Mayor de Blasio received thunderous applause when he joined Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson for a town hall event on Wednesday, April 18.
The packed venue at the Bronx School of Law, Government, and Justice gave Bronxites the opportunity to air gripes with the mayor as well as different city agencies.
Issues discussed varied from New York City Housing Authority to education, to many quality of life issues.
Councilwoman Gibson’s opening statement to the crowd addressed progress that’s been made in her district and throughout the borough. While admitting that the approved rezoning of Jerome Avenue was “not popular.”
Prior to taking questions, the mayor opened with a monologue that primarily addressed NYCHA and educational issues around the borough and rest of the city.
“When you talk about affordable housing, NYCHA is one of the most important forms of affordable housing in this city,” said de Blasio. “It is one of the reasons that everyday people get to stay in New York City, we’ve got to protect it, we’ve got to preserve it, I will be very, very clear we will not allow it to be privatized,” he added.
The mayor mentioned how at almost every town hall he’s spoken at, New Yorkers expressed difficulty and snags in applying for affordable housing.
He assured residents that an appeal can be filed and their chances will not be jeopardized.
De Blasio also boasted that city-funded, community-based organizations are available to aid in the affordable housing application process.
As far as education goes, de Blasio encouraged parents to take advantage of the city’s free afterschool programs, especially for middle school children.
The mayor also addressed public schooling in the borough.
“We want to do better with the renewal school program. We believe that for three years we have truly focused and invested very bluntly in a way we didn’t see with the past administration,” said de Blasio.
“We see schools that are going through challenges…we’ve tried in a very focused way to do better but I think we can do better still,” the mayor added.
De Blasio also expressed how the NYC Department of Education’s old policies towards closing schools have been ‘counterproductive’ as well as how crucial communication from the city to school communities and residents will be in improving education in the city.
The Bronx’ opioid epidemic was also discussed during the town hall. The mayor assured the audience that his office is working with community-based organizations as part of his office’s anti-opioid effort.
“The opioid crisis is profoundly troubling, we have to understand how bad it’s gotten because of fentanyl…we need to take a whole host of actions,” said the mayor.
One major action being taken that de Blasio mentioned is widespread access to Naloxone, a medicine that quickly reverses the dangerous effects of opioid-related overdoses.
Other quality of life issues like scaffolding, damaged crosswalks, and access to soccer fields were also addressed.
Surprisingly, the mayor’s Mott Haven jail proposal, a point of outrage to so many south Bronx residents was not brought up.