Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update September 15, 2023

Greening New York Real Estate 

This week, New York rolled out more details about upcoming building efficiency enforcement for new construction. The enforcement plan comes as a result of Local Law 97, which applies to buildings over 25,000 square feet in size, “requires about 50,000 buildings to cut their emissions over several compliance periods, starting next year, with a goal of hitting net zero by 2050,” as buildings account for two-thirds of New York City’s and 6% of New York state’s carbon emissions. The plan outlined good faith exemptions, availability of statewide assistance to reduce costs of efficiency upgrades, outreach to reduce noncompliance. 

Check out the Bricks and Mortals event series where we covered LL97 with events specifically on What They Mean for FBOs and a More Sustainable NYC and Bringing Your House of Worship Into Compliance.

Also this week, alongside renewed conflicts over the benefits of green space and housing in New York, locals in the City undertook volunteer clean up service along a road leading to a synagogue that became overgrown due to uncertainty over public-private responsibility for sidewalk cleanup. Without clear agreement from the State, City, local Homeowner Association, and private property owners along the stretch of road, local volunteers spent 5 hours performing landscaping, painting, and trash clean up hoping to draw attention to the need for accountability to care for the area. 

Angel Ortega, superintendent at Briar Oaks and senior north regional shop steward of 32Bj cleans up and blows away debris and grass at the north service road of Henry Hudson Parkway. Photo by Gary Jean-Juste. 

FEMA Funding for Houses of Worship

According to FEMA, houses of worship may qualify for assistance to “reimburse their costs for emergency protective measures, debris removal and restoration of facilities damaged by the July severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides.” This includes emergency protective measures, debris removal and to restore facilities damaged or destroyed by the disaster. The deadline for public assistance is October 12, 2023. More information can be found on the FEMA website

In other funding news, on Capitol Hill this week a bipartisan group of lawmakers called for increasing grants for houses of worship ahead of Jewish high holidays. 

New York’s Budget & Faith Community Flex to Meet Challenge of Ongoing Migrant Crisis

The migrant crisis has played out front and center in New York, impacting government finance and real estate and housing development plans. This week faith leaders in New York offered support for asylum seekers, including by a group of interfaith leaders from the five boroughs rallying outside New York City Hall urging compassion and advocating for shelter, health services, education and legal assistance. In a statement called “Toward a Covenant on Behalf of New York’s Newest New Yorkers,” the group allied itself in partnership with the government to hold themselves “accountable for being available to work on these issues, and we will hold our elected and appointed officials accountable for doing what we expect them to do. We want to hasten the day when these new New Yorkers can become self-sufficient members of our communities.” 

Members of the Interfaith Center of New York and New York State Council of Churches gather in front of City Hall to rally for collaboration to address the migrant crisis. Photo by Arun Venugopal/Gothamist.

Similarly this week, on Thursday, Staten Island’s migrant shelter drew both supporters and opponents – including supporters from a range of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders. One faith leader noted, “We are suggesting that there needs to be a light shined in the minds of people - our brothers and sisters on both sides” about the crisis and the work of the migrant shelter serving 300 single women and families. The faith leaders echoed the message to those rallying outside City Hall earlier in the week by calling for help from elected officials to support legal assistance and safe shelter for migrants. 

St. John Villa Academy currently hosting a 300 person single women and families migrant shelter on Staten Island, NY. Photo by Staten Island Advance/Paul Liotta.

The ongoing migrant crisis has also led to diverse opinions about the impact of the crisis on New York City’s budget. Optimistically, this week bondholders and credit analysts reported that the City has $8 billion in reserves to help curb the added estimated $5 billion expense of sheltering and caring for thousands of migrants. Meanwhile, the Mayor is asking local agencies to propose budget cuts of up to 5% to help relieve the City’s projected financial burden, due in part to New York City’s “right to shelter” law that requires the City to provide shelter to anyone who needs it, at the same time as reductions in federal pandemic stimulus and personal income tax revenue. 

This law has remained in place for four decades, despite attempts by past administrations to roll back the mandate. Mayor Adams temporarily rolled back parts of the law in May citing budget concerns, and has asked the courts to consider pausing the Callahan judgment.

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