Week in Rewind: Faith leaders respond to housing act, NYPD aims to stop fare evasion, nonprofit to build diabetes institute and more

John Chell, NYPD chief of patrol, announces on Monday, March 25, 2024, that the department will be deploying more officers into the subways to combat fare evasion.
John Chell, NYPD chief of patrol, announces on Monday, March 25, 2024, that the department will be deploying more officers into the subways to combat fare evasion.
Photo Dean Moses

Bronx faith leaders lend support to Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act

Churches, synagogues, temples and mosques could soon be next-door neighbors to buildings with affordable housing — an idea that many faith leaders are embracing with open arms.

The Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act — which specifies the guidelines by which religious institutions could override local zoning rules and develop mixed-income and affordable housing on their land — is a statewide initiative. At the city level, the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity initiative, which is undergoing the public review process, has a complementary proposal to encourage housing development on residential or religious campuses that have underused space.

Amid the city’s 1.4% rental vacancy rate, the city is looking to expedite zoning changes that will add “a little more housing in every neighborhood.”

The text of the Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act states that religious institutions are often “land-rich but cash-poor” because of the high costs of maintaining historic properties. By eliminating bureaucratic hurdles to housing development, lawmakers say the bill would be a win-win for faith communities and the city as a whole.

Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church. Photo ET Rodriguez

NYPD announces deployment of 800 more officers heading to the subways to stop fare evasion

NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell issued a loud and clear message to fare evaders on Monday: “There’s no more freebies anymore.”

Chell made the statement during a press conference at the 125th Street-Lenox Avenue subway station on March 25 as police brass announced a new, week-long police surge into the subway system in the department’s latest attempt to crackdown on crime underground by zeroing-in on fare evasion.

Dubbed Operation Fare Play, the new policy will see transit police join cops from other sections of the NYPD and deploy 800 more members into undisclosed subway stops to catch those attempting to bypass the cost of the ride by turnstile hopping or rushing through the emergency gate.

South Bronx nonprofit plans to build diabetes training institute after receiving $2 million grant

Health People, a community-based health education nonprofit in the South Bronx, received a $2 million grant from Yield Giving and, according to executive director and founder Chris Norwood, plans to use the funds to open a training institute to educate diabetics on how to care for themselves.

Health People was founded in 1990, initially aiming to provide support for women with AIDS. Since that time, the nonprofit has expanded its men’s programs and developed educational programs centering around asthma and diabetes.

“We try to focus on communities,” Norwood said. “We try to build up the sense that, when things look really hopeless, that you can do something about it.”

These programs are “peer-to-peer,” meaning Health People identifies community members who have the disease or have family with the disease. These individuals then undergo training and are sent back into the community to teach from experience. Over the course of its existence, Health People has trained over 500 peers to teach and watched thousands of Bronx residents go through the programs.

From left is Peer Leader Faith Worrell-Caceres, Executive Director Chris Norwood and Peer Leader Mary Brown. Photo courtesy Health People

NYC unveils plan for substance use treatment center at Lincoln to combat maternal mortality in South Bronx

The city on Tuesday announced a plan to construct a new substance use treatment center for pregnant and postpartum people at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln in the South Bronx — which officials hope will reduce the maternal mortality rate in the borough.

The $8 million, 6,500-square-foot space is designed to serve around 200 families each year, representing a significant step toward the city’s goal of decreasing Black maternal mortality by 10% by 2030, according to the mayor’s office.

“This is a critical moment for women’s health in New York City and across the country,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams in the announcement on March 26. “Addiction and substance use disorder doesn’t discriminate, and overdoses are a leading cause of deaths in pregnant and postpartum women in New York City, affecting not only the new parent, but also their family and loved ones.”

The new center is a component of the mayor’s “Women Forward NYC” initiative that he announced earlier this year, which encompasses a $43 million investment into gender equity resources and programming citywide. Some of that money — a combination of city dollars, partnerships from private, public and educational entities, and federal funds — is supposed to address areas such as professional development, sexual and reproductive healthcare, gender-based violence, housing, and more for women and gender expansive folks.

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Survey finds steep decline in Bronxites’ reported quality of life

As a Bronx resident, how would you rate your quality of life? If you answered in the negative, you’re not alone.

The 2023 Resident Survey by the nonprofit think tank Citizens Budget Commission generally found that most living in New York City rated their quality of life and city services lower than in 2017. But just 20.8% of Bronxites gave positive ratings to their quality of life — down from nearly 41% in 2017.

While only two districts in the city — Manhattan CD 2 and Brooklyn CD 6 — had positive ratings of over 50%, the Bronx saw the city’s lowest ratings and the entire borough dropped from middling in 2017 to negative in 2023.

Photo Adrian Childress

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