Posts tagged with "Bill de Blasio":

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NYC releases major climate change plan aligned with Paris Agreement

This morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration released the 1.5ºC plan – a far-reaching new plan intended to align New York City with the principles established during the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. "In the Trump era, cities have to lead the way when it comes to fighting climate change," Mayor de Blasio stated in the plan's announcement. The 1.5ºC plan – a name drawn from the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to a 1.5º Celsius increase – is focused on six areas of action: recycling, waste, buildings, energy, transportation, and carbon neutrality. The plan marks the latest development in a series of commitments made by the city to reduce emissions. Last fall, the administration released the 80 X 50 Roadmap, which outlined a commitment to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Earlier this summer, Mayor de Blasio signed an executive order opposing President Trump's intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and outlining the City's commitment to upholding it. At the beginning of September, the de Blasio administration released a plan to update the aging infrastructure of existing buildings over 25,000 square feet by 2030, with strict penalties enacted afterward for those who don't comply. As the 1.5ºC plan states, the administration will apply emissions requirements to new construction and renovations across the five boroughs, and "adopt 'stretch' versions of the energy code in 2019 and 2022." "Stretch" here refers to leniency toward the developers' approaches – the City will reportedly provide metrics on energy efficiency but not stipulate how developers should meet those targets. As with earlier plans, the city will use Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs adapted for commercial and residential buildings, allowing utility upgrades to be paid off through property bills rather than out-of-pocket. Enacting 100 percent renewable energy in city government operations and buildings is another key aspect of the plan. The emissions of city agencies alone account for eight percent of the city's total greenhouse gas emissions from electric appliances, and 1.5ºC aims to replace all energy infrastructure used by the city with renewable alternatives. Their timeline for this? "As soon as sufficient supply can be brought online." In the near future, the City has stated their intention to commence 50 new solar projects on public buildings sometime this fall, which would bring it a quarter of the way towards its goal. With regard to the transportation sector, the plan reiterates a proposal Mayor de Blasio made in early August to create a tax on millionaires generating up to $800 million in funds to upgrade the NYC subway system. It also includes a proposal to expand infrastructure for bicycles (including protected lanes) and electric vehicles (including charging stations). Notably, the plan also outlines a goal of establishing a carbon neutrality protocol in partnership with other cities around the world including C40 – a network of 90 international cities already committed to climate leadership – meant to establish common definitions for the reduction of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. In a public statement about the plan, New York Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg stated that with New Yorkers' heavy use of mass transit, bicycles, and walking, "New York City produces the fewest greenhouse gas emissions per capita of any U.S. city." A statistic like this should be used as a baseline rather than a benchmark. As the 1.5ºC plan evolves, hopefully the administration will release more specifics on the methodology they intend to apply to new developments to modernize energy use citywide, and clarify whether any penalties will be applied for those who don't comply. This morning's announcement has probably piqued the ears of a number of developers who may be wondering the same.
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New York City targets greenhouse gas emissions of buildings in new plan

Inefficient architecture and infrastructure is among the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 39% of CO2 emissions in the United States and consume 70% of the nation's electricity. In New York City, fossil fuels burned to provide heat and water to buildings are the number one source of emissions – 42% of the city's total. This week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new plan to drastically reduce the emissions of aging buildings across the city. Despite Trump's hasty withdrawal from the 2016 Paris Agreement, de Blasio pledged to adhere to the treaty and accelerate New York City's action to cut its fossil fuel emissions. If approved by the City Council, owners of buildings larger than 25,000 square feet must invest in more efficient infrastructure (including boilers, water heaters, insulated roofs and windows, etc.) by 2030. This applies to around 14,500 private and municipal structures across the city. Owners of buildings that have not complied will face penalties beginning in 2030, ranging from fines of $60,000 a year for a 30,000-square-foot residential buildings to $2 million for a 1 million-square-foot buildings). Penalties may also include restrictions on future permitting for noncompliant owners. The plan also aims to produce 17,000 middle-class "green jobs" by 2030, including plumbers, carpenters, electricians, engineers, architects, and energy specialists. The announcement has given climate advocates a much-appreciated boost of public support, but also raises concerns for homeowners and renter advocates. The New York State Tenants and Neighbors Coalition tweeted at Mayor de Blasio that the city's promise to "stop landlords ... from displacing tenants or raising rents based on the cost of improvements" was only really possible if rental laws were changed to begin with: What does this all mean for architects working today? This latest development might be applied to provide a new standard for new structures built between now and 2030 (and long after) to incorporate more common-sense energy efficiency features. The Mayor's office has not responded to AN's query on whether this program or its penalties will apply to buildings constructed from 2017 onward. This new legislation marks the first major step by New York City to work toward the goals outlined in the de Blasio administration's 80 X 50 Roadmap – which commits to reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. Donna De Costanzo, Director of Northeast Energy and Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) remarked on the plan: “Reducing the amount of energy used in the buildings in our city will put money back in New Yorkers’ pockets while improving air quality and creating jobs."
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NYC announces commission to review public monuments

