Council Speaker unveils agenda to increase affordable housing, physical and mental health care, prioritize crime victim services, food assistance, and equitable parks access, and invest in opportunity for city’s youth and workforce

Queens, NY – New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams delivered her first State of the City address today at York College in Queens, outlining her vision to expand health and opportunity to improve public safety and recover from the pandemic. Speaker Adams focused on the City’s inequities exacerbated by the pandemic that leave many communities, particularly in Black and brown communities and among the city’s working-class neighborhoods, without access to health and well-being. The Speaker noted key investments the City must make in the forthcoming budget, as well as several legislative and policy proposals to address major challenges facing New York City.

The full text of the speech can be accessed here.

An accompanying report on the Speaker’s proposals can be found here: Expanding Health and Opportunity for New Yorkers.

Speaker Adams announced proposals to increase affordable housing, physical and mental health care, food security, parks access, and opportunity for youth, immigrant New Yorkers, and people with disabilities.

Highlights of the Speaker’s plan include:

Affordable Housing

  • Adding $4 billion for affordable housing into the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
  • Prioritizing supportive housing to address homelessness, including an additional $28.4 million to provide one thousand units for justice-involved New Yorkers.
  • Protect small homeowners and expand affordable homeownership opportunities through increased use of HDFCs and land trusts.

Improving Physical and Mental Health

  • Tackle medical care disparities by committing $250 million in capital funding towards establishing five new Health + Hospitals (H+H) neighborhood health and ambulatory care centers in communities with poor health outcomes that lack sufficient access to healthcare facilities.
  • Invest in responding to those experiencing severe emotional distress with appropriate emergency health responses, including crisis call centers and mobile crisis teams.
  • Commit $3 million to provide mental health resources for 33 communities hardest hit by COVID within trusted neighborhood institutions – houses of worship, community centers, etc.
  • Allocate $8.7 million for 108 senior centers to have mental health clinicians for double the hours, providing more older adults with access to counseling.
  • Deepen investments in public school students with an additional $100+ million for mental health services, counseling, restorative justice, and other support services.
  • Provide government support for initiatives to create more diversity among mental health professionals to increase access to care for communities of color, immigrant and LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers.

Reducing Violence through Community Based Public Safety

  • Establish New York State’s first trauma recovery centers with at least one in each borough to support the recovery of underserved crime victims and stop cycles of violence.
  • Convene a working group of government stakeholders and national violence prevention experts to develop a citywide plan to expand the Crisis Management System as an equal pillar of public safety that reduces violence.
  • Support community-based programs that work alongside precincts and local organizations to proactively intervene with youth at risk of violence, and support precinct leaders committed to these proactive approaches that don’t rely on over-criminalization.
  • Increase support for community-based hate crime prevention and response programs with at least $5 million in the budget.

Increasing Access to Food and Parks

  • Expand access to food through the use of school-based programs and Council pilot programs to provide food boxes and pantries, leveraging lessons from neighborhood-based mutual aid efforts during the pandemic.
  • Create new micro-parks and recreational space for underserved communities through legislation that requires identification of vacant and underutilized city-owned lots.
  • Increase funding for Safe Streets program closer to the $3.1 billion in the Council’s budget response to provide more open street opportunities and innovation in the development of parks for underserved neighborhoods.

Expanding Opportunity

  • Invest $43.2 million in year-round youth employment and development programs, such as Work Learn Grow (WLG) and Advance & Earn.
  • Support economic mobility through CUNY Reconnect.
  • Advance legislation to strengthen access to civil service careers for New Yorkers, including those returning from the justice system, emerging from homelessness, and exiting foster care.
  • accessibility for New Yorkers facing barriers – developing a citywide plan to provide opportunity and accessibility for people with disabilities, and expand language access through community-based initiatives.

The speech was simultaneously broadcast in Spanish, Mandarin, and Hindi. The video of the speech can be found on the Council website via this link

Photos from the speech will be posted on the New York City Council’s Flickr page.

