Council Speaker unveils agenda to increase affordable housing, and improve health, safety, and social services 

Brooklyn, NY – New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams delivered her State of the City address today at the Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn. She outlined the need and her vision to ensure New York City remains affordable for working- and middle-class families, and city government is strengthened to deliver services that meet the needs of all New Yorkers. She unveiled proposals to increase housing production, expand homeownership, and deepen affordable housing to levels that match the affordability needs of New Yorkers.  

To support families being able to remain in the City, Speaker Adams called for the City to fix issues with the administration of 3-K and invest in the early childhood education system. She also advanced a proposal to strengthen city government by providing career advancement and job opportunities for New Yorkers. The proposal, in partnership with the city’s largest municipal union, would help establish a clear pathway for working New Yorkers in CUNY programs to fill some of the more than 16,000 vacant positions across city government, helping them to advance their careers. It would also provide seasonal job opportunities with city agencies for underemployed New Yorkers to gain experience that boosts their employment prospects, like programs at the Parks and Sanitation departments during the pandemic.  

The full text of the speech can be accessed here

An accompanying report on the Speaker’s proposals can be found here

Speaker Adams announced several new proposals, including those to increase and preserve affordable housing, expand access to post-partum and doula care, improve government effectiveness in delivery of essential services, and strengthen infrastructure.  


Housing is one of the most basic elements to the foundation of healthy and safe neighborhoods, and it remains one of the greatest challenges that the City must confront. New York City is in a housing crisis, with too few homes for New Yorkers and a lack of affordable housing and homeownership opportunities. The rising rates of evictions and homelessness are the devastating consequences. The City must produce significantly more housing, ensure affordability levels meet the needs of New Yorkers, protect tenants in private and public housing, and increase homeownership opportunities.   

The Speaker outlined the following housing related priorities and proposals:  

  • Re-envision the Aqueduct Racetrack in Speaker Adams’ district and an adjoining city-owned lot to be repurposed for housing, homeownership, and community amenities. The Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens is temporarily being used by the New York Racing Authority (NYRA) in place of Nassau County’s Belmont Park, which is currently being renovated. Once completed in an estimated three-to-four years, horseracing will return to Belmont as the only facility to be used as part of a longer-term plan to consolidate downstate New York horseracing. This plan presents a generational opportunity to redevelop the nearly 200-acre site of the Aqueduct Racetrack.  
  • Explore opportunities to leverage libraries and other city-owned land for potential housing development. Speaker Adams will prioritize support for this effort by engaging with the city’s three library systems, planners, and offering support for the City to gauge potential housing development opportunities on existing library branches that can also facilitate required upgrades. Additional city-owned property should also be considered for opportunities to produce housing.  
  • Revise Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) to permit a deep affordability option that requires an average of 40% area median income (AMI) as one of the required options in tandem with the ZHO citywide text amendment. By establishing a new required MIH option for deeper affordability, affordable housing units produced will better meet the needs of low-income New Yorkers. The deepest option of affordability currently permitted to be required in MIH (Option 1) no longer serves those in greatest need, because the incomes targeted at 60% AMI have significantly inflated over time. They have gone from $40,080 for a one-person household to $61,860 for a five-person household in 2017, to $59,340 for a one-person household to $91,500 for a 5-person household in 2023. The enactment of an affordable housing tax credit program by the state is necessary to support this goal, just as it is important to support development within the current MIH guidelines.   
  • A proposal to recalibrate and lower AMI levels financed by the City to reflect inflation of AMI, so affordable housing meets the need for deeper affordability.  
  • Explore Voucher Incentive in ZHO: The Council will explore a zoning tool to incentivize the use of vouchers as part of the ZHO text amendment. Such a zoning mechanism could dedicate a proportion of additional allowable units to be set aside for voucher-holders, helping to reach New Yorkers with deeper affordability needs.  
  • Propose policy changes to double the City’s production of affordable homeownership opportunities, so that 5 percent of affordable housing units financed annually by the City are dedicated to creating affordable homeownership opportunities for families earning less than $130,000 per year.    
  • Combat deed theft by advancing legislation requiring speculators to disclose fair market rate of property and the City to create a program that assists people with protecting their assets and managing an inherited property. The Council will host estate planning days in collaboration with NYC law schools and homeownership support organizations, where older adults from at risk neighborhoods can have their will drafted for free to protect against deed theft. 