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed the members of a hotly-anticipated commission to review the city's public monuments for "symbols of hate" amid a national climate of elevated bigotry and ascendent white nationalism. The commission, officially dubbed the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, will have three months to develop new guidelines for how the city addresses monuments perceived as "oppressive" and "inconsistent" with the city's values. These values are not strictly codified, but the Mayor's speechifying on monuments issue over the past month suggests they align with liberal ideals of tolerance, fairness, and equity. The 18-person commission is co-chaired by Tom Finkelpearl, the commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation. Its members include experts in law, public art, diversity, and preservation, and LGBT issues, as well as two architects: Mabel O. Wilson, a scholar of race and memory and an associate professor of architecture at Columbia GSAPP, and Michael Arad, the designer of the World Trade Center Memorial. Four city agencies—including the Public Design Commission, which reviews and approves public art—are ex officio members of the commission. Additional members may be announced before the first meeting. In addition to providing general recommendations on city-owned statues, it will review a few hot-button monuments, most likely starting with the J. Marion Sims statue in Harlem near Central Park and Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle. Both works have drawn strong condemnation from anti-racist protestors in recent weeks. “I'm confident that this process will produce a conversation capable of examining our public art through the accurate, contextual historical lens that it deserves," said Mayor de Blasio, in a prepared statement. As the Mayor found out personally a few weeks ago, this is not an easy task. When he announced the commission, de Blasio, who has Italian heritage, said he was not necessarily opposed to removing Columbus. This statement provoked the ire of some Italian-Americans New Yorkers who view Columbus as a national hero. In light of the hot political climate (it's an election year, after all), the commission is moving fast to issue recommendations for the city's public works, as well as draft policies the city could advance to live up to its values. The group will put out its findings by the end of the year, but before then, the public can weigh in on the controversial monuments through DCA's website (link forthcoming). Across the country, cities are re-evaluating their approach to public commemoration. In the dead of night last month, Baltimore and New Orleans removed their Confederate statues in light of the Charlottesville, Virginia white supremacist rally to save that city's Confederate monuments. That day, a rally participant drove his car through a group of counter-protestors, injuring 19 and killing one.
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NYC’s new cultural plan is a roadmap through changing times

Since the NYC Mayor’s Office released its first cultural planCreateNYC, in July, many have taken stock of the work that must be done to build equitable access to cultural institutions and increase staff diversity. Recently the New York Times released new data on several of NYC’s major cultural institutions that illuminates a striking disparity between institutions with and without a focus on racial parity among its employees and board members. The data show that while some institutions do employ staff members representative of their communities, boards and senior leadership are largely white. In the case of Studio Museum in Harlem both the staff and the leadership reflect the broader racial diversity of NYC. All cultural institutions currently receiving city funds must submit diversity plans within the first year of CreateNYC in order to continue receiving public support. While achieving more representative leadership is a high priority within the first year, accountability measures have also been set to ensure that cultural institutions are increasing access for those with disabilities and abiding by the city’s aggressive sustainability goals. These two provisions in particular will have an effect on the way private institutions that accept public money will develop their capital investments strategies and set the stage (so to speak) for progressive architectural environments. While CreateNYC has been in the works for months, cultural landmarks and institutions are receiving renewed attention as central figures in a national debate over identity following the traumatic events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Earlier this month Mayor De Blasio called for a 90-day review of New York City’s “symbols of hate,” commissioning a panel that will develop methods for altering or potentially removing public objects that espouse hate or intolerance of any kind. Now, the city is considering placing explanatory plaques next to controversial monuments that will contextualize the racist actions of the people they depict for a contemporary audience.
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Subway service stinks and the MTA has a new plan to fix it

