Search This Blog

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Mayor Adams, Union Leaders Rally For Working People’s Agenda, Including Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit And Child Tax Credit

– New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Friday, May 24th, was joined by labor leaders, other elected officials, and working New Yorkers to rally state lawmakers to double down on their support for the Child Tax Credit and a further expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — a critical initiative that Mayor Adams advocated for and secured in last year’s budget. Thanks to that expansion, a single parent with one child with an income of $14,750 saw their tax benefit increase from $181 to $905 — a 400 percent increase. A married couple with two children and an income of $25,000 saw their New York City benefit increase from $299 to $897 under the city payment — a 200 percent increase.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are lifelines to so many New Yorkers,” said Mayor Adams. “That’s why we were proud to fight alongside our colleagues in Albany last year to push for an expansion of the EITC for the first time in 20 years and to get more funding for child care. And we’re not stopping there — the ‘Working People’s Agenda’ that we’re rallying for today will bring fairer wages, better benefits, and a better quality of life to working New Yorkers.” 

“Labor fights for workers. But we don’t stop there. We fight for our working families. For our children and for our communities. 32BJ SEIU is excited to join a powerful coalition to make permanent the New York State supplemental Child Tax Credit,” said Manny Pastreich, president, 32BJ. “When the federal government expanded the Child Tax Credit in 2021, some 120,000 New York City children were lifted out of poverty. This policy works. Let’s make sure it becomes a permanent fixture within New York’s social safety net system. This is a collective investment in the children who will lead this state one day.”

At today’s rally, Mayor Adams focused on state legislation that would expand eligibility for these vital tax credits to individuals with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN), as opposed to just those with Social Security numbers. Currently, a Social Security number is required to claim the EITC at the federal, state, and city level. This requirement excludes hundreds of thousands of hardworking, immigrant New Yorkers, preventing them from receiving as much as $2,000 in tax credits. In New York City, 78 percent of undocumented immigrants were in the labor force as of 2017, with a median annual income of $25,300.

Mayor Adams’ ‘Working People’s Agenda’ focuses on delivering jobs, safety, housing, and care to working New Yorkers. Other initiatives within this agenda include:

  • Helping 36,000 economically disadvantaged workers and residents of high-poverty communities — including 8,000 construction workers and 28,000 service contract workers — get connected to good jobs every year by working with city partners in Albany to finally empower New York City to require companies with city contracts to hire local community members.
  • Doubling the city's current rate of contracting with minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs), and awarding $25 billion in contracts to M/WBEs over the next four years and $60 billion over the next eight years.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Negotiations on Historic Treaty on Marine Biodiversity in High Seas Conclude

The 11-people strong Philippine delegation headed by DFA Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Maria Angela A. Ponce (5th from right) actively defended and negotiated PH positions and interests at the Resumed 5th Session of the Intergovernmental Conference agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction from 20 February 2023 to 4 March 2023 at the UN Headquarters in New York. (Photo Credit: New York PM)

– The final Session of the Intergovernmental Conference on an agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) concluded with an agreed text on 4 March 2023 after two weeks of intense negotiations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Ambassador Rena Lee, President of the Conference, announced the conclusion of the negotiations with a remark, “The ship has reached the shore.”

Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, lauded the conclusion of the negotiations. “As an archipelagic state situated in the center of marine biodiversity, the Philippines places high importance in the BBNJ Agreement, which sets a framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction; the sharing of benefits of marine genetic resources; and enhanced international cooperation,” he said.

“This is a milestone in the global efforts to address the unprecedented pressures facing the world’s oceans. The early ratification, entry into force, and effective implementation of the BBNJ Agreement should be a priority,” he further added.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, through his spokesperson, commended delegates for finalizing a text to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Delegates, observers and media organizations stand to applaud Conference President Rena Lee at the beginning of the last plenary of the last dayof the Resumed 5th Session of the Intergovernmental Conference agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. (Photo Credit: New York PM)

“This breakthrough – which covers nearly two-thirds of the ocean -- marks the culmination of nearly two decades of work and builds on the legacy of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” He also noted that this is ‘a victory for multilateralism and for global efforts to counter the destructive trends facing ocean health, now and for generations to come’.

‘It is crucial for addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. It is also vital for achieving ocean-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, he further added, commending all parties for their ‘ambition, flexibility and perseverance.’

Delegations worked overtime, and had marathon negotiating sessions until the Saturday to achieve a clean text of the BBNJ Agreement which will be formally adopted at a later date.

The Philippine delegation to the final IGC, led by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Oceans Affairs, Maria Angela A. Ponce, is composed of legal and technical experts from DFA, Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York.

The final text addressed the topics identified in the package agreed in 2011, namely the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, in particular, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology.

In its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017, the General Assembly decided to convene an Intergovernmental Conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015 on the elements and to elaborate the text on the BBNJ. The fifth session of the Conference which was convened on 15 to 26 August 2022 was suspended to resume from 20 February to 3 March 2023.


Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams, and Partnership for New York City Launch Citywide Civic Action Campaign

Campaign Celebrates What Makes NYC Great and Empowers New Yorkers to Show their Love by Getting Involved.  

Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and the Partnership for New York City on Monday, March 20th, launched "We ♥ NYC," a civic campaign to showcase the city's strengths and mobilize New Yorkers in every community to help ensure that New York remains the greatest city in the world and inspire New York City's post-pandemic resurgence. 

The citywide campaign will kick-off with a celebration of New Yorkers who are making a difference through community service and will identify volunteer opportunities that everyone can contribute to.

"From its iconic views and vibrant arts and culture to its thriving businesses and world-class cuisine, New York City represents some of the best that our state has to offer," Governor Hochul said. "This We ♥ NYC campaign will help to capture that energy and preserve the city's spirit by encouraging New Yorkers of every background to come together, get involved, and make a positive change in their community."

New York City Mayor Adams said, "This city overcame the darkest days of the pandemic because of the selfless work of everyday New Yorkers, and if each of us gives just one hour a week in an act of service, the result will be transformative. That is why I am proud to announce the launch of 'We ♥ NYC,' in partnership with Governor Hochul and the Partnership for New York City. The 'We ♥ NYC' campaign asks everyone who loves the greatest city in the world to show it by lending a helping hand and spreading that love to every block across all five boroughs."

Steven Swartz, CEO of Hearst and immediate past co-chair of the Partnership for New York City said, "New York's secret sauce has always been the ability of our diverse communities to work together, confidently and with common purpose, to solve problems and navigate change. The broad spectrum of organizations that are lining up to support the We ♥ NYC campaign demonstrates once again how our city's diversity makes it strong."

NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez said, "The NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO is proud to join this broad effort to ensure New York City remains a vibrant and growing city. New York City is where we work. New York City is where we live and raise our families. We love NYC and working people will do our part to continue making this the greatest city in the world."

The themes of the campaign are focused around ways New Yorkers can help improve the city, prioritizing public safety, support for small businesses, caring for parks and litter cleanups. As part of its effort to empower residents to drive change in their own communities, the campaign will involve several partnerships with public agencies and nonprofits across the city aimed at achieving a safer, more livable and more business-friendly city. Planned activations include:

  • Earth Day kick off of events in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation that aim to engage one million New Yorkers in caring for their local parks
  • Community cleanups in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation across the five boroughs
  • Public engagement to vote for your favorite MTA MUSIC (Music Under New York) performer
  • Small business promotions and opportunities to support entrepreneurs, including "Shop Black" and a competition to identify the best menu items offered by local restaurants
  • NYC Service, a one-stop-shop of volunteer opportunities across the city

The We ♥ NYC campaign is led by marketing executive Maryam Banikarim, Andrew Lerner, and their team at MaryamB, working with the ad agency Founders, Grain Group, and Graham Clifford. Support is being provided from a variety of contributing partners here.

Among partner organizations participating in the campaign are 32BJ SEIU, Association for a Better New York, Breaking Ground, Brooklyn Public Library, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island Chambers of Commerce, Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, Church of the Heavenly Rest, The Citizens Committee for New York City, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Episcopal Charities, Hotel & Gaming Trades Council, League of Women Voters of the City of New York, LISC New York, Midtown Community Court, New Visions for Public Schools, New York Building Congress, New York Cares, New York City Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, New-York Historical Society, New York Public Library, New York Urban League, NYC Hospitality Alliance, Open House New York, Queens Library, Tech:NYC, The Broadway League Inc., The City University of New York, The Garment District BID, Times Square Alliance BID, and UJA-Federation of New York.

The We ♥ NYC mark is a trademarked adaptation of Milton Glaser's design for the "I ♥ NY" campaign that launched in 1977. Both marks are owned by New York State's Department of Economic Development, which made the adaptation available at no charge.

The news conference was produced by The Broadway League with support of the Times Square Alliance. It featured a performance by Anna Uzele, a star of the upcoming Broadway musical "New York, New York," which features the iconic title song written by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Also performing at the launch event was Lucky Chops, a brass ensemble that is part of the MTA Music Under New York program.

The day ended with a lighting ceremony with the Empire State Building that will shine its world-famous spire in a heartbeat red, with a red We ♥ NYC heart in its mast.

The campaign launch also featured examples of New Yorkers making a difference and who are celebrated on the We ♥ NYC website, including Bobby Akumah from Dare 2 Dream, John Wang from the Queens Night Market, Catie Savage from Hell's Kitchen Litter Legion, Anthony and Janique Edwards from Eat Okra, and Sasha Gutiérrez of the Opera Nextdoor.

