NYC Bill Intro 163-2022: Ban on Criminal Background Checks

NYC City Councilman Keith Power has re-introduced a bill, Intro 632-2022, to ban the use of criminal background checks in rental & sale applications. This bill is supported by both Councilmembers Jordan and Ayala.

You can participate in VoterVoice to voice your opinion (for or against) bill, Intro. 632. VoterVoice will allow you to send messages directly to your Council representative:

You can read a bill summary and view sponsors here:|Text|&Search=632

Letter From Fordham Hill to HNBA

The Fordham Hill Owners Corporation (a majority Black homeowners group in the Bronx that has worked with HNBA on the issue of oversaturation) sent the following to HNBA, regarding the proposed ‘No Criminal Background Checks’ bill, Intro 632-2022:

Hello All,
I hope you all enjoyed a peaceful and safe holiday with your loved ones. It has been some time since we communicated. I am reaching out to you all in regard to another battle I ask you to join the fight on as we continue to try to take back our city that is being destabilized right in front of our eyes. 
By now you all have probably heard of the Fair Chance Housing Bill that the progressive wing of the New York City Council is aggressively trying to get passed. An earlier version of the bill died in another Council committee at the end of last year when bill creator Councilmember Kevin Powers introduced it. He has now found an audience in the City Council to actually move this bill forward. 
What is so scary about this bill is it is just like bail reform; it is not fully thought through. This bill seeks to protect criminal offenders but doesn’t take families or law abiding citizens into consideration. This isn’t about redemption, for me I am all about rehabilitation and second chances, but this is once again about elected officials not engaging their constituency before passing legislation. 
This isn’t just troubling for landlords and all of us but also for condos and cooperatives that have been formed by visionaries to create living quarters, an investment that provides the quality of life that has often been lacking for many working and middle class in this gilded city. Especially for people of color, a co-op like Fordham Hill Owners Corporation, offers our shareholders an opportunity to acquire an asset that they can safely call their home and gain equity.
Here are several troubling callouts about this bill:

  • Criminal background checks on sex offenders is only regulated to New York State. If you are an out of state offender and seek residence in NYS you will go undetected.
  • Murder, attempted murder, robbery, and other unethical white color crimes will be hidden from the view of landloards and boards. 
  • There is no probationary clause in the bill that model behavior has to be proven. (For instance 7-10 years of no offence and providing work/school history since entry back into society).
  • Modestly priced coops and rentals (often in communities of color) will most likely receive more of these applicants making us more vulnerable.

For those that haven’t seen the bill please see it below:

I am not sure among us what position is being taken and who has galvanized their communities. Feel free to reach out to me.
Communities and organizations can testify next Thursday, December 8 at 10:00 am at the Civil Rights Committee. Please register to speak at organize your communities to reach out to your council members. Elections are coming up so we do have leverage here. Let’s join together and try to pull a victory out of this one. We at least can make the City Council go back and make the proper modifications to this bill.
Thank you,

Marcus Garvey Park Tree Lighting

On Thursday, December 8th, at 5 PM, bring your family and neighbors to meet at 124th Street and 5th Avenue to celebrate Marcus Garvey Park’s tree lighting ceremony and multi-cultural celebration:

In The Street

If you haven’t watched this short film (black and white, shot on 16mm film stock in 1948) you should, just to get a sense of East Harlem in the immediate post-war era.

Puerto Ricans and Italians make up the majority of the people (often children) filmed via small, hidden 16 mm film cameras. This unique record of East Harlem street life shows the joy and vibrancy found in one of Manhattan’s poorest neighborhoods.

Redistricting Changes to Harlem

The boundary between KRJ and Diana Ayala as it currently exists:

The proposed boundary for the next election cycle:

And the boundaries superimposed on the same map (note the color purple is the new proposed boundary whereas the blue line is the current boundary):

Here is the interactive map to test out. Move the slider at the top, left and right:,40.811#%26map=14.23/40.80415/-73.94016

Dan, who presented on Redistricting at one of our spring HNBA meetings, writes:


I hope everyone is having a great week so far! As you all have likely seen, the NYC Districting Commission released it’s first draft maps of the proposed Council district lines on Friday. The folks at CUNY have uploaded these draft maps to their website Redistricting and You, to make it easy to compare the new proposed lines with the current districts.

