Secondary Navigation

Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds In-Person Media Availability

October 17, 2023

Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy, Communications: Hi, good morning. My name is Fabien Levy, and I serve as deputy mayor for Communications for the City of New York. Thank you for joining us again today. The mayor has once again convened senior leadership from across our administration to answer questions and deliver vital information to New Yorkers whether it's managing the asylum seekers crisis, preventing gun violence building an economy that supports working families, our initiatives bring together leaders across city government and these media availabilities do the same.

By bringing our team together to answer your questions in a reliable regular format we can provide a clearer picture into the work we do and deliver more accurate and accessible information for all New Yorkers. Joining us this morning we have Mayor Eric Adams, First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Chief Advisor to the Mayor Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack, Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Ana Almanzar. Without any further delay, I'll turn it over to Mayor Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much, Fabien. Thanks to the entire team for being here. Your days are full. Before we open up to questions I want to give you an overview. We have now more than 126,000 migrants, close to 127,000 that have come through our care since last spring. We have more than 118,000 total people in our care and out of that number, 64,000, a little over 64,000 are migrants.

In recent weeks, we've seen migrants arriving more and more quickly. Instead of the 2,400 people in a week that we had previously, we're now getting nearly 4,000 a week. So every day the team is just really pulling off miracles, housing, making sure that we do and provide the basic services so we don't have long lines.

And my number one agenda has been to ensure we don't have children and families sleeping on the streets of the city like we're seeing in cities across America. These Mayors, my colleagues across America, are doing the best they can, but it's clear that all of these cities are overwhelmed.

Since the humanitarian crisis began 18 months ago, not one family and child has slept on the street. Not one. Not one. I want to be very clear on that.

We are seeing that the 60 day notices with intensive case work support, they're working. Many people are deciding to find their own independent living arrangement or they're staying with family members or moving to other locales where they can stabilize their lives.

We're going to continue to use this successful model to help those transition out of the shelter system. And we have been clear from the beginning, we will continue to state    I think you're now hearing voices across the entire country    Massachusetts and others, Chicago, we need help from the federal government. This is overwhelming our cities. And no city should be going through this. It's unfair to taxpayers and it's unfair to the migrant and asylum seekers to be living in these conditions.

Early this week, the state of Massachusetts announced that they have 7,000 families in their care and they're nearly at their capacity. What I saw on the press announcement, they said what we have been saying for months. We are out of room. And this is just wrong for our cities to be going through this. New York City, Massachusetts and other partners have constantly called on the federal government to give us the support that we need. And we're looking forward to getting that support.

In addition to that, last week there was a statement put out by the former Hamas leader who called for some form of action throughout the globe and the New York City Police Department responded accordingly. Those officers who were assigned traditionally to plain clothed duties for one reason or another, we put out a directive that everyone would be in uniform. We had real omnipresence out throughout the streets. We went to sensitive locations that included synagogues, churches, in mosques, other houses of worship and other sensitive locations.

We beefed up patrol in our subway system and made sure that everyone was on high alert. We had a series of meetings with our faith leaders and other activists and organizers and organizations throughout the entire city, and the response was to make sure that we were all on high alert to know how to respond. If you see something, we wanted people to say something. But most importantly to do something and that's to notify the NYPD.

Thus far, there has been no dangerous threat to the city. We're going to continue to monitor and keep an eye out, as I've always stated, for the lone wolves who are radicalized in their own homes or at other locations. But our goal, number one goal, is to keep the people of this city safe.

I want to commend the New York police department for doing so. In addition to the statement that was put out last week, you're continuously seeing the actions of the NYPD as we continue to drive down dangerous crime. And we're going to do continue to do so. Fabien, we'll open the floor up for any questions.

Question: Mr. Mayor, so on the 60 day rule for migrant families they announced yesterday that's getting push back from Legal Aid, Coalition for the Homeless, Christine Quinn, they argue that's going to make it harder for school aged children. They'll have to possibly change schools each time they change shelters or travel further. Was that considered when the rule was put in place? What's your general reaction to that?

Mayor Adams: We're not going to have those children change schools. We want to stabilize their education and so we're not going to have those children change schools. Just answer that part of it.

And I'm really calling on legal aid and others, come up with some tangible ideas. Come up with some tangible ideas. Criticism is not an idea. Some tangible ideas, and people keep stating build more housing. Yes, that's what we are about. And we will continue to say that. We want them to join us this year in going to Albany and finally getting some form of housing plan out of Albany, and we want them to be part of the solutions to the problem.

But even if you say build more housing, that's going to take years. We have a problem right now. And it is easy to be on the sidelines and say what shouldn't be done, but the city's out of room. We have a $5 billion projected budget this fiscal year, $12 billion over three years. These are real dollars, and the same people who you just talked about, when they start to see these dollars come out of basic services, they're going to say the same thing.

So, my ask of them, we're looking for Deputy Mayor Williams Isom and his entire team, give us some ideas how do you manage a population of people that the infrastructure was not built to manage. In absence of ideas, then it's not really how do you take people seriously.

