The Trump Administration's executive orders on immigration bring country shame, not safety

NEW YORK – One of President Trump's first executive orders unilaterally banned over 130 million people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The orders halt legal immigration from the countries of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Administration officials stated this ban is just the beginning.

“There is nothing patriotic about turning our backs to those in need,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. "There is nothing courageous about closing ourselves off to the world. If fear is at the foundation of our foreign policy, we threaten our nation's most central values. To many around the world, our nation is a land of freedom and opportunity. By allowing xenophobia and Islamophobia to take root, we threaten our standing in the world. Instead of safety, this administration's actions bring shame." 

"These are not values welcome in our City, much less our nation. Last year, I joined my City Council colleagues in calling for our country to welcome immigrants in the wake of exclusionary sentiments. We demanded we recognize the humanity of individuals fleeing war-torn countries and oppression abroad. That call is more urgent than ever. Our commitment to inclusion, respect, and compassion must rise to meet this challenge. I stand united with my Council colleagues to continue protecting New Yorkers from the Trump administration’s attempts to wipe away the progress we’ve made as a nation.”

The System is Failing Our Children

Council Member Stephen Levin is Chair of the General Welfare Committee / Photo Credit: NYC Council

Council Member Stephen Levin is Chair of the General Welfare Committee / Photo Credit: NYC Council

Council Member Levin calls for comprehensive and rigorous ACS review

NEW YORK – A heartbreaking pattern of child deaths has emerged over the last four months. We have mourned the losses of six year-old Zymere Perkins, three year-old Jaden Jordan, five year-old Michael Guzman, and four year-old Zamair Coombs. The constant in each is involvement with ACS that failed to save their lives. The system exists to protect the most vulnerable children in our City and the system is failing them. 

While I appreciate Mayor De Blasio’s consistent attention to reforms, identifying and addressing the system’s failures has to be his highest priority. The Administration for Children’s Services must undergo an independent and comprehensive review of policies, procedure, and staffing at every level of the agency. 

Following the death of Zymere Perkins, the City Council Committee on General Welfare, which I chair, held two hearings to examine City practices and procedures in child protective and preventive services and concrete recommendations emerged. In addition to reforms that ACS has already instituted, I sincerely hope the City will implement new procedures to ensure robust managerial review of casework, require bi-annual training of ACS and contracted provider staff, and invest more deeply in proven preventive services models. I also believe that it is critical to enhance ChildStat casework review with participation by the highest level of ACS citywide and borough staff in order to ensure maximum casework accountability. 

Further, it is unacceptable that the Governor’s budget proposes to cut funding that ACS receives from the State for child welfare and foster care services. These cutbacks are inexcusable.

The tragic deaths of these very young children are intolerable. This is an agency that must continuously evolve and so reforms must be ongoing to ensure ACS can benefit from fresh opportunities and meet new challenges. It is essential that there be rigorous accountability at each and every level in the child welfare system. ACS must ensure that every step is taken to ensure that all children and families involved with their programs have adequate support and resources to build and sustain safe and loving homes.

What so many get wrong about homelessness

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“This doesn’t just happen to those people,” said Jennifer Garris. “Anyone can become homeless.”

Ms. Garris has a Masters degree and was a special education teacher for 24 years. But after her husband passed away, she struggled with depression and alcohol use. Soon, she became homeless.

This is a familiar story across the country. No one wakes up and decides “today is the day I become homeless.” People lose stability to the unexpected — medical emergencies, sudden layoffs, or an untreated mental health condition. Yes, access to housing is essential to address our homelessness crisis. But housing alone cannot get everyone back on their feet. Some individuals need support to move forward.

Today, Ms. Garris is no longer homeless. She lives at The Schermerhorn, a supportive housing residence in Downtown Brooklyn. The Schermerhorn provides more than affordable housing. It also offers case management, and substance abuse and mental health counseling. Other programs taught Ms. Garris about money management, community building, and self empowerment. “They teach you how to live again,” she said.

Stephen Levin is a New York City Council Member and Chair of the General Welfare Committee. Photo Credit: NYC Council

Stephen Levin is a New York City Council Member and Chair of the General Welfare Committee. Photo Credit: NYC Council

As a New York City Council Member, and Chair of the General Welfare Committee, I am a fierce advocate of supportive housing. At its core, supportive housing is affordable housing combined with on-site resources. These supportive services help individuals overcome the challenges that left them chronically homeless. Experts agree that supportive housing is an effective way to address homelessness. This is especially true for those with mental health and substance use issues.

