“One of the most frequent complaints I hear from people all over the city is about the prevalence of rats and rodents in their neighborhoods, in the subway, in public spaces and elsewhere. For far too long, the city has not done enough to stop the spread of rodents in the five boroughs. Rodents carry disease, make people chronically sick and can cause death, as we have seen with this current tragedy.
“It is unfathomable to me that in this day and age, in one of the most expensive cities in the world and at our most technologically advanced point as a civilization, the city cannot mitigate the rat problem nor does it have good ideas to do so. 750 Grand Concourse has long been regarded as one of the worst buildings in the city, with nearly 1,500 complaints of all kinds, including rodents, with many unresolved. The city knows this, and has done nothing to help the tenants alleviate this issue, not only in this building but in communities across the five boroughs. This public health scourge requires a serious, comprehensive and immediate solution.
“The fact that the city has touted that this building is in the Pest Control Reservoir Area does little to alleviate the fears of those that have been forced to deal with this rodent condition. The program, which sought to increase enforcement and efforts to mitigate the growing population of rats in the area, has not been effective.
“While the city reports that this is a rare occurrence, one death is too many when it comes to the lack of addressing basic maintenance issues. Extermination is part of the responsibility of all landlords, commercial or residential. Added to that is the problem of illegal conversions that occur in this economy, where people are being taken advantage of and as a result are fearful in reporting conditions to the city. Substandard housing is a public health issue, it perpetuates illness and unsafe practices that impact the lives of our residents. Nonetheless, when it comes to this property, the city admits that it has been aware of the many violations that exist and yet, here we are.
“We must also do more to protect tenants in illegal units. Unscrupulous landlords will often fail to maintain such units and provide tenants with necessary services, and will use the specter of eviction and homelessness to keep tenants from reporting serious issues in their apartments. The city must offer protections to all tenants from potential retaliation and homelessness in such situations. People should not be forced to live in poor conditions because they fear their situation could become even worse if they dare to speak up about it,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Feb. 16 that $14.4 million has been awarded to three housing projects in the Bronx. In addition to federal funding, these awards will help create 319 units, including 142 supportive housing units for homeless families and individuals, including senior citizens, women and their children.
"This funding will help build much-needed housing for some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers and provide them access to the resources and services needed to improve their lives," Governor Cuomo said. "These new housing units will help ensure men, women and children across the Bronx will have access to the supportive and affordable housing they deserve, as we continue our efforts to end chronic homelessness and build a stronger, healthier New York for all."
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, "These investments will lay the groundwork for stronger communities throughout the Bronx by providing men and women the support and assistance needed to start fresh with a decent place to call home. Governor Cuomo recognizes the need to invest in our most vulnerable communities in order to ensure our residents have a shot at achieving a better life for themselves and their families, and these projects will help take us closer to achieving that goal."
“A 'right to counsel' for tenants in housing court has long been a priority of my administration. Today’s announcement is a victory for the elected leaders and advocates who have made the case that providing tenants with legal representation will help level the playing field between them and their landlords and, most importantly, keep New Yorkers in their homes.
“Research shows this proposal would be cheaper than funding shelter beds and other services for tenants who might otherwise become homeless. With several major rezonings under consideration across the five boroughs, including the administration’s proposal for the Jerome Avenue corridor, it is imperative that we provide tenants with the tools they need to stay in their communities during times of transformation. Recognizing a tenant’s 'right to counsel' in housing court is a tremendous step towards increased stability in our neighborhoods.
“I would like to especially congratulate Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, the prime sponsors of ‘right to counsel’ legislation, for their efforts to bring this program to New York City. I look forward to working with Council Members Levine and Gibson and others on the implementation of this program,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
"The stakes are too high.
"I've written a letter to several Republican Senators urging them to vote against some of President Trump's more questionable cabinet nominees: Sen. Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos and Rep. Tom Price."
Read the letter at the link: http://on.nyc.gov/2khYYPM.
