Akeema Roberts: Good morning, everyone. My name is Akeema Roberts. I was born and raised in Brownsville and still live there today. I’m here today to talk about my community. Now, truthfully, I’ve always felt safe in Brownsville, but today I feel even safer.
We’ve seen crime in our neighborhoods go down. We’ve seen news stores and businesses open up. But the most important part of my community and my world will always be my daughter Elle and my son Amar.
Elle is in second grade at our local public school, Brooklyn Landmark, and we are joined here with Principal Knights. I’m all about academics and every day I’m grateful that my daughter’s school feels the same. She’s an honor roll student. She’s on the step team, Dazzling Penguins, and one of the hardest working people I know.
When I think about my daughter, when I think about my community, the word that comes to mind is opportunity. The opportunity for my daughter to learn at her school, the opportunity for my neighborhood to grow, the opportunity for me to give back to Brownsville and build a safer, stronger neighborhood for the next generation.
The task takes all of us and I want to thank so much of these people in this room who are making it happen. My daughter Elle would like to say hi and tell you all what is her favorite subject in class.
Elle George: My favorite subject is math because I like to solve equations and I also like writing because I can write and show my work to people and I like gym because I get to exercise.
Roberts: Now, we are honored to introduce the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Oftentimes when we think of this work, when I stop at the various events and speak with the team out in the field, I always tell them that it is so important to just have a photo of a story like this or to have a conversation. I was at EDC yesterday and I said, don’t only think about the housing stock, but think about the individuals we’re placing in-house it and what it means.
Now, Elle is representative of that. When we talk about safe streets, that’s what we’re talking about. When we talk about quality education, that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about employment opportunities, that’s what we’re talking about.
Because if you attach a face, a family to what you are doing, it becomes a motivator because the team that’s behind me, they have gone through a lot. They have navigated through Covid even while they were making sure the city operated, they had to deal with the personal concerns around Covid with their own family members and loved ones.
I remember the day when I got Covid and I had to be locked down in Gracie Mansion. And I’m pretty sure they all have their own stories. And so we want to thank Akeema and Elle for being here today and joining us. This is going to be an exciting moment for you. So, when you become mayor, you could talk about hanging out with all of these deputy mayors and hanging out with your favorite mayor.
And I know it’s hard to imagine it’s been two years. We came into office two years ago, New York City was in crisis: a once-in-a-generation pandemic, a surge in crime and a steep recession had brought our city to a standstill. 24 months later, 24 months later, two years, many people said it was going to take us five years, but in two years, thanks to the commissioners behind us and the work of their tireless staff, we have turned things around. Give yourselves a round of applause.
No matter… There’s only one soundbite that can define this moment. Jobs are up, crime is down. That is what I ran on, promised and committed. Jobs are up, crime is down. I’m going to say that over and over again. I’m going to buy a button to place on my jacket, and every day we’re delivering for working class New Yorkers by putting public safety, public spaces and working people in the center of our administration.
We were able to continue to get stuff done for New York City in 2023 that started with public safety. The prerequisite to prosperity is public safety. By deploying prevention and intervention strategies to combat crime, we delivered a city that is safer for everyone.
In 2023, we saw overall crime go down. Specifically, we saw a drop in five of the seven major crime categories, including 11 percent decline in homicides and a 25 percent decrease in shootings. Just remember when we came into office, I remember clearly in one week alone during our first month, officers were shot night after night, Detectives Rivera and Mora were murdered and an 11-month-old baby was shot in the head.
But no more under this administration. We were very clear and direct and specific. We went after those who not only carried guns but used guns. We already removed more than 13,000 guns from our streets in the last two years. That’s thanks to the great work of NYPD, Department of Small Business Services, the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and so many others.
We’re also pumping the brakes on auto theft. In our retail theft plan, combat shoplifting across the city, it was out of control when we came into office. As our streets became safer, our economy has grown stronger, and in 2023, we invested in our city and regained all of the private sector jobs we lost during the pandemic more than a year ahead of prediction. Thank you, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner Kim, Andrew Kimball, and the whole gang that have been participating in our job recovery.
More private sector jobs in the history of the city. Over 282,000 private sector jobs and more than 44,000 businesses have been created since the start of this administration and one in seven New York City businesses open last year alone because our administration understands how much the creation of a job can boost our city’s recovery.
Instead of empty streets, we now see thriving commercial districts. The bull is no longer alone on Wall Street. People are there and we have been bullish on moving our economy forward. And instead of shut its storefronts, we are now open for business.
We also knew that childcare was key to our economic recovery. Since without safe and affordable childcare, parents would not be able to return to work. That is why we took concrete actions to help more people find childcare they can afford. Kudos to First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright and the amazing IGA team for what they did up in Albany.
When we came into office, a family earning 55,000 a year was paying $55 a week in childcare. Do the math. What did we do today? They are paying less than one-tenth of that, just $4 and 80 cents for a working parent trying to raise a child. That’s all the difference in the world to go from $55 down to less than $5. That is what we’re talking about. That is how Elle gets what she needs.
And I promise that New York City will succeed no matter their zip code. And that’s exactly what we did. And that’s the reality. That is what Brownsville is like. Brownsville never ran and never will run from an opportunity. And that is what we are seeing today with this family.
We are investing in our young people at every stage of their education and creating pathways for our youth to achieve career success. We launched New York City Reads to enable our public schools to switch to reading curriculum based on proven science of reading techniques. And this year alone, reading numbers increased by almost 3 percent, and math scores improved by almost 14 percent. What Chancellor Banks has done has become a national model of changing what was broken in the area of reading.
Meanwhile, Pathways to an Inclusive Economy that we put in more than $600 million action plan ensures that 250,000 young New Yorkers can and succeed in the career of their dreams through Summer Youth Employment Programs, CUNY2X Techs and more.
In addition to strong education and career pathways, New Yorkers need stable housing to thrive. To combat the housing crisis, we created nearly 27,000 affordable homes over the last fiscal year. Broke ground on the largest 100 percent affordable housing project in 40 years at Willets Point just yesterday, a year ahead of schedule.
And we connected more New Yorkers… Come on up here. County Leader, Assemblywoman. We connected more New Yorkers through permanent homes through the CityFHEPS voucher program than ever before in the program’s history. We helped amplify the voices of our NYCHA residents through this year’s historic vote for NYCHA Trust and provided mental health support and wraparound services and shelter to 50 of the hardest to reach unsheltered New York.
What we have done in NYCHA just has been unprecedented and we want to thank the entire team of everything from the PACT to NYCHA Trust for putting it in our housing plans. It just shows our clear, clear focus on ensuring all housing opportunities will be discovered.
And all of these wins are due to the great work of the Economic Development Corporation, New York City Tourism and Conventions, the Office of Childcare, the Department of Education, CUNY, the Department of Youth and Community Development, NYCHA Housing Preservation and Development, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Health and more.
But in 2023, we didn’t just focus on public safety and working people. We delivered public spaces that are safer, cleaner and more accessible. We took the fight to public enemy number one. You may not know it, but we hate rats. Commissioner Tisch and our rat czar did an amazing job. Today we see fewer rats, rat complaints, garbage sits on the streets for less time and all of our commercial waste is now placed in containers.
They told us it was going to take four years to do. We said not under our administration. Very soon, most residential trash will be containerized too. Instead of dodging black garbage bags on their way to work, New Yorkers can enjoy streets that look and smell cleaner.
We also created new public spaces across all five boroughs and strengthening street safety by daylighting streets and creating more protective bike lanes. Thank you to the Department of Sanitation. Our new rat czar, chief public realm officer, Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation and others who have been part of those successes.
Now, our city still faces challenges. We’re clear on that. We know what’s in front of us and we are very much aware. We are meeting the asylum seeker crisis head on, offering food, clothing and shelter as well as working with our federal partners to help migrants submit more than 23,000 work authorization, TPS and asylum applications.
More than 157,000 migrants have arrived at our door since last year, 157,000, 1.5 the size of the City of Albany. An entire city was dropped into New York City. The difference from that is that in Albany, they have the right to work, in New York City, they don’t have that right to work. They need to be allowed to work.
And we have done more than any other city, more than any other city in the nation to support these individuals and families while simultaneously delivering for New Yorkers. Not by choice, but out of necessity. Our administration has effectively managed a humanitarian crisis in taking leadership on this national problem. New York City is built by immigrants and we will work together to merge from this crisis stronger than ever before.
So, thank you to this team that they have been up at night during many nights to navigate the challenges of buses that are coming in, close to 4,000 last week. So, really kudos to you: DSS, New York City Health and Hospital, New York City Emergency Management, the HPD, the Office of Asylum Seekers and a dozen other agencies stepping up to meet this moment, stepping out of their daily roles to retrofit not only of their tasks but retrofit how we go about carrying out this humanitarian crisis.
We have come so far and accomplished so much in just two years, 24 months. I say over and over again, every day feels like it’s dog years when you’re the mayor. And I know it feels like dog years to these commissioners and deputy mayors.
And we’re just getting started. We have not even mentioned the fractions of the accomplishments the team behind me and their teams have achieved. And I would like to also thank the City Council, our state lawmakers, our congressional delegation, Governor Hochul for helping us with so many of these achievements.
These local electeds have been very much part of the movement. And even in the areas that we have a philosophical disagreement, we agree on one thing, we love New York and we’re going to continue to work hard to navigate us through these difficult times.
