and that ending hunger would lift us all. Her multi-pronged strategy – increasing City funds while maximizing federal funds and fiercely opposing cuts in DC, is exactly the right approach.”

 

“On behalf of thousands of low income older New Yorkers, LiveOn NY commends Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for targeting the need to help seniors sign up for SNAP through increased outreach and coordination by HRA and DFTA,” said Bobbie Sackman, Associate Executive Director of Public Policy, LiveOn NY. “LiveOn NY has assisted thousands of seniors citywide in signing up for SNAP and other benefits which provide more economic security. We would support HRA implementing the Elderly Simplified Application, as utilized in other states, that would make it easier for seniors to enroll in SNAP and keep their benefits. Marshaling all the city’s resources to ensure every eligible senior enrolls in SNAP fostering food security, is a worthy and laudable goal.”

 

“”Diet and nutrition are major determinants of health,” said Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, President of The New York Academy of Medicine. “The Academy commends the Council’s commitment to increase funding for emergency food programs, moving closer to ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to healthy food regardless of their age, neighborhood, or income.”

 

“We applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito and the City Council for leading the progressive charge to ensure that universal free school lunch is a reality in all New York City public schools. This is the most sweeping initiative that NYC can undertake with immediate and direct impact on income inequality and educational equity,” said Liz Accles, Executive Director of Community Food Advocates. “Universal free school lunch will not only provide financial relief to many of New York City’s struggling families, it will ensure that all children in all public schools have equal access the food necessary to perform at their highest potential.”

 

“The Food Industry Alliance of New York State supports the idea of connecting food establishments with food rescue organizations,” said Jay Peltz, General Counsel and VP of Government Relations at the Food Industry Alliance. “Not only will this reduce the amount of safe edible food that is thrown away, it will allow these organizations to feed hungry New Yorkers, a win-win solution.”

 

“The New York City Hospitality Alliance supports the Council’s plan to create a Web-based tool to connect food establishments with food rescue organizations,” said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “Allowing these groups to connect on-line and schedule food donations will reduce the amount of edible food that is thrown away while at the same time reducing hunger in our city, a solution that benefits all New Yorkers.”

 

Strengthening Small Businesses Through Innovative Reforms

“The Speaker’s final State of the City takes a significant step in addressing the needs of our City’s small business community and racial and gender equity,” said Council Member and Small Business Committee Chair Robert Cornegy. “As the Chair of the Small Business Committee, I stand behind any proposal to address excessive civil penalties and fines and I looking forward to working with the Speaker to ensure that this happens.”

 

“Restaurants and bars are the backbone of our communities providing great food, gracious hospitality and jobs for New Yorkers. Unfortunately, many of these small businesses are struggling in part due to expensive fines and complicated regulations,” said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “That’s why we’re thrilled to work with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on common-sense regulatory reforms that will help our local restaurants succeed.”

 

“It is important to ensure that small businesses have the tools they need to succeed in New York City,” said Nancy Ploeger, Executive Director of the IWEC Foundation. “We look forward to working with the City Council on innovative methods to reform the way that civil penalties are satisfied.”

 

“The Speaker is to be commended for wanting to help small businesses comply with laws that they may not understand,” said Jessica Walker, President and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “This enlightened approach to enforcement – one that emphasizes education and training rather than fines and punishment – acknowledges that the vast majority of business owners want to do the right thing. We look forward to working with the City Council on further reforms to help small businesses survive and thrive.”

 

“We thank Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for recognizing the ABC’s of small business. Through education, owners can avoid being nickeled and dimed,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew Hoan. “The Council Speaker understands that small business is the engine that drives the New York City economy and that any fee or fine effects their bottom line.”

 

“Reducing building emissions through energy efficient measures such as lighting retrofits is a critical piece of climate change mitigation as buildings account for nearly three quarters of New York City’s total emissions output,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito for proposing a creative incentive for building owners to help keep us on track to reach our 80 x 50 emissions reduction goal.”

 

“Urban Green applauds Speaker Mark-Viverito for this creative program, which simultaneously promotes two worthy goals: helping small business owners and advancing energy efficiency,” said Urban Green Council Executive Director Russell Unger. “We look forward to assisting in the development of this novel idea.”

 

Protecting and Supporting Tenant Rights

“Each year, hundreds and hundreds of residents come to my district office to seek help in the face of harassment from their landlords. Tenant harassment, whether in the form of illegal construction work, frivolous lawsuits, or outright intimidation, robs New Yorkers of their homes and exacerbates the city’s affordable housing crisis,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “I am greatly encouraged by the Speaker’s leadership in tackling this issue head on, and look forward to working to strengthen our laws to protect our tenants.”