The campaign is supported by contributions from over 60 businesses and individuals, including Accenture, Advance / Condé Nast, AlleyCorp, Amazon, BFC Partners, Blunt Action, BXP, Charter Communications, Inc., Citi, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., Deanna Mulligan, CEO, Purposeful, Edelman, Ehrenkranz Partners, Empire State Realty Trust, Epicenter-NYC, Ernst & Young LLP, Fisher Brothers Foundation, General Atlantic Foundation, Google/YouTube, Hearst, Hess Corporation, IBM Corporation, Intersection, Jamestown and One Times Square, JCDecaux, KKR, KPMG US, Lee & Associates, Macy's, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. and Madison Square Garden Sports Corp., Mastercard, Meta, Nasdaq, NBCUniversal, New York Life, Nina and Tim Zagat, Ogilvy, OUTFRONT Media Inc., Paramount, Pfizer, RXR, Salesforce, Shutterstock, Inc., Spotify, Sprinklr, Spyscape, Standard Industries, The CITY, The Daily Beast, The Georgetown Company, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, The John Gore Organization, The New York Stock Exchange, The New York Times Company, The Nicotra Group - Lois and Richard Nicotra, The Related Companies, L.P., The Travelers Companies, Inc., TikTok, Tishman Speyer Properties, Two Trees Management Co., U.S. News & World Report, United Airlines, Inc., Vornado Realty Trust, Vox Media, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and WPP, VMLY&R and BCW.

New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer said, "Since March 2020, we have seen the best of our people shine through — medical professionals and other essential workers keeping our city alive, neighbors sharing small acts of kindness, artists and performers bringing their creativity to our streets, communities banding together to help local businesses stay afloat, and so much more. It is that very character that defines New York City's resilience, and I want to thank Governor Hochul and the Partnership for New York City for launching 'We ♥ NYC' to inspire and showcase New York's invincible spirit."

New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Anne del Castillo said, "Arts and entertainment are the heart and soul of our city and the reason why 'We ♥ NYC. Thank you to the Partnership for New York City, Mayor Adams, and Governor Hochul for launching this campaign that engages New Yorkers and celebrates New York City's musicians."


Monday, March 27, 2023

Opinion: Interest in Correcting Observed Rigging of 2022 PH Election Intensifies; So far, Three Consecutive Discussions in Social Media Held By Manuel L. Caballero




The interest of concerned Filipinos at home and abroad about the observed anomalies in the conduct of elections in the PH has been intensifying.

In the past two weeks, two internet discussions and a Zoom meeting were conducted aimed at finding ways to correct the widely-believed rigged 2022 elections, and to find ways to prevent similar practices in future PH elections.

The nascent  movement is led by two retired senior officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, two former senior COMELEC officials, a newspaper columnist, and an AI/IT specialist.

During the over two-hour Zoom meeting last night, which was organized and originated in the US, with speakers in Manila, it peaked at over 350 participants. The conference was moderated by a FilAm lawyer and a university lady professor. The leaders are asking Filipinos everywhere, especially in the PH, to join the growing people's initiative so that the movement's end-goals could be achieved.

The speakers alternately explained convincingly how they arrived at the observation that the May 9, 2022 election was obviously rigged.

The speaker centered on the "20 million tabulated and reported votes" that COMELEC showed on TV at first hour on May 9th. The speaker said it was unbelievable and there was no way the numbers were honestly tabulated that fast by the vote-counting machines (VCM) in the precincts.

Two other main subjects discussed were the questionable 28% increase in the total number of voters in 2022 from 3% increase in 2016. The 3rd speaker cited 11 justifications why the COMELEC Commissioners should be impeached by Congress according to the  Constitution of the PH. Perhaps, even a thousand  justifications cannot make the present  legislators in Manila impeach.

The movement is inspired to move forward  by the expressed observation by a member of the International  Observer Team during the 2022 election who said the sitting president and vice president of the  PH are illegitimately elected. (See attached). 

This space commends the speakers and organizers of last night's Zoom forum.


Mayor Adams Announces Plan to Combat Lithium-Ion Battery Fires, Promote Safe Electric Micromobility Usage

– New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Monday, March 20th, announced “Charge Safe, Ride Safe: New York City’s Electric Micromobility Action Plan” to protect New Yorkers from fires caused by lithium-ion batteries and promote safe electric micromobility usage. The plan focuses on four key areas: Promoting and incentivizing safe battery use, increasing education and outreach to electric micromobility users, advocating for additional federal regulation of these devices, and expanding enforcement against high-risk situations. Mayor Adams also signed five bills into law to further regulate lithium-ion batteries sold in New York City and strengthen fire safety related to battery fires.

“Today, we are supercharging safety for all of our e-bikes and e-scooter users,” said Mayor Adams. “These are convenient transportation options for New Yorkers, but faulty and illegal devices are making their way into our homes and streets, causing fires and putting lives at risk. Through promoting safe devices, expanding education, increasing enforcement on high-risk situations, and pursuing additional regulation, I’m proud that New York City is leading that charge. E-bikes and e-scooters are here to stay, and with this plan and these five pieces of critical legislation I’m proud to sign, we are going to ensure that they are safe for all New Yorkers to use.”

E-bikes and e-scooters are an affordable and convenient alternative to cars and are essential for delivery workers and other New Yorkers who rely on this mode of transportation for their livelihoods. However, these new transportation options have also brought serious challenges regarding fire risks. Fires caused by batteries that power e-micromobility devices are a significant problem in New York City, growing from 44 in 2020 to 220 in 2022. These fires are particularly severe and difficult to extinguish, spreading quickly and producing noxious fumes.  From 2021 to 2022, these fires resulted in 10 deaths and 226 injuries. In the first two months of 2023 alone, they resulted in two deaths and 40 injuries, posing a clear danger to New Yorkers when not properly used.