2024, the best is yet to come, but in 2024, our administration will continue to build on these historic wins. We’ll advance bold ideas and use every tool at our disposal to continue to do what we like to do best. And that is to get stuff done. Thank you very much.
We’ll open up to a few on topic questions.
Yes. And I just want to say I do not like my team. I love my team.
Question: Oh, me. Okay. Happy holiday, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: Same to you.
Question: So, I’ve been to two town halls, the Southeast Queens and the one in Corona. And what some of those residents tell me is that they’ve lived in historically under-invested neighborhoods, and their concern is that with the cuts, even though you’ve kind of pledged to be a champion for the working class, that they’re going to be left behind because they use parks and libraries disproportionately more than higher income New Yorkers. What do you say to them, especially as we’re looking toward the next year and even more cuts on the horizon?
Mayor Adams: First, I agree with them that they’ve lived in historically under-invested communities. I agree. And when you go online and look at our wins, you will see how we’ve turned that around and the investments we have made, everything from childcare to what we’re doing in our schools and what we’re doing around public safety.
Brownsville is safer because of the investments we made in Brownsville. And when you look at what we are doing, we know that these communities have been under-invested. This is not the budget we want to pass. Look at the budget we passed with the City Council in our first time, in our first budget in office. It invested in schools, it invested in families, it invested in streets, it invested in parks and it invested in cleaning our streets, aggressive programs like the containerization of this is where we were going.
This unforeseeable crisis that we are facing of over 150,000 migrants and asylum seekers, $5 billion this year, $12 billion over three years, it hurts us. And many of these commissioners that are behind me, the work they do is their calling. It hurts them that what we have to do, but we have a lawful obligation to balance the budget every two years, by law. There is a limited amount of dollars that come with that.
And so what we must now do, which is going to take our greatest skill, is how do we do these efficiency cuts with it not harming the services in those undeserved communities that you’re talking about? And I say that to the town halls all the time, and I have to keep crisscrossing the city. Today I’m doing an older adult town hall.
I have to explain to them and articulate to them and mobilize them. Because as I say in these town halls, I know they’re angry, but their mayor is even more angry, because I’m the one they see on the subways, on the streets, in the churches, in the seniors centers.
I’m the one that is responsible for navigating us through this and we have to raise our voice together and place the blame where it is needed. The national government has defunded our city and they’re defunding these programs and is preventing us from investing in these underserved communities.
Question: Hi Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: Speaking about budget cuts, last week DC 37 sued you over the budget cuts. Now UFT is saying that they’re going to sue you over the budget cut. It’s about working as New Yorkers. You’re a union mayor, you claim to be…
I want to get your opinion on that. Does that worry you that these labor unions are suing you over the budget cuts? There’s another round expected in the next month. What are your thoughts about that? How are you going about working with them and navigating with them, especially because they supported your administration?
Mayor Adams: DC 37 did, and Henry Garrido and I communicated, I got a call set up with him today. Henry’s a friend. He has to represent his members. And the same with the UFT, they have to represent their members. And from time to time friends disagree. And sometimes it ends up in a boardroom and sometimes it ends up in a courtroom.
But that’s not a reflection on if one were to ask me, does Henry Garrido love the city? I would say yes. Same with Michael. He loves the city. And so when we need the court to determine what the next steps forward are, we will have to go to court and do that.
But it’s not a reflection on the fact that we settled 90 percent of our union contracts in two years. Some of them were outstanding for 13 years and longer. It’s not a reflection on… He agrees that he had a 90-something percent ratification vote from his memberships. His membership stops me all the time and say, thank you.
So, we should not mix up a point of disagreement with the point that we both want what’s best for this city. And I look forward to talking with Henry and Michael and try to come to a determination. They know, listen, these guys, these are smart guys.
They know what we’re facing. They know exactly what we are facing. And they are very smart. They understand government. They’ve been there for a long time and they know the challenges we are facing during this time. And I’m hoping that they will add… Henry was in Washington and I’m hoping that all of my union leaders would add their voices to the national government. This should not be happening to New York City.
Question: Yeah. Hi, Mr. Mayor. Aneeta Bhole for the New York Post.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: I’m new here. So, hello. Despite all the achievements that the city’s touting jobs, crime being lowered, steps forward and affordable housing, the Census Bureau just released its latest population figures and said last year, 100,000 people left New York. Who’s to blame for the population loss and what else are you doing to change that in the coming?
Mayor Adams: Well, I think there’s a combination on why people are leaving the city. The city and cities have become unaffordable. And people left the city during Covid for a short period of time and some decided that they no longer want to come back into cities. Then you have the remote work option where you don’t have to be in an office space to do the job. You could do it from wherever.
