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On Thursday, July 20, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and student volunteers participating in the Bronx Youth Corps came together to beautify Latinos Unidos Community Garden in Melrose. Activities included painting a mural, building garden boxes and planting new trees at the site.

The Bronx Youth Corps is a youth service program that integrates community service with classroom instruction and reflection to enhance student learning. Through the Bronx Youth Corps, the students will learn to work as a group, learn about the importance of taking  responsibility for their community, and gain the skills to make positive changes in The Bronx and become future leaders.

Thursday's  event was made possible thanks to partnerships with DreamYard, the Blackstone Group and Nos Quedamos.

NYC to Become First Jurisdiction in U.S. that will Guarantee Free Legal Representation for Low-Income Tenants in Housing Court

New York, NY – The New York City Council today voted to pass Intro 214-B, a landmark bill sponsored by Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, that requires the NYC Office of Civil Justice to establish a program for legal representation for low-income tenants facing eviction in housing court within five years, in addition to establishing a pilot program to provide legal services to all NYCHA tenants in administrative proceedings this fall.

New York City is the first jurisdiction in the country to require legal representation in housing court, sparking similar measures to be introduced in other cities, including Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.

The legislation, first introduced by Council Member Levine in 2014, calls for the City to provide New Yorkers with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line – or $49,200 annually for a family of four – free legal representation when facing eviction or foreclosure. The program is expected to help tenants in more than 400,000 New Yorkers each year, according to a report by commissioned by the New York City Bar Association. Mayor Bill de Blasio has indicated his intention to sign the bill.

In 2015, nearly 22,000 New Yorkers were evicted from their homes. Only about 20 percent of those facing eviction are represented by an attorney, compared to nearly 100 percent of landlords. Studies show that having legal representation during housing court proceedings reduces the chances of eviction by 77%, and in some cases landlords simply drop their cases after learning the tenant has an attorney.

“For too long the deck has been stacked against low-income tenants, most of whom do not have attorneys, because most landlords have representation in housing court. That is no longer the case, thanks to the achievements of this incredibly important ‘Right to Counsel’ legislation,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Together, we have struck a blow for a more fair and just housing court, and that is something we can all be proud of.”

The Bronx and China’s Songjiang District Sign ‘Sister City’ Agreement

On July 17, 2017, the Songjiang Peoples Government delegation from China’s Songjiang District of Shanghai, led by Deputy District Mayor Long Wanli, visited The Bronx to sign a friendship, or “sister city,” agreement with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and officially begin a long-standing relationship between the two governments.

The agreement encourages bilateral investment not only on the government level but also within the private sector. After signing the agreement, the Songjiang Delegation visited several notable Bronx sites, including the Montefiore Hutchinson Campus Ambulatory Surgery Center, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the New York Botanical Garden.

“This agreement will encourage partnerships in business development, tourism, medical innovation and other areas between The Bronx and the Songjiang District,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “We have seen considerable success in The Bronx in recent years, and the story of our positive transformation has made its way to China. I was happy to discuss with the Songjiang delegation what has worked for our borough, what we can learn from the government and people of Songjiang, and ways our governments can work together in the future.”

Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and Former Gov. David Paterson Keynote NYC Mission Society’s Learning to Work Graduation Ceremonies

(New York, N.Y.) – Caps off! Graduates of the New York City Mission Society’s Learning to Work Program gathered across the City last month for their commencement ceremonies.

The nonprofit’s Learning to Work program assists older, under-credited high school students by preparing them for success in college and the work world. Key elements of the program include student support and tutoring, college guidance and preparation, workforce development, and supported internships.

The Mission Society serves approximately 1,000 students across five Learning to Work programs throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

“Our Learning to Work program gives under-credited high school students a second chance at success,” said New York City Mission Society President Elsie McCabe Thompson. “As a result of their dedication and hard work throughout this program, students are better prepared for life after graduation - whether that’s in the classroom, or on the job.”

During June, more than 200 Learning to Work students graduated with their high school degrees, including 38 from Bronx Community High School where Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. delivered the Keynote Address.

“It doesn’t matter where you start. It matters where you finish,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “There’s so much that still needs to be done. The question is: what are you going to do about it? It’s not just about achieving and receiving a special title. It’s about what you do with it.”

Also, over 100 students from Washington Irving Young Adult Borough Center had their own graduation ceremony where former Governor David Paterson delivered the Keynote Address.

“There is always another opportunity, another chance. Those of you who are graduating took that opportunity, took that chance and believed in yourself,” said former Governor David Paterson. “You went back to school and here you are getting you high school diploma.”

