In the coming weeks I'll be releasing a series of policy proposals aimed at addressing the structural deficiencies that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed. The first of these proposals can be read here:
I believe that housing is a human right, and that all tenants deserve to be protected from exorbitant rent increases and sudden eviction. As Council Member, I would work to expand and improve the city's Right to Counsel program, which provides free legal representation to anyone facing eviction in housing court. I would fight to increase resources for the Department of Buildings and HPD so that they can more effectively enforce housing laws and hold negligent landlords accountable. I would also advocate for stronger housing laws in Albany, and work to ensure that we are building affordable housing units within the 5th Council District.
My testimony in support of the Good Cause Eviction bill, which would grant protections to all tenants in NYC, including market rate tenants.
City streets should be safe for everyone, and we need to re-imagine our streets with all forms of transportation in mind. This means adding protected bike lanes, which protect cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike. It means addressing traffic congestion by cracking down on drivers who park in bus lanes, finding a way to decrease the number of cars that come into Manhattan every day, and developing a plan for truck deliveries, which often take up entire lanes of traffic during some of the busiest times of day. As Council Member, I will do everything in my power to discourage reckless driving, promote bike safety, and make Vision Zero a reality.
Subways and Buses
Our subway system is crumbling. We need to upgrade our antiquated signal system, increase accessibility by installing elevators at all subway stations throughout the city, and investigate why so many escalators break down on a regular basis. With so many people in our community relying on buses to get to doctor's appointments and other important meetings, we need to improve the reliability and efficiency of our buses. Of course we can't adequately address the issues of bus delays without also addressing traffic congestion, but by improving our public transportation system, we will provide people with an alternative to driving. As Council Member, I will work to ensure that our vital public services are well funded, and that we are making our subways and buses a priority.
Decades of federal disinvestment have left our city's public housing neglected and crumbling. NYCHA currently has a 32 billion budget deficit, and the half a million New Yorkers who call NYCHA home have to deal with pest infestations, mold, lack of heat, and garbage overflows. While no one person can solve NYCHA's problems, we need to begin seriously addressing the issues that plague NYCHA and figure out how to invest more resources. As Council Member, I will make NYCHA a priority and work to ensure that we are investing in public housing and in the residents who live there.
While climate change is certainly a global issue, we need to address the very real effects here in our city. We saw after Superstorm Sandy just how destructive a major weather event can be. We need to stop being reactive and develop plans to protect our city from the next big storm. We need to create a resiliency plan that includes the entire city, not just lower Manhattan. We need to invest in protective barriers, and ensure that in the event of flooding, the city's power grid will be unaffected. And of course, we need to attack the source of the problem, by reducing emissions and creating a greener economy. As Council Member, I will fight to make sure that the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem are included in the city's storm resiliency plans. I will also champion legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions and increasing sustainable modes of transportation.
I am a passionate advocate for animals. In 2012, as President of the Manhattan Young Democrats, I helped launch an animal issues committee and make animal protection priorities a part of the organization's official platform. More recently, I actively worked to pass legislation for badly needed animal shelters in the Bronx and Queens, and to ban the sale of foie gras.
As a Council Member, I will support legislation to end vivisection and “hatching projects” in New York City schools. I will work to pass legislation to ensure that humane education is taught in all schools, as mandated by state law, and that healthy plant based meals are available to all public school students.
We should be a city that focuses on prevention and rehabilitation, rather than punishment, especially when that punishment is meted out unjustly and affects mostly young men of color. Now that the state has eliminated cash bail for most non violent crimes, we need to invest resources in alternatives to incarceration. We need to take mental illness seriously, and we need to treat drug addiction as the health crisis that it is. As Council Member, I will work to expand prison alternatives and mental health and addiction services. I will also work with the NYPD to encourage more community policing and ensure that the focus of our criminal justice system is safety, not punishment.
My adopted kitty, Winston!
As a product of public schools, I believe strongly in ensuring we are adequately funding all of our schools. All students deserve access to a good education, regardless of where they live or how much money their family has. This must include efforts to desegregate our school system. We must resist efforts to privatize education in our city, and we must ensure that all teachers and school staff enjoy strong worker protections. Finally, in the age of COVID-19 we must dedicate whatever resources necessary to ensure that neither students nor teachers face unnecessary risks in the classroom.
As a volunteer for last year's Cherry Blossom Festival, I witnessed first hand the ongoing issues facing residents of Roosevelt Island. The influx of visitors overwhelmed the Island's already inadequate transportation options, causing safety concerns and stranding people for hours. As Council Member, I will work with residents to address transportation concerns, with a focus on ensuring that the needs of residents are prioritized. I will also work with state representatives to preserve affordable housing options, and to preserve and expand the presence of small businesses along Main Street.