NYC COUNCIL DISTRICT 26
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NYC COUNCIL DISTRICT 26
Sunnyside • Woodside  
Long Island City • Astoria
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THE NYC FAIR ECONOMY FUND: 
JUSTICE FOR IMMIGRANTS; HOURLY AND GIG WORKERS; ARTISTS, PERFORMERS, CREATORS, AND BEYOND

The NYC Fair Economy Fund would be the City’s first-ever publicly-funded training, employment, and organizing program dedicated to achieving justice for those New Yorkers who have been historically excluded from the economy and who have disproportionately suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building on the Census Complete Count Fund model Amit pioneered and starting with dedicating just .1 percent of the City’s budget - $85 million - in the first year and building from there, A NYC Fair Economy Fund would:
  • Publicly fund linguistically and culturally competent community organizers to provide workplace rights trainings, directly connect un- and under-employed New Yorkers to skills trainings, and organize around key local issues (climate change, transportation, participatory budgeting, civic engagement, local elections)
  • Publicly fund immigrant small business organizers at Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) so that they can meaningfully help mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar, immigrant-owned small businesses get access to loans, grants, and capital designed for them but that never reaches them because of massive government failures to communicate effectively;
  • Publicly fund artists, performers, and creators for specific projects or for employment through existing arts & culture organizations, thereby helping to economically stabilize New Yorkers who are the very soul of the city and the heart of the economy;
  • Partner directly with labor unions and informal labor groups (such as those working with day laborers) to train unemployed New Yorkers on new skills, such as those required to retrofit buildings, replace electrical and heating sources, and install renewable energy sources;
  • Work to provide direct financial transfers to undocumented families who by law are largely ineligible for most federal and state assistance and to whom the City cannot provide City tax dollars as a result of a State prohibition; this would build on the model pioneered by the Open Society Foundation in 2020.
In addition, the Fund could possibly serve as a possible Portable Benefits Fund pilot, allowing gig and freelance workers access to the benefits that State-defined “employees” otherwise often receive, and through which workers can achieve greater degrees of economic stability.
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IMMEDIATE RELIEF FOR EXCLUDED WORKERS: 
TAXI DRIVERS, DELIVERISTAS, SEX WORKERS, STREET VENDORS, AND MORE

  • Justice for Taxi Drivers: On Day 1 of the new mayoral administration and City Council, the City must immediately identify a path of buying and relieving the outstanding $75 million in taxi driver (owner-operator) debt. This debt is one of the darkest stains on our city’s moral fabric, given that the City of New York created the secondary medallion market, was wantonly negligent in its regulation, and allowed for its crash, resulting in hundreds of millions in profit for predatory lenders and more than a dozen suicides and a lifetime of debt for our city’s taxi drivers.
  • Justice for deliveristas: Deliveristas have kept quarantined New Yorkers fed and nourished throughout the pandemic, and yet remain among the most vulnerable workers in the city. The City must take immediate steps to ensure they can work with dignity and safety. This includes mandating that all restaurants allow deliveristas to use the bathroom and to have access to designated work spaces rest. In addition, the City could consider a licensing scheme wherein the deliveristas and/or their bikes are licensed, meaning that the City could then provide them with bikes and bags, and that there would generally be a much higher degree of public visibility into the operations (and much less of an incentive for the private firms to exploit the deliveristas).
  • Justice for Sex Workers: As a City Council member, Amit would fight vociferously to have the “Walking While Trans” law that has criminalized untold numbers of BIPOC trans folx repealed. This would further serve as a basis for the elimination of NYPD’s Vice Squad, saving millions that can be reallocated for healthcare and mental health support services. Furthermore, the City must explore all possible legal paths to ensure sex workers can be included and covered in key labor protections: Sick and Safe Leave, and more.