[UPDATE 7/26/2017: This article was amended to include a statement that MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota made at the press conference on 7/25/2017 regarding his and the MTA's accountability for the plan outlined here.] This afternoon MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota laid out a short-term plan to improve declining service across the New York City subway system. Lhota began by outlining some of the causes of the current deterioration of service, including a record volume of customers (6 million riders a day, due in no small part to increased number of tourists), lack of capital investment, and aging infrastructure. The first phase of the MTA's efforts will tackle the causes behind 79 percent of major delays. While medical incidents, track fires, car malfunctions, water damage, and station malfunctions were each the blame, more than half of the major delays were due to signal, track, and power problems. Lhota's list of countermeasures was extensive, but included:
  • Speeding up the replacement of the 1,300 most troublesome signals (40 percent of signal mechanisms are more than 50 years old)
  • Starting a Emergency Water Management initiative to seal leaks and clean grates
  • Increasing the number of train car overhauls from 950 to 1,100 per year
  • Creating a new MTA app and a separate online dashboard to keep riders informed on MTA activities and improvements (the dashboard will be available in the next month to six weeks)
  • Initiating a pilot program to remove some seats from select cars on the Shuttle (S) train between Grand Central/42nd and the L train
  • Adding seven more EMT teams at various stations to handle sick customers
  • Initiating a public awareness campaign to stop littering on the tracks, which can lead to track fires
  • Increasing the rate of station cleaning from every six weeks to four weeks
  • Adding 12 emergency teams to 12 locations to speed up incident response times
  • Eliminating recorded announcements on subway cars
The cost will be a challenge—this yearlong "stabilization" phase will cost $456 million in operating costs, plus $380 million in a one-time capital. Without access to funds from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, the federal government, or increased fares, the city and the state will have to food the bill. Lhota said that he and Governor Andrew Cuomo are proposing the two entities split the cost evenly. In discussing the ever-prickly funding issue, Lhota, echoing Cuomo, made sure to note that the MTA runs the subway, while the city owns it (the mayor's office disputes this interpretation of the subway's rules). Phase Two will include implementing the designs of the MTA Genius Transit Challenge, new subway cars, and an entirely new signal system. Lhota stated this second phase may cost $8 billion. During the conference, Lhota said the MTA would take responsibility for executing this plan. "Hold me accountable for everything that I've talked about today," he stated in response to a reporter's question, "because I do believe the responsibility begins here and ends here with everyone at the MTA and everyone at the transit authority." Hours after the press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio held his own presser inside the City Hall R/W station to address Lhota's remarks. He called the agency's plan a "positive" and "important" first step to getting subway service back up to par, noting that the state needs to apply the resources it already has at its disposal. "The MTA is finally beginning to own up to its responsibility," he said. All good, right? Less than two hours later, Lhota issued a salty response to de Blasio's comments, fanning the flames of a city-state saga that's already sardine-packed with petty jabs, light shows, messy snacking, and a whole heap of grandstanding:
“It is befuddling that the Mayor praised the MTA repair plan, but said he would not agree to fund it 50/50 with the State. One-half of a repair plan won’t make the trains run on time. The MTA is looking for the city to be a funding partner that assists the 6 million New Yorkers, the mayor's constituents, who use the subway."
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Mayor de Blasio unveils New York City’s first cultural plan

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled the city’s first ever cultural plan, CreateNYC, which has been in the works for months.

CreateNYC is a blueprint for expanding the Big Apple's cultural sector; it mainly focuses on increasing diversity across museum boards and addressing historically underserved communities.

The plan was built on feedback from nearly 200,000 New Yorkers and focuses on growing the cultural community across all five boroughs. 97 percent of respondents said that arts and culture are vital to the overall quality of life in the city, and 75 percent of New Yorkers said that they wish they could attend arts and cultural activities more often.

“New York City is the world capital of art and culture,” said de Blasio in a press release. “If we are going to continue to live up to that title we must use every tool we have to ensure that every resident, in every neighborhood, has the same access to cultural opportunities. CreateNYC is the first comprehensive roadmap to lifting up arts and culture across the city.”

