Central Brooklyn, New York City is one of the most vulnerable areas in all of New York State, with measurably higher rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, limited access to healthy foods or opportunities for physical activity, high rates of violence and crime, wide economic disparities due to unemployment, and high poverty levels, and inadequate access to high quality health care and mental health services.
On April 26, 2018, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a series of major milestones and the launch of phase two of the groundbreaking Vital Brooklyn initiative, which is revitalizing the Central Brooklyn area by addressing chronic social, economic, and health disparities.
Vital Brooklyn is a new holistic initiative that focuses on eight integrated areas of improvement: open space and recreation; healthy food; education; economic empowerment; community-based violence prevention; community-based health care; affordable housing; and resiliency.
Vital Brooklyn is serving the following Central Brooklyn neighborhoods: Bedford Stuyvesant; Brownsville; Bushwick; Canarsie; Crown Heights; Cypress Hills/Ocean Hill; East Flatbush; East New York; Prospect Heights; and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
The Governor announced five RFPs to construct more than 2,000 affordable homes on parcels of land controlled by the state or owned by Brookdale University Hospital, and the state-owned Brooklyn Developmental Center. These solicitations will advance the Vital Brooklyn initiative’s $563 million commitment to build 3,000 units of affordable housing in Central Brooklyn. Additionally, the Governor announced a suite of awards and RFPs to improve access to open space, recreation, and healthy food; expand education and economic empowerment initiatives; improve community-based violence prevention; and enhance resiliency.
“Every New Yorker deserves equal access to health care, quality housing, outdoor recreation, and opportunities to earn a decent wage for a fair day’s work, but for too long Central Brooklyn has lacked the attention and investments needed to deliver equity for residents,” Governor Cuomo said. “The launch of phase two builds on progress already made by continuing to invest in the holistic Vital Brooklyn Initiative to ensure men and women are provided fair housing opportunities within the growing community, as New York works to transform the region into a better, brighter Brooklyn for generations to come.”
The release of these five affordable housing RFPs and other announced programs follow the Governor’s award of $664 million in funding to create a sustainable healthcare system that expands access and transforms care throughout Central Brooklyn. These targeted investments—announced in January—will strengthen local healthcare facilities to close current gaps and increase services; transform the healthcare system by increasing access to quality services and preventive care; and develop a 32-site ambulatory care network that will include partnerships with existing community-based providers.
The Governor launched the Vital Brooklyn initiative in spring 2017, presenting the community with an array of options to create a new model for community development and wellness. The Governor then charged each Assembly Member in Central Brooklyn with convening a Community Advisory Council consisting of community leaders, local experts, advocates, and other stakeholders to assess these options—and to consider the unique needs and opportunities of their district. State Senators representing parts of Central Brooklyn were also actively engaged in the process.
Over several months, the Community Advisory Councils assembled in the community to participate in focused discussions with state agencies, empowering communities to program and to direct the committed state resources. Since the launch of the initiative, a total of 25 community meetings have brought together nearly 100 key community stakeholders. Today’s announcements were developed through and informed by this robust community-based planning effort.
Central Brooklyn is one of the most vulnerable areas in all of New York State, with measurably higher rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, limited access to healthy foods or opportunities for physical activity, high rates of violence and crime, wide economic disparities due to unemployment, and high poverty levels, and inadequate access to high quality health care and mental health services.
Create More Than 2,000 Units of Affordable Housing on Five Underutilized Hospital Sites:
In consultation and coordination with Community Advisory Councils, New York State Homes and Community Renewal is issuing a Request for Proposals for four of the five Vital Brooklyn sites in the first round of the Central Brooklyn affordable housing initiative. In conjunction with HCR, New York State Empire State Development is issuing a Request for Proposals for the fifth site. The developments together will create more than 2,000 affordable homes, advancing the initiative’s $563 million goal to create 3,000 units of affordable housing.
The housing units covered by the RFPs will be developed on state-and hospital-controlled sites including three on the grounds of New York State-owned Interfaith Hospital; another owned by Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center; and one located on Brooklyn Developmental Center property. Each location will host a new ambulatory care center, which are among 32 being advanced through the previously described $664 million healthcare transformation investment by the state.
HCR is asking that proposals also incorporate other elements that benefit the surrounding community, including retail and/or community facilities, green building practices, and public and health and wellness-oriented amenities such as open space. Proposals are due by July 13, 2018.
In Summer 2018, HCR will solicit proposals for additional state- and hospital-owned development sites for mixed-use, affordable housing that integrates open space, provides affordable space for community-based organizations, and inspires an active and healthy lifestyle. Additionally, in response to the community request for education and support in preserving healthy housing, HCR will also launch a healthy home preservation program, which will impact 500+ homes.