Question: Mr. Mayor, wonder if you could tell me how many of the shelters that have been inspected by the fire department have raised concerns about health and safety, how many have considered or have vacated orders and how many are you thinking of closing? The reason I'm asking you this question is I have repeatedly tried to get the information from the Fire Department and the Fire Department continually tells me call City Hall. When I call City Hall, I don't get an answer.

So, I'm asking you and I'm also you also if you're concerned about the health and safety of the migrants who might be living in shelters that might be unsafe?

Mayor Adams: No, I'm not sure who you called in city hall, but our team should give you the information based on what we have. This is a moving process, continuously. Before we place anyone in the shelter, we have FDNY come in and conduct an inspection. We're not going to be reckless. We're not going to endanger the lives of people who are in this city. I believe we have approximately three locations that the fire department did a reassessment. And stated that they had to vacate. We're going to do so. We're going to pivot and shift and comply with safety measures. We're very clear on that.

But New Yorkers really need to wrap their head around 126,000 people. 126,000 people. Less than ideal locations. But we are creating a safe place to house 126,000 people. To house, you heard the numbers that we just gave you, Marcia, to house 4,000 people a week. 4,000 people a week.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Mayor, just to be clear you're saying 4,000 new people each week.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. 4,000 new people a week. I'm happy that my colleagues across the country are joining this chorus that I have been singing that it is not sustainable. And so we are going to do the best we can, but I want to be honest with New Yorkers. You're going to see the visual of running out of room. It's not if, it's when. People are going to be sleeping on our streets.

Question: If I could follow up. What kind of a problem does it cause for you when you have to close a shelter and find new space for the people who are living there, talking about hundreds of people just yesterday alone several hundred people had to be put in the Roosevelt Hotel to find them shelter. How are you doing that if you have 4,000 new people a week? Can you talk about what that does to your system?

Mayor Adams: I'm glad you asked that question because it becomes a tactical nightmare between Deputy Mayor Williams Isom and Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack. They have to constantly find new places, push back on those who say not on my block.

We have to figure out configurations. We have to find the supply chains. Their teams, what they have done is just a miracle. Everyone who has traveled to this city and witnessed what we have done at the intake center and witnessed what we have done to house 126,000 people, are saying it's unbelievable what your city has done.

No other municipality has been able to do what this city is doing. So when people sit back and critique it without any real solutions, we have to ignore all that noise because we know what it takes to pull this miracle off every night. So, it's a tactical nightmare to have to pivot and shift and have to find in you locations. But each night, after night, it is done.

Question: How many families are going to be placed on the Floyd Bennett Field. Anything strategic about it kids going to school because it's a place located in the middle.

Mayor Adams: Camille, do you want to… 

Camille Joseph Varlack, Chief of Staff to the Mayor: Sure, absolutely. Thank you for the question. Floyd Bennett Field can accommodate approximately 2,000 people. Again, as the Mayor already indicated, we will make sure that the children are able to go back to the schools they're currently in. If there are new families that end up at that location, then we'll send them to the school that has the best resources to be able to take care of them.

Question: Mr. Mayor, Governor Hochul is going to Israel today. Do you have any plans to go to Israel? And my second question is, in terms of Councilmember Vernikov, do you think that people should feel, do you think should people who feel threatened or want to intimidate others, should they be able to carry guns? Do you think your chief advisor meeting with her sends a message that your administration might condone that behavior or what do you say to Democrats who are offended by that meeting?

Mayor Adams: First, the governor, I really commend the governor for going. And we were looking at plans to also go to show our solidarity, but we don't want to do anything that's going to interfere with the processes that are taking place now, and I commend Senator Schumer who also traveled, and I believe that I read that the president is thinking about traveling as well.

So I think it's the right thing for the governor to do. She's in a state where you have the largest Jewish population outside of Israel is here. And our hearts go out to not only the large number of Israeles murdered, injured, kidnapped but also the people of Gaza who the families who are being displaced.

Hamas terrorists despicable action has endangered the lives of innocent people. To answer your question, we're very clear on the councilwoman carrying a gun; that was inappropriate. The police department responded and took necessary action because everyone must follow the law. And particularly, to publicly display a gun at a protest of any nature, was inappropriate.

Listen, one of my most potent weapons is my chief advisor. Her ability to sit down with everyone across the aisle throughout the years, her ability to nurture relationships. The government must still run. And to be able to get things done, you must be willing to sit down with all groups across the aisle, and that's what she has done, and I ask her to do it often and no one has done it better.

And I'm going to continue, I can say it as much as I have been. I was a little upset last week that she was sent so far away from me that I said I need you to sit right by me because she does her job well, and she has my utmost confidence and support in doing her job.

We get a lot of things done in this city because she's able to sit down with people that others are not willing to do. And job well done. She should sit down. The police and the criminal justice system will handle the carrying of the gun. I need Ingrid to handle carrying my legislation, my policies, my decisions, all of these on the ground issues we have to face. Listen, no one does it better. Mona, how are you?

Question: How are you mayor?

Mayor Adams: Good.

