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District 35

Crystal Hudson

Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights

Dear Mayor: Clinton Hill Calls For a Town Hall on Emergency Shelters

Brooklyn Reader, May 7, 2024

Dear Mayor Adams,

March 2022 was a moment of reckoning for our city. Witnessing an immense surge in asylum-seeking people from around the globe arriving in the five boroughs, The New York Times dubbed Midtown’s Roosevelt Hotel the “New Ellis Island.” Today, just over two years later, almost 200,000 people — primarily from Central and South America and Western Africa — have made their way to our city in search of a more prosperous and dignified future. Yet, upon arriving, asylum seekers are forced to face an increasingly complicated and hostile procedural system—one that is failing both our new neighbors and our established communities alike.

Asylum seekers are told to go to the Roosevelt Hotel for intake and to receive assistance navigating available government services. There, they are promised a bed at either the hotel or a shelter somewhere in the city. However, reporting indicates many people were forced to spend hours waiting before being assigned a room. And in many reported instances, people were forced to sleep on the city’s sidewalks without receiving any form of municipal assistance. Be sure, the implications of this nascent issue reverberate well beyond midtown.

In the district I represent, roughly 4,000 people have been sent to a NYC Health + Hospitals operated Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center (HERRC) on Hall Street. Since the opening of this HERRC and other respite centers, New Yorkers across the city have worked diligently to accommodate the needs of their new neighbors.

In my district alone, community partners like BKLYN Combine, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), and One Love Community Fridge have coalesced to collect donations ranging from clothes and canned food to toiletry items and backpacks full of care packages to provide for the single men at the HERRC on Hall Street and later for the families at the shelter on Park Avenue. Local businesses and nonprofits, through their many partnerships with restaurants and distributors, have also opened their doors and asked how they can be of assistance to new arrivals and the community writ-large, with some donating food and providing material support to those in need. Local residents have also organized to hand out free meals and provide sorely needed translation services.

My office has joined these efforts, working tirelessly with extremely limited resources to provide support for both our new neighbors and the communities in which they now reside. To date, my team and I have:

● Held a months-long clothing and supplies drive in fall and winter 2022, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, to support newly arrived migrants across District 35 and personally delivered those donations to families in need;

● Promoted a mutual aid asylum seeker support drive that called for new toiletry items and bedding in collaboration with Gowanus Mutual Aid and Clinton Hill-Fort Greene Mutual Aid in summer 2023;

● Signed an August 2023 letter from Governor Hochul to President Biden calling on the federal government to expedite work authorizations for all asylum seekers and provide the state and city with funding to guarantee our ability to continue providing housing assistance, healthcare and human services, and educational support among myriad other services that ensure a person’s right to a dignified existence;

● Rallied with the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and advocates to demand federal support and immigration relief for long-term and new New Yorkers;

● Organized a Resource Fair at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 77 in November 2023 to provide a number of services, including immigration support, housing/tenant aid, legal support, IDNYC Mobile Van, older adult services, and free clothing giveaways, to more than 500 new arrivals;

● Facilitated the removal of abandoned vehicles along Hall Street and near the HERRC that became hazardous hangout spots in coordination with the Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, and the NYPD after receiving multiple complaints;

● Arranged two walk-throughs of the HERRC in the second half of 2023 with Hall Street residents, city agency representatives, Brooklyn Community Board 2 representatives, and RXR staff to allow residents to communicate concerns and speak directly to those empowered to address them;

● Allocated nearly $200,000 in limited discretionary expense funds in FY24 (July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024) toward supplemental sanitation services, including clean ups near the HERRC;

● Conducted monthly street sweeping clean-up events under the BQE near the HERRC in coordination with the Department of Sanitation and ACE Programs for the Homeless; and

● Coordinated with NYC Health + Hospitals, which oversees the Hall Street HERRC, to address the community on a quarterly basis, and establish a dedicated email address to facilitate community suggestions and concerns (

And we’re not done yet. In the coming months, my team and I will:

● Organize a second Resource Fair with dozens of community-based organizations and a vaccine bus;

● Renew funding for supplemental sanitation services in District 35 for FY25, targeting the area around the Hall Street HERRC;

● Introduce legislation to increase community notification requirements for the siting of all migrant-related facilities — including those operated by NYC Health + Hospitals, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations — so communities are made aware of changes in real-time;

● Host monthly meetings with local residents to understand ongoing quality of life issues and establish a plan to address them;

● Write a letter to the New York Congressional Delegation urging them to work with President Biden to enhance financial support for New York City and expedite work authorization approval for all asylum seekers, including those from West African nations, the Caribbean and beyond;

● Urge your administration to establish a long-term plan for the care and support of asylum seekers in our city, including steps to address persistent quality of life issues in and around HERRCs and expand co-located support services for asylum seekers, prior to any discussion of a contract renewal for a HERRC.

Despite our shared efforts, the reality is that an influx in the population requires an increase in the resources our communities need. More people means more trash, greater use of public facilities like parks, and more neighborly disputes around issues like noise or loitering. My office and my neighbors have been asking for your assistance for the better part of a year to no avail. I have a team of six. You have a team of nearly 1,300 (not to mention the 350,000 employees working under you across all agencies). I have an annual office budget of $521,000 and a discretionary expense budget of a little more than $2 million that I can use to support nonprofits and city agencies. You have an office budget of $177 million.

