Con música representativa a la cultura de la comunidad dominicana, y de otras comunidades, con las bendiciones de todos los sectores religiosos del distrito, y con un claro mensaje de unidad comunitaria, el concejal Ydanis Rodríguez presentó con gran éxito su sexta rendición de cuentas del distrito 10 al cual representa.
Ante la presencia y el respaldo de líderes comunitarios, empresarios, estudiantes, profesores y todos los sectores de la comunidad, el Concejal Rodríguez, destacó el progreso y desarrollo del Distrito 10 en su sexto Estado del Distrito. El destacado evento fue realizado en la escuela Salome Ureña de Henríquez ubicada en Broadway con 190 st en Washington Heights, Inwood y Marble Hill.
Ydanis Rodríguez, llegó acompañado de su esposa Cristina y de sus hermosas hijas Yarisa e Ysla. Además agradeció el respaldo total de su familia encabezada por su madre Lidia, para quien dijo estas palabras: “Mi madre Lidia, que no se ha sentido bien esta pasada semana. Me uno a mis hermanos y hermanas, amigos y familiares en la oración por su salud. También quiero dar las gracias a mi familia, especialmente mis 12 hermanos y hermanas y mis numerosos sobrinos, todos de quienes sigo aprendiendo cada día”.
“El presupuesto de $82.2 mil millones de dólares de la ciudad ayudará a financiar mejoras en todos los sectores de nuestra comunidad. Gracias al Alcalde Bill de Blasio, la Presidenta Melissa Mark-Viverito y las relaciones que hemos cultivado a lo largo de los últimos años, nuestros barrios del Norte de Manhattan están viendo renovadas inversiones: Nuestras escuelas están surgiendo como faros de esperanza y nuestras calles son cada vez más seguras para todos quienes las utilizan”.
Fueron de las palabras más cautivadoras del concejal Rodríguez, quien logró reunir por sexta vez consecutiva a todos los sectores de la comunidad en su discurso número 6 del Estado del Distrito.
Rodríguez agradeció la unidad de trabajo y el respaldo de los funcionarios electos: Senador federal Chuck Schumer, senador estatal Adriano Espaillat, Leticia James vocera del pueblo, concejal Mark Levine, Contralor del Estado, Thomas P. DiNapoli, la futura senadora estatal Marisol Alcántara, entre otros que estuvieron presentes.
Ydanis reconoció el trabajo realizado por la líder Carmen de la Rosa candidata a la Asamblea estatal por el distrito 72 al frente de su oficina ubicada en 618 W. 177th Street, para quien pidió en respaldo total el 8 de noviembre. El concejal hizo mención especial para el personal de su oficina – Rita, Russell, Kiana, Allison, Julie, y Juan Pastor. “Gracias a todos”.
“Estoy orgulloso al decir que estas inversiones en nuestra juventud fueron reforzadas por otra iniciativa que anuncie el año pasado: la creación de una tutoría AALSTEM y red profesional de los Latinos en los campos de STEM”, continuó diciendo el concejal ante una audiencia conforme con el trabajo del concejal.
El concejal Ydanis Rodríguez, durante su discurso se mostró muy positivo de lo que va a venir para el crecimiento de la comunidad, donde hizo grandes detalles de inversiones en favor de la comunidad que se han realizados entre otros portes.
A continuación el discurso del Concejal Rodríguez en el sexto Estado del Distrito.
Gracias, Carmen, por la gran presentación! Quiero decir; ha sido un honor trabajar contigo en mi oficina durante estos últimos 5 años. Esta comunidad te ha visto crecer y me alegro de que han reconocido la capacidad de liderazgo que posees. No hay duda de arrasaras en Albany en pos de la lucha por un mejor Nueva York.
Para nuestros distinguidos invitados, nuestro próximo Congresista, Adriano Espaillat, gracias por sus amables palabras y por toda su labor representando a nuestra hermosa comunidad!
Nuestra próxima senadora, Marisol Alcántara, me complace decir que te he conocido durante tanto tiempo, sabiendo que tu espíritu y su tenacidad ayudaran a hacer un cambio en nuestra ciudad, nuestro estado y nuestro país. Estoy ansioso por ver lo que tienes guardado para Albany!
Gracias Concejal Mark Levine por ser siempre un gran socio para todas nuestras luchas. El personal de mi oficina – Rita, Russell, Kiana, Allison, Julie, y Juan Pastor.
