Read the speech



City Hall, NY – New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today laid out a strategy for strengthening the city’s middle class and helping New Yorkers striving to get there. The Speaker’s proposals immediately follow a City Council report that documents the striking challenges facing New York City’s middle class families.
“We need to make sure that the people who want to stay in our great city can afford to stay here. We have no greater challenge or obligation to the families we represent than to tackle this problem head on and deliver results. The future of our city depends on it,” stated Speaker Quinn.
Speaker Quinn presented a visionary plan for securing affordable housing for generations to come with the largest middle-income housing construction program in decades. She proposed a number of ways to aggressively tackle two of the most pressing challenges for middle class New York, housing and child care, as well as spurring job growth.
Housing: Helping Middle Class Families Find An Affordable Place To Live
“We will not allow middle class families to get priced out of the neighborhoods they helped build. We will keep New York City what it has always been – a place where opportunity is given, not just to those who can afford to buy it, but to those willing to work for it.”

Recognizing that housing is one of the most significant problems in supporting and growing the city’s middle class, Speaker Quinn detailed several major proposals including a visionary plan for the creation of new middle income affordable housing units. The proposals presented in today’s speech will better preserve and improve New York’s housing stock, keep more housing permanently affordable and secure affordable housing for generations to come.

Secure affordable middle income housing for generations to come – Speaker Quinn boldly proposed undertaking the largest middle-income housing construction program since Mitchell-Lama and called for 40,000 units of middle class housing to be created over the next ten years. The Speaker also announced an innovative pilot program for turning existing high-end market rate housing into affordable units. Under her proposal, in exchange for setting aside a number of units as affordable middle income housing, property taxes for buildings in this pilot program will be capped at a fixed percent of the building’s rental income.

Keep more housing permanently affordable – The Speaker’s Permanent Affordability Act, proposed state legislation, will give building owners a new tax exemption by capping their property taxes at a certain percentage of their rental income in exchange for keeping units affordable instead of offering them at market value once they age out of current affordability protections. The bill would apply to existing units as well as those built in the future and the exemption can be renewed every thirty years.

Better preserve and improve housing stock – A new top-to-bottom modernization of the city’s housing maintenance code will clearly and accurately identify problems so landlords won’t be able to avoid fixing them. Additionally, new penalties for repeat violations will further crackdown on landlords looking for a quick fix.

Child Care: A Central Element Of The Affordability Crisis for Many New York Families
“Now rent isn’t the only expense that’s putting a burden on working families. The cost of caring for your young children can make you live paycheck to paycheck once again.”

Speaker Quinn also presented a significant proposal for alleviating the financial burden of paying for child care. Today’s proposal builds on the Council’s strong record of supporting affordable child care.

Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit – Speaker Quinn announced a measure to put real money in the hands of more hardworking New Yorkers who pay for child care. Under the credit, which will build on existing state and federal credits, a family with two children making $75,000 a year will receive a total annual benefit of $2,040.

Keeping Opportunity Close to Home: A New Approach to Economic Development
“What I’m proposing is a significant reimagining of the way the city thinks about economic development, a strategy that sees opportunity in every community, one that works borough by borough, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block.”

Citing the City Council’s middle class report, Speaker Quinn noted the middle class unemployment rate is 6.2 percent, three times higher than before the economic collapse. Given this reality, the City faces an urgent need to create jobs with a particular focus on the middle class. Speaker Quinn proposed the city take a new approach to economic development throughout the five boroughs, one that focuses on each community and taps into its unique strengths and advantages. Leveraging the potential of individual neighborhoods will result in great opportunities for local residents.

New Jobs in the South Bronx – The community is uniquely positioned to foster an industry cluster focused on cleantech that will provide diesel engine retrofitting services and green truck manufacturing. These activities will benefit the South Bronx’s strong wholesale, trucking and warehousing industry base and create countless middle class jobs and lower emissions. Additionally, Hunts Point could be used as an anchor to create more food manufacturing opportunities for the area.

Economic Revitalization of Brooklyn’s Industrial Waterfront – The Brooklyn Navy Yard has demonstrated the great potential to reinvigorate underutilized industrial space. Given opportunities at the Brooklyn Army, Bush and South Brooklyn Marine Terminals, the possibilities for growth of industrial jobs in Brooklyn are immense. The Speaker proposed an independent, non-profit development corporation to oversee operations and increase jobs at these three industrial sites.

New Regional Export Council – Speaker Quinn proposed the creation of the city’s first Regional Export Council to develop a comprehensive regional plan with the goal of doubling the city’s exports by 2020. By capitalizing on existing industries in Staten Island, there’s an incredible opportunity to grow exporting opportunities and jobs which will create more products for businesses throughout the five boroughs to sell.

Health Care Jobs: New Opportunities for the Future
“If we get this right, it will mean thousands of new job opportunities for working and middle class New Yorkers, and more affordable and effective care for those living with chronic disease.”

The growing health care industry presents great potential for new jobs and careers. Attention must be focused on determining what skill sets the new jobs require and how to best prepare a workforce for the most recent industry developments.

Speaker Quinn announced the creation of the New York Health Employment Coalition, which will be charged with: helping provide new training for thousands of home care workers at risk of losing their jobs because of state health reform; looking toward new health care positions and developing appropriate training and internships; reducing barriers to existing professions that face shortages; and increasing training for current workers so that they have continued opportunities for professional growth.

Workforce Development Overhaul
“By focusing our efforts on actual growing industries, and making sure all job seekers have in demand skills, we’ll make our overall workforce even more attractive to the employers of tomorrow.”

Speaker Quinn proposed for the City’s workforce development system to shift to one that is demand driven and wholly integrated. This new system would require consistent, high quality services from all city workforce providers and tie funding to these principles.


The proposals in Speaker Quinn’s speech demonstrated an unyielding commitment to the city’s middle class, both those working to remain in the middle class and those working to enter into it. The initiatives Speaker Quinn presented, while expansive in scope, will have a direct impact on the pocketbooks and neighborhood streets of everyday New Yorkers.

“We will send a message to every middle and working class family. Those who are here and those who dream of being here. New York was, New York is, and New York will always be your city.”