Mayor de Blasio held a town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 12 at Creston Academy in Fordham Heights, and recent Bronx tragedies were still lingering over the event.
The town hall came just days after two horrific events shook the borough: the murder of NYPD Detective Miosotis Familia and a shooting at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital that claimed the life of a doctor and injured six others.
The mayor credited the NYPD and their FDNY for their quick response to the shootings, and praised Bronx residents for supporting the victims and their families before asking for a moment of silence for the two victims.
“In the middle of the tough time we had, we saw some beautiful things as well,” de Blasio said. “We saw an outpouring of love and support for the Familia family. I talked to them at length Monday morning, and they were so struck by how many ordinary people had sent their love.”
The mayor also announced that Devoe Park in University Heights, which has been a hotspot for criminal activity, would be getting gates at all its entrances and new LED lighting at the request of Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who also attended Wednesday’s event.
He pushed for expanding universal pre-kindergarten for and announced all high schools would have five advanced placement courses.
After opening up the floor for questions, he was asked about the impending opening of an adult homeless male shelter at 233 Fordham Landing, and wanted to know why the Bronx seemed to be getting more homeless shelters than other boroughs.
The mayor said the planned closing of controversial cluster sites would help.
“We’ve already closed five in this council district and we’re going to close all of them citywide, and that’s going to be, first and foremost, a benefit to the Bronx,” he said.
The city’s plan is to open shelters at the council district level to tend to homeless populations in those areas, he added.
When later asked about crowded substandard shelters due to rising homeless population, the mayor agreed that some were run better than others and said he hoped new housing planned for a half million people would help.
“What we’re hoping for is that as we continue to build affordable housing, we get ahead of this bigger problem,” he said.
A member of the Kingsbridge Merchant Association asked what the mayor would do to keep merchants from being evicted from the Kingsbridge Road area as rents continued to rise.
De Blasio said the city has reduced fines and was working to increase legal support for merchants facing harassment from landlords.
A parent coordinator at Creston Academy told the mayor middle school aged children had nowhere to go after school, and that grants were not available for programs for that age group.
The mayor said the city guarantees afterschool programs for all middle school students in each community, if not at every school, but said he wanted to add more youth programs when funding became available.
“With summer, we have focused on public housing to create summer recreation programs like midnight basketball that go well into the evening,” he added.