Policy Platform

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Affordable

Housing

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Public

Education

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Public Transportation

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Climate

Change

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Human

Rights

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Economic

Recovery

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Criminal Justice

Reform

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Workers'

Rights

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Healthcare

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Animal

Rights

Affordable Housing

We are at an urgent moment in the city’s growth. More people are leaving the city than moving here, largely due to the cost of housing - and the pandemic certainly has not helped. I have lived here my entire life, and I have never seen the housing crisis as urgent as it is now and the city is significantly hurting its ability to attract and retain people. This impact is felt exponentially more by our seniors and lower income residents. We need action now.

 

I support a “Housing First” policy, which states that we should be directing more of our resources towards housing, where a whole host of challenges – homelessness, but also mental health, medical care, substance abuse, unemployment and more, can be better addressed. We cannot address many of those challenges well if people have the primary concern of housing insecurity. 

United for Housing, a coalition of more than 80 housing organizations, has put forth a report that I am fully ready to support. Building off of this foundation, we must do the following:

  • Make a $4 billion capital investment each year which includes:​​

    • $200 million in rental assistance​

    • ​​$2.5 billion for HPD for affordable housing and homeownership opportunities

    • $1.5 billion for NYCHA – to be matched by State funding – so we can restore the quality of our public housing

  • Build and commit to a strong racial equity strategy to combat the historical racism in housing policy

  • Build new affordable housing and preserve existing affordable housing – especially through the thousands of HDFC co-ops in our city

  • Promote homeownership through HDFC co-ops and new Mitchell-Lamas

  • Examine upzoning proposals in higher income neighborhoods

  • Support the permitting and building of accessory units

  • Create new rules and regulations around international real estate – this includes:

    • Downzoning “hot spots” that are being overdeveloped

    • Prevent real estate owners from hiding behind LLCs

    • Tax Airbnb properties and pied-à-terre units

  • We must also increase housing for seniors (the fastest growing sector within the homeless population), families, and people living with HIV

 

Public Education

Our public schools represent the future of our city, but it is vastly uneven, and unfair. We can fix that.

When it comes to the needs of schools across District 7, New York must be focused on the varied needs of each community. First and foremost, the quality of education in the richest city in the world should not depend on your neighborhood or income level. Equity in education is paramount to the future of our city and improving income inequality, higher education levels, and local economic success.

 

Our goal should be to do everything we can to help teachers, students, and parents alike achieve a high quality educational experience. Things like smaller class sizes, better technology, expanded second language instruction, increased teacher pay, and programs that include surrounding neighborhoods are vital to creating a community investment in our schools.

 

Early education:

NYC schools are the most segregated in the nation. Part of that is state policy, and part of that is local policy. On the state level, I will join the effort of the Alliance for Quality Education for the state to provide adequate funding to the city. By AQE’s estimates, the city is owed $4 Billion in education funding, and even a portion of that would have a huge impact in level-funding the vast deficiencies in the school system. But money is not the only issue. We as a city have to revisit how we allocate resources and students, throughout the schools. 

  • Provide childcare for all families who need it, to bridge the gap between childbirth and preschool, and enable working parents to return to work without concern for their child’s welfare. 

  • Establish and expand universal pre-k throughout the city

  • Eliminate screens for elementary and middle schools

  • Eliminate geographic screens for high schools

  • Evaluate Gifted & Talented programs to determine if they are being used to widen racial and economic disparities in schools

  • Provide after school programming for children who need a place when the school day ends

  • Reduce class sizes and fully fund education through the $4 Billion Alliance for Fiscal Equity lawsuit

  • Require every DOE school have a DOE-employed nurse, and a social worker

  • Support the Youth Summer Employment Program for older students

  • End zero-tolerance discipline policies, which involve the police in minor misbehavior and often lead to arrests and juvenile detention referrals

  • Reduce the reliance on invasive technologies like metal detectors and biometric surveillance systems that treat students with suspicion

  • Hire more people of color as teachers and administrators

  • Repeal the Hecht Calandra Act so that the City controls SHSAT admissions

  • Expand food access programs such as SNAP, FRESH, GrowNYC Youthmarkets, and Health Bucks redeemable at farmers markets across the city

Higher education:

CUNY is the nation's top urban public university system. It serves  almost half a million students through 25 institutions. According to the CUNY website, 82% of CUNY freshmen are NYC public high school graduates and almost 75% of our CUNY students are students of color. Any disinvestment in CUNY will contribute to inequity in our communities and in our respective districts. This is terrible news for NYC's future workforce, especially in a time of high unemployment. The City needs investments that will help our most marginalized communities. 

