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'A Very Unique Political Character': Eric Adams' First 100 Days as Mayor of New York City


Mayor Eric Adams (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


On Mayor Eric Adams’ 100th day in office on Sunday, he announced he had contracted COVID-19, a setback following an event and media blitz in which he touted his early accomplishments and the policy priorities of his incipient administration. It has been a demanding few months for the new mayor, with a series of tragedies and soaring crime posing the most immediate test of the former NYPD captain’s public safety-focused promises, threatening to hobble the city’s pandemic recovery and erode New Yorkers’ patience with the new administration.

The new mayor, a Democrat and the city’s second Black chief executive, has quickly put his personal imprint on the role, keeping an especially active schedule full of policy and personnel announcements, ribbon-cuttings, responses to emergencies, celebrations of the city’s cultural and night-life, and meetings with virtually everyone. He set out some of his priorities in his first city budget plan and state policy agenda, winning several items while firming up some alliances and creating new divisions with other elected officials and advocates.

Adams’ policy priorities have been centered on crime and disorder, homelessness, and the city's economy — including the continued response to covid, where the mayor has rolled back some of the protections and restrictions put into place by his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, as Adams has put a heavy focus on a return to pre-pandemic ‘normalcy’ and continued economic rebirth.

But covid cases have again begun to increase in the city and Adams has shown limited interest in increasing vaccination and booster rates, instead making high-profile policy decisions that reduce the city’s emphasis on the importance of inoculation. Adams’ attention is largely on the fact that the city’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, especially among lower-wage workers of color and in large part due to the pandemic-induced drop in tourism as well as the steep decrease in office-based work that has knock-on effects on restaurants and other businesses.

As Adams has sought to give new life to the city, form his government, and roll out his initial policies, he has faced many challenging trends and incidents in just the first few months. In January alone, a major fire in the Bronx claimed 17 lives, a teenage cashier was murdered during a robbery in Harlem, a woman was pushed to her death in front of a subway by a mentally ill homeless man, an 11-month-old baby was shot in the Bronx, and two police officers were fatally shot in Harlem. Such incidents have only continued by the week — innocent bystanders killed in crossfire, slashings on the subway, continued surges in anti-Asian and anti-Semitic violence and hate crimes, and more — with Adams often visiting crime scenes and expressing both frustration and determination about the city’s safety.

The new mayor has faced a number of early setbacks, but is forging ahead undeterred, doubling down on his commitment to fighting crime through immediate, mostly police-focused ‘interventions’ and longer-term socio-economic ‘preventions.’ Adams has regularly reminded everyone watching or questioning him that he’s been planning to be mayor for decades, arguing that he was “made for this moment” as he spars with his detractors and seeks, in some ways, to build success through sheer force of personality.

Most observers agree that it’s too early to expect results from the mayor who, poll numbers show, is still enjoying the honeymoon period of his fledgling term. “People are giving Adams much more leeway because he inherited a mess,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic consultant. “His style of leadership is something that New Yorkers are not puzzled by, but engaged with, particularly the New Yorkers that have voted for him, which were the outer boroughs. But he's still not won over, by any measure, the managerial class in Manhattan.”

Adams himself has said repeatedly that he’s inherited a dysfunctional city and that many of the crises he is confronting will take time to fix.

“I am a tough grader and I believe that I want results instantly, but clearly, if we reflect on this moment, these problems are decades in the making,” he said in an interview on WNBC-4, reflecting on his first nearly 100 days in office. “Not only here in New York, we're seeing the impact of covid sweep our entire country, the overproliferation of handguns, just the mental health issues that we are facing, homelessness…So I will be honest with New Yorkers and tell us what the problems are and then we're going to look at what we have done thus far and what we're going to do in the future.”

Adams has set out on both a personal and city branding exercise, making the mantra of his government "get stuff done," though at times he has appeared more focused on his self-professed "swagger" than on establishing his policy agenda across more issues or ensuring effective results. But he has assured New Yorkers that he is putting the people, systems, and policies in place to deliver on making the city more efficient and effective, empowering to those struggling and welcoming to those who have done well — two groups, Adams insists, who need each other to succeed. 

“The first 100 days have been about the spectacle of the Adams administration and we're hoping now that with the budget upon us, we can actually get down to the real issues facing working New Yorkers,” said Sharon Cromwell, deputy director of the New York Working Families Party, the progressive group that backed several candidates over Adams in last year’s primary race. “The budget will be a major test. The question is, is he going to be the working people's mayor that he says he is or will the budget serve as a Trojan horse for real estate and corporate interests and criminalization?”