Comisionados, oficiales electos, directores ejecutivos, líderes de la comunidad …….
Damas y caballeros, gracias a todos por estar aqui.
Quiero agradecer y reconocer a las mujeres maravillosas en mi vida, mi pareja Cristina y mis hermosas hijas Yarisa e Ysla. Ustedes inspiran mi trabajo, mi vida y mi visión de un mañana mejor, y yo no podría sentirme más orgulloso de ustedes.
Quiero agradecer a mis padres, mi difunto padre Ydanis, y mi madre Lidia, que no se ha sentido bien esta pasada semana. Me uno a mis hermanos y hermanas, amigos y familiares en la oración por su salud. También quiero dar las gracias a mi familia, especialmente mis 12 hermanos y hermanas y mis numerosos sobrinos, todos de quienes sigo aprendiendo cada día.
Vamos también a darles un gran aplauso a nuestros anfitriones, las grandes escuelas del Campus Salomé Ureña para la Educación en I. S. 218 y sus directores y administradores: …! Nombres (???)]]]]
Es maravillos verles a todos de nuevo. Este es nuestro sexto Estado del Distrito, y me complace decir que en el tiempo que ha transcurrido, hemos hecho un progreso real en muchas de las iniciativas que hemos esbozado hace un año.
En este día, les dare una actualización en el impresionante progreso que hemos logrado. Hemos sido testigos de un gran impacto en el campo de la educación de nuestros jóvenes, tanto dentro como fuera del aula; que se ha caracterizado por considerables inversiones en nuestros parques, escuelas y las personas; nos hemos mantenido unidos contra la gentrificación, aunque reconocemos que algunas decisiones difíciles deben hacerse sobre nuestro futuro; Hemos traducido logros legislativos y presupuestarios en el centro de la ciudad hacia más servicios y calles más seguras en la parte alta. El presupuesto de $82.2 mil millones de dolares de la ciudad ayudará a financiar mejoras en todos los sectores de nuestra comunidad.
Este año pasado, hemos visto al alto Manhattan empezar a despegar, alcanzando alturas que antes se creían inimaginable para los que hemos residido aquí a través de los años 80 y los 90. Gracias a ustedes, las voces de esta comunidad habran de ahora más fuerte que nunca en los pasillos del Congreso y hasta en Albany, y ustedes pueden estar seguros de que no hay mayor luchador en el Ayuntamiento trabajando para ustedes!
El año pasado, he hablado de un ambicioso plan para ayudar a capacitar a nuestros jóvenes y nuestros residentes que trabajan duro; se refirió a la educación, la vivienda, el desarrollo del empleo y espacio abierto revitalizado para mejorar la calidad de vida. Estoy orgulloso de decir que estamos en ese camino.
Gracias al Alcalde Bill de Blasio, la Presidenta Melissa Mark-Viverito y las relaciones que hemos cultivado a lo largo de los últimos años, nuestros barrios del Norte de Manhattan están viendo renovadas inversiones: Nuestras escuelas están surgiendo como faros de esperanza y nuestras calles son cada vez más seguras para todos quienes las utilizan.
Este último año, hemos visto notables mejoras en las puntuaciones de las pruebas estatales en todos los ámbitos y las escuelas primarias e intermedias son por primera en buena putuacion! Esto es gracias a nuestros maestros, directores, estudiantes, padres y por supuesto nuestro superintendente del distrito 6, Manny Ramírez. Pero todavía tenemos mucho más margen para mejorar, sobre todo en nuestras escuelas secundaria y las escuelas intermedias. Nuestra oficina está trabajando para apoyar la educación en nuestras escuelas de la comunidad con las innumerables organizaciones en las que dedicamos fondos para fortalecer el aprendizaje dentro y fuera del aula.
* El año pasado hablé sobre cómo las inversiones en– y se centran en Ciencia, Tecnología, Ingeniería, Matemáticas y las Artes habrian de empoderar nuestros jóvenes para el futuro y ampliar sus posibilidades de empleo de calidad. Como sabemos, las jóvenes de todos los orígenes y los niños de color están muy poco representadas en los campos de STEM. Pero todos los días, estamos asegurando que los estudiantes de nuestra comunidad esten listos para labrar su propio futuro y competir a nivel global para los mejores trabajos disponibles en el futuro. En este último ciclo presupuestario, mi oficina utilizo nuestros fondos discrecionales para poner un pago inicial en el futuro de nuestros hijos, el futuro de nuestra ciudad y de nuestra comunidad a través de:
- Invirtiendo $ 1.77 millones de dólares en mejoras tecnológicas y STEM en nuestras escuelas, ascendiendo a más de la mitad de los $ 2.7 millones que asignamos a nuestras escuelas en general.