Question: I'll pivot again.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: November 4th is the Africa Growth Opportunity Forum in South Africa. As you know AGOA is the largest trade agreement with Africa, United States with 36 signatory countries. My question for the mayor is will there be a delegation from New York City, I understand Congressman Meeks is going, some other businesses are going, but will New York City Economic Development Corporation be leading or supporting New York City businesses interested in doing business in Africa or providing services to African countries and African companies that are doing business here in the U.S.?

Mayor Adams: I believe probably the only mayor that has ever traveled to Africa. Maybe there are others. I don't know of any. I've been to Africa seven times, from South Africa to North Africa to West Africa. And Africa has often been ignored historically around the trade and investments. We are excited about the conference, and I'm going to sit down with Andrew Kimball, the head of the EDC, and we love to partner with the African Diaspora here in America to see how we can participate and potentially send a delegation. I think it's a brilliant idea.

Question: I was going to ask the mayor, I do understand that the South African government is providing travel sponsorships for New York City businesses who are interested in attending the conference.

Mayor Adams: We would love to, my team is going to reach out to you, my international affairs team. We sent a group of young people to Ghana on a trade mission over the summer. It was an amazing experience. We're going to really attempt to have a real partnership with the continent of Africa as much as possible. Let's keep in mind the Mayor is an African American. Yes, sir, how are you doing?

Question: Finally caught up on sleep from the trip. I'd like to play something here. "Hello, I'm Eric Adams. I really like Craig McCarthy. He is an amazing reporter. I respect him. The New York Post is my favorite publication." So I was able to do this in five minutes with OneNote. Hearing that, how do you feel using these local calls AI to create a voice creates serious ethical problems and very serious concerns for misinformation.

Mayor Adams: First of all, the one thing that wasn't inaccurate. I do like Craig McCarthy. Let's start with that.

Listen, artificial intelligence is here. And all tools could be used or abused. You cannot be afraid of technology because of the abusiveness of it, and that is what I have shared over and over again, and it's up to lawmakers to determine how do you restrict the abuse of it. Always.

A gun is a tool. It could be used. It could be abused. A knife is a tool. It could be used. It could be abused. No matter what you look at, the determination if it would be used or abused, and government must give the guardrails to not allow it to be abused and to be used. And I love the way we are able to do it. I hear it throughout my streets in this city that I don't feel that government communicates to me in a language that I speak.

We found a way to properly use artificial intelligence to do that. And I walk around sometimes and people turn around and say, I just know that voice. That voice is so comforting that I enjoy hearing your voice. Now they're able to hear my voice in their language. Let him finish.

Question: I know you're saying you use it responsibly get the message out there doesn't this open the door not having caveats, this is an AI generated voice for anything on the top or bottom of the message that people could use it in malicious ways. They could use it to spread disinformation, use it [inaudible] and use it in various different things, nefarious purposes. So how do you respond to that with opening the door here for them using your voice then?

Mayor Adams: First of all, many of you don't realize you get right now AI messages. You get robo calls right now that are AI. And when you get those calls, you don't hear anyone say in front of it, hey, I'm an AI calling you. You get the message, you take the information you receive and you use it if you need it.

You're finding that electeds across the country are seeing the power of using, not abusing, artificial intelligence. So, we use it to notify people of our job fairs and other important entities. We notify them when we do town halls and then when you come to do the town hall, we have translation there so you would feel as though you're part of it.

What this city has failed out, we believe that this is an English only speaking city, and it's not. This is a city of many different languages. What I charge my tech groups with, find ways that we can communicate with New Yorkers who have been historically locked out. And one of the best ways to do it is being able to use those robo calls and others.

We have some other things we're going to roll out that's going to use AI. When you call 311. We're looking at technology now when you call 311, it automatically translates the person's voice into English and when the 311 caller speaks back to that person, it will automatically identifies their language and translate it back to them. Can you imagine the power of that? Not having to wait for someone to translate in a 311 emergency call? AI is here, brother.


Mayor Adams: I gave you two rounds. I'm not going to give you a third.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you doing?

Question: Good. I want to go back to a clarification question on the schools. On the families, if they've come back to the asylum seeker center doesn't that inherently make them change locations? I have another question. You mentioned prioritizing families when it comes to asylum seeker crisis, how do you balance this message with the now message they only get 60 day notices? And just to follow up, third one, to ask you, could we get data on the 30 and 60 day notices for the single migrants that have already gotten it and how many have exited the system from the entire notices.

Mayor Adams: Let's peel it back one question at a time. The chief of staff and I, we were very clear. Every child will go back and remain in their school. Okay. Are we on the same page with that? Okay. No child is going to be displaced or their school is going to be interrupted. Every child will remain in their school. The third, and I'll have Anne answer the stats if the stats are available. But the third, we're not trying to balance messages. The only message we want to get clear is that the federal government needs to fix this mess.

We've said this over and over again, and now you're hearing from across the country others are joining us in this. This is not right for asylum seekers, for New York City and other city residents. This is not right what is happening to our cities. And we've been very clear on that. We have not vacillated. We have not sent mixed messages. We've been very clear. This is not sustainable for the people of the city and it's not right for asylum seekers and migrants to be placed in this condition. Do we have numbers on hand?