The “Charge Safe, Ride Safe” plan identifies four pillars to achieve the administration’s goals for safer e-micromobility and a safer city:

Supporting New Yorkers’ Transition to Safe and Legal E-Micromobility Use

Through innovative pilot programs and testing of new technologies to store and charge lithium-ion batteries, the city will support New Yorkers’ transition to safe and legal e-micromobility use by:      

  • Working with New York State to design and implement a program that incentivizes the purchase of safe and legal electric micromobility devices;
  • Continuing to work on nation-leading deliverista hubs to provide delivery workers with safe places to rest and charge their devices throughout the city;
  • Piloting safe, outdoor e-micromobility storage and charging solutions at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, and applying for federal grant funding to support this work; and
  • Identifying, testing, and evaluating the most promising public-facing battery-charging solutions through the 2023 DOT Studio Challenge. This initiative will invite startup companies specializing in e-micromobility charging technology to deploy their products at locations supporting food delivery workers. The city will also test and evaluate fire safety and prevention equipment for homes and commercial settings.

Increasing Education and Outreach About Safe Device Usage

The city will expand education and outreach efforts around safe e-micromobility usage, storage, and charging practices by:

  • Expanding engagement to immigrant and worker communities, focusing on the communities most affected by these fires;
  • Working to provide lithium-ion battery and e-micromobility safety training through New York City Emergency Management’s (NYCEM) Ready NY platforms, as well as directly to NYCEM’s Community Emergency Response Teams to reach everyday New Yorkers, in addition to certified emergency responders; and
  • Launching a series, in partnership with Los Deliveristas Unidos, to train communities on fire safety best practices regarding lithium-ion batteries and e-micromobility.

Bolstering Regulation and Enforcement Against Illegal Device Usage

In addition to the legislation Mayor Adams signed into law today, the city will continue to advocate for additional regulation for these devices and bolster enforcement against illegal device usage by:

  • Creating a fire marshal task force focused on identifying violators of the fire code. The task force will use data to identify potential violators and high-risk situations or “hot spots,” which will be targeted for both outreach and inspection for compliance with existing fire codes;   
  • Continuing to advocate to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other federal partners to ensure that devices on New York City’s shelves — both virtual and brick-and-mortar — meet applicable safety standards; and
  • Seeking partnerships with local, state, and federal partners to further research the health impacts on first responders handling lithium-ion batteries, which can be extremely toxic when they burn.

Promoting the Growth of Safe E-Micromobility and Cycling

New York City is a leader in sustainable transportation, and electric micromobility is a key tool to help New Yorkers get around efficiently, safely, affordably, and sustainably. In addition to work to prevent battery fires, the city will also work to make it easier and safer to use electric micromobility by:

  • Launching a pilot program to allow e-bikes and other legal electric micromobility devices on park drives and greenways this summer and
  • Updating and piloting different street designs to accommodate the growth of e-micromobility devices on the roads. To boost these efforts, DOT recently won a Federal Highway Administration “Safe Streets and Roads for All” grant that will be used to further develop and test a new generation of street designs and policies.

In addition to the city’s new action plan, Mayor Adams signed five bills into law today, strengthening the city’s efforts to improve e-micromobility safety:

Intro. 656 — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer — will require the FDNY, in consultation with the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), to develop an informational campaign educating the public on fire risks posed by powered mobility devices and how to mitigate those risks.

Intro. 663 — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Oswald Feliz — will prohibit the sale, lease, or rental of powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters, and storage batteries for these devices, that fail to meet recognized safety standards.

Intro. 722 — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Robert Holden — will require the FDNY to submit five reports relating to fire risks and powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters. Reports will include data on fires during the previous year caused by these devices and recommendations for changes to changes to the administrative code to further decrease fire risk.

Intro. 749 — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Alexa Avilés — will require the DCWP, in consultation with the FDNY, to publish materials that provide guidance on safe use and storage of powered mobility devices.

Intro. 752 — also sponsored by Councilmember Brewer — will prohibit the assembly or reconditioning of lithium-ion batteries using cells removed from used storage batteries and prohibit the sale of a lithium-ion batteries that use cells removed from used storage batteries.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

New York Celebration for the 125th Anniversary of Philippine Independence Set for June 4, 2023

The Filipino Community is celebrating the 125th Philippine Independence Anniversary with a Parade, Flag Raising Ceremony, Catholic Mass, Street Fair and Cultural Presentation for the 33rd annual celebration in New York City on June 4, 2023.

The theme for this year:

Honoring Our Cultural Heritage: Inspiring Diversity And Inclusion
"Pagpaparangal sa Ating Pamanang Kultural: Nakapagbibigay-inspirasyon sa Pagkakaiba-iba at Pagsasama."

The anniversary commemoration organized annually by the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc with the cooperation of the Philippine Consulate General in New York,  promises to be bigger and better than ever before, with cultural shows, dances, and festivities that showcase the rich heritage of the Philippines.