$825,000 to Expand Outreach on Clean Energy and Efficiency Programs: NYSERDA awarded the Center for New York City Neighborhoods $825,000 to help build clean energy awareness and connect underserved communities with cost-saving opportunities. Under this contract, the Center’s community energy advisors will work with residents, small businesses, and multifamily building owners to enable informed energy decisions and increase local participation in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and services.
$243,090 to Improve Building Efficiency: NYSERDA will partner with RiseBoro Community Partnership (formerly Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council), an affordable housing developer, to invest in training for property managers and building operations and maintenance staff of 130 buildings across Central Brooklyn, including four hyper-efficient Passive House buildings. Partnership includes development of an on-site training lab space and cultivation of in-house trainers.
$1.1 Million to Advance the Clarkson Avenue Microgrid Project: This innovative project will link the Kings County Hospital, SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Kingsboro Psychiatric Center with a resilient source of on-site backup power. It is currently in the design phase of project development, which is expected to be completed before the end of 2018.
$12 Million to Develop 19 Cogeneration Projects: Cogeneration projects, which are small-scale electricity and heat generation units, benefit their hosts by reducing energy costs, lowering emissions, and increasing resiliency by providing back-up power. NYSERDA will be helping develop 19 cogeneration projects by 2020 in Central Brooklyn.
$8.8 Million to Complete Energy Efficiency Upgrades in More Than 7,300 Multi- and Single-Family Residences: NYSERDA is supporting energy efficiency retrofits with technical assistance and project incentives to make multifamily and single family homes in the Vital Brooklyn area more energy efficient. NYSERDA will complete energy cost-saving upgrades to more than 7,300 home and apartments in Central Brooklyn by the end of 2018.
$1.5 Million to Support More Than 460 Solar Projects: Since the launch of the Vital Brooklyn initiative, more than 460 solar projects have been completed at residences, schools, and small business in Central Brooklyn.
Expanding Operation Eco-Quality: The Department of Environmental Conservation is undertaking an Operation Eco-Quality campaign in the Canarsie area to educate approximately 70 small to medium businesses on best management practices for compliance with a spectrum of state environmental laws and regulations to protect and improve public health.
Open Space and Recreation
Partnership with National Park Service and City of New York to Open Newest and Largest State Park in New York City: In his 2018 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo announced a partnership with the National Park Service and the City of New York to establish a new 407-acre state park on Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, providing crucial new open space access to one of the most underserved areas of the state. In the first phase, the state will invest up to $15 million to open the property, making available 3.5 miles of waterfront, miles and miles of paths and trails, and a coastal highland, planted with native species. The new state park complements ongoing efforts to build or improve pocket parks, community gardens, playgrounds and recreation centers within a ten-minute walk for every Central Brooklyn resident.
$10.6 Million to Transform 8 Schoolyards into Community Playgrounds and Open Space: The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, is transforming 8 asphalt schoolyards into dynamic playgrounds and community gathering spaces, adding new recreational opportunities throughout Central Brooklyn. To be complete by 2020, the community playgrounds will be designed through a participatory process engaging the students and families associated with each school. Construction of the first playground located at PS 581 on Winthrop Street is underway and scheduled for completion later this year.
$3.1 Million to Transform Nearly Two Dozen Community Gardens: The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will award grants to fund important capital improvements, such as on-site water, to 22 community gardens throughout Central Brooklyn so that the gardens can increase capacity and are better equipped to serve their local communities. Improvements will begin spring 2018, and be complete by 2020.
$1.8 Million to Enhance 4 Recreation Centers: The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will award grants in the next few months to fund physical improvements to the following four local recreation centers to better serve their communities: Madison Square Boys and Girls Club Thomas Murphy Clubhouse, North Brooklyn/Twelve Towns YMCA, Bedford Stuyvesant YMCA, and Flatbush YMCA.
$500,000 Mobile Market Grant Program: Mobile food access units are an important means for reaching those who are often most in need of fresh, healthy food. Establishing mobile markets is more flexible and less expensive than constructing and operating full-scale grocery stores or new food pantries, plus they can serve multiple neighborhoods, and better reach people who have limited mobility. The state is launching a competitive grant program to fund additional mobile markets in Central Brooklyn to help ensure that food access improves for all citizens in the area. Eligible not-for-profit organizations are encouraged to apply via the New York State Grants Gateway: www.grantsgateway.ny.gov.