More than just a place to live, supportive housing is about community. In Fort Greene, Brooklyn Community Housing and Services provides community space for residents.

“Neighbors organize baby showers, quinceañeras, neighborhood meetings, and even weddings and funerals.” Jeff Nemetsky, Executive Director, Brooklyn Community Housing and Services.

Supportive housing is the way forward. However, the need far exceeds the supply. In New York City, for every person placed into supportive housing there are four more people waiting. The statistics are sobering. There are over 60,000 homeless individuals in the Department of Homeless Services shelter system. Thousands more are in specialized shelters for youth, survivors of domestic violence, and those with HIV/AIDS. These figures do not include individuals living on the streets. If we are to make progress reducing homelessness, we must be aggressive.

That’s why I co-chaired a joint hearing on supportive housing on January 19th with Council Member Jumaane Williams of the Housing and Buildings Committee. Participants included a wide range of stakeholders including the City agencies connected to supportive housing — HRA, HPD, and DOHMH, supportive housing tenants, advocacy organizations, community board chairs and supportive housing providers. Ten Council Members also took part in the half-day hearing.

“We truly appreciate the Councilmembers’ decision to hold the hearing in a supportive housing residence — because quite frankly, seeing is believing,” said Laura Mascuch, Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “Our hope is that Council Members came away with a clear idea of the enormously successful model of housing-plus-services and its transformative impact both on the lives of the formerly homeless people who live there as well as the neighborhoods in which it’s built.”

Housing experts came together to share plans on expanding supportive housing. Through the NYC 15/15 Initiative, New York City has committed to build 15,000 units of supportive housing in 15 years. Additionally, the City will put in place 23 recommendations from Mayor de Blasio’s Supportive Housing Task Force.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to building 15,000 units of supportive housing over the next 15 years. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to building 15,000 units of supportive housing over the next 15 years. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Much of the supportive housing in New York City has been developed through joint collaborations between the City and State. These are known as the NY/NY agreements. New York City has committed to invest in new units. The State has yet to fully deliver on a year-old promise to invest $2 billion in supportive housing. The failure to establish a new NY/NY agreement is a casualty of the politics between New York City and the State. In the meantime, tens of thousands of individuals and families are waiting for shelter.

Enough waiting. We know what works. The evidence shows that supportive housing is one of the best tools we have to address the crisis of homelessness. Let’s provide for our most vulnerable neighbors and set them on a path to long-term stability.

Families and Educators Deserve to Know

Council Members Levin and Johnson Introduce Bill to Strengthen Reporting on Toxic Clean-Up in City Schools

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NEW YORK CITY—Council Members Stephen T. Levin and Corey Johnson introduced legislation that would strengthen and extend reporting on detection and remediation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in New York City public schools.

“New York families and educators deserve to know when PCBs are found in their schools and to be assured that the City is taking swift action to protect their health and well-being,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Intro 1434 expands and extends critical reporting measures on City progress to remove PCBs-contaminated materials and keep schools safe. I thank New York Lawyers for the Public Interest for their steadfast dedication to amplifying this serious health concern.”

“There’s nothing more important than ensuring the highest standards of health and safety for our children,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “Every parent has the right to know when PCBs are detected in the classroom, and every Council Member needs to be equipped with this information so we can assist in the abatement process. Simply put, this legislation is going to keep us on track to create safer, healthier learning environments for our kids. I thank Council Member Stephen Levin, Rachel Spector and her team at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest for their outstanding leadership on this issue.”

Until PCBs were banned in 1979 because they were found to be a dangerous neurotoxic substance, they were commonly used in construction materials, such as light fixtures and caulking. Although no systematic testing has been done to verify the presence of PCBs, they are suspected to be present in caulking, lighting ballasts, and soil at hundreds of New York City. 

Exposure to heightened levels of PCBs may result in adverse health effects, especially for young children at a critical period of neurological development. Both the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency consider PCBs a known carcinogen. PCBs bind to nucleophilic cellular macromolecules in the body, such as DNA, RNA, and protein, which may elevate long term cancer risk through accumulated exposure. 