“New York City must spend $4 billion at a minimum on affordable housing capital each year if we are going to make meaningful progress addressing the housing crisis,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference and organizer of the United for Housing coalition. “Every day New Yorkers are struggling to keep up with rising rents and are counting on their elected officials to capitalize on a critical moment to re-imagine the next decade of housing policy. We are grateful to Speaker Adams’ advocacy for $4 billion in housing capital to invest in affordable, supportive, and public housing in every neighborhood. Without new resources, New York City will fall even further behind in housing production and much-needed repairs at NYCHA.”

“The Fortune Society applauds Speaker Adams for her vision and leadership in prioritizing budgetary and legislative measures to ensure people with justice-system involvement can access housing and employment – both of which are crucial for successful reentry,” said Andre Ward, Associate Vice President of David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy at The Fortune Society. “Supportive housing can stop the revolving door from Rikers to shelter and back again by providing access to wraparound services; civil service employment pathways can enhance people’s ability to become viable members of New York City’s workforce. Both measures can provide for a life of meaningful contribution and ultimately enhance public safety. The Fortune Society stands with Speaker Adams to advance this legislation and, following the legislation’s passage, offers our support during its implementation.”

“We applaud Speaker Adams for these proposed investments in the emergency food system with a focus on equity and access to help provide needed meals to more food insecure communities,” said Leslie Gordon, President and CEO of Food Bank For NYC. “It is a critical time to fortify New York City’s emergency food system, and to expand access to, and participation in, nutrition assistance for New Yorkers of all ages. Food Bank for New York City looks forward to continuing to work with the Speaker’s Office to bring accessible, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and resources to all New Yorkers facing food insecurity in an efficient, sensible and compassionate way.”

“One in four children in New York City could face hunger this year and I applaud New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams for proposing significant steps to help families put food on the table,” said Rachel Sabella, Director, No Kid Hungry New York. “School breakfast is one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against childhood hunger and we’re grateful that Speaker Adams has not only prioritized the program but is calling on the federal government to extend waivers to make it easier for our schools to provide these meals each day. Further, expansion of food pantries and fresh food boxes through schools in high-need communities will help ensure all New York City children – no matter their zip code – have regular access to healthy, nutritious food.”

“The Speaker’s State of the City proposals, focusing on emergency food and food benefits for New Yorkers, as well as improved equipment and infrastructure for school cafeterias, align with our mission to ensure that every resident of New York City has access to healthy, delicious food. We commend the Speaker for these efforts and are grateful for leaders who prioritize the health of their constituents,” says Marcel Van Ooyen, President and CEO of GrowNYC. “Through our participation in these programs, we can work with the City to benefit underserved communities throughout the five boroughs while simultaneously supporting regional agriculture.”

“LIFE Camp applauds Speaker Adams, an innovative peacemaker, for her advocacy and investment in gun violence eradication,” said Erica Ford, CEO and Founder of LIFE Camp, Inc. “With her leadership in the council we look forward to the city’s investment in culturally competent led groups and experts on the front lines of healing and trauma recovery. We appreciate the amplification and support of diverse community violence intervention groups.”

“The past two years have been an especially challenging time for communities that have been most impacted by violence, the root of which has been unaddressed trauma and disinvestment by the current system,” said Aswad Thomas, vice president at the Alliance for Safety and Justice and national director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “Bringing trauma recovery centers to New York City would be transformational, providing direct services to crime victims so they can heal and move forward with their lives. We thank the City Council and Speaker Adams for their commitment to making TRCs a priority as we work to stop cycles of violence and make a safer city for all.” 

“The National Alliance of Trauma Recovery Centers is excited to partner with the New York City Council to develop seven Trauma Recovery Centers (TRCs) that will serve survivors of violent crime in all five City boroughs,” said Dr. Alicia Boccellari, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Trauma Recovery Centers and a founder of the Trauma Recovery Center model of care. “TRCs provide comprehensive, wraparound services and will bring hope and healing to victims of violence, their families, and their communities. We look forward to working with the Council to manifest their vision of bringing TRCs to NYC communities.”

