CITY AND GODSQUAD CO-SPONSOR TALK ON SAFEGUARDING ONE’S RIGHTS

FLATBUSH — A conversation on “Understanding Your Rights: Exercising Your Right to Exist” takes place this Thursday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m., thanks to sponsorship from the GodSquad/67th Precinct Clergy Council and the NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. Hosted at the Lips Café on Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush, this community event will be an intentional conversation on citizens’ expanding their awareness and understanding of one’s civil and constitutional rights. A panel of community leaders will share what one should do in encounters with the NYPD, and in bias crime situations.

Online registration is required.

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CITY HOLDS EVENT TO PROMOTE EXPANSION OF CAR-FREE STREETS PROGRAM

CROWN HEIGHTS — New York City is holding an event at the Weeksville Cultural Center in Crown Heights on Tuesday, Jan. 24, to urge cultural organizations and community groups to become Open Streets partners during 2023, and is committing $5 million in annual funding for this purpose. Featuring performances by musical, arts and cultural groups, this event has the goal of encouraging the organizations to host, manage, and program activities along New York City’s growing network of Open Streets, with the first application deadline being Jan. 31 due online.

As DOT expands its network of car-free streets and pedestrian plazas, the question arises of how delivery trucks for merchants and other essential vehicles, including emergency personnel) would be able to access the roadways.

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CAMPAIGN TO SAVE BUS LINES IN SOUTHERN BROOKLYN

SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — Several bus lines proposed for cuts or elimination — as part of the MTA’s initial Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign Plan — are the focus of a community campaign that City Councilmember Justin Brannan is spearheading. Brannan opposes changes to and elimination of routes, including of the B36, B74, B16, B37, B63, and B64 buses, which he says are crucial local lifelines for southern Brooklyn residents spanning Coney Island and Bay Ridge. Brannan is also against proposed stop removals and service cuts to Bay Ridge’s beloved X27/X37 express route, and to the complete elimination of X28/X38 stops in Coney Island.

Councilmember Brannan is circulating an online petition where residents can voice their objections to southern Brooklyn cuts: https://bit.ly/NoMTAcuts, and is encouraging Brooklynites to testify at the MTA’s upcoming virtual hearings, which will take place in mid-February for southern Brooklyn. Residents can register to testify via: https://new.mta.info/project/brooklyn-bus-network-redesign.

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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS’ NEW BOOK CRITICIZING CAPITALISM IS FOCUS OF BAM DIALOGUE

FORT GREENE — U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Dr. Cornel West are coming to Brooklyn for a dialogue at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Feb. 20. They will be discussing Sanders’ new book, “It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism” and the tough questions he believes the American people must ask in these turbulent times.

Tickets for this event, which BAM and the Greenlight Bookstore are co-presenting, go on sale this Thursday, Jan. 26 (Jan. 24 for BAM Members and Patrons) at BAM.org.

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LEGAL AID SOCIETY: CRUISE TERMINAL’S FLOOD ZONE LOCATION MAKES IT UNSAFE FOR SHELTER

RED HOOK — The Legal Aid Society criticized Mayor Eric Adams’ January 21 announcement the city will soon open a “humanitarian relief center” at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal for homeless men, saying that this tent city’s location in a flood zone will jeopardize the men’s safety and health, especially during the cold months. Legal Aid stated that “the city must utilize existing voucher programs, such as CityFHEPS, to help homeless New Yorkers move into permanent housing, thereby allowing shelters to accommodate new entrants.”

The statement added, “Continuing to move asylum seekers around the boroughs like chess pieces is callous and indicative of City Hall’s failure to competently manage this crisis, and it’s especially frustrating that Mayor Adams continues to disregard the alternatives we have recommended since this crisis broke last year.”

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NEW BILL WOULD BAN FIRINGS WITHOUT JUST CAUSE

CITYWIDE — The “Secure Jobs Act,” newly-introduced legislation from primary City Council sponsor Tiffany Cabán (D-Queens), would ban employers from terminating employees without just cause. The bill, to which Comptroller Brad Lander gave vocal support, and whose co-sponsors include several Brooklyn City Councilmembers, would require employers to give workers advance notice of termination, provide a written explanation of their firing and give workers fired without a good reason the opportunity to appeal the decision and be reinstated.

