Bronx Building Workers to Vote on Strike

A union that represents maintenance workers in buildings across the borough will hold a vote today to authorize a strike, if necessary, as it continues to negotiate a contract with the Bronx Realty Advisory Board, which represents the building owners.The workers already rejected a contract proposal from management last week, saying cuts to health care and retirement benefits were unacceptable. A press release from the union threatened a strike if a contract is not agreed upon by March 15.The 32BJ SEIU union represents more than 3,000 apartment building employees at over 1,000 residential buildings in the Bronx who work as supers, janitors, doormen, elevator operators and garbage handlers. Remember the serious garbage pile-up during the Co-Op City workers’ strike last summer? That one got dirty (literally). We’ll keep you posted on this; the vote is set for this evening at 6:15.

Budget Could Hit Local Homeless Program Hard

Editor’s note: this article first appeared in the latest issue of the Tremont Tribune, which is on the streets and online now.Park Avenue Thorpe, a supportive housing building home to 20 formerly homeless families, could be shuttered this year by funding cuts. (Photos by Jeanmarie Evelly) Digna, a 42-year-old formerly homeless woman and mother of two, has called Park Avenue Thorpe home for the last 11 years. She found refuge in the six-story yellow brick building in Bathgate, where an onsite caseworker helps her balance her bank account, pay her bills and talk to the teachers at her two sons’ schools, as Digna’s English is somewhat shaky.The building, on East 184th Street, is run by Thorpe Family Residence, a nonprofit that provides supportive housing and services to chronically homeless families in an effort to keep them out of the city’s sprawling shelter system.But severe funding cuts, proposed to balance the state’s ballooning budget, have put Thorpe and dozens of other programs like it at risk of closure.“These cuts may be the beginning of the end for us,” said Executive Director Sister Mary Jane Deodati, who oversees the 20 families that call the building home.Many of Thorpe’s residents are single mothers who have battled addiction, have physical or emotional disabilities or who have been victims of domestic violence. A caseworker helps each tenant with personal finances, with finding jobs and other day-to-day tasks.“Many of our people are fragile and need constant support,” Deodati said. “If this program is cut, they’re going to be homeless again.”Park Avenue Thorpe relies largely on funding from the state’s Supportive Housing for Families and Young Adults, or SHFYA, a program that saw its budget cut in half last year by former Gov. David Paterson.

Kids' Week in the Bronx

The kids are off from school this week for winter break, and chances are they’re driving you crazy. In honor of that, the Parks Department is sponsoring a series of kid-friendly events across the city to entertain the little ones. Head over to the Van Cortlandt Nature Center in Van Cortlandt Park today or Friday for free nature lessons and art and crafts sessions. Call (718) 548-0912 or visit the Parks Dept. website for more information.More local events can be found in our community calendar, below.Editor’s note: What did we miss?

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 23

Frigid air in the Bronx this morning eventually gives way to slightly less frigid air this afternoon, but the sun will shine!A couple of programming notes: The Norwood News, which covers Board 7, hits streets today. We’ll trickle out some of the published stories (and some that didn’t make the cut) here on BxNN and have them all up on the News’ site by the end of the week. Also, we will be Tweeting live (@norwoodnews, and I’ll see if we can get it up on this site as well) from the Bronx Borough President’s “State of the Borough” speech at DeWitt Clinton high school tomorrow, starting at 11:30 a.m. And look for Bronx Foodie and The Bronx Sports Column, making their triumphant returns on Friday.To the news!Story of the Day:Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. gave a little highlight reel preview of his State of the Bronx speech to NY1’s Dean “The Dream.” Here’s my condensed Sportscenter-like montage of what to expect: “The state of the borough is strong . .