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Supreme Court Opens The Doors for Fossil Fuel Lawsuits
The Supreme Court rejected appeals from fossil fuel companies hoping to keep cases against them out of state court in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland and Rhode Island, according to NBC News. The cases allege that fossil fuel companies were aware of the damage caused by their industry but intentionally deceived consumers about it for decades. The companies — which include ExxonMobil, Suncor Energy and Chevron — had hoped to have the trials heard in federal court because state courts tend to award more in damages, NBC News reports.
The cases could next move to the discovery phase, where more information may become public about what fossil fuel companies knew about their industry’s impact on the environment, according to The Guardian. Exxon was aware of the impact as early as the 1970s and other companies were aware as early as the 1950s, according to previously released documents.
Making New York City’s Subway System Accessible
New York State’s Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved a settlement that will require the MTA to make 95% of its subway stations accessible by 2055, according to a press release from the nonprofit Disability Rights Advocates. The MTA will be required to install elevators or ramps in most of its 472 stations, where only 25% comply with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act today. The MTA announced the settlement in June of last year, but it was only approved by a judge earlier this month, with final, state and federal approval arriving Monday.
The MTA was first sued over its lack of accessibility in the 1970s, leading about 50 stations to make improvements. Other lawsuits were filed in 2011 and 2017, according to Gothamist.
San Diego May Have A “No-Fault” Eviction Law Soon
San Diego’s city council preliminarily approved a “no-fault” eviction law. It would require landlords to pay two months rent to a tenant who is evicted for anything outside of a lease violation, which includes nonpayment of rent, San Diego Union Tribune reports. The council will vote on the law again in May. The city had a no-fault eviction moratorium that expired last fall, and new eviction filings in the city reached a five-year high by December.
Also, Lever News reports that when Justice Clarence Thomas voted to end the federal eviction moratorium in 2021, he failed to disclose that Crow Holdings, owned by his friend and benefactor, Harlan Crow, was one of the nation’s largest eviction filers and stood to benefit.
New York City’s Libraries Will Be Open On Sundays, Thanks To Reversed Cuts
Mayor Eric Adams reversed budget cuts of 4% for New York City libraries that would have reduced weekend service across the system, the New York Times reports. The cuts were part of a request sent to nearly every city agency and were announced by the mayor’s budget manager earlier this month.
The recently-reversed cuts are separate from $36 million of cuts to the library system in the fiscal year 2024 budget. The city must reach a budget deal before July 1, when the next fiscal year begins. The mayor and city council engage in an annual “budget dance” where aggressive cuts are proposed only for funding to be added at the last minute, but it seems likely that some cuts to the library system will be in place for 2024.
State Legislators Push For $20 Minimum Wage In New York
A deal is emerging that could raise New York State’s minimum wage to $17 by 2026 and then peg future increases to inflation after that, according to Gothamist. The minimum wage is currently $15 in New York City, Long Island and Westchester and $14.20 in the rest of the state.
State legislators, however, want the governor to adopt a more robust plan called the Raise the Wage Act that would raise the minimum wage to $21.25 downstate and $20 upstate by 2026 and would also be pegged to inflation. New York’s minimum wage was raised to $15 in 2019, at that point the highest in the country, but other states and cities have since surpassed that, including Washington, California and Denver.
Compiled by Deonna Anderson
In Memphis, a coalition of 10 organizations are coming together “to envision and implement innovative housing policy solutions by Memphians, for Memphians.” MLK50
This time last week, President Biden signed a new executive order that is changing the way that pollution is assessed in contaminated neighborhoods. It could bring more resources, like funding, to neighborhoods that have felt the disproportionate impacts of industrial pollution. Grist
Since the Tenderloin Linkage Center closed, San Francisco has experienced a surge in overdose deaths. It opened in January 2022 as a temporary facility to help drug users and people without housing access supportive services. San Francisco Public Press
In Vancouver, British Columbia, the city council approved more than 10,000 new housing units to be built. These apartments, condos and homes contribute to the city’s 10-year Housing Vancouver strategy, which started in 2018 and aims to reach 72,000 units approved in that time period. Daily Hive
Where Housing First Is Working: Next City Editorial Director Deonna Anderson will be in conversation with Toni Benson-Atkinson, director of outreach and coordinated access at the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County and Steve Stivers, chief operating officer at UMOM New Day Centers. May 3 at 1pm Eastern. RSVP here.
Policing, Public Safety, And Mental Health: New Jersey’s ARRIVE Together program pairs mental health professionals with police for calls involving people experiencing a mental health crisis. Brookings Senior Fellow Rashawn Ray analyzed data from the pilot phase of the program and will be sharing his findings. May 8 at 12pm Eastern. Register 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.