- Esto es en adición al mas de $ 1 millón que asignamos en 2015 para apoyar la educación de tecnología, incluyendo más de $ 200.000 en apoyo del programa de robótica Gregorio Luperón el cual presentamos el año pasado.
- En los dos últimos ciclos presupuestarios, hemos asignado un total de $ 550.000 dólares para traer un Centro de STEM al distrito 6, para el uso de las escuelas de todo el distrito. Y quiero darles las gracias por recoger en esta idea durante el último ciclo de presupuesto participativo, ya que ustedes votaron abrumadoramente en favor de este proyecto. Dentro de poco, nuestros estudiantes tendrán una ubicación central para aprender sobre la ciencia y la tecnología en un laboratorio de ultimo modelo con las herramientas necesarias para competir.
- En P. S. 187, dedicamos $ 400,000 dólares para llevar un techo verde al edificio, para que los niños puedan aprender sobre la agricultura y la sostenibilidad, ensuciandose las manos durante el horario escolar. A medida que aprenden sobre la ciencia de la biología, los niños también pueden cosechar frutas y verduras en el jardín de la azotea. Esto pronto puede ser nuestra propia versión De la Granja a la Mesa aquí en Washington Heights.]]]]
- Hemos asignado también fondos en el trabajo STEM fuera del aula, con un increment en el financiamiento para el gran programa Storefront Science dirigido por el Dr. A en nuestros parques. Patio de recreo. Dr. A es un tesoro de nuestra comunidad y su trabajo tan solo toca la superficie. Nosotros continuaremos haciendo todo lo posible para ella y la ciencia del escaparate;
Estoy orgulloso al decir que estas inversiones en nuestra juventud fueron reforzadas por otra iniciativa que anuncie el año pasado: la creación de una tutoria AALSTEM y red profesional de los Latinos en los campos de STEM. Ellos ya han comenzado a trabajar tanto con la Universidad de Columbia, así como con los jóvenes estudiantes, para servir como modelos de conducta, tutores y una red de apoyo a los que vienen detrás de ellos. Su Presidente, Francisco Díaz está hoy aquí con un grupo de sus miembros, démosles un aplauso!
Hay tanto potencial en la juventud de nuestra comunidad y es vital que sirvamos para fomentarles y ayudarles a crecer. Nuestra oficina ha invertido cerca de $ 1 millón de dólares cada año para apoyar los programas que son educativos y emocionantes a la vez, que se suman al aprendizaje en el aula con actividades divertidas.
- * Desde mi última intervención, se estableció una estrella mundial, procedente de nuestra comunidad. Con el éxito de Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda está ahora devolviendo a nuestra comunidad.
Full Text of Council Member Rodriguez’s State of the District Address
Delivered to a Crowd of Nearly 700 People, Council Member Rodriguez Spoke on Preserving Affordable Housing, New Projects in Northern Manhattan and the Creation of the “Northern Manhattan Agenda,” a newly formed coalition of Non-Profits to advocate together for Uptown
New York, NY —
Thank you, Carmen, for that great introduction! I want to say; it has been an honor to work with you over the past 5 years. There is no doubt you will take Albany by storm to help fight for a better New York.
To our distinguished guests, Comptroller DiNapoli, Public Advocate James, our next Congressman, Adriano Espaillat, thank you all for your kind words and for all your work representing our community!
Our next senator, Marisol Alcantara, thank you I am eager to see what you have in store up in Albany!
Thanks, Councilman Mark Levine for always being a great partner to all our fights.
My Chief of Staff, Russell Murphy and the team, Rita, Kiana, Allison, Julie, Juan Pastor, and very soon my Senior Advisory and Deputy Chief of Staff, Jose Louis Espiritusanto, and of course, all of the volunteers for all you do and for helping to put this event together. Gracias
Commissioners, elected officials, executive directors, community leaders…Ladies and gentleman, thank you all for coming.
I want to thank and acknowledge my family, my partner Cristina and my beautiful daughters Yarisa and Ysla. You inspire my work, my life and my vision for a better tomorrow.