To learn more about the programs offered by the Mission Society, please visit:

Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo Announces the Approval of New Banking Development Districts in The Bronx and Brooklyn to Expand Access to Financial Services to Underserved New York Communities

New Banking Development Districts Will Be Established in Community District 4 in the Bronx, and Parts of Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights in Brooklyn

Under the BDD Program, Spring Bank and Ridgewood Savings Bank Will Receive Financial Incentives to Establish, Expand and Preserve Access to Banking Products and Services to Benefit Thousands of Consumers and Businesses in the Bronx and Brooklyn

Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo today announced that the Department of Financial Services (DFS) has approved two new Banking Development Districts (BDDs): Community District 4, encompassing Concourse Village, East Concourse, Highbridge, Mt. Eden and West Concourse in the Bronx, and portions of Community Districts 2, 3 and 8, comprising parts of Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights in Brooklyn.  The approved districts, involving two state-chartered banks, Spring Bank and Ridgewood Savings Bank, will result in the expansion of access to retail banking services and products for unbanked and underbanked consumers, as well as small businesses, in the Bronx and Brooklyn.  Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and were co-applicants with Ridgewood Savings Bank in Brooklyn and Spring Bank in the Bronx for the new BDDs.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said: “As our economy changes, we must ensure that all members of our community can keep up with the changing pace and are not unfairly excluded. The financial counseling and resources offered by the Banking Development District can make a world of difference to Bronx families and equip them with tools to buy a home, put their children through college or save for the future. I commend Governor Cuomo for this initiative and for all of his work to help our borough.”

Read the complete press release.

Bronx Children's Museum Celebrates Official Groundbreaking 

July 12, 2017 – The Executive Director of the Bronx Children’s Museum, Carla Precht, enthusiastically announced that “Construction on our long-awaited Museum facility will begin this summer under the supervision of the NYC Department of Design and Construction. To mark this historic and joyous occasion, we were proud to host a public Groundbreaking Ceremony on Wednesday, July 12. ” The ceremony was co-organized by NYC Parks, the owner of the site, and NYC’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), which is developing the site, located at 1 E. 150th St. (725 Exterior St.) in Mill Pond Park. “This is our first major milestone and we are ecstatic!” said Precht.

"We are beyond grateful and excited that the construction of our City-owned site can now begin,” said Board President Hope Harley. “When I, along with other community members, learned a decade ago that the Bronx was the only New York City borough without a children’s museum, we were stunned. Children’s museums are valued as safe, fun, educational places where youngsters, regardless of economic status, physical ability or learning style, can play, be inspired, dream, and create in a place that reflects and takes pride in the diverse cultures, natural resources, and unique history of the Bronx. I’m proud that we have already created a new kind of museum ‘without walls’ where we see more than 15,000 children a year but I am even more thrilled and satisfied to finally have a permanent home for our children to call their own. The Museum will always operate with and without walls­­­–and we are thrilled that we will have our walls by the end of 2018!”

“Collectively,” Precht said, “The Borough, City, and State have allocated nearly $16 million dollars in capital funding to make our dream a reality. This is truly revolutionary when you consider that the Bronx is the only borough in the City that has been without a children’s museum facility. We could not have come this far in the last ten years without the steady and dogged dedication  of all our partners, including the children themselves. In addition to the capital funding we have raised with the support of our City partners, the Museum has received almost $3 million in private funds for its exhibits from anchor committed funders like the Ford Foundation, The Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation, Con Edison, and the Frederick P. & Sandra P. Rose Foundation. New York State, under the leadership of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, the Bronx State Assembly Delegation, and Assemblymembers Jeffrey Dinowitz and Latoya Joyner, has also supported the Museum by allocating $4 million dollars toward the project.

“It will be a historic event for Bronx children past, present, and the future,” said Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. “This Bronx Children’s Museum facility was one of the first capital projects I supported when I began as the Borough President and I am ecstatic to see it is now getting off the ground. The children of the Bronx deserve their own children’s museum. The Groundbreaking is a monumental step forward for the Bronx and I am proud to have been a catalyst.”

Read the complete press release.

Construction Begins on New Bronx Children’s Museum

(Bronx, NY - July 12, 2017) The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) today joined Hope Harley, President of the Bronx Children’s Museum Board of Directors, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and local elected officials to break ground on a new Bronx Children’s Museum. The project, in Mill Pond Park at 725 Exterior Street near the Harlem River, will give a permanent home to the Museum organization, and also provide a children’s museum in the only borough currently lacking one.

Founded in 2005, the Bronx Children’s Museum currently provides roving educational programming to approximately 15,000 children and adults annually. The $10.3 million project is anticipated to be completed in winter 2018, and will deliver a 13,800-square-feet home with studio, office, and exhibit space. The new Museum will occupy the second floor of the former powerhouse for the Bronx Terminal Market.

The design includes multiple exhibition spaces, a studio, shared offices, restrooms, storage spaces, and a reception area. It will be LEED certified, emphasizing sustainability by allowing natural light to illuminate the building, minimizing energy consumption. The design promotes healthy living by projecting a positive, active and open environment for children and families to explore.

