Council also votes on legislation to advance substance use recovery programs, mental health services, and regulation of catalytic converter sales to prevent auto theft
City Hall, NY – Today, the Council approved two land use applications in Brooklyn and Queens that will collectively produce over 5,000 new units of housing, 65% of which will be affordable. Over 1,900 of the housing units (over 37%) would be deeply affordable for extremely or very low-income households. The projects, Innovation QNS in Astoria, Queens and Innovative Urban Village in East New York, Brooklyn, demonstrate the Council’s commitment to addressing the City’s housing crisis by approving affordable housing development. With these approvals, the Council has now approved over 40 land use applications since January 2022, creating 11,447 total housing units with over 63% (7,238 units) designated as affordable.
“As our city grapples with a housing crisis that threatens communities, the Council has advanced major projects that provide tens of thousands of affordable homes to New Yorkers,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “With today’s approval of Innovation QNS and Innovative Urban Village, we are delivering affordable housing and unprecedented public benefits for the residents of Brooklyn, Queens, and the entire city. These projects affirm the Council’s deep commitment to confronting the city’s housing shortage by securing safe, stable, and affordable homes for New Yorkers. We will continue to invest in solutions to the greatest challenges facing our communities and work together to ensure residents can thrive in our city.”
The Council also voted on several pieces of legislation to prevent auto theft of catalytic converter parts, require distribution of information on the new national 988 suicide and crisis lifeline number to public school students, and enhance harm reduction and addiction recovery efforts for people with opioid use disorder.
Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection
Catalytic converters are increasingly becoming a popular item as they contain highly valued metals and are easy to steal, taking less than two minutes to remove. Stolen catalytic converters end up costing car owners thousands of dollars to replace. This legislation would regulate secondhand dealers’ sale of these converters and protect consumers from theft. Introduction 525-B, sponsored by Council Member Gale Brewer, would require that any secondhand dealer purchasing a used catalytic converter, must first obtain from the seller information about the vehicle the catalytic converter was removed from, which demonstrates that the seller either owns the vehicle or was otherwise authorized to remove the catalytic converter in connection with a repair. In addition, the purchaser would be required to determine if the catalytic converter presented is consistent with the identified vehicle. The purchaser would be required to retain records of this information for at least six years and such records would be available in real time to law enforcement.
“Removing a catalytic converter takes less than two minutes– and costs the car owner thousands of dollars to replace,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “My legislation will make it harder for thieves to resell stolen catalytic converters by requiring a vehicle identification number and a copy of the certificate of title for any sale. We need to prevent these thefts so that hard-working New Yorkers can know that their vehicles will be available when they need them for work, school, or family visits.”
Committee on Education
In response to a national need to have an improved dedicated crisis hotline for mental health crises, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was rebooted with its own three-digit number and federal funding to increase its network of trained mental health professionals and volunteers earlier this year. Introduction 610-A, sponsored by Council Member Erik Bottcher, would require the Department of Education (DOE) to distribute information to students annually regarding suicide prevention, including information about the new national 988 suicide and crisis lifeline number, suicide warning signs and risk factors, and any other related suicide prevention resources DOE deems relevant. In recent years, rates of suicide and mental health related emergency visits have increased for youth under 18 demonstrating a strong need for resources to reach kids in locations where they spend significant time.
“When I was a teen suffering from depression and having suicidal thoughts, my school didn’t have access to the kind of help and resources that schools have today. But we need to make sure these resources are getting to young people,” said Council Member Erik Bottcher. “By ensuring that every NYC student knows about 988 and other mental health resources, we will save lives. Thanks to Speaker Adams, Chair Joseph, and all of my colleagues for their incredible support of this legislation.”
Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction
Overdose deaths in New York City have seen an increase over the years, especially those in areas with the highest proportion of Black/African American and Latino residents. Harm reduction services in NYC, such as Overdose Prevention Centers have been proven successful preventing overdoses and death. In order to continue to provide harm reduction services, Introduction 609-A,sponsored by Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to establish a pilot buyback program for the return of needles, syringes, and sharps used for non-medical consumption at locations in the 5 highest-need council districts. DOHMH would be tasked to determine eligibility for participation in the program and to set the buyback incentive, up to 20 cents per needle, syringe or sharp, with a cap of $10 per individual per day. This would boost public health and safety efforts by reducing the littering and use of used needles and syringes. The bill would also require DOHMH to create a community-based plan of action to address the opioid epidemic in communities deemed at highest risk for opioid abuse and deaths. New York City saw over 1,900 opioid overdose deaths in 2021 with the bulk of them occurring in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
“The opioid crisis is a public health emergency that continues to negatively impact all New Yorkers,” said Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “Throughout the years syringe litter has increased as opioid use surged, this piece of legislation incentivizes users to dispose of their syringes safely by connecting them with Overdose Prevention Centers. The overall aim is to connect users with organizations that can put them onto a path of recovery, while at the same time, cleaning up our streets. I introduced this bill to address an issue at the heart of my community and several other communities across New York City. This bill is a first step in addressing existing syringe litter and mitigating the effects of the opioid crisis in our communities in a humane and effective way.”
The opioid settlement fund, created in 2021, is required by state law to support opioid prevention and treatment strategies. Through litigation against corporations, the State Attorney General’s Office secured over $2.1 billion for the fund. Earlier this year, Mayor Adams outlined how dollars provided to New York City from the fund would be utilized. Introduction 404-A, sponsored by Council Member Linda Lee, would require DOHMH, or another agency designated by the mayor, to report on the monies paid to the city pursuant to the New York opioid settlement sharing agreement, or any other agreement with an opioid supply chain participant, or any successor agreements. The bill would require the agency to submit a report within 30 days of the release of each city financial plan or update that discloses the amount of opioid funds available, where the money is being spent, the number of New Yorkers being served, and anticipated spending for each fiscal year. This reporting would be required until all funds have been used.