Event Timeline:

8:00 AM – 8:15 AM
Flag Raising Ceremony
Philippine Center Entrance

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Independence Mass
Kalayaan Hall – Philippine Center

11:45 AM -11:59 AM
Opening Ceremony/Ribbon Cutting
38th Street / Madison Avenue

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Philippine Independence Day Parade
38th Street / Madison Avenue – 27th Street / Madison Avenue dispersal area

11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Philippine Independence Day Street Fair
26th Street between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue

2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Cultural Festival Program
25th Street on Madison Avenue

Contact PIDCI by visiting its Facebook page; email at or call 646 397 3834

Governor Hochul Launches Statewide Listening Tour on Youth Mental Health

Photo by Don Pollard/ Office of Gov Kathy Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday, March 16th, announced a statewide series of listening sessions and a spring summit aimed at exploring the issues impacting the mental health of youth throughout New York State. Together, these initiatives will build on the Governor's $1 billion plan to overhaul New York State's mental health continuum of care and provide an opportunity for experts to advise state leaders on future policy recommendations to improve youth wellness. 

"As New York State's first female governor and the only mother to hold this office, I'm deeply disturbed by recent reports on instances of teen depression - especially following the isolation and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic," Governor Hochul said. "It's time we put the mental well-being of our youth at the forefront and listen what they're going through to gain a deeper understanding of this issue and meaningfully address the problems young New Yorkers face."

Coordinated by the state Office of Mental Health and the Office of Children and Family Services, the listening sessions are expected to be scheduled throughout the state this Spring. Each session will be moderated by representatives from these agencies and will involve a cross section of school-age youth from each host community.  

Governor Hochul will also convene a Summit on Youth Mental Health and Wellness in May, coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month. The summit will bring together youth and parents with a broad array of subject experts from the mental health, education, technology, and law enforcement fields to discuss the challenges and opportunities impacting the well-being of our youth, including the role social media plays in their lives.

The Governor launched these new initiatives by hosting the first listening session with teens at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Teens participating from schools in New York City were asked to discuss how the pandemic impacted their mental health; the evolving role social media has played in their lives; how schools can promote wellness among their students; the types of mental health programs they could envision helping them at school; and the advice they'd give to their peers struggling with mental health issues. 

Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which found alarming mental health trends among school-aged youth between 2011 and 2021 - especially among teen girls. Nearly a third of teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, an increase from 19 percent the prior decade; about three in five felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, which was twice the rate of teen boys and represents a nearly 60 percent increase over the rate recorded in 2011.

The report also found that youth from marginalized populations are more likely to suffer mental health issues: More than half of LGBTQ+ students expressed having poor mental health, with one in five reporting having attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide attempts were also elevated among Black youth when compared to White youth, according to the report. 

Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "Governor Hochul's executive budget provides an historic investment into mental healthcare. At the center of this transformation is a commitment to listen to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. Youth mental health has been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other stressors. I applaud the Governor's commitment to making policy based on what adolescents are saying is important to them. I am thrilled that we will be engaging directly with young people, elevating their voices, and letting them guide us." 

Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, "Our young people are the most precious, yet vulnerable, members of our communities. We must do everything we can to protect their health and well-being, and this requires bold action to confront the mental health crisis they are facing. Our youth understand their unique emotional needs better than anyone. This initiative gives us the opportunity to hear directly from them, which is the only way we can develop and deploy the resources they desperately need." 

The listening sessions and summit are part of Governor Hochul's broader strategy to tackle the mental health crisis throughout New York State. The FY 2024 Executive Budget includes more than $1 billion to overhaul New York State's continuum of mental health care and halve the unmet mental health needs of youth over the next five years.  

Among the investments included to help youth, Governor Hochul's budget provides $30 million to expand mental health services for school-aged children throughout the state, including $20 million for school-based mental health services and $10 million to implement wraparound services training, and $8.3 million for new and existing school based health centers. Additionally, the budget includes $10 million to strengthen suicide prevention programs for high-risk youth. 

The budget provides $18 million over two years to reimburse providers for family preventive mental health services for parents and their children; and $24 million over two years to reimburse providers for adverse childhood experience screenings. The Governor's budget also builds on investments in the FY 2023 Enacted Budget, including $12 million allocated for the HealthySteps and home-based crisis intervention programs to promote early childhood development and treatment for children and teens; and $3.1 million to bolster treatment for individuals with eating disorders.

Governor Hochul also proposed a measure that will prohibit insurance companies from denying access to medically necessary, high-need, acute, and crisis mental health services for both adults and children. In addition, the Governor has advanced legislation to close gaps in coverage for behavioral health services to improve the well-being and success of individuals after they leave hospitals or emergency departments.


Mayor Adams Tours Offices Being Converted to Homes, Highlights Key Affordable Housing Priorities for State Budget

New York –
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan on Monday, March 13th, toured 160 Water Street, an office building being converted to housing in Lower Manhattan, to highlight the need for investments and policy changes in the Fiscal Year 2024 state budget that would help create and preserve more affordable housing in the five boroughs.