Bronx, N.Y.—Congressman Eliot Engel, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Senators Jeff Klein and Jamaal Bailey, Assembly Members Michael Benedetto and Jeffrey Dinowitz, and City Council Members Andrew Cohen and Andy King penned a letter to current United States Postmaster General Megan Brennan calling on her office to look into the ongoing issues in the borough regarding missing postal boxes, and for mobile collection units to be dispatched in affected areas until the new boxes are in place.
In an effort to combat fishing—the act of stealing people’s private mail from postal boxes—the Bronx Post Office began removing postal boxes throughout the borough in late November in order to replace them with new boxes that cannot be fished. But most of the postal boxes removed have still not been replaced several months later, and the Bronx Post Office has yet to offer a timeline for replacement or any temporary measures to help senior or disabled residents living in apartments who rely on those mail boxes to send their correspondences or pay their bills.
Full text of the letter to Postmaster Brennan can be found here.
Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney stood with hunger advocates and others at Part of the Solution (POTS) on Webster Avenue to discuss New York State’s participation in a new nationwide pilot program that will allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase their groceries online.
Borough President Diaz and Congressman Maloney were instrumental in bringing this historic innovation to New York State. This pilot program will offer consumers greater access to affordable groceries, help combat food deserts, promote healthier diet choices and create billions of dollars in new business opportunities.
“This innovative public/private partnerships will help improve nutrition, fight hunger and offer consumers greater choices at competitive prices, all while expanding the marketplace,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This program is a national game-changer, and I am proud to have worked with Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, as well as advocates and business, to bring it to New York State. The Empire State has always been at the forefront of government innovation, and this pilot program puts our state at the intersection of health, technology and business.”
“Working hand-in-glove with Borough President Diaz, we delivered on our goal of bringing the SNAP program in New York State into the 21st century. This pilot will help make it easier and more efficient for New York families to put food on their tables. New York has always paved the way for new ideas and innovations – this pilot program does just that - and I am proud to stand here today and say that together we brought this program to New York,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
Borough President Diaz and Rep. Maloney were joined at the event by advocates for the program, including Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, and Christopher Bean, Executive Director of POTS, as well as Louis Vivarina, a Bronx resident who will be positively impacted by the new law.
Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Congressman Adriano Espaillat, along with elected officials and immigration advocates from across the city, co-hosted a press conference to speak out against and resist President Donald Trump’s newly announced executive orders on immigration, including his proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border and his threat to revoke funding for “sanctuary cities” like New York.
Borough President Diaz and Rep. Espaillat were joined at the event by Congressman Jose Serrano, Assembly Members Marcos Crespo and Luis Sepulveda, and City Council Member Rafael Salamanca.
"As leaders of the state, the city and this county, we are united because no other borough, no other county in the state of New York will suffer more from these cuts than the borough of The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “There are a lot of people out there who sympathize with what President Donald Trump is doing. To those individuals, I say your support is misguided, because those cuts will also have a negative impact on your lives as well. Cuts to education, cuts to transportation, cuts to health care, all of these things, this will hurt all of us.
"They are fast-tracking hateful and fearful propaganda,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. "We will fight tooth and nail, because this policy is un-American. And, if necessary, we will go to the courts if we have to, we will go to the streets if we have to. This is a democracy, this is not a vigilante society that you see in Hollywood films.”
"President Trump's proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border was pandering during his campaign. It takes on a much more serious tone now that he has been elected. New York is a sanctuary city, and we are proud of that designation. I will stand with my colleagues and the people of New York to fight any attempt to enact immigration policy that will harm New York City.
“Rich men and women all over this nation--including Donald Trump--have built their fortunes on the backs of immigrants. It is nothing short of shameful that the President would use the plight of those seeking refuge from persecution, the stereotypes surrounding a single religion, or the desire of many to provide for their families to demagogue on the immigration issue while ignoring the real concerns of those immigrants currently in the United States," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced the creation of a new “Gifted & Talented Education Task Force” to study issues surrounding gifted and talented education in New York City public schools, as well as the admissions process for the city's specialized high schools.