The CUNY CCNY campus is adjacent to district 7, and while not IN the district itself, many staff, faculty and students live in the district. I have joined with a number of my colleagues running for city council across the city with a plan to support it:

  • Eliminate tuition at all CUNY Community Colleges.

  • Create a CUNY Diversity Improvement Plan to increase the number of people of color in full time faculty

  • Provide Mental Health and Wellness funding, eliminating CUNY Health/Wellness fees

  • Creation of a Community College Prison re-entry program for CUNY

  • Increase funding for CUNY through the use of PILOTs - Payments In Lieu Of Taxes - from private universities as a way of achieving educational equity

Public Transportation

If we are going to be a 21st century city, we must have a 21st century transportation network. This includes a mass transit system brought to a state-of-good repair with significant modernization, along with relevant transportation alternatives, system expansion, affordability, and sustainability.

 

We must look to plans like the 2021 Transportation Equity Agenda – put forward by organizations like StreetsPAC, Riders Alliance, and Transportation Alternatives – as a basis for making fundamental change to our city’s transit infrastructure. We should consider the Regional Plan Association's work in presentation of future concepts, options and alternatives too. We must start with the following:

  • Have an equity-centered agenda that expands accessibility and affordability and keeps New Yorkers safe

  • Augment public transit funding through mechanisms like congestion pricing; also helping to keep fares low

  • Invest in the workhorses of our community: local buses (an emission free fleet!)- rather than further service cutbacks, we should expand the only public transportation in NYC that maximizes ADA compliance and use technology to improve the flow of service

  • Initiate an assessment into innovative transportation solutions, including utilizing the Amtrak lines under Riverside Park to potentially create a new railroad station at 125th Street and 12th Avenue, to reduce stress on the overcrowded and strained 1-line. We should also assess if a public-private partnership could help underwrite costs such long-term new infrastructure.

  • Prioritize the climate by:

    • Investing in electrification projects across the city, reducing carbon footprints

    • Expand the NYC pilot made for electric delivery bikes

    • Create a network of micro-mobility through modes such as e-bikes and scooters

    • Integrate mobility programming into public realm projects and spaces

  • Continuing and expanding the Fair Fares program, ensuring that public transportation is affordable for all

  • Keep our cyclists safe by creating and maintaining dedicated bike lanes

We have the opportunity to become a leader among the largest cities in the world for having a socially, economically, and environmentally fair public transportation system. The MTA needs a plan that is both affordable and more broadly available to the neediest New Yorkers.

 

And we cannot ignore the fact that the pandemic has caused the MTA's revenue to decline drastically in 2020. We need to pressure the federal government to provide funding for NYC's transportation systems to ensure long-term viability.

 

Climate Change

Climate change is the biggest issue that our city – and our planet – is facing. We need strong and comprehensive policies that will combat climate change, while also addressing the systemic inequities in our city. I support the New York League of Conservation Voters policy agenda for NYC, including:

Common Sense Waste Management

Meet the City’s Zero Waste goal by 2030 – the City must invest in a massive public education campaign, advance a mandatory residential organics program, avoid the use of unnec­essary single-use plastics, and follow through with its commercial waste zone plan.

Shift to High Efficiency, Low Emission Forms of Transportation

Moving New Yorkers out of single-occupancy vehicles via improved and efficient public transit, bike, scooter, and other micro-mobility programs and take a comprehensive citywide approach to reimagining streetspace, so that there is adequate infra­structure in place to meet the growth in sustainable transportation.

Conserving New York City’s Natural Areas

Open green space is one of the City’s most valuable environmental assets. The urban canopy and open spaces help to mitigate climate change, provide clean air and habitats for native wildlife, absorb stormwater, and contribute to the well-being of our residents and our economy.

 

Energy

  • Ensure the implementation of NYC’s nation-leading buildings emissions law

  • Upgrade the City’s wastewater treatment plants to process organic waste into renewable energy

  • Work to remove barriers to siting and permitting renewable energy projects citywide

  • Ensure that city-owned buildings are on track to meet emis­sions reduction targets

  • Funding community-led renewable solar energy projects in low-income commu­nities

  • Revisit mandatory parking minimums for new developments, especially those in transit rich neighborhoods 

  • Pursue the passage of the Renewable Rikers Act, which would provide the opportunity for NYC to build solar at-scale

Transportation

  • Support the implementation of a fair congestion pricing plan that will reduce both emissions and traffic congestion

  • Support the Better Bus Action Plan with a focus on transit deserts within bus rapid transit technology

  • Embrace multimodal public transit, including bike share and bike infrastructure, scooters, light rails and ferries

  • Ensure that mobility via bus and bike are dependable by increasing enforcement of dedicated lanes and assessing stricter penalties for violations.

