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Transcript: Mayor Adams Appears Live On PIX11’s “PIX11 Morning News”

March 15, 2024

Hazel Sanchez: An unprecedented partnership could make a big dent in the city's housing crisis. 

Dan Mannarino: Yes, the city teaming up with labor unions and the private sector now to create affordable housing communities throughout the city. Important topic here. Mayor Eric Adams and Gary LaBarbera, who heads the Building and Trades Council, are here to tell us what exactly this will look like. So, great to see both of you this morning. Thanks for being here. Good morning. 

Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning. Good to be here. 

Gary LaBarbera, President, Building and Construction Trades Council: Good morning. 

Mayor Adams: And as you stated, this is just good stuff. And to have the building trades, this was the idea that Gary had for over a year, he brought it here, and we had to land the plane. 

And we landed that plane at his convention in Miami on Saturday when we signed the agreement. And we're just excited about it, and he could go over and give you the full details. 

Sanchez: Yes, go ahead. Tell us what it's about and how it's different from plans in the past. 

LaBarbera: Well, thank you very much, and I want to thank the mayor very much. First and foremost, I want to say that as Mayor Adams pointed out, we've been working on this for over a year. And about a year ago, the mayor and I started having conversations about a concept that we would raise pension fund money that would go into an equity fund, which is the Cirrus Housing Workforce Housing Fund, and partner with the city. 

And this is, I want to say that this is, Mayor Adams, the first mayor in decades that has done anything like this. And it really demonstrates where his values are as he as he always calls himself a blue collar mayor, that's what this housing is for.

So, we raised the first hundred million dollars. We have more investors that are very eager to come into the fund. We met with Mayor Adams once we did that, and we are now currently working with the city on looking at different parcels of land, like a Mitchell‑Lama type construct, as well as some additional subsidy. It's really a public‑private partnership. 

But this housing that will be built by union construction workers, but also this housing is really designed for New York's essential workers, the people that keep this city moving every day. And many of these workers are really struggling to stay in New York. We know this for a fact. 

So, this I think is a really historic moment with [inaudible] partnership, with the union pension funds, private industry, as well as the City of New York. And again, I thank the mayor for embracing this idea and moving it forward. 

Mannarino: Yes. So, Mr. Mayor, I guess the question here is, affordable housing has been such a conversation for a long time. Why now? And why hasn't this been done before?

Mayor Adams: Well, and you're right, although we have placed more people in affordable housing in the history of the city, more people using even vouchers, and since the voucher program was put in place in a one‑year period. 

What's the problem is we have a one percent vacancy rate. We are hemorrhaging working class people to Pennsylvania, Connecticut and other people outside our region. And so, we must look at every area. That's why we're saying we're the city of yes to build throughout the entire city. 

But to have a partnership with the men and women who are union that will build the housing, then it's affordable for them to live in the housing. It goes after our unemployment issue, our housing issue, and it's really using the creative energy of our building trades. And just hats off to Gary and his team for saying we're willing to put up our pension dollars to make sure our members can be here in the city. And that's what blue collar people, folks do, and that's the blue collar mayor, it's a perfect marriage. 

Sanchez: What's the timeline look like though? When could we see some of these units going up? 

Mayor Adams: We want to get it done as soon as possible right away. We have housing being built now currently, but this is going to add into that. In fact, we're going through the final steps of the phases that needs to be done. But we want to get a shovel in the ground right away. 

And this feeds into what is taking place in Albany right now [what] having housing incentivized building as well as raising our FAR as well as what we plan on in the City Council to build in every part of the city. So, all of these items go together to build currently and then build into the future. 

Mannarino: All important topics there, I also want to get you on some other news of the day, Mr. Mayor, and what's happening in terms of that shooting we saw take place in downtown Brooklyn. Obviously, top of mind for the morning commute here as people head to the trains. We saw National Guard troops, bag checks, additional transit cops. 

What more can be done? What do you need from Albany in order to make people feel safe on the subways and what can happen quickly? Because some of these things are long term. 

Mayor Adams: Yes, and I'm glad you emphasized that, I caught it, you said "feel safe" because you're right, Dan. Public safety is not only the stats, public safety is how people feel. Yes, I can say that crime is down in our subway system and that crime is down in the city and we're the safest big city in America. 

But that means nothing if people don't feel that. And I've stated that from the time that I got elected, we must make sure we have that omnipresence of our police officers, which mind you, because we put additional 1,000 cops in the system and officers from our normal patrol was doing inspection in that system, we were able to make a quick apprehension. 

