The Council will also vote on a bill to address maternal mortality
City Hall, NY – The New York City Council will vote on legislation today to require the City to pay higher rates in its rental assistance voucher program for homeless New Yorkers. Int. 146-C also eliminates the program’s current five-year cap for vouchers. Moving forward, anyone who continues to qualify for the program will be eligible. These changes will increase the number of apartments available to homeless New Yorkers and help move more people out of shelter and into permanent housing.
Currently, vouchers in the program, known as CityFHEPS, are capped at $1,265 a month for a single adult and $1,580 for a family of three or four. The legislation will require the CityFHEPS rates to align with Section 8, the country’s most successful rental assistance voucher. Section 8 allows $1,945 for a one-bedroom apartment or $2,217 for a two-bedroom apartment.
To reduce the number of maternal deaths in New York City, particularly among Black and Brown women, the Council will vote on a bill to require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to post information about licensed midwives, including the services they offer and how to find them, on their website. Data shows that midwifery is a possible solution to achieve better maternal health outcomes.
The Council will vote on two public housing related bills to help aging New Yorkers. The first bill would establish a liaison to the New York City Housing Authority within the Department for the Aging (DFTA) to ensure better coordination between DFTA-contracted senior centers on NYCHA properties. This is especially important in beginning to reopen senior centers in a clear and safe manner.
The second bill would require DFTA to report annually on senior centers within public housing developments, especially to ensure clarity in what agency is responsible for receiving and addressing complaints about DFTA-contracted senior centers at NYCHA locations.
The Council will also vote on legislation to create an interagency task force on removing certain vehicles from public streets, like those without license plates or valid registrations parked for extended periods of time. This bill would establish a task force to examine the City’s procedures for removing abandoned vehicles and those without license plates or valid registration, and develop recommendations to improve removal practices.
The Council will also vote on a bill to require that the green wooden fences used at construction sites be replaced with chain link fences once construction at a site has stopped for at least two years, and after a registered design professional has certified that all construction or demolition equipment and any hazardous or otherwise dangerous materials have been either removed from the site or secured. This is an effort to prevent the green wooden fences from falling into disrepair or becoming subject to vandalism.
Additionally, the Council will vote on a resolution urging the United States Congress and the New York State Legislature to oppose the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Acts,” or PRENDA, and instead support the right to abortion. This resolution comes at a time when safe access to abortions is under constant threat, and a ban on sex-selective abortions perpetuates racial stereotypes and undermines access to care.
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use items and seven home rule decisions, including one to reduce speed limits in the City.
Increases amount of rental assistance voucher
Int. No. 146-C, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, will remove time limits on the amount of time where an otherwise qualifying recipient of rental assistance vouchers established by the Department of Social Services (DSS) would receive the voucher. The bill will also require that the maximum rent toward which rental assistance vouchers may be applied is set at levels equal to those established pursuant to section 982.503 of the Code of Federal Regulations, otherwise referred to as “Section 8.” The requirements set by the bill would be subject to appropriation.
In New York City, Section 8, the country’s most successful rental assistance voucher, is pegged at $1,945 for a one-bedroom apartment or $2,217 for a two-bedroom apartment. Meanwhile, CityFHEPS vouchers are capped at $1,265 per month for a single adult and $1,580 for a family of three or four. By increasing the amount the voucher pays, the City would increase the number of units available to individuals and families with vouchers.
Research by StreetEasy released in April 2021 found that record-high rent drops and high inventory levels from COVID-19 have more than doubled the number of homes on the market that are deemed affordable for Section 8 voucher participants. According to StreetEasy, using all apartments listed from July through December 2020, only 564 units would meet current CityFHEPS standards, whereas 71,934 would meet Section 8 standards.
“This bill will be transformative for thousands of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and will allow many families to finally find permanent, stable housing. This is the result of years of hard work by advocates and impacted people who demanded a usable City FHEPs voucher. In my time at the council, my office has tried to help countless constituents who qualify for vouchers find acceptable housing. But there were too many applicants and too few available units and people waited for years with vouchers that were all but worthless. The change to raise voucher amounts is an investment in housing and the fight against homelessness, and an affirmation of the human right to housing,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
The bill would take effect 180 days after it becomes law.
Creates a vehicle removal task force
Int. No. 176-A, sponsored by Council Member Alan Maisel, will establish an interagency task force to examine the City’s procedures for removing from streets within the City, vehicles that are abandoned or parked without a license plate or valid registration. The task force would develop recommendations to improve existing removal practices, particularly in response to complaints from local residents. The task force would include the Commissioner of Transportation, the Commissioner of Sanitation, and the Police Commissioner, or their respective designee, as well as two additional members appointed by the Mayor.
