“This has been a great experience. After being out of work for so long, to be employed again is a wonderful feeling. It turned my life around. I am almost certain that I’ll move on to the next NYCHA job. I have gained a lot in the construction industry. I’m eternally grateful that I’ve learned something new.”
Ralph Ramos, Public Housing Capital Fund Recovery Grant (Formula)
“I attribute the weight loss to what I learned in the program. Portion control is very important, as are reading food labels to become aware of the amount of sodium, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that can lead to diabetes and heart disease if not eaten in moderation.”
Margarita Sanchez, Chronic Disease Self-Management Program
Through its contribution to heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, physical inactivity kills an estimated 6,300 New Yorkers each year. But… nothing says “be active” like a Zumba dance flash mob in the middle of Madison Square Park.
In June 2011, DOHMH partnered with the NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation (DPR) to launch an active living campaign known as “Make NYC Your Gym.” The campaign, funded by ARRA dollars, encouraged New Yorkers to get moving using an array of free and low-cost fitness opportunities right outside their doorsteps in acres of parks, beaches, and bike paths. It also educated New Yorkers about how to incorporate physical activity into daily routines through simple lifestyle changes, like getting off the bus a stop early and walking to your destination. Plus, DOHMH and DPR revamped BeFitNYC.org, an online search engine that helps people find free and low-cost fitness near them. In addition to improving the site’s functionality and expanding the list of classes provided, the BeFitNYC Facebook application allowed users to create their own fitness events and invite friends and family to join. In the first year following the release of the new BeFitNYC.org, the website has received over 1,000,000 hits and over 3,000 fitness events were created on the BeFitNYC Facebook application.
Find your favorite way to Make NYC Your Gym. BeFitNYC.org continues to list hundreds of free fitness classes every week at dozens of locations across the five boroughs. Try aerobics, yoga, pilates, kick-boxing and other choices. For more information, visit BeFitNYC.org. DPR’s recreation centers also open their doors on the first Monday of every month – like today! – and welcome you with a day of free fitness programs and activities. You can swim, bike, step, jog, lift, volley, and more. For more information, visit Free First Mondays.
NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene, NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation, and Fund for Public Health New York, Communities Putting Prevention to Work: Category A-Obesity
Air pollution is one of New York City’s most significant public health challenges. Eliminating the use of heavy heating oil is one of the highest impact steps that we can take to address it and advance PlaNYC’s goal of making New York City’s air the cleanest of any major U.S. city. Only 1% of the City’s buildings use this heavy grade fuel. However, when burning it, these few buildings emit more soot pollution than all of the cars and trucks on the City’s roads combined. This pollution is a big contributor to serious and sometimes deadly respiratory diseases. It kills 3,000 residents each year and forces 6,000 to seek emergency asthma treatment.
In order to improve air quality, save lives, eliminate heavy heating oil use, and accelerate the adoption of the cleanest fuels, New York City recently launched a $100 million-plus public-private lending program to help property owners finance and perform “clean heat conversions” (see one newly-installed natural gas boiler pictured above). These conversions are expected to generate $300 million in construction activity.
The City is leading the program by leveraging both ARRA and City funds to guaranty private capital through the NYC Energy Efficiency Corporation. These loan guaranties will help make private lending accessible to lower-income buildings that may not otherwise be able to afford a conversion. Financial institutions – including JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Hudson Valley Bank and Citigroup – have committed $90 million, while the City’s Housing Development Corporation and the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development will offer an additional $18 million. Con Edison and National Grid, the City’s largest utility providers, are making major infrastructure upgrades to accommodate more customers and make conversions less costly. Hess Corporation, the City’s largest heating oil supplier, will offer its customers new incentives to switch to cleaner burning fuels. The Environmental Defense Fund will provide property owners with technical assistance as they go through the conversion process. This innovative partnership between government, leading banks, energy providers, and environmental groups will help create a healthier and stronger New York City.
NYC Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant
When it rains, you may see stormwater flow down New York City streets and through sewer grates. The runoff blends with wastewater already in the sanitation system and can overload treatment facilities. This combination, known as “combined sewer overflow,” can cause sewage to spill into the City’s waterways. In some neighborhoods, this can be triggered by as little as one tenth of an inch of rainfall per hour.
Thanks to ARRA funding, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation is retooling its “greenstreets program” – replacing asphalt with patches of greenery to serve as a traffic-calming element and also better manage and reduce stormwater runoff. The site at Francis Lewis Boulevard between 217th Street and 220th Street in Queens (pictured above) is designed to capture a minimum of 413,600 gallons of runoff annually – enough to fill approximately 20 residential inground pools. Water enters the site through curb-cuts and is equally distributed across the site. A mix of primarily native, urban and wet-tolerant plant species were selected to soak up the runoff and provide seasonal interest. Additionally, the greenstreet eliminated a hazardous and repetitive flooding issue (as seen in the “before” image above).