I want to thank my whole family, especially my parents, my late father Ydanis, my mother Lidia, my mother in-law Minerva Mauricio and the leader of the Rodriguez family, our eldest sister Zoila.
Let’s also give a big round of applause to our hosts, the great schools of the Salome Urena de Henriquez Educational Campus and its administration.
It is great to see you all again!
As you know, we hold this event each year to give you an update about the impressive progress we have made and to speak about our work moving forward. This year, we have translated legislative and budget wins downtown into more services and safer streets Uptown, much of this thanks to the $82.2 billion-dollar city budget my office played a key role in negotiating.
This past year, we have seen upper Manhattan take off, reaching heights that once seemed unimaginable by those of us living here through the 80’s and 90’s.
Last year, I spoke about an ambitious plan to help empower our youth and our hard-working residents; it touched on education, housing, economic development, health and restoring open space to improve quality of life. I am proud to say that we are on that path.
Thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the relationships we’ve cultivated over the past several years, our Northern Manhattan community is seeing renewed investments: Our schools are emerging as beacons of hope and our streets are getting safer. This past year, we saw improvements in the performance of our schools. This is thanks to our teachers, principals, students, parents and of course our superintendent of district 6, Manny Ramirez. There is still room for improvement, especially in a district where we have a high percentage of English Language Learners, students in need of special education and some even living within the shelter system. My office continues to support education in our schools through organizations to whom we dedicate funding, strengthening learning inside and outside of the classroom.
Last year I spoke about how investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math would empower our youth for the future and broaden their potential for quality jobs. As we know, young girls of all backgrounds and boys of color are severely underrepresented in the STEM fields. But every day, we work to ensure our students can determine their own future and compete globally for the best jobs. This past budget cycle, we made considerable investments in our children:
- We allocated $1.8 million dollars in technology and STEM, amounting to more than half of the $2.7 million allocated to schools overall. This is in addition to the over $1 million I allocated in 2015 to support tech education.
- Within the past two years, we have allocated a total of $550,000dollars to bring a STEM Center to district 6, for the use of schools across the district.
- At P.S. 187, I dedicated $400,000-dollars in seed money for a green roof, so our students can learn about agriculture and sustainability, while enjoying views of the Hudson River.
- I also allocated funding to STEM learning outside the classroom, with an increase in funding to the great Storefront Science program run by Dr. A in our parks.
I’m proud to say that these investments in our youth were strengthened by another initiative I announced last year: the creation of AALSTEM, a mentorship and professional network of Latinos in the STEM fields. They have already begun working with both Columbia University as well as with young students, to serve as role models, mentors and a network of support to those coming up behind them. Their Chair, Francisco Diaz and co-founder Wilton Cedeno are here today with other members of the group.
And speaking of role models, let’s recognize the work of Big Brother Big Sister and the mentorship role they play with the children of our community, led by their great Executive Director Hector Batista.
There is so much potential in our youth and it is vital that we foster and help it grow. My office has invested nearly $1 million dollars each year to support programs that are both educational and engaging, that add to classroom learning with fun activities.
Since my last speech, our community’s own Lin-Manuel Miranda became a global star. He is now giving back to our community through the support of the United Palace. I am glad to join Lin in this effort to support one of our major historic institutions.
Because of your support and belief in me, I’ve had the opportunity to provide funding to a vast number of organizations across our community, just take a look at the screen behind me:…
Today I’m happy to say that the city has finally issued a Request for Proposal to renovate the pool at George Washington High School. Working with Trident Swim Foundation and Asphalt Green, we will continue to see students and family experience the joy of swimming, as we hope to open this pool to our neighborhood too! Just imagine in a few years seeing the young swim team from Northern Manhattan competing nationally, all thanks to this investment. Let’s do it Juan!
At P.S. 115, just steps from my office, I am committed to supporting students and their principal Borris Consuegra, with a state of the art auditorium. A $400,000-dollar initial investment from my office this year, will set stage for a major upgrade. Not long ago, students of 115 put our community on the map with their great dance moves in the movie “Mad Hot Ballroom.” With a renovated auditorium, we can give them the space they deserve to continue performing at their highest levels!
When it comes to our beautiful parks and open spaces, we have had a big year of announcements. Over the past two years, with the support of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, my office has supported our uptown parks with $9 million dollars committed to great projects!
