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Dear neighbor,

As the year comes to a close, our team wanted to take the time to express our gratitude to all of you. Our community is full of leaders who aren’t always recognized. To those of you reading who have helped keep people fed during the pandemic, who have donated to clothing drives for asylum seekers, who have looked out for neighbors or cared for someone in need, I extend my sincerest thanks.

This month’s newsletter also includes important updates on your rights as tenants during heating season, programs to help pay for utility bills, as well as participatory budgeting, holiday toy drives and upcoming events in the community through the holidays.

While I wasn’t shocked by the results of the general election earlier this month, it should be a wake up call for anyone who has been ignoring the frustration and alienation building up across South Brooklyn since the pandemic and since before then too. Voters across the board expressed their concerns about safety, the economy and jobs. With economic difficulties expected in the year to come, I will continue to advocate for a City budget and legislation that lifts up working class communities rather than punishes them.

I wish to welcome the newest member of our team, Jessica Alort, who joins us as Scheduler. Jessica speaks Spanish and French in addition to English, and you can contact her with scheduling requests at

I hope you enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving, and to those celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa this month, I wish you happy and peaceful holidays. And to all our neighbors, a Happy New Year!

Always in solidarity,





Alexa Avilés

Council Member

District 38


Giving thanks

I want to express my gratitude to Red Hook community members Juana Narvaez, Leticia Cancel, Cynthia Colon and Janet Andrews. Juana, Leticia, Cynthia and Janet are everywhere, supporting every community event, and they represent the spirit of coming together that has shined so brightly in the aftermath of difficult moments in our community and in moments of celebration.


Through the pandemic and more 25 years, Grisel Amador has stood steadfast showing up with a warm smile and a joyous attitude as the Executive Director of the Sunset Park United Senior Center. George Cardona is another long-time community member known for helping young entrepreneurs and business owners and who hosts an annual dominoes tournament for seniors in addition to work as part of the Sunset Park Lions Club and more. We are lucky to have them, and I’m thankful for everything they do.

–Edward Cerna, Chief of Staff

I want to thank all of our last-mile advocates who have helped draw attention to this work, but especially to Kevin Garcia of EarthJustice who works tirelessly on this issue and is always keeping environmental justice front and center in our agenda.

–Christina Bottego, Legislative Director

I’m thankful for members of our community press and City press corps who ask questions, keep us accountable, and genuinely make our work in government better. Ethnic media are some of our most local media and I’m thankful that Zhiming (Steven) Zhang from Singtao, World Journal’s George Hu and Jennifer Cabana from NY1 Noticías cover our local communities like no others.

–James Neimeister, Communications and Organizing Manager

Silvia Agosto is a longtime Sunset Park Resident and parishioner of St. Michael's Church who volunteers and works to keep our neighborhood clean and looking beautiful. Silvia leads and organizes clean ups and landscaping events all throughout our district. She created and maintains the 9/11 Memorial Garden in Sunset Park pristine for all of us to enjoy. Our community is very fortunate to have her.

–Rob Aguilar, Senior Community Advocate

I am thankful for Francisco Roman, who volunteers as an adult language educator at Mixteca, for all his contributions over his 12 years teaching adults reading and writing skills. So many neighbors have taken classes and learned from him, making him an important if unsung hero in our community.

–Saraí Gonzalez, Community Advocate

When dozens of community members were displaced by a fire at 5401 54 St, Lancy Lin and volunteers from Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation were with us on the ground supporting families every day for weeks. I’ll never forget Lancy or her volunteers' commitment to helping our neighbors after tragedy struck.

–Bryan Gross, Community Advocate

So many of our neighbors are in need of immigration help, and CUNY Citizenship Now’s Marisara Quiñones serves our community with dignity and care. Thank you Marisara!

—Jessica Alort, Scheduler




City budget updates. In response to projections of economic turbulence ahead, this month the Adams administration put forward an updated financial plan for the fiscal year ending in July, as well as proposed cuts to the years to come and a policy change asserting that new agency initiatives must be self-funding.

While stabilizing the budget in the face of economic uncertainty is necessary and important, politics are never far removed from the City budget. This mid-year change to the City financial plan is a sign that more cuts may be ahead.

The last City budget passed in July already made cuts to schools, and while schools are being spared another mid-year cut, the City had access to unspent federal funds it could have put toward schools. We will continue to monitor changes to the budget and push for fairness.


Legislation. This month, we introduced a resolution condemning the human trafficking of migrants by the Governors of Texas, Arizona and Florida. Two of our bills on fire safety also had a hearing, one outlining necessary steps to inform tenants of their rights after a fire and another mandating safety education on the fire risks posed by powered mobility devices

Each of these bills is a response to real issues brought to us by our constituents and illustrates how our community work drives our legislative agenda.