“The Bronx Children’s Museum has the potential to change the lives of kids throughout The Bronx by providing them with year-round programming that is both uplifting and educational. Special places like the Bronx Children’s Museum help to spark the imaginations of many of our students, and I am proud to provide this wonderful institution my continued support,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Today’s groundbreaking will be a historic event for Bronx children past, present, and the future. The children of the Bronx deserve their own children’s museum. This groundbreaking is a monumental step forward for the Bronx and I am proud to have been a catalyst by providing more than $3.6 million in funding from my office’s capital budget.”

Read the complete press release.

De Blasio Administration Announces $32 Million Neighborhood Rat Reduction Plan

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a $32 million, multi-agency plan to reduce the city’s rat population that targets the three most infested parts of city: the Grand Concourse area, Chinatown/East Village/Lower East Side and Bushwick/Bedford-Stuyvesant. This interagency initiative aims to reduce rat activity by up to 70 percent in the targeted zones by minimizing food sources and available habitats. 

This integrated pest management approach will build on the success of the City’s current rat abatement programs and attack environmental factors conducive to rats, which is more effective than poisoning rats alone. By dramatically reducing the available habitats and food sources in targeted areas, rat reproduction will diminish and rat colonies will decline. The City will achieve this by cementing dirt basements in NYCHA, purchasing better waste containers, increasing trash pickup and increasing enforcement of rat-related violations in these areas. All aspects of this plan will be launched by the end of 2017.

“A rodent-free community is a healthier and safer place to live, work and play. This much-needed investment will help decrease rodent infestation in parts of my borough that have been affected the most by rodents and the health impact they can have on a community. I commend Mayor de Blasio for providing much-needed funding and organizing a multi-agency response to this public health menace,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Read the complete press release.

NYC Parks Completes $1.5 Million Makeover of
Parque de los Ninos Playground in The Bronx

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, today joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and CB 9 District Manager William Rivera to cut the ribbon on the newly renovated playground at El Parque de los Niños.

“We completed this playground ahead of schedule, and just in time for the thick of summer,” said Commissioner Silver. “I know kids will be eager to play in these new spray showers in the scorching days ahead. This playground is a tremendous improvement to El Parque De Los Niños, and there are more improvements to come. This fall, we’ll start working to reconstruct the softball field and install a running track and fitness equipment.”

This $1.5 million project to reconstruct the playground and seating area along Harrod St. was funded with $1,365,000 from the Borough President and $156,000 from the Mayor’s office. The playground now includes safety surfacing and play equipment for children ages 2-12, including a swing set and a variety of spray shower features. New planting, steel fencing, and a drinking fountain will also be added, as well as replica benches from the 1964 World’s Fair.

“Parque de los Ninos is a critical amenity for the people of The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Diaz Jr. “I was proud to support this park during my time in the New York State Assembly, and I have continued to make capital investments to this park as borough president. A new playground is just the first step towards a fully renovated Parque de los Ninos, and I thank Commissioner Silver and his department, as well as my colleagues in government, Council Member Palma and Assembly Member Crespo, for their partnership on this important project,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“This $1.6 million renovation comes as a breath of fresh air for Soundview residents,” said Assemblyman Crespo. Parks symbolize fun, childhood and most importantly parks represent a space where families come together to create memories that last a lifetime. Our kids and The Bronx overall deserve quality environments, and I am proud to know that this million dollar improvement will bring about just that.”

Phase II of this project—funded by the Borough President and Council Member Annabel Palma—will serve to reconstruct the softball field and add a natural grass outfield, install a running track with an artificial turf and multi-purpose infield, and will add an area with fitness equipment. Phase II construction is scheduled to begin in the fall 2017.

BP Diaz Hosts Free #Not62 Yoga Night

On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted Sweet Water Dance & Yoga for a free “Yoga Night” at Veterans’ Memorial Hall in the Bronx County Building. Dozens of individuals participated in the event, part of the borough president’s ongoing “#Not62” Campaign for a Healthier Bronx.
“I am encouraged by the tremendous borough-wide partnerships working together to address our borough’s health rankings,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “We are fortunate to have the commitment of partners like Sweet Water Dance & Yoga encouraging residents to improve their health by adopting an exercise routine. This campaign aims to engage major stakeholders across multiple sectors, to address the determinants of health, improve the health outcomes of Bronx residents, and have The Bronx move up in the county health ranking. In order to reach every person who lives, works, plays and prays in our borough, the ‘#Not62’ initiative encourages Bronxites to use their social media platforms to post pictures of healthy habits on a daily basis. I am confident that we will continue to make progress and move our borough to a healthier place.”

