Jan 26, 2023
New York’s Adams Vows ‘Working People’ Agenda on Jobs, Crime — and Rats
(Bloomberg) -- New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday his administration will focus on the “working people” this year as affordable housing and crime weigh on a city that’s still recovering from the pandemic.
The strategy will center on four pillars: jobs, safety, housing and care, Adams said in a State of the City speech at the Queens Theater in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Adams is kicking off his second year in office as New York faces an uncertain economic outlook while rising crime is top of mind for people returning to offices. On top of that, the city is dealing with the influx of more than 42,000 migrants from the US-Mexico border, a challenge that defined Adams’s first year as mayor.
“Over the past year, our ability to care was put to the test by the asylum seeker crisis,” he said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”
Adams has called on the state and the national governments to help shoulder the estimated $1 billion price tag, and has been increasingly critical of the White House, while not mentioning President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat, by name.
“The asylum seeker crisis is a national issue, not a local one,” Adams said.
Adams has said the costs of providing services to migrants comes at a cost to other New Yorkers.
Promising to overcome not-in-my-back-yard land use policies with a “City of Yes,” Adams pledged to move forward with long-discussed proposals to convert underused or vacant offices in midtown Manhattan to residential buildings to increase the city’s affordable housing supply.
The mayor has struggled to reduce both the perception and reality of crime in New York. The former police captain made restoring order a central part of his 2021 campaign and added 1,200 overtime shifts a day to subway platforms.
New policing initiatives will focus on shoplifting, traffic and other quality-of-life crimes, the mayor said. He expressed disappointment at critiques of community-engagement efforts by police.
“Let’s stop starting off hating each other,” he said, pivoting to address what he called a “recidivism crisis.”
“There are roughly 1,700 known offenders that are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime in our city,” Adams said. “These are New York’s ‘Most Wanted.’ We know who they are, and we need to get them off our streets.”
The mayor suggested steps to reduce the number of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, such as the creation of “clubhouses” where mentally ill people could access city services from health to education to employment opportunities.
He also promised to support the burgeoning legal cannabis industry with stepped-up enforcement against unlicensed smoke shops. To those sellers who think they can sell marijuana without a license, he said: “Let’s be clear: Man, you must be smoking something.”
Equity in employment was a primary theme of the address. Even as he acknowledged the city’s economy has largely recovered from the pandemic, the mayor pointed out that the unemployment rate among Black New Yorkers is significantly higher than among white residents. “This era of inequality must end,” Adams said.
Part of the mayor’s multi-pronged solution is launching an apprenticeship accelerator that will connect 30,000 New Yorkers to potential jobs by 2030, looking to transform New Yorkers’ career paths in industries like information technology, marketing, health care and finance.
Adams also aims to make New York a life sciences hub, with a 50,000-square-foot space at Brooklyn Navy Yard that will house biotechnology startups with an emphasis on creating opportunities for women and minority-led companies.
A partnership with the City University of New York will help train, mentor and place 30,000 new and existing nurses in clinical jobs.
Adams also announced that ridesharing companies Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. will be required to have fully electric fleets by 2030, a goal the mayor said both companies have agreed to. “That’s zero emissions for over 100,000 vehicles on our streets,” he said, adding that his administration will encourage all New Yorkers with cars to switch to EVs and install new charging stations in all five boroughs.
Adams paired his more aspirational visions for the city with a litany of small-bore proposals to address quality-of-life frustrations like rats, overcrowded sidewalks and double-parked cars.
To clear up the city’s ever-tightening sidewalk space, the mayor said he hopes to take down construction scaffolding and replace outdoor dining sheds that went up during the pandemic — “Covid cabins,” as he called them — with a more permanent outdoor dining solution that doesn’t block traffic.
A new “rat-defying” composting initiative will provide curbside pickup of millions of pounds of kitchen and yard waste.
And he reiterated his pledge to hire a new “rat czar” in the mayor’s office to help create a cleaner, greener city, contrasting the rodent population with two dolphins recently spotted in the Bronx River.
“That’s the future of our city,” he said. “More dolphins, fewer rats.”
(Adds details from speech starting in the seventh paragraph)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.