GUARANTEED HOUSING FOR ALL: 
RENTERS, SMALL HOMEOWNERS, NYCHA RESIDENTS, AND NEW YORKERS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS

Housing is a human right, and yet for too long, we've allowed developer greed instead of human need to dictate the housing that gets built in NYC. We must work directly with tenant organizers, housing activists, and those New Yorkers in greatest need to understand the full scope of the challenges, so that we can, together, begin to solve our housing crisis. We must do all that we can on the City level to work towards the goals of social housing, which can only be truly accomplished with significant congressional action. We must:
  • Ensure all housing built on public land is deeply and permanently affordable. We are not building enough housing for the people who need it most. Prioritize creating housing for those who are the most severely rent-burdened, living in dangerously overcrowded conditions, and in shelter.
  • Work exclusively with non-profit entities (and hold them highly accountable) when we must work with residential developers.
  • Expand Right to Counsel to ensure all New Yorkers have free representation in Housing Court.
  • Repurpose portions of the City’s $2 billion shelter budget to create purpose-built supportive housing and meaningfully increase voucher amounts.
  • Fight in Congress for the repeal of the Faircloth Amendment, which prevents the federal government from building new public housing.
  • Work to overhaul the rules that prevent the creation of dedicated affordable housing for artists and creators.
  • Ensure that the approximately $200 million that goes unused by NYCHA every year in its annual capital budget is used to address the most pressing issues (mold, lead, lack of access to basic services).

HEALTHCARE IS EVERY NEW YORKER’S RIGHT

Healthcare is essential. Particularly for our essential workers. We are living through one of the greatest crises we have ever faced, and our essential workers, primarily Black and brown, kept our city running. Yet, Black and brown New Yorkers have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. We owe it to them to do everything we can to ensure every New Yorker has access to quality healthcare. We must:
  • Develop a citywide plan to vaccinate all New Yorkers. This plan will prioritize frontline healthcare workers, individuals with the greatest health risks and neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID.
  • Expand access to healthcare to all New Yorkers. This includes undocumented immigrants, gig workers, and those ineligible for Medicaid by piloting a single-payer model for NYC, starting with the expansion of NYC Care to all five boroughs.
  • Increase the number of hospital beds in Queens. Of all the boroughs, Queens has the lowest number of beds per capita

From the Streets to the Stores: Thriving Small Businesses for a Thriving NYC

Give small businesses their due. New York City is a city of small businesses. 89 percent of all businesses have fewer than 20 employees. These small businesses employ more than half of New York City’s private sector workforce, and often provide a first chance for economic self-determination and a path to the middle class for their owners. During these challenging times, more than ever, we must:
  • Improve city contracting. We should privilege New York City businesses over the lowest non-NYC based bidder. City agencies should have the freedom to purchase from local vendors provided that the good or service from the local business costs no more than 10% of the lowest non-NYC based bidder.
  • Do right by our own homegrown businesses. Streamlining the city and state MWBE certification will allow small businesses to more easily find opportunity and make investments right here in New York. Create a path to commercial rent relief. Working with the state legislature, we must build power by organizing our small businesses to ensure that storefronts do not remain vacant for years as landlords seek ever higher rent and rent is affordable for new businesses to open. If a space remains vacant for three months, there would be a mandated 10% reduction in the publicly listed rent and additional reductions thereafter if the space remains vacant.
  • Support our street vendors. Support proposals for expanding the number of permits to vend food on the streets and sidewalks; create a new dedicated vending law enforcement unit to eliminate NYPD from writing summonses; and create a street vendor advisory board, which will ensure fair and balanced vendor enforcement of the law, bringing street vendors to the policy making table. In addition, city law must be updated to require Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to consider the inclusion of street vendor membership, so that the interests of all small businesses in an area-- of which street vendors are a part-- are collectively represented.

Re-imagining a fair and healthy NYCHA

Establish NYC as a hub of Green jobs. New York City has historically been home to industries that create a path toward upward economic mobility, but as we’ve shifted toward a service economy, these types of jobs have been lost. Today, faced with both an economic and climate crisis, we must turn to sustainable infrastructure as a mechanism for creating new jobs, many of which do not require a college degree. These jobs will both reduce greenhouse gases and offer economic mobility. Building on this, we must:
  • Ensure healthy homes. Immediately tackle the most urgent issues that affect the health and wellbeing of NYCHA residents, beginning with lead and mold remediation.
  • Listen to NYCHA residents. NYCHA is one of our greatest public assets and therefore must remain in public hands. As the city explores ways in which to partner with others to significantly improve living conditions, NYCHA residents--and not just an unelected bureaucracy-- must be an indelible part of the decision making process about the future of NYCHA, development by development.
  • Leverage NYCHA’s buying power. Support resident entrepreneurs by creating a pipeline for purchasing from tenants, starting with identifying needs and supporting tenants in creating or sourcing needed products or services.
  • Prioritize building community wealth through paradigm-shifting efforts pioneered by Urban Upbound and other Western Queens leaders that would involve potentially granting equity, ownership, or other revenue-generating rights to NYCHA residents through the leveraging of the City's land-use powers in the process of zoning or development deals made in the surrounding Long Island City area. If future developers, businesses, and employers want to utilize New York City's land and workforce, we must think creatively and aggressively about how to ensure that District 26 residents who have been most excluded from economic growth are included and stabilized into the future in an effort to dismantle the structure of race-based economic income inequality.