Our over-600 acres of green space will undergo significant improvement. Funding for these upgrades include:
- $5 million dollars, to begin the construction of a fully functional ferry dock at the Dyckman Pier;
- $1.6 million dollars to help restore Sherman Creek and Swindler’s Cove near P.S. 5, which will support the New York Restoration Project and their great programming in our parks and local school.
- $200,000 to restore the water tower in Highbridge Park, where residents and visitors will be able to enjoy amazing views of New York City.
- With the support of Borough President Gale Brewer, and a $375,000 dollar investment from my office, the Dyckman Farm House will soon get new bathrooms; with this initial investment, I am sending the message that this historic landmark deserves a full renovation and that I will work with the administration and my colleagues in government to make it happen.
- With community input in the participatory budgeting process, we’ve allocated $500,000 dollars to support more “green gyms” throughout the district. Rick Irizarry and the Bar Starz will soon have more locations to invite members of our community to workout, including at J. Hood Wright Park, Jacob Javits and the Dyckman Fields.
We’ve also had some other huge wins. A couple months ago, our mayor announced a historic $30 million dollar investment in Highbridge Park, that will bring new life, energy and beauty to a park with tremendous potential.
Another project I am glad to announce, is the anticipated restoration of the Inwood Nature Center. We will see this process begin thanks to a partnership between my office, Parks and FEMA. We lost this community resource during Sandy in 2012 and this project has been on hold for too long. This winter, we should see designs for the renovation, kicking off the $2.6 million-dollar project.
The renovation of Jacob Javits Playground is also moving forward. This will be a beautiful playground that maintains everything the community loves about the current site, while adding new jungle gyms, swings, basketball courts and play areas for kids of all ages. The work of local parents has paid off and I am glad to have supported this project alongside Borough President Brewer and the Fort Tryon Park Trust.
Audubon Playground, a small park in a corner of our community, has a great story. Located on 169th Street and Audubon, this park has long been a gathering place, treasured by the organization Union Comunal. Unfortunately, nearly a decade ago, the Department of Education put a trailer in the park, severely limiting its open space and beauty. Union Comunal shared their concerns with my office and together, we worked with Parks and DOE to remove the school trailer. But that’s not all, a few weeks ago, together with parks, we announced a $7 million renovation to the playground, which will now serve the community and our local schools.
Other groups that proved the power of our great community leaders and members are the head start program at P.S. 8, led by Erica Quezada. Ms. Quezada and the Children’s Aid Society met with my office in the spring to direct my attention to the poor conditions of Adventure Playground on 165thStreet and Edgecombe. Their 3- and 4-year olds play in this quiet park, adding to the sense of urgency. They brought photos and hundreds of signatures demonstrating the grave concern and I promised them action. This year, I allocated $600,000 dollars to start renovating Adventure Playground, so we can be sure our youngest students and the local residents have safe spaces to play.
And we must do everything we can to be sure they remain safe spaces. Just last month, a shooting occurred steps from this very playground. Fortunately, there was no school that day. While no one from our community was involved, it brought to light the need for a greater presence of NYPD and Parks enforcement officers in our parks. This is a point I make every year, and this year I am glad to say that our calls were answered. Parks dispatched an additional 11 PEP officers this summer–8 of them stationed permanently. This is a start. I will continue working with the administration to address the inequalities between our parks and those in communities with more resources.
For our parks, my office also supported:
- An increase in funding for our dog runs in Inwood and Fort Tryon, the largest in the Manhattan; thank you Peter
- Cleaning efforts in Inwood with funding to the Friends of Inwood Hill Park
- Supporting the Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon
- Investing in our youth through Inwood Little League; Bameso USA; Washington Heights Tennis Association and Jaybies Sports; and
- The Uptown Soccer league in Dyckman Fields, to whom I have promised to upgrade their soccer fields
Citywide, we have made great strides. We have accomplished so much through legislation, with my committee accounting for over 10% of the 300-plus bills passed this term. As Chair of the Transportation Committee, we’ve increased:
- Protections for pedestrians and cyclists through Vision Zero;
- The number of accessible pedestrian signals in our city, including at Dyckman and Broadway;
- Penalties for drivers who flee the scene of a crash;
- And we’ve established the right for residents and employees to bring their bikes upstairs in buildings.
