AOC Town Hall on NYC housing crisis and gun control is interrupted by protestors

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
FILE – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., joins female House Democrats at an event ahead of a House vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act and the Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act at the Capitol in Washington, July 15, 2022. Four years after Ocasio-Cortez won a New York congressional primary that toppled a powerful incumbent and sent a jolt through the Democratic Party, the progressive left has had mixed success, with some questioning the limits of the movement’s power.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY-14, hosted an in-person town hall meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at Bronxdale High School that quickly turned heated. At the meeting, the congressmember discussed policing, the war in Ukraine, immigration, gun control, the housing crisis and the U.S. post office.

NYC stands at a 30-year low in the availability of low-cost rental units — those under $1,500 — with only 1% available, according to the city Housing and Vacancy Survey. Housing analysts and experts believe the city will need to build 560,000 housing units by 2030 to keep up with its expected population and job growth. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $25 billion affordable housing framework aims to create or preserve 100,000 affordable homes across the state over the next five years.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is up for re-election next month, said she is moving pieces on the federal level to create additional housing amid what many have identified as a housing crisis.

“We have a housing crisis in this city,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “There are many ways to respond to it — we need housing for us. It shouldn’t be for Wall Street or people squeezing us for every dime for rent.”

As part of her work with the administration of NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Ocasio-Cortez is applying for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant.

During the Q&A session, Ocasio-Cortez also addressed a question regarding post offices being understaffed and underfunded and an update on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, whom the USPS Board of Governors appointed under former President Donald Trump to lead the federal agency.

DeJoy announced a 10-year strategic plan for the agency’s financial sustainability and service excellence in March 2021, called under Delivering for America, to help the agency out of its $160 billion projected debt. As a result, the USPS has consolidated its districts from 67 to 50, and in July, DeJoy said he said he planned to cut the USPS workforce by 50,000.

“And … it’s really concerning, because we’ve seen both how much postal services are relied on, but how much they are under-invested in our community,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Especially this neck of the woods, in this part of the Bronx.”

Another one of the major issues plaguing NYC is a rash of gun violence, highlighted by two young and unsuspecting girls killed by stray bullets earlier this year in the Bronx. Despite her belief in the second amendment, Ocasio-Cortez expressed support for reforms to current gun laws.

“We already have this insane amount (of guns) in an iron pipeline to New York City,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “These guns killing our kids are coming from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, all these unregulated states.”

During the meeting, Ocasio-Cortez also spoke about her goal of securing guaranteed health care, including a cap of $35 on insulin prices. Additionally, she emphasized the need for a higher minimum wage.

“We are so past beyond $15 with minimum wage, and I don’t even want $15 anymore. I want $23,” she said.

She concluded the town hall by advocating for cutting back on police budgets and investing more in community jobs despite drawbacks from members in the audience.

“I walk around my neighborhood and see a lot of teenagers out when we defund our youth employment program, and teens are out hanging out,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “There are solutions to this problem.”

Following the nearly two-hour town hall, protesters interrupted AOC to voice their opposition to her stances on the war in Ukraine and migrants’ housing.

“None of this matters unless there’s a nuclear war, which you voted to send arms and weapons to Ukraine … you originally voted — ran as an outsider — yet you have been voting to start this war in Ukraine. You are voting to start a third war with Russia and China,” a protester from the audience shouted.

Ocasio-Cortez, a Progressive, faces a challenge from Republican Tina Forte, of the Bronx, in the Nov. 8 general election.

This article was updated on Oct. 29 at 12:21 p.m.

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