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom, Health and Human Services: I just wanted to add as a child advocate I know how important it is for children to have consistency, stability and especially children who have gone through what these young people have gone through. And when the Mayor saw it up front on his trip, we've been talking about why isn't UNICEF more involved in this.

These are young people that are coming through a horrible experience. But to Marcia's question, we really want to make sure that we're making room at the front door. So giving people a time limit so that they can get connected to family members and other opportunities, we think is the tools that we have.

I can't do a statewide decompression strategy because I'm not a governor. I'm not the president. So I can't do a federal declaration. What we can do as the city is use the tools that we have. We have our own taxpayers that are paying for stuff. We have our own city workers who are doing it, and we have our own sites that are here. So, yes, we think about all of that, Kelly, when we make these decisions. So we have the 30 days and the 60 days. But we know that single adults are different than families.

We know that many of them were leaving on their own. So we will get those statistics to you. It looks about like less than 50 percent of those people are coming back after those time limits but we'll know more about those in the coming days and we'll give you that information.

Question: How are you?

Mayor Adams: Good. How are you? Good to see you.

Question: I have a few questions for you. One, all of the asylum seekers, do you know how many of them are illegal migrants? And two, yesterday you put out a statement about standing today, do these disabled migrants get extended time for their accommodations?

Mayor Adams: Thank you, great question. You know, I recall when I spent the night in the HERRC in January I think it was. I remember walking through and there was this young man there with his I think it was his brother who was disabled. He was bedridden and had a wheelchair. We were able to immediately place him at a setting that was the HERRC. You have my commitment, the people of this city, there will be a waiver of anyone that's disabled. We're not going to put a person that's disabled in a condition that would further impact them. And so know one that is disabled would be part of the notice process.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Mr. Mayor, if I could add also we have a reasonable accommodation process for asylum seekers with disabilities to help get them the support they need. I wanted to make sure you know that.

Question: And the question about the budget.

Mayor Adams: We'll get that exact number for you. That's why I told you Lisa should be up front.

Question: Mr. Mayor, on the migrant shelter, given it's a crisis it's urgent, migrants seeking shelter, time sensitive, their need, is there protocol in place like an expedited clearing for whether not the facilities are appropriate for them we saw the closing Staten Island and St. John Villa because there was no sprinkler system or not enough fire alarms. Is there like an expedited occupancy type of test because you're using facilities that normally aren't designed for residential use.

Mayor Adams: I'll let either chief of staff who has been working closely with this, but I cannot emphasize enough of when you're at capacity, everyday is a challenge. Every day the chief of staff and the deputy mayor and their teams are calling around trying to find spaces, looking at lists.

Remember, we have a lot of hurdles we have to overcome. You have to pass the muster of FDNY. Pass the muster of affordability because you have a lot of people knowing that were so desperate that they can charge these rates. Pass the muster of getting over the on the ground stuff that's going on. Pass the muster of the lawsuits. There's so many hurdles it's not just we found the space let's put people in. We have to go through the list of hurdles that we must I don't ever come. And that's what they have been doing. But just to respond to the question.

Joseph Varlack: Sure, hi Lisa. I want to make sure I understand your question. Is your question what happens when we have to vacate the property, what happens to the individuals?

Question: [Inaudible] Fire Department, just to be clear, seems like the fire department has the final say about occupancy. So is that accurate? Or...

Joseph Varlack:Yes, it's a combination of things.

Question: All the other hurdles the mayor referred to are in place and understanding that there's a huge time crunch for this.

Joseph Varlack: Sure. So hopefully I'll be responsive here. So when we open up these sites, it's not just FDNY that goes in. It's the department of buildings that makes the determinations what the building they're in and occupancy levels, et cetera. There's a whole checklist they review before we open up any of the sites. That process was followed when we opened up the sites. FDYN will identify challenges or issues, and we work as hard as we can to remediate those issues, and then they will come back and they'll say, yes, you did it or no you didn't or whatever the challenges are.

Some of what we're seeing right now really speaks to that. And so we will continue to partner with FDNY and DOB and all of our regulatory agencies but first and foremost life and safety is paramount for everyone as we're thinking about this. We'll continue to do what we need to do.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: What's going on, Mike?

Question: I actually have a few questions for you. So I wanted to ask about the situation that is around Gaza. Three questions on that. You've been outspoken...

Deputy Mayor Levy: One question to get to everyone.

Question: I'll ask my question since it's off topic. You've been outspoken about this situation of Israel and Gaza responses from the left. I've got two questions on that. From your perspective specifically which do you consider to be implicit creating an atmosphere in which Hamas attacks are celebrated? On the other side of that, yesterday you accused the DSA member of flashing a swastika. I think it was the rally that happened the day after October second. But it isn't true that that person is a member of the DSA. Do you have evidence that that person is a DSA person and if not why make that accusation? Then I have a separate question on this UFT situation.

Mayor Adams: You said UFT?

Question: Yes, union member… 

Mayor Adams: Yes, I read that…

Question: Got pushed out of a post because of the stance she took on the situation. I think it was like a resolution to denounce Hamas. She's been part of that. I was wondering what your thoughts were on that, if you feel that was the appropriate course of action.