Through my role as chair, we are in every major conversation about transportation in New York City,
- from improving bus service
- to providing half-priced transit to New Yorkers in need,
- to thinking of how we can expand Citibike to every neighborhood throughout the five boroughs,
- and to the adoption of citywide ferry service, coming next year.
We have done so much to make cycling in New York City a safer and more attractive option. Through my close partnership with Commissioner Trottenberg at the DOT, I am proud to say that we have reached a record number of cyclists in New York. This is a clean, healthy, efficient way to get around and I’m glad we’ve come so far.
In April this year, my office led the effort to establish the first ever “Car Free Day” in New York City, on Earth Day. We aimed to push the conversation forward about how we can be less car-reliant as a city to help our environment. This event was a tremendous success and we’ll be doing it again on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017.
As we work to empower our community, we have not done this alone. We have great non-profit partners, and today I would like to recognize their transformative work.
One example is the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, led by Maria Lizardo. Over the years, this dynamic organization has played so many roles, transformed so many lives and has become a cornerstone institution in upper Manhattan.
Their great housing lawyers work to keep our community’s residents in their homes, helping to prevent over 1,000 evictions this year–a large percentage of their nearly 7,000 legal cases handled in 2016 alone.
Through their adult education and ESL classes, over 2,000 members of our community have continued their learning and strengthened their chances of getting ahead.
Through programs like YouthBuild, some of our disconnected youth are able to develop career skills, where they learn construction, plumbing, or other trades to make them valuable in the job force.
One of these students, Ken Vargas, is with us here today. Ken, who our educational system most likely failed, drifted away in 9th grade and ultimately dropped out of George Washington High School. Realizing the few options he had after a few months of selling drinks on the street, he decided to walk through the doors of NMIC and take control of his future. He enrolled in the YouthBuild program, ultimately earning his GED and a number of certifications. I am pleased to say that Mr. Vargas has just enrolled at Bronx Community College for the spring semester and will begin working at New York Presbyterian Hospital this week. Let’s give him and the staff at NMIC, a big round of applause.
One of the top priorities of our office continues to be housing. My wonderful and experienced staff dedicates nearly 80% of their time supporting tenants on a one on one basis. Just this past month, my staff helped Ms. Mireya Ramirez in obtaining an affordable apartment. Ms. Ramirez came to our office in tears, but after spending some time with my staff, filling out applications, she recently returned to my office with the keys to her new apartment to say thank you. I am glad Ms. Ramirez is doing well and she is here today.
However, our lack of affordable housing, along with the despicable actions of slumlords in the neighborhood, threaten our ability to preserve the community we love. It is no secret that our community is on the front lines in the fight against gentrification and rising rents.
We are blessed to have the most rent regulated units in the city here in Washington Heights and Inwood, and the second most in the state, but we know that they are under threat. Working with every level of government, we will fight to ensure that tenant protections are expanded and these affordable housing units are preserved.
Over this summer, housing discussions reached a boiling point just a few steps away from this building, where we faced a serious choice and came to grips with challenges other communities have faced about development. While we ultimately moved to prevent, a spot re-zoning of Sherman and Broadway, we know that the pressures we face are real and that if nothing is done to build affordable housing, the steady loss of units will continue.
There are things we can do to fight back. Just two weeks ago, I stood with tenants of 78 Thayer Street whose landlord is holding over 30 rent regulated apartments empty…well not exactly empty because he also refuses to do anything about the rat infestation in the building…this landlord, like many others uptown, deliberately employs tactics to displace tenants. Through our outreach, HPD is now proactively assessing this building, and others uptown, to find violations. I fully expect they will hold these landlords accountable.
At City Hall, we are working to act as well, to give our residents the tools they need to fight back. It is why I have introduced the “Housing, Not Warehousing” Act and why I am cosponsor of our friend Council Member Levine’s Right to Counsel bill. It’s also why we passed legislation this year to prevent landlords from offering buyouts more than once within 6 months. While we as a city are blocked from changing rent laws, we are putting teeth in existing laws to stop landlords from displacing tenants.
I also want to acknowledge and celebrate another recent victory, where our state leaders stepped up to protect tenants. Last Friday, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to prevent illegal hotels in New York State. We know that many landlords with vacant apartments were incentivized to use them as short-term rentals instead of stable housing, because they could get several hundred dollars a night. This severely hurt our affordable housing stock and added to displacement pressures. This victory is thanks to the “Share Better” coalition, which I joined in 2014, to collaborate in protecting tenant rights.
