Archive for the tag 'helene weinstein'

Using emergency provisions, the New York City Department of Homeless Services has moved nearly 20 families into the Lyghthouse Inn, an alleged pay-by-hour hotel formerly known as the Windjammer Motel.

Neighbors sounded the alarm over the shelter at the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Meeting October 7, alongside elected officials who criticized the agency for poor communication with the community.

The agency confirmed that the family-oriented shelter opened in early October, and 17 families with children are already moved in. It was carved out of the motel’s 3206 Emmons Avenue property, with a separate entrance through an unmarked door, and there are plans to house as many as 69 families at the location.

“Sheltering New York’s families with children is a collective responsibility to be shoulder by all. We hope that the community is compassionate and supportive as these families work toward rebuilding their lives,” an agency spokesperson said.

Neighbors at the meeting did indeed express compassion for the families, many of which are single mothers or victims of domestic violence. But they were critical of the agency’s lack of communication, and shared concerns about the families’ well-being alongside the hotel’s clients, as well as its proximity to another family shelter just one block away.

“You cannot attack the homeless, the people who are living in there because you’re an elitist or you think you’re hot stuff. That’s wrong. And after what we went through with Sandy, there’s no way in hell you can turn around and say ‘Make them homeless’ when half your neighbors were homeless,” said neighbor Barbara Berardelli.

The group did express concerns about the communication.

“All of a sudden on Thursday evening [October 2], about 5:30, 6 o’clock, big vans pulled up and they started dumping out vans and mattresses and cribs. The next day people were notified, about 4 o’clock, on Yom Kippur, when most offices were closed already, that the shelter was opening,” said civic president Kathy Flynn.

The agency said that elected officials and Community Board 15 were notified of the shelter’s opening as early as mid-September, about two weeks before work began.

But Councilman Chaim Deutsch told the group that it was only being discussed as a possibility, not a certainty.

“They told me nothing was set in stone [during a conference call with the department],” said Deutsch. “The next thing I know, I get a phone call saying, ‘We’re moving furniture in.’”

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein recounted much the same.

Establishing a homeless center is often a process spanning many months, including community feedback and Community Board review. However, the pols explained that the agency used an “Emergency Declaration” to expedite the process – which the agency confirmed it uses during times of “dire capacity needs.” That allows them to temporarily take over the space and do community approval later. The agency will still need to seek approval over the next six months or so, the pols said.

Both Weinstein and Deutsch said they look forward to learning more about the agency’s long-term plans.

Until then, they both remarked on the shelter’s less-than-stellar landlords.

“[When I heard about it,] first I went to the Lyghthouse around the corner. I had to wait in line because people were asking for rooms for two hours, three hours, four hours. So I had to wait in line just like everyone else,” said Deutsch.

“There’s safety issues, there’s security issues, there’s, I guess I’ll put in quotes, ‘patrons’ of the hotel,” said Weinstein. “There are issues that need to be addressed.”

In regards to safety, the agency noted that there will be 24/7 security, though declined to elaborate.

Both pols are looking forward to additional meetings with the agency to address those issues, including potential overcrowding concerns at the nearby elementary school, PS 52.

Still, they admitted there’s little they can do in the short term, especially as the city is in the midst of a homeless housing crisis.

“I believe there’s 57,000 individuals that are homeless. Eleven thousand families that need shelter. That’s a lot of people in New York City, so I accept that we have a responsibility to have a fair share in our community,” said Weinstein.

Source: Assemblyman Weinstein's office

Source: Assemblyman Weinstein’s office

Following a hit and run in which a toddler and elderly woman were hospitalized on September 17, a crossing guard is now helping pedestrians get across the road safely at Nostrand Avenue and Kings Highway,

For neighbors, the intersection has long been a nuisance. Heavy traffic, competing police jurisdictions, and a confusing road pattern – the two main avenues, two service roads, and a side street jutting off to the southeast – have frustrated drivers and pedestrians alike. Administrators at a nearby yeshiva pleaded with local leaders for help.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein announced that, beginning today, a crossing guard will be on duty Monday through Thursday during school arrival and dismissal times.