  • In residential neighborhoods, study the feasibility of a residential parking permit system

  • Fight for reform and increased enforcement against placard abuse by city workers and officials

Resiliency

  • Develop a long-term resiliency plan, including airports, wastewater treatment plants, and marine transfer stations that are vulnerable to sea rise, power outages, and storm surge

  • Strengthen zoning codes to protect homes in areas against climate change, projections should consider exclusionary zones for future development and strategic retreat

  • Support robust natural buffers along the coast including restored wetlands, oyster reefs, dunes, and other living shore­line approaches

  • Ensure the steadfast implementation of the Cool Neighbor­hoods program to protect New Yorkers against urban heat island effect through mitigation, adaptation, and monitoring

  • Play Fair with the City’s parks budget, with particular focus on construction and maintenance of parks in communities underserved by parkland

  • Support waterfront parks as a vital component of resiliency, and continue the expansion of public access to the waterfront on both public and private property

 

Human Rights

LGBTQ+ JUSTICE

The LGBTQ+ community is still fighting for the rights and protections that they deserve. There is so much more that our city, state, and country can be doing to ensure that members of the community are safe and have the same rights of all New Yorkers. In NYC, we can do the following:

  • Ensure that runaway LGBTQ+ youth have access to housing and services such as healthcare access, educational opportunities, and job training

  • Pass NY-S6066/NY-A8070, which would require the analysis and reporting of hate crime statistics in New York State

  • Pass the LGBTQ long-term care facility residents’ bill of rights (NY-S2912/NY-A0866)

Disability Rights

According to Human Rights Watch, over one billion individuals worldwide have a disability and according to the New York State Department of Health survey, 1 in 5 New Yorkers report having a disability. This is an area where New York can and must improve its policies, programs, and awareness.

 

We must advocate for equal rights for all our fellow New Yorkers and take concrete actions to create change through:

  • Ensuring our public transportation system, including our subways, are fully accessible

  • Work to ensure that all buildings are accessible at the door, the curb, and for parking purposes

  • Support and expand community programs that that lead to long-term job stability

  • Advocate for caregivers to be covered by health insurance

  • Pass legislation requiring city cultural institutions to allow free entry and to incentivize private businesses to offer discounted services and fees

  • Expand the city's 55a program and increase the number of people with disabilities hired for city positions

  • Increase school funding to ensure that all students with disabilities are able to receive the specialized teaching they need

  • Audit the Access-A-Ride program and reform the way it operates to better suit the needs of the disabled and senior community

  • Expand eviction protections to specifically include disabled New Yorkers

 
 

Economic Recovery

There are several plans for recovery but the most far-reaching and has the most equitable structural change is the NY Workforce Recovery Strategy Group, which is led by the NYC Employment & Training Coalition, a group of private sector and human services organization leaders. They produced a strategic plan for New York City’s economic recovery called “Recovery For All: A Vision for New York City’s Equitable Economic Recovery” and I have largely relied on this report as a basis for my own plan, and will work with E&TC to make it become a reality in the City Council. 

 

Much of the report focused on a strategy focused on opportunity, equity, education and training will reshape our economy to create healthier communities, more skilled workers, deeper talent pools, and a more resilient business climate. New York City was the national epicenter for COVID-19 crisis. The health and economic impacts have caused sudden and deep damage to the city’s economy and claimed the lives of over 20,000 New Yorkers almost 90% of whom were persons of color.

 

Some key points are:

 

Getting “back to normal” is not good enough: “Normal” for millions of New Yorkers meant multiple low-wage jobs with little mobility, no access to healthcare or other benefits, little economic security and unsafe working conditions, and unpredictable schedules. A stronger and inclusive economy that ensures job quality, career mobility, living wage pay and benefits, stable schedules, and safe working conditions is the new starting line. 

 

Prioritize & collaborate with impacted communities: Ensure that programs and investments prioritize the communities, individuals and small businesses that have been hardest hit by this pandemic, and particularly those facing historic marginalization and disinvestment. Work in collaboration with community-based organizations and local stakeholders to build policy, programs and investments, enabling innovation not regulation. 