 

“It’s important to be able to hold landlords accountable for broad patterns of harassment, so that tenants aren’t isolated under the law,” said Michael Grinthal, Supervising Attorney at MFY Legal Services. “These legislative proposals are a critical piece in continuing to strengthen the Tenant Harassment Law.”

 

“Landlord harassment remains an unfortunate part of everyday life for many New Yorkers in every borough,” said Judith Goldiner, Attorney-In-Charge of the Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “These common-sense proposals affirm Speaker Mark-Viverito’s commitment to fight harassment that can lead to unjust higher rents, deplorable living conditions and displacement. This package of legislation will equip tenants with even more tools to ensure their homes are livable and to protect against threats of homelessness.”

 

“I applaud the Council’s legislation to protect vulnerable tenants who are struggling with harassment and intimidation. Every day tenants are struggling to pay their rent and care for their kids,” said Harvey Epstein, Director of the Urban Justice Center. “This legislation will give tenants, especially ones living in smaller buildings additional recourses and remedies to stop their owners from engaging in this abusive behavior.”

 

“Strengthening the City’s anti-harassment law will provide a much needed additional layer of protection for low income tenants facing an ever worsening tide of gentrification and displacement,” said Ed Josephson, Director of Litigation and Housing at Legal Services for New York City.

 

“Tenants & Neighbors commends the City Council for targeting tenant harassment, a major epidemic that is plaguing gentrifying communities across New York City,” said Katie Goldstein, Executive Director of Tenants and Neighbors. “Increasing protections for tenants against landlord harassment is essential for the preservation of affordable neighborhoods.”

 

“We fully support City Council proposals to strengthen tenant harassment laws in ways that will recognize and compensate tenants for the harm done to them as well as more effectively deter bad behavior on the part of landlords,” said Beth Goldman, President and Attorney in Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group. “Under current law, when a tenant brings a harassment action, only the NYC Housing and Preservation Development gets the fines; the tenant gets nothing. By allowing attorney’s fees and compensatory/punitive damages for HMC cases, landlords will face significant consequences if they engage in harassment.”

 

Investing in Our Public Housing Residents

“Public Housing is a vital resource for New York City residents, but housing alone is not enough.  We, as a City, need to ensure that we are providing services to assist residents of public housing in reaching for new and greater opportunities,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “That is why I recently sponsored legislation which will require reporting on City services which support public housing residents. It is also why I am so proud to stand with the Speaker in calling for and funding a variety of services for NYCHA residents including digital vans, the Resident Leadership Academy, business accelerator programs, and the creation of jobs through supporting urban farms with Green City Force” said Ritchie Torres, Chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Public Housing.”

 

“Hand-in-hand with the New York City Council lead by Speaker Mark-Viverito, NYCHA is now expanding six important NextGeneration NYCHA initiatives to increase opportunity for our residents and improve our developments,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “NYCHA is fundamentally changing the way we do business and we are grateful for the partnership of Speaker Mark-Viverito, whose district has the largest concentration of NYCHA developments in the city, to make our NextGen vision of safe, clean and connected homes a reality.”

“The FBP opened up many doors of opportunity for me to sell my baked goods to business and corporations that would not have given me a second thought if my company wasn’t a legal entity with the proper licenses and insurance needed to run a business,” said Joann Poe, participant in FBP Cohort 1 and resident of the Patterson Houses. “My sales have increased tremendously, and I have made connections with affluent businesses and programs in which I was able to network and build business relationships.”

 

“I am so thankful to have come across the NYCHA Food Business Pathways Program. It has made me realize that all things are possible,” said Naima Afoatti, paricipant on FBP Cohort 4 and resident of the Johnson Houses. “It all started from a vision of wanting to launch the First West African cafe. However, due to lack of funds, we instead pushed a beverage line, Nini, which sells healthy traditional African drinks to business owners and uses its earnings to better traditional African countries starting with, Togo. This is all thanks to the Food Business Pathways program for allowing me to realize my dreams as a Social Entrepreneur.”

 

“I am thrilled that Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is creating a Resident Leadership Academy for residents.  It is our right to better advocate for our communities – the ability to earn college credits in the process is an invaluable bonus,” said Ethel Velez, President of James Weldon Johnson Housing Development and Chairperson of the Manhattan North Council of Presidents. “As we move forward with implementation, residents must be directly involved with the program’s development and delivery to guarantee that is meaningful and impactful.”