Mayor Adams: First, let me respond to the DSA sponsored rallies, flash, sensitive celebration after a horrific act took place. People can attempt to sort of find ways to say your center says this, your center said that.

Listen, 1,400 deaths. 200 kidnapped. 3,400 injured. 10K injuries in Gaza, many of them innocent people. I am not going to get into the sentences. This is what I'm going to get into. Gaza, Israel was based on an action by Hamas. I thought it was insensitive and despicable that while people were kidnapped, murdered, children were assassinated, that anyone would show symbols of hate and some of the comments that came out from that rally and the people want to say did I look at the membership card of who was there, I could care less about that. All I know is innocent people lost their lives. If you want to write about who was the member and who was not the member, that's up to you. This was a despicable heinous act that never should have happened to innocent people.

Question: Mr. Mayor, on that point, the atmosphere that was created where people are flashing swastikas at a rally like that, do you feel there's some political responsibility to be borne from that in terms of that atmosphere being existing at this point? And if so, what leader is responsible for fostering that type of atmosphere?

Mayor Adams: Well, they know who they are. You know who they are. We know who attended. They should speak up and talk and denounce that talk, that form of hatred in our city within a short period of time of the trauma that not only the Jewish people experienced but human beings experienced, a terrorist act happened. I would not want someone celebrating after September 11th. I would not want someone celebrating after a plane has crashed. So those who celebrated on those days, I thought it was despicable and I'm going to let people know how I feel.

Deputy Mayor Levy: Mr. Mayor, do you mind if I add something. Mike, I was at the rally on the first day. I don't believe anybody was there — Jayson was, great, he can confirm this — for five hours from the start of it to the end of it. I walked up and down that whole rally and I heard hours chanting from the river to the sea. From the river to the sea. That means the elimination of the entire state of Israel.

I heard we want it all, not just the river to the sea. I heard glorious praise for the death and destruction and the murder of multiple people. And that was from the front of the rally to the end of the rally. Hundreds of people were doing that. So either they were members of the DSA who participated in that, or nobody from the DSA showed up. That's the question.

Mayor Adams: And we need to be… 

Question: [Inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Hold on, we need to be clear on something because many people are attempting to distort. Hamas is a terrorist organization. This is not about the Palestinian people, this is not about Islam, this is about Hamas, a terrorist organization.

When you go back, when I was the president, there was a terrorist organization in Nigeria that kidnapped children and girls and took them into slave camps. When you go back during September 11, I was in front of the federal penitentiary saying we need to release those young Muslim men who were taken off of Coney Island Avenue.

There's a consistency in my message. Hamas is a terrorist organization, and we need to treat them as such, and we need to have that organization totally annihilated, destroyed.

Question: Hi, Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Few things.

Mayor Adams: Good.

Question: I know you answered this a couple times, want to make sure I understand it. On the issue of the 60 day notices or families, can you please explain your plan for who will get those 60 day notices, the families who are here longest, families closest to getting a work permit, who gets that first? And for the families who are ultimately assuming that is the most volatile, they're going back to reapply unless they're going somewhere else I'm not sure, are you saying they will be able to stay in school?

And drive them from the school or go back to the school when it's resolved. One last thing, you said 2,000. Could you explain which families would be sent to display that? Are those new families? Old families? Families experiencing the 60 day? I'm confused on how many.

Mayor Adams: First, I want to do the topline then Camille, deputy mayor, you can respond because I want to be very clear on this. No child will have their education interrupted. So it's not after the 60 days are over and we're going to come back. No child is going to have their education interrupted. That's the top line. Okay.

Question: With due respect, Mr. Mayor, how will the families say that's back to Roosevelt Hotel whose child goes to Brooklyn or Queens not have their situation interrupted?

Mayor Adams: I can't be any clearer. My job as the Mayor and the chancellor is to make sure no matter what means are needed that no child will have their education interrupted. That's my commitment to the city. Whatever means we have to do to ensure that, we're going to do. I can't be any clearer, I don't know how I could be any clearer go ahead.

Joseph Varlack: Sure, you should first know the process of figuring out where a family is going to move is not going to start on the 60th day. There is intensive case management that is going to be happening. We will be working with those families before we get to that date. But the long and short of it, if the family chooses to keep the child in the school they are in we work closely with the Department of Education to figure out the transportation options so the child can continue to go to that school.

Question: Mr. Mayor, lastly, I want to confirm that the migrant shelters are being Fire Department [inaudible] vacated for the city will no longer pursuing shelters at those locations, and just to follow up on something that's already been asked. How did these sites pass muster if the fire department came in found these very basic missing needs, things like asbestos, things like absent alarm systems, how did that pass muster?

Mayor Adams: Again, I think it's so important here. The areas that the fire department identified, you said, will we no longer use them?

Question: Right.

Mayor Adams: No, if we are able to rectify situations that the fire department pointed out, we're going to bring folks back into those locations because we're out of space. The fire department, all areas, the fire department, will come in, do an inspection and tell us it's all right, or they may point out something within the short period of time you have to correct it. If we didn't correct it to the level that they want and they said, nope, you have to vacate, we're going to follow the rules.

We have to pivot and shift this moving piece that we are dealing with. I think it's just important that don't view this operation from the sterilized environment of just writing a story. This is a real operation that must be pivoted and shifted every single day. Every single day.

And I don't know how to get clearer on that. So there's not, you can't pull out a rule book and say, okay, this is how it was done. We are writing the rule book as we're going on. And no one else in the country is doing what we are doing. No one else. People are coming here. They're calling Camille and the Deputy Mayor and they're asking how did you all do it, can you all help us get over this, can you all give us assistance.

We have been able to do what no other municipality has been able to do. Not one family, not one child has slept on the streets of city of New York. But we're at the point where that's going to change.

Question: Thank you very much.

Question: Mayor...

Mayor Adams: Hold on. No, let him finish. Go ahead.

Question: The majority of migrant families live in DHS run shelters and the city needs and does not currently have a waiver that would allow the city to give a 60 day notice.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry, say that again.

Question: Most of the migrant families live in DHS run shelters. The cities live a waiver from the state which the city currently does not have in order to give the 60 day notice to families will you be seeking that or will you only be giving the notice to families in H + H.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Can I start?

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: We're going to start… 

Mayor Adams: Fix your name tag so they'll know you.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: They know who I am, unfortunately. We're going to start with the HERRCs, and our partners at the state have actually been fantastic, starting with Dan Tietz and now Barbara Guinn helping us think about how do we take care of family with children especially as we've also thought about what is the configuration at Floyd Bennett Field need to look at. I think we'll get there, Katie, because everybody is so concerned about how we're going to take care of families and children and everyone knows that the only way that we can do that is through some time limits and some intensive case practice.

Mayor Adams: That's our number one concern, Katie. Our number one concern, I've told the team over and over again, that we are going to have to be at the end, end of the line when we talk about families with children. That is the biggest thing this team is struggling with is families with children. Single adults. Families that don't have children, we can sort of say, you know, folks gotta figure this out. But we are really, really struggling with families with children. That is a real struggle for this administration. But we are out of room. I cannot be clearer.

Question: [Inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Hold on, hold on. We said we're doing this once a week. So I'm going to try to be as reasonable as possible so we can get your questions out because that's why we did it once a week.

So, Charles, we're going to try to be as reasonable as possible because we're doing this once a week. So I want to be able to hear and let you get your questions out as much as possible.

Question: Mayor, I was just looking for a quick word for your meeting later about anti Semitism, also concerns from Palestinian community members about the rise of hate about what's happening in Israel. What resources, police and non police, are you hoping to bring to bear to make sure people around the city and around the city are okay?

Mayor Adams: You say rising hate against Palestinians in New York City?

Question: Yes, gentleman had a turban knocked off on a bus. Stuff people facing discrimination at work talking about stuff to support Palestinian citizens. We're not hearing hardened police statistics, but anecdotes starting emerging.

Mayor Adams: We don't believe full of anecdotes. I believe in raw facts. I speak with the commissioner every morning and state, are we seeing any indications that there are increasing attacks on any group in this city?

There are no stats that are showing that there's a substantial increase in attacks on Palestinians. We made sure that when we did our deployment to sensitive locations it includes mosques, synagogues, churches and other houses of worship. Our Sikh temples because we're aware that visible signs of religions are normally the first who experience some form of attacks. And we have not witnessed that in the city. And so we saw the incident with the Sikh person on the bus. Our goal is to say there's no room for hate of any group in the city, and we've been consistent on that.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I wanted to ask you about AI. First it didn't sound like you, I have to say.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry. Well, you know how he operates.

Deputy Mayor Levy: [Inaudible.]

Question: On the AI, I'm wondering, I have a couple of questions, actually. Can you explain what do you think the benefit is of your voice going out in a language that you don't speak? Some tech advocates have said that they think it's unethical for your voice to be used in a language you don't speak. Or you're not reading a script, for example. It's computer generated. I'm wondering what you think of that. And the concerns around sort of discrimination in AI technology as well.

And my second question was on the homeless situation, even without a single asylum seeker here there would still be more than 54,000 people in the city's homeless shelters because a tremendous amount. I'm wondering, have you been able to focus on that because much of your focus has been on the asylum seekers?

Mayor Adams: First let's deal with the AI. First of all, you guys go to the same person all the time. And no matter what we do, he has something to criticize what we do around technology. It's the same person.

He has the same quote. Eric gets robots, Eric wants to destroy us. Eric does drones, Eric wants to surveil us. It's the same guy. We know it's the same guy. Anytime you want to find something to criticize me about around technology, we find the same guy.

You should ask him, is there anything Eric is doing with technology that you like? So, that's noise. That's noise. AI is here. Using AI to improve the delivery of goods and services is what we're going to do.

And we're going to all look back on this one day and say, you know what, this guy, Eric had it right. I know we have it right. And so those who sit on the sidelines, wake up in the morning and say let me see what you're going to criticize Eric about today, Jeff, we're going to use it. It's not against the law.