“For the first time in decades, New York City has an opportunity to address a massive public health crisis in a manner that will maximize coordination between the City and State, various government agencies, and community-based service providers, while simultaneously providing the utmost transparency for New Yorkers,” said Council Member Linda Lee. “Every three hours a New Yorker dies from a drug overdose, and as a social worker, I have seen how the ongoing opioid epidemic has created turmoil that families across our city have paid for with their lives. New York City deserves to know how we will combat this crisis, and Int.404 serves as the blueprint that will give our residents insight into our efforts to build preventative and rehabilitative programming to end the opioid epidemic. I want to thank New York State Attorney General Letitia James for holding opioid manufacturers accountable for the damage they have caused, my colleagues in the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions for their support, and Speaker Adrienne Adams for her leadership on this issue.”
The Land Use items passed by the Council include the following:
252-Seat Early Childhood Center – The New York City School Construction Authority (NYCSCA), proposed site selection for property located at 1 Virginia Avenue, Staten Island, for a construction of a new early childhood center with approximately 252 seats which will serve Community School District 31, in Council Member Kamillah Hanks’ district.
78-18 164th Street Rezoning – A zoning map amendment to change the commercial overlay from C1-3 to C2-3 proposed by Dr. Mikhail Kantius in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Queens Community District 8 in Council Member James Gennaro’s district. This would allow a larger number of commercial use groups and bring an existing nonconforming medical laboratory into conformance with zoning. The Council will modify the boundary of the proposed C2-3 overlay by limiting it to the 164th Street frontage.
Innovation Queens – Applications by Kaufman Astoria Bedrock I LLC and Silverstein Astoria Member LLC for rezoning from M1-1 and C4-2A to a special mixed-use district (MX-24) consisting of M1-4/R7-3, M1-4/R7X, and M1-5/R9-1, zoning text amendments to designate a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area in Appendix F of the Zoning Resolution (Option 1), and special permits to modify bulk, loading, sign, and retail size regulations to facilitate a series of mixed-use buildings and publicly accessible open spaces, with over 3,100 housing units in 13 buildings ranging in height from 8 to 27 stories between 37th St, 35th Ave, Northern Blvd, and 36th Ave in Astoria, Queens in Council Member Julie Won’s district. As negotiated by the Council, the project will be approximately 55% market-rate and 45% affordable as the applicant and administration have agreed to fund the development of three 100% affordable HPD buildings (approx. 478 units) and set-aside an additional 157 units for CityFHEPS vouchers, in addition to the requirements of MIH Option 1 (25% of floor area at an average of 60 AMI). The Council is modifying the proposal to facilitate the conversion of office and community facility space into additional housing and reduce the density on the outparcels included within the rezoning area but not part of the Innovation QNS large-scale development.
Innovative Urban Village – Applications by Innovative Urban Village, LLC (a partnership between the Christian Cultural Center and the Gotham Organization) for a proposed zoning map amendment to rezone the south side of Flatlands Avenue between Louisiana Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue from R5 to R7-2/C2-4, related zoning text amendments to designate a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area in Appendix F of the Zoning Resolution (Option 1) and extend the Transit Zone, and zoning special permits to waive bulk regulations for a large scale general development and for a public parking garage. These actions will facilitate construction of 11 new mixed-used buildings with 1,975 affordable residential units, a ground-floor commercial area, a performing arts center, residential and public parking, and open space surrounding the existing Christian Cultural Center house of worship in Council Member Charles Barron’s district.
The Council also passed the following Finance items:
Introduction 798, sponsored by Council Members Justin Brannan, Farah Louis, Kristin Richardson Jordan, and Diana Ayala (by request of the Mayor) will authorize an increase in the amount to be expended annually in the 125th Street and DUMBO Business Improvement Districts.
Preconsidered Resolution, sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan, authorizing an Article XI tax exemption for twelve buildings with a total of 251 residential units in South Williamsburg.
Transparency Resolution: Approving new designations and changes of certain organizations receiving funding in the Expense Budget.
HOUSING DEVELOPMENT DETAILS ON APPROVED LAND USE ITEMS
Innovation QNS, a large scale and mixed-use development in Astoria, Queens, will now have a projected 1,436 (45%) affordable apartments out of the 3,190 total units. This includes 825 units for extremely or very low-income households or those exiting the shelter system. The project increases the number of deeply affordable housing at an unprecedented scale in the neighborhood, dedicates affordable housing units for the formerly unhoused, increases the number of affordable family-sized units, sets aside units that were previously market rate for extremely low-income people with CityFHEPS rental vouchers, and secures community benefits that include a $2 million commitment towards legal services to protect neighboring tenants from housing displacement, discrimination and harassment.
Innovative Urban Village is a mixed-use housing development in East New York by longtime neighborhood stakeholder Christian Cultural Center. The project would create nearly 2,000 affordable housing units – 200 for senior housing and 100 homeownership opportunities. Over 1,100 rental units (60%) would be reserved for extremely or very low-income households and the remaining 750 rental units would be set aside for low-income residents. 100 affordable homeownership opportunities would be reserved for moderate-income households. The development would provide a range of additional community benefits, including a 24 hour/7 days daycare, a cyber café, workforce training center, a fresh food grocery store, a performing arts center, publicly accessible open space, shuttle service to subway stations, and resilient and sustainable features.