Why is it, then, that since placing a HERRC at Hall Street, my community — including our new arrivals — has seen no material support from City Hall? My team and I have tried to schedule a Town Hall meeting with you and your senior leadership, including by filling out your recently mandated elected official engagement form, to discuss how best to address emerging challenges and support asylees in my district, but have been met with no tangible follow-up or firm commitment to even hosting a meeting.

Your administration’s persistent passing of the buck to federal and state officials has meant my office and constituents have had to step up, using our limited resources to address an issue of city-wide and national importance. But we simply do not have access to some vital services, namely translation services for languages predominantly spoken by Black migrants (e.g. Wolof, Fula, Malinké, Pulaar, Mandinka, and Bambara) and wraparound support services for those in dire financial straits who are resorting to panhandling. In FY24, your administration refused to re-fund the Language Access Initiative: Interpreter Bank and Worker Cooperatives that would have provided the city critically needed language access support. And despite the respite center opening in July 2023, my office has been the sole point of culturally competent contact for community members until two months ago.

We know the services and programs my office and our community have provided are nowhere near sufficient. We are fighting symptoms, not root causes, because we have neither the jurisdictional authority nor the financial resources to do so.

Yes, we need significantly more funding from the state and federal governments to meet the growing need. Yes, we need Congress to reform our immigration system, and, more urgently, they need to expand work authorization to more countries so more migrants can work and move out of shelters. And yes, we need a national settlement strategy for asylum seekers coming to our country. And I have made all of this clear in the aforementioned letter to President Biden that I signed onto with the Governor’s leadership.

But our city has resources. You have added an additional $2.2 billion to your FY25 Executive Budget, but there is still, conservatively, at least $1 billion remaining in unallocated revenue that you can utilize to support vital city services––like our libraries, cultural organizations, CUNY, and older adult centers––as well as new arrivals and local communities. We can use the unallocated $1 billion the Council identified, as well as the recently earmarked $3 billion in the New York State FY25 budget, to (1) pay for more routine services in and around HERRCs including sanitation, legal services, mental health support, and workforce development, (2) restore cuts to and enhance the Parks Department’s Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) program to maintain and enforce rules in local parks, or (3) to expand service and program offerings to our neighbors in need. These are initiatives that can help integrate new arrivals into their communities if done right.

As the one responsible for addressing the influx of our asylum seeking neighbors, you have the unique authority and ability to ensure the seamless integration of new arrivals into our communities. While some measures may be out of your control and in the hands of our partners in Washington, D.C. and Albany, you can and must do better by my constituents — new and long-time residents alike. And I am a willing partner. I am asking you, on behalf of my community, to commit to co-hosting a Town Hall within 30 days of the date of this letter with all relevant agencies and contractors in charge of the management and operation of the Hall Street HERRC and recently opened shelter on Ryerson Street, as well as the Department of Sanitation, the Department of Parks & Recreation, and other city agencies who can help to the address quality of life issues my constituents are facing.

We need sustained leadership now more than ever. Let’s work together and use the innovation and ingenuity of our city’s municipal workforce to make New York City the home we know it can be to current New Yorkers and those seeking refuge and asylum alike.

Supporting our older neighbors in the New York City budget

By Adrienne Adams, Crystal Hudson & Beth Finkel

amNY, June 1, 2023

The number of older adults in New York City is soaring.

A recent report by the Center for an Urban Future highlights the trends shaping this massive demographic shift. New York City’s 65-and-older age group grew by 36 percent over the past decade. New Yorkers ages 50 and older comprise nearly one-third of the City’s population. Even more striking, the number of older adults living below the poverty line has increased by 37 percent.

These realities call for increased material support for our older neighbors.

However, the Mayor’s proposed budget falls well short of making the needed investments that allow us to ensure our parents, grandparents and other loved ones can live safely and with dignity in the city they call home as they age. The Council is united in efforts to close these gaps in funding.

Despite serving as linchpins to our city’s economy and cultural life, and making up the city’s biggest volunteer base, our older New Yorkers have been left to struggle. More than half spend too much of their income on housing. One in ten is food insecure. And because of the prohibitively expensive cost of medication, too many go without life-saving prescriptions.

Crystal’s Corner: Land Use by the People, for the People

Brooklyn Paper, April 28, 2023

Take a moment to imagine yourself standing in the middle of Downtown Brooklyn or Williamsburg or Prospect Heights. Look around. The overbearing luxury glass towers – residential, commercial, or both — beaming into the skyline, likely make up part of what you see. Ten, twenty years ago, these buildings weren’t there. Their blueprints likely didn’t even exist.

Yet, their ubiquitous presence today has undoubtedly reshaped entire neighborhoods and, in most cases, offered the communities in which they were built very little in return. So, how did we get to the point where huge projects spring up quicker than we’re able to keep track of them? And why do our communities play only a cursory role in the decision-making process, if they get the chance to participate at all?