Here’s the press release from Weinstein’s office:

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein is proud to announce that, working closely with the New York Police Department, she successfully secured a new school crossing guard for student and pedestrian assistance at the intersection of Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue.

Recently, local parents of children not eligible for bus service from their schools who walk to school reached out, citing the intersection as one of the most dangerous in Brooklyn.

Previously, the Assemblywoman’s petition for coverage at this junction was denied because the intersection is under the jurisdiction of no less than three NYPD Precincts. The Assemblywoman reached out to Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South who worked diligently to make this a reality.

“Persistence and hard work pays off,” said Joel Weisblum, Executive Director of Yeshiva Derech Hatorah, located at the intersection. “On behalf of the Yeshiva, and more importantly, the beautiful children of our Yeshiva, I would like to thank the Assemblywoman for assistance in getting us this much needed crossing guard.”

“I am extremely happy,” said local parent, Yael S. “We thank Assemblywoman Weinstein and the NYPD for all their efforts on behalf of our children. We now have peace of mind.”

The new guard is on Monday through Thursday from 7:15 to 9:15am, and in the afternoon, during school dismissals, from 2:30 to 5:00pm and Friday, when she is on duty from 10:30 to 1:30pm.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement. (Source: Adams’ office)

Several local schools are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars each for repairs, upgrades and improvements as part of a $3.1 million allocation by Borough President Eric Adams to education institutions across the borough.

The beep today unveiled 16 school-related capital projects that will benefit from the allocation, which was packed into the city’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

“If you look around Downtown Brooklyn, something new is rising up every day and this is an exciting time for the borough and this area, as education and schools represent the vibrant energies of what’s coming up at this time,” said Borough President Adams. “This budget spans the far reaches of the borough; from Metrotech to Midwood and from Bed-Stuy to Bath Beach, we are leaving no school behind. Our goal is education, education, and education.”

The allocations are largely for technology upgrades, although some schools are receiving it for more general improvements.

Schools in our area are slated to receive the following:

  • $350,000 to James Madison High School for upgrades to the school’s library and media centers;
  • $225,000 for improvements to the library at Sheepshead Bay High School;
  • $200,000 for classroom technology purchases at Joseph B. Cavallaro I.S. 281;
  • $100,000 for classroom technology purchases at P.S. 169;

Local elected officials joined Adams during the announcement this morning to celebrate the funding.

“School libraries and media centers are essential to the success of today’s high school students,” said Assemblymember Helene Weinstein. “I thank Brooklyn Borough President Adams for this funding, which will enhance these services at Sheepshead and James Madison High Schools, and allow students to reach even greater heights.”

“Investing in education is the best investment we can make for the future of our state and country,” said Assemblymember William Colton. “These capital improvements will help bring much-needed technological advancements to our local Brooklyn schools that will better our children. This $200,000 capital grant for I.S. 281 will allow for the school to make technology improvements, including by purchasing smartboards and computer laptops, that will benefit our students by enhancing their learning experience, and provide valuable resources for our educators.”

Local pols are joining forces to host the “Pre-Labor Day Summer Senior Concert” tomorrow, August 27 at Amersfort Park, located on Avenue I between East 38 Street and East 39 Street. The concert will run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., sponsored by Councilman Jumaane Williams, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Golden Crust, Chef’s Choice, caribBEING, Millenium Development, Emblem Health, and Sesame Flyers.

Free and open to the public, the concert will feature musical performances by East Flatbush Village Performers, Remsen Zumba Dancers, the IET Band, and the Sesame Flyers Steel Pan Orchestra. Each year, this concert has been a way to thank elders of the 45th District.

“Our elders are the backbone and the brain trust of this community,” Williams stated in a press release. “This concert is but one expression of how much we care and how committed we are to their well-being. It’s even better that we were able to do so with the music of our shared Caribbean heritage, a heritage that fills my Grenadian heart with deep pride.”