Question: What's the benefit, that's the question I have, using your voice?

Mayor Adams: People want to hear the mayor's voice. You cannot tell me you do not enjoy waking up hearing my voice.

Think about, one of the problems that we have is that those of us who are able to enjoy life from our normal space, we think everyone feels that way. Do you know how empowering it is if you speak Urdu or Polish and all of a sudden you're hearing the voice of your Mayor speaking your language? That's empowering to people. And we don't understand it because we always hear English. Everyone is talking in English. But this is a city that's diverse. And I know it. I hear from my constituents that speak different language, hey I heard that robo call from you, thank you, I understood it.

And this is the right thing to do and we're going to do it. And remember, you didn't discover this. Right, Michael? No one discovered this. I told you at the press conference I said we are using AI to send our messages. It wasn't like it was an a-ha! moment. I shared that with you at the press conference. It's not a secret. But we're going to be doing some more stuff with AI and we're going to use it and not abuse it. There was another question…

Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Housing, Economic Development and Workforce: Mayor, I'm happy to take the second part of the question. Jeff, you asked about, and you're right that even before the humanitarian migrant crisis, the city had and this country and the state, has a housing crisis. What have we done? We're really focused on it. This started with the Mayor putting out a moonshot goal of 500,000 new homes over the course of the next decade. And he said when we announced that we were going to do three things. We were going to go faster. We're going to build everywhere. We're going to build together.

Faster, we've reformed now 20 of the 111 recommendations that we made to reform environmental review land use and permitting. Build everywhere. We just put out a major set of proposals, historic proposals to reform the zone code so we can build in low medium high density districts across the city. We've launched five neighborhood plans with the support of local councilmembers to spur inclusive growth from those neighborhoods from the Bronx to Staten Island. And we have to build together.

So our fight and advocacy in Albany will continue this year because we need a replacement for 421a, and we need more tools to build more housing. At the same time, our work to build affordable housing has never been more energetic. In the last fiscal year, the first fiscal year of the Mayor's administration, we set records.

We not just closed on 24,000 units of affordable housing but the most ever in terms of housing for extremely low income individuals, the most supportive housing in the city's history. The most housing for the formerly homeless. And we're working in very collaborative fashion across agencies to make sure that as those homes get built that New Yorkers who are the most vulnerable get into those units faster, and part of that is evidenced by the most number of city FEPS vouchers available to provide stable housing to New Yorkers.

And the last thing I'll say on this, you've also got to look at the budget. This Mayor has committed $24 billion in the capital plan to affordable housing and he has a housing plan, chapter one of which is on NYCHA. So we're working on all cylinders because part of solving the humanitarian migrant crisis is solving the long standing housing crisis in this city.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Could I add really quickly that last week Maria and I are co chairing a group of impacted advocates formerly homeless and really continuing to work with them as we come up with solutions for what we should be doing more of. I think something like the CityFHEPS being used statewide. So many victims of domestic violence, we know that's a big part of our family population, are now going to be able to have access to that. That's a big deal. The ongoing work is still there, Jeff.

Mayor Adams: So, Jeff, I can't tell you how to write your article, but I think the article that should be written is how, in the mess of this humanitarian crisis of historic levels, we still have been able to break records.

The real story is that in spite of having to bring in 126,700 people, we still have been taking care of long term New Yorkers. That story has yet to be told. We broke records on FHEPS vouchers. We broke records on housing. We broke records putting people into housing. We have not ignored the homeless population. We expanded FHEPS throughout the entire state.

If we were not doing that, that would be a story, but we are doing it. That's the real story that people should be talking about in spite of all that we are going through we're still turning out successful policies in this city. From containerizing garbage to bringing down crime, to making sure we expand greenways. Look at all that's going on in this city.

Anne and her team is going to deal with the crisis. The rest of this team, we have a city to run. And darn it, we're running the hell out of this city, like it or not.

Question: Mr. Mayor...

Mayor Adams: Yes, sir, how are you?

Question: Good. When you were at the greenway announcement talking about expanding greenways, you talked about the failures of community engagement in terms of street way designs. Although, in a number of the projects that your administration has curtailed, McGuinness Boulevard, [inaudible] place, Fordham Road, there was community support, electeds, drivers, to get these projects done. I guess I'm curious where is the failure of this communication happening if this is your administration doing these, these projects and what's your plan to improve the communication and community engagement around those things two years into your term?

Mayor Adams: Yes, first of all, we are talking about reshaping neighborhoods, and we hear on both sides of the spectrum. You were at that press conference. You saw assemblyman stand up and you heard his comments, as we heard other comments for those pro and for.

I believe as a former borough president and state senator, we have not done a good job in speaking to long term residents on how they want the shaping of their streets to change. And what we're doing in Underhill Avenue area, a place where I own a co-op, we are going to do, on the ground, knocking on doors, doing a survey, engaging people in communication.

My administration's approach to doing these rechanging of neighborhoods are different than the previous administration. I want a very healthy, hefty community engagement. And to some they believe community engagement is slowing up the process. I don't. Residents of a community should have input in how their streets are going to be changed. When you change a street, you are changing the fabric of a community.