"Last year, we declared that New York City would lead the way on affordable housing in America by becoming a 'City of Yes,'" said Mayor Adams. "But we've said from the beginning that we cannot solve this problem without help from the state. We need this year's budget to include programs that make it easier to convert offices into homes, incentives for the construction and preservation of affordable housing, assistance for NYCHA tenants, and a host of other investments that will make New York more affordable for working families. Working with our partners in Albany, we can take the next major step towards providing quality housing for all New Yorkers."

"Our administration has rolled out an ambitious housing agenda that would speed up new construction and allow more affordable housing to be built in every part of the city," said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres Springer. "Now, we need our partners in Albany to give us the tools to go even farther, so we can meet our moonshot goal of creating 500,000 additional homes over the next decade. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for including so many of our housing priorities in her executive budget, and to Speaker Adams and Councilmember Brannan for partnering with us on a strategy to convert more unused office buildings to affordable housing. We can solve this housing crisis, but only if we all work together."


"Our housing crisis demands creative solutions to ensure all New Yorkers have the safe, stable homes they deserve," said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. "As New York City continues its economic recovery post-COVID, we have an opportunity to build more mixed-use communities with the live, work, and play features of a 24/7 neighborhood. The Office Adaptive Reuse Task Force gave us the playbook, and it's time for our colleagues in Albany to approve the tools to bring these new homes online."

"With a high rate of vacancy in offices, and an urgent need to create housing, we are advancing the right plan for the right moment," said New York City Department of City Planning Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick. "We need to make it easier for underutilized offices to convert to housing and, for the first time, actually incentivize permanent affordability in the process."

Mayor Adams highlighted several key programs under consideration in Albany, including:

  • Regulatory changes and incentives that would spur more office-to-residential conversions;
  • An extension of and replacement for the 421-a affordable housing incentive program;
  • A modernized J-51 program to keep existing affordable homes from falling into disrepair;
  • Removal of the 12-floor area ratio cap on residential buildings in midtown Manhattan;
  • Rental assistance funding for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents;
  • A pathway to legalize illegal and unsafe basements and cellar apartments; and
  • Modernization of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development's financing tools to promote climate resiliency, the creation of child care or senior centers in affordable housing, community land trusts, affordable homeownership, and the conversion of unsafe, illegal basement apartments into safe, legal homes.

These and other changes are essential to reaching Mayor Adams' "moonshot" goal of 500,000 new homes in the next decade to create a more affordable, equitable, and prosperous city.

160 Water Street is one of the few office buildings able to convert into homes under New York's restrictive rules for conversions. Earlier this year, Mayor Adams released the New York City Office Adaptive Reuse Study – developed following the passage of Local Law 43 sponsored by Councilmember Brannan – with 11 recommended changes to state laws and city zoning requirements that would extend the most flexible conversion regulations to an additional 136 million square feet of office space.

"When I first introduced the office conversion bill years ago, I had one simple question: Could we actually convert vacant Manhattan office space into desperately needed affordable housing? I knew 74 percent of New Yorkers supported the idea, but how would it work?" said Councilmember Brannan. "Now, the task force has given us a clear roadmap forward for how we can chip away at our housing crisis by putting this unused office space to good use. After every crisis, New York City has reinvented itself. There is a ton of opportunity here, and I'm excited about what's to come."

“To confront our city’s dire housing crisis, we must take a comprehensive and creative approach to create new homes for New Yorkers,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “The high rate of commercial office vacancies presents a unique opportunity to convert unused spaces into residential housing. Achieving our housing goals will require collaboration with the state on office conversions, eliminating the 12 FAR cap to increase density for affordable housing production, and increasing resources for both NYCHA, as well as other affordable housing development and preservation efforts. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to deliver even more housing for New Yorkers.”


Opinion: Loida Lewis' Book-Signings to be held in New York City and California By Manuel L. Caballero




Well-known New York Filipina American businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis  has written her autobiography, "Why Should Guys Have All The Fun?", with co-author Blair S. Walker.

Two book-signing events are scheduled in New York City on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. The first will be held at Barnes & Noble (B&N) Fifth Avenue, 555 Fifth Ave.,(across the street from PH Consulate) 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. Those who will attend are requested to register at

The 2nd book-signing on March 28 will be at Barnes & Noble Tribeca, 97 Warren St. at 6:00 P.M. An interview follows at 7:00 P.M. with ABC's Nina Pineda and Carlos Greer, senior correspondent at NY Post. Attendees are requested to register at

In a media release, Barnes & Noble  said: "Please join us as we welcome trailblazing activist, philanthropist, attorney, and author Loida Lewis in a signing for her new book "Why Should Guys Have All the Fun?"

The two Loida Lewis  California  book-signings will be held on April 18, 2023 at California State University in Northridge, 5:00-6:30 P.M. at the Orchard Conference Center and on April 20, 6:00 to 8:00 P.M., at Sentro Filipino, 814 Mission St., San Francisco.


Governor Hochul Announces $10 Million Available to Improve Mental Health Services for Youth and Families

Governor Kathy Hochul at a Youth Mental Health Listening Tour Kick off. (Gov Hochul Facebook Page photo) 

Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday March 10th, announced $10 million in state funding is available to create a pair of statewide networks that youth and families will be able to rely on for behavioral health information, support, and services. Administered by the New York State Office of Mental Health, the funding will help establish two separate networks, including one dedicated to helping youth and another aimed at assisting families.

"New Yorkers who struggle with mental illness deserve a system of care that is suited for and responsive to their needs," Governor Hochul said. "These statewide networks will provide young people, parents, caregivers, and the peer advocates who serve them with the resources, expertise and support they need to address behavioral health concerns."

New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "Youth Peer Advocates and Family Peer Advocates provide valuable input into the development of mental healthcare policy and programs. Their own personal and professional experiences with the healthcare system give them a unique perspective that can help us to improve the delivery of services and the development of programs serving children with mental health concerns and their families.

Each statewide network will be funded with $5 million over five years in an effort to foster networking, advancement support, and the workforce pipeline of peer advocates, which play an integral and growing role in the delivery of mental healthcare. These advocates also help implement programs and policies to best serve children and families with behavioral health issues.


The Statewide Network for Youth Peer Support and Advocacy will help empower young people towards personal recovery and resiliency in their treatment. The statewide network will connect young people and youth peer advocates, engaging them in activities that will inform state-level policies and the development of programs and support the integration of youth-guided practices into organizations and services.

In addition, this network will help guide providers, local governments, and organizations in empowering youth to become active participants in their own treatment. The network will also ensure youth are provided a voice in informing agency policies and practices, and to promote the youth peer advocate workforce and availability of these services.

The Statewide Structure and Network for Family Support and Advocacy will provide resources and information to family peers, advocates, and the parents and caregivers of children with mental health needs. This network will also help connect families to education, training, and resources and to establish connections to others facing similar challenges.

These networks will also help to advise healthcare providers, local governments and the New York State Office of Mental Health on policies and programs by providing them input from the youth and families they serve. Both networks will also help to grow and advance the work of youth peer advocates and family peer advocates.

Once established the two networks will complement Governor Hochul's comprehensive $1 billion multi-year plan to overhaul the continuum of mental health care and drastically reduce the number of individuals with unmet mental health needs throughout the state. A key component of her FY 2024 Budget proposal, the plan aims to dramatically expand access to mental health care, reduce wait times and ensure appropriate levels of care to correct a mental health care system that has suffered from chronic underinvestment.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Mayor Adams Releases "The Road Forward," New Blueprint to Handle Asylum Seeker Crisis Moving Forward

– New City Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday, March 7th, released “The Road Forward: Blueprint to Address New York City’s Response to the Asylum Seeker Crisis,” a comprehensive approach outlining the next phase of the city’s response to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis resulting from the surge of asylum seekers arriving in the five boroughs since last spring. As the number of asylum seekers arriving in New York City since last April tops 50,000 — with more than 30,000 currently in the city’s care — Mayor Adams announced he will create the Office of Asylum Seeker Operations (OASO) to focus solely on coordinating the city’s continued response with a focus on resettlement and legal services, as well as a new 24/7 arrival center for asylum seekers. The blueprint also outlines new strategies the city will pilot to train asylum seekers for employment, including a program with houses of worship to provide asylum seekers with a place to stay and connection to services, in addition to a partnership with SUNY Sullivan to provide job training and housing for asylum seekers as they await work authorization. Finally, the city will continue to advocate for the state and federal governments to provide additional financial and operational support to better manage the asylum seeker crisis moving forward.

“Over the past year, New York City has faced an unprecedented humanitarian crisis caused by global forces beyond our control,” said Mayor Adams. “We have moved mountains to help the tens of thousands who arrived as our shelter population has increased at a dramatic rate. As we continue to respond, I’m proud to announce, “The Road Forward,” our blueprint to address the asylum seeker crisis and outline the work that lies ahead. New Yorkers know that the asylum seeker of today is the citizen, the leader, and the innovator of tomorrow, and I’m proud that New York City is leading the way, turning a crisis into an opportunity for progress for the entire country.”

“The Asylum Seeker crisis has challenged so many of us in various ways – and the city’s response has been and continues to be laden with care and compassion,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “Our blueprint is a plan for how we will move forward together, and I implore everyone at all levels to help however you can. This affects us all, and together is how we can best navigate this crisis.”

“Throughout this crisis, the city has worked to center our services with dignity, respect, and care for every individual, family, and child,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Whether helping children receive needed vaccinations, assisting with school enrollment, or providing vital legal information, the city and our partners in the non-profit, faith-based, and private sector continue to step up and meet the needs of asylum seekers every day. This blueprint lays out the work to date and, more importantly, charts a path forward. The work ahead remains an ongoing, complex, interconnected set of issues that will take support from our state and federal partners, and all sectors of society. Thank you to our teams and partners that continue doing the work 24/7 to support our newest New Yorkers.”