Intro 1434 would amend Local Laws 68 and 69 of 2011, legislation also sponsored by Council Member Levin, which created parental notification requirements when PCBs were detected in children’s schools and also required the City to report to the Council its progress in removing light fixtures contaminated with PCBs. The City’s removal of all PCB-contaminated light fixtures will trigger the expiration of the existing law, although many sources of PCBs are thought to remain. The newly introduced bill:

  • Maintains the current reporting requirement that the Department of Education must notify parents upon the discovery of PCBs in their children’s schools; and
  • Requires annual reporting to the City Council of all PCBs detected throughout the school system from sources including caulk, soil, and heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems, as well as reports of steps taken to remove or remediate PCBs after detection.

The 2011 legislation was introduced after the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) filed a lawsuit on behalf of New York Communities for Change, resulting in remediation of lighting containing PCBs in 883 schools and protecting over 500,000 New York City children and educators. 

“While the City has made critical progress in removing PCBs from schools as a result of our lawsuit, there is still more work to be done,” said Rachel Spector, Director, Environmental Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “The presence of PCBs in caulk remains a widespread problem, and the City must keep parents informed about when these harmful chemicals are discovered in their children’s school and what steps they are taking to address it. The health of our children is at stake.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now overseeing the development of a long-term plan to address remaining PCBs from caulk and other materials in New York City schools. The EPA plan is unlikely to require testing or removal of all sources of PCBs, and will focus on mitigating risks of exposure. Future tests of soil, caulk, air, or other school building materials may reveal elevated levels of PCBs.

Coming Together: Organizing for a Better Brooklyn

In response to the recent rise of violence and hateful acts, Council Member Stephen Levin is organizing two meetings to bring together residents and organizations to make a positive change in their community. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been more than 300 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation” reported nationwide since election day. In just a week, more incidents had been reported than the preceding 6 months altogether. 

“The very things that make our city great, the shared values of tolerance and inclusion, are being attacked. Those that perpetuate hate have it all wrong. Our diversity, compassion, and unity are not weaknesses—they are a source of strength. We will not compromise our ideals. 

While there have already been deeply troubling incidents of violence and hate in our very own district, I have been heartened by the community’s response. In the wake of these incidents we have come together and reaffirmed our belief in a welcoming and empathetic city. Everywhere I go people are seeking opportunities to better help one another. Love, not hate, is the answer. 

That's why I'm making this call to action. In the face of uncertainty, we must join together with one another to make a positive change in our community. While we keep a watchful eye on what is happening on a national stage, we can also make a difference right here in our neighborhood. I hope you will join us and learn how love will prevail in the end.” 

Join Us

North Brooklyn Meeting
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Automotive High School Auditorium
50 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Downtown Brooklyn
Monday, December 19, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
St. Francis College - Founders Hall
182 Remsen St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201


Event Flyers

A Victory for Brooklyn and Beyond - A Statement on Bushwick Inlet Park

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I am beyond overjoyed. Thank you, Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, and your committed staff, for making the Williamsburg and Greenpoint communities whole once again. The historic 160 million dollar deal to acquire the CitiStorage parcels will positively touch the lives of millions over the course of future generations. Your leadership throughout this process has set an example for future administrations. Beyond North Brooklyn, communities citywide, especially those undergoing the land use process, will know and appreciate what this precedent might mean for them — when the City makes a promise, it keeps it.

That promise, made over 11 years ago, will impact a community in great need of public space, and will continue to benefit individuals for generations to come. Long after we are gone, a completed Bushwick Inlet Park will continue to serve the community and bring joy to the residents of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

I would also like to thank my North Brooklyn elected officials for their tireless dedication and support for this acquisition. I am sincerely appreciative of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Borough President Eric Adams, Senator Daniel Squadron, Senator Martin Dilan, and Assemblyman Joe Lentol for helping to make this happen. I would also like to thank Norm Brodsky for keeping his commitment to working with the community to make Bushwick Inlet Park whole.

Most of all, I’d like to thank the community. This is for you. I appreciate the countless community residents who have tirelessly advocated for Bushwick Inlet Park, especially the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park and the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn. Their steadfast support, undiminished for two decades, galvanized the community in anticipation of this historic agreement. We will continue to rely on your efforts, advocacy, and support to make our neighborhoods a vibrant and safe place for everyone.

Beyond Violence and Hate

Stephen Levin is a New York City Council Member representing the 33rd District. 

