Council Member Ritchie Torres - Summer 2015 Newsletter
As we kick off Summer, we have a lot to celebrate and be thankful
for: sunshine, picnics in the park, and outings with the family, to
name a few. Summer is definitely one of the best times to explore
our great borough and city, and I hope you are able spend some
time out in the sun.
In the City Council, I have been working on important issues that
impact all residents of the District and across New York City, from
advocating for investments in public housing to cleaning up our
streets. Please read below for updates on my work and events that
may interest you.
As always, please reach out to my District Office if I can ever be of
It is an honor to serve as your Council Member for the 15th District
in the Central Bronx.
Celebrate LGBT Pride Month
Across the world, June is recognized as lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender (LGBT) Pride month in honor of the 1969
Stonewall Riots and our continued fight for equal rights.
Although our city and state has made tremendous progress in
advancing rights for the LGBT community, there is still much
work to do. The Councils LGBT Caucus recently held its annual
Pride Celebration and honored extraordinary individuals who have
made significant contributions to the citys LGBT community and
advance social justice in their daily lives. I was honored to
recognize Kim Watson, Co-Founder of Community-Kinship Life,
for her dedication to bringing quality healthcare services to
transgender New Yorkers. Her life story and work are an
inspiration to us all.
Using Art to Empower Youth
In partnership with Groundswell and Kappa III Knowledge and
Power Preparatory Academy, I unveiled a new mural on Mapes
Ave. The mural, entitled Domino Effect, was painted by Kappa
III students and illustrates the impact violence has on the
community and how an act of creativity can make a difference.
The students used art as a tool to call for a more peaceful and
just community, and Im confident that the creation of this mural
inspired them to develop their roles as artists and activists.
Cleaning Up District 15
Clean streets improve the quality of life for our communities and
help local businesses grow. In partnership with the Doe Fund, I
funded street cleaning crews along East 180th St. and Morris
Park Avenue. Im also partnering with FedCap to rehabilitate
vacant lots, such as Oliver Place and Decatur Avenue in
Bedford Park. Are there lots that need cleaning and walls with
graffiti that needs to be removed? Please contact my District
Office and well work to get them cleaned: 718-842-8100.
Advocating for Public Housing Residents
In my role as Chair of the City Council Committee on Public Housing,
I am responsible for oversight of the New York City Housing Authority
(NYCHA). NYCHA has suffered from decades of city, state and
federal disinvestment, which has magnified the security,
maintenance and infrastructure problems at public housing
developments. In coalition with my colleagues in the Council and
NYCHA residents, I advocated for a significant increase in the City
and States support for public housing. The Mayor recently
announced $300 million in funding over three years for roof
replacements, waived NYCHAs payments to the NYPD, which
totaled $70 million a year, and will waive the $30 million NYCHA
pays each year to the city in lieu of taxes on certain properties.
These savings and investment will make a real difference in the
quality of life for tens of thousands of NYCHA residents.
UCHC is IMPACT-ing the Health of Bronx Residents
Up to 10% of Bronx residents report experiencing serious
psychological distress, compared to 5.5% of NYC residents
overall. Ignoring mental health issues, such as depression, has a
direct and negative effect on an individuals physical health and
the wellness of a community. Union Community Health Centers (UCHC) integrated model of primary and behavioral
healthcare, dubbed IMPACT, is now offering all patients
mental health services along with access to their internists, family
medicine practitioners, OB/GYNs, and pediatricians as one unified
care team. Health professionals at UCHC are trained to diagnose
mental health issues like depression and anxiety as they occur, and
support services at UCHC are available as individual or group
A Spanish-language womens support group began this Spring and
other groups, including one for parents whose children have been
diagnosed with ADHD, will launch soon. To make an appointment
at Union Community Health Center call 718-220-2020or for more
information visit: http://www.uchcbronx.org/
Health Bucks, Farmers Markets & Access to Nutritious Food
Access to nutritious food is essential to improving health outcomes
for residents of the Central Bronx. Once again, Im using
discretionary funds to distribute Health Bucks- $2 coupons
redeemable at local farmers markets. These coupons make fruits
and vegetables affordable to all shoppers. If you are interested in
receiving Health Bucks please contact my District office at718-842 -8100. Below are some of the farmers markets in and around
Council District 15 where you can redeem Health Bucks:
Harvest Home Mt. Eden Farmers Market: Mt. Eden &
Morris Aves., at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Tuesdays &
Harvest Home Echo Park Farmers Market: Ryer St. &
Burnside Ave. Opens July 7 - November 17- Wednesdays,
Inside MetroNorth Parking Lot Saturdays, 8am-4pm
La Familia Verde FarmersMarket: East Tremont &
LaFontaine Aves. Opens in July Tuesdays, 8am-2pm.