New York City has stepped up throughout this crisis, handling an unprecedented arrival of asylum seekers, largely on its own. While more than 50,000 asylum seekers have moved through the city’s intake system since last spring, currently, New York City is providing a place to stay for more than 30,000 asylum seekers — more than any other city in the nation. Last year, the city launched a swift, coordinated multi-agency effort to provide basic needs and services to the tens of thousands of asylum seekers arriving, providing shelter, food, clothing, access to health care, legal information, education, and more. The city launched the Asylum Seeker Resource Navigation Center and satellite sites, which have now served more than 14,000 asylum seekers, providing casework, legal, medical, and school enrollment, as well as a range of other services. The city has also already opened 92 emergency shelter sites and currently has open seven Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers that provide asylum seekers with a place to stay, and, through Project Open Arms, the city has enrolled more than 13,000 students in temporary housing since last summer.

Led by the newly created OASO, New York City will transition from an emergency response-approach to a steady state-approach in an effort to continue managing the response to the unprecedented asylum seeker crisis. OASO will manage a new, centralized 24/7 arrival center that will replace the Port Authority as a primary destination for asylum seekers when they arrive. This will enable experienced community-based providers that have been working around the clock on the ground to work in coordination more closely. OASO will also oversee inter-agency coordination, manage advocacy to state and federal governments, and lead the following initiatives to help newly arrived asylum seekers chart a course towards self-sufficiency and long-term resettlement:

  • Emergency Housing, Long-Term Housing, and Resettlement: The city will explore potential short- and long-term strategies regarding housing, including partnerships with religious institutions and exploring innovative ways to finance new affordable housing. The city is also launching an innovative pilot with The Center for Discovery and SUNY Sullivan to offer 100 asylum seekers the opportunity to live at the SUNY Sullivan campus and receive workforce training as they move through the federal work authorization process. Finally, the city will engage national non-profits and houses of worship to offer asylum seekers a wider array of relocation choices, including pre-vetted cities and municipalities that welcome asylum seekers.
  • Workforce Development: Currently, asylum seekers are federally mandated to apply for work permits, which can mean years of waiting before a permit is granted and issued. As the city continues to advocate for changes on the federal level to expedite work authorizations, the city will help asylees understand the process to move as quickly as possible through it, and ensure they are ready to obtain employment when they are legally authorized to do so. The city will launch a workplace rights campaign to reduce misinformation, create a mentorship program that connects asylum seekers to more established immigrants, and develop partnerships with organizations to identify asylum seekers who are now eligible for work permits. In addition, the city will provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration training in a variety of in-demand industries, including health care and construction, to further prepare asylum seekers for employment.
  • Legal Services: To ensure asylum seekers are equipped to better navigate the immigration process and avoid immigration services fraud, the city will develop a centralized entry point system to help asylum seekers navigate the federal immigration process. This will include a coordinated strategy to ensure asylum seekers are aware of important dates and deadlines regarding their case, and connections to appropriate services, such as orientation sessions and pro se (self-help) application assistance events.
  • Engaging All New Yorkers: Faith based groups, community organizations, and philanthropic and corporate partners, as well as every day New Yorkers have stepped up since the beginning of this crisis, providing support in the form of food, clothing, shelter, information, workforce development, health care, education, language instruction, job training, resources, and more. The city will hold a series of roundtables with stakeholders to learn directly from them and devise new ways they can participate. Additionally, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City’s Asylum Seeker Relief Fund will continue working to raise $25 million from philanthropic organizations and corporations to support the city’s collective response.
  • Interstate and Interagency Coordination and Engagement: OASO will convene other cities and localities facing similar issues to advocate for more decisive action on the federal level to address the asylum seeker crisis. This unified coalition will call on the federal government to provide more support and resources, while also working to ensure asylum seekers have information about resources available to them. The OASO will also work with cities at the southern border to dispel misinformation about what New York City can and is actually offering to those arriving and ensure those seeking asylum receive accurate information.

The city will also continue to advocate for changes on the federal and state level to help manage this crisis. On the federal level, the city will advocate for:

  • An expedited right to work policy so asylum seekers are able to gain employment;
  • A decompression strategy that includes evaluating asylum claims and establishes plans for each migrant’s arrival, including a clear and efficient pathway to lawful residency; and
  • Reimbursement of funds already spent, as well as adequate funding moving forward, and a declaration of a federal emergency to unlock additional funds and operational abilities.

On the state level, the city will:

  • Advocate for the declaration of a statewide emergency;
  • Continue to support the creation of a new portable housing voucher program; and
  • Continue to ask the state to locate, run, and operate sites outside of, and within, New York City to provide short- and long-term housing and shelter to asylum seekers.

“Since last year, New York City mobilized a colossal operation to coordinate an efficient and humane response to support asylum seekers. This effort would not be possible without the leadership of Mayor Eric Adams and the coordination of scores of city agencies and offices, community partners, and everyday New Yorkers,” said New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro. “No other city in the nation has responded to this scale. Today, we are proud to move forward and outline this administration’s next steps to continue to respond with dignity and care, and uphold our values as a welcoming city for immigrants.”