Health, Mental Health & Safety 

The physical and mental health of New Yorkers is core to the vitality of our communities. Health disparities were brought to light and exacerbated by the pandemic, as inequities in access to care left the well-being of certain communities more threatened than others. Our government is responsible for eliminating disparities in health outcomes, and the Council is committed to ensuring access to quality healthcare for all New Yorkers. 

The Speaker outlined the following health related priorities and proposals: 

  • Legislation to support peer-to-peer mental health programs for students, including requiring the City to develop and offer peer-to-peer mental health training, a “How to Start a Wellness Group” toolkit with an accompanying informational campaign, and a pilot program for CUNY Social Work students to support wellness groups in schools where students have established them. 
  • Call for the Adams Administration to punctually deliver the required report for the doula program established by local law when it is due in June and use its recommendations to improve the permanent program, so that vital services continue without any delay.      
  • Proposals to address post-partum mental health, including legislation to establish pilot program for post-partum support groups and require informational campaigns on resources for those experiencing pregnancy loss; budget proposals to increase funding for nurse family partnership and provide funding to establish maternal-health focused psychologists in H&H hospitals. 
  • Oversight hearing to receive an update on the provision of sexual education in schools and whether recommendations from 2018 Sexual Health Education Taskforce have been implemented, and legislation to require education and outreach campaign coordinated with young people focused on their reproductive health and bodily autonomy.  
  • Oversight hearing and potential legislation on nutrition education to ensure it is not solely focused on physical appearance, and rather is culturally inclusive to prioritize the development of healthy relationships to food. 
  • Urging the City and State to expand mental health courts and their related programs, Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) teams and therapeutic hospital beds to confront the mental health crisis. FACT teams are evidence-based solutions that provide coordinated behavioral health and social services for individuals who are justice-involved, have serious mental illness, and have not been successfully engaged by the traditional mental health treatment and rehabilitation system. They provide holistic, wraparound services in close coordination with criminal justice agencies to help clients avoid further justice involvement. Mental health issues are becoming intertwined with public safety, because of the lack of health interventions that address underlying issues of mental health. Too often, individuals with mental health challenges can have high rates of recidivism because they are not being diverted from the justice system into effective treatment. Without adequate access to care, individuals with mental illness are unlikely to break free of the hospitalization-discharge-arrest-incarceration cycle 
  • Call for the City and State to provide investments to sustain and potentially expand trauma recovery centers (TRCs). The Council provided initial funding to establish the first TRCs in New York State within the Bronx and Brooklyn. The unaddressed trauma that victims, their families and communities are left with can lead to chronic emotional distress and perpetuate cycles of violence. Speaker Adams and the Council have prioritized addressing these disparities by expanding support for underserved victims of violence, whose trauma is often overlooked – gun violence victims in communities of color are often disregarded as victims and blamed for their victimization.  
  • Continue to pursue solutions that combat the safety risks of lithium-ion batteries to keep New Yorkers safe.  
  • Engage New Yorkers across the City as part of the work of the Council’s first-ever Task Force to Combat Hate, developing policies and initiatives to bring people together in fighting hate and make communities safer.  

Government Effectiveness 

City government has a responsibility to facilitate greater opportunities for New Yorkers, while protecting the essential services relied upon by communities and effectively confronting the array of challenges often faced in the nation’s largest city. Yet, there have been significant issues with the ability to successfully achieve these core responsibilities. The job recovery has been uneven and primarily in low-wage jobs, the ability to deliver essential city services has been weakened by continued bureaucratic inefficiencies and job vacancies across city agencies. The City has struggled to respond to many of its most recent, vexing challenges. The City must get back to basics and focus on strengthening government to support an improved ability to address these issues. Creating the future that New Yorkers deserve will require smart, bold solutions and the necessary investments to ensure New Yorkers’ success. 

