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Mayor Eric Adams Appears Live on CBS News New York June 6, 2023

Chris Wragge: Well, the clock is ticking for state lawmakers to pass legislation that will allow the city to build more affordable housing. The legislature expected to wrap up this year’s session on Thursday.

Cindy Hsu: Mayor Eric Adams joins us now from Gracie Mansion to discuss this urgent need and what needs to be done to help house more than 72,000 immigrant migrants. Good morning, mayor.

Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning. Great to see both of you this morning.

Hsu: Thank you. You too. Now, you’re asking the legislature to pass a series of bills that allow you to build more housing. Why is this so important?

Mayor Adams: Oftentimes New Yorkers are asking the question of why isn’t there more housing in the city that’s affordable without understanding, feeding that pipeline and incentivizing the building and building higher and more units, it comes from Albany. New York City is really a creature of Albany. The inactions or actions in Albany will really impact our city.

And we’ve done some great things with the Albany leadership this year, but housing is a place that we really must move forward. We have a few days left. We are asking for them to get these bills on the floor that would incentivize housing, allow us to build higher so we can deal with this crisis we’re facing.

Wragge: Mr. Mayor, one of the things you’re looking for is a deadline extension for building apartments under 421-a, which is the tax exemption. Why is this so vital to builders?

Mayor Adams: That’s so important and these are technical terms that many New Yorkers are saying, “Well, what does that have to do with me turning the key and getting an apartment?” But it has a lot to do with it. We had a large number of apartments that were ready to be built, but it was delayed due to Covid. And we are saying about 10,000 units in that area, we’re saying let’s allow them to have an extension of this program that incentivized building. With that extension, we can get those apartments up and operated. And these projects are waiting to go, but because of Covid, they were not able to put a shovel in the ground on time.

Hsu: Mayor, it’s not just a new build, you’re also asking Albany to change the rules to turn office buildings into apartments. What are your plans for converting the spaces?

Mayor Adams: Think about it for a moment. We have millions of square feet of real estate that is unused, that is traditionally used for commercial and office spaces. We can convert these units into housing. It’s a perfect match. Many people are working from home and use a smaller footprint in their office spaces. Why not turn it into housing? We need Albany’s help to do that. And right now we’re not getting the action in this area and we’re hoping that they’ll see this is one of the ways we deal with this crisis that we’re facing.

Wragge: Mr. Mayor, let me ask what the reaction has been. We’re talking about taking office space and converting it to places for asylum seekers. Yesterday, you were talking about people’s private homes, maybe opening their doors to bring in asylum seekers. What’s been the response in the last 24 hours to some of these things that you’re tossing out there?

Mayor Adams: Well, the first order of business is everyday New Yorkers. And when you look at the programs we’re talking about is to deal with the everyday New Yorkers. We have about 95,000 people in our care now, close to 45,000 everyday New Yorkers. If we can get everyday New Yorkers who are in shelters into permanent housing, then we can move those who are asylum seekers into those spaces that currently everyday New Yorkers are using.

This is a crisis we are facing that has been really aggravated by inactions in Washington, D.C. We in New York City, we have done our share. We have to continue to address this crisis, and one way to deal with it is to deal with the housing problems and that’s why we need Albany to act.

Wragge: You bring up the federal government and the inaction from Washington. I know you said yesterday you’d like a face-to-face with President Biden to talk about this, that this isn’t just a dripping hose, this is a full on fire hydrant emergency that you’re dealing with here. What would you say to the president if you had a chance to get that face-to-face, and why isn’t Washington responding with any type of financial help to what’s going on here in the city?

Mayor Adams: Well, four of the large city mayors, we sent the letter to Washington to sit down and speak with the president. Number one, we need real comprehensive immigration reform. The Republican Party, they have blocked this for so many years, but there’s some immediate things we can do. And the number one thing we can do, I hear over and over again, allow the asylum seekers to work.

I don’t think anything is more anti-American that you are not allowed to work. They don’t want anything free from New York City. They want to work. We need to ensure that we do that. We need to deal with the backlog of allowing those who are seeking asylum to have the actual process carried through and there’s just some things that we could do. And then we need to fund this crisis. This is not a city crisis, this is a national crisis. FEMA must give New York City the dollars that they need and not just close to $35, $40 million is just not acceptable.

Wragge: Now, what’s the holdup? I guess that’s the big question.

Mayor Adams: Well, the real reason is, why are we still holding up, I cannot give you an answer. These are common sense approaches to deal with the crises that really New York City is now carrying. And when you look at New York City, Chicago, Denver, and Houston, these big cities are dealing with big problems and this is a new burden that has been dropped in our lap and it’s really not acceptable.

Hsu: When are you going to open the hangar at JFK and why hasn’t the FAA approved it?

Mayor Adams: Well, we just have one more step to move forward. We are moving in the right direction. As you know, we were able to get Lincoln Correctional Facility from the state and it’s not sustainable to continue to look for new spaces to deal with the continuing flow of migrant asylum seekers that’s coming from our southern border. Once we get that hangar open, that is not going to solve the problem. We can’t spike the ball because buses are continuing to come to our city. This is an unsustainable problem that New Yorkers are faced with every day.

Wragge: All right, Mr. Mayor, just going to change gears a little bit here. We want to talk to you about the findings of an independent federal monitor looking into the NYPD’s neighborhood safety teams. We’ve been reporting on that this morning. It says that officers are failing to show the required reasonable suspicion to conduct one out of every four stops. And I guess the number that’s really glaring, 97 percent of people stopped are Black or Hispanic. What is your response to these numbers and should this unit be disbanded, which some people are now calling for?

Mayor Adams: No, I disagree with that and I have made it clear that the goal is public safety and justice. They go together and I tell people that we’re going to make sure these police officers are doing the job that they’re supposed to. One unconstitutional stop is too many.

But I’ll tell you something else. I made a commitment to remove guns off our street and we going to do it legally. I went to a funeral last Friday. I attended the wake when we saw that young baby sitting in the casket, promising career, high school student shot by a bullet. She was not the intended target. We are losing too many young people and we can find the proper balance of making sure we get the justice, but the safety. There are dangerous people in our street with guns and we’re going to make sure our police officers do their job without harming the constitutional rights of individuals.
NYC.gov official New York City Hall nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/390-23/transcript-mayor-eric-adams-appears-live-cbs-news-new-york

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