And so there’s a perfect storm of reasons that cities are losing their population. And at one time you may have lost 20,000 here, 15,000 here. But now when you start to add up all of those dynamics, it’s a different way of life. And some people who have children and families decide they want to go to a place where their children can play outdoors, larger green spaces, want to see animals. You don’t see too many animals but rats in New York. And so there’s a combination of things and we’re getting rid of those rats, by the way.
So, we don’t want people to leave, but people are also moving into the city. I see first time New Yorkers over and over again, people are moving in and there are 152,000 migrants. They give them a job, they become workers, they become part of our economy, like other immigrant groups have become part of our economy. If you were to do an analysis of those who are behind me, an overwhelming number of them are immigrants. They come from first generations. So, they went from their parents coming here trying to be citizens to now they’re in charge of what happens to citizens.
That’s the beauty of this. And that’s why we need to let people vote because right now, and the Floyd Bennett Field HERRC is the future commissioner, we just need to give them an opportunity.
Question: Hi, Mayor Adams. Happy holiday.
Mayor Adams: How are you? Thank you.
Question: Well. Thank you. I hope you’re too. With jobs numbers, with crime statistics and even with migrant numbers, there’s always a challenge between reality and perception, the data versus what people feel day to day, even if it’s not directly threatening them, how do you bridge that divide, specifically on migrants when people are up in arms and in neighborhoods where there’s not that many migrants?
Mayor Adams: I’m glad you said that because I remember in 2022 when I talked about perception, I was blasted on the front pages of every paper. Because there is this thing called perception and how people are filled. I bump into well-educated people right now and we talk about why we’re not stopping the buses.
And when I explain it to them, they’re like, hey, I didn’t know that, Eric. I didn’t know that you can’t stop buses from coming in. I didn’t know that you can’t deport people. You don’t have that authority. I didn’t know that you can’t say if you’re here, you’re not going to be housed, sheltered and fed.
Many New Yorkers are not aware of how our hands are tied in this issue. And so that’s why we do these town halls. That is why we do radio shows. That’s why we do Ask Eric. We have to get out to everyday New Yorkers because their anger is that the mayor is allowing this to happen to us.
And we have to be very clear that this team of people behind us is… This was dropped in our laps and we have managed the hell out of this crisis. People outside the city are amazed that we were able to get 57 percent of people stabilized out of the system. That 80 percent of those who are given a 30 day notice are determined to stabilize.
They are amazed that we don’t have any children or families sleeping on the streets. 7,500 families in Massachusetts and they’re overwhelmed. We don’t have people sleeping in our precincts, in our hospital corridors. We don’t have that. And people are saying, how are you guys doing it?
And so because we were successful in keeping it out of the eyes of New Yorkers, no one thought that it was as much of a crisis as it was. But the dam has burst, the dam has burst. And I said a few months ago, we’re going to start seeing the visual science of this and these are the signs we’re talking about. And it hurts this team behind me. This team behind me is the true testament of their commitment but they’re still here. This is a painful moment for people in government.
Question: Hi, Mayor Adams.
Mayor Adams: What’s going on? Tell your mom I’m coming over for Christmas, okay?
Question: She waited for [inaudible].
I wanted to ask you kind of off Emily’s question. There’s a lot of anger in the city, a lot of news stories are not as positive for you. Do you have any resolutions for yourself in the new year? And I guess what’s your overall message to New Yorkers who feel that the budget cuts are hurting them the most, there’s going to be even further budget cuts and they may not be seeing a lot of these successes immediately in their neighborhoods and on their streets.
Mayor Adams: If you studied my life, like it or not, you’ll see that dark moments were not burials. They were planted and they gave fruit to a harvest of opportunity. And I’ve stayed on one focus throughout my life: stay focused, no distractions and grind. And I think that New Yorkers are feeling this pain, the budget cuts, they’re feeling the uncertainty.
We’ve been here before. We’ve been here before. I know what Bloomberg inherited after September 11th. I know what de Blasio had to deal with Covid. So, we’ve been here before, but we are resilient. We are New Yorkers, we are made up of the best stuff on earth and we get angry, we get pissed off and we let you know how you feel. Some people see me, I could walk down the block or some give me the thumbs up and another, they give me another finger.
But that’s New Yorkers. I wake up in the morning at some time and look at myself and I give myself the finger. This is what New York is. This is the excitement, this is the energy, this is the whole spirit of New York. And I just believe I embody the whole authentic energy of a New Yorker. I embody that.
And there’s a whole lot of people who are upset. But let me tell you something, people say, listen, Eric, we know you’re trying. We know who you are. We know what you’re looking to try to do. We need to push forward. People are volunteering. People are doing what needs to be done. This is a great city.
It’s a privilege to be the mayor of the city of New York. And it’s a privilege to be a New Yorker. Because as I say, over and over again, there are two types of people in America, those who live in New York and those who wish they could. We live in New York.
December 21, 2023 New York, NY
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