“Teniece Divya led the class in an hour long Vinyasa style class. We hope to be able to offer similar classes on a monthly basis, bringing our community access to different styles of yoga.  We are thrilled with the outcome and reception by the legal and local community, and look forward to more collaboration with the Borough President, his Office, and his #Not62 health initiatives,” said Yosara Trujillo of Sweet Water Dance & Yoga, which is located in The Bronx on Gerard Avenue at East 161st Street.
The event was sponsored by the Dominican Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, the Bronx Women's Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the Bronx County Bar Association and the Association of Black Women Attorneys.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Shooting Death of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia

"Our hearts are heavy this morning as we mourn the loss of New York City Police Department Officer Miosotis Familia. Officer Familia was a member of the 46th Precinct here in The Bronx who was shot and killed last night following an unprovoked attack.

"Officer Familia was a dedicated servant to our city, and the news of her passing is incredibly tragic. Please keep her family, friends and colleagues in the 46th Precinct and the entire police department in your prayers today during this difficult time," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Fatal Shooting Incident at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center

"Today’s fatal shooting at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center has shocked an entire borough. On behalf of the more than 1.4 million people who call The Bronx home and who consider Bronx-Lebanon a vital partner within our communities, I offer condolences to the family of the woman who was tragically killed this afternoon. As we learn more details about this horrible incident, my office and I will keep the victims, their families and the entire Bronx- Lebanon family in our thoughts as we pray that the survivors of today’s shooting have a speedy recovery," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Borough President Diaz and State Senator Klein
Co-Host Annual Fireworks Extravaganza

On Thursday, June 29, 2017, tens of thousands of Bronxites and revelers from all over the region joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and State Senator Jeff Klein as they hosted the borough’s official kickoff to the year’s Independence Day Celebrations, the annual “New York Salutes America” boardwalk festival and fireworks extravaganza at Orchard Beach.

“The annual ‘New York Salutes America’ boardwalk festival and fireworks extravaganza at Orchard Beach is one of our jewel events, and is a great way to kick-off our city’s July 4th celebrations. I was proud to once again join State Senator Jeff Klein in bringing together thousands of our neighbors to celebrate America,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“As always, the annual Fourth of July extravaganza at Orchard Beach drew thousands of Bronxites for a spectacular evening of free entertainment and fireworks. It was a night where the community came together to celebrate our nation’s freedom, and I'm proud to have once again worked with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr to make it such a memorable event,” said State Senator Jeff Klein

The event was produced by The Bronx Tourism Council and sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Benedetto, Altice, Anheuser-Busch, Bronx Tax Man, Con Edison, Empire City Casino, G.A.L. Manufacturing Corp., Manhattan Beer Distributors, Mercy College, Pascap, Schulyer Funeral Home, Havana Café, Domino’s, Sabrett, PepsiCo, Radio 103.9, Snapple and Healthfirst.

In addition to a fireworks show by the world-famous Grucci, spectators also enjoyed the third annual Bronx Empanada Eating Contest. Contest winner received prizes from The Bronx Tourism Council, the New York Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo, Freshdirect and George Raphael. The empanadas were provided by Havana Café on East Tremont Avenue.

BPs Diaz & Adams call for Greater Equity for Gifted Students

In new report, borough president’s call for greater access to gifted and talented education, test prep programs, specialized high schools and more

Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released a new report, titled “Fixing the Pipeline: Solutions to Disparities in Gifted Education in New York City,” outlining multiple recommendations for the future of gifted and talented education at all levels in New York City’s public schools.

The report, which is the work of the borough president’s joint “Gifted and Talented Education and Specialized High Schools Task Force,” was released in front of the Tweed Courthouse in lower Manhattan, home of the New York City Department of Education.

Top recommendations in the report included requiring that all communities have equal access to gifted and talented programs in kindergarten, that all students in public pre-K programs must be tested for gifted and talented programs, that Citywide and other middle school gifted classed must be expanded across the city, that test prep programs must be further expanded for the specialized high schools, and that a single test should not be the only source of admission to the city’s specialized high schools, among others.

The report can be viewed at http://on.nyc.gov/2sQkL84.

"Today, we are giving the Department of Education a little ‘summer reading’ of their own, a report outlining what we believe are necessary changes the city could make today to bring more equity to programs for gifted learners in the five boroughs," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “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."

Read the complete press release.

Borough President Diaz Hosted Guyana Day Celebration

On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., in partnership with The Guyana Independence Committee hosted the 2nd Annual Bronx Guyana Day Celebration in honor of Guyana’s 51th Anniversary of Independence and to recognize the growing Guyanese population in the borough at Melanie’s Restaurant.

“Celebrating the 2nd Bronx Guyana Day is an exciting time to acknowledging the recent independence day of the country and more importantly, recognizing the growing Guyanese population in our great borough,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “With over 400,000 foreign-born Guyanese in the United States; over 150, 000 residing in New York City and more than 15, 000 calling The Bronx home, it is a proud moment to acknowledge our borough’s diversity, the Guyanese community and those who work closely with them.”