The new mayor has been omnipresent around the city, seeking to appeal to many of his constituents, rich and poor alike, partying with the one percent, playing basketball with kids, opening new social service venues, and visiting a long list of crime scenes.

He’s been a regular presence in local and national media, projecting his governing philosophy as the future for successful Democratic politicians and urban centers. He’s been on several trips outside the city already, going beyond the expected venues of Albany and Washington D.C., and promising more as he seeks to collaborate with other mayors facing similarly daunting gun violence crises.

Indeed, while New York City’s murder rate remains well below most other big cities, Adams continues to face the increasing gun violence spike that he was elected to reverse. The latest NYPD data shows major crime has continued its large jumps of the last two years into the mayor’s first three months, and a poll released this past week indicates that crime and safety are the most important issues to the electorate. In his first 100 days, many of Adams’ public appearances, several of his initial policy announcements, and his agendas for help from the state and federal governments have centered on public safety.    

“What has he done in the hundred days? He's created a very unique political character,” said Sheinkopf. “He's created a new religion called ‘Adams for New York,’ which is about his city, his people, his government, and by his own words, and a relationship with the press corps that has already become certainly confrontational and a confrontational relationship with the Legislature.”

“At some point people are gonna say, if the crime wave continues, what are you doing? And the symbolic gestures will not be sufficient…,” Sheinkopf added. “If he can solve the crisis, he will forever be remembered as a New York legend. But we have to give him some time to do that.”

Approach to the Job
Adams’ presence across the five boroughs and approach to being mayor has echoed his 2021 campaign, where he offered something for almost everyone and tried to earn support from most people in the vast middle between his antagonists on the far left and those he’s distanced himself from on the far right.

He has announced plans on subway safety, a “blueprint” for tackling gun violence, a “blueprint” on economic recovery, a youth development plan, a sweep of homeless encampments, expanded social service and mental health programs, workforce development measures, a city tourism marketing campaign, a healthy food distribution program, health care initiatives, breaks for small businesses, and more. He’s broken ground on park projects and attended ribbon-cuttings for shelters. 

Adams seems to be enjoying himself in what some consider the second toughest job in the United States, which he has said does not feel like work because it is his “calling.”

He’s continued to overtly build ties with the city’s business elite, who his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, purposefully alienated. He has walked a series of red carpets, attending fashion and Broadway shows, and is a regular at Zero Bond, a members-only club frequented by a who’s who of wealthy personalities. He is regularly spotted at upscale dinners and holds court at Osteria La Baia, a posh restaurant. He recently spoke at a private town hall with Goldman Sachs employees and was the guest of honor at the annual meeting of the Partnership for New York City, the advocacy group for the city’s large corporations.

After a somewhat shaky start to building out his administration, Adams has set about the task of reorganizing city government and has made several widely praised hires, but also a number of controversial ones, including several with anti-gay views, and has clearly made some appointments based on repaying political loyalties.

He has introduced his first budget, a $98.5 billion spending plan that aims to cut spending, boost city reserves, make government more efficient, increase public safety, and spur the city’s economic recovery. Critics, including many in the City Council, have taken issue with his approach to the budget and focus on law enforcement over other investments.

Adams has also held roundtables at City Hall with a broad array of New Yorkers – LGBTQ advocates, members of the transgender people of color community, Muslim community leaders Jewish leaders, mental health experts, Asian American Pacific Islander leaders, and ethnic Asian media.

He has even sat down to dinner on more than one occasion with disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo, indicative of an ‘I’ll-meet-with-anyone’ approach that the new mayor says shows his commitment to hearing from a wide variety of perspectives. In Cuomo’s case, Adams has dismissed the notion that the dinners give Cuomo legitimacy as the ex-governor regularly undermines both Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James while plotting a potential political comeback. Instead Adams has argued that he seeks to learn from people with experience, from Cuomo to de Blasio and beyond.

Adams has drawn on former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ally whose inner circle has helped Adams in his mayoral transition. Bloomberg endorsed Adams’ campaign and hosted fundraisers on his behalf; in February Adams feted Bloomberg for his 80th birthday and gave him a key to the city and a proclamation at a private event at Gracie Mansion. 