The task force would also invite representatives from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the New York State Department of Transportation, and representatives of any other relevant state agency, as identified by the task force, to participate. The task force would meet at least five times, convene at least one public hearing in each of the five boroughs, and submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Mayor and Speaker of the City Council.
The bill would take effect immediately.
Report on senior centers on NYCHA
Int. No. 415-A, sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin, will amend the existing reporting requirements set forth in Local Law 140 so that the Department for the Aging must now also include in its report the name of the service provider at each senior center located on NYCHA property, complaints received about those senior center facilities, and steps taken to address those complaints.
In 2018, the City Council enacted Local Law 140, requiring DFTA to provide annual reports about senior centers receiving DFTA funding, including but not limited to information on participant attendance, services, budgets, meals, costs, and rates of utilization at senior centers. Proposed Int. No. 415-A seeks to increase the amount of information available about DFTA-contracted senior centers located on property owned by NYCHA.
This bill will take effect immediately.
Establishes NYCA liaison with DFTA
Int. No. 1827-A, sponsored by Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, will establish a liaison within DFTA that is responsible for, among other things, coordinating with NYCHA about facilities and other matters impacting older adults in NYCHA, assisting with complaints and grievances regarding senior centers located on NYCHA property, and making recommendations to the Commissioner of DFTA on how to improve programs and facilities for participants at those senior centers.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has 302 developments across its portfolio, 40 of which are dedicated senior-only developments. According to NYCHA, approximately 21.8% of its population is age 62 or older. In addition to various services available to seniors in NYCHA developments, including 29 social clubs that provide recreational, health, cultural activities, and resources, there are 74 senior centers on NYCHA properties contracted by the Department for the Aging (DFTA). It has been noted, however, that it is at times unclear how responsibilities are divided up between the various agencies when DFTA-contracted senior centers are located on NYCHA properties. Given that DFTA-contracted senior centers have remained closed for indoor programming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a greater need to ensure that when their doors do reopen, services are provided in a clear, efficient, and effective manner.
“The 41st council district, which I represent, encompasses Brownsville, Ocean Hill, parts of East Flatbush, Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights and we have felt the brunt of environmental injustice. Historically we were left out of climate change conversations however in recent years we have taken steps to reverse that course. For that reason, I am proud to lead this charge. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that we turn a corner towards a healthier future without putting duress on the hardworking property and small business owners in my district and in the city,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel.
This bill will take effect 180 days after it become law.
HOUSING AND BUILDINGS
Replaces wooden fences at stalled construction sites for chain fencing
Int. No. 1128-A, sponsored by Council Member Robert Holden, will require that, where work at a construction site has stopped for at least two years, the green wooden fence surrounding the site be replaced with a chain link fence after a registered design professional has certified that all construction or demolition equipment and any hazardous or otherwise dangerous materials have been either removed from the site or secured. When construction work at the site is ready to resume, this bill requires that the chain link fence be replaced with a green wooden fence.
The New York City Building Code requires that construction sites be enclosed with a green wooden fence that contains at least one plexiglass viewing panel per side. When the work at a construction site has stopped for an extended period, this wooden fence can subsequently fall into disrepair and become subject to vandalism.
“As a civic leader for over forty years and throughout my time in the City Council, I have worked to improve the quality of life in my district across the city,” said Council Member Robert Holden. “I promised my neighbors I would do something about these unsightly and unsafe fences and today, my colleagues and I have fulfilled that promise. I thank Speaker Johnson and the Cosponsors: Council Members Borelli, Ulrich, Yeger, Gjonaj, Dromm, Rodriquez, Koo and Moya.”
Int. No. 1128-A would take effect 180 days after it becomes law but would only apply to construction sites where work has stopped for two continuous years after the effective date.
Facilitates information on licensed midwives
Int. No. 2042-A, sponsored by Council Member Vanessa Gibson, will require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to post information about licensed midwives, including the services they offer and how to find them, on the DOHMH website.
More women in the United States die of pregnancy-related complications than in any other developed country, and the number of maternal deaths has been increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1987 and data also shows that this trend has worsened in recent years. Each year, 700-900 American women die and approximately 65,000 suffer potentially mortal complications from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. Additionally, data shows that health inequities significantly impact pregnancy outcomes. According to the CDC, Black women in the U.S. are three to four times more likely to die from complications related to pregnancy than white women. In particular, New York City and State have among the highest rates of maternal deaths in the country. In New York City, Black women die at a rate of 8 to 12 times more frequently than white women.