For more information about the concert, contact Farah Louis, director of community outreach for Williams at (718) 629-2900.

We apologize for the totally inappropriate video, but we just couldn’t resist.

loehmanns

Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Loehmann’s expansion postponed: An expected vote on an application to expand Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza (2027 Emmons Avenue) was tabled by Community Board 15 at their meeting this Tuesday to allow hearings and public input throughout the summer.

The Board was scheduled to vote on the proposal, which seeks to add an additional floor of office space totaling 10,000 square feet to the building. As the first item on the agenda, the Board’s Zoning Committee chairperson, Ronnie Tawil, made a motion to table the item until the group’s next meeting in September.

“Since this property is at the centerpiece of Sheepshead Bay and is of such high significance for the entire area, I’m of the mind that we should table this matter so that we can have more public hearings and more opportunities to discuss the ramifications of this particular application,” he said before the Board.

Normally, postponing such a hearing before the summer could open the door for an end-run around the Board. The group’s recommendation is advisory, and is requested to come within 60 days before the landlord’s appearance before the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), which has final say. If the Community Board tables a motion, it could forfeit its right to provide input.

However, the group’s chairperson Theresa Scavo said that won’t happen in this case. She met with the landlord’s attorney, Eric Palatnik, who frequently comes before the group on zoning matter and requested that he postpone the appearance before the BSA so that public hearings can be organized. He agreed, and has frozen the application, Scavo said.

“I’m asking him not to go ahead without us, he said he would not, and everything is put on hold. He’s giving it until September,” said Scavo.

Public hearings are expected to be scheduled in July or August by Councilman Deutsch’s office in conjunction with local groups like the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association. The item will be back for a vote before the Board in September.

As Sheepshead Bites first reported in March, the landlord is planning to add a new floor of commercial offices. Because it falls outside of the special zoning district‘s permitted uses, and the building is already subject to a variance, the BSA must review and approve the project.

Its initial construction was a lightning rod for community activists in the 1990s, when many locals mobilized to stop it from being built. It succeeded in going forward, and many credit the development as being the death of the special zoning district.

“It’s the same thing all over again. The use exceeds the zoning by 800 percent. It was granted specifically for Loehmann’s and Loehmann’s went out [of business]. So that’s it. Unbelievable,” said Steve Barrison when he learned the news in March. “We’re talking about a special district. We’re talking about the waterfront. We’re not talking about any where else in the community. It’s disgusting.”

Zoning items:

  • 1112 Gilmore Court - The board voted 28-to-5 to approve an application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling. The landlord is seeking to upgrade a one-story bungalow into a two-family house, saying he needs more space for his family and needs the second unit to cover the costs of construction. The construction will not result in decreased side yards, as they plan to build back into the rear yard and to increase the front yard space.

Elected officials:

  • Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein briefed the Board on the end of the legislative session, specifically touting her record of domestic violence initiatives. She added that her bill on special education placements did not pass, but that was in fact good news since a deal had been negotiated with Mayor Bill de Blasio to initiate the changes at the Department of Education anyway.

Other notable information:

  • A motion by newly appointed boardmember Ed Jaworski, also the president of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association, was rejected. The motion was to approve a resolution of “no confidence” in the Board of Standards and Appeals, which he said has been effectively upzoning neighborhoods on a lot-by-lot basis by rubber stamping special applications for variances that come before it. In the coming days, the BSA will lose its current chairperson to term limits, and Jaworski hoped to send a message that would result in an appointee he would consider more inclined to listen to local communities. The Board ultimately rejected the motion after choosing not to table it, with members saying that it would “disenfranchise the relationship we’ve built over time,” and that there were other ways to weigh in on the selection of a new BSA chairperson.
  • The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, through their partnership with the Family Justice Center, informed the area that they are establishing walk-in centers in every borough for domestic violence victims. The centers have free attorneys, social workers, children’s counselors and more on-site, and it’s open to all regardless of gender or immigration status. Community Board 15 is ranked 39th citywide in domestic violence calls, roughly in the middle of all communities.
  • The Department of City Planning announced the launch of the Southern Brooklyn Resilient Neighborhood Study, a two-year plan to examine the Sheepshead Bay area (specifically Plumb Beach and Gerritsen Beach) to identify strategies to strengthen the area from future storms. Some attendees complained that the new study doesn’t help with ongoing issues with Build it Back, FEMA or other agencies, and is yet another in a long line of studies and initiatives that they feel are not moving forward.
  • The Board welcomed the appointment of five new members, at least two of which were not in attendance, and at least one of which has never been seen at Board meetings previously. Board appointments are made by the borough president, often at the recommendation of local Council members.
  • Doreen Garson, representing the local CERT team, noted that the Office of Emergency Management has issued new evacuation maps and a related website.
  • A representative for Councilman Mark Treyger announced that his office would hold an unclaimed funds event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their 2014 Stillwell Avenue office on July 10. You will be able to search state databases for funds owed that you may have forgotten about or lost track of.
  • The Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach branches of the Brooklyn Public Library will participate in the Department of Education’s summer meals programming, offering kids free lunch during the day, beginning on June 27.
  • The July 4 holiday is a Friday. There will be no recycling picked up that day, but garbage may be put to the curb. Alternate side parking will be suspended.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs asked the Board for input on the installation of bumper cars at Land o’ Fun at 2955 Coney Island Avenue. The Board voted to recommend its approval.

boats

More than 18 months after the storm, 10 twisted, tattered vessels were finally removed from a city-owned Knapp Street lot after being dumped ashore by Superstorm Sandy and abandoned by their owners.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein’s office tipped us off to the removal operations, which took place on Tuesday. Here’s the statement from their office:

Assemblywoman Weinstein, after months of exhaustive communication with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Sanitation, is ecstatic that the agencies were able to collaborate in order to remove ten (10) derelict boats in the empty lot at 2501 Knapp Street.

The boats, which washed ashore during Superstorm Sandy, were never claimed by their owners and have since become a dumping site and a persistent eyesore. After constituents complained, the Assemblywoman observed the boats, which sat on city owned property, and immediately started negotiations to ascertain who was responsible. The Sanitation Department was able to visit and clear the site on June 10th.

Weinstein

A new report co-authored by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and State Senator Jeff Klein indicates that nearly 30,000 homeowners in New York City are at risk of losing their properties to foreclosure, and the pair are now demanding their colleagues pick up the fight to extend a slew of homeowner protections slated to expire next year.

The homes suffering foreclosures – disproportionately located in minority communities, like those in the Flatlands section of Weinstein’s district – represent a continuing uptick in New York City’s foreclosure rates while the national rate continues its recovery from the 2007 housing crisis, according to the report.

The battles that ensue when homeowners fall behind on their mortgage payments, sometimes because of extenuating circumstances like loss of a job or unexpected medical bills, can see a resident’s assets ripped away by unmovable, monolithic banks.

But legislation first passed in 2009 gave some protection. The bill requires banks sit down with clients and try to hammer out a settlement before any foreclosure actions are taken. It also requires lenders provide notice of foreclosure, and other foreclosure mitigation efforts. The protections aren’t just a salve for that particular homeowner, but for entire communities that see property values plummet amid high foreclosure rates.

“For far too long homeowners have fallen victim to lenders who exploit loopholes and evade our state’s foreclosure filing laws, leaving homeowners stranded with fees and interest racking up and little hope of modifying their loans,” said Weinstein in a press release. “The mandatory settlement conference and 90-day notice provisions for all home loans along with the requirement for banks to negotiate in good faith are critical protections for borrowers at risk of losing their homes.”

That bill, though, is slated to expire in February 2015.

Weinstein is working with Klein, part of the Senate’s leadership coalition, to extend the protections. The bill must pass before the end of the legislative session this month. It passed the Assembly last week, and is now before the State Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

“Extending these expiring provisions is essential to allow homeowners regain their footing and to give them a fair chance at negotiating mortgage loan modifications so they may stay in their homes,” Weinstein said.