(l to r) Business Honoree - Clarence Lildharrie, President, CATS, Inc.; Leadership Honoree - Detective Kimberly Ford, Patrol Borough Bronx, NYPD; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; and Community Honoree - Ravi Rampersaud, Program Director, ACACIA Network.

BP Diaz Hosts Annual Ramadan Celebration

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted his annual Ramadan Iftar Dinner ceremony on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The end of the month of Ramadan, observed by more than one billion Muslims around the world, is marked with the joyous festival of Eid al-Fitr, which literally means the “Festival of Breaking the Fast.”

“Ramadan is observed by more than one billion Muslims around the world and we are proud to recognize and celebrate this joyous occasion with Muslims throughout our great borough,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Considering the political climate, I wish people in the Oval Office could see this gathering, where we have Muslims—from Albania, from Pakistan, from Bangladesh, from all over the globe—come together to take a moment to reflect on their great accomplishments in The Bronx, throughout the state and around the country.”

Honorees included the Muslims Giving Back non-profit organization, Mohammed Mardah,  Civic Engagement Committee Chair of the African Advisory Council, Executive Secretary of Muslims and Immigrant Coalition For Justice (MIC4JUSTICE) and member of Community Board 4; Summer Nasser, writer and Chairperson of Yemen Aid; and Tair Azirov, New York City Department of Education Director of Human Resources for District 79.

BP Diaz Marches in National Puerto Rican Day Parade

On Sunday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. showed off his boricua pride, marching in the 60th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Borough President Diaz stated that he believed that the festivities should focus not only on the rich cultural heritage of La Isla Del Encanto but should also shed light on the island’s economic crisis and the need for immediate federal action.

“The National Puerto Rican Day Parade has never been about one person, it’s about celebrating our great culture, our heritage, and our contributions to this country, as citizens,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Puerto Rico has much greater issues than to worry about who is marching in a parade.”

Borough President Diaz expressed this sentiment through his banner at the parade, which declared “Unidos Por Puerto Rico…That’s Why We March!”

For several years Borough President Diaz has been advocating on behalf of debt relief for Puerto Rico. In 2015, his office issued a letter, in conjunction with over 100 elected officials from across the nation, demanding Congress enact legislation that would allow the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to enter bankruptcy.

“The fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico has not receded since last year’s parade,” said Borough President Diaz. “The island’s debt has risen to a massive $123 billion and more than 200 schools are closing on the island due to lack of funds. People are dying because Puerto Rico has lost its doctors. The parade will come and go but the problems still remain. We need immediate action to help the 3.5 million residents—American citizens themselves—of Puerto Rico deal with the crushing debt crisis that affects their island.”

BP Diaz Celebrates Global Hip-Hop Day

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined dozens of hip-hop celebrities and hundreds of music lovers to celebrate "Global Hip Hop Day" on Thursday, June 8, 2017, as part of a celebration honoring past and present artists who help put the musical genre on the map.

Borough President Diaz joined hip-hop trailblazers such as Funkmaster Flex, DJ Kid Capri, Remy Ma, Fat Joe, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, hip-hop producer Larry Smith, Fever Records founder Sal Abbatiello, Commissioner Julie Menin of The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, The Universal Hip Hop Museum, Generation Hip Hop, The BulLion Foundation, Windows of Hip Hop and HOT 97 to commemorate the genre’s immense impact on music and pop culture across the world.

As part of the celebration, a portion of Sedgwick Avenue was rechristened “Hip Hop Boulevard,” to honor the Bronx neighborhood that give birth to hip-hop.

"The Bronx is an iconic, internationally renowned hip-hop destination, the home of a rebellious and innovative musical art-form that has, over several generations, become a worldwide powerhouse,” said Borough President Diaz during his remarks at the event. “To see so many generations of artists, who not only have paved the way but made powerful contributions in the arts and society, coming together to celebrate and honor this music and culture, it’s like I died and I went hip hop heaven.”

BP Diaz, DA Clark and Safe Horizon Partner on Anti-Stalking Campaign

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark and Safe Horizon have launched an anti-stalking campaign, which aims to use relevant social media content to enhance stalking victim safety and awareness of available resources for domestic violence victims.

The social media campaign, supported by federal funds under the Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforcement of Protection Orders, seeks to educate the public on the early warning signs of stalking and where to get help.  The campaign will take an innovative approach towards disseminating the information through the use of social media platforms.

"Stalking and cyber-stalking are very serious issues, and this campaign is designed to use popular internet culture to find those who need help distancing themselves from a stalker and potential abuser and to connect them to resources on domestic violence, stalking and related issues. I am proud to partner with Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark's office and Safe Horizon on this innovative initiative to fight abusive behavior," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. 

