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Local Pols Bemoan Bloomberg’s After-School Cuts

IMG_3290Stephen Rex Brown One of the many students at yesterday’s rally against the cuts to after-school programs.

A panoply of politicians blasted Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to slash funding for after-school programs citywide yesterday, saying the cuts would have a particular impact on the Lower East Side.

“It’s outrageous,” said Councilwoman Margret Chin, whose district would lose seven out of 10 of its after-school programs if Mr. Bloomberg’s budget proposal is approved in its current form. “He needs to look at these kids and say, ‘You don’t count.'” Read more…

N.Y.U. Opponents Urge Stringer to Fight Expansion

IMG_3134Stephen Rex Brown Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society, opened the press conference today.

Around 90 opponents of N.Y.U.’s controversial expansion urged Borough President Scott Stringer to disapprove of the plan, reiterating their longstanding claims that it would overwhelm the neighborhood and destroy much-needed green space.

“This kind of development is character-defining in all the wrong ways,” said Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council and one of over a dozen speakers at the rally this afternoon. “This plan will not build up this section of the Village, it will destroy it.” Read more…

Rent Board Approves Increases

IMG_0483Khristopher J. Brooks Demonstrators calling for a freeze on rent increases this year gathered outside Cooper Union before tonight’s vote.

Rent prices across the city will increase 3.75 percent for tenants signing a one-year lease and 7.25 percent for tenants signing a two-year lease.

Members of the Rent Guidelines Board passed the increases by a vote of 5-4 Monday night during a meeting in Cooper Union’s Great Hall. The vote came at the conclusion of a raucous meeting during which dozens of demonstrators — many of whom chanted and held placards — called for a freeze on increases this year.

The increases, which apply only to rent stabilized apartments and lofts, take effect Oct. 1 and last until Sept. 30, 2012.

Based on the $1,700 a month average for studio apartments in the East Village, the increases approved by the board tonight translate into an average of $63.75 for one-year leases and $123.25 for two year leases. For tenants living in a one-bedroom, where the East Village averages $2,500 a month in rent, the average increases are $93.75 for one-year leases and $181.25 for two-year leases. Housing activists said after the vote that the negotiations preceding tonight’s meeting were slanted in favor of landlords.

An hour before the vote, scores of people gathered outside the Great Hall. Many of those in attendance had taken part in a rally organized by Tenants and Neighbors earlier in the afternoon.
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Marchers Rally Against Rent Increases

Dozens of chanting New Yorkers marched through the East Village Monday afternoon trying to gather more voices to oppose anticipated rent increases in New York City.

The march — which started at the corner of 14th Street and First Avenue, snaked through the neighborhood and ended at Cooper Union’s Great Hall — took place as the Rent Guidelines Board was receiving an earful of public testimonies. Board members will decide next Monday if, or how much, rent prices will be increased starting Oct. 1 and ending Sept. 30, 2012. The decision will affect tenants in rent stabilized apartments and lofts.

As the marchers turned corners and crossed streets, participants waved makeshift signs, pumped their fists and yelled, “The tenants, united, will never be defeated!”

After the march, city council members Daniel R. Garodnick and Rosie Mendez chanted with the crowd and urged the marchers to go inside Cooper Union and testify about why the guidelines board should not increase rent prices.