Adams recognizes that symbolism is a strong tool for the mayoralty, even if he sometimes faces criticism for gestures over substance. He has patrolled the subways late at night and visited sanitation garages early in the morning to ensure he sees conditions for himself and to let everyday New Yorkers know that he works for them. He converted his first three paychecks into cryptocurrency to encourage the booming and controversial digital currency industry to make its home in New York. After Florida legislators passed a bill banning discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms, termed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Adams launched a digital ad campaign in five major cities in Florida touting New York City’s inclusiveness and encouraging Floridians to move to New York.  

Identity has been both a shield and a sword for the mayor, a Black man who faced near-homelessness growing up and a former police officer who was inspired to join the department after being beaten in police custody then became a leading critic of police misconduct from within the NYPD. He has often touted his blue-collar credentials to defend his policies, arguing that the city’s working and middle classes are where his greatest allegiances lie, even when taking stances that appear to cater to the elite.

Facing tough headlines about how he went about seeking changes to state criminal justice reforms and the cold reception he received from the legislative leaders, both of whom are Black, Adams lashed out at a press corps whose coverage he says is laced with racial bias stemming from too few newsrooms where Black voices are represented. Though Adams has repeatedly said that he welcomes questions about his performance, he has often been defensive and combative when pressed on his choices and policies. He argues, as have mayors before him, that there is too much focus on the voices of critics and not enough attention on the good his administration is doing.

Mark Winston Griffith, a longtime community organizer and police reformer from Central Brooklyn, noted that the first 100 days is an “arbitrary marker” to judge the mayor as his policies have yet to take full effect and as he continues to build his relationship with the City Council. “The kind of tone that he’s setting is that he’s someone who wants to be seen as being in control, have total authority,” Griffith said. “He’s been a little bit dismissive of City Council people and some of his critics and has emphasized the extent to which he's the mayor, and he sort of gets to say and do whatever he pleases.”

Adams hasn’t been immune to snafus and controversies small and large have tripped him up. For instance, after years of building a public persona as a vegan, he admitted that he on occasion eats fish. Though almost comical and far from a scandal, it was another indication of the mayor’s tendency to embellish or obfuscate elements of his life story. He then became offended when reporters focused on his misrepresentations, which were directly related to his policies, and pushed him to divulge the truth.

Relationships
Adams has forged strong alliances with some other Democratic officials. He’s closely embraced President Joe Biden – Adams calls himself “the Biden of Brooklyn,” including during the president’s visit to New York City to discuss gun violence after the murder of the two NYPD officers in Harlem.

Early in his term, Adams visited Washington D.C. to meet national Democrats and declared himself -- a Black, moderate former police officer who rebukes “defunding the police,” decries dysfunctional government, and speaks to voters of all socioeconomic classes with boundless energy -- the face of the new Democratic Party.

At the state level, Adams has found a natural ally in Governor Hochul, who has similar centrist leanings as the mayor (and president) and has sought to set herself apart from her predecessor by ushering in a new era of cooperation between the state and city. The governor has already delivered on some of Adams’ priorities including funding in the state budget for child care and a boost of the Earned Income Tax Credit, both of which Adams said are crucial “upstream” solutions to aid working New Yorkers, as well as changes to the state’s bail and discovery laws that Adams says did not go far enough but are a start toward aiding enhanced public safety through tougher-on-crime policies.

Adams and Hochul have appeared together on several occasions including twice to announce plans for subway safety, at a joint announcement on cybersecurity, at a ribbon cutting at LaGuardia Airport, and other instances.

At the City Council and State Legislature, however, Adams has not forged such strong initial bonds. City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (no relation) has been an ally over the years and endorsed him in last year’s primary, but was not the mayor’s preferred choice for Speaker. Council members chafed at Eric Adams’ attempts to insert himself into the Speaker selection process late last year in favor of Francisco Moya and rallied around Adrienne Adams instead. She has said she shares a friendly relationship with the mayor but has clearly rebuked him on several occasions. 

The two sides of City Hall are also likely headed to a clash as the city budget process continues over the next few months, with the Council pushing back on the mayor’s cuts to city agencies. But, with the city flush with cash thanks to massive federal aid and higher-than-expected tax revenue, the mayor and Council will be able to fund many priorities.

In the Legislature, Adams has faced opposition from progressives who have been critical of his consistent effort to blame the city’s recent crime spike on state criminal justice reforms despite very little evidence of the connection. While the legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, mostly expressed their disagreement with the mayor on criminal justice reforms in gentle terms, a number of Democratic legislators expressed significant frustration with the mayor's approach to the topic and intergovernmental relations.