 

No austerity budgeting - Invest in a sustainable economy built from the bottom-up: Rebuilding NYC’s economy with a focus on its workforce and local small businesses is an investment in our future economy and tax base, not an act of charity. An equitable recovery plan must reprioritize and redirect resources toward community investments through a combination of new revenue streams and increased cuts in other portions of the City budget. 

 

Suggestions for an equitable recovery include:

 

Education and Training Ecosystem for the Displaced Workforce and Marginalized Communities

  • Fund employment programs for immediate relief efforts including transitional employment, wage subsidy, work based learning programs and apprenticeships

 

  • Enable contract flexibility for workforce development contracts reflective of COVID and post-COVID requirements

 

  • Provide guidance and fund supplies and infrastructure to ensure COVID-safe in-person training

  • Use a local outreach and referral networks to support targeted local hiring in hardest hit communities

  • Create resources, opportunities and incentives for employers to work with service providers and colleges to quickly infuse labor market needs into curriculum design & hiring

  • Strengthen connections between union and non-union training programs and strengthen pre-apprenticeship programs

  • Develop, expand and fund a city-wide 21st century career development system focused on training, upskilling, employment and education supports for a post-COVID economy

  • Integrate workforce development into all economic development efforts that arise to jumpstart the economy and build in sustainable funding sources

 

Rebuilding Through Public Works and Direct Public Employment

  • Invest in accelerated public projects to repair and rebuild public infrastructure & longer-term infrastructure projects that create equitable opportunity

  • Focus public employment on equity: people of color, low-income, and public housing communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and the job losses as a result of the virus should be directly targeted to take part in public works projects. 

  • We should look to leverage the substantial wealth accumulated within the City and State by unlocking new revenue streams such as a pied-a-terre tax, enhanced millionaire’s tax, and/or bonding for capital projects should all be considered.

 

Relief Programs for Individuals and Communities Impacted by the Pandemic Recession

  • Provide direct cash assistance to individuals and families in neighborhoods most affected by COVID-19

  • Provide expanded tax credit options to all low-income New Yorkers such expanded NYS Earned-Income Tax Credit and Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit

 

Recovery for Local Small Businesses/Nonprofits, and Support for New Business Development

  • Help small businesses and new businesses start back up with less red tape

  • Disincentivize leaving retail spaces vacant for landlords

  • Provide low-interest loans to established businesses

  • Provide free and/or low-cost technology and technical expertise to local businesses

  • Restructure the workforce system to better serve small businesses and incentivize training partnerships

  • Use wage subsidies to promote small business inclusive hiring and re-hiring

  • Provide “incubator” assistance to new small businesses starting up in NYC, especially for women and minority-owned businesses

 

Additional proposed benefits for Electronic Benefit Transfer cardholders:

 

There are almost 2 million New Yorkers who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. SNAP is America’s most important anti-hunger program, reaching over 40 million people nationwide. There are almost 3 dozen cultural institutions on City-owned land, and I will seek to have these institutions admit EBT cardholders at either free or a voluntary donation, whatever is their current practice with seniors and students. I will also ask cultural institutions to offer memberships to EBT cardholders at the same reduced fee schedule as offered to seniors and students. Lastly, I will seek to change the law so that all private businesses that currently offer benefits to students and seniors, must also add EBT cardholders, at the same price point. 

Criminal Justice Reform

New York needs a more restorative criminal justice system, rather than a retributive one that causes undue hardship on everyday New Yorkers and stresses our justice infrastructure. 

 

Closing Rikers is the right step, we need to explore alternatives to incarceration that will allow individuals prior to trial to continue with their lives and not be cut off from work, school and family. Allowing people to be closer to their homes, near families and friends for support, is better than placing them away from local resources and deepening their isolation. I am also opposed to building new prisons, I believe we have enough capacity in existing rehabbed facilities to accommodate all our criminal justice needs. 

 

This is a pivotal time in our city and in our country. With the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, millions of people hit the streets and demanded change. Our city – and our country – have to work to make this change and ensure that there is true racial justice. “Defund The Police” means lots of different things depending on whom you ask, what it means to me is reallocating a portion of our law enforcement budget to other areas, and there is a lot of data to suggest that NYC is “over-policed.” Consider this: NYC has the largest police force in the nation, over 36,000 uniformed officers. Three decades ago we had a force about a third smaller, at 25,000 officers, and about 500,000 major felonies each year in that decade. Today we have under 100,000 felonies annually but the overall number of cops has increased. If we were able to manage with fewer officers and more crime 30 years ago, clearly we can manage with fewer officers and less crime today. Even reducing our forces to just 90’s levels we would still have the largest force in the country, twice the size of Chicago’s, a distant second with a headcount of 12,000. 