 

“The Murphy Institute supports the New York City Council, NYCHA and the Fund for Public Housing in their efforts to develop the Resident Leadership Institute to provide training and capacity building to NYCHA resident association members and other resident leaders. The Leadership Institute, when funded, will be an exciting and vital opportunity for Resident leaders who are critical within NYCHA communities,” said Gregory Mantsios, Director of The Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education at the City University of New York. “This program will develop grass roots and emerging leaders who have demonstrated a passion for serving their NYCHA communities and provide them with the skills and knowledge to become more engaged and effective in their work. The program will open new opportunities for residents to assume additional leadership positions within public housing and beyond, and provide a pathway to residents interested in higher education.”

 

“Green City Force (GCF) is thankful for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s support of Farms at NYCHA, an initiative of Building Healthy Communities. We are thrilled to have partnerships and resources that allow our GCF AmeriCorps Members, part of The Corps Network’s National Opportunity Youth Service Initiative, to transform NYCHA land into beautiful green community spaces,” said Green City Force Founder and Executive Director Lisbeth Shepherd. “GCF is grateful for the Speaker’s leadership and alignment with our mission to break the cycle of poverty, preparing urban young adults to succeed in their chosen careers by engaging them in service, training and work experiences related to the clean energy economy. We are committed to the ongoing success of our 300 alumni and look forward to engaging more young people with this support from the Speaker.”

 

“FlexOps is fundamentally changing how NYCHA does business,” said General Manager Michael Kelly. “Flexible, modern and efficient scheduling means our residents receive better customer service and our employees have more flexible schedules. FlexOps isn’t just about scheduling, it’s about making our NextGen vision of safe, clean and connected communities a reality.”

 

“As a resident of NYCHA and a CUNY graduate, I am so proud and excited about the collaboration between these two vital New York institutions,” said Latiya Stanley of the Board of Directors for the Fund for Public Housing and resident of Breukelen Houses. “NYCHA residents already contribute to the city in many ways. The Leadership Academy at CUNY will expand these contributions by building a bridge to higher learning and providing residents with the resources to be great leaders in their immediate community and New York City as a whole.”

 

“On behalf of the Fund for Public Housing and NYCHA residents everywhere, I’m thrilled that CUNY will be partnering with us to establish the Resident Leadership Academy,” said Diatre Padilla of the Board of Directors for the Fund for Public Housing and resident of Soundview Houses. “Opportunities for NYCHA residents to expand their leadership skills are woefully scarce; I’ve no doubt that residents will embrace this chance to improve their own lives and assume an active role in their communities.”

 

“The Childcare Business Pathways program was very beneficial to me and fast paced. I learned a lot about the childcare business world that I have never knew before until I have started with The Childcare Business Pathways. All the information that I benefited from was very helpful–from learning cash flow and how to market my business to learning how to write a business plan and network in my community. I will soon be the owner of a Group Family Daycare provider, Arnesia’s Mighty Tykes Daycare, and someday I would like to expand my business into a commercial Daycare,” said Arnesia Williams, paricipant in Childcare Cohort 1 and resident of the Marlboro Houses. “It has been my pleasure in taking part in such a wonderful program. I never thought I could do it, but I made it with the exceptional help of The Childcare Business Pathways staff. I am very grateful.”

 

“I was thrilled to have such an opportunity that provided me with valuable and applicable information. The program certainly deepened my knowledge and understanding of many aspects of Childcare and how to operate the business,” said Vallerie Phillip, participant in Childcare Cohort 1 and resident of Mill Brook Houses. “I feel that I now have the tools to create a successful and beneficial home daycare business. Thanks to NYCHA also for making this program possible.”

 

“The most important thing I learned in Green City Force was how to grow my own food, which I find very important in this type of world where there’s food injustice in poor neighborhoods,” said Nalijah Trammell, a GCF AmeriCorps Member and NYCHA Walt Whitman Houses Resident. “After GCF I’m planning to teach people and hopefully also work for an urban garden.”
“We built three farms, grew food in them and did community engagement,” said Christopher Escoboza, a GCF AmeriCorps Member and NYCHA Wagner Houses Resident. “Through thick and thin strengths and weaknesses, we all had a part to play, and we did it.”

 

“Green City Force means change, not just in the communities that we have farms in, but a change in myself as well,” said Paul Philpott, GCF AmeriCorps Member, a NYCHA Lexington Houses Resident.

 

Collaborating with Municipal Legislative Leaders Across the Country

“America’s largest cities face challenges scaled to a level that demands unique solutions from their city leaders,” said National League of Cities (NLC) CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “This forum for city council presidents of the nation’s biggest cities is a platform for networking, building on collective capital, and — most importantly — sharing ideas that make America’s cities stronger, safer and more resilient.”

 

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