Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 2, 2016

News Site Brooklyn

Reynoso Leans Toward De Blasio MIH Plan

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso
City Councilman Antonio Reynoso

Williamsburg/Bushwick City Council Member Antonio Reynoso last week expressed guarded support for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan that involves rezoning many neighborhoods across the city to allow for greater density that includes affordable housing.

The support comes through Reynoso’s recently released report on his website, Lessons from Williamsburg and Bushwick: Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning and Affordable Housing Development. The report uses Williamsburg and Bushwick to show that a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) policy can succeed where other programs (or lack thereof) have failed in providing much-needed affordable housing.

For example, the report concludes that if an MIH program had been in place in 2005 when the Williamsburg/Greenpoint waterfront was rezoned, it would have generated 1,561 more units of affordable housing than exist or are planned today.  Additionally, in Bushwick, an MIH program would have generated more than twice as many affordable units than have been built there since 2010.

“North Brooklyn is a cautionary tale, showing how essential a new MIH policy will be to the future of our borough and our city,” Reynoso wrote in the report.

The report comes as the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will consider the Mayor’s MIH proposal next week.

“The fact that many community boards have voted against the plan, recommending changes, indicates that the plan needs further adjustment. Yet with improvements, this proposal has the potential to be the strongest and most ambitious in the country,” Reynoso wrote.

Golden Votes For Sandy Victim Tax Breaks

State Sen. Marty Golden
State Sen. Marty Golden

Bay Ridge State Sen. Marty Golden yesterday voted to allow exemptions on mortgages of residential real estate property from taxation, in instances when the property is purchased by owners receiving State or Federal buyout assistance of their prior residence destroyed in Super Storm Sandy.

“The devastation caused by Super Storm Sandy has left many homeowners to face the tough choice of having to leave their homes and community, a decision which is sure to cause emotional and financial stress to many,” said Golden.

“I am proud to support this legislation that would exempt a mortgages for a residential property from being taxed when the home purchased is by someone receiving a State or Federal buyout for their storm damaged property. This tax break will alleviate some of the financial pressure that accompanies the purchase of a new home and it is the right thing to do for New Yorkers who are still rebuilding more than three years since Sandy hit our coastline.”

The bill, S. 3731A, now moves onto the assembly.

Local Electeds Mobilize To Oppose Fed Halfway House

Assembly Member Helene Weinstein
Assembly Member Helene Weinstein

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, State Senator Roxanne Persaud, Councilman Alan Maisel, Borough President Eric Adams and former City Councilman Lewis Fidler joined forces in strong opposition to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) proposal to put a halfway house for former federally incarcerated inmates on the border of the Sheepshead Bay/Gerritsen Beach residential neighborhoods.

The proposed site is 2261 Bragg Street – formerly Beth Aaron Synagogue.

In a letter dated December 15, the group wrote the FBP requesting that the submission to their Request for Proposals (RFP) for halfway house sites in Brooklyn and Queens be rejected on the grounds the site is not “conducive to rehabilitation and re-entry for inmates” citing the location of “the city’s largest population of vulnerable seniors” and many children in surrounding private and public schools.

Since the dispatch of that letter, the electeds have sent letters to all major schools, senior centers, and synagogues urging them to ask those they represent to either sign petitions or send in their own letters of opposition.

Additionally, Weinstein and Maisel have set up online petitions on their webpages (links below), the signatures from which will be forwarded to the FBP.

Assemblywoman Weinstein:

Councilman Maisel:

Should constituents want to write the FBP directly, they can address letters to Kurtina Edwards, Project Director at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 320 First Street, NW, Washington, DC 20534.

Lawmakers are asking those who can, to contribute in any of the ways outlined above as soon as possible.

Cymbrowitz Appointed To Assembly Anti-Poverty Work Group

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Sheepshead Bay Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz has been appointed to a new Anti-Poverty Work Group that Speaker Carl Heastie convened to examine the drastic increase of New Yorkers living in poverty and find ways to combat it.

The 13-member work group, made up of members from various committees, will analyze societal issues relating to poverty, such as nutrition and hunger; literacy and education; supportive housing; shelters and rental assistance; fair labor practices; job training; access to quality child care and after-school programs, and access to health care.

As Chair of the Aging Committee, Cymbrowitz has spoken out on the alarming number of older adults living in poverty in New York State.

“According to the 2013 American Community Survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau, approximately one in 10 New Yorkers aged 65 and over are currently living in poverty,” said Cymbrowitz. “Older adults are living longer due to better health and medical advances, but their quality of life can suffer when they need to make difficult sacrifices with severely limited resources.” 

In November, Cymbrowitz sponsored a public hearing in Albany focusing on poverty and the elderly with Assemblymembers Andrew Hevesi and Marcos Crespo, who were also named to the work group. During the hearing, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said it is “imperative that we do more to ensure that seniors’ later years are truly golden ones.”

“I commend Speaker Heastie for recognizing that poverty is a daunting challenge that is best addressed with a collaborative approach. I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve efforts to prevent poverty and find any gaps in services that may lead to the creation of new initiatives, or a review of existing ones, in order to reverse this trend,” he said.

Parker Supports Cuomo’s Paid Family Leave Proposal

Sen. Kevin Parker
Sen. Kevin Parker

Flatbush/Midwood State Senator Kevin Parker yesterday said he strongly supports Governor Cuomo’s proposal to advance Paid Family Leave legislation that would  provide paid family leave for up to 12 weeks for working families throughout the state.

“No one should have to fear loosing his or her job when blessed with the opportunity to welcome a new child into the family, or having to need time off to care for an ill loved one. If passed, the 12 week policy would be the longest benefits period in the nation, making New York State a leader in advancing progressive legislation that is grounded in the principle that family comes first,’ said Parker.

Parker argues that paid leave ensures economic security for working families, helps businesses retain workers, and ensures women have a place in the workforce after childbirth. At post time, it is unknown what the cost, if any, will be to small businesses.

“I support the “Strong Families, Strong New York” campaign to pass paid family leave because the benefits will be beneficial to all hard-working families throughout the State and those within my district.  I plan to work with my colleagues in both chambers to get the measure to the governor’s desk before the end of session because New Yorkers can’t afford to wait any longer,” said Parker.

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