August 10, 2023
Commissioner Fred Kreizman, Community Affairs Unit: Good evening. My name is Fred Kreizman. I'm the commissioner of the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit. It's great to welcome everyone to the Chinatown's Talk with Eric Community Conversation. This is a town hall series to connect New Yorkers with the administration and we're excited to be here in Chinatown in P.S. 2 in Manhattan. We're happy to be here with a community that the mayor is well known to, good friends in the community throughout the AAPI community. This is a mayor who started last year the first AAPI parade, the first time ever, and it's a community that we work very closely. So I just want to, without further ado, we want to just introduce the Borough President to say some remarks, the Council Member Marte, the mayor.
This community conversation started at 6 o'clock, basically round table conversation with the member of the Mayor's Office at every table, taking diligent notes on the conversation. We ensure anyone coming here today is not wasting your time, to ensure that the right issues are recorded at every table so we could deal with those issues. You have a Q&A card in front of you, so this way your questions could get answered within a two-week timeframe and get a return call if your question is not asked today. So without a further ado, I want to give it over to the Borough President, Mark Levine.
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine: Thank You. Thank you. Thank you Commissioner Kreizman, and thank you Mr. Mayor for hosting us tonight. It's great to be here at P.S. 2. We are focusing on Chinatown, but we're on the border of the LES, so we appreciate you guys as well. Shout out to Silvana Ng our principal here at P.S. 2. Where is she? Appears to be very popular. Well-earned reputation. And pleased to be here with your City Council Member, Christopher Marte. Great to see you, Chris.
It's been a very challenging three years for this community, for Chinatown in particular that just got hit so hard, I think maybe harder than any other community in the city during the worst of the pandemic. The health shock, the economic shock of losing tourism and office workers and all the horrible impact on small business. And that's not all because this community has also been hit by the epidemic of anti-Asian hate. And so I am happy to see us coming together to talk about these challenges tonight and I know we won't shy away from that, but I have to say, because of so many great leaders in this room, Chinatown is really making progress right now. There are real signs that we are moving ahead.
Right on the edge of Chinatown, we've got a brand new park opening Gotham Park. Mr. Mayor, thank you for that. One acre open, we got a few more to go. A great new green space. We were able to get investments, thanks to our partnership with the state. The DRI is going to renovate Kimlau Square. We're going to have a new arch, a welcome to Chinatown arch for the first time for this community. We're going to renovate Park Row to be a new gateway to the community. We're going to renovate Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, which needs so much help. So good things are happening.
Also, the East Broadway Mall is coming back. Thank you to DCAS. I don't know where the DCAS commissioner is, but I'm sure you're in the room. And shout out to Wade Lee and the great coalition that's bringing that back. And if all that's not enough, trees are coming to Chinatown. Thank you Justin Yu. We were able to plant six trees on the Bowery and the species is Chinese scholar. That was Justin's choice. Thank you to the Parks Department. We need more. We're fighting for more, but we are making progress in this incredible community, so I'm excited for the conversation tonight. Thank you so much everybody.
Council Member Chris Marte: Hi, everyone. It's so great to see so many faces here. Look around you. It's the middle of August. It's down pouring outside and this room is completely full with our leaders of our community, both from Chinatown, Lower East Side, even the financial district and SoHo. Everyone came out because we know how important it is to have a seat at the table. And I really want to appreciate the mayor and his whole A team, almost every single commissioner is here being able to face on the questions that we have long been fighting for far so long. Whether it's saving Elizabeth Street Garden, the jail, making sure that we pass comprehensive rezonings like the Chinatown Working Group plant.
This is how we get our energy, our focus, our activism across the city agencies. And not a lot of mayors have done this, especially so early in their administration. So I give huge kudos to the mayor, to his team for putting this all together and making sure that he engages with the community. So thank you so much for being here. Tonight makes me proud to represent you and to be here sitting up here representing you. Thank you all.
Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you. Before we give it over to the mayor, I just wanted to introduce who's on our day today. Obviously, the mayor of the City of New York, and Deputy Mayor Almanzar, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Mark Stewart, DYCD Commissioner Keith Howard, ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser, DOE First Deputy Commissioner Dan Weisberg, NYCEM, New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol. We have DSS Commissioner Molly Park, EDC EVP for Planning Jennifer Sun. We have HPD Assistant Commissioner Nicole Simmons, NYCHA Chief Officer Eva Trimble, DCP City Planning Executive Director Edith Hsu-Chen, DEP Deputy Commissioner Beth DeFalco, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar, Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner Anthony Perez, FDNY First Battalion Chief Joseph Schiralli.
On the other side, we have of course our Borough President, Mark Levine. Council Member Christopher Marte, SBS Commissioner Kevin Kim, Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch, Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro. Before him, it was Jimmy Otto, DOB Commissioner. Department for Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. We have DDC Assistant Commissioner Jeff Margolis, Mayor's Office Criminal Justice Chief of Staff Nora Daniel, Office of Sports and Wellness Director Jasmine Ray, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Chief Program Officer Christina Chang, Health and Hospital President Dr. Mitchell Katz. We have the Rodent Mitigation Rat Czar, Kathleen Corradi and Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes Executive Director Hassan Naveed.
Mayor Eric Adams: You know, hardworking. And if you were to go down the table of everyone up here, you would see they have their own story, their own journey, and I have a special connection with Chinatown. I was a rookie police officer assigned to District 2, transit police officer in Chinatown. Down the block, we used to turn out of the district. And I'll never forget the day that I was off duty and at the subway station on Canal Street, I hear a loud yell and I got off the train, ran up the steps. I saw a Chinese gentleman who was assaulted and robbed by three individuals. I told the token booth clerk to call 911 and let them know that you have an off-duty African American officer that is running in the street to apprehend the three people involved. We ran throughout the alleys. Finally, we were able to apprehend all three of them.
And during the debriefing, this was a crew that was preying on Chinese residents because many of them couldn't speak English. So they knew that they were more reluctant to report the crime, but we got all three of them and they were bad people and we were able to arrest them. But it goes even further than that. This room is diverse, but let's be clear, this has been a city where only certain people will enjoy all this city had to offer. The Japanese community, they used to have a parade every year, you know where they had to parade? They had to parade in a park. They were not allowed to parade on the street like other communities, not while I'm mayor, they were able to march and parade in the street. AAPI community was able to parade in the street.
You go and look at people critique me for raising the flags at Bowling Green. You were not having all these various communities in this city that was open, allowed to do flag raisings to show how proud they are to be part of this city. We changed that. The number of countries that were able to raise their flags for the first time in the center of our economic power happened down in Bowling Green and they were proud to do so because being mayor is not only substantive, it's symbolic. There's more than one way to say you are welcome to the city. Now we have a whole lot of substantive stuff. Let's be clear on that. First largest number of summer youth employment, over 100,000. Largest number of Summer Rising, over 110,000. 99 percent of our jobs have recovered. We ran on a foundation of making our city safe, decreasing homicides, decreasing shooters. Our major crime categories are going down.