$325,000 to Open 12 New Youth Run Farmers Markets: Starting in the 2018-2019 school year, in partnership with Grow NYC and United Federation of Teachers, 12 community schools in Central Brooklyn will begin teaching youth how to manage and operate farm stands, empowering students with entrepreneurship skills and encouraging them to take an active role in their local food systems. These new access points for fresh fruits and vegetables will help make healthy food more available in a part of the city where food insecurity is the highest and chronic diet related health problems have persisted.
$300,000 Food Insecurity Screening Pilot Program: This summer, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets will fund a Food Insecurity Screening Pilot Program within the local healthcare system as a part of the Vital Brooklyn initiative. This pilot program, called for by members of the community, will integrate food security assessments into the broader health care system by establishing a process where seniors are screened for food insecurity within their regular healthcare visits, referred as needed to dietary and nutritional counseling and supported with additional benefits to make fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable.
Economic Empowerment and Job Creation
$250,000 in Green Job Training Grants: The Department of Environmental Conservation is launching a competitive grant program to fund green jobs training programs in Central Brooklyn to help prepare residents for emerging job opportunities in the growing clean, green economy. Eligible not-for-profit organizations are encouraged to apply via the New York State Grants Gateway: www.grantsgateway.ny.gov.
$600,000 to Continue Unprecedented Unemployment Strikeforce Effort: Central Brooklyn has seen significant progress in connecting the unemployed to jobs since the Governor activated the Unemployment Strikeforce. Upon announcement of the Vital Brooklyn initiative, the Governor set a goal of 7,500 hires in Vital Brooklyn target neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn. Since that commitment was made less than a year ago, results have greatly surpassed the stated goal—more than 30,000 individuals have been placed in target areas. The progress is expected to continue as the Department of Labor deploys ongoing Unemployment Strikeforce resources throughout Central Brooklyn, in response to community feedback. These localized resources will be available through December 2018.
Comprehensive Education and Youth Development
$1.2 million to 8 New Community Schools: The Governor’s 2018 Enacted Budget provides a $50 million increase for a total of $150 million in community school funding statewide. These funds will be used to transform failing and high-needs schools into community schools and provide support services that are unique to each school and address their individual needs. Services may include medical care, dental care, before-and-after school programs, summer learning activities, and other social services.
$200,000 to Build a Community Oyster Reef and Expand the Billion Oyster Project Curriculum: The Department of Environmental Conservation will award $200,000 to the Billion Oyster Project, a NY Harbor Foundation program, to conduct outreach to Vital Brooklyn community schools to recruit new partners in the in-class programming of nature-based science curriculum. With a focus on the history and future of oysters in Jamaica Bay and NY Harbor, participating teachers will be trained in the oyster restoration need and process through the creation and monitoring of an Oyster Restoration Station with their class. The Oyster Restoration Station will be integrated into a Community Oyster Reef that will be developed and installed by the Billion Oyster Program at Paerdegat Basin in Canarsie, creating an additional hands-on learning opportunity and fostering greater ties between the participating students.
$50,000 Investment to Double Jamaica Bay Restoration Corps Summer Youth Employment: The Department of Environmental Conservation has awarded $50,000 to the American Littoral Society to expand Jamaica Bay Restoration Corps to provide more at-risk youth from Vital Brooklyn communities with summer employment opportunities. Paid for their summer work, the R-Corps conduct coastal enhancement and restoration projects, exposing the participants to the potential for jobs in the environmental sector. The state will expand the program this summer, doubling the number of employment spots for interested youth. Recruitment began April 2018.
Community-Based Violence Prevention
$800,000 to Integrate Social and Mental Health Services within Street Outreach Programs: This pilot program will enhance outreach efforts to prevent and respond to gun violence by connecting social workers with existing violence reduction programs, specifically the city’s SNUG/Cure Violence sites, to increase access to social and health services for crime victims, especially traumatized youth. These social workers will also provide crucial support to the program staff and their clients in Central Brooklyn who are impacted by the trauma and complex social needs associated with gun-involved violence. This program is positioned to make a difference in lives of those most impacted by gun violence by leveraging the street current outreach network in New York City and making critical referrals to state resources.
$500,000 to Provide Programming for Young People: This funding will be used to connect the existing violence reduction programs with community-based organizations that provide programs outside of school for youth. These programs range from athletics, such as midnight basketball, to academic support, creative arts, and vocational training. These programs will be geared toward young people between the ages of 14 and 24. In a recent study, there were more than 50,000 young people in Brooklyn – or roughly 1 out of every 6 youth who were neither in school or employed – in 2016. Engaging young people as they transition toward adulthood provides meaningful opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in future career and education paths.