“I think that as time has gone on, some of that swagger that he pronounced has dimmed a little bit as the difficulty of the job has really begun to weigh on him,” said Griffith.

Public Safety as Top Priority
For Adams, public safety is an essential element to ensure the city’s recovery and to remind everyone, as he promised during the campaign, that New York is “the center of the universe.” Not only is public safety key for individuals and communities, but for the city’s larger economy, including Adams’ push for companies to bring workers back to office buildings and to bring tourism back toward pre-pandemic levels. Many of Adams’ early major policy announcements have been focused on the issue.

In a particularly tragic first month in office, which saw several high-profile shootings including the killing of two NYPD officers responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem, the mayor announced his Blueprint to End Gun Violence.

“The first hundred days with the mayor, it's been really telling about what the mayor’s priorities are,” said Anthonine Pierre, executive director of the Brooklyn Movement Center, an advocacy and empowerment nonprofit based in central Brooklyn. “The neighborhoods that are being targeted for policing are on average poorer than the rest of the city, they’re on average Blacker, on average more Latinx. And it's really concerning that the [Blueprint to End Gun Violence]…doesn't target those neighborhoods for resources at the same level that it’s bringing in policing.”

“I think that what New York City is seeing is that when you hire a cop as your mayor, you get a cop as your mayor,” she added.

Part of that plan is the fulfillment of Adams’ campaign promise to launch a new version of a controversial NYPD anti-gun unit. A prior version of the unit, known as plainclothes “anti-crime” teams, had been disbanded in 2020 due to several high-profile shootings and accounting for a disproportionate number of complaints from New Yorkers. Adams’ version, called Neighborhood Safety Teams, includes new vetting and training for the selected officers, as well as other changes that he’s promised will not lead to the same abuses and mistakes of its predecessors.

The mayor’s already touting the success of the teams though he concedes that reducing crime is a work in progress. “We are laying the foundation to move us to a safe city. We removed over 1,000 guns off the streets in the City of New York, and that continued flow is still here,” Adams said on WABC-7. “And so the next steps is to look at the results of our anti-gun unit, something that we just rolled out. They have made over a 100 arrests after being initiated. We also are looking at some of those quality of life issues. And so, we have a long way to go. We are incomplete on the tasks that we want to look at.”

The mayor stood with Governor Kathy Hochul in January to announce initial pieces of a subway safety plan, intended to help restore subway ridership by flooding the subways with police officers and outreach workers to encourage homeless people to seek shelter outside the subway system. In February, Adams and Hochul released a second phase to the plan which included stronger enforcement of MTA rules, expanded response teams made up of police, social services and mental health professionals and new drop-in centers for the homeless, among other measures. He also recently announced a plan to clear homeless encampments across the city, couched both in concern for people living in squalor and for the quality of life in those neighborhoods. 

When he was in the NYPD, Adams was a prominent voice for reforming the department from within and he has promised that he will not tolerate any abuse of power by police officers. But progressives and reformers worry that he remains heavily focused on the controversial practice of “broken windows” policing, which relies on tackling minor "quality of life" offenses to preempt major crimes.

“It’s disappointing to see another mayor employ the same strategies that are not going to house people, that are not going to take care of people especially at a time when we haven't recovered from the pandemic,” said Zara Nasir, coordinator of the People’s Plan NYC, a coalition of left-leaning groups that have presented a detailed policy agenda for the city. “There's just overall lots of economic and housing insecurity. It's just concerning to see that the things that would actually help address that are not the things that are happening, and the focus seems to be policing, policing, policing.”

Adams also made a full court press to toughen reforms to the state’s bail and discovery laws that were passed just a few years ago. The mayor, along with moderates and conservatives, have blamed those reforms for rising crime despite data that disproves that link. Adams’ efforts were met with pushback locally and at the state level, particularly among progressives in the Legislature. Adams made a trip to Albany to convince state lawmakers to back his proposals but returned empty-handed, at least initially. But the governor was among those who were supportive and the final state budget deal that was approved just ahead of Adams’ 100th day in office did include stricter bail provisions. 

“When you look at public safety, while I commend the Governor and lawmakers for some of the proposals that they've made, which many people stated was impossible when I went to Albany. But it's clear we have a long way to go,” Adams said on WNBC-4. “This is only halftime. We have an entire session left and I'm going to continue to push towards some of those important initiatives of how we help the police department continue to make this a safe city.”