The “Secure Jobs NYC” coalition includes a wide array of groups, from labor unions (Amazon Labor Union, Teamsters Local 804 and UAW Region 9A). The Brooklyn co-sponsors include Councilmembers Lincoln Restler (D-33/Red Hook to northern Brooklyn) Sandy Nurse (D-37/Bushwick), Shahana Hanif (D-39/several neighborhoods), Charles Barron (D-42/eastern Brooklyn), Alexa Avilés (D-38/Sunset Park), Jen Gutiérrez (D-34/northern Brooklyn, Chi Ossé (D-36/Bed-Stuy and Crown Hts.) and Farah Louis (D-45/Flatbush).

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MAYOR OPENS DIRECT LINE TO CONSTITUENTS

CITYWIDE — New Yorkers now have a way to communicate directly with Mayor Eric Adams, who on Monday announced a new initiative that provides updates on services that his administration provides.  Those who sign up online will receive digital communications directly from Mayor Adams with information about new initiatives and policies, local events, and more.

As part of this initiative, the administration will facilitate a new series of email communications to New Yorkers that are specific to their locations and interests.

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NEW CLIMATE-FRIENDLY SOLAR PANELS FOR FDNY FIREHOUSES

SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — Three FDNY firehouses in Brooklyn now have newly-installed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems as part of a dual project, totaling $2.4 million, to reduce emissions from city government operations and ensure that critical infrastructure remains operational during emergency situations, including electrical outages. Engine Company 254 & Ladder 153 in Gravesend, Engine Company 236 in East New York, and Engine Company 309 & Ladder 159 in Flatlands join three more in Queens where the new solar photovoltaic systems will generate emissions-free energy and use battery storage to ensure that the firehouses remain operational during blackouts, brownouts, or storms.

Unlike generators, the solar PV panels with batteries can provide quiet and continuous energy regardless of a fuel shortage.

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FIRST WOMAN APPOINTED AS APPELLATE TERM’S PRESIDING JUSTICE

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The Hon. Wavny Toussaint has been appointed as Presiding Justice of the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, Second Department, which covers Downstate New York. Justice Toussaint, who replaces now-retired Justice Thomas Aliotta, becomes the first woman and first person of color to serve as this bench’s Presiding Justice.

Justice Toussaint’s appointment was made after consultation with Hon. Hector LaSalle, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, which hears appeals from the lower courts and is authorized by the state constitution (Article VI, paragraphs 4 and 8) to establish appellate terms.

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ADAMS PLANS TO HOUSE MIGRANTS IN RED HOOK TENTS

RED HOOK — Mayor Eric Adams on Saturday announced the city will soon open a “humanitarian relief center” that will house around 1,000 single adult men in tents at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and will offer services and relocation assistance before theoretically closing in the spring prior to cruise season. As well as offering shelter to new arrivals, some migrants will be moved from their current hotel rooms into this new camp, drawing condemnation from the Legal Aid Society, which slammed Adams’ plan as “callous” and called on him to instead utilize vouchers to help the migrants move into permanent housing. 

The city has been struggling to accommodate the wave of migration that has seen more than 41,000 newcomers arrive in the city from the southern border since last spring, prompting Mayor Adams to travel to Texas last week to draw attention to the crisis. 

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NY ELECTEDS URGE FEMA, BIDEN TO SENT AID FOR MIGRANTS

CITYWIDE — In a letter sent to President Biden and FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell earlier this week, a majority of NYC elected officials urged the federal government to accelerate funding to municipalities to support arriving asylum seekers, pressing for NYC to get its due share of the $800 million in assistance for municipalities allocated by Congress to FEMA in December, as well as other categorical grants. The letter also urged the federal government to move quickly to accelerate work authorization for recent arrivals, noting that significant backlogs in immigration courts could mean those arriving in recent months might have to wait years before receiving work permits.

The letter, organized by New York City comptroller Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and signed by borough presidents Vanessa Gibson, Mark Levine and Antonio Reynoso, as well as 28 members of the City Council, is available on the comptroller’s website.

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NJ DEM CROSSES AISLE TO PROTEST AGAINST CONGESTION PRICING

NEW JERSEY — U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey announced legislation on Thursday striking back at New York’s congestion pricing plan, introducing a bill called the Anti-Congestion Tax Act that would strip the MTA of billions in federal funding and give commuting drivers a federal tax credit should New York go through with the plan to toll cars entering lower Manhattan. The congestion pricing plan has drawn criticism from New York Republicans, including Brooklyn’s lone GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who in October teamed up with Gottheimer to formally demand a congressional hearing on the subject. 

Gothamist reports that Governor Hochul expressed confidence that the bill had no chance of making it past Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer.