Source: Weinstein's office

Source: Weinstein’s office

The following is an unaltered press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Thanks to Assemblywoman Weinstein, Students at P.S. 52 learning about the Holocaust and World War II during the month of May, heard personal stories of survival from local Holocaust survivors.

Contrasted with school Holocaust curriculums, the program brought members of New York Association of Holocaust Survivors to present first-person and intimate portraits of the adversities they had to overcome in order to survive. Students had plenty of questions for their guests – most, decorated Russian War Veterans – and were shocked to learn that the survivors had been close to their age when they suffered the described hardships and losses.

“There is little doubt that we are getting dangerously close to a time when we will be unable to hear these stories from the individuals who experienced them,” said Assemblywoman Weinstein. “These students need to hear these heartbreaking accounts of survival in the face of baseless hatred and violence so we can make good on our promise to ‘Never Forget’. I will continue to work with the NYS Association of Holocaust Survivors to bring this crucial program to other area schools.”

weinstein

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein has been visiting schools to publicize the expansion of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program and the April 23rd enrollment deadline.

The Assemblywoman fought strongly for the expansion, with $300 million in the recently enacted 2014-15 State Budget potentially allowing for all NYC children turning 4 in 2014 with free Pre-K education if enrolled in time. Half day and full day programs will be available at Public schools and Community based organizations.

The Assemblywoman read to students enrolled in the UPK program at PS 197. The administration and teachers at the school voiced excitement about the expansion.

“Studies are showing how vital Pre-K education is for the healthy growth of a child as they head on to Kindergarten and primary school,” said PS 197 Principal Rosemarie Nicoletti. “The expansion of this program will help us reach so many more children and I thank Assemblywoman Weinstein for her continued commitment to serving the needs of her youngest constituents.”

“As successful as we were in Albany in securing this funding, the real success of this program will depend on how many children enroll,” said the Assemblywoman. “I urge parents of eligible children to apply before we hit the deadline on April 23rd.”

Parents can enroll online or by calling or visiting the Brooklyn enrollment center at 131 Livingston Street (718-935-4908). The office will be open from 8 am – 7 pm on the following dates: April 8 – 9, April 15 – 16, and April 22 – 23.

nypd-appreciation-1

Members of the community gathered to recognize the efforts of the officers of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South, 60th Precinct, 61st Precinct and 62nd Precinct and the FDNY at the Be Proud Foundation’s annual appreciation luncheon on Friday.

“We’re so happy to share with you this celebration of those who keep us safe,” said Be Proud Foundation Executive Director Raisa Chernina, who noted that it’s also the 10th anniversary of the community booster organization. “I’m so happy to do this for you,” she said to the approximately 20 local officers attending the event.

It’s the eighth year of the event, and was held at the newly opened Signature Restaurant at 2007 Emmons Avenue. Officers were treated to lunch and a live musical performance by Nutsa, a well-known Georgian performer, as well as a barrage of praise from local elected officials.

“I’m so very thankful to see all our defenders, who we’re so grateful for keeping us safe every night,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who emceed the luncheon. “We need to build upon the institution of the Community Affairs officers if we want to build a relationship between community and police.”

The event drew other elected officials, including Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch, Comptroller John Liu, Assemblyman Alan Maisel and representatives for Councilman Lew Fidler, Congressman Michael Grimm, and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.

A member of the Be Proud Foundation’s board also offered a touching thank you, describing how a family member had fallen in with a bad crowd and became addicted to drugs. With the help of officers from the 60th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit, the family member is now in rehabilitation and on the right path.

The officers in attendance said they were thankful for the show of support.

“We appreciate things like this,” said Inspector Schell, a former commander at the 60th Precinct who now works out of Brooklyn South. “It’s a sign that our work is beneficial and you like the cops. We’re here to serve you.”

View photos from the event.

Next »