New York, NY—One day after voting by secret ballot, the influential West Side Democrats voted by a wide margin to endorse current city comptroller Scott Stringer for mayor of New York City.
“Scott Stringer is the candidate who, in January 2022, can take a city coming out of the COVID-19 tragedy toward renewal,” said Richard Oppenheimer, Interim President of the West Side Democrats.
“As a progressive who has proven that he knows how to run one of the largest economies in the nation through his oversight of the budget as city comptroller, he will support underserved populations, building and maintaining housing for low-income residents, and will help bring business back to life in the City of New York.”
Last week, Stringer was one of eight candidates who participated in a forum hosted by the club to explain their positions and priorities. He prided himself on the actions and policies he’s been able to pursue as comptroller, such as leading the effort to divest New York City pension fund investments in private prisons, as well as a plan to divest from fossil fuel companies.
“I have used my office as a way of building a new way of thinking in terms of climate and the economy and I’ve protected the pensions of 700,000 city workers, that’s my solemn obligation,” said Stringer.
During the question and answer portion of the forum, he was asked how he would help fulfil the city’s climate and sustainability goals. For starters, under a Stringer mayoral administration, there would be yearly goals to reach in emissions standards and the expansion of a green economy.
“I’ve already done it as city comptroller: I’ve doubled the amount of green investment; we now spend $4 billion annually in the green economy, and we are going through right now a fossil fuel disinvestment plan which would be the largest and most profound in the nation,” Stringer said.
The comptroller, back in February 2016, in response to the growing affordable housing crisis, published a report about utilizing one tool to ensure that more affordable housing is retained and built.
Land-banks are government-created nonprofit corporations designed to convert tax-delinquent and vacant properties into affordable housing or other productive uses. According to the comptroller, based on an audit by his office of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, there are 1,459 (as of 2016) vacant properties owned by the city that currently sit unused and undeveloped.
Stringer was asked whether his proposal of land banks is realistic given the scarcity of new development land and whether he’s concerned about private developers preparing to acquire city-owned land.
“Well, it’s our land and it’s our city, and the taxpayers own hundreds and hundreds of vacant properties. I believe that as policy the city should be giving that vacant land to community-based groups and not-for-profits to build the next generation of housing,” noted Stringer.
He then noted that the city’s goal should be to merge a real affordable housing plan with the reality of homelessness. According to Stringer, under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, city spending on homeless services went up from $1.6 billion at the start of his tenure to $3.2 billion, but yet there are more homeless New Yorkers and more people living on the streets.
He also wants to ensure that luxury developers aren’t the only ones building affordable housing because based on the experiences of past developments in East New York, El Barrio and Washington Heights, it turned out that the new construction wasn’t affordable to the people who live there.
“We need a reset, and we need a mayor who understands that the way you build low-income housing is by coming up with a comprehensive plan with a subsidy that can get the AMI [area median income] to reflect the actual income of a community,” Stringer said.
In conclusion, he added he would go a step further as mayor: he’d work towards passing a city law so that any future luxury developments set aside 25 percent of the units for affordable housing.