The newly created task force will be comprised of government officials, community members and parents who are familiar with the issues gifted students face in New York City schools. The task force will host public hearings in March, and will release a set of recommendations for the future of gifted education in New York City.
Both borough presidents have been outspoken about the dearth of gifted and talented programs in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The task force will be made up of both borough presidents, as well as three parent leaders from each borough.
"For too long, students in communities all over the city-such as the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn-have been denied the opportunities that their counterparts in other boroughs have been provided when it comes to gifted and talented programs. We cannot send our children to Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech if they are not prepared. And we cannot expect them to be prepared if they do not have the same advantages that are offered to other communities. Our children lack gifted programs and adequate test prep resources, among other things, and the results are crystal clear. Through this task force, we will work to change that," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“Gifted and talented children live in communities from Park Slope to Port Morris, from Bedford Park to Brownsville. Unfortunately, our students' home addresses are playing too heavy a role in their access to high-quality specialized education that taps into their full academic potential. This task force will uproot the causes of these challenges and lay out a road map for a more equitable and prosperous system,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.
Borough President Adams appointees from Brooklyn are Ralph Yozzo, member of Community Education Council District #16; Melanie Mendonca member of Community Education Council District #23 CEC and Nikki Lucas, a parent at J.H.S. 88 Peter Rouget.
Borough President Diaz’s appointees from The Bronx are Katie Sperling of Parents’ Alliance for Citywide Education (PACE); Dr. Nancy Kheck, Borough President Diaz’s Appointee to Community Education Council #11 and a parent at M.S. 181; and Steven Francisco, Borough President Diaz’s Appointee to Community Education Council #10.
On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. presented a $50,000 grant from Bank Leumi USA to the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center for its Workforce Development Program.
The check was presented by Avner Meldelson, chief executive, and John P. McGann, chief administrative officer, of Bank Leumi to Rita Santelia, chief executive officer, and Laurie Meltzer Brandremer, director of development, at Mosholu Montediore Community Center.
“I want to thank Bank Leumi USA for their generosity and contribution to the Workforce Development Program at the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center. This funding will help provide individuals from the Bronx with training and job placement assistance, which is a top priority of my administration,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “By investing in education and job training, we are equipping our students and their families to meet the challenges of tomorrow while also expanding their skill sets that will aid them in advancing in their chosen professions. I also want to thank Mosholu Montefiore Community Center for their dedication to helping our most vulnerable communities attain the necessary tools to be successful in today’s ever-evolving job market.”
On Monday, January 16, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Fathers Taking Action, the Bronx Youth Corp, Acacia and Children’s Art & Science Workshops all collaborated on a service project with the non-profit PubliColor, as well as Bronxites of all ages, to repaint the first floor common area at the Bronx River Community Center. The event was hosted in honor of Rev. Dr. martin Luther King Jr. Day, and paid tribute to the civil rights leader’s commitment to serve others.
On Monday, January 16, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. honored the memory of the great civil rights leader, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during his annual interfaith service at Trinity Baptist Church.
THE BRONX, NY – Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been, Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Eric Enderlin, and New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) Commissioner Jamie Ruben join WHEDco, and BFC Partners to announce the start of construction on Bronx Commons – a 426,000 square foot, mixed-used development in the Melrose section of the Bronx that will include 305 affordable apartments, retail space, and the Bronx Music Hall, a new 14,000 square foot, 300-seat music venue and arts-centered community hub focused on the deeply-rooted history of cutting edge Bronx music. The affordable housing project received financing through the City’s Mix and Match program and received a special line of funding from the City’s Our Space program.
“This long-awaited project will bring new housing and new amenities, including the innovative Bronx Music Hall, to the Melrose neighborhood of The Bronx. My office has always been a strong supporter of building affordable units at all income levels, and I was proud to provide this project $300,000 in funding from my capital budget. I congratulate WHEDco on today’s groundbreaking, and for having the vision to meld our borough’s housing and cultural needs into one amazing project,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
January 10, 2017 – Bronx, NY – The Bronx Tourism Council announced an initiative with Zipcar to help promote restaurants and other businesses in the borough. The emphasis is on giving Zipcar members added value while introducing them to eating establishments not easily-accessible by subway. Restaurants, as well as some stores, will be offering 15% off food items and select products in areas such as Riverdale, Throggs Neck, City Island, and Arthur Avenue, recently named one of America’s Greatest Streets by the American Planners Association. These neighborhoods are off the beaten path and suffer most once the holiday rush is over and winter sets in.