One building that reportedly used apartments to rent to Airbnb users, located at 440 West 164th Street, was recently identified by HPD. I voted two weeks ago to have it transferred from its owners–who were $2 million behind in debt and repairs–to the Community League of the Heights, one of the largest providers of affordable housing in our community. I am glad to say the apartments will be renovated and will remain affordable to community members, thank you for your work Yvonne Stennett.
Our small businesses have come under threat as well. Just this spring, we faced the serious prospect of a food desert up on Fort Washington Avenue and 187th. In an area with a high concentration of seniors, the loss of Associated Supermarket would have meant walking down over 100 steps or 6 extra blocks to pick up affordable groceries. But this community rallied and came together to say “no” to the displacement of a 30-year-old institution.
Unfortunately, we are now in the same fight for ARC Fort Washington senior center. Their new landlords, Christ Church on 5th Avenue, are threatening to displace our elder neighbors so they can redevelop the land. Two times, we’ve joined them in calling on their landlord to let them stay, and this fight will continue.
We must build upon these meaningful moments of progress. We must strengthen our hand against landlords who aim to displace our residents. These are the people who made uptown an attractive place to live; it was they who pushed back against the crime and drugs of the ’80’s and ’90’s, and it was they who formed block and tenant associations to clean up our neighborhoods.
We know the laws have not been strong enough. We know about the warehousing of apartments and vacant land, constant buyout offers, failing to cash rent checks and so much more. This are what my staff sees every day from our many constituents in need.
Going forward, we must develop a strategy to fight back against these landlords who aim to displace tenants for their own greed. I propose the following: to keep track of where abuses are happening and who is perpetrating them, today I am announcing a new census initiative for these issues. I want our residents to be the eyes and ears in the fight against displacement, and to report these issues as they arise so that we can immediately alert HPD and their great Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement, Vito Mustaciuolo.
We have already addressed examples of this at 78 Thayer, and today I want to announce that HPD has begun to take action in another 3 buildings, initiated by our office, at 1, 5 and 9 Cabrini Boulevard, where the landlord is up to the same tricks, in keeping more than 50% of their apartments vacant. This coming Tuesday at 7pm, I will be visiting the tenants of these buildings to let them know we have their back. We will not let our residents be displaced without a fight and I am dedicated to all who express a need.
We know that our current stock of affordable housing is insufficient and it is not growing. Therefore, over the past year, our community has engaged in an ongoing discussion known as Inwood NYC. This has been an inclusive community-focused process to develop a neighborhood plan for areas east of 10th Avenue in Inwood, where underutilized land is essentially cut off from the rest of the community.
This process included 10 information sessions as well as a several-month long working group, with leaders and important voices from our community at the table to dive in on key details. With this discussion, we have addressed affordable housing, job growth and development-stressing technology and health, open space and a revitalized waterfront, new schools and more. We will continue working with partners in the community, those who realize the need for this important discussion, as well as our partners at City Hall, to move Inwood NYC forward.
However, we cannot wait for this multi-year process. Our local unemployment rate is nearly 10% higher than the citywide average. We can address this challenge through education and that is why we’ve begun conversations with the DOE to bring Career Technical Education programs to George Washington High School and elsewhere. We need to be sure our students interested in learning skills like coding, construction, engineering, app-development, and more, have this opportunity.
As we develop these programs, we have made it a point that they should be connected to the brand new Workforce1 Center on 181st Street. This center, opened this past summer, in partnership with HRA, SBS and the Robin Hood Foundation, will be a one stop shop for residents, both for job training and placement, as well as services like EBT and food stamps. The most exciting part is that the center will focus on quality jobs geared toward health and technology, to help power more of our residents into the middle class.
There are major institutions in our community that we will count on to support our progress. From academic, to health, to corporate entities, those that call Northern Manhattan their home, should be our partners in lifting our residents up. We call upon New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Mailman School of Health at Columbia University, Charter Communications, Con Ed, CUNY, Yeshiva University, the Port Authority, Taconic Investment Partners and others, to be a part of a roundtable conversation and to lend their resources to this effort. Help us to create good jobs, develop training programs, partner with our schools to support the academic needs of our students and add to the growth and development of entrepreurs uptown.
Understanding that education is the thread that ties our vision together, we have set out some ambitious goals for leveling the educational playing field uptown.
As I addressed our progress, I must point out that we have far more to do.
