The City has successfully beaten back cuts to Medicaid and CUNY in this year’s state budget, while funding for universal pre-k and de Blasio-supported measures to boost the minimum wage and provide paid family leave are poised to become law…the Mayor’s Fund’s efforts to house veterans got a boost… the Mayor drew the link between global terror and income inequality…the TLC is modernizing its sexual harassment policy…DOHMH is helping New Yorkers quit smoking…more NYCHA developments are getting free Wi-Fi…the city will have a Mental Health Council, thanks to the First Lady…the “best-trained class” in NYPD Academy history has graduated…the City expanded paid six leave protections two years ago and our economy has added 250,000 jobs since…and NYC is showing solidarity with the LGBTQ community in North Carolina.
The State Budget – A state budget agreement has been reached in Albany, paving the way for the passage of a $156 billion state financial roadmap with significant effects on New York City services and finances. The Mayor, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and a coalition of legislators, policy advocates and community leaders rallied to beat back more than $1 billion in proposed cuts to City higher-education and health-care programs. With the passage of additional K-12 school aid, paid family leave and a minimum wage increase, the budget includes state progress on several initiatives at the core of the Mayor’s agenda.
Mayor’s Fund & Private Sector Combat Veterans Homelessness – The Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation has awarded a $250,000 grant to the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, the Mayor’s Fund, and Enterprise Community Partners to support the City’s efforts to end veterans homelessness. The Mayor’s Fund also announced that it has raised $500,000 from private partners, including the Real Estate Board of New York, to help fund the City’s Veterans Housing Initiative. The grant and private investments will help fund initiatives aimed at transitioning veterans from the shelter system to permanent housing. The number of veterans in shelters or on city streets has fallen 90% since 2011. Last year, the City helped place more than 1,000 veterans in permanent housing. In December, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development praised the de Blasio administration for effectively bringing an end to ‘chronic’ veterans homelessness in New York City.
TLC Sexual Harassment Prevention – The Taxi and Limousine Commission is proposing a series of upgrades to measures aimed at preventing sexual harassment in cabs. The stricter harassment penalties – a $1,000 fine and 30-day suspension – would coincide with enhanced driver education and more descriptive definitions of inappropriate conduct. The proposals, set for public hearing later in the month, have received praise from anti-harassment and passenger advocacy groups.
DOHMH Anti-Smoking Campaign – The Health Department has launched “Quitting is Hard, Cancer is Harder,” a new ad campaign kicking off the agency’s Nicotine Patch and Gum Program giveaway. The effort is designed to help New Yorkers quit smoking. Eligible New Yorkers can receive a NYC Quits Kit, a coaching guide in four languages, and a two-week supply of patches and/or gum by calling 311 or visiting nysmokefree.com.
NYCHA Free Wi-Fi Expansion – Two Fort Greene NYCHA developments – the Whitman and Ingersoll Houses – will be covered by free outdoor Wi-Fi access in April, thanks to a public-private partnership with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. The deal builds on the de Blasio administration’s efforts to bridge the digital divide and bring high-speed, affordable wireless services to NYCHA developments across the city.
NYC Mental Health Council – Mayor de Blasio announced the establishment of the Mental Health Council. The Council, led by First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, will coordinate the promotion and implementation of mental health prevention and treatment programs across City agencies. It will consist of 20 representatives from a variety of city agencies, including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Administration for Children’s Services, the Police Department, Fire Department, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and the Department of Aging.
Paid Sick Leave Anniversary – The City celebrated the second anniversary of the de Blasio administration’s expansion of sick leave protections that now cover 3.4 million private and nonprofit-sector workers. In the last two years, thousands of employees have benefited from the coverage and another 9,600 have received restitution from employers who have violated the law. At the same time, the city has added more than 250,000 private-sector jobs, driving down the unemployment rate and quieting critics who predicted the legislation would hurt businesses.