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Policy Makers In New York — The State and The City — Make Decisions For Renters
Nearly every big housing item was left out of the New York State budget. That includes Good Cause, which would have banned no-cause evictions as well as evictions following large rent hikes. The Housing Access Voucher Program was also left out of the budget. The legislation would have created a new statewide voucher system meant for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. HAVP had broad support from tenants and landlords and is unlikely to be on the table again until next year’s budget, Intelligencer reports.
In New York City, a meeting of the Rent Guidelines Board — which once a year decides whether to raise rents on rent-stabilized tenants — was interrupted when a group of tenant advocates and council members protested the vote and demanded rent rollbacks, City and State reports. The board recommended increases of 2% to 5% on one-year leases and 4% to 7% on two-year leases, which led tenants to chant, “Shame on you.” The board will make an official vote on rent adjustments before July 1.
Fare-free Bus Pilot Coming To New York City
New York State’s recently-passed budget includes money for a 6- to 12-month pilot that will make one bus line in each of the city’s five boroughs fare-free, Gothamist reports. The MTA will choose the bus lines for each borough within two months, and the plan will be rolled out three months after that. The plan was pitched as a two-year pilot, but state Sen. Michael Gianaris told Gothamist that anything longer than a year would have required a lengthy federal environmental review. The MTA has previously said that a third of bus riders already do not pay the fare.
The state budget will also include an additional $800 million in funding for the beleaguered MTA, funded by increased payroll taxes on New York City businesses.
First Republic Bank Failure Leads To Calls For More Regulation
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation negotiated into early Monday morning to sell First Republic Bank to JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S. JP Morgan will spend $10.6 billion to acquire First Republic. The FDIC’s insurance fund, which is funded by all of the country’s banks, including community banks, will cover $13 billion of losses. First Republic’s failure came after bank runs endangered its ability to pay its depositors, similar to recent failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.
The banks involved in this year’s failures hold $187.6 billion more in assets than the 25 bank failures that occurred in 2008, according to an S&P analysis, a sign of how much wealth has been consolidated since the Great Recession. The failure is leading some Democrats to call for stronger regulatory guardrails.
Cities And States Are Banning Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers
USA Today reports that states and cities are moving to ban gas-powered leaf blowers, which rely on fossil fuels and have harmful carbon emissions. California, Burlington, Vt., Washington D.C. and Vancouver, British Columbia all have bans.
California will prohibit new sales of gas-powered blowers starting in 2024, while the District of Columbia banned the use of these devices altogether in 2022 with $500 fines. D.C. and California also provide grants to small businesses buying newer, electric leaf blowers. If you need an oddly-specific motor vehicle comparison: using a gas-powered leaf blower for an hour releases as much smog as driving a 2016 Toyota Camry for 1,100 miles, according to Car and Driver.
Three New Libraries To Open In Chicago
Chicago is set to get three new public libraries, Block Club Chicago reports. The new libraries will be in the Woodlawn, Back of the Yards and Humboldt Park neighborhoods. Two of the libraries will replace existing branches; the Woodlawn branch, which will be financed with $18 million in bonds taken out by the Chicago Public Library, will replace the Bessie Coleman branch library. The Back of the Yards branch will replace a library currently housed in a high school. The Humboldt Park branch is part of a $55.3 million redevelopment of a vacant bank building, Block Club reports.
Compiled by Deonna Anderson
May Day, also known as Workers’ Day or International Workers’ Day, was Monday. This piece is a snapshot of the current state of the labor movement. Jacobin
Cleveland will spend $1.9 million, using American Rescue Plan Act funds, to buy up thousands of residents’ medical debt. Signal Cleveland
In New York City, the New York Civil Liberties Union is hosting a pop-up art exhibit in the Nolita neighborhood called Twenty-Nine Million Dreams, a reference to the $29 million a day that the NYPD spends on policing. Hyperallergic
For its 12th Annual Stand Against Racism event, the YWCA Seattle/King/Snohomish is having a discussion about environmental justice and advocacy nationally, statewide, and locally. Today, May 5 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Register here.
Oregon Humanities is hosting a conversation about accountability. When there are calls for accountability — for political leaders or someone who caused harm, for example — what exactly is being sought? May 8 at 1 p.m. Eastern. Learn more and register here.
Black Power Media is hosting a conversation with Angela Davis and three Black abolitionists from the next generation about Cop City, police militarization, and environmental racism. May 8 at 6 p.m. Eastern. Set a notification for the livestream here.
Plus, check out Next City’s upcoming events here.
This article is part of The Weekly Wrap, a newsletter rounding up stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice.
Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.