The new maps made changes to districts all over the city. Some of the most impactful decisions the commission made were:

  1. Staten Island – Staten Islanders lobbied hard to keep three full council districts on the island, without having any district cross-over to Brooklyn or Manhattan. The commission abided their requests. Staten Island was under-populated, so to accommodate this request the commission lowered the population maximum for every other council district in the city. This was done to ensure that every district met the legal criteria requiring no more than a five percent population deviation between the smallest and largest districts. The end results were that the three districts in Staten Island are substantially smaller than nearly every other district, and that the commission had much less flexibility with population sizes for the rest of the districts.
  2. South Brooklyn – The commission united the Asian-American communities in Bensonhurst and Sunset Park, to create an Asian majority district. To do this, the map makers redrew several districts in southern Brooklyn, including changing CD 38 to include Bay Ridge, and moving Red Hook into CD 39.
  3. Western Queens and UES – The draft plan creates a new crossover district uniting CD 26 with Roosevelt Island and parts of the Upper East Side.
  4. Keeping neighborhoods intact – The commission united several neighborhoods that had previously been split between multiple council districts – for example Van Nest in the Bronx. Other neighborhoods currently intact in one council district got split, such as Hell’s Kitchen.

Citizens Union will conduct a closer analysis of the proposed map in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on the maps. Please feel free to email [email protected] to share any thoughts or comments.

New Yorkers will have 30 days to look through these draft maps before the Commission takes comments. The next round of borough-specific public hearings will be on August 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 22nd from 4pm-7pm. This round of hearings will be critical in determining the ultimate council lines. If you are unhappy with the maps, we encourage you to testify; similarly if you like the new lines in your district, that is also very important to tell the commission.

To submit written testimony to the Districting Commission, please contact: [email protected]

If you’d like to read more, here is some recent press about the new maps, with more expected over the coming week:

  1. New NYC Council district maps create Asian-majority district, but draw fire from sitting members (Gothamist) 
  2. Preliminary City Council district map keeps Staten Island communities whole (silive) 
  3. Districting Commission releases draft of New York City Council maps (City and State) 
  4. Commission releases draft Council maps (Queens Chronicle)
  5. “I Don’t Like the Map!” — Hell’s Kitchen Reacts to NY City Council Proposal to Split Neighborhood into THREE (
  6. Upper East Side Sliced Up In Newly Redrawn Council District Maps | Upper East Side, NY Patch
  7. Preliminary Maps For City Council Districts Released, Crown Heights Remains Divided | – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News

NBT Dedication

Barbara Ann Teer speaks about the inspiration of her sister in forming and developing the National Black Theater at this groundbreaking dedication clip (click on the chevron pointing right on the text, below) :

And to hear more about the devistating fire that (in part) sparked the rebirth of the National Black Theater, see:

Randall’s Island to Get $1,000,000 (almost) For Improvements

The total of $950,000 recently awarded by Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Member Diana Ayala will further ongoing efforts by the Randall’s Island Park Alliance, working in partnership with the NYC Parks Department, to restore and develop the Park as one of New York’s premier destinations for sports, recreation and relaxation. The generous support will help realize a vision of Island-wide pathway improvements to better connect visitors with Park resources, a goal set forth in the 2012 RIPA Strategic Plan, developed in collaboration with NYC Parks, the RIPA Board of Trustees, local stakeholders, elected officials, and on-Island agency stakeholders.

Guided by the Strategic Plan, RIPA is undertaking a comprehensive and innovative complex of access improvements to improve connections between the Island’s main bicycle and pedestrian access points and popular destinations including Icahn Stadium, the Park’s many playing fields, and the Urban Farm and adjacent playground. New pathways will also facilitate multimodal travel through better connections between these destinations and the Park’s major parking lots, bus stops, and new Citibike stations.

“I am pleased to contribute funding that will provide increased accessibility to a Park that is an oasis for New Yorkers,” said Robert Rodriguez, New York State Assembly Member. “The contribution will help move this initiative forward, and fosters RIPA’s careful plan that focuses on access improvements alongside sustaining and programming the Island’s resources.”

“Increasing accessibility within the Park by creating Island-wide pathway improvements will better connect New Yorkers with Park resources and RIPA’s free educational and family-friendly programming,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Direct access to the Island’s restored natural areas and green space is beneficial for all, and we are glad to contribute to these efforts.”

“Randall’s Island Park is a precious resource for the City of New York, and we are glad that we are able to contribute funding that will accommodate the continuously growing number of visitors and commuters traveling through the Park by foot and bicycle,” said New York City Council Member Diana Ayala.

