New York City

De Blasio to tout housing plan to business leaders

March 5, 2015 By Jonathan Lemire Associated Press
Bill de Blasio aims to tout affordable housing to local business leaders. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File
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 Mayor Bill de Blasio will bring his message of combating income inequality — and, in particular, his ambitious affordable housing plan — to a group of influential New York City business leaders whose support could prove vital.

De Blasio will deliver a significant speech Thursday morning to the Association for a Better New York, a coalition of city elites who thrived for 12 years under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s leadership but who have been concerned that under his successor’s stewardship crime could increase and the economy falter.

The mayor offered a brief preview of his speech to reporters on Wednesday, saying he would “talk about what we have to do to continue to address income inequality,” which is the signature initiative of his young administration.

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“I’m going to talk about the importance of our housing plan,” he said during an unrelated event in Brooklyn, “and some of the things that we need to do to foster job growth and better wages in this city.”

Aides to the mayor said de Blasio, a Democrat, would urge the business group to do more to uplift the city’s struggling residents, and encourage them to back his overhaul of New York’s workforce-training program as well as his expansion of the city’s living wage law. He also will ask them to support his plan to develop or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024.

The association holds a significant place in the story of de Blasio’s political rise.

In 2012, he was an overlooked, long-shot mayoral candidate when he used a speech to the group to announce his plan to raise taxes on the rich to fund a pre-kindergarten expansion, a proposal that became the centerpiece of his campaign.

A year later, he returned to address the association again just days before he became mayor. Thursday will be his first remarks to the group as mayor.

Though de Blasio’s relations with Wall Street executives and other business leaders could hardly be considered cozy, they have improved somewhat, in part due to the mayor’s outreach. He recently hosted several industry heavyweights for meetings at City Hall and worked with several business leaders during the city’s ill-fated bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.


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