The Speaker outlined the following priorities and proposals regarding government effectiveness: 

  • Initiate a career and jobs program in partnership with DC37 with two tracks that provides opportunities and strengthens city government. The first provides support for working New Yorkers in Council-supported programs, like CUNY Reconnect, to be prioritized for career advancement to fill city agency vacancies. It would include civil service exam prep, waived exam fees, and other support. The second is to help underemployed communities and populations enter the workforce initially through seasonal agency positions to build work experience for advancement. This would be aimed at young people, underemployed New Yorkers, and eligible asylum seekers. 
  • Launch agency report cards to evaluate performance of service delivery by city agencies and make recommendations to resolve underperformance. 
  • Launch the New Arrivals Strategy Team, led by experienced former government leaders to convene sectors and stakeholders to advance solutions that help migrants access short and long-term stability. The New Arrivals Strategy Team will develop a comprehensive roadmap of best practices. Crafted for our city, this roadmap will be an in-depth model that outlines specific best practices and approaches for new arrivals, rooted in the experiences of both grassroots organizations providing direct services and migrants themselves. 
  • Collaborate with Columbia University, community-based organizations, and elected officials on the Communities Speak survey to survey New Yorkers, gaining deeper insight into the challenges New Yorkers are facing across several key issues, including newly developed modules on hunger, asylum seekers, and education.  

Transportation & Infrastructure 

  • Continued support for expanding Fair Fares eligibility to 200% of federal poverty level, following expansion to 120% in current budget. 
  • Legislation to require DOT to maintain a capital tracker of its Street Plan projects with monthly updates to connect the plan to tangible projects and their status.  
  • Legislation to establish safe “Higher Ground” spaces, like cooling centers, above the flood plain during severe storms to host New Yorkers endangered by flooding, because they live in basement apartments or other vulnerable areas.    
  • Prioritize administration to invest in flood protection and resiliency infrastructure upgrades in impacted communities, as part of the Zoning for Housing Opportunity text amendment.   

The speech was simultaneously broadcast in Spanish, Mandarin, Bangla, and American Sign Language (ASL). 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. 
“A pathway to jobs with New York City agencies would enable the City to better leverage the talent of thousands of diverse CUNY graduates who aspire to build sustaining careers and are well-equipped to make key contributions in public service,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “We thank Speaker Adams for her leadership and recognition of the deeply synergistic connections between The City University of New York and The City of New York.”  

“We’re proud to unveil our proposal for a groundbreaking jobs program in collaboration with Speaker Adams to offer two vital pathways to employment,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37. “By providing a seamless transition from education to civil service careers and opening doors for underemployed communities, this program holds promise to be an engine of economic opportunity and upward mobility for New Yorkers of all backgrounds. Through investing in the success of working families, we can strengthen City services and build a more vibrant New York that thrives on the collective strength and potential of its people.” 

“ANHD applauds Speaker Adams’ commitment and leadership in advancing innovative policy solutions that prioritize the development and preservation of deeply affordable housing, and support homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers,” said Barika X. Williams, Executive Director of Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD). “We look forward to continuing to partner with the Speaker and the City Council to implement practical policies to help end the unprecedented affordability and homelessness crisis our communities are facing.” 

“Estate planning for families of color isn’t just a legal necessity, it’s a powerful tool for cementing our legacy,” said Bertha Lewis, Founder and President of The Black Institute. “Let’s break the misconception that it’s costly or complex. It’s an accessible path that all people of color need to be aware of to ensure the future prosperity of our generations. We don’t just plan for wealth; we plan for the growth of our lineage. No matter your age, you should always think of what you’ll leave behind for your loved ones. Don’t let the state take away your estate.” 

“Speaker Adams is absolutely right: our city is becoming unaffordable to everyday New Yorkers, and we need bold action to change course,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society. “We commend her commitment to CityFHEPS and limited-equity cooperatives. The Speaker’s call for redevelopment of Aqueduct Racetrack and other public sites throughout the city presents the perfect opportunity to expand our social housing sector. We need changes on all fronts, including preservation of our most important social housing type—public housing—to confront the rising cost of living in our city.”

“New York City’s ongoing affordability crisis has resulted in record low housing vacancy rates and record high rates of New Yorkers being rent-burdened, even forcing longtime residents to leave our city. We need more deeply affordable housing and we need more affordable homeownership opportunities. The Speaker’s proposals demonstrate strong leadership to help meet the moment on the housing crisis,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference. “Today’s announcement and Speaker Adams’ vision for New York City is just another example of her continuous advocacy for affordable housing. We look forward to working alongside the Speaker and the Mayor to advance the Fair Housing Framework, secure more capital funding for affordable housing initiatives, and realize the Mayor’s $4 billion housing commitment.” 

