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: 

https://www.votervoice.net/RSANYC/Campaigns/96913/Respond

You can read a bill summary and view sponsors here: 

https://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5755059&GUID=1081D9A0-5626-4DE4-BB6A-142AB373A4AF&Options=ID|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:https://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5755059&GUID=1081D9A0-5626-4DE4-BB6A-142AB373A4AF

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 https://council.nyc.gov/testify/Please 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,
Rachel

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:

How Bad is the M35 Bus?

The numbers are not good.

The M35 has only got an average weekday ridership of 176 people per day:

The worst in Manhattan.

Not only that, the drop in ridership, from 2016 to 2021 is also the most precipitous. The M35 lost 83% of its ridership between 2016 to 2021. Again, the worst in Manhattan:

The M35 is a ghost bus.

The Intelligencer Reports on NIMBYs and YIMBYs

The Intelligencer has an article on how a few of New York’s socialists are coming to terms with the data analysis from NYU’s Furman Institute that building market-rate housing does not increase nearby rents.

The author of the Furman Institute’s article notes that market-rate development actually slightly decreases nearby rents:

Abstract

There is a growing debate about whether new housing units increase rents for immediately surrounding apartments. Some argue new market-rate development produces a supply effect, which should alleviate the demand pressure on existing housing units and decrease their rents. Others contend that new development will attract high-income households and new amenities, generating an amenity effect and driving up rents. I contribute to this debate by estimating the impact of new high-rises on nearby residential rents, residential property sales prices and restaurant openings in New York City. To address the selection bias that developers are more likely to build new high-rises in fast-appreciating areas, I restrict the sample to residential properties near approved new high-rises and exploit the plausibly exogenous timing of completion conditional upon the timing of approval. I provide event study evidence that within 500 ft, for every 10% increase in the housing stock, rents decrease by 1%; and for every 10% increase in the condo stock, condo sales prices decrease by 0.9%. In addition, I show that new high-rises attract new restaurants, which is consistent with the hypothesis about amenity effects. However, I find that the supply effect dominates the amenity effect, causing net reductions in the rents and sales prices of nearby residential properties.

You can read the full article here:

https://blocksandlots.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Do-New-Housing-Units-in-Your-Backyard-Raise-Your-Rents-Xiaodi-Li.pdf

Harlem’s City Council member is mentioned in the Intelligencer article and is contrasted with Council Member Caban:

In this particular manner, a darling of the left behaved like a typical politician. And so did Kristin Richardson Jordan, a self-identified socialist city councilmember (the DSA did not support her campaign) who blocked a proposed development that would have built over 900 units of housing in Central Harlem. Half of the development would have been designated affordable housing, though not quite at the deep levels Cabán won in Astoria. Richardson Jordan called the development “nothing less than white supremacy,” a statement that was hyperbolic and absurd — a mixed-use housing development has nothing to do with racial terror. But more telling, perhaps, was another comment the councilmember made to a local publication. “I would rather have lots sit empty than have them filled with further gentrification,” she said. A NIMBY couldn’t have put it better.

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:

https://nyc.redistrictingandyou.org/?districtType=cc&propA=current_2013&propB=council_plan_july15prelim&toggledlayers=places&opacity=1.97&mc_cid=5a2a331c43&mc_eid=d99e08694f&selected=-73.943,40.811#%26map=14.23/40.80415/-73.94016

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

Hello!

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 (w42st.com)
  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 | CrownHeights.info – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News

A survey from City College

Dear Neighbor,
What would a healthy Harlem look like? What would it take to get there? Can you spare a few minutes to think about that question and share your opinions with us?
We would like to learn about the quality of life in Harlem. We will use the results from this survey to develop a plan of action to work together with residents and other community members to address the major health and community issues in Harlem. Our ultimate aim is to partner with the community to create a better and healthier Harlem for the sake of all who live and work here and our children. The survey is anonymous and voluntary and should take only no more than three to five minutes to complete. 
Link to Survey – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZRX52MJ
Thank you!
Your neighbors at The City College of New York and Billy Council.

Council Member Kristin Jordan Says “No” to 458 Affordable Apartments

Patch’s Nick Garber is reporting that Central Harlem’s council member Kristin Jordan has stopped 458 new affordable rental units from being built on 145th Street. The article indicates that a storage unit facility may be built on the site instead:

https://patch.com/new-york/harlem/harlems-one45-project-withdrawn-developers-after-yearlong-battle

Bike Repair & BBQ

Saturday, June 4th / 11AM – 3PM

Join us for a FREE outdoor Bike Repair and Maintenance led by Bronx Messenger and Uptown & Boogie Bicycle Advocacy.

Bring your own bike [BYOB] – ask local bike mechanics and enthusiasts from Upper Manhattan and The Bronx, questions about commuting in the city, discuss biking with kids, bike touring, biking while menstruating and more.

Participants are welcome to work on their bicycle during the event.

Volunteer: Are you a bike mechanic or enthusiast and want to volunteer? Email [email protected]

Event Information:

Kristin Jordan

Brian Benjamin Arrested and Resigned, Yesterday

New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has surrendered to authorities to face campaign finance fraud-related charges in connection with a past campaign and has since resigned.

Benjamin is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court.

His arrest comes after reports that Manhattan federal prosecutors and the FBI were investigating whether Benjamin knowingly engaged in a campaign finance fraud scheme. Subpoenas were issued in connection with the investigation, two sources familiar with the subpoenas said at the time.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin turned himself in to federal authorities in Lower Manhattan as they unsealed his indictment. He faces five bribery charges and related allegations tied to a campaign contribution scheme first exposed by The City.

It was last January when The City first reported on suspicious campaign donations to Benjamin’s campaign for city comptroller, including a contribution from a 2-year-old boy. The funds were potentially eligible to be publicly matched $8 for every dollar contributed, up to $100 for each named donor.

His camp promised to return the cash. By late February, they had given back more than $13,000 in contributions tied to Gerald Migdol, a Harlem real estate entrepreneur, the Campaign Finance Board said at the time.

In August, despite THE CITY’s revelations, newly elevated Gov. Kathy Hochul chose then-state senator Benjamin as her lieutenant. Then, just after Hochul’s win in the November election, federal prosecutors indicted Migdol in an illegal campaign funding scheme.

We now know Benjamin had been subpoenaed by local and federal law enforcement authorities prior to his selection by Hochul, which he failed to disclose to Hochul or in a state form.

The indictment alleges that Benjamin met repeatedly with Migdol, identified as “CC-1,” to collect money orders Migdol had orchestrated. In exchange, they allege, he arranged a $50,000 grant to a nonprofit Migdol controls.

Councilmember Kristin Jordan Opposes a Multi-Racial Harlem

In two media reports last week, Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan voiced opposition to a new development on 145th Street (including a new headquarters for The National Action Network and a civil rights museum) in order to reduce the number of potential non-Black residents in her district.

New York 1 reports:

If the City Council doesn’t approve the plan, the developer could still go ahead with a much smaller project of all market-rate units.

Councilwoman Kristin Richardson-Jordan would ultimately prefer that option, since she believes it would bring a smaller number of newcomers to the neighborhood.

“That makes a difference, especially in a community like Harlem where we are one of the only places with a Black plurality and a Black political voting block,” Richardson-Jordan said. “So you have a dilution of that voting block, you also have an influx of people who have much higher incomes, and you have the continuing displacement of those who are around.”

City and State also quotes the councilmember as saying:

“If we’re talking about Black rights and liberation, that doesn’t come in the form of a museum…”

For the full City and State article, see:

https://www.cityandstateny.com/politics/2022/01/will-city-council-approve-harlem-development-over-wishes-socialist-local-member/361302/

Racial Covenants

In Kevin McGruder’s book: Philip Payton – The Father of Black Harlem, McGruder notes that on February 13th, 1907, West 137th Street was the site of Harlem’s first (one of the first nationally) racially restrictive racial covenants, drawn up in response to Black residents moving into Harlem.

23 property owners on West 137th Street between Lenox and 7th Avenues signed this racial covenant, appropriating language previously used to “restrict the presence of Jews in residential areas” in an attempt to legally stop integration and a multicultural Harlem:

That neither of the parties hereto, nor his heir and their heirs legal representatives successors and assigns shall or will at any time hereafter up to and including the 1st day of January, 1917 permit or cause to be permitted, or suffer or cause to be suffered, either directly or indirectly, the said premises to be used or occupied in whole or in part by any negro mulatto, quadroon or octoroon of either sex whatsoever, or any person popularly known and described as a negro, mullato [sic], quadroon or octoroon of either sex as a tenant, subtenant, guest boarder or in any other way, manner or capacity whatsoever, excepting only that any one family occupying an entire house or an entire flat or an entire apartment, may employ one negress or one female mulatto, or one female quadroon or one female octoroon as a household servant, performing only the duties ordinarily performed by a household servant—it being understood and agreed that this covenant or restriction shall not be enforced personally for damages or by an action in equity or at common law against either of the parties hereto or his, her or their heirs legal representatives, successor or assigns, unless he, she or they be the owner or owners of the said premises at the time of the violation, attempted violation or threatened violation of this covenant or restriction, but this covenant or restriction may be proceeded on for an injunction and for damages against the party or parties, or person or persons who for the time being own, occupy or are in possession of the said premises, and violating or attempting or threatening to violate this covenant or restriction.

Evan McKenzie, PRIVATOPIA: HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS AND THE RISE OF RESIDENTIAL PRIVATE GOVERNMENT (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership

Join Princeton University Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s presentation on the ways that housing policies inspired and shaped by private sector organizations undermined the federal government’s ability to enforce fair housing rules and regulations long after the passage of the Fair Housing Act.

Register here:

https://www.ias.edu/events/public-policy-taylor

Thursday, March 10, 5:30 PM