Data and studies show that one possible solution to address maternal mortality is through the use of midwives. However, information about midwives can be difficult to find and navigate, and accordingly, those who would most benefit from these resources are often the least likely to utilize them.
“Policymakers, health care professionals and communities can improve Black women’s maternal health by expanding access to health coverage and information on midwives and doulas,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Co-Chair of the NYC Council Women`s Caucus. “Intro. 2042 is a first step in ensuring birthing individuals have access to midwifery information and removes information barriers that could be potentially life saving. We are experiencing a Black Maternal Mortality crisis in our city and we cannot wait for another preventable death before taking action.”
This bill would take effect immediately.
WOMEN AND GENDER EQUITY
Res. No. 920-A, sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin, urges the United States Congress and the New York State Legislature to support a woman’s right to abortion, and to oppose a ban on sex-selective abortions, which perpetuate racial stereotypes and undermine access to care
“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Acts” (or “PRENDA”) are bans on sex-selective abortions, which make it illegal for a doctor to provide abortion care if they suspect a pregnant person could be seeking an abortion due to a preference for the sex of the fetus. In New York State, PRENDA legislation has been put up for a vote six times. PRENDA laws have been enacted in 11 states, while related legislation been introduced in 26 states.
Such PRENDA bans are seen as discriminatory toward people of color, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women, trans, and gender non-conforming people as they disproportionately affect these communities and seek to stigmatize their abortion decisions, ultimately restricting access to abortion care. Some versions of sex- selective abortion bans include a race-selective ban that would prohibit abortions performed on the basis of race, allowing abortion providers to act on false and racist agendas. Further, sex-selective abortion bans encourage racial profiling by medical providers and harm the doctor-patient relationship. They also potentially lead to the arbitrary delay or denial of reproductive health services and further the stigmatization of not only abortion decisions, but also of women, trans, and gender nonconforming people, particularly those of AANHPI descent.
At a time when access to safe abortions is necessary to ensure that pregnant individuals can plan their lives and families without risking their health, this resolution would call for the U.S. Congress and the New York State Legislature to oppose a ban on sex-selective abortions, which perpetuate racial stereotypes and undermine access to care.
“It is so important that we protect a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions without government interference, therefore we must be adamant in rejecting any legislation proposing restrictions to abortion. Sex-selective abortion bans make false assumptions about certain communities of color and invite further scrutiny towards a woman’s motivation for abortion. I am proud to sponsor Resolution 920 opposing bans on sex-selective abortions and I will continue to fight for a woman’s constitutional right to choose,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.
Governors Island Rezoning – The Trust for Governors Island and the Department of Small Business Services, seek a zoning map amendment to change an existing R3-2 district to a C4-1 district, and a related zoning text amendment to modify the existing Special Governors Island District by establishing new Subdistricts for the North and South portions of the Island, and new provisions applicable within the proposed South Island Subdistrict. This will facilitate the development of 3,775,000 square feet of commercial, educational, and community facility uses across 34 acres on Governor’s Island and preserve over 46 acres of open space in the southern portion of the island, in Council Member Margaret Chin’s district. The council modified the zoning text amendment to reduce the proposed overall density by capping the aggregate floor area at 3,775,000 square feet; allow a full build out of floor area in the Southern Subdistrict only with the provision of Use Group 3 and 4 community facility uses; cap hotel and office space uses in the Southern Subdistrict; limit permitted obstructions in the Open Space Subarea to no more than 20%, and such obstructions will be included in the aggregate floor area calculations; prohibit CPC authorizations to increase allowed uses in the Open Space subarea; significantly reduce building heights to range between 125 to 225 feet; change bulk rules to match reduced base heights; and require bicycle parking in all new development, in Council Member Margaret Chin’s district.
261 Walton Avenue – Mott Haven Gateway LLC, seeks approval of a zoning map amendment to change the existing M1-4/R6A, located within the MX-13 Special Mixed-Use District to an R8A/C2-4 zoning district and the elimination of a portion of the MX-13 Special Mixed-Use District. The applicant also seeks a zoning text amendment to map the project areas as an MIH area, utilizing Option 1. These actions will facilitate the development of a new 12 story mixed use building with approximately 190 housing units, 48 will be permanently affordable, and ground floor commercial space, in the Lower Concourse neighborhood, in Council Member Diana Ayala’s district.