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MAYOR ORDERS VENDORS REMOVED FROM BROOKLYN BRIDGE

DUMBO — Street vendors selling their wares on the Brooklyn Bridge are facing a crackdown reportedly on orders from Mayor Adams, reports Streetsblog, who interviewed several of the affected vendors after they were unceremoniously booted off the pedestrian walkway last week. While some sellers blamed each other for taking up too much space, others slammed the city, saying that the situation was in part caused by a long-standing cap on the number of street selling licenses, preventing newcomers from being able to operate legally despite promises from officials to issue more permits.

“You’re investing so much into enforcement, and you’re not investing in creating the new system that a lot of people are waiting to get one of those permits to formalize their business,” said Mohamed Attia, the leader of a street vendor advocacy group.

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BROOKLYN MAN WHO JOINED ISIS TO FACE CHARGES

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The trial of Ruslan Asainov, 46, who in 2013 left behind his Brooklyn family to join ISIS in Syria as a sniper, is set to begin on Monday morning in federal court in Brooklyn, with charges including conspiring to provide material support to ISIS resulting in death. The New York Daily News reports that Asainov, a native of Kazakhstan who moved to Brooklyn in 1998, was praised by ISIS leaders as one of their best trainers, and had pledged allegiance to the now-slain Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

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MOTHER CABRINI HEALTH FOUNDATION AWARDS $22M TO BKLYN PROGRAMS

BROOKLYN — The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, a private nonprofit named after a Catholic saint that is focused on healthcare needs for underserved communities, on Monday announced it has awarded 538 grants totaling $165 million to support nonprofits addressing the health-related needs of low-income residents across New York state in 2023, including more than $22 million in funding to Brooklyn-based organizations. The grants include $1 million to Futures in Education for Brooklyn and Queens, a scholarship and tuition assistance program; another $1 million to St. John’s Bread and Life, an expansive emergency food hub and mobile food marketplace; and $300K to Housing Plus Solutions Inc., an organization providing mental health services and support for justice-involved women and families; along with smaller grants to another 63 Brooklyn groups. 

“When Mother Frances Cabrini arrived in New York as an Italian immigrant in 1889, she dedicated herself to serving fellow immigrants and underserved New Yorkers. This year, New York has welcomed tens of thousands of new immigrants seeking a new home, and the Foundation is proud to follow in our namesake’s footsteps by increasing our support for nonprofits helping immigrants and migrant workers,” said Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, Chief Executive Officer of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

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BUSHWICK GALLERY MOVES AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE

BUSHWICK — ART News reports that the Clearing Gallery, at the forefront of Brooklyn’s art scene since 2011, has decamped in favor of a spot on the Bowery in Manhattan, where it will take up more than three floors of space close to other Lower East Side art institutions. The gallery’s owner stated that while he was initially drawn to the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood due to its relatively low real estate prices, the “novelty effect” of the area has worn off, and he expects to see more foot traffic in the new location. 

Clearing’s move is not the only loss for the Bushwick arts scene in recent years — the closing of Signal in 2018 sent shockwaves through the neighborhood’s arts community. 

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BROOKLYN WRITER AND OWNER OF ‘BOOKS ARE MAGIC’ FACES CANCELLATIONS IN TEXAS

CLINTON HILL/BROOKLYN HTS. — Bestselling Brooklyn author and bookseller Emma Straub, who is touring her new children’s work, “Very Good Hats,” landed in Texas only to find out that two schools there had canceled her events — all because of parental complaints that she used profanity on social media. Straub, who is widely-known for her adult novels, including “The Vacationers” and “All Adults Here,” owns the “Books Are Magic” stores in Clinton Hill and on Brooklyn Heights’ famed Montague St.

Straub later wrote that Texas educators and parents might also object to her advocacy work for abortion rights, including an ongoing “Melt The Guns fundraiser for Everytown.”

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UNDERHILL PLAZA’S GRAND OPENING HAILED AS PEDESTRIAN FRIENDLY

PROSPECT HTS. — The Grand Opening of Underhill Plaza, a new pedestrian plaza on Underhill Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street, took place Saturday, Jan. 21, at noon. Underhill Plaza, which is adjacent to Lowry Triangle where Underhill and Washington avenues intersect, is the first permanent street improvement resulting from Prospect Heights’ Open Streets program. Joining the Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez was Borough President Antonio Reynoso, City Councilmember Crystal Hudson (D-35), whose district includes Prospect Heights; and community organizations.

The NYC Plaza Program is a collaborative project in which NYC DOT works with selected organizations to create neighborhood plazas to transform underused streets into vibrant, social public spaces.

