1. Economic Development and Residents Financial Empowerment
The Economic Development of our District and Financial Empowerment of Our Residents have to be our base. Small businesses comprise over 95% of the economic engine of New York City but only 80% in the Bronx. Most of these businesses are in restaurants and grocery stores, which generally indicate family-run businesses with a high percentage of failure in the first three years. Women-owned businesses, although increasing, are still in one or two person shops or childcare centers. Thus, an economic Marshall Plan will be developed and executed to bring much needed resources and financial guidance to support our businesses which in turn can hire our people and at living wages. Additionally, the present lease agreements for small businesses needs to be renegotiated to help keep them here. I fully support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act in New York City.
We need to also Financially Empower our residents to complement our district’s economic development plans. Our youth in particular needs to be prepared for jobs of the future in AI but also those in high demand like healthcare and vocational opportunities so that no-matter which path they choose after high school they can be financially independent. A key focus of our campaign and which we started implementing through our Community Assemblies is financial literacy so that our people understand how to access credit and invest their money.
2. Housing (Ownership for NYCHA Residents)
The Bronx is experiencing a housing construction boom while the majority of our residents cannot afford to live in the district. Meanwhile the district has one of the largest number of NYCHA apartments in the country. Apartments that are in need of constant repair and are a source of health problems (e.g. asthma, lead poisoning, rodent infestation). The Majority of NYCHA residents are working families who deserve humane living conditions that a bloated bureaucracy in major debt can’t provide. I believe that it’s time to work on a program to hand over the ownership of NYCHA apartments to the residents so that they can improve what they own, hire skilled residents to do the work and create jobs, and use their property equity for further financial empowerment. Have you noticed that property owners don’t get gentrified? The (in)Justice System continues to plague the underserved.
3. Criminal Justice Reform
While other talk about criminal justice reform, as a co-founder of Discovery for Justice I co-led efforts to successfully overturn NY’s Blindfold Law which has been contributing to the unjust incarceration predominantly of black and brown people. The overturn took effect January 2020 but we must still keep fighting so that
1) loopholes in the system do not hinder our progress,
2) the closing of Rikers Island doesn’t just end up in providing valued real estate for the wealthy and numerous smaller jails in our neighborhoods
3) the cash-bail system is ended and
4) mental health services are expanded to those who need it instead of warehousing our people in jails and prisons.
4. Jones Act (Puerto Rico)
The Bronx has a growing number of residents from Africa, Central and South America, Asia and many Muslim countries which enrich our diverse African-American, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Albanian and Italian communities. In many instances, our neighbors ended here as they sought to escape the domestic and global consequences of US militarism. With military spending absorbing 61 cents of every tax dollar not only does it limit investments here at home but also leads to the terrorism of other countries and even US colonies like Puerto Rico (22% of the Bronx’s population is Puerto Rican). The Jones Act must be modified to end the $1.5B additional tax it imposes every year or residents in Puerto Rico.