And we're going to do it by hearing from both sides. Sometimes you get yea and nay on both sides of the spectrum. So there were those on McGinnis boulevard who felt one way and others who felt the other way. I've been in the city a long time. 8.3 million people. 35 million opinions and everybody thinks they are right. And we have to hear and make the right decisions.

Question: Is that engagement.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry.

Question: Is that engagement what you're going to do going door to door?

Mayor Adams: I gave you one example what we're doing on Underhill Avenue, knocking on doors and speaking with residents. Let's be clear. I know many of the advocates have forgotten how many projects I push through that people did not like. Like the Classon Avenue project. The community wanted it one way. I decided hearing it from residents we would go another way. I could point out project after project after project. So let's not try to rewrite my history on this topic. I've been very clear that we're going to change how we use our streets in a safe way but we're going to engage New Yorkers.

I've been an important advocate on this issue. It was Eric Adams as a state senator that advocated to decrease the speed limit in this city down to 20 miles an hour. Many people have forgotten the history that I have in these subject areas. The reason I could talk with a level of assurance around all of these topics because I've been on the frontline of these topics. People who have just woke up and decided that now they only know what's going on, they need to look at the history of those of us who have been here for years fighting on behalf of these issues.

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Operations: Can I just comment, I just want to comment quickly. The fundamental reason we look at street redesign is because of safety. And one life lost because of a traffic fatality is one too many. Overall, we are bucking the national trend. We're on track for having the lowest pedestrian deaths in this city on record, either the second or third lowest, and overall our numbers are historically lower as well.

Where we're seeing an increase is in bikes. And I know that's not news to anyone. And where the real increase is in is with e-bikes. For the last three years, E bikes have been a larger source of our fatalities year over year, and this year it's year to date 70 percent of our fatalities are with fatalities involving e-bikes. That means we have to look at street redesign. That means we have to look at how we're educating people about how to ride e-bikes. And that means we have to look at enforcement. We've been incredibly important enforcement when it comes to illegal motorcycles on our streets, mopeds and scooters. And we also have to focus on the e bikes as well.

So I don't want to lose sight of the fundamental reason why we look at the streets in the first place. It's for safety. And when we look to improve safety, we have to look at what's driving it today. Today, we're seeing the illegal mopeds and scooters and motorcycles and e bikes. When we think about street redesign and enforcement, it's got to target what the rising trend is.

In places like Manhattan, Tenth Avenue and Third Avenue, we're looking at wider bike lanes that can accommodate e-bikes as a possible solution for traffic calming and accommodating what we know is a good green transportation method that has been used recklessly sometimes and is unfortunately really driving some of the fatalities that we're seeing on our streets.

Mayor Adams: We have an e-bike crisis. And I think, deputy mayor, we have an e-bike, moped, illegal moped crisis. And I told the DOT, NYPD, the advocates, DCWP, we need to address the overproliferation of e-bikes, scooters. We all see what's going on through the city, and I guarantee you probably 60 percent of you in this room those illegal mopeds and e-bikes flying through our streets, they're dropping off deliveries to you. So you need to start talking to some of your restaurants and tell them they need to make sure that their riders are using it appropriately. We don't want to be heavy handed in enforcement, but we have to get this e bike scooter delivery under control because it's not under control now and we've got to get there.

Question: You mentioned a couple times last week the fear for a lone wolf acting as we see the developments in the Middle East unfold. The question, there have been no boots on the ground yet at least we're all expecting that, do you see or feel, hear any change in terms of how you have been vigilant in acting versus what is coming down the pike? Because there will be a difference, there will be a change. The vitriol, the hatred, the yelling at both sides, we're expecting that to increase. What's your plan how you sort of react to what is coming?

Mayor Adams: What outlet are you with?

Question: With Fox News.

Mayor Adams: You should do radio, man. You've got a great voice.

Question: Voice for radio.

Mayor Adams: There are no credible threats that we're hearing and Commissioner Weiner and her team over at Intel, they're doing an amazing job monitoring some of the traditional and nontraditional forms of determining if there are credible threats. So we don't have any at this time. What I have been really pleased with as I move around this city, as some of the demonstrations is the manner in which the police department, they are allowing people to raise their concerns peacefully and separating the groups.

They have done an amazing job in doing so. We have had no incidents of major proportion with the two groups in close proximity got into physical altercations. And so we are seeing what we've learned from the past and you're seeing a professional department that in the City of New York where we are allowing people to peacefully show their concerns without interfering with the public safety of the city.

And sometimes we don't acknowledge when things go right. We acknowledge when things go wrong, and so I don't know if we have written the story of what the NYPD has done over these last few days, when some municipalities across the globe you're seeing something totally different.

These men and women have done a great job. They've been well trained and they have executed a clear plan from the start of how they were going to make sure people are allowed to communicate without bringing about violence. And we've done that. So there are no credible threats. We'll continue to monitor. I don't believe you're going to see what you witnessed in some municipalities, but we are on top of it.


Media Contact
(212) 788-2958