You Shall Have A Lawyer & Other Takeaways From Mayor’s State Of The City

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on Monday, February 13, 2017. Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office

Last night, Mayor de Blasio delivered his State of the City address, promising:

“We’re going to do things a different way here in this city. We’re not going to give tax breaks to those who are already doing well. We’re going to ask them to pay a little more to help people who need a hand.

We’re not going to put money into investing in those who are already financially secure. We’re going to invest in everyday New Yorkers. We’re not going to try and take health insurance away from people. In fact, we’re going to do all we can to get more and more people signed up for health insurance in this city.”

He remarked that crime is down, graduation rates are up, but that affordability and jobs remain the big issues.

“Families need more school seats, more affordable housing, more roads repaved. We made a $90 billion commitment over 10 years to build this city up, to do the things that weren’t getting done.”

He touched on Superstorm Sandy in passing, saying that through the “recovery efforts, 4,212 New Yorkers got good paying union jobs.” It sounded like those were for those neighbors who were affected by Sandy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on Monday, February 13, 2017. Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office

Then he switched to housing and affordability, the ever-rising water bills, and his promise to get all homeowner $183 tax credit:

“To make that very simple, had we not done this, the water bill you have now would have been seven percent higher. That money is going back into people’s pockets. We’d like to put more in people’s pockets. In fact, I proposed last summer a $183 credit for every homeowner in New York City. 664,000 households will get $183 in their pocket automatically. But again, that’s being blocked by the landlord lobby. And we’re in court, and we intend to beat them and give that money back to people who deserve it. “

But it was what came next that will have an immediate effect on so many tenants.

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on Monday, February 13, 2017. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

“I announced just days ago something that will really right the wrongs of the past,” de Blasio said. “We call it a mansion tax. It’s very simple. When you sell a home worth $2 million dollars or more, you pay a little bit more. That gives us $336 million dollars, and we use that money to provide affordable housing for 25,000 senior citizens in New York City.” (The Mansion tax still needs to be approved by the Assembly.)

More from the State of the City:

“The mansion tax helps us reach 25,000 more seniors on top of the affordable housing plan to reach 500,000 New Yorkers. But while we are making progress, we can’t keep losing ground to illegal evictions. For decades the deck was stacked against tenants in housing court. What do you do? It’s time to reshuffle the deck.

That’s why we’re going to go farther in providing counsel to people who are fighting unscrupulous landlords. I want to salute our colleagues in the City Council who have led the charge and I want all of New York City to know what this is going to mean.

If you’re a hard working New Yorker, if you’re someone struggling to make ends meet, if you’re someone who needs legal help, you can’t afford it, and you make anywhere up to $50,000 a year for family of four, you will now be guaranteed a lawyer to go with you into housing court. 

If you’re facing illegal eviction, you get a lawyer. If you’re facing illegal over charge of rent you get a lawyer. If you’re facing illegal harassment you get a lawyer. And beyond that, any New Yorker that makes over $50,000, that’s fine — any New Yorker will have access to free legal support and advice to help them navigate housing court and get fairness.”

This is a massive victory for the tenant rights groups, including Flatbush Tenants Coalition, who have been fighting on behalf of so many. Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viveritto announced this weekend that they will pass legislation giving low-income NYC tenants the right to a lawyer in housing court eviction cases.

Why is this legislation such a big deal? Check out this Tenants supporters campaign video to learn more:

Lastly, the Mayor touched on jobs:

“We can’t address the affordability crisis if we don’t turn the city to a place where more and more good people get a good paying job,” he said.

“Our goal over the next 10 years is to create 100,000 more permanent good-paying jobs in New York City. 100,000 jobs for New Yorkers. That alone will reach 250,000 people, meaning all the people work and their family, at least a quarter million New Yorkers will benefit. What’s a good job, you might ask. A good job to me has to pay at least $50,000 a year.”

“And tomorrow, I’m going to go to a very exciting new initiative in Sunset Park, our Made in New York campus. This is going to be the new center of garment manufacturing, a new hub of our great fashion industry here in our city, in Sunset Park Brooklyn, and a new film and TV studio combined 1,500 permanent jobs will be created.”

He finished:

“Let me close with one more thought because there’s something else that’s great about New Yorkers. New Yorkers get involved. New Yorkers do not shy from a fight. New Yorkers see a moment in history, a moment, a decision. And they meet it. Stand up for each other. Stand up for our country. We’ve seen this in the last few weeks. Yes, we’re in a new era. But let’s look clearly at what we’ve seen in just a few weeks’ time. We have seen New Yorkers time and time again stand up against hatred and stand up against bias.”

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