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Interview: Brooklyn Borough President Adams Hopeful for All New Yorkers

In a two-part interview with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, ASA’s Chair of Legal Studies Seny Taveras asks the highly respected political leader about his positions on the Economy, COVID-19, Safety and Policing, Homelessness, Financial Insecurity, Amazon, and Gentrification. President Adams connects his personal experiences as a child growing up in New York, as former Captain in the NYPD, and as a political leader, to his perspective on what our city needs today.  

The interview begins with the most pressing issue – Adams states that our COVID-19 vaccination efforts have not been equitable with respect to black, brown and poor communities. In truth, Equity is one of Adam’s guiding principles throughout the entirety of the interview. In mentioning his founding of “100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care”, Adams shows how he turned his personal experience of being a victim of police brutality into motivation for improving policing and safety for all New Yorkers. On another social justice topic, he says homelessness is mistakenly considered to be a single problem, whereas it really has three distinct components – mental illness, homelessness among children and teens, and families without homes. He would bring the “Fountain House” modelone of comprehensive treatment and de-stigmatization, to assist those suffering from mental health issues. Retrofitting underutilized hotels in the outer boroughs, as he has already done in Brooklyn, is a way to support the workforce-ready homeless adults and families. Providing massive funding for NYCHA to bring public housing up to par is another cause that he champions, as it would give many youths and teens a better optionBy extension, he sees Financial Insecurity among the working class as being linked to a dearth of affordable home ownership options. Ultimately, he envisions a New York where New Yorkers can build towards a more equitable future from a stronger foundation of stable housing and safe neighborhoods. 

On the Economy, Adams says that he views the responsibility of city leaders as that of recruiters for the city – the mayor, above all, has to ensure that the city is a place where all people want to come with their talents and drive, and all want to stay to lead their lives and raise their families. For him, this means that accepting the jobs and wealth that companies like Amazon bring only makes sense. Nevertheless, he would be sure that in opening the city to business all corporations understand that they have to be responsible citizens who are willing to submit to city regulations and local cooperation. Likewise, he sees the gentrification of neighborhoods as being a process that must happen in the right way. Newcomers should not arrive with the goal of displacing those who are already there – this means that schools should not develop segregated programs, and citizens need to respect ways of life that differ from their own. We need not divide ourselves; change can be a process of mutual enrichment.  

In conclusion, Adams said that every generation has had a major crisis to live through, be it Pearl Harbor, 9/11, or Covid-19. He knows that our youth will respond with resilience and recover the life experiences that they have lost over the past year. He is hopeful for the future and for New York City. 

 

 

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