Speaking at a news conference today, de Blasio also emphasized the city’s cultural institutions need for diversity and inclusion, according to the New York Times. “There is still the assumption among New Yorkers about where they belong and where they don’t belong,” he said. Sixty-seven percent of New York City residents identify as people of color, but only 38 percent of employees at cultural organizations are people of color, according to the press release.

Funding will come from the mayor’s office, with an additional $5 million from City Council to be allocated. The majority of it will go towards less prominent arts groups—especially those that lay outside of Manhattan. Approximately $1.5 million will be directed towards increasing support for low-income communities and underrepresented groups, while $4.5 million will be used to support the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) in low-income communities.

A long-term goal of CreateNYC is the inclusion of public art in both public and private spaces, as well as increased support for the Percent for Art program. Again, the plan emphasized arts programming in public spaces in underrepresented communities.

A fair chunk of the funding—$5 million—will be used to help the cultural institutions achieve OneNYC sustainability goals of an 80 percent reduction of all emissions by 2050. The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) will create a new position specifically to work with cultural organizations to help them reduce their energy consumption.

“It may be the least sexy of all the recommendations,” Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl said to the Times, “but it could be the most significant.”

CreateNYC's full plan can be read on their website.
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Mayors come out against Trump’s Paris catastrophe

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged 15 million dollars to the United Nations (UN) to combat climate change, filling the gap left by President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. The funds will support the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretariat, "including its work to help countries implement their commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change," Bloomberg Philanthropies said in a statement. "Americans are not walking away from the Paris Climate Agreement; just the opposite—we are forging ahead," Michael Bloomberg said. Bloomberg’s sentiment is echoed by The United States Conference of Mayors, who have vowed to continue their fight at the local level despite the shenanigans in Washington. The U.S. Conference of Mayors is a strong proponent of the need to address climate change and we support the Paris agreement, which positions the world's nations, including the United States, to be energy independent, self-reliant, and resilient,” stated Phoenix, Arizona Mayor Greg Stanton who is also Chair of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) Environment Committee. “A thriving economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are compatible by focusing on new technology, investing in renewable fuel sources, and increasing our energy efficiency,” the group said in a statement. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued the following:  “President Trump can turn his back on the world, but the world cannot ignore the very real threat of climate change. This decision is an immoral assault on the public health, safety and security of everyone on this planet. New Yorkers are already experiencing hotter summers, more powerful storms and rising seas, which disproportionately affect already vulnerable communities. On behalf of the people of New York City, and alongside mayors across the country, I am committing to honor the goals of the Paris agreement with an Executive Order in the coming days, so our city can remain a home for generations to come.” USCM Energy Chair New Bedford (MA) Mayor Jon Mitchell added: "The solutions to climate change present economic opportunities in clean energy, efficient technology, and low-carbon products and services, all of which can create jobs in the United States. U.S. mayors have committed their cities to address climate change and will continue to do so."
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NYC arts groups nervous as city hashes out new funding plan

Mayor Bill de Blasio is rethinking the city's cultural funding plan, a move that could impact not just major institutions like the Met and Lincoln Center, but smaller, outer-borough arts organizations, too.

Large organizations, many of them based in Manhattan, are worried about getting less money for their programming, while grassroots groups, especially those working in lower-income neighborhoods, are hoping to get a bigger slice of funding with the Mayor's proposed changes.

The city allocates $178 million annually for its arts budget, so that funding comes from a pretty big pie. Especially in the face of cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts, the city's changes, the New York Times reports, "could be setting the stage for an art-world version of class warfare, with cultural giants and their well-heeled patrons pitted against smaller, less-glamorous institutions that focus chiefly on serving racially and economically diverse local audiences."

Right now, the Metropolitan Museum of Art gets $26 million, the largest single grant at almost 15 percent of the budget, while the Bronx Historical Society gets less than $200,000 from the city. The Cultural Institutions Group, a coalition of 33 arts organizations, gets 63 percent of the budget, and the rest is distributed through grants.

So far, 20,000 residents have weighed in on where the funding should go, and why. Those findings will be released in summary next week, while Mayor de Blasio's team has until July 1 to submit a cultural plan to the City Council for consideration.

