De Blasio Announces Plans for a More Affordable NYC in State of the City Address
Mayor de Blasio announced some major plans for New York in his State of the City address Tuesday, all of which revolve around making the city a more affordable place to live.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says the state of New York is strong, but the high cost of living has the city facing a profound challenge.
"If we do not act, and act boldly, New York risks taking on the qualities of a gated community, a place defined by exclusivity rather than opportunity, and we cannot let that happen," de Blasio said.
In order to address the issue, de Blasio plans to create and preserve thousands of units of affordable housing, particularly for communities he feels are under-served, like veterans, seniors and artists. De Blasio said if these residents can't afford to take advantage of the city's opportunities, New York risks losing what makes it "New York."
"We risk losing the very soul of this place if it isn't a place for every kind of person," he said. "It's what's made us great, and it will make us great again in the future, but only if we act now."
Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York State, applauded the mayor's plan to designate 10,000 units for seniors, as a majority of city residents over the age of 50 rent their homes and worry about housing costs.
"[Seniors] are very worried about their bottom line, and housing costs make up a large percent for any family, so we're thrilled that the administration and the mayor are focused on this," Finkel said.
De Blasio isn't just focusing on specific New Yorkers. He's also announced new mandates for affordable housing development in all residential areas, as well as programs to protect tenants facing displacement from rising rents and harassment from landlords.
Housing advocates, like Maritza Silva-Ferrell with Real Affordability for All, support the mayor's plans to take bold action with low-income residents struggling to pay rent.
"The housing crisis is getting worse every minute, and many New Yorkers are one rent increase away from being out on the streets," Silva-Ferrell said.
Beyond housing, Mayor de Blasio's proposed a minimum wage increase to more than $13.00 an hour by 2016, indexed to a projected $15.00 an hour by 2019.
Another highlight of De Blasio's address was his announcement about a city-wide ferry service. The mayor said the system will combine existing East River routes with new landings and services to Astoria, the Rockaways, South Brooklyn, Soundview and the Lower East Side.
"It's not just about connecting residents to the many jobs that exist in Manhattan," de Blasio said. "A new city-wide ferry system would spur the development of new commercial corridors in the outer boroughs as well, and create jobs in those neighborhoods for people who need them there."
De Blasio said the service will cost as much as a MetroCard fare to ensure ferry rides are just as affordable as subways and buses.
Mayor De Blasio said creating more affordable housing, raising wages and benefits and strengthening neighborhoods by better connecting them to jobs and opportunities will be New York's strategy for taking on what he calls the 'Tale of Two Cities.'