This Francis Lewis Boulevard site is among 26 new ARRA-funded greenstreets in the City, like the ones at Westbourne Avenue in Queens or Victory Boulevard in Staten Island, which aim to use stormwater design to make our streets safer, our water supply cleaner, and our neighborhoods more attractive.
NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation, Clean Water State Revolving Fund
The St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island is a key transit hub, linking more than 65,000 daily commuters to ferry service between the boroughs of Staten Island and Manhattan, as well as the Staten Island Railway, 20 New York City Transit bus lines, three parking facilities, and the Bay Street and Richmond Terrace bikeway. The Staten Island Ferry is a popular destination for tourists, providing world class views of Manhattan’s downtown skyline and Statue of Liberty.
The St. George Ferry Terminal Bus Ramps project is the largest 100% ARRA-funded infrastructure project in New York State. The project consists of rehabilitating the terminal’s elevated bridge structure with eight bus ramps and two parking fields. It also includes improving pedestrian access as well as dedicated bike lanes for the increasing number of commuting bicyclists.
Constructed in 1946, the terminal’s ramps have experienced decades of exposure to the elements. Rehabilitating the ramps will preserve their structural integrity for years to come and modernize the terminal access, which serves as a gateway to the borough. Plus, the project includes rebuilding one of the ramps adjacent to the Richmond County Bank Ballpark. Doing so will alleviate traffic congestion and open up a new parcel of land for comprehensive redevelopment and economic opportunities for local businesses. The entire project will involve dozens of contractors before its completion, creating hundreds of construction jobs for New Yorkers like Chad Eberle and Tommy Tuck.
NYC Dept. of Transportation, Transit Capital Assistance - St. George Ferry Terminal Bus Ramps Rehabilitation
“We encourage participation in the workshops. The goal is empowerment. Thanks to the stimulus, we are helping to put seniors in charge of their own health, so that they can learn to better manage their chronic illness on their own and maintain an active, fulfilling life.”
Ruth Cordero, Chronic Disease Self-Management Program
People with mental illnesses are significantly overrepresented in criminal justice systems across the nation. In New York City, nearly 17 percent of men and women on probation—or over 4,250 people—are projected to have a serious mental illness. The NYC Dept. of Probation (DOP) is committed to ensuring public safety while connecting these individuals to the support they need to live independent, crime-free lives.
DOP used ARRA funds to create a new Forensic Mental Health Unit (FMHU). The probation officers received special training. They helped their clients adjust to probation supervision while also helping them obtain appropriate assistance from mental health service providers. This involved working individually with clients and tracking their progress, sometimes through periods of hospitalizations and homelessness. While the ARRA funds have ended, the work continues. DOP deployed the former FMHU staff members to every borough. DOP is currently partnering with the Langeloth Foundation, the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Council of State Governments to identify clients with mental health issues at the beginning of their probation term and develop systematic approaches to addressing their needs, both in terms of access to treatment and determining the appropriate level of supervision.
As former FMHU Branch Chief Tim Salyer (pictured above) explains, “The criminal justice system can be the last stop on a long journey during which an individual bounces from one system to another. Our goal has been to foster better coordination between the probation system and the mental health system and to put the right supports in place.”
NYC Dept. of Probation, Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant Program
The NYC Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) helped to triple New York City’s production of solar power by recently installing eight ARRA-funded “solar photovoltaic (PV) systems” on the rooftops of City-owned buildings, like the one at the NYC Dept. of Sanitation’s Brooklyn 14 South garage (pictured above).
PV technology converts sunlight into electricity. These new PV systems do not use any fuel other than sunshine. That means, unlike fuels which are mined or harvested, they do not release any harmful air or water pollution into the environment, deplete natural resources, or endanger anyone’s health. The City is taking advantage of unused space on the rooftops of our existing buildings. The panels are quiet and unobtrusive. DCAS used monocrystalline silicon solar cells, similar to those developed for PV systems on satellites circling the earth. The panels are constructed to operate reliably for long periods of time with minimal maintenance.
Combined, the eight PV systems add over 330 kilowatts of renewable energy capacity to the New York City grid. They also reduce the City’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by167 metric tons, which is equivalent to removing over 30 cars from the road. In addition, they are expected to save the City over $51,000 annually, and help improve grid reliability by shaving peak electricity demand on the hottest, sunniest days of the year.
NYC Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services, State Energy Program
The latest edition of our NYC Stimulus Tracker e-newsletter was released yesterday. This recent newsletter included special highlights on a survey that we conducted among cities and states regarding the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s “acceleration memo;” a presentation at the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (JFMIP) Conference in Washington, DC; a sampling of new Stimulus at Work success story profiles like Anissa Cabrera, Ruth Cordero, and Diane Williams; as well as outcomes and accomplishments from ten of our ARRA-funded initiatives which have fully completed. We also proudly noted that the Tumblr editors added our NYC ARRA Tumblr blog to their “New Blog Spotlight” page.
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