This cannot be done overnight, but over time it would save us over a billion dollars in annual expenses, money we could re-allocate to invest in affordable housing, public education and libraries and many other areas that would benefit from additional funding. Capital reallocation from the police to other policy areas is only a small part of the struggle. There is a culture in the police that focuses too much on law enforcement and not enough on public safety. As our police force has expanded in size, it has also taken on far more non-law enforcement responsibilities. A new “mental health corps” could potentially be far more effective (and certainly less lethal) in addressing someone having a mental health crisis, and additional investment in drug treatment and homeless outreach would reduce the need for the police for matters that should really involve social workers and other professionals rather than law enforcement.

While many of the laws impacting criminal justice in NYC are set by the state, there is plenty we can do to change the culture of our criminal justice system including: 

  • The City Council should have “advise and consent” on the Mayoral appointment of the NYPD Police Commissioner 

  • Strengthen the role of the Civilian Complaint Review Board in the disciplinary process so that the NYPD Commissioner does not have the final decision about police misconduct.

  • Stop “stop and frisk” and broken windows policing

  • Provide more transitional housing for the formerly incarcerated

  • End solitary confinement in city-run jails

  • Repeal the lifetime felony ban on jury duty

  • Publicly disclose the records of police officer misconduct

  • Enact residency requirements for NYPD officers 

  • Decriminalize marijuana and expunge related drug convictions

  • Support safe injection sites and needle exchange for intravenous drug users

 

Workers' Rights

Workers in our city deserve rights. Our city would be nothing without incredible contributions that low- and middle-wage workers make to our city. From restaurant workers to those working in building and construction to those in healthcare – there are thousands upon thousands of folks who need worker protections.

To ensure that workers are treated fairly and with dignity, I will fight so that our city:

  • Protects workers throughout COVID, which would include access to PPE, funds for individuals who are ineligible for unemployment, layoff protections, and fair sick leave – regardless of contractor status

  • Passes Intro 1415-2019 and Intro 1396-2019, which would protect fast food workers from being fired without cause

  • Ensures that those who clean our schools – keeping our students and teachers safe – have job security and fair wages

  • Does what we can so that gig workers, delivery workers, and warehouse workers (all who have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic) have protections and good wages – which includes expanding mandatory sick-day requirements to cover these workers

  • Passes Intro. 2006-2020 and Intro. 1995-2020, which would require homeless shelters to pay their security worker fairly and offer sufficient training

  • Passes Intro 339, which would expand NYC Human Rights Law to cover domestic workers – giving them the strongest anti-discrimination protections possible

 

Healthcare

A recent Community Health study determined that about a sixth of the residents in Community District 9 (roughly 110th to 155th Street on the West Side of Manhattan) were unable to get medical attention when they needed it, placing it last in the dozen districts of Manhattan, and ranked almost last in 57th place out of the 59 community districts across the entire city. There is a world-class hospital located in the center of CD9: Mt. Sinai Morningside Hospital, but many people who desperately need medical attention are still unable to get it. 

Donating plasma after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies

Some things we should do:

  • Invest in medical clinics in underserved neighborhoods, to reduce negative health outcomes

  • Prioritize funding for our public hospitals

  • Fully fund the NYC Care program which connects New Yorkers without health insurance to Metro Health Plus, the City's health insurance program

  • Support universal healthcare in NYS through the New York Health Act

  • Prioritize the maternal mortality crisis, which disproportionately affects women of color, and especially Black women

  • Establish minimum staffing ratios, to help healthcare institutions manage the quality of care and reduce staff burnout, particularly among nursing staff

  • Moratorium on hospital closures - the Berger Commission in the Pataki Administration led a reduction in beds, which badly impacted us in the pandemic

 

Animal Rights

As leaders, we must speak up for those whose voices are not heard. This needs to extend to animals as well. There is so much more that our city can be doing to protect the rights of animals, and we need to step up.

 

To start, NYC should:

  • Stop the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores

  • Ban the sale of animal fur

  • Promote the consumption of plant-based meals, which can also be integrated into public school meals

  • Increase funding to Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) – our city’s publicly funded animal shelters that accept all animals, regardless of circumstance

  • Enact Intro 1483, which would which would require the DHS, in collaboration with the Department of Social Services, to develop a plan to accommodate pets of homeless individuals and families with the objective of providing pet-friendly shelters

  • Continue and expand funding for Wildlife NYC