“That’s no reason to stay home,” says Olga Luz Tirado, executive director of The Bronx Tourism Council. She adds, “There are plenty of delicious reasons to bundle up and get out there.”
“Our borough is home to some of the greatest restaurants and eateries the city has to offer, and this partnership between The Bronx Tourism Council and Zipcar will provide epicureans with an opportunity to explore the great tastes our borough has to offer. I congratulate Zipcar on this tremendous new partnership with The Bronx Tourism Council, and I look forward to working with them in the future,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Restaurants participating in the promotion include:
Bacco, 3524 Johnson Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463
Blackstone, 3713 Riverdale Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463
Moss Café, 3260 Johnson Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463
Escape Latino, 1841 Hobart Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461
Ice House Café, 140 Reynolds Avenue, Bronx, NY 10465
Lucca Restaurant, 3019 Westchester Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461
Outback Steakhouse, 270 Baychester Avenue, Bronx, NY 10475
Catania’s Pizzeria & Café, 2307 Arthur Avenue, Bronx, NY 10458
Bistro SK, 273 City Island Avenue, Bronx, NY 10464
Bronx Brewery, 856 East 136th Street, Bronx, NY 10454
Gun Hill Brewing Company, 3227 Laconia Avenue, Bronx, NY 10469
Gun Hill Tavern, 780 East 133rd Street, Bronx, NY 10454
In addition to restaurants, the website will include boutique shops, museums and galleries to peruse, and specialty markets that offer a variety of products.
Kaleidoscope Gallery – 15% off select items, 280 City Island Avenue
Focal Point Gallery – 15-30% off select items, 321 City Island Avenue
Cerini Coffee & Gifts – 15% off select items, 2334 Arthur Avenue
Other participating institutions can be found in the Zipcar “Deals” page at Zipcar.com/bronxguide.
With the Metropolitan Transportation Board (MTA) expected to vote this month to raise bus and subway fares, Borough Presidents Eric Adams (Brooklyn), Gale Brewer (Manhattan), Ruben Diaz Jr. (Bronx), and Melinda Katz (Queens) today urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to use his executive power to establish a half-price fare for New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 64 living in households at or below poverty.
Citing research from a Community Service Society (CSS) report released last year which found that more than one in four working-age, low-income New Yorkers often cannot afford the cost of bus and subway fares, the borough presidents called on the mayor to fund a discount fare program in his FY2018 Executive Budget. In doing so, the four borough leaders join a growing number of city elected officials, major advocacy organizations, unions including RWDSU, 1199SEIU, 32BJ, NYSNA and TWU and editorial boards supporting a proposal by CSS and the grassroots transit membership group the Riders Alliance to establish half-price fares for New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty level.
Public support for the “Fair Fares campaign is also strong. Seventy-three (73) percent of New Yorkers say they favor a policy of providing half-priced fares to low-income residents, according to a 2016 CSS poll conducted in collaboration with Lake Research Partners. A discount fare would save working-age city residents living in poverty ($24,036 for a family of four) up to $700 annually on the cost of a MetroCard. Roughly 800,000 low-income New Yorkers would be eligible. CSS estimates that the program would cost the city about $200 million in foregone fare box revenue—less than 0.3 percent of the current $83.4 billion municipal budget. Existing law gives the mayor the authority to secure a discount for a class of riders as long as the city makes up the differential and administrative costs.
"We should consider developing a more nuanced system of collecting fares, one that takes into account a commuter's means and provides a discount to those New Yorkers who need it the most," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "That is why I am proud to join my fellow borough presidents in support of the `Fair Fares’ campaign. Their research has found that one in four low-income working-age New Yorkers often cannot afford bus and subway fares. With transit fares about to go up again, City Hall must support this program, which would give real cost-of-living relief to the city's working poor. For a relatively small investment, considering the size of the overall city budget, we can make the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers appreciably better."
