In her first state of the city speech, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Sunday proposed spending an extra $4 billion in the next fiscal year to build and preserve affordable housing, nearly doubling the amount proposed by the mayor.
Many New Yorkers have no access to housing and those who do spend a disproportionate amount of their incomes on rent, Adams said before an audience assembled at York College in Jamaica, Queens.
“The foundation of health for every neighborhood in our city is safe and stable housing,” Adams said to applause.
Adams became the first Black City Council speaker in January when her colleagues elected her to be their leader.
In her address on Sunday laying out her vision for New York City, the speaker also touched on increasing access to food and parks, expanding economic opportunities, reducing violence and improving New Yorker’s physical and mental health.
Sitting in the front row inside the school, part of the City University of New York system, was Mayor Eric Adams, no relation to the speaker. They are leaders of two branches of city government that will negotiate and decide how to spend nearly $1 trillion of taxpayers’ money by June 30th.
In the mayor’s executive budget proposal, made public in April, he said he wanted to spend roughly $22 billion on housing over the next 10 years, which housing advocates said worked out to be an average of about $2 billion a year, far short of the $4 billion a year the mayor promised on the campaign trail.
Charles Lutvak, a spokesperson for the mayor, on Sunday referred to a comment the mayor made in April.
“We’re going to continue to evaluate during these tough fiscal times and work with our housing advocates and partners in government to get this right,” the mayor said earlier.
Of the $4 billion addition to the city’s capital budget, the speaker said she wants to direct $2.5 billion to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and $1.5 billion to New York City Housing Authority, a public development corporation that provides housing to low-income and moderate-income residents in the five boroughs.
Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, said if the city wants to make “meaningful” progress toward addressing the housing crisis, it must spend at least $4 billion a year in its capital budget on affordable housing.
“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,” Fee said.
The speaker also said her members will prioritize creating more supportive housing, a type of affordable housing with onsite services that help formerly homeless, and others manage their lives and get back on their feet.
“There is no path to address homelessness if we don’t increase affordable housing,” she said. “Supportive housing should increasingly be the solution for those experiencing challenges with homelessness, mental health, and re-entry from the justice system.”