How He’s Doing
“On the big issues, he's achieving bully pulpit success because his priorities are shared by New Yorkers, by the broad mass of the citizenry and they like his approach now,” said Bruce Gyory, a veteran Democratic strategist with the firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, in a phone interview. “The question of how he's doing on the micro approach, of how the administration is handling things, that remains an open question.”

A Marist Poll released March 14 found that 61% of New Yorkers approved of Adams’ job performance so far while only 24% disapproved. As many as 72% said Adams understands the problems facing the city, 66% believe he cares about people, and 64% said he is a good leader. And 55% said he is making the city safer.

“You would be hard put to look at the numbers in the polling data and not say that Eric Adams seems to be in sync with the broad majority. He's winning the battle of the consent of the governed at this stage,” Gyory said. 

His battles with the press are another matter, however. “I think part of it is you don't develop a thick skin in a hundred days. That takes time,” Gyory said. “And what I think he will learn is what others have learned is that if you don't overreact to some of the criticism, you'll wind up handling things better.”

Camille Rivera, partner at New Deal Strategies, said Adams’ laser-focus on public safety over other issues like housing is “problematic.”

“Safety, economic viability and sustainability, housing, all of that is a really big part of making the city safe. And I just don't see a balance in the scales of how he's presenting his policy,” she said. He may be doing fine in the eyes of the city’s business and real estate interests, she said, “But I think in terms of being more connected to working people and ensuring that the most vulnerable communities are being taken care of, I think he's falling short.”

Griffith said the mayor seems more focused on narratives and perception rather than the nitty gritty of institutional change. “As far as solving some of these deep problems as he's experienced…this stuff is tough, and it's going to take not only a long time but it's going to take deep structural level approaches that I'm not quite sure he has completely wrestled with,” he said.  

Managing City Government
Beyond his focus on crime, homelessness, and the economy, Adams has also begun the process of streamlining city government, restructuring the city government org chart, consolidating several offices under newly-created ones, and announcing new measures to monitor city government in real time. He has appointed respected and experienced officials as his top leadership, though he has also rewarded loyal aides with cush positions. And, he released his first budget plan, setting off the city’s six-month process before a new budget, agreed upon by the mayor and City Council, is due by July 1. 

“I think he's staffed up at a reasonable clip and he has picked some experienced people who've had success in the city, and that's really important,” said Andrew Rein, president of Citizens Budget Commission, a nonprofit fiscal watchdog group.  

But Adams has also made several appointments that have caused controversy. His top public safety official -- Deputy Mayor Phillip Banks III -- once resigned from the NYPD under a cloud of scandal. And he appointed three pastors with histories of anti-LGBTQ views to his administration, which raised a great deal of ire, but then later rescinded another appointment to an education panel from a different pastor who had also expressed anti-gay views in the past but was not a longtime Adams ally. 

Following through on his pledge to reduce wasteful spending and make city government more efficient, Adams proposed a $98.5 billion preliminary budget that cut spending, in part through a 7,000-strong reduction in the budgeted municipal workforce, mostly through eliminating vacant positions. In doing so, however, he’s faced criticism of proposing an “austerity budget” that cuts funding for various departments and programs that serve the neediest New Yorkers. 

“In his first 100 days, he's both decided how to organize and started to really lay out how to implement activities to be a more customer service-oriented and efficiently-run government,” said Rein. 

Rein said the mayor took a “good first step” with his preliminary budget by instituting a Program to Eliminate the Gap, which mandated every city agency identify at least 3% in savings to offer the mayor and his budget office. But, the PEG was achieved with cost re-estimates and few efficiencies at city agencies, which Rein said the mayor should tackle next. “There's very little restructuring of government in that budget,” he said. 

What Adams has been effective at, Rein said, is showing people that New York is open for business. The mayor is the city’s loudest cheerleader and has sought to boost economic activity both through policy announcements and his consistent positivity about its prospects. “He's being public and vocal about welcoming businesses and residents here, that you should stay here, that you should come here…And he has shown the people of the city that New York is active and he’s going to be the hardest working man in the room. And that is really important. You want a leader who you know is all in. He's all in.”

Jonathan Bowles, executive director of Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit think tank, said Adams has set the city on the right track and, though 100 days is too soon to tell, that he will eventually deliver results. “​​When he took office, I think a lot of New Yorkers felt like the prior administration hadn't brought enough urgency to what were maybe the two biggest problems, growing fear around public safety and an economic recovery that was lagging way behind the rest of the country,” Bowles said. “It’s unmistakable that Mayor Adams has prioritized these areas.”