$664 Million for the Brooklyn Health Care Facility Transformation Project: In January 2018 Governor Cuomo announced the award of $664 million in funding to One Brooklyn Health to support the state’s ongoing effort to create a sustainable health care system that expands access and transforms care throughout Central Brooklyn. A total of $36 million will be reserved for future awards under the program, resulting in total awards of $700 million when the program is completed.
Consistent with the recommendations in Northwell Health’s “The Brooklyn Study: Reshaping the Future of Healthcare,” Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center have partnered together to create One Brooklyn Health, which will serve as an integrated health care delivery system in Central Brooklyn.
The funds will support the development of an expansive integrated ambulatory care network, significant infrastructure modernization at each of the three hospital facilities, including regionalizing clinical programs and restructuring inpatient services, and the creation of enterprise wide health information technology platform to improve coordination and delivery of care through an efficient, high quality regional health care delivery system.
Specifically, $664 million of funding to One Brooklyn Health will support:
$210 Million to Develop a 32-site Ambulatory Care Network: The expansive network will include partnerships with existing community-based providers, to increase access to primary and preventative health care services in the highest need areas of Central Brooklyn. These new facilities are expected to add approximately 500,000 new ambulatory care visits a year, which will more than double the number of visits that currently exist in the area. In addition, the new ambulatory care network will:
- Include partnerships with four Brooklyn Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)—Bed Stuy Family Health Center, ODA Crown Heights, Brightpoint Health, and the Brownsville Multi-Service Center—to expand primary care capacity of community-based organizations;
- Build programmatic bridges with SUNY Downstate and support the academic mission and vision of University Hospital;
- Integrate with new affordable housing developments which will be built surrounding the three One Brooklyn Health hospitals to include on-site wellness amenities such as urgent care, primary care, and specialty practices; and
- Create 255 net new jobs and help recruit 300 primary care physicians to the Central Brooklyn area, which has some of lowest rates of primary care physicians per capita in the state.
$384 Million for Critical Clinical and Facility Infrastructure Improvements: Brookdale will undergo significant facility improvements to maintain its role in the community as a regional trauma center, including the development of a new Emergency Department, expansion of its community health center to accommodate a new 30-bed Intensive Care Unit, and development of additional patient care units – which are expected to increase Brookdale’s capacity by 100 beds.
- Interfaith will renovate and expand its emergency department, as well develop a Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program Unit supporting the integration of primary and behavioral health care services.
- Kingsbrook Jewish will evolve into a Medical Village with new and expanded ambulatory primary and specialty care, emergency services, and post-acute care services. Through this transformation, Kingsbrook will re-purpose portions of its campus to address social determinants of health, including the provision of new affordable housing and community space.
- $142 million of the $384 million will be reserved to provide One Brooklyn Health flexibility in prioritizing its other clinical and facility infrastructure improvement projects submitted in its application.
$70 Million to Create a System-Wide Health Information Technology Platform: Critical to the funding support for One Brooklyn Health are the investments to develop a community-wide health information technology system, which will enable the development of a single electronic health record system integrated across the three hospitals technology platforms and the provider care network, positioning the health system to thrive in the new world of payment reform and population health. In particular, the new health information technology platform will:
- Effectively support clinical decision making, improve quality and patient care outcomes;
- Develop effective care management capabilities and create operating efficiencies; and
- Enable uniform measurement of medical and social determinants and reporting of a standard set of outcome measures to effectively gauge the success of interventions undertaken by the health system and its community partners is addressing social determinants of healthcare and its impact on community health status.
These awarded capital funds are in addition to $320 Million in ongoing annual operating support that the State is providing to four Central and Eastern Brooklyn Hospitals, including Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center, and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.
The $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn initiative deploys state resources in a strategic, coordinated fashion to create a healthier, more vibrant community. The projects underway and in development are shaped by an unprecedented level of community engagement. Utilizing an evaluation process created by Medgar Evers College DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy, directed by Dr. John Flateau, the New York State Department of Health will measure the impact of these investments. For more information visit the Vital Brooklyn website.
Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, “The funding coming into Central Brooklyn is so important because it not only streamlines our healthcare delivery system but also begins to address longstanding issues that affect the health of my constituents such as access to affordable housing, safe community spaces and fresh food. There is more to wellness than just doctor’s visits and I am thankful to see this recognized in the Vital Brooklyn Initiative.”
Photo of Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood by webmaster of BedStuyGateway.com via Wikipedia.