“For almost 30 years, with the support of the City of New York, the Alliance has spearheaded the restoration and development of the Island. We truly appreciate the continued support of Assembly Member Rodriguez, Borough President Brewer, and Council Member Ayala as they help us achieve our mission to provide equitable access to green space, free educational programming, and world-class facilities to all New Yorkers, especially our neighbors in East Harlem and the South Bronx. Increasing the pathways throughout the Park will contribute to these efforts and benefit the over four million individuals who visit the Island annually,” said Deborah Maher, President of RIPA.

The combined projects build upon decades of public-private partnership to create unprecedented connections that will foster environmental exploration and augment access to recreational facilities and free programming for the millions of New Yorkers who visit each year. In coming years, these connections will foster access to exciting developments including an expanded Sportime Tennis Center, the new Drive Shack golf center, and a central Nature Center hosting RIPA’s many public programs.

Shake Shack + Slutty Vegan = Harlem Week Burger Promotion

Head over to 125/Madison today through August 15th, to order a Slutty Vegan burger at Shake Shack. This limited time offer is a collaboration for Harlem Week

To learn more about the burger and its genesis, see:

Night Watch

If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam, or been in an art history class, odds are that you’ve come across the painting Night Watch by Rembrandt. This famous painting shows a group of well off townsfolk who’ve assembled with weapons and a drum, to ostensibly keep the peace in their town.

The painting is, of course, a life-size puff-piece to celebrate the men at the center of power, their taste in clothing, their fancy weapons, and their bonds to one another.

What then, does this painting from 1642 have to do with Harlem? Well, at almost exactly the time when this painting was commissioned and completed by Rembrandt (take a look at the scale of it, below, under restoration), our Harlem created its own night watch to protect the inhabitants.

The members of the 1676 Harlem night watch were admonished to:

  • The whole or half corporalships, whose turn it is to watch, shall in the evening, at the hour of eight, upon beat of the drum, be in full number at the watch-house, shall place their sentinels, and take the necessary rounds: and shall not retire before the beating of the morning reveille; upon a forfeiture, fixed or to be fixed, of 3 guilders. 
  • Whoever neglects the watch without a lawful cause, or making the same known to his corporal beforehand, shall each time forfeit 6 guilders. 
  • Each watchman coming to the watch shall be provided with suitable side and hand arms ; also with sufficient powder and lead, upon forfeit of 3 guilders. 
  • The watch shall be kept quiet, without much calling or noise, upon penalty of 3 guilders.

CB11 Report

Harlem neighbors,

Thanks to your feedback to the Mayor, some of our elected officials have taken action to address quality of life issues on 125th street and its vicinity.

Earlier this month, in Community Board 11’s Full Board meeting, City Council member Diana Ayala’s representative gave an update on the outcome of the Mayor’s visit on 125th street, as reported by Patch here on November 10 this year.

1) Arrangement was made for the street to be powered washed everyday unless temperature drop below freezing point (exactly where is unclear)

2) Increased density of police patrolling 125h street

3) Increased density of homeless services agents on the street

4) Extell on the Pathmark site has been requested to put on lighting on the construction site on their sidewalks to improve safety and discourage loitering

5) A handful of arrests have been made. Those related to K2 synthetic drug sale, were immediately released due to a loophole in the law. (Note they can’t say whether the arrests were due to long standing investigations or newly initiated ones)

6) A task force headed by Diana Ayala has been created to meet with relevant agencies to tackle this problem on an on-going basis. (note the meeting is currently not opened to public but is attended by community board leaders)

When asked what she thinks is the root cause of these problems, Ayala says it is due to homelessness, drug dealing, the drop-off of homeless shelter residents from Wards Island, and COVID. She said it is a long-standing problem and thus will take time to fix.
CB11 vice-chair Xavier thanked Robert Rodriguez and Brian Benjamin’s office to help get OASAS to show up to today’s meeting. Xavier also announced that a resolution for a moratorium of increase of harm reduction services in East Harlem will be on the agenda in the next full board on Jan 26.

Update on Mayor Visit of 125 Street


Many of your have heard that Mayor De Blasio visited 125th Street in November after the Greater Harlem Coalition sent a letter to the Mayor. Elected officials have given an update to the community board this week regarding actions they have taken to mitigate the quality of life issues. See this post for more detail: Actions Taken Post Mayor Visit of 125th Street – Greater Harlem Coalition. Keep raising your concerns. This is how we can help our elected officials improve our quality of life.