Stephen Levin is a New York City Council Member representing the 33rd District. 

Like many Americans across the country, I am appalled to hear news of the recent rise of violence and hate in the wake of the presidential election. In light of these troubling events, it is clear the pursuit of a more perfect union is far from over. However, until this weekend, I didn't believe that such violence could find its way into our neighborhood. On Saturday night, after an election related argument, a male Donald Trump supporter punched a woman at a Boerum Hill restaurant. This violent act, condemnable no matter where it occurred, is particularly troubling considering its sharp contrast with our community values. We do not tolerate violence and we do not tolerate hate.
 
Such a brazen attack so close to home dispels the notion that the more tolerant communities of Brooklyn are somehow immune to the effects of the vitriol fueled violence. As Saturday’s incident demonstrates, we are not. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been more than 300 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation” reported nationwide since election day. In just a week, more incidents have been reported than the preceding 6 months altogether. These attacks not only directly harm victims, they also threaten to plunge society under an oppressive shadow of fear and despair.
 
Though many of us have been caught off guard, we cannot lose sight of our communal values. How do we move forward? Share with one another. Volunteer your time and talents to help your fellow neighbor. Engaging with your community at an individual level is important now more than ever. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Let us reaffirm our love for one another. Let us come together as a community unashamed, unrelenting, and united.

Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation for Life-Saving First Responder Training

Mayor de Blasio joined by Council Member Stephen Levin, Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Michael and Carmen Ojeda, and Robin Vitale of the American Heart Association. 

Mayor de Blasio joined by Council Member Stephen Levin, Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Michael and Carmen Ojeda, and Robin Vitale of the American Heart Association. 

CITY HALL―Today, Mayor de Blasio signed a bill that will increase transparency about life-saving training for first responders in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Council Member Levin introduced the legislation in honor of 11-year-old Briana Ojeda, who passed away after suffering an asthma attack near her home in Brooklyn. The police officer who accompanied Briana to the hospital did not perform potentially life-saving CPR because he said he did not feel qualified to do so. In September, Briana would have celebrated her eighteenth birthday.

“In order to save lives, New York’s finest must receive the highest quality training in life-saving CPR and AED skills,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “This is a commonsense measure that would help to improve the chance of survival for victims of cardiac arrest. It will ensure that first responders are well-equipped to react with speed and skill so that they can continue to protect and serve New Yorkers.”

In January, the NYPD instituted a new basic life support curriculum, which includes such training as infant and adult CPR, AED use, overdose treatment, and hemorrhage control.  Introduction 83 will require the New York Police Department to publish an annual report on the number of officers and school safety agents who receive high-quality CPR and AED certification to ensure this critical training is ongoing. Today, two NYPD police officers were honored with a Proclamation from the Council for demonstrating the lifesaving power of CPR when they used the skill to rescue an unconscious baby in the Bronx.

“How would you feel if an officer told a frantic mother that she would have to wait for EMS in order to start saving her child’s life, while her child is dying in front of her,” said Carmen Torres, Briana’s mother. “Briana was an 11-year-old baby girl who happened to run into a police officer who couldn’t do CPR. Losing Briana has been a life sentence of depression, anxiety, and a broken heart. By passing this legislation, hopefully no other family will have to endure this pain that will never go away.”

“On behalf of the American Heart Association, I am thrilled at today’s approval of legislation to improve CPR certification for our city’s law enforcement,” stated Melinda Murray, member of the NYC Advocacy Committee for the American Heart Association. “Thank you, Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Stephen Levin for your championship of this important issue.  I lost my only child, my son Dominic, to cardiac arrest when he was just 17 years old. We also look forward to the day the Ojeda family finally secures the passage of Briana’s Law. Our hearts beat in unity for our children who were taken far too soon. We call upon the State Senate to follow the Assembly’s lead and help us make sure no more families experience this tragedy. Let’s pass Briana’s Law during this upcoming session.”           

The Council previously adopted Resolution 1181, calling on the state legislature to pass and the Governor to sign Briana’s Law (A. 4364-A/S.6717), a bill that would require that police officers are re-trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation every two years and demonstrate satisfactory completion of such training. Briana’s Law has passed the Assembly for four years, but the Senate has failed to move this bipartisan bill forward.