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “Last year, we prosecuted cases with stalking-related charges. This crime makes people feel defenseless, and cyber-stalking magnifies victims’ fear and vulnerability. This is why we have extended our outreach through social media with this essential campaign that primarily targets the younger people in our borough. I’m thankful to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and to Safe Horizon for collaborating in our efforts to educate the public and eradicate this hi-tech form of domestic abuse.”

Ariel Zwang, Safe Horizon CEO said, “Stalking is a crime that can get more serious over time, and may leave a victim feeling paralyzed or afraid to perform their normal, everyday routine. With the rise of social media and GPS apps, abusers have learned to utilize these platforms to further intimidate their victim in the form of cyber-stalking. But social media can also be a powerful tool to connect victims to services. That's why we are proud to partner with the New York City Police Department, New York City Department of Probation and the offices of the Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark's and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on this anti-stalking social media campaign to connect victims to resources and services that can keep them safe online and in real life.”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, stalking is a public health concern known to affect millions of people in the United States. Stalking not only creates immediate emotional and physical damage, and impairs mental health; it also results in long-term outcomes such as mental disability, social isolation, and sometimes death. Stalking has become a national epidemic. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) found that 81 percent of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabitating partner were also physically assaulted by that partner, and that 31 percent of women were also sexually assaulted.

Additionally, an estimated 6.5 million men have experienced stalking victimization during their lifetimes. Nationally, 7.5 million people file stalking police reports every year (NADW). Furthermore, approximately one in four stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83 percent) or instant messaging (35 percent) (BJS). These statistics demonstrate the demand for enhanced public safety and policy reformation that address stalking.

This online campaign provides an opportunity to go beyond the confines of printed material and leverage social media. The campaign allows service providers to target specific groups while also reducing exposure to harm, as an abuser may become violent if they notice printed material about domestic violence in a victim’s possession. In addition, a data-driven, more personalized approach to communications can help work through stigma to better reach and serve populations at-risk.

JPEGs of the social media graphics used for this campaign can be downloaded at https://flic.kr/s/aHskYexQGA.

Comptroller Stringer and Trustees: New York City Pension Funds Complete First-In-The-Nation Divestment From Private Prison Companies

As President Trump embraces draconian criminal justice and immigration policies, Comptroller Stringer & the Pension Funds liquidate roughly $48 million in private prison company stocks and bonds

(New York, NY) — Today, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and the Trustees of the New York City Pension Funds announced that New York City has become the first major public pension system in the nation to fully divest from private prison companies. The move to liquidate the City’s investments in private prison companies follows reported incidents of alleged human rights abuses across the private prison industry, posing long-term reputational and financial harm.

As of 2015, there were 126,000 inmates housed in approximately 130 private prisons operating in 30 different states, and last year, federal investigators found in an audit that private prisons have far higher rates of security and safety incidents per capita than comparable public institutions. Federal authorities have found that some private prisons have sought to reduce overcrowding by improperly confining rule-abiding inmates in segregated units, which are similar to solitary confinement. Limited and poor-quality medical care is common in the industry — and recent lawsuits have indicated that individuals housed within private prisons are routinely denied medical care. One facility allegedly went without a single full-time doctor for over half a year, and in a separate 2012 incident, a corrections officer was killed after a riot over low-quality food and medical care.

In addition, private prison companies operate private immigration detention centers, at which as many as 65 percent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees are imprisoned. So far in Fiscal Year 2017, at least eight immigrant detainees have died while in those private facilities. The White House expects to expand the use of those prisons and private detention facilities to house immigrants it intends to hold and deport, as it embraces draconian immigration policies. At least two companies from which the Comptroller has divested — GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America — operate immigrant detention centers.

“With Donald Trump in the White House, we’re seeing more and more industries try to profit from backwards policies at the expense of immigrants and communities of color. But because of this major new step, we are demonstrating that we will not be complicit. We are standing up for what’s right,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “Our criminal justice system has failed a generation of Americans because, for decades, we built bigger prisons instead of greater schools, and we were ‘tough on crime’ instead of ‘smart on crime.’ Society used mass incarceration as an economic development strategy at the expense of communities of color. Today, we’re taking action. As President Trump ratchets up hateful rhetoric and steps up deportations, private prison companies are going to see enormous reputational harm — and that means they’ll become even riskier investments. Morally, the industry wants to turn back the clock on years of progress on criminal justice, and we can’t sit idly by and watch that happen. Divesting is simply the right thing to do — financially and morally.”

The Pension Funds’ Trustees voted to divest in mid-May, and since, the Comptroller’s Office and the Pension Funds have sold roughly $48 million of stock and bonds from three private prison companies — GEO Group, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), and G4S. These first-in-the-nation moves come after the Trustees of the New York City Pension Funds voted to study divesting from private prison companies in September 2016, citing concerns about widespread health and safety violations as well as human rights abuses across the industry.

