Newsletter -- Fall 2008
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Articles in this issue:
Fighting to Preserve Affordable Housing in New York City back to top
In the past four years, private firms have purchased 75,000 of New York City’s 1.2 million rent-stabilized apartments. As a senior member of the Committee that oversees housing programs, Congresswoman Velázquez directed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to ensure these buildings remain affordable to renters.
“We can’t allow big firms to systematically eliminate our City’s affordable housing units,” Congresswoman Velázquez said. “While we struggle to maintain rents that a working family can afford, these schemes could quickly eliminate low-cost options.”
An alarming number of tenants in New York City have been forced out of apartments after private companies purchased their buildings. The Congresswoman seeks to prevent the new landlords from removing tenants so they can increase rents--and profits.
“Housing costs continue to rise above and beyond the reach of so many of our neighbors. We have to make the preservation of affordable housing a top priority, especially during times of need,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.
For her efforts to support affordable housing and preserve the City’s valuable public housing properties, the Congresswoman was honored by the Hispanic Society of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). She was recognized in October during the group’s Annual Scholarship Dinner Dance.
Connecting Brooklyn to the Waterfront | back to top
Congresswoman Velázquez secured resources through the Department of Justice to support efforts that teach New York City youth about marine ecology, habitat and the history of the Brooklyn waterfront. The funding benefits Cove Camp and other programs operated by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.
“By giving New York City kids the chance to learn about the Harbor, we are teaching them about the importance of preserving the environment and opening their eyes to new educational horizons,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.
The Conservancy’s educational initiatives target at-risk and underserved kids. These programs allow students to become explorers of the Brooklyn waterfront, and understand how industry helped shape the area and the impact of human construction has affected the ecosystem.
“Brooklyn’s waterfront provides its neighbors the opportunity to interact with nature in a beautiful and evolving setting,” she said.
To better connect the community to the waterfront, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy conducts a number of events and courses, such as seining in the East River, bird watching, a butterfly program and Wee Park Citizens, a hands-on education program for toddlers.
Helping Workers Keep Their Jobs and Prepare for the Future | back to top
Congresswoman Velázquez called on the U.S. Department of Labor to devise a plan for dealing with job losses in New York’s financial and manufacturing sectors. In August, unemployment in New York City increased more than it had in any one month in 30 years.
“Stagnant job growth and wages have combined with the dramatic market downturn to produce a dangerous time for New Yorkers and the country as a whole,” she said. “The federal government has to do more right now to invest in New York’s most valuable resource, the American worker.”
The Congresswoman directed the Labor Department to provide $150 million in federal grants for programs to bolster New York employment. She also called for a full review of existing programs designed to stem the tide of unemployment. Similar efforts implemented under President Clinton helped create 22.7 million new jobs and dropped the unemployment rate by more than 40 percent.
“New York is looking to the U.S. Department of Labor for leadership during these troubled economic times. We have to use every tool available to help calm this storm and protect our City’s hard working residents,” she said.
Protecting Families and Small Businesses During Economic Crisis | back to top
On October 3, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was signed into law to provide much-needed relief. At a time when City residents are feeling real effects of the financial downturn, the package included a number of provisions to keep New Yorkers in their homes and assist our state’s 1.9 million small business owners.
Congresswoman Velázquez worked to ensure the final legislation will prevent the loss of rental units that many New York City families rely on for affordable housing. There are currently 580 NYC apartment buildings, with 40, 000 rental units, at risk of default.
The bill includes a Velázquez-led initiative that guarantees continued tenant protections and safeguards against the loss of multi-family buildings facing foreclosure.
“This is an important step to keep our City’s hard-working families in their homes,” she said. “It is essential that we protect the rights of tenants and ensure our nation’s affordable housing remains secure during this financial crisis.”
The legislation also provides New York’s small business owners with much-needed assistance by making more capital available for borrowers, including commercial and consumer loans. This means small firms will be able to meet payroll, finance their inventories and, as the economy recovers, expand their operations.
“Access to credit is critical, and we have taken the first steps needed to reopen the spigot so that capital can flow more freely to small firms,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.
Enacting Meaningful Reforms for New York Families | back to top
The U.S. House of Representatives built a record of accomplishment throughout the 110th Congress. The Democratic-led House passed a wide range of measures to make America safer, care for our children and families, and protect the American dream.