Highlights from this year's budget

A new park comes to Brooklyn

Step by step, a completed Bushwick Inlet Park is on its way. Last year, Mayor de Blasio reached an agreement with the owner of the last parcel needed to complete Bushwick Inlet Park. As a part of that $160 million deal, Council Member Levin committed to securing 4 million dollars from the Council. Council Member Levin designated $2 million from his discretionary capital fund and worked with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to allocate another $2 million from the Council. The Borough President also allocated $1 million.

With the passage of this year’s budget, the Council’s contribution is now official. “I thank the Mayor, the Speaker, the Borough President, and all the other elected officials who came together to make this happen,” said Council Member Levin. “It is also important to highlight the tremendous grassroots support that galvanized the community. This would not have been possible without the tireless advocacy from the community, especially the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park and the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn. Their support throughout the years was instrumental, but we’re just getting started.”

No New Yorker should go to bed hungry

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More than a million New Yorkers struggle with food insecurity. Far too many are forced to choose between paying for basic expenses or skipping meals. We can and should do better to make sure no New Yorker goes to bed hungry. Fortunately, New York City has a tool to fight hunger in our community. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) provides crucial support to our food pantries and soup kitchens.

Recently, the Trump administration proposed to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by over 139 billion dollars. Now is the time to step up and protect our community. Earlier this year the entire City Council, mirroring a goal set by Speaker MarkViverito, called on the Mayor to increase support to food assistance. I’m proud to say the City stands united against hunger, and is increasing funding to our food pantries.

Closing the literacy gap

Every child deserves the opportunity to follow their dreams. One of the best indicators for future academic and professional success is literacy. Unfortunately, too many children in our City have been left behind. By the time they reach the 3rd grade, 70% of NYC students are reading below grade level. Catching up only gets more and more difficult. That's why it is so important to engage early on in a child's life, well before starting school.

In 2015, the City Council had a unique opportunity to create new funding initiatives. Along with Council Member Antonio Reynoso, I proposed early childhood literacy as a funding priority. This was the start of City's First Readers (CFR). Through CFR, a coalition of literacy non-profits engage with families and children ages 0 to 5. In this year's budget, the City Council has increased funding by nearly one and a half million dollars. This funding increase will provide even more families the opportunity to share the joy of reading.