Steve Levin has carved out a name for himself in city politics since taking a council seat in 2010 and championing countless causes affecting his constituency in Brooklyn. One of Levin’s concerns in representing a number of gentrifying neighborhoods—District 33 is comprised of up-and-comers like Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Vinegar Hill, Boerum Hill and Park Slope—has been affordable housing. When major complexes began to spring up along the Williamsburg waterfront, Levin worked with developers and community groups on the fight to ensure the pricey buildings also included a significant number of below-market apartments. His office also supported and helped extend rent regulations, protecting tenants from being priced out by an influx of new neighbors.
The council member has lobbied for increased education reform and funds in his district, working with groups like the Coalition for Educational Justice and the Center for Arts Education to protest recent budget and program cuts as well as school closures. Most recently, he proposed legislation calling for increased NYPD investigations into serious traffic accidents, a major issue in a district with a large cyclist population. Levin, who held a number of retail and telemarketing jobs before landing his first gig on a campaign in Bushwick, knows finding one’s place in the political scene can be daunting for young New Yorkers, but he believes the key to making a difference is getting involved on a community level, such as volunteering in soup kitchens or petitioning for local legislation. “New York is the biggest city in the country, but in a lot of ways it still functions as any other city or town,” says Levin. “The reality is, we’re all able to have an impact. It’s not as out of reach as you might think.”
GET INVOLVED: The council member’s office hires undergraduate and graduate students as unpaid interns for the fall, spring and summer semesters. Applicants should demonstrate an interest in government, public policy and community activism; once hired, interns work closely with the council member, attending community board meetings, researching legislation and even dealing directly with constituents’ cases. Send applications to 250 Broadway, room 1735, New York, NY 10007 or 410 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217. More information about internships and volunteer opportunities with Levin and the City Council office can be found on the official New York City Council website (council.nyc.gov).