“We commend Speaker Adams’ commitment to preserving NYC homeownership through protecting heirs property and providing access to estate planning services for vulnerable communities,” said Christie Peale, CEO and Executive Director of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods. “Both issues have historically denied many Black and brown families the ability to build generational wealth. We also praise the Speaker’s continuing commitment to low- and middle-income households by providing critically needed funding for home repairs and the citywide Foreclosure Prevention Program.” 

“We are thrilled to join New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams in announcing the great collaborative work we have done since last year’s launch of the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) 2.0,” said Quadira Coles, Director of Policy of Girls for Gender Equity (GGE). “This partnership marks a significant milestone in our commitment to empower Black girls and gender expansive youth of color and advance a racial and gender equity agenda that prioritizes their immediate, and self-identified needs. YWI 2.0 is a call to action for elected officials and philanthropists to invest in girls and gender expansive youth of color at the same rate they have historically invested in boys of color. Nearly ten years after YWI’s inception, we are still creating a pathway for youth engagement and leadership in advocacy so that they are actively shaping policies and initiatives that impact their lives and securing investments to help them succeed.” 

“For far too long, the mental health needs of new and expecting mothers and birthing people have been met with deafening silence,” said Paige Bellenbaum, Founding Director of The Motherhood Center. “The experience of “becoming a mother” has been shrouded in a romanticized narrative of bliss, joy, and instinct, leaving pregnant and postpartum people who are struggling with depression, anxiety and other illnesses feeling guilty and ashamed. Maternal mental health conditions are the leading cause of maternal mortality in NYC and the U.S., and 1 in 5 new and expecting mothers and birthing people experience a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD). For those of us who treat these conditions every day, we know that number is more like 1 in 3, but the shame, stigma, and fear contribute to 80% of all PMAD cases going undiagnosed and untreated. If initiated, The City Council’s bundle of maternal mental health proposals will go a long way in beginning to address the mental health needs of pregnant and postpartum people. We can no longer fail to provide a village for those who play the most important role in our society.” 

“At the heart of this work is a deep commitment to learning from those with lived experience and those direct service providers who have been on the ground since day one,” said Adama Bah, Founder and Executive Director of Afrikana. “As someone who has worked to support thousands of new arrivals, and as an Asylum Seeker myself, I am confident we will develop a roadmap that is grounded in lived experience and in compassion.” 

“NYC is a city of immigrants, built by immigrants. We are in real need of creative solutions that help ensure new arrivals are contributing to our tax base and enhancing the city’s social and cultural diversity,” said former Manhattan Borough President and Council Member Ruth Messinger. “The work of the New Arrivals Strategy Team is a serious undertaking, aiming to accomplish what government seldom does: reflect on our shortcomings in service delivery and devise a comprehensive plan for addressing it. It’s an honor to be involved in this effort, which seeks input from both inside and outside of government to improve the City’s practices to assist individuals and families in settling, building community, and finding employment, which will ultimately benefit all residents of this city.” 

“The City must invest in long term services to empower our new neighbors as they make their lives here,” said Lisa Rivera, President and CEO of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). “NYLAG has a long history of providing innovative, responsive immigration legal services, and with our voices at the table, I’m confident that the Council’s New Arrivals Strategy Team will forge a plan to provide these newest New Yorkers with the comprehensive support they deserve.” 

“We applaud Speaker Adams’ commitment to addressing long-standing delays with the CityFHEPS process. The goal post for CityFHEPS should be a 30-day processing time from application to keys to an apartment,” said Kristin Miller, Executive Director of Homeless Services United. “Families and individuals won’t linger in shelter, tenants will be able to get a voucher in time to avoid an eviction, shelter staff will spend less time chasing paperwork and more time helping households, and landlords will readily accept when the CityFHEPS system works as it should.” 