"It is imperative that police officers are adequately trained in the administration of CPR,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W Ortiz. “This easy to learn procedure has been proven to save lives in emergency situations and could have helped save the life of Briana Ojeda and others. The fact that the Police Academy had to reassign a CPR instructor after an officer recently testified he didn't feel confident in his CPR abilities proves the point that NYPD CPR training is inadequate."

“Briana's Law is all about saving lives,”said Senator Jack M. Martins, Senate sponsor of the legislation. “Police officers guard our safety and are often the first ones on scene whenever trouble occurs. Ensuring that the basic first aid training they already receive in the police academy is enhanced and periodically reinforced will help give them greater tools to save lives in situations where every second counts.”

"The American Red Cross is dedicated to saving more lives from cardiac arrest through raising public awareness and supporting educational programs that train more people in CPR," said Josh Lockwood, CEO of the American Red Cross in Greater New York. "Time is of the essence during cardiac emergencies, so the more people and first responders properly trained and certified in CPR, the better the chances of saving a life."

More than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home every year in the United States, with almost 90% resulting in death. However, if CPR is performed within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, an individual’s chance of survival can be double or even tripled. As such, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is supportive of further training for police officers.

Mayor de Blasio Signs Foster Care Legislative Package

Mayor de Blasio signed package of foster care bills almost a year after a "Foster Youth Shadow Day"

Mayor de Blasio signed package of foster care bills almost a year after a "Foster Youth Shadow Day"

CITY HALL―Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a legislative package that will improve the foster care system for nearly 10,000 children and youth.

The legislation establishes strategic feedback systems, implements evidence-based permanency planning, and expands reporting on health, education, and housing stability outcomes. The seven bills provide the information necessary to strengthen comprehensive services here in New York City and urge systemic reforms at the state level.

  • Create a taskforce to recommend improvements to our foster care system that will include experts such as child advocates and foster youth (Intro 1192);

  • Require ACS to create three consecutive five-year plans that will identify and address systemic barriers to permanent placement for children and youth who have spent an extended amount of time in foster care (Intro 1191);

  • Implement a survey for children and youth in care regarding experiences with foster parents (Intro 1199); and

  • Expand reporting on foster care regarding educational continuity, graduation success, attainment of government-issued identification, and the number of youth who have aged out of care and who enter a homeless shelter or receive financial assistance such as SNAP benefits (Intro 1190; Intro 1205; Intro 1187; Intro 1197).

“Children and youth in the City’s care are some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that each of them has a safe, loving home and access to comprehensive services,” said Council Member Levin, Chair of the Committee on General Welfare. “These bills are especially important because many of them are a direct response to the firsthand experiences of youth in care. I look forward to continuing to work with young people, advocates, agencies, and my City Council colleagues to improve how our City protects and provides for our children.”

Last year, the Council hosted a Foster Youth Shadow Day at the Council during which members of the General Welfare and Youth Services Committees were paired with a young person who were in or had recently aged out of care. During the event and in follow-up meetings, youth shared ideas about improving foster care in New York City, informed by their own experiences of the system.

“The very system that is meant to protect our children is failing them,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “This package of bills is an important first step to overhaul our City’s broken system and provide the protections that our children need and deserve. I want to thank Council Members Ferreras-Copeland and Levin for their partnership on this issue. We must continue to focus on our children, protect them from harm, and ensure that we transform our system to one that protects and cares for our most vulnerable children.”

“Our foster care youth are some of the most vulnerable populations in our city and after participating in Foster Youth Shadow Day last year, it became clear that we should be doing a lot more as a city to protect them,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “This package of bills is focused on finding the holes in foster care and improving the lives of foster youth, which will ensure that they are no longer left behind in New York City. I'd like to thank Council Member Levin and all my colleagues for working together to secure a better future for children in the foster care system.”

While the number of children in foster care has decreased significantly in the past year, it stands that children in New York City’s system spend almost twice the amount of time in care than children in the rest of the country – 3.2 years versus 1.7 years. There is still much more to be done so that the nearly 10,000 New York City children and youth in care can receive vital services and return to their families or be adopted by lifetime families. The bills considered today underscore areas where data is needed to improve service delivery, such as education and housing.

“All children, teenagers, and young adults deserve to have access to supportive resources, and it is crucial that New York City’s foster care system is improved so that it adequately addresses the needs of our young people in foster care,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene, Chairman of the Youth Services Committee.