Arthur Avenue Hotel Rezoning – 2461 Hughes Associates LLC, seeks a zoning map amendment which would rezone a part of the Project Area (known as “Rezoning Area 1”) from an R6 and R6/C2-4 zoning district to a C6-1 zoning district, and rezone the remaining portion of the Project Area (known as “Rezoning Area 2”) from an R6 zoning district to an R6/C1-4 zoning district; as well as a zoning text amendment to establish a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (“MIH”) Area coterminous with Rezoning Area 1. These two actions will facilitate the development of a new hotel and residential building with approximately of approximately 146 hotel rooms, 56 housing units, 17 will be permanently affordable, and 156 parking spaces, in Council Member Oswald Feliz’s district.
431 Concord Avenue Rezoning – Concord Realty LLC, seeks approval of a zoning map amendment to change the existing M1-2 district to a R7D zoning district and a zoning text amendment to establish the project area as an MIH area to facilitate the development of a residential building. Under the proposed R7D, residential uses are permitted up to 5.6 FAR, and community facility uses up to 4.2 FAR. The actions will facilitate the development of a proposed affordable 11-story residential building with approximately 88 housing, units, 22 will be permanently affordable, in Council Member Diana Ayala’s district. The council modified the MIH options.
Suydam Street Rezoning – Suydam Inc. and 3210 Willoughby LLC, seek a proposed zoning map amendment from an M1-1 zoning district to an M1-5 district, R7D/M1-5 district, and an R6 district, a zoning text amendment to create a new “MX-21” district pairing R7D and M1-5 and establish a new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area, and a special permit pursuant to ZR 74-533 to waive the parking requirements for the proposed residential building. These actions would facilitate the development of a new affordable housing residential building with approximately 95 housing units, 24 will be permanently affordable and the enlargement of an existing industrial building, in Council Member Antonio Reynoso’s district. The council modified the MIH options.
ACME Smoked Fish/GEM Street Rezoning – RP Inlet LLC, a partnership between Acme Smoked Fish and Rubenstein Partners, seeks a proposed zoning map amendment from an M3-1 district to an M1-5 district and large-scale general development (LSGD) special permit pursuant to ZR 74-743(a)(2) to modify height and setback regulations. These actions would facilitate the redevelopment of a mixed-use industrial-commercial development with a new four-story industrial facility for Acme Smoked Fish and a nine-story commercial office building with ground-floor retail, in Council Member Stephen Levin’s district.
606 Neptune Avenue Rezoning – McDonald’s Corporation seeks a zoning map amendment changing from a R6/C1-2 district to an R6/C2-4 district, within the Ocean Bay Special District property generally bounded by West 6th Street between Neptune Ave and Sheepshead Bay Road; and modification of a Restrictive Declaration to facilitate the legalization of a drive through facility, accessory to a UG6 eating and drinking establishment.
300 Huntington Street – 300 Huntington Street LLC, seeks a proposed rezoning from existing M2-1 district to an M2-3 district located on the entire block bounded by the Gowanus Canal, Huntington Street, Smith Street, and 9th Street in order to eliminate the parking requirements and facilitate construction of a new six-story manufacturing and commercial building, in Council Member Brad Lander’s district.
Four Article XI Property Tax Exemptions:
Light Hall, in Council Member Mark Levine’s district in Manhattan, will receive a full, 40 year exemption to preserve 42 units of affordable rental housing.
Dora Collazo, in Council Member Carlina Rivera’s district in Manhattan, will receive a full, 40 year exemption to preserve 41 units of affordable rental housing.
840-50 St. Marks Avenue, in Council Member Robert Cornegy’s district in Brooklyn, will receive a full, 40 year exemption to preserve 55 units of affordable coops.
3800 Putnam, in Council Member Eric Dinowitz’s district in the Bronx, will receive a partial, 35 year exemption to preserve 44 units of affordable rental housing.
STATE AND FEDERAL LEGISLATION
The Council is voting on seven home rules messages.
One reduces speeds limits in New York City. At least 243 New Yorkers died as a result of traffic crashes in 2020, the deadliest year on our streets since we launched Vision Zero campaign in 2014. While speed limit reductions and traffic calming measures are proven policies that save lives, State law limits our ability to reduce speed limits.
Named for a 12 year old from Brooklyn killed by a reckless driver in 2013, “Sammy’s Law” would give New York City the authority to reduce speed limits to 20 miles per hour.
The Council is also voting on a second transportation home rule item. This one will create a program for limiting overweight trucks on the BQE.
Additionally, the Council is voting on three home rules to support government workers. One will provide parity among all of the Tier 2 members of the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund in the calculation of their salary bases. A second one will allow certain Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Members to retire earlier. And a third one will provide benefits for certain New York City Transit employees with lung disease.
Another home rule message will allow for the Department of Environmental Protection to construct a storm sewer in Idlewild Park in Queens.
Finally, the Council is voting on a home rule that will increase fines for parked or unattended trailers on New York City streets.