Our Communities Need Fair Pay for Home Care Work; Albany Leaders Must Hear Them

Co-Authored with Bobbie Sackman, Gotham Gazette, April 18, 2023

For the first time in United States history, a president has declared April as Care Workers Recognition Month. Making the announcement, President Biden stated, “Care workers help raise our children, assist seniors as they age with dignity, and support people with disabilities.” Despite this, care workers remain among our nation’s least recognized heroes.

Today, home care workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the country and routinely face harsh working conditions. Countless providers are forced to hold multiple jobs and overwhelmingly rely on public assistance programs. One in four home care workers lives under the federal poverty line. In an industry comprised primarily of women, particularly women of color, the impact of this chronic underpayment widens gender and racial pay gaps, and tangibly undermines the wellbeing of our communities. 

Crystal’s Corner: This Women’s History Month, we deserve action on reproductive rights

Brooklyn Paper, March 30, 2023

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last spring left the vast majority of the nation lurching. In the weeks after the decision was leaked to the press, we were forced to grapple with the reality that an unelected, undemocratic body could inflict such harsh consequences on our communities and scrambled to continue delivering necessary abortion and reproductive care to all who needed it.

The Dobbs decision left us in “a different world.” It made clear that long established legal protections can readily be struck down, and it dangerously undermined our faith in an institution meant to safeguard the very democratic principles this nation supposedly holds so high. More than that, the Dobbs decision showed us that the fight for reproductive justice––one where the struggle for racial equality, gender equity, and economic liberation converge to underscore the plight of Black women, Black LGBTQIA+ folks, and poor and working class people across the country, in particular––has not yet been won.

Crystal’s Corner: Protecting Black Futures is a Moral Obligation to Expand and Fully Fund Right to Counsel

Brooklyn Paper, February 28, 2023

From 2010 to 2020, New York City saw a 9% decline in its Black population. In just the last decade, the District I represent – which includes the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bed-Stuy – has experienced a 20% loss in its Black population. In neighboring communities across the city, the same housing and affordability crisis wreaking havoc in traditionally Black neighborhoods is actively undermining the wellbeing of all poor and working class communities across the five boroughs.

In the last two decades, the city and state have taken outwardly hostile stances toward our most vulnerable tenants and moderate and low-income homeowners, worsening economic strain and deepening housing instability. Understanding, then, the mechanisms driving the affordability crisis and enacting meaningful solutions––those that adequately address the material needs of our most vulnerable neighbors — is critical.

Crystal’s Corner: Accountability matters. Why do we exempt the worst landlords?

Brooklyn Paper, January 20, 2023

Every New Yorker knows there are a handful of fundamental truths about living in the greatest city in the world: Times Square should be avoided at all costs, we have the best bagels, and your landlord is probably terrible. Horror stories of persistent leaks, ceiling collapses, and rodent infestations are all too common. To be clear, big, corporate landlords with several multi-unit buildings are disproportionately the problem, not smaller independent landlords who rely on rental incomes to get by.

Op-Ed | Crystal’s Corner: 311 is good. We’re better.

Brooklyn Paper, December 23, 2022

Crystal’s Corner is a monthly column written by New York City Council Member Crystal Hudson (District 35), Chair of the Committee on Aging.

I’m as local as it gets. My team and I see it all, and more: Noise complaints. Evictions. Alternate-side parking. Public safety. Sanitation. Our mission, since we’ve been in office together, is to make city government and its resources more accessible, reliable, and responsive to the needs of all our neighbors.

Consider Ms. Mobley. At ninety-six years old, she’s lived in Fort Greene for more than seven decades. After living in the same apartment all those years, she decided it was time to downsize. Moving around her home was difficult, and getting to her appointments became taxing. Yet, Ms. Mobley remains an independent woman, continuing to do the things that keep her happy, healthy, and thriving. She came to us seeking something that is too frequently denied to older New Yorkers across the five boroughs, and that is the opportunity to age in place affordably, with dignity and comfort in the city we call home.

Op-Ed: New York City isn’t ready for its aging population

New York Daily News, September 15, 2022

Our city’s affordability crisis knows no bounds. Its effects are not only unquestionably tangible today but also a harbinger of crises to come. Presently, skyrocketing rents undermine the health and wellbeing of our communities, forcing scores of long-time residents out of the neighborhoods they’ve long called home and making our city uninhabitable for the millions of poor and working class, Black and Brown New Yorkers continually pushed into the margins of society. But have you considered the effects this crisis has on older New Yorkers — those living on a fixed income, those with mobility limitations or chronic illness, those living close to the loved ones that care for them, or those who simply want to age in place in the comfort of their own homes?

Op-Ed: NYC’s homecare workers need care too

New York Daily News, March 6, 2022

Imagine spending two hours on a bus and sitting on three subway trains twice a day to get to your job. Once you get there, you work for 24 hours straight but only get paid for 13 because of an archaic state law. And you’re forced to go into work during a global pandemic even if you’re not feeling well. Odds are you’d likely join the millions of workers who are voluntarily quitting their jobs and try your luck finding a new one. But many workers don’t have that choice.