SAFE SCHOOLS, THRIVING KIDS

Each child deserves to thrive. New York City is home to the nation’s largest public school district, serving 1.1 million children, but inequities persist from district to district, and school to school. The city has an obligation to make sure every school and every child has the education and support they deserve. This is especially true now, when our students have been through so much trauma due to COVID-19--and so have our families and educators. The only way forward is to listen and follow the voices of our school communities. We must:
  • Ensure that school buildings are safe. COVID-19 has shown us the potholes on the pathway to the future, and we must prepare by creating a task force drawing from the Departments of Education, Health, and School Construction Authority to invest in school infrastructure and ventilation to keep our schools safe today and for decades to come.
  • Break the vicious cycle of intergenerational and racial poverty by having the City cover operational costs of NYC Kids Rise, which, in conjunction with the NYC College Savings Plan, immediately establishes college savings accounts for young students in DOE schools, allowing parents and communities to help save and build assets over time to help send kids to college. With income inequality and the racial wealth gap on the rise, it is critical that the City use every tool in its toolbox to make good on its promise of opportunity for all by preparing families and communities for economic mobility through higher education. In order to truly be effective, efforts to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty must start early, and expanding covering the basic operational costs to expand this life-changing program is a very small investment with an enormous return.
  • Bring parents to the table in a meaningful way. Amit pledges to stay in real, consistent, substantive touch with parents and elevate their concerns to city leadership on an ongoing basis. Every school must take into account very sensitively the specific needs of its students and ensure that the school is speaking to parents regularly, and if the school needs help it should partner with local organizations.
  • Ensure every school has sufficient mental health resources. Particularly as a result of Covid-19, children need additional support. Part of supporting this effort will include the city helping to recruit a corps of mental health professionals--social workers, counselors, and therapists-- from across the city that are dedicated to serving the unique needs of teachers as a cohort. Also in light of Covid-19 and its effects on social development and academic advancement, we must ensure that after school programs are fully funded and that is a priority.
  • Continue building upon the city’s restorative justice initiative. We must work within the DOE and also dismantle the school to prison pipeline by ensuring educators are reflective of the diverse populations that they serve, further reducing the ceiling for suspension caps through re-examination of the disciplinary code, and fast-tracking the study and implementation of current City pilot models in all DOE schools.
  • Ensure basic instruction, and teach the root causes of our social ills. First and foremost, we must ensure that teachers are keeping our children on track or challenging them to pursue their strengths. We must also ensure that we are righting the wrongs of the past by teaching the true history of racism, fight for gender equality and LGBTQ rights, and a truly post-colonial approach to understanding histories of the colonized world so that we can build a commitment towards a more equal and just world. Inclusive in this approach is improving multilingual communications from DOE and making Diwali school holiday.