Because Comptroller Stringer and his fellow Trustees are fiduciaries, they are only able to consider divestment when an analysis finds that the move would add minimal to no risk to the pension funds. That study — conducted by the Comptroller’s Office and outside consultants — found that divesting would add minimal or no risk to the Pension Funds’ portfolios. This finding was substantiated by the Pension Funds’ counsel, which concurred that divestment would not violate the Trustees’ fiduciary duty.

An analysis conducted by the Comptroller’s office and outside consultants also found that there are inherent investment risks in for-profit prison companies. Reports have exposed a pattern of human rights issues in private prisons, including the physical and sexual abuse of inmates, wrongful deaths, and increased violence due to improper staffing. These failings can lead to reputational, legal, and regulatory risks — which could seriously harm investors. Because these risks are implicit in the industry, the Comptroller’s Office is unable to engage with private prison companies and encourage policies that would reduce them.

Examples of additional risks include:

  • Reputational Risks — Exposing poor conditions, high rates of violence, improper staffing levels, inmate abuse, and other human rights concerns in private prisons can damage these companies’ reputations, leading to stock price declines and lower returns — or losses — for pensioners.
  • Legal Risks — Lawsuits stemming from human rights abuses can lead to high payouts, making private prison companies less profitable and riskier investments for long-term shareowners like the City Pension Funds.
  • Regulatory Risks — Because most, if not all, private prison contracts come from government entities, these companies’ profits are entirely controlled by political fortunes. In addition, their ability to profit can be constrained by additional regulatory burdens. This increases risk for long-term investors.

As a result of these analyses, the Comptroller and Trustees voted in mid-May to divest from private prisons. Immediately after the vote, Comptroller Stringer directed the Pension Funds’ investment managers to liquidate all investments in companies that derive at least 20% of their revenue from private prisons, including both direct investments and stock owned as part of an index fund. That process was completed in late May.

On an annual basis, the Comptroller’s Office will analyze the Pension Funds’ portfolios to ensure no additional private prison investments have been added. If any have been, the Comptroller’s Office will make recommendations to the Boards of Trustees on divestment.

“The City of New York should not incentivize the private prison business. For-profit prisons create a perverse incentive to lock away our citizens, especially from traditionally underserved minority communities, and today’s announcement that our city’s pension system will divest from this predatory industry is welcome. In the interest of justice, other municipalities and pension funds should consider our example on this issue and move to divest from the for-profit prison industry,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Read the complete press release.

Bronx Week Gets an Encore on BronxNet!

The dynamism of the Bronx was evident in Bronx Week 2017 activities and BronxNet is sharing it all on your BronxNet channels. Each year during Bronx Week, the Bronx Ball and the Bronx Parade, celebrates notable people born or raised in the borough and inducts them into the Bronx Walk of Fame.  Immerse yourself in the Bronx Ball and Bronx Parade festivities on BronxNet, with 2017 honorees singer/songwriter Prince Royce, hip-hop artist/producer Funkmaster Flex, Actress Selenis Leyna, and medical innovator Dr. Manny Villafana.

Other Bronx Week events of interest being broadcast on BronxNet include the Centenarian Celebration, the Business Day Luncheon, a Veteran’s Appreciation Breakfast, and Montefiore’s Healthy Store Initiative/Bodga Walk. Experience The Bronx Ball on BronxNet channel 67-Optimum and 33-Fios, and on the web at www.bronxnet.tv on Saturday, 6/10, and 6/17 at 9pm, Sunday, 6/11, and 6/18 at 4pm and Thursday, 6/15 and 6/22 at 6:30pm.  Watch Bronx Week Highlights on the same channels on Saturday, 6/10 and 6/17 at 7pm, Sunday, 6/11 and 6/18 at 2pm and Thursday, 6/15 and 6/22 at 7pm. Visit: www.bronxnet.tv for the full schedule.

Bronx Week, an annual event presented by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and co-produced by The Bronx Tourism Council and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, features an array of activities that showcase the borough’s vibrant life and growth.  

“I want to thank BronxNet for their extensive coverage of this year’s Bronx Week 2017 festivities,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “For countless years, BronxNet has provided vital information and programming that is pertinent to our communities in The Bronx. Whether it is their broadcast or digital platforms, Bronxnet does a spectacular job in keeping local constituents informed about the wonderful things happening throughout the borough. Check out BronxNets re-broadcasts, throughout the week, to take a peek at all our ‘Bronx Week’ events that took place; and witness the growth that our borough is experiencing.”  

Read the complete press release.

