City officials talk gun violence, housing at Eagle forum
Adams, James, Stringer Pledge to Strengthen Brooklyn
In what could be a preview of the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams discussed gun violence, affordable housing and the city’s economy at a breakfast forum sponsored by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle this past Friday.
Appearing at an event held at the BRIC Arts and Cultural House at 647 Fulton St. to promote a Legislative Guide that the Eagle plans to publish next month, Stringer, James and Adams all said the city faces enormous problems but also possesses the will to work on resolving those issues.
Adams said one major concern he has is gun violence on Brooklyn streets. The gun problem calls for outside-the-box thinking, according to the borough president. “We can’t have a rotary approach in an iPhone age,” he said.
Something has to be done, he said. “In two-thirds of the cases where people die of guns, it is an accident or suicide,” he said.
Adams praised James for her work in seeking to divest the city’s pension fund investments in gun manufacturers and “those who profit from guns.”
James, who said that one life lost to gun violence tears up an entire family and a community, noted that the city “has progressive gun laws,” but that weapons get smuggled in from other parts of the country.
Another problem, according to James, is that “behind the lawmakers are special interests.”
She vowed to continue her efforts as public advocate to push to get New York City to divest its pension holdings in companies that manufacture or distribute guns. She also wants the city to divest its financial holdings in banks that lend to gun makers. “My office has gone after them where it really hurts — in the bottom line,” she said.
On housing, the elected officials all lamented the shortage of affordable units in Brooklyn and the other boroughs.
As with the crisis of gun violence, solving the housing crunch will take outside-the-box thinking, Adams, James and Stringer said.
The city needs “a robust 421-A program in place,” James said, referring to the state-funded property development program that expired earlier this year. She suggested that the city look into the possibility of underused state-owned buildings as sites for affordable housing.
Stringer joked that he lives in Manhattan instead of Brooklyn because in Brooklyn, “the rent is too damn high!”
Transitioning to a more serious note, Stringer said that many of the city’s residents are suffering under rising rents and stagnant wages. In recent years, the city has lost 400,000 apartments in which the rents were $1,000 a month or below. The apartments became de-regulated as the tenants moved out.
The city needs permanent affordable housing, Stringer said, noting that the New York City Housing Authority has 260,000 families on its waiting list.
Stringer said he supports Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. “The question is: Is it enough?” he asked. “We have to think to bigger and better,” he said.
“We need creative solutions to the housing crisis,” Stringer said.
There are 1,150 vacant parcels of land in New York City, according to Stringer, who said there are 506 lots in Brooklyn alone.
Stringer suggested giving vacant land to community-based organizations to build on. “Give land to the people,” he said.
New York’s diversity is important and could lead the city to more prosperous ground, he said. “Diversity has turned out to be our greatest strength,” he said.
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