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OPIOID TREATMENT CENTERS INVITED TO APPLY FOR SETTLEMENT GRANTS

STATEWIDE — Grants that are the first to tap into New York State’s Opioid Settlement Fund will make available $7.5 million for state-certified providers and other treatment programs to establish low threshold buprenorphine services to address addiction and save lives, Governor Hochul announced on Jan. 20. The funds are part of more than $2 billion that New York received through various settlement agreements with opioid manufacturers, with a portion of the money going directly to municipalities. The grants, which the Office of Addiction Services and Supports administers, will help develop up to 15 programs offering this safe, effective treatment for opioid use disorder.

The same legislation that established the dedicated fund also created the Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board, which is tasked with making recommendations on how settlement dollars should be allocated to best serve those in need.

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LATEST WALLETHUB REPORT: NEW YORKERS AREN’T QUITTERS

STATEWIDE — While workers around the U.S. are reportedly quitting their jobs at record rates during what is being called the “Great Resignation,” New York is bucking that trend. The latest report from WalletHub, released on Friday, Jan. 20, shows New York ranked lowest — at #51 — of the states in job-quitting, at 1.3%, and with the resignation rate within the past 12 months at only 1.8%.

The chart, which included the 50 states and District of Columbia indicated that six other Northeast Corridor states ranked 44 or below in job resignations, including Rhode Island (ranked #44), Connecticut (#46), Massachusetts (#47), the District of Columbia (#48), New Jersey (#49) and Pennsylvania (#50). By contrast, Alaska topped the list.

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APPELLATE COURT JUSTICE LASALLE RECEIVES DISTINGUISHED JURIST AWARD FROM STATE BAR

BROOKLYN HTS./MANHATTAN — The Hon. Hector LaSalle, whose nomination to New York State’s highest court ended in a State Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 18, concluded the week on a higher note as he was presented with the New York State Bar Association’s Distinguished Jurist Award on Friday. According to the New York Law Journal, New York Court of Claims Judge Joanna D. Quinones presented Judge LaSalle, who is currently the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division 2nd Department —whose courthouse is on Monroe Place in Brooklyn Heights — with the State Bar’s prestigious award.

Judge LaSalle received a standing ovation during his acceptance speech at the NYS Bar lunch, held on Friday, Jan. 20, in Manhattan.

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TANDON ENGINEERING SCHOOL’S STEM PROGRAM NURTURES YOUNG INVENTORS

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Jan. 17 birthday of Founding Father and polymath Benjamin Franklin, who at age 11 became the future nation’s first inventor, inspired Kid Inventors Day, on which the local CBS news affiliate broadcast a feature last year at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Tandon’s NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s K12 STEM Education Center, has been providing promising high schoolers with access to the university’s facilities and encouragement to explore their scientific patterns.

The CBS News segment featured a team of young women who invented a gun detection system – in response to the increase in school shootings, during a STEM lab program last summer.

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TANDON RESEARCHERS: SOCIAL MEDIA’S TAKEDOWN OF HATE SPEECH FAILS TO HALT VIOLENT RHETORIC

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — An opinion piece by Professors Laura Edelson and Damon McCoy, who are part of Center for Cybersecurity at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and co-directors of NYU Cybersecurity for Democracy, was recently published in The Hill, which covers the intersection of government, politics and business. The authors discussed their recently-published research of Facebook’s content take-downs following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, in which they discovered that social media’s policy of removing content days after it’s been posted failed to halt the spread of messages that incite violence.

The Tandon researchers’ piece in The Hill was published in the wake of the recent insurrection in Brazil following that nation’s elections, and also by a far-right group.

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POLICE SEARCH FOR APPLIANCE THIEVES IN BUSHWICK

BUSHWICK – Police are searching for two unidentified individuals in connection with a series of appliance thefts from residential buildings all around the Bushwick area that began in late December. Thus far, there have been five separate thefts reported, all of which follow a similar pattern – the thieves pry open the door to an apartment building during the daytime; enter covertly and remove refrigerators, washers and other large appliances before fleeing on foot. 

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782); or, log onto the Crime Stoppers website or Tweet @NYPDTips.

Have you seen these people? All tips are strictly confidential.
Have you seen these people? All tips are strictly confidential.
Have you seen these people? All tips are strictly confidential.