Queens-Based York Studios Bringing
State-of-the-Art Production Complex to the Bronx

Bronx, NY - On Tuesday, June 6th, NYS Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Deputy Mayor Alicia Glenn on behalf of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Commissioner Julie Menin of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and additional officials joined executives of York Studios to break ground on the Bronx’s newest blockbuster – a state-of-the-art film and television production complex.
A currently vacant 10-acre lot located off the Bruckner Expressway in the Soundview section of the Bronx will be transformed into what has been dubbed York Studios’ Michaelangelo Campus. When complete, the nearly $100 million development will boast a private gated complex featuring approximately 350,000 square feet of production space. Michaelangelo Campus will house nine sound stages, production office space, and workshops for each stage, in addition to offering eight loading docks and secure on-site parking.

“York Studios’ Michaelangelo Campus is unique as it is the first ground-up construction project of a state-of-the-art television and film production facility in the Bronx,” said York Studios Chief Executive Officer John Kalafatis.

"The television and film industry is growing across the five boroughs, and The Bronx is no exception. York Studios’ new Michaelangelo Campus in Soundview not only expands our borough's ability to host major movie and TV productions, it reactivates a long-dormant site, creates new jobs and is another excellent example of the ongoing positive transformation that is taking place in communities all over The Bronx," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Read the complete press release.

BP Diaz Hosts Bronx LGBTQ Pride Celebration

On Thursday, June 1, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., hosted the borough’s seventh annual LGBTQ & Allies Pride Awards Ceremony.

“It was a true honor to kickoff LGBTQ Pride Month, right here in The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This wonderful event offered my borough an opportunity to recognize several incredible individuals for the work they have done to strengthen the LGBTQ community and to help that community build allies across the city.”

Dr. Marjorie J. Hill, CEO of the Joseph Addabbo Family Health Center, was awarded the 2017 John Wade Award, which honors LGBTQ individuals for excellence in government service.

This year’s honorees also included legendary performer Dominique (Tyra A. Ross) Jackson, Renee Reopell, Director of the Adolescent AIDS Program at Montefiore; and Raul Rivera, a community organizer with Spaceworks.

The event, which was co-hosted by City Council Members Ritchie Torres and James Vacca, was made possible by the generous sponsorship of an array of community organizations, with AIDS Healthcare Foundation serving as the Grand Sponsor, and Adolescent AIDS Program at Montefiore and Union Community Health Center as Gold Sponsors.

During the event, Borough president Diaz also noted that his office will conduct a LGBTQ needs assessment survey for The Bronx throughout June, as part of the office’s efforts to celebrate Pride Month.
The survey can be taken online at http://bit.ly/2so1TJB.

BP Diaz Announces LGBTQ Needs Assessment Survey

Survey to launch at tonight’s Bronx LGBTQ & Allies Pride Awards 

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced today that his office will conduct a LGBTQ needs assessment survey for The Bronx throughout June, as part of the office’s efforts to celebrate Pride Month.

“Our LGBTQ population is growing and becoming more and more vocal about their needs and what services and amenities they would like to see in The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Through this survey, my office will acquire more detailed information about our borough’s LGBTQ residents and how we can provide this important community with better government, cultural, medical and other services.”

The survey can be taken online at http://bit.ly/2so1TJB. Hard copies of the survey are also available at the offices of the borough’s 12 community boards.

In addition, the report will be available at tonight’s seventh annual Bronx LGBTQ & Allies Pride Awards Ceremony. That event will take place at Billy’s, 856 River Avenue (at East 161st Street), Bronx, at 6:00 p.m. The event is co-hosted by City Council Members Ritchie Torres and James Vacca.

“The LGBTQ community’s diverse needs are always growing and changing, and it is crucial that government officials periodically survey the community to see what new resources and services are needed to help LGBTQ individuals. The LGBTQ Needs Assessment will help us all better understand the challenges of LGBTQ Bronx residents, so that we can tackle them head on,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“We have a vibrant and ever-expanding LGBTQ community in The Bronx,” said Council Member James Vacca.  “As our community develops and expands, it is a necessity to continuously assess the wants and needs of the Bronx LGBTQ community. We, as elected officials, need to know where to allocate resources. We need to know what’s working and what isn’t working in order to make informed funding decisions. We also need to be made aware of new needs as they arise. I applaud the Borough President for being proactive in his efforts to obtain this useful information.”

“The Bronx Borough President continues to show his dedication to LGBTQ Bronx residents with this much-needed LGBTQ Needs Assessment.  This survey will document the needs of the community along with gaps in service and service overlap.  With this information, we will be able to continue to develop programs that meet the needs of our residents,” said Sean Coleman, executive director of Destination Tomorrow.

“Assessing the housing needs of older LGBTQ Bronxites through this survey is crucial, given the housing crisis that our city is experiencing.  At SAGE, we are dedicated to increasing the affordable housing options available to our LGBTQ elders in The Bronx,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “That is why we are launching one of New York City’s first affordable LGBT-welcoming senior housing development right on Crotona Park in The Bronx.”

Read all of Borough President Diaz's press releases and statements.