“There will be something that says there are parts of New York City that are under-resourced, and that’s going to be something we want to address,” Tom Finkelpearl, the commissioner of cultural affairs, told the Times. "It’s also going to say that there is great recognition on the part of this administration of the value of major cultural institutions. These are very important, not just for tourism—which we do care about—but also to the spirit of the city.”

Some practitioners think it's time to expand the pool, investing more in arts and culture so all institutions, big and small, can sustain themselves and their missions. To that end, the city last year added $10 million to its arts budget and set that money aside for smaller organizations specifically, and gave larger groups a six percent increase.

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Mayor de Blasio unveils new East River esplanade

The Hudson River Greenway will soon meet its other half. Mayor Bill de Blasio has confirmed plans to extend the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway along the East River between 61st and 53rd Street. The Greenway has been in development since 1993 and connects the majority of Manhattan’s waterfront with pedestrian and bike paths. The last upgrade connected two legs along the Hudson River Greenway between West 81st and 91st streets and it is now the busiest bikeway in the U.S., according to the Mayor’s Office press release and an article in USA Today. The Mayor has allocated $100 million in City capital for the project in the Mayor’s Executive Budget, the entirety of which will be announced April 26. “The Hudson River Greenway has vastly improved quality of life on the West Side, and we want families in every corner in the borough to have that same access to bike, walk, and play along the water,” said Mayor de Blasio in a press release. “This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality.” Along with the new esplanade, the Mayor has also set aside $5 million to conduct studies of other sections of the Greenway that have yet to be connected to the main loop. As cycling continues to grow in popularity as both a leisure activity and viable form of commuting, the City continues to push for a completed 32-mile Greenway, which would encircle the entire island of Manhattan. When asked whether the city would hire an architect for the esplanade, the Mayor's Press Office said the city was still assessing the best approach to the project. For the time being, the new esplanade is moving into the design phase and is expected to be open and ready for cyclers, runners, and walkers alike in 2022.
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Mayor de Blasio unveils new plan to fight homelessness in NYC

At a press conference last Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his plan to fight homelessness, aiming to decrease by 45% the number of hotels and cluster apartments being used to temporarily house the homeless over the next five years. (The latter are apartments rented by the city to house the homeless). As part of a more community-based approach, the city aims to create new neighborhood-specific shelters to help manage the transition. According to a representative from the Mayor’s Office, these new, larger shelters will keep the city’s overall homeless shelter capacity constant. New York City’s homeless population is at an all-time high, with about 60,000 people living in shelters, cluster apartments, and hotels around the city. The Mayor stated that rent has increased in the city by 19 percent since the economic recession while the average household income has decreased by 6.3 percent, leaving many families in a bind. These displaced families make up for 70 percent of people living in shelters, according to de Blasio. Because of the city’s legal obligation to house anyone who asks for shelter, it has been forced to move people into cluster apartments and even hotels, racking up a bill of $400,000 a day, according to The New York Times. These statistics are a large part of why the de Blasio administration has struggled to combat homelessness and income inequality; related tactics have included rent stabilization initiatives and rental assistance to those who are at risk of becoming homeless. The city currently has 647 buildings operating to accommodate the homeless, and de Blasio proposes to vacate a majority of those sites, predominantly cluster housing and hotels, within the next five years. The end goal is to have 364 total sites operating in the city. In order to do this, the system will become more dependent on shelters, adding 90 new shelters and expanding on 30 existing sites to accommodate for the shift. A representative from the Mayor’s press office said that 18 to 20 new shelters will be completed each year, several of which would be purpose-built new construction, over the same five-year span. The remainder will be existing buildings, and in some cases, empty cluster housing sites that will be repurposed and renovated to become new shelters. On top of the goal to decrease the number of shelter sites, the city also hopes to decrease the number of homeless in shelters by 2,500 in the next five years. The representative emphasized that despite the decrease in sites, the city is not decreasing its capacity to house the homeless, just reallocating it. The city also plans to refurbish existing shelters in poor condition. “We’re going to do a comprehensive effort around the city to bring all shelters to a better standard of quality,” said de Blasio. These renovations will create more appropriate spaces for the shelter’s occupants to stay during the day to participate in training and education programs. The city hopes this will keep residents off of the streets, a benefit for the community, and help get them back on their feet faster. Another major crux of de Blasio’s new strategy is to keep the homeless in their communities, where they are closer to their jobs, schools, and houses of worship. This community-based shelter system would place new shelters in neighborhoods with a high number of homeless currently in the system. The first of those facilities will open this April in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is home to 132 families currently in shelters and scattered throughout the city. de Blasio plans to continue pushing for more affordable housing, with 200,000 new and preserved affordable apartments on the way, providing options for seniors, veterans, and low-income families. The city would also increase supportive housing initiatives, which provide on-site support for substance abuse and mental illness, to help the homeless regain independence. The Mayor reiterated that these strategies are long term and iterative and that this process is something that will require patience. “We will be at this a long time,” said the Mayor. “We will make progress, but it will be incremental. It will be slow, and I hope and I believe it will be steady.” Meanwhile, on the other side of the country in Honolulu, Hawaii State Senator Josh Green introduced a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe housing to homeless patients that suffer from mental illness and addiction. In a study quoted by The Guardian, research has shown that healthcare spending for homeless patients, particularly those struggling with mental illness and addiction, decreases by 43 percent when they become housed and are provided with supportive services. These new initiatives suggest a change in the way governments are viewing and treating homelessness and, hopefully, will open the conversation to new and innovative solutions. To read more about Mayor de Blasio’s plan, click here.
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NYC to get $300 million more for affordable housing this year