Fourth Avenue construction. As you may have noticed, 4 Avenue is under construction again as part of a long-term capital project to improve safety. Phase A of the safety improvement project will reconstruct MTA vents, bring new tree plantings, street lighting and updated traffic signals from 64 St to 8 St.

Phase B, which is currently in the design phase, will bring reinforced protections along the corridor and bike lanes with raised medians, curb and sidewalk extensions and a complete roadway resurfacing.

Construction on this project will move in three block increments, and we have been advocating for temporary bike lanes to be maintained wherever the project impacts the existing parking protected bike lane.


Heating season is here. With cold temperatures upon us, remember that building owners are legally required to provide tenants with heat & hot water. Between the hours of 6:00am and 10:00pm, if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am, inside temperatures are required to be at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are a tenant without heat or hot water, notify your landlord immediately. If the situation is not addressed in a timely manner, you may file a complaint by calling 311 or visiting 311online. Heating-related issues are considered emergency complaints that can result in significant fines.

To check the status of any open heat and hot water violations on your building or to check on your heat and hot water complaint, visit HPD’s website.

This month, we will also be holding a NYCHA oversight hearing on winter preparedness scheduled for December 14



Get help paying for heat. The Home Energy Assistance Program helps low-income households meet the cost of heating their homes. The benefit can pay for fuel, utility bills, replacing heating equipment and repairs. Call our office at 718-439-9012 or click here to learn more about the HEAP program.

Did you owe money on your utility bills before May 1 of this year? Earlier this year, New York State put in place an emergency gas and electric utility relief program. Customers with outstanding bills from before May 1 of this year are eligible to have their debts erased if they received HEAP, SNAP or other forms of government assistance. More info here.

Not sure if you qualified for or received your credit for utility bill relief? Contact our office at 718-439-9012 and bring us a copy of your bill.


Participatory budgeting

The City Council won’t vote on the next year’s fiscal budget until June, but the time to start thinking ahead about improvements and budget priorities for our community is now.

This year, our district will allocate up to $1 million in capital funds for local improvements through participatory budgeting. This means you have a chance to suggest projects to improve our schools, parks and other public spaces. Eligible projects must have an estimated cost between $50,000 and $1,000,000 and last for at least 5 years. You can submit ideas online here.

Join us this December for a presentation on projects that have been funded in the past and projects that are in the works, and suggest ideas of your own.

RSVP for an upcoming event:

Then, in January, join us for community meetings to refine our participatory budget proposals and for continued advocacy on the City budget.

In the weeks and months that follow, we will finalize our ballot proposals, spread the word about this year’s projects and develop advocacy priorities for our district.



Holiday Toy Drives

Join Community Board 7 in collecting toys for the holidays, through December 21. Bring your new, unwrapped toys to 4201 4 Ave during business hours. 

Call 718-854-0003 or email with any questions.



The Red Hook Lions Club will be distributing toys on Saturday, December 17 at the Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9 St from 2:00pm–5:00pm. If you would like to donate NEW toys to be distributed to families in need across the district, you may also drop them off at our office, 4417 4 Ave during business hours.


Pledge your support to #ChooseWelcome

Since buses carrying asylum seekers started arriving this summer, New Yokers have welcomed asylum seekers with open arms and dignity.

I’m taking the pledge to #ChooseWelcome, to help meet every bus with kindness and care  and to demand a welcoming system for all. Will you take the pledge with me? Sign on in support here.



In the news

Tracking Amazon: the New Yorkers monitoring pollution from delivery hubs

Delivery hubs loom over schools, playgrounds and public housing in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Since the pandemic, these facilities have appeared in industrial areas where developers can build them as-of-right with no public input. Taking on major companies like Amazon, which hardly recognizes the impacts these facilities can have on a neighborhood, sometimes feels like a David versus Goliath fight, but our communities are standing up for themselves.

In collaboration with investigative journalists Kaveh Waddell and Aliya Uteuova of The Guardian and Consumer Reports, residents installed air quality and traffic-counting sensors near new facilities in Red Hook. Two months of data collection have revealed that air quality was moderately unhealthy nearly a third of the time near where the sensors were placed.

I’ve introduced legislation at the City Council level to mitigate the impacts of these facilities, and we’ll have more to announce in the coming weeks and months. We’ll be introducing additional legislation soon. In the meantime, read up on how neighbors are tracking the impacts of last-mile facilities here




Yafa Cafe x Sunset Botánica Holiday Winter Market — Saturday, December 3, 6:00pm–9:00pm, Yafa Cafe, 4415 4 Ave

Yafa Cafe’s annual holiday market is back this Saturday, with vendors of local handmade goods and products.

Enjoy a mix of vibrant art pieces, decorative and functional ceramics, locally baked goods and much more. We’ll have a table too. Stop by and say hi!