Poe Park Greenmarket: Grand Concourse & 192nd St.
opens June 30th - Tuesdays 8am-3pm.
West Farms Farmers Market: Boston Rd. & East Tremont
Ave., in Drew Gardens Wednesdays, 10am 3pm.
New York Botanical Garden Greenmarket: Mosholu Pkwy.
at Kazimiroff Blvd. Opens June 17th - Wednesdays, 9am-6pm.
The Botanical Gardens popular Greenmarket returns for its
13th season. Come to the Library Allee by the Moshulu Gate
at the Garden to purchase some of the best and freshest
homegrown produce and treats from across the State.
Participatory Budgeting: Putting City Money to Work for Our Community
This Spring, my office completed the first cycle of the Participatory
Budgeting (PB) process. This process places residents in charge
of how $1 million City capital dollars are spent in their neighborhoods.
During the Fall, residents submitted proposals for projects they
wanted to see done in the District and considered for PB funding.
Working with my office, Budget Delegates organized a PB Vote
Week from April 11th-18th and more than 2,300 residents casted
votes for projects that will bring much needed improvements to our
schools, parks and public transit. The top 3 winning proposals are:
1st Place: Security Cameras for Public Schools ($80,000)
- 1,352 Votes. Security camera systems will be installed on
the exteriors of Kappa III and M.S. 391/TAPCO. This will
allow staff to monitor the exterior of each school.
2nd Place: Bronx Park Improvements ($450,000)
1,323 Votes. Renovations and enhancements will be made
throughout Bronx Park north of Pelham Parkway (known as
9 NYPD Security Cameras will be installed throughout District
15. The cameras will provide video feeds directly to local
4th Place: Air Conditioning for Public Schools ($145,000)
1,236 Votes. Air conditioning units will be installed at PS 28,
PS 32, and PS 9. These units will keep classrooms cool in
5th Place: Bus Countdown Clocks ($80,000) 935 Votes.
Digital displays will be installed at four bus stops, showing the
times buses will arrive.
If you are interested in submitting project proposals for PB funding,
contact my District Office at718-842-8100.
IDNYC at The New York Botanical Garden The New York Botanical Garden is honored to participate in
IDNYCs inaugural year by providing a complimentary Community
Grounds Membership to current IDNYC cardholders. Benefits
include year-round admission to the Garden grounds for an
ndividual or family (2 adults and 2 children under age 16). To join,
you must present your valid IDNYC before December 31, 2015 at
any ticketing window at The New York Botanical Garden, Tuesday- Sunday, 10 am-5pm. Please note this membership offer is not
available for current or recently lapsed (January 2012 Present)
Garden members. For a full explanation of this benefit at NYBG
for IDNYC holders, please visit: http://www.nybg.org/support_the_garden/membership/idnyc.php
For more information about obtaining an IDNYC, please
My Legislative Work in City Hall CLEAN Act: Cleaning Up Industrial Laundriesin the Bronx and Outer Boroughs
New York Citys industrial laundries clean the textiles, linens,
tablecloths and gowns used by millions of people in the Citys
hotels, hospitals and restaurants. These facilities employ more
than 5,000 immigrant, low-wage workers and are concentrated
in the Bronx and outer boroughs. I was shocked to learn that
industrial laundries- unlike your neighborhood laundromat-
currently go unregulated by the Citys Department of Consumer
Affairs and are not required to meet health and safety protocols.
Without regulations and oversight, industrial laundry workers
are routinely exploited and work in unsanitary conditions that
create serious public health risks for consumers. They are
forced to sacrifice cleanliness in order to meet production quotas,
which can lead to contaminated linens being used by the public.
To help fix this problem, I introduced the City Laundry Equity and
Accountability Act (CLEAN Act). If passed, the CLEAN Act would
require industrial laundries to undergo inspections and obtain a
license. By regulating industrial laundries, we can help protect the
city from potential public health risks and safeguard a vulnerable
and exploited work force. The bill will be heard in the Councils
Consumer Affairs Committee on June 18th. In collaboration with
Workers United, my office released a report on the unsanitary
work conditions at industrial laundries.
Read the report at: www.cleannyc.org and watch the Fox 5
segment here: Report: Dirty hotel, restaurant linens
Making School Diversity a Priority
The Council recently passed my resolution calling on the Citys
Department of Education to establish school diversity as a
priority in admissions, zoning and other decision-making
processes. The resolution passed as a part of the School
Diversity Accountability Act, designed to confront segregation
and increase diversity in NYC public schools.