Thanks to some high-level maneuvering between feuding leaders, New York City is set to increase its capacity to build affordable housing. Last Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state would grant $300 million in bonds to build or refurbish low- and moderate-income housing. The governor's okay raised the city's 2016 tax-exempt bond capacity to $771 million, the largest increase in a decade. "Homelessness is exploding and affordable housing is all but disappearing,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York City needs this help from the state which will provide thousands of units of safe, clean, affordable housing and will help alleviate this crisis.” In another instance of state-city tensions, the state, per federal law, controls bond capacity, and that control has escalated tensions in the perpetual rivalry between Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Yesterday, though, the mayor's administration got to celebrate. "This funding is critical to keeping our affordable housing engine in high gear,” de Blasio spokeswoman Melissa Grace told the Daily News. “With so many vital projects lined up—including homes for low-income families and homeless seniors—we are grateful the State is coming forward with this additional $300 million allocation." Last year, the state gave the city $694 million in bond capacity, which was less than the city expected and delayed construction of affordable units, the mayor said. Friday's announcement comes on top of last week's deal between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and the Building and Construction Trades Council that seems set to revive 421-a (even after they temporarily reneged over a misunderstanding on the agreement's wage rates). Although housing advocates say the new exemption could cost New York billions in lost revenue each year, REBNY says the housing tax credit is essential to building affordable housing in the city.
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Mayor de Blasio expedites Build It Back construction work

Mayor Bill de Blasio this month signed legislation that will expedite approval of demolition and construction work performed by New York City–procured contractors under the Build it Back program. This bill will help to fast-track the city's rebuilding efforts that continue four years after Hurricane Sandy. Build it Back is a city initiative that provides funds to rebuild areas devastated by the historic storm. “We are pushing every day to accelerate construction, cut red tape and get people back into their homes. I want to thank Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership, the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Mark Treyger, and the rest of the City Council for passing this essential bill,” de Blasio said. The bill, known as Intro. 1341, offers two ways for the City to speed up construction: First, it expedites the demolition process by allowing necessary paperwork to be completed after the demolition, given that the work is supervised by licensed safety professionals. Second, it allows projects that were not allowed to move forward because of violations pre-dating the Build It Back program to proceed while simultaneously protecting the safety of those homes and their homeowners in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, many of whom are ready to get back to their daily lives. The goal is to get those people back in their homes, but also to plot a path forward for resilient neighborhoods that can withstand future storms. Previously, the de Blasio administration and the city council have provided tax relief for property owners affected by the 2012 storm and have also helped to remove unnecessary zoning restrictions on both elevation and construction. “Four long years after Hurricane Sandy, many New Yorkers are still waiting to be able to return home. We cannot allow red tape or sluggish bureaucracy to continue to delay the full recovery of the families enrolled in the Build it Back program. I am proud to have sponsored this long-overdue legislation, in partnership with the Mayor, and prouder still to see it signed into law. This bill is designed to remove unnecessary obstacles that have prevented the Build it Back program from moving forward while ensuring that rigorous safety standards are upheld,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger, chair of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency.