Participatory Budgeting results announced

Council Member Stephen Levin announced the winners of Participatory Budgeting in District 33 this week. Five projects, at a total of $1.56 million, will be fully-funded by Levin’s office. Originally, funding was to go to $1 million worth of capital projects, but due to the outstanding quality of the projects, Levin included funding for two additional projects.

“I want to thank everyone who came out to vote and made Participatory Budgeting a success for the second year in a row,” said Levin. “Participatory Budgeting is a unique opportunity to get involved in local decision-making and make a real difference. These projects were developed by the community and will serve the community, and I am looking forward to seeing the impact they will have on the lives of residents throughout the district in the years to come.”

For the second year in a row, community members had the opportunity to directly decide how to spend their tax dollars on different ways to improve their neighborhoods. Voters from across the district voted on up to five projects.

The following projects received the most votes and will be funded through Council Member Levin’s office (in winning order):

NYCHA Playground Repairs: Help fund repairs and renovations at four playgrounds, including Gowanus Houses, 572 Warren Street Houses, Wyckoff Gardens, and Jonathan Williams Plaza ($400,000)

Gowanus Community Center Re-Opening: Provide renovations at the Gowanus Community Center ($325,000)

McGolrick Park Playground Reconstruction: Provide a full reconstruction of the McGolrick Park playground ($450,000)

BOOKlyn Shuttle: Purchase and retrofit bus designed by Pratt Institute to inspire, stimulate and improve the literacy of North Brooklyn’s youth. ($198,000)

PS261 Bathroom Renovations: Replace flushers, faucets, and soap dispensers throughout school; complete cosmetic redo of main floor girls and boys bathrooms. ($175,000)

Watch video from the announcement.

CM’s Levin, Wills, and Gibson and advocates applaud Cuomo for action on rental assistance program for New York City homeless population

New York City Council Members Stephen Levin, Ruben Wills, and Vanessa Gibson and homeless advocates are applauding Governor Cuomo for removing language that prevents New York City from using State funds for a rental assistance program for homeless families. The new language in the negotiated budget deal would allow State funds to be used by the City for the purposes of a rental assistance program for homeless families.

Council Members Levin and Wills and homeless advocates visited the State Legislature last Tuesday to advocate for rental assistance for the homeless and met with numerous legislators in the State House and Senate. The City Council passed a resolution sponsored by Council Member Wills that called for the restrictive language to be removed from the state budget.

Council Member Stephen Levin said, “Over the last decade we have seen the level of homelessness in New York City grow to record levels and for too long families have suffered. Families have not been afforded the opportunity to obtain permanent housing and without serious action being taken, the homelessness crisis in our city promises to grow even worse.  While there is still much to be done, the actions taken by Governor Cuomo are crucial to providing the homeless residents of New York City a path out of homelessness.  I applaud Governor Cuomo, leaders from both the State Senate and Assembly, Mayor de Blasio, and all of the advocates for working together and taking this important step in addressing the homelessness crisis in New York City.”

Council Member Ruben Wills said, “I applaud Governor Cuomo, the State Senate and Assembly along with Assembly woman Cook, and Assemblywoman Titus, the chair of the Social Services Committee for their leadership. Their actions showcased New York States commitment in solving the homeless epidemic in New York City through the removal of state limitations on funding for rental subsidies. This change will affect more than 10,000 homeless families including 22,000 children and aid in their participation in the pathway to permanent housing.  The passing of the state budget with the amended changes was needed to address the dismal number of the homeless population in New York City. I thank City Council Member Stephen Levin, chair of the General Welfare Committee and my fellow city council members for supporting the efforts to get this incredibly important work done.”

“Every New Yorker should have access to the safe, quality, affordable housing that is so essential to raising a family and living a comfortable and secure life,” Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson said. “We know from experience that while New York City’s shelter system seeks to address the housing needs of tens of thousands of families every day, it can never replace the permanent housing that shelter residents so desperately need. The 2014-15 state budget provides New York City with the basic flexibility that’s necessary to develop a rent subsidy program that meets the needs of low income New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet in a very challenging economy, and I want to thank Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the leadership of the state Senate, and Mayor de Blasio for recognizing the important role an effective rent subsidy program can play in addressing the needs of so many New Yorkers.”

Patrick Markee, Senior Policy Analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless, said, “The State has taken a needed first step by amending budget language that prevented the City from offering rent subsidies to homeless families. The City and State must now work quickly to provide stable affordable housing to homeless New Yorkers through a new rent subsidy program, priority access to NYCHA housing and Section 8 vouchers, and housing created or preserved in the Mayor’s overall affordable housing plan. Together, these critical steps will begin to reduce the record levels of homelessness facing New York City.”

Christy Parque, Executive Director of Homeless Services United, Inc., said, “The changes contained in the budget language pave the way for a new path to housing for nearly 60,000 New Yorkers. On behalf of Homeless Services United’s members and the homeless New Yorkers we serve we are immensely grateful to Governor Cuomo, the New York State Legislature and the Mayor de Blasio for their collaboration and leadership to create real long lasting housing solutions.”

Judith Goldiner, Attorney in Charge, Civil Law Reform Unit, Legal Aid Society, said,”Over 10,000 homeless families desperately need permanent housing: this agreement is a critical step forward to starting to move families out of shelter.”

Sally Greenspan, Program Director for Vulnerable Populations, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. said, “Rental assistance is one of the most urgently needed tools to significantly reduce the number of families experiencing the trauma of homelessness in New York City.  The majority of households in shelter face primarily economic barriers to housing, and one in four homeless families has at least one person working.  Providing access to permanent housing will allow these families to build stable, successful lives, which will especially benefit their children.  We commend our government partners on reaching this initial compromise, and we look forward to continuing to work together to build a complete toolkit to prevent and end homelessness in New York.”

City Council Hearing on Domino Sugar Factory

The New York City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will be holding a hearing on the proposed development at the Domino Sugar Factory. It will be held April 1 at 9:30 AM at City Hall.

Oral testimony should be kept to 2-3 minutes but longer written comments can be submitted for the record. If you plan on attending please RSVP to slevin@council.nyc.gov so we have a sense of how many people will be testifying.