As Bowles noted, the mayor has taken several steps to encourage economic growth and opportunity, which, as Adams has noted, is also a crime-fighting strategy. In the preliminary budget, for example, Adams proposed a major expansion of the Summer Youth Employment Program and increased funding for the Fair Futures program, which provides mentorship programs to youth who are in and have left the foster care system. He’s released an extensive if at times shallow blueprint for economic recovery and also made workforce development a top priority. He’s launched an ad campaign to revive tourism to the city, and rescinded covid-related mandates and restrictions to encourage economic activity, with an eye on visitors from out of town.

“I think that the many things he's done in his budget and the blueprint, and in his hires, I think adds up to something pretty big,” Bowles said. 

Bowles is optimistic that if the mayor follows through on the proposals he has laid out, the city’s recovery will progress. “I love that he is really getting out across the city, and being a real booster for New York, and telling New York’s story to whoever will listen,” he said. “I think it's really something the city needed after two years of the pandemic and I think it's infectious. I think it is going to get people to start going back to Broadway and getting to their office.”

But some observers say that the mayor hasn’t addressed key substantive issues. For instance, though he’s made laudable appointments on housing and climate change, he hasn’t yet released any major plans on those fronts or indicated policy direction beyond a few broad strokes. 

Cromwell of the Working Families Party pointed out that the proposed budget maintains police funding but makes major cuts to education. “Progressives are also focused on public safety. The question is, is your vision of public safety making sure that the NYPD continues to have a bloated budget and throw police at homelessness or is public safety investing in education, in schools, in mental health services, in violence intervention and prevention programs that are proven to work but that put communities in charge of public safety?” 

Housing advocates note in particular that even as he’s working to dismantle homeless encampments, he did not follow through on a campaign pledge to dedicate $4 billion to building new housing and to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). 

“We have not yet seen his broader vision for housing policy or helping people who are in shelters,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director of Coalition for the Homeless. “Much of his public safety policies have framed homeless people on the streets and on the subways as a quality of life concern rather than connecting the crisis of homelessness to the lack of affordable housing.” 

His encampment clearing policy, a continuation of efforts that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration also regularly employed, is also more about optics than actual solutions, Simone said. “He's been sort of doubling down on the strategy of criminalization and policing and pushing homeless people out of sight rather than on addressing the root causes,” she said. 

“We all share the goal of wanting none of our neighbors to be sleeping in the trains or on the streets, especially in such a wealthy city. But his strategies are not going to accomplish that goal and will do more harm in the interim,” she added.

The mayor has repeatedly addressed those critiques and sought to assure the public that his view on public safety is not myopic. “I know people are dealing with the stress of COVID. I got it. I know people are afraid of losing their homes, their job, they want masks off children. Those are the issues we're facing,” he said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. “This is a job I signed up for and I'm ready to make the tough decisions and take the criticism that comes with it. We will protect New Yorkers, and that's not always enjoyable. And you know what, I say all the time, we have 8.8 million New Yorkers, 30 million opinions.”

A survey of nearly 44,000 New Yorkers conducted by NYC Speaks, a collaboration between the Adams administration and private sector partners, found that the top solution people said would make their neighborhood safer is to build more affordable housing and reduce homelessness.

Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference (NYHC), said that should make it clear where the mayor’s priorities should lie. “For someone that's been in elected office for so long, he has to know that housing is a top issue for every New Yorker,” she said of the former Brooklyn borough president and state senator. 

Though Fee is encouraged by the housing team the mayor has put together and said a major plan will take time, she’s disappointed that the mayor hasn’t yet expressed any targets or direction for his housing agenda. “I think there are ways that he could have signaled this is an issue, that it's not just public safety that City Hall cares about,” she said. United for Housing, a coalition of groups led by NYHC, put together a list of 10 things they wanted the mayor to do in his first 100 days to address the city’s housing crisis. “Really, like none of them have been addressed,” Fee said. 

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said there has been “way too much emphasis on trying to police the city's way out of a very difficult situation.”

“We have lots of details about policing solutions, and precious few details about long-term sustainable housing for people who don't have homes, for people who have special needs because they suffer mental illness. And the city is not going to be able to solve our deep problems without solutions that are not rooted in law enforcement,” she said. 

“We're seeing the resurrection of too many failed policies and practices that have wrought havoc on communities of color,” Lieberman continued. “And that takes an enormous toll on all New Yorkers and is really hard to undo.”

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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