CB8 April Meeting

Resources Available for Those Experiencing Housing Troubles at April Community Board 8 Meeting

After last month’s unique meeting, April’s Brooklyn Community Board 8 meeting was business as usual. Michelle George, the District Manager, Julia Neale, the Community Coordinator, and six Community Board Officers presided over the meeting. Meeting attendees consisted mostly of Community Board Members—District 8 residents who volunteered to attend Community Board meetings every month and vote on the meetings’ proceedings when necessary. However, you don’t need to be a Community Board Member to attend the meetings, which are open to the public. One commonality among most of the Board Members is their longtime residence in Crown Heights. Many are senior citizens who have lived in Crown Heights their whole life. This is wonderful, but of course it would be nice to see more young and middle aged adults taking an interest in Community Board Meetings as well. In new elections, Robert Witherwax is running; he’s a generation younger than most people on the board.

Many Community Board Members go above and beyond the call of duty by attending Committee Meetings in addition to the Community Board Meetings. These occur monthly or slightly less frequently, and focus on neighborhood affairs in a specific area, such as land use, public safety, or youth and education. These Committees are able to look into issues more deeply than the Community Board, but keep the Board abreast of their work by reporting back each month to the Community Board. In some cases, such as with the State Liquor Authority and Sidewalk Café Review Committee, the Committee will vote to issue a recommendation on a certain matter, which the Community Board at large will then hear and take their own vote.

Compiled below are some of the highlights from the April Community Board 8 meeting, where housing in its many forms was a reoccurring topic. Many elected officials and their aides who spoke at this meeting emphasized that they are able to help those facing foreclosure and eviction, but qualified that by saying they achieve the most success in averting displacement when residents bring their problems to the representative early on rather than at the last minute. Accordingly, if you or someone you know is having problems with foreclosure or eviction, please do not hesitate to reach out to an elected official for help:

• An aide of Senator Zellnor Myrie’s attended the meeting and relayed to attendees an important victory for the residents of New York City at large: Getting Governor Cuomo to put $450 million dollars into the New York State budget for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which was passed March 31.

• The same aide also promoted a May 9, 7-9pm housing forum put on by Senator Myrie at St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf.

• Deborah Young announced that the Crown Heights North Association is putting on their annual Town Hall at 6:45pm on Wednesday, April 17 at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The event will focus on the fight to prevent displacement, as well as to preserve notable Crown Heights buildings. Three guests will speak at the Town Hall: Simeon Bankoff, of the Historic Districts Council, Yolande Nicholson, president of the N.Y. State Foreclosure Defense Bar, and Sarah Lazur, of the Crown Heights Tenant Union.

• LSA Recovery, a substance abuse clinic located in Midwood, is looking to open a second location at 1117 Eastern Parkway. The organization employs mental health counselors and therapists to work with those who are experiencing substance abuse problems and their significant others. They are not seeking a methadone license.

• Hakeem Elliot, a Census Project Coordinator from the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, visited to convince attendees of the importance of filling out the census, which will be administered next year. The census determines how much funding is allocated for public programs such as Medicare, SNAP, schools, streets, and sidewalks within each district. According to Elliot, people of African descent, Jewish people, and Asian people are all usually undercounted in the census. He also said that, “If you’re an elected official, getting everyone to fill out the census should be your number one priority.”

• Two restaurants, Sweet Chick and My Phu Inc., had their liquor licenses renewed.

• Izzy’s Fried Chicken, Nostrand Station Bar and Lounge, Savannah Café, and Corner 660 were all approved for new liquor licenses.

• Members of the Housing Committee told the Community Board about the meetings they have had over the past few months with representatives of the Albany Houses. The Albany Houses were built 60-70 years ago and need many improvements. National Grid is installing gas equipment in the building, and will soon be charging residents for gas even though previously residents did not have to pay for their gas usage. It is also rumored that Con-Ed will be attempting to put in place a similar arrangement in the future. This announcement upset a great number of meeting attendees and the Housing Committee said they will be looking for answers from elected officials soon.

The next Community Board 8 meeting will be held at 7pm on Thursday, May 9 at St. Teresa of Avila RC Church (563 Sterling Place, corner of Classon Avenue). You can visit Brooklyn Community Board 8’s website at www.brooklyncb8.org.