First time we were able to get NYCHA Land Trust. Other people tried it, we got it done and we have some good stuff we're getting ready to do even in cleaning our city, because you may not know it, but I hate rats and we're going to do something about the rats in the city with our amazing Commission of Department of Sanitation. We're taking those black bags off our street. We started with those places that are serving food. We're going to containerize our garbage with alas, our big city seems like to catch up to this. But there's other stuff that we have done. We put money back in the pockets of low income New Yorkers, earned income tax credit, first time in over 20 years. We reduced fare metro cards. Then we leaned into something that I took notes of for years, foster care children.
We knew 6,700 age out every year. We knew they were more likely to be unemployed, more likely to drop out of school, more likely to deal with mental health issues. So what do we do? We're paying their college tuition and giving them a stipend once they graduate so they can have the same support systems that many of us were able to have by having parents be there instead of sending them from one foster care home to the next foster care home. Then we wanted diversity in our administration because the administration should look like the people that you represent. First woman in the history of this city to be a police commissioner, first Puerto Rican to be a police commissioner, first Asian to be small business servicing in Commissioner Kim, first women to be the fire commissioner, first Dominican to be the first deputy mayor. Took 110 mayors before they realized you could be a deputy mayor. First Filipino to be a deputy mayor, first African American woman to be a first deputy mayor.
When you look at this administration, look up here, this is the UN, but then dig into their stories. You have to dig into their stories to get a full appreciation. This is a group of people who have gone through a lot. Now we are here helping people who are going through a lot. Here's how we do this. We don't have to agree, but we're not going to be disagreeable. There's a system of respecting each other. Right now in the other part of town in Sunset Park, we have about 300 people meeting in Sunset Park that I just came from.
We're doing something called Breaking Bread, Building Bonds. People are sitting down at a table of 10, all coming from places that they don't know each other. You know what they're doing? They're doing something revolutionary. They're talking to each other. They're bringing civility back to this conversation.
That's what we want in this room. If you have an idea, share it. If you have something we can do better, please let us know because if I'm the smartest person in the room, we are all in trouble. But we can do it by talking to each other. This group of people who I love worked too hard for people to disrespect them. That's not going to happen.
Commissioner Iscol fought for this country, put his life on the line for this country. And I'm not talking about in some symbolic way. He was on the front line fighting for this country. Now he's a commissioner of our Office of Emergency Management. I can't tell you how many times he calls me 2, 3 o'clock in the morning because we have run out of space to put these asylum seekers. HRA, HBD, the record number of houses we have developed, the record number of people we use the FHEPS vouchers to put in. We're breaking records in what we are doing. I don't care what people are attempting to say, this is a competent, thorough administration where we live by three letters, GSD, we get stuff done in this administration. And history is going to be kind to us when you reflect on how well we manage this system through Covid, we manage this system through over 97,000 asylum seekers.
We managed the city through the violence that you saw, the ATVs, the 11,000 guns we took off the streets, dealing with the crimes we're facing, and we have to manage this system, something that all of you are concerned about. A plan that was put in place before I was mayor, the borough-based jails, already we have exceeded the numbers. That's not my plan. I would have done it differently, but that's the reality that I inherited, a broken city that we have to now fix and I know we're going to fix it. We can manage this city. This city is manageable, but we got to do it together. We're all in together. And so we want to open the floor. This is your opportunity to speak and I'll listen. And then when I speak, you listen. That's the relationship we have. I'm a deep listener so I can seek to understand, so I can be understood. If we bring that energy, we can get some stuff done tonight.
Commissioner Kreizman: Start at table number one. Ed, can you give someone the mic?
Question: Mr. Mayor, you are the hardest man in New York to follow. With that said, you stood with us in Chinatown to talk about our jail when you were a candidate, and you said to us in Chinatown that the building of mega jail in Chinatown is a continuation of institutionalized hate against Asian Americans and against Chinatown, and that we had done our part in helping the criminal justice reforms. We would like to know if you would commit to us in Chinatown having a meaningful seat at the table with serious input in the creation of this jail that we know that you inherited from the De Blasio administration. And we would like to know from you what your plan B is. And we would like to get a commitment from you that we will have a seat at the design table to make sure that this is right size, right scale, and right for our community with the least amount of impact.
As you know, the Brooklyn jail is increasing by 17 percent in beds. Will we have the same increase in Chinatown and will you commit to make sure that we are going to have the right size with the least amount of impact and to make sure that we have a seat at the design table with you? And I want to say one more thing that's different from the previous administration. You have, through your deputy mayors, made sure that the door is open and we beg you and we implore you to have that door remain open for us. Very different than the previous administration. I want to personally say thank you for that.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. And listen, your question. Listen to the map. I don't know if he's here. He may not be here because he had to testify today. What Louis Molina has done to the Department of Correction is amazing. In April of this year, the Special Monitor wrote a report in April and stated that basically the culture has changed and we're moving in the right direction. Slashes went down, violence went down, all those things went down. In April they said that, that he was moving us in the right direction. And so when we looked at the jail population right now, the jail population right now, I believe it's a little over 6,100 in that area. The borough-based jails can only hold around 4,100. That's 2,000 people.
You have to try really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard to get housed on Rikers Island. So the people who are housed on Rikers Island are among some of the most dangerous people we have in the city. So are we saying that we're going to have to take 2,000 people who may have done violent crimes and because we don't have any room that we're going to put them back in our streets? I have a problem with that. And so yes, you will have a seat at the table. Yes, you will be engaged in the conversation. Councilman Marte has been an unbelievable voice around this. But I'm asking you also, don't let Councilman Marte stand alone. Reach out to the other council persons who don't have a jail in their municipality and those of us who don't want dangerous people back on the street to assist us in figuring this problem out with a plan B. Because there was never a plan B in place and that was a big mistake. But yes, you will have a seat at the table with us.
Commissioner Kreizman: Next table. Gilbert, if you could give the mic to someone.
Question: Good evening, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: Good evening.
Question: Thank you for coming to Lower Manhattan and hosting this town hall tonight. My question is in regards to the migrant crisis, something that we're all facing as New Yorkers and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight to the flow of migrants that's coming into the city right now. My main concern is, it's actually twofold. How will we be able to accommodate all the migrants as they're coming in? The second part to this question is, how are we going to pay for this? Thank you.
Mayor Adams: I wish you was with me today when I met with the White House. I've been saying this for a year. I've been saying this for a year. We have a $12 billion price tag in three years, $12 billion. Right now, we just deal with what we have right now. We have $4 billion, $4.3 billion over two years. Those are real numbers and it keeps me up at night. Because in November we have to do a new budget to justify that every service in the city is going to be impacted by it. And we only received a little over $100 million from the federal government, a little over $100 million out of a $4 billion price tag. And now based on the new assessment of migrants that are coming in, we were once just getting from South and Central America. Now, the entire globe has found New York City is the place they are coming to.
One, we have to close the borders in some manner, and I don't mean a physical closure of the border. I want to be clear on that because if not, the front page of the newspapers tomorrow will be saying Eric wanted to close the borders. I'm talking about having a real decompression strategy at the borders. Allow people to come in and spread it throughout the entire country. If we're going to have open borders attached to that, we need to make sure the process is controlled in a manner that it goes throughout the entire country and not to New York City. Number two, we need to allow people to work where there's more anti-American than being told you cannot work in this country. The mere fact we are denying the migrants, all they say to me is, "We don't want anything free from you. We just want a job." And so we need the federal government to permit them to work.
We need to permit them to work, then we need to call for a state of emergency for our city so we can get the resources we deserve. Then we need to stop FEMA for giving money to the bordering states. And you know what they're doing with the money? They're busting people to New York with FEMA's money, sending them to New York. So this is a national problem. The congressional delegation have been extremely helpful. We need real immigration reform that the Republican Party has been denying for many years.
But there are things that the White House can do right now and employment will help us greatly. We have thousands of jobs throughout the state. We need to make sure the entire state absorbs this, because it's not sustainable for New York City. We were able to do the best we were able to do for a year, but what you saw in front of the Roosevelt Hotel with people sleeping outside, that's because the dam burst and we just don't have any more room. And this is not right that New York City residents are picking up the price tag of this and watching the quality of their life erode because of the conditions that we didn't create.
This city was humming. We were dealing with a great recovery. We got a double A bond rating from Fitch. People realized that we were managing this city with a team like this, and this was dropped into our lap and we managed it. But I cannot commit that we're not going to see people sleeping on our streets, because we don't have the room if something's not done on the federal level. So I need you to raise your voice on the federal level. I need you to say, as New Yorkers, "We deserve to be treated better."
Commissioner Kreizman: And I also just want to acknowledge assembly member Grace Lee who's here, as well as Chief McCarthy from Manhattan South, the 5th Precinct DI Chen, and the Captain himself, Precinct Captain Treubig. Thank you for being here.
Question: My name is Justin Yu. I'm a Democrat district leader 65 AD Part D. I have one question and one request. Today, we are very happy you brought all your city government to Chinatown. One request that I have is that our community has so many things. We have a beautiful restaurant. We have beautiful culture. We have beautiful people. But we are lake of beautiful trees. And past spring, your commissioner and the borough president help us start planting trees. But here, I'm asking for more trees along Canal Street. The whole Canal Street from the Manhattan Bridge all the way to Sixth Avenue, we have only three trees. I don't think any place beside Sahara has less tree than Canal Street. But under your administration, I believe you can green in whole Canal Street.
That's first request. I have one question. The Park Row issues is very important for us, Park Row from Chinatown to City Hall. The Park Row has been closed for 23 years, since 9/11. So far, we have no clear idea what the city government is going to do regarding the Park Row. If City Hall, Department of Transportation decide you are going to open up the Park Row, give us a plan. If you decide not to open Park Row, tell us. We can beautify the area. I think Police Department and the Park Row Alliance already have [inaudible] plan how to beautification of the area. So, we need clear message from the city. Tell us. Department of Transportation, what do you want to do about Park Row? Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you. Who I got from Parks? I don't see Sue. Park, who's DOT?
Question: DOT, Ed Pincar, Commissioner.
Mayor Adams: Okay, okay. So we're going to need Parks and we're going to need DOT, because I'm not going to see him again and he's complaining to me about trees on Canal Street. Telling you right now. How do we get this done? How do we green Canal Street, Park and DOT?
Borough Commissioner Anthony Perez, Parks Department: Sure. Hello, everyone. I'm Anthony Perez. I'm the Manhattan Borough Commissioner for New York City Parks, and we fully agree with you. We want as many trees as possible everywhere. I saw you at the event recently. We've made that promise as well. In the last four years, we've planted over 800 trees in Community Board Three. That includes 285 that were planted just this last spring, and 234 of those were here in Chinatown, including the Chinese scholar trees that were mentioned by Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. We have our team working on different sites for the next season of street planting. We'll consider the momentum under the leadership of Mayor Eric Adams.
Mayor Adams: Okay. I didn't like that. What are the challenges of planting trees on Canal Street? Are there some challenge we need to know about?
Borough Commissioner Perez: Part of it is the way the streets are lined up and the amount of shade that covers some of the areas. Some of the trees that we have planted there in the past have not survived, but we are investigating every site possible to see wherever we can plant a tree and make sure that it survives its initial period. We'll plant it.
Mayor Adams: So listen, I want to manage your expectation. So what we are going to do, can we do an analysis and give you a real number of how many trees and where we can plant? This way, you'll know what to expect because if—
Right. Okay? When can we have that?
Borough Commissioner Perez: We'll work with him to have it very soon. We'll go—
Mayor Adams: I don't like that either. Well, you got to give us a date. If it's two months, if it's three months, are we talking about the survey? What does the survey consist of?
Borough Commissioner Perez: They've already started the survey earlier in the spring where they go tree pit by tree pit, and we ask for requests from the community board by local elected officials and each park district manager, and we have our forestry team examine site by site. We've already started the work, and we will have a planting plan ready in place by next month, so we'll be able to give you an exact number.
Mayor Adams: Okay, so by next month—
You better believe it. So by next month, we'll have a plan. This way, you'll know exactly what we could do and what we can do, because it may be possible that some trees won't survive, so we want to make sure we get it right.
Borough Commissioner Perez: We've been working closely already.
Mayor Adams: Okay. We're going to check in, because I know you're going to see me while I'm walking down the block. Now, the second part, you said something else that was important. Oh, Park Row, Park Row. How many people want Park Row open? Oh, to vehicle traffic. How many people want Park Row open to vehicle traffic? How many people don't want Park Row open to vehicle traffic? Okay. And we had a date. The councilman came to me. We had a date when we were opening Park Row of vehicle traffic. We had a date locked in, and we already sat down and spoke to the Police Department, the judges, the federal courts. We spoke to everyone and we said, "Listen, this is the date it's going to be open."
Then the electeds came to me and said, "Eric, we don't want it open," and so now I'm caught in-between the two. And so I went back to my councilman and I told the councilman, "You guys get in the room and you figure this out. If you guys figure it out and you want it open, I'm going to open it. If you guys figure it out and say you want it closed, I'm going to close. If you want it partial open, partial open. I'm not trying to get in the middle of your fight. You tell me what you want and I will implement it. If you come to a consensus in opening, we will open it immediately. If you come to a consensus and partial open, we'll do a partial opening, but you have to figure it out. The community must decide how to fix that problem."
Okay. Well, you had a couple of electeds. We had a meeting. Everybody's not on the same page, so let's get everybody in the room. You get everybody in the room, you sit down with me, you come over and we say, "Eric, here's the plan we were able to implement." Okay? All right.
Question: My name is Joseph Reaver and I wanted to thank you, Mr. Mayor, for hosting this town hall and bringing us all together and giving us an opportunity to speak about the issues in the community. We wanted to ask you if you would visit Elizabeth Street Garden and work with us in the community to preserve the garden and to achieve needed affordable housing at alternative sites in the same district in Chinatown, such as 91 East Broadway and 2 Howard Street, and to work with the community so we find a solution that achieves more open space, more green space, more affordable housing, and has the safety of Chinatown in mind, has the safety of these communities in mind, because we're really trying to achieve that and we'd love to work with you on that.
Mayor Adams: Give me some background.
Question: The city is trying to build housing, senior housing over the Elizabeth Street Garden, and we've identified multiple alternative sites within the same council district. We've had thousands of letters sent to the administration, to HPD. We had over 28,000 letters sent. We're really trying to find a solution that does not lose any green space and saves the garden and gets affordable housing for everyone.
Mayor Adams: That's when I did the walkthrough with the group around that space. Okay. Here's my response. Not only we may have to build on that spot, we may have to build even in alternative spots. I don't know if you guys understand what's going on right now. There's no housing, folks. There's no housing. We may have to build on that spot. We may have to build on the alternative spots you're talking about. Why do you think we have so many people in homeless shelters? Because they have vouchers and they can't find housing. They can't find housing. So if you telling me, "Eric, don't build housing somewhere," my next question to all of you with the signs and the green shirts, "Are you homeless? Do you have a home?"
Who's going to go to the 50,000 New York City residents that I have in homeless shelters walking around with FHEPS vouchers and don't have a place to stay? I will never commit to saying, "I'm not going to build on every available piece of real estate I have to put New York City in a home." That's what I'm going to do, and I'm not going to give up on that. And so if we can find a creative way to have rooftop gardens, find creative ways to build around it and include it and have it as inside the space, I'm with that. But I have a homeless crisis right now in this city, and it is a luxury to say, "Eric, don't build housing somewhere." That's the luxury I don't have. I got to get New Yorkers in housing.
You know why I got to get New Yorkers in housing? Because if you are a child growing up in homelessness, you are less likely to graduate from high school. And if you don't educate, you will incarcerate. I'm not building another generation of homeless youth, which a large number of them are black and brown homeless youth. They don't have that luxury. I'm building housing wherever I can. I'll come by and look at your garden. We'll build around the garden. We'll be creative, but don't tell me we can't build housing. That's not going to happen. Next question.
Commissioner Kreizman: Sally? Next table.
Question: Hi, Mayor. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: I'm doing well, thank you. My name is Tricia and I am the PTA President of PS 140, so I'm representing our school here. One of our safety concerns is that our school is adjacent to one of the parks, and that park is what we use during recess and for pickup, drop off, dismissal. And our issue is that there are so many entrance and exits, but we don't have a heavy presence of our safety agents or the NYPD. Inside the schools, we're covered, but our concern is around the immediate area.
How can we have more of a police presence, a heavier presence, or maybe work better with the Parks Department on getting that park shut down during the school hours and then reopen them back up to the public? But during the time when my kids are in school and I have to worry about homeless people on the streets or the drug addicts on the streets in the same park that my kid is playing at during lunch, the safety concern there is immeasurable. So what can we do about that? How can we get that fixed?
Mayor Adams: Talk to me, Parks. Is that something that we could close down? Who's the CO of the precinct? I see you, Chief. How you doing? Who's the CO? Okay. Don't try to hide. I'm going to call you. Talk to me about that. Are you familiar with what she's saying?
Captain Christopher Treubig, NYPD: We have four YCOs that are assigned to the command. We also have the NCOs that are-
Mayor Adams: Tell me what YCOs are.
Captain Treubig It's the Youth Coordination Officers, and we also have Neighborhood Coordination Officers. When we do have the school dismissals, also with Community Affairs, any sort of concerns that are over there, we do 75 Peters, which are directed patrols in and around the schools for safe passage. 350 Grand Street is our largest school, which is also our largest concern. Over on Essex Street, there's five schools just in that location alone. We usually flood those areas with officers.
During the school dismissals, when everybody's getting out at the same time, entry's more staggered. Obviously, we're more concerned with the let-outs, so that's the reason why we usually flood Essex Street, Glancey and Essex. We have transit overtime. Also at TD 4, the transit hubs are always covered, especially during dismissals. But any other further concerns, we could speak afterwards during the school hours.
Mayor Adams: Valerie, let's connect. What I'm going to do, I'm going to come over and walk over there with you. Let's set up a date where I could come over and we will make sure we do coordination. Can we close the park during school hours? Is that something we normally do?
Borough Commissioner Perez: We actually have a program called the JOP program. It's the Jointly Operated Park. And so what that means is the parks that are adjacent to DOE schools, we can create an agreement where the park can be closed during those hours while the school is open. I'd love to connect with you afterwards so we can explore. This is one that's eligible for that program, and I'll give you my card so we can connect directly.
Mayor Adams: Okay, so speak with the CO. All right? And Parks, the three of you get together and we'll circle back. You let me know if we resolve the issue over there. Okay? All right. Thank you.
Paul: Okay. Next table over.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. How are you?
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: I'm good.
Mayor Adams: Good to see you.
Question: Good to see you. We totally, as table 12, find deep value and community necessity in open public green spaces. They have a significant positive impact on mental health of students, children, older adults, and the entire community. What are you doing to invest in and protect public green space that is under threat of destruction and in disrepair, spaces like Elizabeth Street Garden, Gotham Park, and Park Row, which we would like to formally invite you to visit? Thank you.
Mayor Adams: I would love to come and see it. Is your team lead... Who's my public space person here? Yeah, okay.
Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar, Department Of Transportation: Hi, Mr. Mayor. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm Ed Pincar, DOT's Manhattan Borough Commissioner. It's great to see you. I can speak to the work at the Arches, which the mayor reopened in May. They're fantastic, if you haven't been to them yet. We will be launching a working group of electeds and community members in September to talk about what can come next after the completion of our bridge project. We're very excited. The Borough President mentioned earlier about state funding for Park Row through the DRI project. We're actively looking to see how we can just create vibrant public spaces for all New Yorkers to enjoy, so a lot of good things on its way.
Mayor Adams: Ya-Ting Liu is not here. She's our public space person. What we have been doing with Ydanis Rodriguez, we expanded the open streets. I'm a big plaza person. We need to do a mapping of all of our plazas that we are doing and all of our open spaces, where we were and where we are. Our numbers are going to exceed any other administration. We want to show where we were and where we are and where we're going. We brought someone on board just for public spaces, and we're going to continue to expand and be creative of using as many public spaces as possible and creating these green gardens, creating these plazas.
And historically, these plazas have only been in affluent communities. They were not spread throughout the entire city. We're taking a different approach to that and we're reclaiming a lot of the streets. We just did an amazing job on Broadway and we're looking at other public spaces. And even when you look at the park in Williamsburg, in Greenpoint, what they're building out there, as Borough President, I spent the night in the park with the residents to show that we needed the money to get that park done, and that park is going to be up and operating. I'm a big park person, ride my bike throughout the city all the time. We're going to be a mayor, administration where green spaces is going to thrive and grow. And yes, I will come over and look at the space that you're talking about.
Commissioner Kreizman: Next table. Angela? Angelica?
Mayor Adams: Valerie, can you connect and get her information? How are you, ma'am?
Question: Hi, my name is Renee Green. I'm 92 years old.
Mayor Adams: Right. Give it up.
Question: Which is why I needed the help getting up. One other thing, you and I have something in common. I was a mayor in Livingston, New Jersey, so there we are. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I would like to say that there are issues that... I'm talking about Elizabeth Street Garden. And besides the invitation to come to the garden, I would like to point out that it's very important that we have the EIS statement, because climate is a very important issue, as you know. And there are a lot of benefits that the garden gives that is necessary to the quality of life, which can't be ignored.
Yes, housing is very, very important, but if you do housing to the exclusion of climate issues, I think that's a very big mistake. So please, please, please come to the garden and take a look, and see why environmental issues are important and what the garden offers to the environment. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Thank you, mayor. You have to share all your secrets of how you're living such a great 92-year-old life. We really appreciate that. And you are really a wise woman to leave New Jersey and come live in New York. I'm looking forward to doing that, and as the Brooklyn Borough President, we did a number of projects where we created green roofs, green garden spaces. My record as Borough President, what we do, what we did about vertical farms, what we did about recycling, this is something I believe in wholeheartedly.
But there's a priority order of what I must do in the city, and at the top of that order is public safety, and right under it is I have to get people into housing. But I think there's a win-win that we can do. We just have to be willing to do that win-win, and I'm ready to do that win-win. Next table.
Commissioner Kreizman: Next table. David?
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: I'm well. Thank you. I'm Jean Bradley. I'm a principal at P 94, a District 75 school across—
Mayor Adams: How did I know that?
Question: I don't know. Across Lower Manhattan, we had a very rich discussion. We were wondering, can you work with state and federal partners to prevent congestion pricing from coming to New York City? Thank you. This will negatively impact everyone below 60th Street, which means that teachers won't be able to drive into Chinatown and Lower Manhattan schools. Our businesses will close due to the fact that truck drivers, merchants, and customers will be charged to enter and do business in Chinatown.
Mayor Adams: Great, thank you. The federal government just passed their decision. It's an MTA now, is taking it there. This is not a mayoral decision. What I do know is we have to do something about street car traffic. It's killing our environment. It is destroying our city. We have to be careful how we implement any form of congestion pricing, that we don't displace it into communities that have historically dealt with environmental issues. So there must be a solution on how to do it and how to do it right.
I think Congressman Torres was right when he looked at how it'll impact the Cross Bronx Expressway, how it will impact the Bronx, and we should be concerned about Lower Manhattan, what's the impact is. We have to make sure it's environmentally friendly. We have to make sure we deal with this congestion on our roads. We have a real car problem. It is out of my span of control. It is up to now the MTA, after the ball was handed over to them by the federal government, to determine how it's going to be done. Now, there's going to be some open response periods, so folks to come in and share their concerns when those public response periods are there.
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: Good. Nice to see you. I'm Tammy Meltzer, chair of Community Board One. So I'm here for Table Eight. Public safety was the largest discussion at our table. We covered many city services and issues that cross agencies, so I'm going to go super, super fast because I was told I had to.
Support services and coordination is needed for the unhoused, the homeless, and mentally ill. We'd like to see smaller focus and coordinated safe havens and services available because we have crime hotspots that need help like Rutgers and Madison along East Broadway. That subway stop is deemed one of the most dangerous. We can't get down the street to get to the subway without drug dealers and crime. It's not safe for students and it's not safe for people looking to return to work. So that's one.
We would like to see coordination of large construction projects and impacts because around Chinatown, the jail and rebuilding Mulberry Street is affecting the businesses. The pedestrians are all suffering. There needs to be an agency that can coordinate all of that kind of traffic, which then goes to safety and coordination with street sheds and homeless, as you've already spoken, which also goes to traffic safety enforcement because of all the streets and the problems that we have. We have a problem with e-bikes, both in terms of safeguarding the pedestrians with e-bikes that delivery guys don't have their vests, they're on sidewalks. They go wrong way on one-way streets in the local neighborhood.
Commissioner Kreizman: So let's focus on those issues.
Question: And also, storage.
Commissioner Kreizman: Because we're not doing a laundry list for every table. So let's focus–
Commissioner Kreizman: ... on answering the questions. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Storage places?
Question: Well, the lithium batteries are an issue, and that goes everything from handicapped accessible transportation, which uses lithium, to the e-bikes. We need a way for people to safely store, safely recharge them. It's a growing industry, and we need traffic enforcement safety.
Mayor Adams: Okay. Okay. I got you. A couple of things. One, because you gave me a list, one, DOT, talk about traffic coordination of the construction that's in the area.
Borough Commissioner Pincar: Sure. Mr. Mayor. Hi, Tammy. Nice to see you. We coordinate with all of the contractors as they're coming up with their job. We give them stipulations about what amount of space and what hours or days of the week they're able to do it. If there are problems, the first thing, as you know, is call us because we'll inspect that they're doing what we told them to do, and oftentimes they're not. And then we'll come out and we'll issue them a fines and make sure that the MTP, maintenance and protection of traffic, is then correct. For some larger projects, as you know, we have set up a task force, or working groups, to really drill down on the different types of coordination that may be needed, but we're always happy to meet with community boards and other groups on big projects.
Mayor Adams: And we need to, one of the things that I was extremely disappointed as the board president is how district managers and community board people were treated by agencies. You represent the voice on a local level, and we want to make sure that we empowered our district managers, our community boards, and we are looking at, I don't like the 311 process. When you have something you have to deal with, you have to go through 311. I don't think that should be. We're trying to reshape that in a real way, and I want to bring in our community board leaders to figure out how do we do it the right way. The batteries, Commissioner Kavanagh, she has been amazing around this issue, and I know the city council is partnering with us to see about some form of turn-in program, where we could get some of those bad batteries off our streets.
We're trying to get to federal government. Senator Schumer came with us. Matter of fact, we were in Chinatown, I believe, when we did an announcement together with Senator Schumer. It's a real problem. Anyone who has not seen how the batteries explode, it's very frightening. And so we have to really deal with those illegal batteries, and the city council has been partnering with us, the federal government is partnering with us, and Commissioner Kavanagh has really been leading this conversation of a problem that's facing us. We have more and more e-scooters out on our road like never before. We have to really monitor them better, we need to make sure that they're not harmful to themselves and others, and we are really leaning into this issue.
Question: Public safety.
Mayor Adams: That's a prerequisite to prosperity. No one knows it better than I, and I say there are many rivers that feed the sea of public safety. There are many, and we have to be on the frontline of many of them.
You know what's interesting? Based on our analysis, there's only a small number of people that are committing repeated crimes. Small number. Many people get arrested, they make a mistake, they come out, they go on with their lives, but we have a number of people who are committing crimes over and over and over again. I call them extreme recidivists. They should be held accountable for their behavior. I don't think we do a good enough job in doing that. You can't be arrested with a gun on Monday, be out on Tuesday with another gun. That's just unacceptable, and that's a broken system. We took 11,000 illegal guns off our streets. Now, we're decreasing in homicides and shootings and some of the major crime categories, but that's nothing if you're a victim of a crime. We must lean heavier into public safety. I have an amazing team there that are doing a great job, and you're going to continue to see crime drop down.
You're talking about the transit system. We are now peaking back up to 4 million riders. People are back on our subway system. Our customer satisfactory surveys are clear that crime is going down. We're at low levels in crime, and I always tell people, it's interesting. People say that one of the safest times in the city, they use as a model, is Giuliani. They say, "Giuliani, when Giuliani was mayor, this place was extremely safe." Our numbers of safety is lower than Giuliani's last year in office. That's how well we are doing in bringing down crime, but you're not seeing those stop and frisk numbers through the roof. You're not seeing people being abused. You're seeing quality, precision policing, and we're going to continue to drive down crime in this city because we have to be safe. If we're not safe, then how do we stay in our city?
Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you.
Question: Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Thank you.
Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you. And Community Affairs Unit is the point of contact to every community board. Robin Forst at your table is the Manhattan borough director. So if any issues, anytime, CAU is always ready to coordinate any efforts with all the agencies. Next table. Sally.
Question: Hello, Mayor Adams.
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: Good. The community would like to know, does the mayor support the community-led Chinatown working group rezoning plan, a plan which has gotten over 10,000 signatures and would protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side from displacement and luxury condos, which are driving up rent, property taxes, displacing tenants, workers, and small businesses?
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Just introduce yourself.
Edith Hsu-Chen, Executive Director, Department of City Planning: Hi, I am Edith Chen, the executive director of the Department of City Planning. Thank you for your question. It's an honor and privilege to be here tonight. Chinatown, without question, is such a special neighborhood, and we respect the work that communities, that groups in the communities, have done to keep it special as a place to live, work, play, visit, eat, and we're happy to advance the plan that advances shared goals. You heard the mayor speak so passionately about housing, and we are in a time of a housing crisis. The Chinatown working group plan, we're not aligned with it at this point because it provides impediments to housing. It actually stymies development of housing. So if we can overcome that, let us continue talking. Okay? Thank you.
Mayor Adams: What are some of the biggest sticking points in the plan, just one or two sticking points that we are having an issue with?
Hsu-Chen: Sure. There are some proposed density limits, height limits, so we wouldn't be able to achieve more capacity in housing. There are also requests for special permit and discretionary approvals. We're trying to make it easier to build housing in New York City. So those are a couple of examples. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: So we need to look at the proposal because the goal is not to displace but to place. But I cannot emphasize enough, the problem we're having with housing New Yorkers is that number one, it's costly. Our rents are going through the roof in the city. It's becoming more and more expensive, and you know why it's becoming more and more expensive? Because the product, this is basic supply and demand, we don't have enough housing. And the governor and I put together a plan for our lawmakers in Albany to state that we need to be able to build more, do office conversions. We needed some type of incentive of a 421-a plan somehow. We have to build more housing.
And anytime you sit in a room, when I'm at the shelters and I'm talking to people who have FHEPS vouchers, and they're going from location to location, they can't get housing because we don't have enough. Limited supply is going to drive up cost. We have to build more housing. So we can't have anything that's going to be an impediment to build housing. We don't want to destroy communities and we're not, but we have to build more housing in the city.
Commissioner Kreizman: Next table. Moshe's table.
Question: Good afternoon, mayor.
Mayor Adams: How are you? You guys do some great work, UA3.
Question: Thank you very much. We recognize the homelessness, public safety, affordable housing are critical issues on top of mayor's mind. By being here in Chinatown, we live here, we work here, we have pleasure here. So I think as people's mayor, you'll find creative means to solve all these problems. Now, as historical Chinatown after 9/11 has carried a heavy burden, Covid-19, mega jail, [inaudible] shelters, congestion pricing. What kind of resource will we be able to bring to Chinatown and Lower East Side to uplift our lives? Thank you, mayor.
Mayor Adams: Well, we would like believe, working in partnership with your local electeds and your councilperson, it's about making sure we bring those resources. And so I need for you to drill down a little more to say... That's a broad statement of what type of resources. We want to make sure you have the proper number of police officers. You have the proper allocation of resources for your schools, your roadways, which was just raised, your trees, making sure we have the proper enforcement, and support small business services.
And so across the board, I think that your councilman is a great advocate, and we want to make sure that you get your proper resources. Many of those resources come through our city agencies and how they do their daily work to provide you the goods and services that your tax dollars paid for. We work for you. I'm clear on that. So when you say that, if there's a specific area that you feel you're not getting your proper allocation of resources, that's what I need to know so we can dig into that. Get him that mic. That was a question that I asked him, so let him respond.
Question: Thank you. So the question, one of the questions, when you walk around Chinatown, approximately 80 percent, we have 80 percent vacancy rate for our business. However, our tax rates continue to rise. So I think that's something that we can have the city agency be able to focus on how to support our small business.
Mayor Adams: Yes, and Commissioner Kim is here, as well as Chinatown was known for one of the hot tourist spots. Our tourism last year was 56 million people. We're predicted to have 65 million. We need to bring in Commissioner Kim, in addition to what you're doing, we need to bring in NYC & Company and have them come up with a real plan of how do we drive those tourists back down to Chinatown to enjoy the custom, the food, the music. And I think we need to be more engaged in doing so to get people back into the small businesses. But Commissioner Kim?
Commissioner Kevin Kim, Small Business Services: Sure. Thank you for that question. We have been working very closely with our community partners here in Chinatown. For example, in the past couple of fiscal years, we've put in over $333,000 into the community. There was a Chinatown community district needs assessment that was done, which I think is going to be very informative for how we make decisions going forward and how to assist this particular community. The mayor, as he's noted, overall as a city, we've made a tremendous comeback on the economic recovery side, almost 99.7 percent, and we may be at 100 percent job recovery right now.
One of every seven businesses that are actually open today started under the Adams administration. And if you notice, when we first began this administration, the mayor put out a blueprint for economic recovery, which had so many different initiatives that had never been done before. For example, the New York City Opportunity Fund, $75 million, that was the largest private/public partnership loan fund directed just to small businesses. And we've been working with CDFIs who've been targeting the AAPI community to make sure that they knew about it and could access this capital. So we've done a number of programs around commercial lease assistance. Because as I've mentioned, we have economic recovery and starting of new businesses. Small businesses have been devastated during Covid, but we also need to keep the businesses that are already existing in business. And that's where the commercial lease assistance program, we've invested over $5 million into that program this coming year, where you get free legal service when you're negotiating with landlords on your lease terms. And those who have fallen behind, you can also access this program to renegotiate your terms for free with legal service.
And then finally, we've implemented New York City BEST, business express service team. This past year, we serviced over 2200 businesses, saving small businesses $22 million, by expediting licensing, permitting, getting the compliance advisors, who are former inspectors of various sister agencies that you see up here, coming to your store, meeting where the small businesses where they are to make sure that we educate them. Everything from our SBS viewpoint is about education, educating to prevent lithium e-bike fires by educating for prevention purposes, working closely with the FDNY. So we know that we want to be here in the community. And anytime you've been out and asked to come, we've been here. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: And so, many of the services that we have, many people are not aware of them. And so if you want to host something locally and have the commissioner come down, but we could explain to the businesses some of the services that we have. This way everything that we could help a business with can keep the doors open. And so we want you to utilize us and let us come in and explain, as the commissioner did, and Borough President Levine has been amazing partner around how do we assist in small business services and expanding them.
Commissioner Kreizman: Excellent. Next table.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. Clifford here. Just before we get to the question, I'm not only half Chinese, I'm half Filipino.
Mayor Adams: Okay.
Question: So I just wanted to shout out the appointment of Deputy Mayor Torres Springer for representing the Filipino community up there.
Mayor Adams: All right.
Question: And so my question, and I guess the collective question of Table 10 over here, is understanding that our communities are heavily immigrant in nature, heavily working class in nature, heavily limited English proficient in nature, and I think we're not just talking about the Asian American community here. How are you creating and expanding infrastructure to create workforce development pipelines, so that background, documentation status, the ability and asset to speak English is not an hindrance for them to be able to work a dignified and a quality level job, to achieve mobility and to achieve opportunity? One shining example here is in Chinatown, let's be honest, a lot of small businesses have faced the brunt of Covid-19. A lot of them have closed. So those community members who have been working these small businesses for years, what's going to happen to them? Who's going to employ them? Right? And so that's the question for our communities here. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Two things. Let him hold the mic. We have 12,000 city jobs that are available right now, 12,000. And we have been doing what's called hiring halls, going into the local communities, bringing the agencies in, setting up a table, and guiding people through the process of how do you get some of these good-paying, union, civil service jobs. Some of them are non-union, but we are looking for employees. So if you know anyone that's looking for a job, we are ready to hire. The second thing that I want is you tell me some of the things you believe we can do. How can we be a better customer-facing operation to deal with the many people and diversities? Do you have any ideas you think we can do?
Question: 100 percent. But I think, just to echo that, the challenge there is yes, we have these hiring halls, but is it responsive to individuals who may not be able to translate English as a main language? I think the target audience for these community members, who again are immigrant, who are migrant, who anything, is communication, why is that a barrier to them? So supporting workforce development programs, supporting English language programs for our community members, and doing more targeted outreach. New York City spends less than 60 cents per dollar for the over 1 million censused AAPI community members here. And that's not counting folks who did not fill out the census. That's not counting migrants and asylum seekers. And so just a clear investment needs to be made on translating community progress and impact.
Mayor Adams: Okay. I didn't really understand what you're saying. Okay, so with Commissioner Stewart, and we going to get over to Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, and this is what I say all the time. Commissioner Stewart is the commissioner of community affairs, but he has opened English as a second language classes that he's doing, particularly for those who are Spanish speakers, teaching them English. That's not his job, but he saw the need, so he went in and filled the need. And so we have all this talent in the city. There's nothing that stops anyone in this room that speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, or anything to say we want to use the school building to teach English to those who were in the stores and now they're no longer employed. Some of this stuff, we are going to need the community to help us on this. If we know the needs, there's nothing stops us from saying we are going to come and I'm going to give you the space, the resources. But if we create these partnerships because your passion is going to help us move the needle because it's all about passion. And we have Commissioner Castro here is from Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. Can you talk about some of the stuff that we're doing?
Commissioner Manuel Castro, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: Yes, absolutely. Thank you, mayor. I think I heard a number of different things with respect to language access and I heard language access mentioned elsewhere here. Every single city agency here has access to language services contracts and we work closely in partnership with our city agencies to make sure language services and language access is a priority for our city government. Our administration invests more in language services and language taxes than anywhere else in the country. So that's absolutely a priority of ours. If there's ever a need for translation services, as many of our translation staff is here, we will deploy them to events such as these and elsewhere. You can call upon our language access specialists at the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs to help your community organization or agencies to provide those services.
With respect to English language learning, a number of agencies here, yes, the NYPD, but also DYCD in my office, we operate English language services programs. We're about to open a new RFP, which we invite all the community organizations here to apply for. This is to increase capacity with our providers, helping our newly arrived immigrants learn English, but also learn about the many services and programs available to them. Lastly, I did want to acknowledge Lydia Lee, who's here. She is on our staff. She's been a bridge to your communities. Lydia is back there with our language access team. So please connect with Lydia Lee. Many of you already work with them and of course, I don't know if she's here. Winnie Greco, our wonderful colleague at City Hall. I know that many of you work closely with them in our office. We're here very much for you and committed to continuing to work.
Actually with respect to workforce development, that is absolutely a huge priority of ours, as the Mmyor has said. All the asylum seekers want is the ability to work. Many of them are not able to work, so they have to work in the informal economy and we're very concerned about that, what's happening to them by taking jobs off the books, for instance. So you should know that, in partnership with SBS, we have Workforce One centers available for immigrants as well in different languages for them to connect to those services, including a program called the Day Labor Workforce Initiative, which works specifically with these informal workers who generally look for work in the streets or employment agencies. I'm happy to connect with you to talk about these efforts to support informal workers. Thank you so much.
Mayor Adams: Fred?
Commissioner Kreizman: And just one thing, if you look at the Administration of Cultural Sensitivity, if you look at the tables, each one of these tables, we have an interpreter every one of these tables. But if you look at the community affairs at this table, every person at this table, their Mandarin, Cantonese-speaking community affairs officers. So in this administration, we're really focused on cultural sensitivity, whether it be here, Sunset Park or any neighborhood we have a town hall meeting, we ensure that we have translation services in every single table.
Mayor Adams: And before we do that, just along here, all of you here, how many is English not your native language? Just raise your hand. Send up my commissioners, my staff that you speak a language other than English. Okay, Jazz, don't you know a little Spanish? So it is important. We feel you, but if you have some ideas on what we can do, we want to hear some of those ideas, but we feel you because people need to feel as though they could be employed in the city that they are part of. But I hear you loud and clear.
Commissioner Kreizman: Thank you.
Mayor Adams: How are you, sir? Go ahead.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. My name is Theresa and I want to thank everybody who came before on table nine. You asked a lot of our questions, but we want to focus on public safety and I know that's number one on your list. Chinatown has moved on, but Chinatown has always been intergenerational. We can look forward, but we cannot look back on the people that we have left behind like our seniors. So what we're asking is we want safety for families and for businesses. We should be able to walk in Chinatown to shop, to go to church, to be in the community. Can we restart talks about 91 East Broadway to ensure proper services are given to the community and how safety... I know it's at the top of your list, can be enhanced in Chinatown for children, especially children?
Mayor Adams: Okay. So dig into that a little for me. We have CO here. Are there some specific areas that you feel we should be looking at? Because I'm not sure exactly where... You could probably help us better, but…
Question: Okay. I run a Sunday school in Chinatown. I have to have the kids cross Moscow Street to get to church, but I can't let them cross unsupervised. I am terrified that someone's going to snatch them because they're coming up from the park. Someone's doing drugs in the corner, in the alcove of our building, or if someone just decides to sleep at the corner of the church. Those are things that even though we think they're very little, those kids are our future. We have to make sure that they're safe, even though it's just Chinatown's become a commuter Chinatown because we all don't live in Chinatown anymore. But the few times that we do come back, we know where our roots are. So we all want to come together to help the community.
Mayor Adams: And those are not little things for me. Those are big things. We shouldn't have a city where children are watching someone inject themselves with drugs right on our corner. We shouldn't have a city where people are sleeping on their stoops or loitering or smoke shops everywhere that you see. That's not the city that we should have. This city should be a city where you raise healthy children and families. So I was against some of these laws telling me that I cannot tell people they can't have a camp encampment in front of someone's house, allowing people to inject themselves, saying that prostitution should be legal. I'm not for that. That's not the city I want to live in. Our children should not have to live in that city. Let's raise our voice together.
Question: I mean, even with discussing 91 East Broadway with all the drug use and homelessness and people that need mental help, is it possible to raise our voice to have that facility if it comes to fruition, to be more of a family location versus an all male facility so that at least it's for families?
Commissioner Kreizman: We have DSS here.
Mayor Adams: Who's here from…?
Commissioner Molly Wasow Park, Department of Social Services: Hi, I'm Molly Wasow Park. I'm the commissioner of the Department of Social Services. So 91 East Broadway for those who might not know is going to be a safe haven. So serving people who've experienced street homelessness, it is a site that is going to have a federally qualified health center, wraparound services 24 7 security. We like you absolutely believe in the safety of community. One of the things that we know about people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, that even though they don't have a place inside, they feel very connected to communities. So the best way to get people off the streets in a given community is to make sure that there is a place in the neighborhood.
So the origin of this site came about after the murders in Chinatown where four unsheltered individuals were murdered on the street. And this was how do we find a place where people can be inside safely? Because unsheltered homelessness is not only bad for the individuals experiencing it, it's bad for the community. So by bringing in a safe haven where we are able to provide 24/7 security wraparound services and healthcare, we think that this is going to be something that is going to add to community safety. The site will have a community advisory board, so that there is going to be strong connections between the community and the provider and the site. We are deeply committed to making the site work and we're happy to work with you.
Question: The only thing that I am concerned with is that you're providing services for those group of individuals. How is that really benefiting the community surrounding that building?
Mayor Adams: I think it does a lot. As the commissioner just stated, because I remember going down when those four individuals were murdered, hit by an object, and just murdered. We don't have the authority to tell people they cannot sleep anywhere on the streets, anywhere in the city. We don't have that authority. And so if you don't have places to accommodate people, then they're going to sleep on your street, unmonitored, no wraparound services, no assistance. That becomes dangerous. And I have yet to be in one community, one community where they stated, "Hey, open the shelter here." Every place we open the shelter, people come and say, "Not here. Somewhere else." And so we have to find the balance so that we don't have a population living on your streets, unmonitored not getting the support they need, not given assistance if they're on medication. We need to find these safe havens and wraparound services to really get people off the streets so they don't become a danger to the people that they live around. Thank you. Thank you so much. What's the name of your church?
Commissioner Kreizman: Excellent. And the last table.
Question: Hello, Mayor Adams, how are you?
Mayor Adams: Listen, I feel so calm being around you. You know that?
Question: Why can't I say the obvious? Wouldn't a multi-story residence be better than a multi-story jail?
Mayor Adams: Listen, I'm with you. I'm with you. You know that? We are going to meditate together.
Question: Hello, Mayor Adams.
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: Good, how are you? So my name is Rosa Chang and I'm the president of Gotham Park. So first I'm going to start off by saying thank you very much for opening up a new public space in our community that is so definitely needed.
Mayor Adams: Beautiful space.
Question: Thank you so much. And we are beyond excited about what's coming next year as well. I also wanted to thank you because this incredible show of your A-Team here is a real indicator of your commitment to answering tough questions tonight and really engaging with the community. So that's incredibly appreciated. And obviously we have a lot of the same discussions that I think every single table here had. And I think a huge priority was, as Justin said, trees and public space. And so it's awesome that you actually created the very first public realm czar to focus specifically on expanding much needed public space, especially in communities like ours where we just do not have enough. And so we are very excited to work with you on doing that.
Which brings me to Park Row because it came up during our discussion that a lot of the issues and problems that we're talking about specifically related to safety, to the lack of opportunities for businesses to actually be able to survive and the closure of businesses and the connectivity... And well, actually the disconnect between our communities all down here, the lack of trees and green space for our community to gather. All of those were a challenge on Park Row, but Park Row also offered a solution to that. And so basically we wanted to ask for at our table, that you do concentrate on Park Row to actually reconnecting our communities and weaving them back together. That we open up and connect south where Pace University is and Frankfurt Street, all the way through from the Brooklyn Bridge, which literally has 7 million pedestrian crossings a day. And those tourists all need to eat, drink, and shop. That's why they're here. We want to direct them into our businesses here so that they can actually be a form of sustained economic revitalization.
It's not a one-time infusion of money, it's a constant flow of walking people that need services. And we think that a connection of the Brooklyn Bridge, which is literally only five minutes away from Chinatown, makes a lot of sense to be able to open that up permanently. So that's something that we wanted. And specifically along Park Row, we are requesting a few things: trees, lighting, so that it doesn't look like a place where you don't belong and you are not welcome. It actually looks like a place that's meant for people to actually be on. On that note, sidewalk. There is no sidewalk. There's a section of that Park Row where you literally have to walk in a two-way bike lane. And a lot of those bikes are traveling at high speed and they're motorized. You will get run over. So let's see. Sorry. Benches, places for people to see, shading from the trees. Safety was definitely a big issue that we talked about. And I'm so encouraged to see everybody from the NYPD here tonight because I know that you have really worked so hard to help—
Mayor Adams: Well, stand up. Stand up, guys from NYPD. Our NYPD personnel.
Question: There's so many. Okay, sorry.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you guys.
Question: Thank you all so much. So my question is, could we get a commitment—
Mayor Adams: You didn't ask your question yet?
Question: I'm getting there. She told me I have to wrap it up. My question is, can we get a commitment from you and from the city, from the DOT, from Parks, from EDC, from everybody who's here, of sanitation, everybody, the rat czar, could we please get a commitment that you will really focus on reconnecting our communities, opening up economic revitalization, planting trees? We'd like maybe like a hundred just on Park Row and creating a really beautiful connection that we can all utilize to actually see each other, talk to each other, meet with each other, and really catalyze economic revitalization permanently?
Mayor Adams: Thank you for that, and thank you because you reached out to me for the arches. You reached out, you presented a plan and we were able to actualize that hearing from you. And I want to thank you for that. Jessica, what is our rat numbers? Don't we have a decrease in rats complaints? Our rats... Who has it? I was actually talking to Kathy actually also.
Commissioner Jessica Tisch, Department of Sanitation: Since we changed the set out times for trash on April 1st and got much more trash in containers. Our rack complaints to 311 are down 20 percent citywide. Every month since that change, they have been consistently down. And you have to understand rat numbers don't go down in New York City and in our rat mitigation zones, they are down 45 percent and we're looking forward to keeping it coming in August.
Mayor Adams: Right. Right. So I love what you said about Park Row, and that goes back to what I stated the councilman of [inaudible] president, the assemblymen, the congressperson, the senator, get in a room. Let's put in place a plan. And I think you said something that is very interesting because people come across the Brooklyn Bridge right by City Hall and the volume of people that come through, we need a real intentional plan. They come through and they go back across. We should be directing that foot traffic to Chinatown. And so we need to figure out a real plan of encouraging, of motivating and really getting people to come in.
We get a substantial number of people that walk over every day and I don't think we're doing enough. So, Commissioner Kim, we should speak with NYC and company and come down, sit with some of our business leaders and see how we can map out a passage to encourage people, maybe do some signage, something attractive, but we get hundreds of thousands of people. That flow alone can really reenergize Chinatown. Yeah. So let's talk about that and see how we could get it done. Listen, thank all of you for coming out. I got a couple of spots I have to see later. I'm going to come over to your plaza and our team, our trees are going to do so, but I want to thank the NYPD, our educators. We had a few educators here. Listen, this is a great city. We're a great city because we made up of great people. Thanks so much for coming out tonight.
Commissioner Kreizman: And of course, we want to thank Winnie Greco, who's a senior advisor to the Mayor for always being diligent on the needs of the Chinatown community. So we want to just thank Winnie Greco for all her work all the time on behalf of the community as well.