“The Homes Can’t Wait Coalition applauds Speaker Adams and the City Council for their steadfast efforts to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness and prevent New Yorkers on the brink of being evicted from having to enter the shelter system all together,” said Jamie Powlovich, Executive Director of Coalition for Homeless Youth. “The CityFHEPS laws that took effect in January are an exemplification of not only their commitment and dedication, but their true leadership in fighting for the needs of those that they were elected to represent.” 

“The Legal Aid Society joins the Speaker in calling on the Administration to reduce barriers to New Yorkers being able to access social services,” said The Legal Aid Society. “These barriers have produced chronic delays in processing applications and recertifications for SNAP and Cash Assistance benefits and have caused thousands of New Yorkers to go without food and be able to pay their rent. The Administration must ensure that eligible New Yorkers can confidently access the benefits that they are legally entitled to. In particular, The Legal Aid Society supports the Speaker’s call to improve access to CityFHEPS benefits. New Yorkers should be able to easily apply for, secure and use this essential rental subsidy.”   

“The City’s Fair Fares program has great potential to be a truly transformative program, connecting more low-income, working New Yorkers to our mass transit system which is the city’s economic engine. But the program’s artificially low eligibility threshold is preventing the program from reaching New Yorkers who are struggling to afford the bus and subway fare,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York. “Today, only 33 percent of eligible city residents are enrolled in Fair Fares. In fact, a New Yorker who works full-time at the minimum wage ($16 per hour) makes too much to qualify for the program. That should be unacceptable. As the city continues its post-pandemic economic recovery, we should take all necessary steps to make our city more affordable, livable and economically viable, especially for the people who make this city run. Expanding eligibility for the Fair Fares program to 200 percent of poverty is a reasonable investment of taxpayer dollars to spread the economic benefit of the program to more New Yorkers.” 

“Fair Fares is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Riders Alliance Senior Organizer Danna Dennis. “Yet even with last year’s expansion, the program still isn’t fulfilling its promise or reaching enough struggling families. Riders thank Speaker Adams for being a steadfast champion of Fair Fares and urge Mayor Adams to adopt her plan to increase eligibility to 200% of the poverty line.” 

“Fixing New York’s slowest-in-the-nation buses is going to require real accountability from City Hall,” said Riders Alliance Senior Organizer Jolyse Race. “While the Streets Plan law has been on the books nearly five years, riders have yet to see the results we need and deserve. Speaker Adams’ methodical approach to enforcing the law will help us achieve the fast, reliable service we’ve been promised.” 

“I support and encourage increased funding for Nurse Family Partnership. Nurses begin visiting their clients as early in pregnancy as possible, helping birthing folks make informed choices for themselves and their baby. This is critical in creating trusting resource-based relationships to ensure healthier birth outcomes in our most marginalized communities,” said Professor Desi K. Robinson, Doula and Media Analyst. “Additionally, as we recognize more and more the immeasurable benefits of doulas, it’s imperative that we increase Medicaid and insurance reimbursement rates for their work. This will lead to greater participation from doulas, helping to expand the availability of services for birthing people. Investing in doula care now could help states save on health care costs in the long run while continue to improve birth outcomes.” 

“Today’s State of the City announcement is great news for our streets. To meet our city’s climate goals and shift trips out of cars, this administration needs to meet the mandates of the NYC Streets Plan,” said Elizabeth Adams, Deputy Executive Director for Public Affairs at Transportation Alternatives. “Small, piecemeal measures are not enough — we need to scale street safety and transit improvement projects to every neighborhood. Without these projects actually moving forward, we’ll never meet the plan’s goals in the timeline New Yorkers deserve or the law requires. The proposed tracker will provide the accountability we need to make sure our city follows the legal mandates and implements lifesaving street design changes. We thank Speaker Adams for her leadership on this issue and also applaud her commitment to making it easier and more affordable to get around by expanding Fair Fares eligibility to more New Yorkers.” 

“We are honored to be partnering with Speaker Adams and the NYC Council, marking an exciting expansion of our Communities Speak Project,” said Keren Yarhi-Milo, Dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). “Through our partnership, we will ensure that data and insights developed from the bi-annual surveys of Communities Speak are used to inform policy, effectively directing resources towards the City’s most vulnerable populations. Together, with the Speaker and Councilmembers, we aim to ensure that every New Yorker, regardless of their neighborhood, has a real voice and a meaningful stake in shaping impactful policy.”