CLEANER, GREENER NEIGHBORHOODS

A brighter, more vibrant future awaits. Safe, reliable, public transit; accessible parks and open spaces; a coastline that is safe against the next climate emergency. There is so much we can do to ensure a cleaner, greener future. To begin, we must:
  • Immediately address the sharp decline in MTA ridership and revenues. By advocating for a federal stimulus and municipal control of the subway and bus systems operating within the five boroughs we can make the MTA more reflective of local needs.
  • Expand Select Bus Service to provide better transit access in our district
  • Ensure universal access to transit by enforcing ADA compliance
  • Support the plans put forth by Transportation Alternatives. We must demand:
  • Zero deaths on Queens Boulevard and fixing Northern Boulevard by adding safer crosswalks, exclusive time to pedestrians to cross the street, and wider medians; protected bike lanes so new cyclists will have a safe space to commute to work and small businesses in their neighborhood; repurpose and beautify excess road space with greenery, street art, and more seating for the community.
  • Exclusive Walkway and Bikeway on Queensboro Bridge, including the creation of new, safe, ADA-compliant pedestrian access and approaches on both Queens and Manhattan sides.
  • Invest in open space in park-starved neighborhoods. We want a New York where everyone lives within a 10-minute walk of a park that is open, accessible, and large enough for all to enjoy. Currently, more than 1.1. Million New Yorkers do not have access to a park within a 10- minute walk of where they live. Like most areas of life, Covid-19 has exposed the inequities of our parks system, as traveling to the city’s large parks is not always an option, and small neighborhood parks often do not have the room for many people to exercise and socially distance.
  • Ensure that the city’s coastline is fully protected from rising seas. Amongst other protections, we must work with the MTA to ensure the subways will be safe during the next climate emergency.

Living While __: Justice for all LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers

Too many New Yorkers face structural barriers that make them unable to live with the dignity we deserve. This is true for those of us who are Black, Brown, and immigrant New Yorkers, and is especially true for folx who are LGBTQ+ and, critically, women. If we are to be a city where all of us have access to opportunity so that we can all live with dignity and so that each of us is empowered to realize our potential, the City needs to do its part to prioritize safety and eliminate disparities.
  • From 2006 to 2010, Black women were 12 times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes in New York City. We must address this societal failure with the urgency it deserves. I support Tricia Shimamura’s plan to ensure maternal mortality is not an inevitability.
  • Ensure that we center women in any economic recovery plan. Nationally, four times as many women as men have dropped out of the labor force to take care of their families (data current as of September, 2020). We must take on immediate and long-term action to expand the child care infrastructure and establish more progressive work-family policies for both men and women.
  • Address the reality that thirty years later, the MTA still consistently and flagrantly ignores the accessibility requirements outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Just last year, they lost a federal lawsuit brought on due to providing insufficient means of accessibility. Only approximately 25% of MTA stations are accessible under ADA requirements, which severely limits the social and professional opportunities of disabled New Yorkers, who already face ostracization and disenfranchisement. We must expand ADA compliance to all MTA stations and center the voices of disability advocacy leaders to ensure their needs are truly being met.
  • Co-sign the Municipal Voting Rights Bill, introduced by City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez in January 2020, allowing Green Card holders and those with working permits to vote in Municipal Elections. New York City is home to more than 2 million immigrants who contribute to the financial, cultural, and social network that allows our city to thrive. Despite such contributions, they are not allowed to participate in elections that directly affect them and their families. The signing of this Bill would ensure that approximately 900,000 NYC residents would be allowed to participate in political parties and vote in Municipal elections, such as City Council, Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough President, and Mayor.

NYPD? DIVEST FROM WHAT’S BROKEN; RE-INVESt AND RE-IMAGINE AN ENTIRELY NEW COMMUNITY MODEL

Since 2014 NYC has spent $1.3 billion to pay for police misconduct claims. That’s not a functional policing system and the result is discrimination and death for far too many black and brown New Yorkers. We can keep people safe and reinvest in education, and civic engagement so that we can work to dismantle systemic racism, fight poverty, and build power. To ensure the safety of our communities, we must:

  • Divest $1 billion from the NYPD and divert these funds to communities in the aforementioned or similar means
  • Reduce the number of cops in schools. Children cannot learn and thrive in a police-state setting. Significantly reduce the NYPD School Safety program to be a small handful of officers on site for emergency response only. Re-train School Safety officers to be members of the unarmed first responder unit.
  • Remove the NYPD from mental health checks, we have to expand this to include community safety workers as first responders for all non-violent crisis calls including behavioral health, sexual assault, suicide risk, drug overdose, homelessness, and mental health crises.
  • Make marijuana legal and tax it. Overturn and expunge any and all sentences based on minor quantities of marijuana possession. Aggressively invest the resulting tax profits in neighborhoods disproportionately devastated by the racist war on drugs and over-policing.
  • Decriminalize all drugs and institute fines for possession of small quantities of illegal drugs. Utilize portions of the revenue generated through marijuana tax and drug possession fines to fund rehabilitation centers and safe injection sites.

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