Welcome to the live blog of the Town Hall Meeting with Elected Officials held by the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.
7:27 p.m.: The event was to begin at 7 p.m. but the first of the area politicians just arrived: Assemblyman Walter Mosley. Up until now PHNDC officers Gib Veconi, Ellen Fishman and Tom Boast filled the time by talking about the very important work that the group does and two upcoming meetings of note: a public hearing on Atlantic Yards by the Empire State Development on Feb. 27 and a BK Gateway Presentation and Panel on March 16.
7:38 p.m.: State Senator Velmanette Montgomery has arrived. We are still awaiting State Senator Eric Adams and City Councilwoman Letitia James.
7:50 p.m.: Mosley and Montgomery both talked about issues they've been tackling. Mosley gave an overview of his first few weeks in office. Montgomery discussed legislation she is proposing that would get rid of mayoral control of schools, her concern over plans to sell the Pacific branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and her concern about how unsafe it is in front of the Barclays Center (as well as how annoying it is to see limos idling out front).
7:55 p.m.: Councilwoman Letitia James arrived a few minutes ago and is discussing her concerns about co-location of schools and the influx of luxury housing in the neighborhood. She also discussed her concern about the possibility that the Walt Whitman library may close. It is on the grounds of the Ingersoll public housing complex in Fort Greene and is consider underutilized. The Clinton Hill library is also being considered for closure, she said.
8:10 p.m: On to the Q&A:
Q from Gib Veconi: Public subsidies for affordable housing too often goes to buildings in neighborhoods that are too expensive for people that need affordable housing. What can we do about it?
James: What we need to do is building more affordable housing for families that make between $30K and $80K a year. Atlantic Yards did a bait and switch by offering far fewer 2- and 3- bedrooms than promised. She's working on rezoning Crow Hill to include more affordable housing. Mosley said he would work on it too.
8:22 p.m.: Q: From the president of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Block Association. Building owners are essentially gauging the tenants with MCIs. (Feb. 26: Norman Oder has supplied us with the explanatory link. Thanks Norman!)
Velmanette Montgomery: This is a huge issue, and the Democrats in Albany are working on it. The not for housing nonprofits have also been working on this.
Letitia James: Organize the tenants and we can bring in attorneys and other resources to assist you.
8:30 p.m. Q: I have a friend who is in foster care and he tells me terrible stories: they run out of food; he is regularly mugged by other residents for his money. The safes each kid is supposed to have are broken.
Montgomery: I can't respond to the specific situation without more information, but I can say that the state is in the process of implementing a new approach to what we do with young people in the juvenile justice system called "Safe at Home." Instead of sending teens to upstate juvenile facilities, teens convicted of the less serious crimes are sent to facilities closer to their homes. We understand that this is a huge problem.
8:29 p.m.: Ellen Fishman. Is it possible to require developers to make affordable housing a certain size instead of requiring a certain number of units so they don't keep offering up studios and 1-bedrooms?
James: Currently there is no law that requires a certain size, just a certain number of units.
Mosley: Another problem is that a lot of low-income families don't qualify for affordable housing because of the current laws and this needs to be changed.
Montgomery: As an aside, Montgomery puts in a plug for James as she runs for citywide office, calling her a "very hard working elected official." "It gives me a great deal of pleasure and pride to say that I have known her since before she was an elected official. … There are a lot of people who are elected but not all who are elected shine as she has done."
Veconi also puts in a plug for her saying that she has been a great partner to the PHNDC.
8:39 p.m.: The forum ends.