Our objective is to ensure that all of our children are proficient in reading, writing and math, so they can become higher performing students.
We heard from my newest colleague in government, our Assemblywoman-Elect, Carmen De la Rosa, about the importance of beginning our children’s academic careers starting before age 1. This is happening in many cities in Europe and we can do it here too. My office will work hand-in-hand with her, Congressman Espaillat, Senator Alcantara, Council Member Levine and my other colleagues in government, so that these opportunities are afforded to the families uptown.
In addition to leveling the playing field, we must offer quality options for the students who are already excelling in the classroom. We want to keep these bright young minds in the neighborhood and to do that, we need quality middle schools and high schools that cater to their learning.
We are in discussions with the DOE and the New York Harbor Foundation, to develop a Harbor middle school uptown. We are so lucky to be a community surrounded by water, but this resource goes underutilized and its potential is lost. If we deliver this school to our district, our students will start using the waterfront as their classroom–learning about biodiversity, boating and the skills to become our next top marine biologists.
Whether it is through the neighborhood planning process happening in Inwood or through my own capital funding working with NYRP, we will continue to see our waterfronts restored, giving the community and our students greater access to enjoy this important resource.
Looking to the future of their academic careers, and working with Congressman Espaillat, Senator Marisol Alcantara, Assembly Woman Carmen De La Rosa and CUNY, I will continue to push for the creation of a higher education campus right here in Northern Manhattan.
Building on the $30 Million investment by Mayor de Blasio, we will work with Parks to develop a community wish list coming from residents, as we shape the future of Highbridge Park.
Topping the list for me is the rehabilitation of the Water Tower, for which I have already allocated $1.2 Million dollars.
Across the street from Highbridge, at 181st Street and Amsterdam, we are expecting to see a commercial and office development coming soon. The developer, Young Woo, has been very open with his plan, and receptive to community input. With this potential partnership, we are hopeful that a significant investment is made to the community in the form of seed money for a Highbridge Park Conservancy, to ensure the preservation, programing and maintenance of the park.
A s Chair of the Transportation Committee at the Council, I will place a real emphasis on upgrading our city’s infrastructure. This is vital to the fluidity of transit options, especially right here at home.
In the coming year, I will be working on strengthening our transit services uptown and expanding our cycling infrastructure. Very soon, we’ll see changes to dangerous intersections on Broadway in Marble Hill, including a full sidewalk waiting area for the bus, where riders now have to wait in the street itself.
One of my biggest goals for the coming year is the expansion of Citi Bike further uptown. Hopefully, these new bikes will soon be running up and down Dyckman, thanks to the new bike lanes planned, connecting the Hudson River Greenway to the Harlem River Greenway. As cycling becomes a more attractive option across the city, we must be sure that they are as safe as possible, especially in our community.
I will continue find a balance in supporting our small businesses, while at the same time, encouraging them to be respectful neighbors to the surrounding community when it comes to noise.
Finally, please join me in welcoming with a BIG ROUND OF APPLAUSE, our executive directors and community leaders who are forming the “Northern Manhattan Agenda.”
I am so proud of our efforts to bring these great leaders together as we form a coalition to better represent and serve our community. Your great work has kept us on the rise. We will work together across sectors to reinvigorate the four initiatives I set out to address early in my tenure: economic development, education, affordable housing and quality health care. The Northern Manhattan Agenda coalition will be a force as we plan strategically for the future of our community.
With the help of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Community Board 12, and this coalition, we will realize our goal of a community website that will be a resource for our residents, so that everyone knows what services are available to them, current events, and how we can strengthen our hand in competing for major grants.
These goals are about lifting our community up. They are aimed at empowering our residents and providing every opportunity for our youth to succeed. As we continue to grow, we must move together as one.
In this mindset, I want to invite all of you to an event that embodies this goal. On November 20th, at the Hebrew Tabernacle on 185th street and Fort Washington, I hope you will join Rabbi Jeffrey Gale, myself and other religious and elected leaders, at a celebration of Thanksgiving led by leaders of all faiths. We’ll discuss how we will leave our community a better place for our next generations.
This is the idea that I want to leave you with as we move forward to better serve our community. That while we are all unique, we are all one family in Northern Manhattan; a family that respects and supports one another and will work together towards a brighter future for our entire community.
Thank you all and I hope to see you there.
Fuente: Zabala al Dia.