Red Hook Rockwell Health Community Health Fair and Opening — Sunday, December 4, 10:00am–3:00pm, 17 West 9 St

Meet the team from Red Hook’s newest health center and take advantage of free check-up services on offer at their grand opening this Sunday from 10am to 3pm.

Call 718-599-9090 for more info.



Sunset Park Avenues Elementary: Office of District Planning Town Hall — Monday, December 5, 5:00pm–7:00pm, Virtual

Join this virtual town hall meeting to discuss options for the proposed new school building at 4 Ave and 43 St.

Learn more:



Participatory budget Assembly — Thursday, December 8, 6:00pm–7:30pm, Virtual

This month, we are hosting participatory budget assemblies to review the process, how it works and the status of current projects. We’ll also be collecting ideas and feedback on the ideas we’ve collected so far.

RSVP for our Thursday, December 8 session here.


Eighth Avenue Office Hours — Friday, December 9, 11:00am–3:00pm, Parent-Child Relationship Association, 909 58 St

Join us for open constituent services hours, where we help with government benefits, tenant issues and more. RSVP here.


Nonprofit HelpDesk Discretionary Funding Application Workshop — Monday, December 12, 5:30pm–7:30pm, Virtual 

City Council discretionary funding applications for nonprofits and community-based organizations open in January 2023. 

Whether you are new to the process or have applied before, this workshop is meant to help ensure you understand the application process and everything you need to know to submit the strongest possible request.

RSVP here.



Participatory budget Assembly — Monday, December 12, 6pm-7:30pm, 4417 4 Ave

This month, we are hosting participatory budget assemblies to review the process, how it works and the status of current projects. We’ll also be collecting ideas and feedback on the ideas we’ve collected so far.

RSVP for our Monday, December 12 session here.


Red Hook Office Hours — Tuesday, December 13, 12pm–3pm, 767 Hicks St

Join us for open constituent services hours, where we help with government benefits, tenant issues and more. RSVP here.


Participatory budget assembly — Tuesday, December 13, 6pm-7:30pm, Sunset Park Library, 4201 4 Ave

This month, we are hosting participatory budget assemblies to review the process, how it works and the status of current projects. We’ll also be collecting ideas and feedback on the ideas we’ve collected so far.

RSVP for our Tuesday, December 13 session here.


NYLAG Free Legal Services — Wednesday, December 14, 10:00am–3:00pm, 4417 4 Ave

Once a month, New York Legal Assistance Group brings their van to our district office to provide free civil (non-criminal) legal services for people who cannot afford an attorney. Our van brings lawyers to your neighborhood, and everyone is eligible to receive free legal services, regardless of immigration status.



District 15 day of action and donation drive — Thursday, December 15, 4:00pm–5:00pm, PS 24, 427 38 St

This holiday season, School District 15 is collecting donations for fellow district families, to culminate in a celebration on Thursday, December 15. You can read more about the donation drive here and drop off new winter accessories and other items.



Winter Holiday Festivities — Thursday, December 15, 4:30pm–7:00pm, Red Hook Rec Center, 155 Bay St

Join Red Hook Recreation Center in a celebration of good times with friends, lots of laughter, and holiday joy. With music, games, and toys, all are welcome to make the best memories with us.



Red Hook Office Hours — Friday, December 16, 12pm–3pm, Red Hook Initiative, 767 Hicks St

Join us for open constituent services hours, where we help with government benefits, tenant issues and more. RSVP here.


Eighth Avenue Office Hours — Saturday, December 17, 11:00am–3:00pm, Parent-Child Relationship Association, 909 58 St

Join us for open constituent services hours, where we help with government benefits, tenant issues and more. RSVP here.


Red Hook Winter Wonderland Pop-up Shop — Saturday, December 17, 2:00pm–7:00pm, Red Hook Initiative, 767 Hicks St

Celebrate the holidays by shopping local and supporting your neighbors! Those who wish to be a vendor may reach out to Tevina at 347-469-3261.



Candlelight Vigil Memorial Service in Honor of “The Fallen Angels in 2022” — Saturday, December 17, 4:00pm, Coffey Park 

Let’s remember and honor all the people who transitioned in 2022. Feel free to bring candles and balloons to remember them.





Green-Wood Cemetery Masonry Restoration Training Program

Green-Wood’s masonry restoration training program is a 10-week paid internship in spring 2023. This will be the sixth year of the program, which prepares 18–27 year olds for careers in the skilled t rades. Grads go on to excellent jobs in the union or with reputable private companies.

Sign up for a virtual info session and to learn more here.



BuildingWorks – pre-apprenticeship program of the New York City District Council of Carpenters

BuildingWorks is a pre-apprenticeship training that prepares individuals for the Carpenters Union Apprenticeship. Since 1995, the program has served over 1,000 residents from low-income communities in New York City and surrounding communities.

