Ortiz Slams Trump Revision Of Fair Housing Act Statute
Assemblymember and Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) yesterday expressed strong opposition to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (“HUD”) proposed rule change revising the disparate impact standard.
The statute change puts a much higher burden of proof upon plaintiffs who feel they were discriminated against in renting an apartment or buying a house because of the person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.
The statute is related to the Fair Housing Act position of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1968. HUD proposed the rule change back in August and the public has 90 days to comment on it before a final determination is made.
“The change would weaken anti-discrimination efforts and undercut access to fair credit and homeownership opportunities for people in my New York State Assembly District and other communities across the state and nation. I urge the Administration to withdraw the proposed rule and instead uphold HUD’s current interpretation of the disparate impact rule,” wrote Ortiz in his comment to HUD.
“The 51st New York State Assembly District that I represent is very diverse. In 2017 in Sunset Park, 32.7 percent of the population identified as Asian, 39.9 percent as Hispanic, 22.7 percent white, and 2.4 percent as black. The diversity of our residents contributes to the vibrancy of our community.No one who is getting a mortgage, buying a home, or renting an apartment should be discriminated against because of the person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.
“Disparate impact provides a way to uncover and prohibit seemingly neutral policies that unnecessarily exclude people of color and other groups from housing. It is an essential tool for enforcing the anti-discrimination protections guaranteed by the Fair Housing Act. Insurance companies, financial institutions and others must not be allowed to engage in discriminatory practices, whether those are carried out overtly or covertly. I urge HUD to withdraw the proposed rule and instead work to enforce our nation’s fair housing and fair lending laws,” Ortiz added in his letter.
Levin, Johnson Announce Height Reduction On Brooklyn Jail Proposal
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) and City Council Member Stephen Levin (D-Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill, Williamsburg) announced yesterday that as result of the expected drop in the average daily jail population, the maximum height for the new borough-based facilities needed to close Rikers Island will be significantly reduced from its original proposed plan.
The original borough-based facilities were designed with an expected average daily jail population of 5,000 by 2026, but Johnson and Mayor de Blasio revised that expected number down on Monday to 3,300 due to the expectation of fewer people incarcerated.
What this means for Brooklyn is the proposed redesign of the borough existing jail on Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street in Boerum Hill/Downtown Brooklyn will go from 395 feet to 295 feet (39 floors to 29 floors high).
“From the outset of this plan, I have said the proposed Brooklyn site was simply too big and out of context with the scale of the neighborhood. Through comprehensive policy reform and a commitment to decarceration and diversion programs, the projected jail population has been significantly reduced, and subsequently so has the size of the building — dropping to a max height of 295 feet, down from 430 feet,” said Levin.
“I am glad to see these critical changes made to the plan, along with the recognition that we need to do everything in our capabilities to reduce our jail system as small as possible. I will continue to work with our community leaders and the administration over the next few days to ensure the plan sufficiently meets all of our community needs,” he added.
Adams Unveils $500,000 Capital Grant For Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams yesterday joined with Green-Wood Cemetery (Green-Wood) officials yesterday to announce a major $500,000 capital grant that will go toward an education and welcome center at the cemetery for visitors.
The Education and Welcome Center will provide classroom space, programming and workshop space, as well as community meeting space that would allow the cemetery to offer even more benefits to Brooklynites. Further, it will offer essential visitor amenities to neighbors and tourists. Construction on the new center is anticipated to begin in 2021.
The announcement, the second of this year’s capital budgetary cycle, comes as attendance figures in city parks continue to grow. Popular new parks such as Brooklyn Bridge Park and the High Line now draw hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Green-Wood Cemetery welcomed 280,000 visitors in 2017 and 330,000 in 2018.
“A historic park dating back to the Revolutionary War deserves a truly state-of-the-art center where it can continue to inspire generations young and old. Our capital grant recognizes that parks are the great equalizers in our city, and we need to do more to encourage the growth of green space throughout the five boroughs. I thank Green-Wood for all the work they do for the surrounding community, and look forward to continuing and deepening our partnership on behalf of all Brooklynites,” said Adams.
Deutsch Brings Free Avengers Screening To Manhattan Beach
City Council Member Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest, Midwood) will join the city’s Parks Department this week in bringing a drive-in screening of Avengers: Endgame to Manhattan Beach.
“Bring the whole family to enjoy this free event,” said Deutsch, adding that as always, popcorn will be served.
The movie is slated for entrance at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Manhattan Beach parking lot The entrance to the parking lot is on Oriental Boulevard and Irwin Street (GPS address: 1017 Oriental Boulevard).
Cymbrowitz To Host Rent Freeze Enrollment In District Office
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach) in partnership with the city’s Department of Finance (DOF)has designated two days at his district office to help sign up residents who qualify for the city’s Rent Freeze Program but aren’t yet signed up to do so.
As Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee, Cymbrowitz was responsible for a recent change in law that allows tenants to keep their so-called preferential rents – which involve landlords charging a “preferential” amount under the rent-stabilized maximum — for as long as they remain in their apartments.
Under the new law, tenants can qualify for Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) at their preferential rents instead of waiting for their rent to increase to the legal limit. As a result, many more tenants are eligible for rent freeze programs than ever before.
SCRIE and DRIE helps eligible senior citizens (aged 62 and over) and tenants with qualifying disabilities (aged 18 and over) stay in affordable housing by freezing their rent. Under this program, a property tax credit covers the difference between the actual rent amount and what the tenant are responsible for paying at the frozen rate. There are 74,666 households enrolled in these programs.
“Housing is fundamental to our daily lives, and every person deserves an equal opportunity to have safe, quality and affordable housing,” the lawmaker said. “I’m pleased that so many more vulnerable New Yorkers will be able to have peace of mind in knowing they can now benefit from SCRIE and DRIE at their lower preferential rent,” said Cymbrowitz.
The enrollment days for the SCRIE and DRIE programs are slated for 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Wednesday, Oct. 23 and 1-4 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7 at Cymbrowitz’s district office, 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road. No appointments are necessary. To check if you’re eligible, go to www.nyc.gov/rentfreeze. You may also call Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’s office at (718) 743-4078.
Treyger to Hold Early Voting And Census Workshops
City Council Member Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend) is holding two separate workshops concerning two issues.
The first event is an Early Voting Workshop where the city’s Board of Elections and the Brooklyn Voters Alliance will present everything you need to know about the Early Voting Process, complete with translation services.
This workshop is slated for 6 p.m. today, Oct. 16 at the Coney Island YMCA, 2980 West 29th Street in Coney Island.
The second workshop is a U.S. Census Job Fair where there will be plenty of opportunities for employment to work on the 2020 Census. Representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau will be on hand to explain all about the census, how it works, why it is important, and which employment opportunities are right for you. They’ll be there to assist with the application process, which you’ll be able to complete with their help, on-site.
The census event is slated for 6-8 p.m., Oct. 24 at the Brooklyn Public Library – Coney Island Branch, 1901 Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island.