“Every youth, irrespective of their socioeconomic status or background, deserves an equal opportunity to succeed as scholars and professionals. With nearly 10,000 children and youth under the care of the Administration for Children’s Services, we must ensure that the proper resources are in place to support their continued growth and development within and beyond the foster care system. I am proud that my bill, Intro 1205, will enable us to assess the academic progression of high school-aged youth in foster care,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.  

It is also essential to reduce the number of youth who age out of foster care without permanent family. In 2015, over 650 young people aged out of foster care, starting adulthood without family or ACS support. The majority of young people, including those that did not grow up in the foster care system, are nowhere near ready to be fully financially independent at 21 – and yet that is exactly what we expect of young people who age out of the foster care system.

“I am happy to support these bills, which will provide much needed information about foster care and the young people in the system,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “We must work together so that all youth receive the support they need to be successful, and these bills will provide us with the data necessary to make the necessary reforms. I also thank Public Advocate James and Council Member Levin for their leadership on this legislation.”

“This joint effort to strengthen NYC's foster care system will improve the lives of thousands of young New Yorkers,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “My legislation will help these youth obtain identification by improving Administration for Children's Services reporting practices. I am proud to be part of this work which will ensure that all those in foster care have equal access to city services.”

“The foster care system is entrusted with the safety and care of some of our most vulnerable children. It’s important that we, as a City, properly protect and care for them. This package of bills will strengthen the foster care system by providing much needed oversight,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.

Advocates and agencies stood with Council Members to offer praise for the legislative package:

“Today the New York City Council has overwhelmingly passed a package of bills aimed at improving the wellbeing of New York City’s children and youth in foster care.  CCC applauds the leadership of Council member Levin and the General Welfare Committee in this effort and we look forward to continuing to partner with the Council and the Administration to improve outcomes for the families who come into contact with the child welfare system,” said Stephanie Gendell, Associate Executive Director, Policy and Advocacy, Citizens’ Committee for Children.

“It is appreciated when the public takes an interest in the finer points of child welfare and we are grateful for the Council’s interest, especially the attention to nuance being paid by Council Member Levin,” said Jim Purcell, CEO of the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), which represents nearly all New York State nonprofit organizations that provide foster care, adoption, and family preservation services. “The information the Council will receive from the required reports should provide a broader picture of the city’s youth and families than is captured in a headline or soundbite.  We hope the reports will illustrate some of the successes gained from ongoing system improvement, and also shine a light on the obstacles ACS and the child welfare agencies face in building strong families in New York City.”

With the legislative package, the Council also passed Resolution 1073, calling on the New York State legislature to improve a housing subsidy used by former foster youth in order to reduce their risk of homelessness as they age out of care. Sponsor Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Jr. said, “This is a package of common-sense legislation that aims to ensure we are supporting our most important asset – our young people.

Statement Regarding 141 Willoughby

Good morning Chair Richards, members of the subcommittee, and to my constituents in attendance. Today, we are here to determine next steps on the 141 Willoughby application. I have discussed this project in depth with Downtown Brooklyn residents and community stakeholders, and appreciate that over 400 people contacted our office to share their opinions about this project. 

I would also like to thank Community Board 2, Borough President Eric Adams, and the City Planning Commission for their work on this matter. I would like to extend my gratitude to Speaker Mark-Viverito, the Council land use division: Raju Mann, Dylan Casey, and Brian Paul—as well as my staff: Legislative Director Julie Bero, Constituent Liaison Glomani Bravo-Lopez, Chief of Staff Jonathan Boucher, and Communications Director Ed Paulino—all of whom have spent many hours on this application. Additionally, I appreciate the ongoing discussions I have had with the Economic Development Corporation and with the team at Savana, including Ed Wallace and Jay Segal. They have all engaged thoughtfully on how to address community needs and concerns. 

Taking into consideration all of the issues and concerns raised by the community, we will modify the application to decrease the allowable density from 18 to 15 FAR, comprised of 9 FAR residential and 6 FAR commercial. 

This modification accomplishes multiple policy goals: decreasing the impact of new residential units on existing infrastructure, adding new affordable units through Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, and increasing the amount of much-needed office space in Downtown Brooklyn. I welcome similar proposals for mixed-use developments that will continue to build the neighborhood as a technological and business hub, aligning the downtown with the needs of the 21st century.