Apply by January 3 to join the January 2023 session of BuildingWorks. Learn more here.



HPD is hiring Housing inspectors

Housing inspectors are the frontline force who ensure life-saving protections and safe homes for all. These are good paying jobs for anyone with construction experience and the ability to speak another language, which includes many District 38 constituents. 

Learn more and help spread the word:



DSNY is hiring winter snow laborers

The New York City Department of Sanitation recruits temporary, per diem snow laborers. These workers are called on after heavy snowfalls to remove snow and ice Citywide from areas like bus stops, crosswalks and fire hydrants. Pay starts at $17.00 per hour.

Learn more, spread the word and apply



In case you missed it


We were proud to support this year’s Day of the Dead celebration at Green-Wood Cemetery on November 2 with our partners Mixteca and PS 24. 



On Day of the Dead, Mexican families pay homage to loved ones with costumes, dance, elaborate altars and offerings for those who are no longer with us.



This month’s Public Housing Committee hearing focused on NYCHA’s resident engagement efforts. We should strive for more than just engaging residents. The future of public housing should empower residents when it comes to management and decisionmaking about their developments.



During the annual Somos Conference in Puerto Rico, we organized a series of convenings with grassroots groups from across Puerto Rico to learn about the realities faced by people on the island. First, led by frontline groups and former Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, we called on Governor Pierluisi to cancel the LUMA contract as Boricuas faced ongoing and longer outages, while paying some of the highest electricity rates. It ain’t right.  



In partnership with the Puerto Rican Women’s Foundation and Council Members Tiffany Cabán, and Carmen de La Rosa we hosted Encuentro: Entre Mujeres, a joint conversation on gender equality and reproductive justice in Puerto Rico.  Women and gender fluid people in Puerto Rico are in crisis with shockingly high femicides and extremely poor health outcomes.  



Lastly, we also co-hosted a day-long PfknR Resistance Tour : a Social Justice Chinchorreo highlighting the extraordinary work of El Hangar de Santurce, En Ancon de Loíza, Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico and Puerta de Tierra No Se Vende. 



My team and I also organized a Puerto Rican heritage month celebration at City Hall honoring Sunset Park's own Dr. María Pérez y González, renowned musician Dr. Drum and community activist Anthony Feliciano. 



Our City Hall celebration also included works from the City Council’s own Bill Alatriste, a photographer and artist. Bill’s portraits of Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, printed on paper towels, were a powerful reminder of Boricua resistance and colonial neglect.



This month I joined Get Women Cycling and other neighbors to commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Violence. Every person deserves to feel safe on our streets, including our pedestrians, children, seniors and cyclists. We have the tools we need to make Vision Zero a reality.



I joined Redemption Church and Doordash for a turkey giveaway at PS 676 in Red Hook the Tuesday before thanksgiving. Together, we gave away dozens of turkeys and helped guarantee our neighbors a full Thanksgiving meal.



Before the Council’s general meeting on Tuesday, November 22, I joined my colleague Shekar Krishnan and advocacy organizations like Workers Justice Project and NICE in support of the Low Wage Worker Support Fund, the only City-funded initiative dedicated to fighting wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and workplace rights' violations.



At the Council’s meeting on November 22, we voted to approve land use changes that would spur the creation of over 5,000 new units of housing. Land use projects are often controversial and subject to intense negotiations, and I believe we need a better process than the one we currently have to plan for and develop affordable housing. Nonetheless, I recognize the work my colleagues Julie Won and Charles Barron did to win new affordable housing and community benefits for their communities. 



The Women’s Empowerment Coalition of NYC, Mixteca, Muslims Giving Back and others held a community potluck and celebrate your culture night on the eve of Thanksgiving. I was so happy to participate alongside these incredible neighbors.



I joined neighbors from the Red Hook Justice Center and Red Hook N-STAT team on Thanksgiving morning to deliver turkeys and check in on our neighbors. I hope you had a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving!



Last weekend, I joined Fujian United Seniors for a Thanksgiving lunch. I thanked our seniors and the Fujian United Seniors Organization for their exemplary volunteer work in the neighborhood cleaning parks, distributing information and staying involved in civic life.



I was honored to provide a proclamation and participate in the unveiling of the portrait and archives of the Reverend Leoncia Rosado Rousseau (4/4/1912-10/6/2006), known to many as Mama Leo, a Puerto Rican spiritual leader. Mama Leo was a pioneer in advocating for sex workers and those addicted to drugs. She established a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, the Damascus Christian Youth Crusade which became a state-wide model. Mama Leo was one of many unsung heroes who changed the lives of so many people and I was so honored to be part of this important work to document her legacy. The archives are housed at Union Theological Seminary’s Burke Library. 



District Office

4417 4th Avenue, Ground Floor

Brooklyn, NY 11220 

(718) 439 - 9012


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