Friday, April 15, 2011

New and Notes from NYC Council Member Ruben Wills - Council District 38



Council Member Ruben Wills and City Council Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie join advocates from the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, CHANGER, Inc., and residents to announce two upcoming homeowner preservation seminars on Saturday, April 16 in the 28th district. Free services and homeowner access will be available on Saturday, April 23 at the 4th Rise Up & Stay Put! Home Rescue Fair at York College. (Photo credit: Office of Council Member Ruben Wills)

Council Member Ruben Wills and City Council Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie, were joined today by Mike Hickey, Executive Director for the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN); Yeneika Puran, Executive Director of CHANGER, Inc.; Connect Queens Campaign Coordinator, Rick Echevarria, and residents to announce two upcoming homeowner preservation events in the 28th district that are designed to assist residents at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure or mortgage delinquency, as well as a homeowner rescue fair at York College to connect homeowners with services and information.

On Saturday, April 16, from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at New Haven Ministries in Richmond Hill, and again from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Praise Tabernacle in Jamaica, homeownership preservation events will take place to educate residents about successful strategies and negotiations through mortgage delinquency.

While the country has shifted its attention to other pressing matters, the neighborhoods that I represent are still struggling with escalating foreclosures, bad mortgage modifications and greedy predatory lenders,” said Wills. “The foreclosure epidemic in Southeast Queens threatens to upset our efforts to improve our quality of life and our chances of owning a piece of the American dream. I am determined to ensure that struggling homeowners in Southeast Queens are educated and no longer vulnerable consumers that continue to lose their wealth as a result of gluttonous lending institutions.”

I want to encourage Queens homeowners who find themselves in danger of foreclosure to attend the Home Rescue Fair on April 23,” stated New York City Council Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie. “I am proud to join my colleague, Council Member Wills, in continuously raising awareness about this issue. The Southeast Queens community has been disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis, due to the increasing number of defaults on subprime mortgages that require homeowners to use a higher ratio of their income. Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park- primarily communities of color –are consistently among the top neighborhoods in New York City leading in new foreclosure actions and foreclosure auctions. My office has partnered with organizations like the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, Queens Legal Services and Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica to offer free foreclosure counseling in community-wide events and in my district office every Friday afternoon. No one should suffer in silence as they lose their home when there is free assistance available.”

We recognize Council Member Wills as a local leader who has invested his talent and passion to fight the foreclosure crisis in New York City, especially in Southeast Queens, which remains hard hit by this epidemic,” said Michael Hickey, Executive Director of CNYCN. “Currently, there are 30,000 pending foreclosure actions in New York City and we expect things to worsen in 2011 as general economic conditions remain weak. We are pleased to work with Council Member Wills and other elected officials to offer NYC homeowners access to free services from lenders and housing experts at events like the Rise Up & Stay Put! Home Rescue Fair.”

South East Queens is a community built around the institutions of church and family,” said Yeneika Puran, Executive Director of CHANGER, INC. “We have organized these homeowner events and designed the CONNECT QUEENS campaign with distraught homeowners in mind. Homeowners who have been wrongfully denied loan modifications, homeowners scammed by fraudulent loan modification consultants, and homeowners who are overwhelmed by the experience.”

Jamaica is considered the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in New York City. CNYCN and its nonprofit and city agency partners are hosting the 4th Rise Up & Stay Put! Home Rescue Fair on April 23 at York College in Jamaica, Queens. This fair will provide a platform for homeowners to meet with their lenders and housing experts to seek loan modifications and other financial solutions in order to avoid foreclosure. To date, more than 2,300 homeowners have attended these fairs in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, and 40 percent of the attendees were processed for new HAMP or non-HAMP loan modification applications, while 30 percent of the participants received help on existing applications.

For more information on Center for New York City Neighborhoods,
For more information on CHANGER, Inc.,
For more information on CONNECT QUEENS, please call (718) 596-2010.

Saturday, April 16
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. New Haven Ministries, Starlite Pavilion
130-05 101st Ave., Richmond Hill
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Praise Tabernacle
108-11 Sutphin Blvd., Jamaica

Saturday, April 23
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Rise-Up & Stay Put! Home Rescue Fair
York College
160-02 Liberty Ave., Jamaica


Council Member Ruben Wills will join representatives from the Department of Homeless Services, Skyway shelter provider, Basics, and residents at a follow up community meeting to address the growing concerns caused by the lack of proper notification for the conversion of the Skyway shelter in to an adult male-only homeless shelter. It has also come to the attention of the community that more than one convicted sexual predator will now be living at Skyway which is near a public school and park. Basics will discuss the implementation of a new safety plan to further safeguard the community.

Earlier in the day, Council Member Wills will join Council Member Brad Lander, chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting & Maritime Uses, at a City Council public hearing, regarding the city's "Criteria for the Location of City Facilities" also known as "Fair Share Criteria."

In 1989, voters across the city adopted a City Charter change that attempted to equally distribute city facilities, like homeless shelters, across all neighborhoods. However, after more than 20 years, Council Member Wills and other elected officials claim that certain communities, particularly those in outer borough, urban neighborhoods, are bearing the brunt of an over-abundance of these facilities, with fewer resources and without proper notification to residents.



Council Member Ruben Wills plans to introduce his first piece of legislation on Wednesday that will codify the ban on the sale of expired over-the-counter medications.

Currently, New York State law prohibits the sale of expired over-the-counter medications by retailers such as Duane Reade or CVS. However, vendors and other licensees of the city have easily skirted the law by selling expired medications like Theraflu, Tylenol, Nyquil and Robitussin at street fairs and vendors’ markets.

The sale of expired over-the-counter medications has serious health implications,” said Council Member Wills. “Residents who are purchasing these medications at neighborhood flea markets are unaware that they are ingesting expired medications. The potency of medication decreases over time and using medication after its expiration creates a greater likelihood that a person will take more in order to increase its effectiveness.”

Council Member Wills’ legislation closes this loophole and broadens the law to include “persons” so that there is no distinction between a vendor and a retailer. Passage of this legislation will make the distribution of expired over-the-counter medication by any individual a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no more than $250, a maximum of 3 months of in jail, or both.

In November of 2009, then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced an $875,000 settlement with the national retail pharmacy chain CVS to end its sale of expired products - including over-the-counter drugs, baby formula, milk, and eggs - at stores across New York State.

This legislation will help prevent the distribution and flow of expired medications,” said Council Member Wills. “It is the responsibility of anyone who is selling over-the-counter medications to put the health and safety of consumers ahead of profits and sales.”