"Governor Cuomo laid out an aggressive agenda for our city and our state in his speech today, and his plan to support our middle class while also cementing New York’s place as a national progressive leader is something the people of my borough and I stand behind.
“I am also thrilled that Governor Cuomo has offered his support to major Bronx proposals and institutions, specifically the reconstruction of Orchard Beach and the future of the Kingsbridge Armory. These projects are top priorities of my administration and have the overwhelming support of Bronx residents. However, we continue to see a lack of partnership and enthusiasm for them from City Hall. Strong backing from Albany will allow them to prosper. We can only hope now that the administration will see the wisdom in bringing these projects to fruition.
“Governor Cuomo once again showed us today that he cares about the people of The Bronx. This borough is grateful to have such a friend in the governor’s mansion, and we look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to move these projects and his broader agenda forward for the benefit of our borough, our city and this state,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Following nearly a year of advocacy by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and others, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the selection of New York State to participate in a nationwide pilot program to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase their groceries online.
Borough President Diaz and Congressman Maloney led the campaign in New York State to bring about this innovative change, which will allow consumers greater access to affordable groceries, help combat food deserts, promote healthier diet choices and create billions of dollars in new business opportunities.
“New York State has always led the way when it comes to innovation in government, and this pilot program will put our state at the intersection of health, technology and business. Allowing consumers to use their SNAP benefits in the same way you would also use a credit or debit card to purchase groceries will lead to lower prices and greater options for consumers in every corner of this city and state,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I want to thank Congressman Maloney and our New York delegation, our partners in business and the health and hunger advocates who understood the need for this pilot program and joined our efforts to bring this important new program to New York.”
“Working hand-in-glove with Borough President Diaz, we delivered on our goal of bringing the SNAP program in New York State into the 21st century. This pilot will help make it easier and more efficient for New York families to put food on their tables. New York has always paved the way for new ideas and innovations – this pilot program is no different - and I want to thank my colleagues in Congress for joining us in bringing this program to New York,” said Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.
Borough President Diaz initially proposed such changes in his “State of the Borough” address in February 2016. In July 2016, Borough President Diaz participated in a conference on Capitol Hill to address the need for technological advancements for SNAP benefit users with Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. The next month, the borough president authored a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging his department to select New York State for this pilot program.
Congressman Maloney was integral in drumming up support for the pilot program in Congress. In November, the congressman led his colleagues in the New York State delegation on a letter to Secretary Vilsack, in which they jointly called for New York’s selection in the pilot program.
As part of the pilot program, the USDA has selected two vendors—Amazon and FreshDirect—to serve customers in New York State. Both companies worked closely with Borough President Diaz to bring the pilot program to New York. In addition, FreshDirect launched a similar pilot program in The Bronx, in conjunction with the borough president, in 2012.
“I am grateful for the support of both FreshDirect and Amazon on this technological innovation, and I look forward to working with both companies on its implementation. This announcement by the USDA will allow New York to set the example for the entire nation on public/private partnerships that improve nutrition, fight hunger and offer consumers greater choices, all while expanding the marketplace,” said Borough President Diaz.
The USDA’s announcement can be read at http://bit.ly/2hVLxa8.
“I want to congratulate Governor Andrew Cuomo on his announcement of a groundbreaking new initiative designed to provide free tuition for college through a supplement aid program that helps middle-class families and individuals achieve their academic goals.
“Making college more affordable has been a priority of mine throughout my career as an elected official. Not only do I support exploring a change to make CUNY tuition free, I believe that the Department of Education should be paying for remedial classes at CUNY for graduates of public high schools.
“By investing in free college education for New Yorkers, we are equipping our students and families with the skills they need to join the workforce of the future. Governor Cuomo has put our great state in position to be one of the leaders in the nation on this issue through this proposal,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.