At the heart of this, if you do an analysis, Dan, we are dealing with far too many people in our system that are dealing with severe mental health illnesses. And that is why our pursuit to do involuntary removal in Albany and strengthening the Kendra's law is so important right now. 

Look at these isolated acts of violence, and too often you're seeing that individuals had some severe mental health illnesses attached to it. And so the police is going... We're going to do our job. We're going to make these apprehensions. We're going to do the omnipresence. The governor's assisted with the state troopers and the National Guard to give people the feeling of security. 

But there are other pieces of this apparatus like those 300... I mean, those 38 people that were arrested 1,100 times in our city. We have to stop dangerous people from being on our streets and deal with those with severe mental health illness. 

Sanchez: Now, you mentioned having officers on the platform, but what about getting officers on the trains? Because there was no, there were no officers on the trains when this incident happened.

Mayor Adams: And they are. Not only do we have officers in uniform, you have officers in plain clothes. We have different ways of... 

Sanchez: But on the trains.

Mayor Adams: Yes, on the train at the same time. 

Sanchez: Okay. 

Mayor Adams: Our officers walk through the train, and sometimes when you're dealing with a rush hour scenario, the trains are extremely packed, it's not practical for an officer to try to navigate through. But it's a combination of proper policing that can, number one, prevent a crime, but number two, make apprehensions when those crimes take place. 

We have over four million riders a day. We want to go after each one of those six felonies that happen on our subway system, and our officers are extremely active increasing arrests, increase in enforcement for quality of life issues. 

So, they're out there doing the job, but the other pieces. We arrest and deter. Other pieces of the criminal justice system must work to ensure that we have a safe city. 

Mannarino: And that's something that has been echoed over and over again. So, what are the conversations [placed] with the DAs, right, and with the governor, getting everybody into a room saying, okay, here's the issue and here's the solution. How do we get there? 

Mayor Adams: And I love that, you said two pieces of the criminal justice system, and you missed one: DAs, police, lawmakers, judges. 

Mannarino: Judges. 

Mayor Adams: Judges have to make the determination of doing an analysis. If a person has been arrested 40 times for a crime, they've got to make the tough choices and say this person should not be kept on our street. 

Mannarino: But can they right now with bail reform? 

Mayor Adams: Well, it's more than just bail reform. We need to look at the discovery rules. Many of my DAs are saying that they are being inundated with mounds of paperwork. We're dismissing a lot of cases because they can't turn over these documents without the proper manpower to do so. 

And so that's why I want to say to New Yorkers, we have to examine the totality of public safety. We see that uniformed officer as the only part of public safety. He's the most important part, and we're doing our job of making these happen, but there are other pieces to it, and I have to continuously explain that to New Yorkers so we can get to the city that we want. But Dan. 

Mannarino: Yep. 

Mayor Adams: We are the safest big city in America. We've got to be clear on that. 

Mannarino: Yes.

Mayor Adams: And these high‑profile incidents shake our safety and our feeling, but American... New Yorkers need to know that this is the safest big city in America, and we have a transit system that's safe, and we're going to continue to lean into the safety of it. 

Sanchez: All right, Mr. Mayor, we are running out of time, but we do want to ask you before we let you go. State lawmakers have until April first to pass a budget which may or may not include an extension of your control over New York City schools, which is set to expire over the summer. So, there's a lot at stake here. Would you be comfortable retaining partial control of the schools if that's what ends up on the table? 

Mayor Adams: No, no, I'm not comfortable with that, and I think even the chancellor shared his feelings. Listen, if we were not winning, then I can understand the conversation about taking away mayoral control. 

Let's go, let's remove from the fact that we have two kids that grew up in the public school system, both Chancellor Banks and Mayor Adams. Let's remove that. But let's focus on the fact that we're outpacing the state in reading and math for our young people. 

We have a new phonics‑based reading that is going to become a national model. We're dealing with dyslexia screening. Graduation rates pre mayoral control were at a 50 percent level, post mayoral control it's at over 80 percent level. 

All of the items are trending in the right direction. I am not going to have a pseudo mayoral control. I want to be held accountable for improving our educational system. 

That's what the chancellor wants. We are doing that. Let us continue the good work that we are doing. Don't let politics get in the way of our pupils. These children deserve better, and we're giving them better in every aspect of our educational system. 

Mannarino: We will see how all of that plays out. Mr. Mayor, Gary LaBarbera, thank you so much. Gary, we'll have you on, you know, maybe without the mayor next to you. Just so you can have a little more time to talk about the important issue, all right? [Laughter.] 

Good to see both of you. 

LaBarbera: Thank you very much. 

Mannarino: Thank you so much. 

LaBarbera: Thank you. 

Mayor Adams: Take care.

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