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COUNCIL VOTES ON ‘SKIP THE STUFF’ BILL: NO MORE PLASTIC IN DELIVERY FOOD

CITYWIDE – The City Council on Thursday voted 43-7 in favor of the “Skip the Stuff” bill, which would ban restaurants and delivery services from including single-use items like plastic cutlery and sauce packets in food orders, unless customers specifically request them. The bill is designed to reduce plastic waste products while also reducing the burden on small businesses, who may feel pressured to provide those products unnecessarily. 

The bill “will put money back into the pockets of our small businesses while also minimizing our city’s carbon footprint and make New York a more sustainable city,” said Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez, sponsor of the legislation. 

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SOMETHING FISHY AT BKLYN MARKET: STATE CONFISCATES TINY LOBSTERS

BROOKLYN – The state Department of Environmental Conservation conducted a surprise inspection of a Brooklyn grocery store in December, discovering a whopping 245 lobsters below legal size hidden in the store’s basement, along with 141 untagged oysters. The fishy seafood was confiscated, and the lobsters were ultimately donated to a food pantry by the officers.

“DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers and Investigators work hard each day to serve their communities, protect our precious natural resources, and safeguard public health, while ensuring those who break the state’s stringent Environmental Conservation Laws are held accountable,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. 

An officer measures one of the contraband lobsters.

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CITY TO EXPAND FINANCIAL SERVICES AT CAREER CENTERS

CITYWIDE – Mayor Eric Adams, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga and Department of Small Business Services commissioner Kevin D. Kim on Thursday announced an expansion of one-on-one financial counseling services at the city’s five main Workforce1 Career Center Hubs, in order to provide a one-stop-shop for New Yorkers to access free, professional and confidential financial counseling, along with job readiness services and connections to workforce development training. “The addition of critical free services like financial planning and credit management will help our customers blaze a path toward long-term economic independence that includes strong life savings and credit profiles,” said Kim. 

To get connected to Workforce1 Career Centers, New Yorkers can dial 311 and say “Workforce1” or book an appointment online for financial counseling services, available in person or by phone and in multiple languages. 

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FIRE COMMISSIONER TO MAKE MAJOR APPOINTMENTS

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, who in October became the first-ever female commissioner of the FDNY, will appoint Chief Michael Fields as Chief of EMS Operations and Luis Martinez as Chief of Staff on Friday, Jan. 20. Fields, a 28-year veteran who joined FDNY EMS in 1994, will now oversee the fire department’s emergency medical services personnel and operations; and Martinez, an 18-year member of the police department who most recently served as a senior policy advisor to the police commissioner in the office of Strategic Initiatives, will oversee a variety of public-facing offices within the FDNY and provide strategic guidance.

The ceremony will take place on Friday, Jan. 20, at 9:30 a.m., at FDNY Headquarters, 9 Metrotech Center in the Auditorium, and will be streamed on FDNY’s website.

Chief Michael Fields.
Luis Martinez.

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BROOKLYN DOMINATES HOTTEST REAL ESTATE MARKET LIST

CARROLL GARDENS – Brooklyn neighborhoods dominated StreetEasy’s year-end list of the city’s hottest markets for sellers, taking eight out of the top ten spots, with two Queens areas rounding out the list. Carroll Gardens came in first, with fully 50 percent of listings in 2023 selling above asking price, closely followed by Park Slope and Boerum Hill. 

StreetEasy believes that low inventory across the city will continue to keep prices high in these neighborhoods, even as sales volumes start to dip in 2023. 

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REPORT SHOWS BROOKLYN YOUTH STRUGGLING

BROOKLYN – The Citizens’ Committee for Children on Tuesday released a report on its website showing Kings County ranking second in New York state in having barriers to child and family well-being on its composite index of markers of prosperity, meaning that Brooklyn kids are far more likely than the average New York child to struggle to thrive. The index, which compares stats like income levels, education levels and health care access levels, reveals Brooklyn underperforming compared to other counties, although trends show improvement across most of the categories. 

The CCC also urged Governor Hochul to implement a variety of new legislation designed to improve child welfare across the state, much of it targeted towards raising the living standards of families. 

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FREESTYLE DANCE-OFF COMES TO DUMBO

DUMBO – The ‘FreeStyle is the Key Style’ national dance competition will be landing in DUMBO this Saturday, featuring eight finalists battling it out against eight invited dancers from around the country in a variety of dance genres. Attendees will also get to witness a special standoff between top break dancers in a “Mid-West vs. East Coast” showdown. 

Doors open for the 21-and-up event, sponsored by streetwear retailer SNIPES, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 at 26 Bridge, and attendance is free to guests who RSVP on the SNIPES website.




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