“Thank you Speaker Adams for your commitment to advance an effective public safety model that centers community and drives innovation,” said Dana Rachlin, Executive Director of We Build The Block. “Initiatives like the Brownsville Safety Alliance, Heal the Violence, and the Rapid Youth Referral are proven to reduce violence and improve quality of life conditions by integrating community and precision interventions into an overall public safety strategy. The Council’s support means these initiatives and others can be scaled to help us build safe and fair communities.”

“The proposals that the Speaker outlined today will ensure that we are developing the future generation of leaders by introducing them to pathways in civil service,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37. “We look forward to our continued partnership in helping bring her vision for our City into reality.”

“The pandemic put a spotlight on the city’s digital divide and the crises it can cause for older New Yorkers, particularly in communities of color,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “Improving high-speed internet availability and digital literacy among New Yorkers 50-plus opens access to telehealth services, education and jobs while reducing isolation and loneliness. We applaud Speaker Adams’ efforts to close the digital divide, and we look forward to working with her on these initiatives and others to continue improving the lives of older New Yorkers.”

“LiveOn NY applauds Speaker Adams on her historic first State of the City address and her continued leadership in prioritizing equitable access to community-based services for older New Yorkers, including through technology and Telehealth, home-delivered meals, and outdoor programming in parks,” said Allison Nickerson, Executive Director at LiveOn NY. “These investments are a critical step in the right direction to make New York City a better, more equitable place to age.”

“We very much look forward to continuing to work with Speaker Adams as we advocate for equity and inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of life in New York City,” said Ruth Lowenkron, Director, Disability Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.  “The Speaker’s elevation of disability justice – especially in terms of ensuring equal access and greatly reducing the extraordinarily high rates of unemployment and underemployment – will not only serve the needs of the disability community, but will improve the city’s wellbeing as a whole.”

“People with disabilities often need transitional work experiences like internships for success in long term employment,” said Marco Damiani, CEO of AHRC New York City. “Programs that create a bridge to expand access to employment are vital.”

“People with disabilities are often left out or left behind in many aspects of life,” said Sharon McLennon-Wier, Ph.D., CRC, LMHC, Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York. “The City has an opportunity to address this and CIDNY looks forward to a more inclusive and accessible city that we deserve and need. All aspects including work, school, civic and recreational activities should be accessible to all.”

“Home to the country’s most diverse population of immigrants, New York City cannot rest on its laurels, it must continuously strive to eliminate limited English proficiency as a barrier to communicating with City government or receiving services,” said Theo Oshiro, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “We commend Speaker Adams for recognizing that the diversity of language skills within our immigrant communities is one of the City’s greatest assets. We look forward to working with the Speaker on language access and many of the other issues highlighted today.”

“We’ve seen the tragic consequences when there isn’t sufficient access to services and information in individuals’ preferred languages, from the lives lost during Hurricane Ida to the delays in families receiving accurate information related to COVID-19 during this pandemic,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “We commend Speaker Adams for advancing important policies that support expanding language access to individuals and our immigrant-owned small businesses. These initiatives will move us one step closer to a New York City where all have access to critical services and an equal opportunity to prosper.”

“New York City’s Asian population is one of its fastest growing communities. To ensure that we continue to thrive and prosper, the City must expand its support infrastructure to account for its growing cultural diversity. The proposals offered by the Speaker are a significant step in that direction,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. “There are many solutions that still need to be implemented to address the multiple crises our community is facing, but those solutions are virtually ineffective if information isn’t actually being conveyed to the communities that need them the most. These language accessibility proposals, that we’ve advocated for alongside NYIC, Masa and African Communities Together, will build the vital foundation that our City needs to ensure that any future policies and services that are being provided to minority communities are actually effective and rooted within our communities. We look forward to working with our City leaders to ensure that everyone’s voice in our community is being heard and accounted for.”